Monday, December 21, 2009


No matter how diligently we pay attention to good nutrition, proper exercise, and take handfuls of vitamins, swallow our medications, even submit to cosmetic surgeries and other attempts at rejuvenation, we can only hope to slow the process of aging. The Bible reminds us, “…our outer man is decaying” (1 Corinthians 4:16). We may not want to hear it, but we are obviously deteriorating.

Most of us act as if we expect to live on Planet Earth forever; let’s not be in denial. Even with bionic or spare parts, our mortal life is winding down. As Christians, we do anticipate totally changed bodies—someday. We recite in the Creed, “I believe in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. Amen.” At a future point our bodies will be changed similar to Jesus’ body after His resurrection. That’s a really big deal to look forward to—but it’s for later, not now. That’s the good news/bad news.

The facts that follow are selected from a TIME magazine article about aging:

“By and large, the changes [of natural aging] are decremental. Every organ is losing reserve capacity. There’s a decline in ability to recover from physical stresses. Bones take longer to knit, wounds to heal, and infections to clear up. The immune system starts to decline around age 30. White blood cells lose their effectiveness, which makes it harder for the body to stave off illness. Metabolism begins to slow at around age 25. Muscle mass gradually shrinks. Kidneys may lose up to 50 percent of their efficiency between ages 30 and 80.”

Whoa! That doesn’t encourage me! Where’s the good news? Hold on. “Some of the liver’s functions gradually decline. Lungs lose on the average 30 to 50 percent of their maximum breathing capacity between ages 30 and 80. Blood vessels lose elasticity, bone mass begins to drop by about one percent a year after peaking in one’s 30s. The senses flag: taste diminishes, the nose loses keenness of smell, hearing fades, vision begins deteriorating at about 40, and changes occur in the skin. Sweat glands decline in activity, the quality of sleep changes, the brain loses an average of about 20 percent of its weight, and speed of recall and mental performance slows.”

Wow! The above facts apply to all humanity right across the board—every race, every culture, every generation from Adam to the present—everything deteriorates eventually! What dismal news!

How about us who are children of God and indwelt by the Holy Spirit and anticipate eternal life? Yes, we also go through the same deteriorating process that we share with all living creatures. But doesn’t Jesus heal? Yes, but not always and not forever. All healing is temporary. Those whom He healed on earth eventually died. So what’s our unique outlook? “Therefore, we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 5:16).

That’s the good news! An “outer man” our “earth suit” is not all there is to the Christian. We have an “inner man” that is indestructible, better than bionic. That’s why we can encourage one another to keep on keeping on.

The fact that we have an imperishable inner person, our eternal spirit, is our glorious hope in Christ. Renewing our inner spirit day by day is God’s perfect design for His children. It enables us to live the kind of optimistic and fruitful lives God planned for us till the very last day of our lives without despair. We can wake up in the morning and praise God for what’s ahead because His plans for us are always for good not evil. Being renewed spiritually day by day, every day, can cushion that downward slide that seems to accelerate with the years.

How then shall we as Christians view the aging process? The following Scripture provides a key: “For momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.” Aging is only part of the “momentary, light affliction” no matter how negative it feels. Aging is not terminal—we are destined to live forever! Our eyes should never focus on the limitations of aging, but upon “the eternal weight of glory” in the future for these inevitably earthy bodies.

The Bible says there is nothing to compare with the marvels ahead of us in life-after-life, and we have no way to describe them adequately. Let’s put aging in the proper, optimistic perspective as Christians. At present we’re living in a mortal “earth suit” which God picked out for each of us through our DNA before we were born. It’s a designer garment specially tailored and adapted for use while we live in earth’s time zone.

God is the great I AM. There is no time in Him, only present endless eternity. As our temporary” earth suit” becomes tattered and worm, His plan is that our forever inner-man should become more robust and remain youthful. “[God] satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle.” (Psalm 103:5)

So let’s not be depressed with our normal decline, no matter what season of life we are in or the condition of our bodies. Let’s do what’s reasonable to maintain our “earth suit” in serviceable shape but concentrate on nourishing our inner spirit. Let’s go with God’s perfect plan and thank the Lord that we are heading upward, although to all appearances, we seem to be going down the slippery slide!


Thursday, December 3, 2009


From Thanksgiving through Christmas and New Years, food preparation and hospitality are high on our priority list. Seasonal goodies tempt us at every turn. Ethnic food traditions delight us. And moms are the ones who make it all happen.

Who doesn’t overindulge on all those sumptuous delicacies? As a consequence, our New Years’ resolutions seem to zero in on diet and exercise.

Scripture has much to say about eating and our attitudes toward food.

Don’t you imagine that Jesus loved to eat? He always seemed to be going to dinner parties! Many of His parables revolved around food. He even invited Himself to dinner at Zaccheus’ house. (I’ll bet His Jewish Mamma was a good cook!) He said of Himself, “The Son of Man comes eating and drinking….” (Matthew 11:19) Many events in His life and His divine declarations took place in food settings. Jesus declared that He is The Bread of Life. (John 6:35)

After His ascension to the Father, we have a glimpse in Acts 2:46 of how His apostles ate: “…they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God….” What a good model for us!

These days we even see promos in the media reminding us that to have a happy family we should eat our meals together! Past generations took that for granted. For Christians, to share food expresses fellowship, celebration and thanksgiving. What an incongruity that most of the world beyond our shores prays for enough food to eat, and we pray for God’s help to limit our food intake because we are overweight!

The following is not a prayer for you to teach your family before diving into the food you serve so abundantly on the table—Cries may come forth, “The prayer is too long! The food is getting cold!”

I offer it as a Bible study and for your own private mother-heart meditation in some quiet corner perhaps after (or between) holiday festivities when you might be thinking about the dreaded four letter word: DIET. As moms, we are the chief food processors and servers and hospitality givers, so we bear a heavy responsibility for our Christian households.

A Mother’s Meditation on Food

Dear Lord of all I am, including my mortal body which belongs to You not to me, (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20) I want to eat and drink to Your glory. (1 Cor.10:31) May every meal I prepare for myself or for my family be a truly spiritual event.

Lord God, You declared that everything You created is good (Genesis 1) including food, and nothing is to be rejected, if we receive it with gratitude as those who believe and know the truth. (1 Timothy 4:3-5) Thank You for providing the food which I prepare. Bless and sanctify it by Your word and by this my prayer. I offer to Your Lordship my appetite, the good digestion of the food, and its nourishment for my body and for the health of my family. (Romans 12:1)

Scripture declares that Your will for me is to prosper and be in health, even as my soul prospers. (3 John 2) Help me to wisely keep my body, soul, and spirit in the best condition so that I can daily walk in divine health to please and serve You. (Ephesians 5:10)

You said that man [and woman too!] does not live by bread alone, that the Kingdom of God is not meat and drink but righteousness, peace, and joy. (Romans 14:17) Teach me to watch and pray when I choose foods; show me how to eat only food that is nutritious and needful for me (Proverbs 30:8) lest I yield to the temptation of the flesh. You know, O Lord, that my spirit is willing, but my flesh is weak. (Mark 14:38) Nevertheless, I can do all things, even controlling my food selection and portions, through You who promised to strengthen me. (Philippians 2:13)

Help me eat only as much as I need for my body’s health. (Proverbs 25:16) In order to be a better witness for You, if I need to shed the weight that so easily besets me through poor eating habits, (Hebrews 12:1) may I grow the Fruit of the Spirit in temperance and self-control. (Galatians 5:16, 22-25)

Whenever I eat, may it be with joy and gladness as a celebration because You, gracious Father, have given us richly all things to enjoy. (1 Timothy 6:17) Give me a merry heart so that I may have a continual feast. (Proverbs 15:15)

Lord Jesus, You were known in the breaking of bread whereby You revealed Your real presence. (Luke 24:30, 31) When I come to Your Eucharistic Table, I receive Your Body and Blood indeed. You, in turn, promised to be at our daily table to eat with me and my family. (Revelation 3:20) I acknowledge and welcome Your presence and preeminence among us who gather to eat. (Proverbs 3:6) May our conversation over food be pleasant as a honeycomb, sweet to our souls, health to our bones, and pleasing to You. (Proverbs 16:24)

In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. AMEN



USA TODAY reported on two groups of people who made resolutions. One group wrote them down; the other didn’t. The likelihood of success for the first group was 44% and for the second, 4%. The odds for success apparently increase tenfold simply by putting one’s goals or aspirations in writing. It transforms the exercise from wishful thinking to firm commitment.

At any milestone time, whether it’s the start of a new year, a birthday, facing an empty nest, a traumatic crisis, illness, or even retirement on the horizon, most of us tend to get a bit introspective. We take anxious inventory of our lives and think about what changes we should make so the rest of our earthly journey will be more productive and meaningful. At a recent personal milestone I spelled out my goals as follows:

Focus on keeping the main thing the main thing—to seek God and His Kingdom first.
material "stuff"—give the superfluous away or decisively throw it away.
Prioritize my goals as if I have little time left to accomplish them.

Live each day as if God will still give me generous time to serve and glorify Him.
Eliminate or limit pursuits that no longer contribute to life goals God has given me.
Surrender any cares of this world that hinder me from an intimate relationship with God.
Seek God’s wisdom on where and how I should press forward more diligently.
Discern where I should lighten up, cut myself some slack, and smell those roses.
Obey fully and promptly whatever God reveals as His will and purpose for me.

And then I WROTE DOWN what practical steps I would take to realign my life more closely to these resolves.

God gives each of us abilities and opportunities that He expects us to use responsibly. Let's live fully in the present at whatever season or stage of life we find ourselves. We are accountable to God to be faithful stewards only of what He has given us, not for what He gave someone else.

I’m a goal setter by temperament so I guess I’ll always have more that I want to do, to become, to write, to enjoy, to experience. When God's allotted time for my earthly life is over, I’ll undoubtedly still have exciting projects on the back burner. The New Year lies ahead of us all with its wonderful potential. I want everything God planned for me, don't you? So let’s push the horizons of our minds and our spirits further to attempt more, learn more, create more, pray more, take up new challenges and opportunities, and live on the cutting edge of life. The more we stretch, the higher we can reach!



“Winter break” instead of Christmas vacation? “Holiday trees” instead of Christmas trees? No Christmas carols? No Scripture reading in public schools? No nativity scenes on government property?

Without Christmas music I would have spent my early childhood unevangelized—not in some foreign country but in the Heartland of America. My Czech parents were first generation immigrants; they both worked hard to make ends meet. Good, moral folks, they nevertheless didn’t find time for religion or church.

But they did give in to my paternal grandmother who insisted that I be baptized as an infant.

No one attempted to teach me even the basic facts of the Christian faith. So God took over the instruction of His little lamb by His Holy Spirit’s creative ways: He used the simple words of Christmas carols to give me my first, clear and accurate concept of His plan of salvation and my need to respond to it.

We sang carols in school; I heard them on the radio and in all public places during the Christmas season. In retrospect, I now see how God was drawing me to Himself. My baptism was efficacious to incline my heart toward Him. Without being formally catechized, and with childhood naïveté, I accepted every fact about God as truth and immediately believed it. The carols expressed sound, biblical theology. I learned from them that:

Jesus was the Son of God, Messiah, and a King. He was born of a virgin named Mary in a little village of Bethlehem.

He came to ransom captive Israel, and to set all men free. His birth had been expected for a long time. A prophet named Isaiah foretold His coming. Jesus was born to open heaven’s door for me.

Jesus Christ is Lord and came to reconcile God and sinners. He was born to redeem us all. He is holy. He is the Savior of the world, and wants to be my Savior.

Jesus wants me to give Him my heart and will enter in when I invite Him.

His coming brings joy to heaven and earth, but each heart has to receive Him individually. His own Jewish people didn’t receive Him.

God sends angels to minister to men and announce God’s plans. They proclaimed peace on earth and sang the good news to shepherds. He is born the King of angels.

The prophets foretold the future new heavens and earth where Christ will reign.

Jesus was preexistent; He was true man yet also God. He left His throne and glory in heaven and was born as a baby through Mary His mother.

We must worship God and adore Him as did the wise men from afar who brought Him gifts. They followed a star in the East which led them westward to Jesus.

He bled and died for me, and was sealed in a tomb. But He rose from the dead, and will suddenly come to earth again. Jesus will lead me as His child to the place where He has gone.

Jesus was born to give men second birth, and then we will never die. He casts out our sin and enters into our hearts.

All this I learned and received without ever having seen a Bible or heard a sermon. As a child, whatever small or large morsel of truth I heard about God, I immediately accepted without question and incorporated it in simple, practical ways at my level of understanding. When I was faithful in little, God gave me more. The search and hunger and thirst for MORE has characterized all my long life. Indeed, late, very late in life, He finally led me to the Ultimate More, the fullness of Truth in our Catholic Church.

Veni, Creator Spiritus! If there are no human instruments to teach God’s truth, the creative Holy Spirit will find creative ways to instruct His children—even through Christmas carols. If men refuse to proclaim the Good News, or when they seek to suppress it, even the rocks will cry out, Jesus said. But let’s stand firm and not allow the foolishness and prejudice of our secular society to deny our children the glorious music and Word of the Advent season.

LET’S SING THE MUSIC OF CHRISTMAS FROM THE HOUSETOPS AND RING IT FROM BELFRIES AND BROADCAST IT OVER THE AIRWAVES AND IN OUR PUBLIC PLACES so that all may know that Jesus is Lord and we intend to celebrate His birth boldly and with freedom!