Writing Assignment

I have a small writing assignment for you if you are interested…!

As a way to kick-off the season of Lent, I have officially declared Shrove Tuesday / Fat Tuesday / Mardi Gras to be “Insult the Devil Day”

Your assignment should you choose to accept it:

Drawing upon the example of past literary giants and your own God-given talents, please compose one finely-crafted, well-worded, non-vulger, personal and creative sentence or two that totally and completely puts the devil in his place.

Examples:

“He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.”  William Faulkner about E. Hemmingway

“I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.”  Mark Twain

“He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up.”   Paul Keating

“Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without an address on it?”  Mark Twain

“There’s nothing wrong with you that reincarnation won’t cure.”  Jack E. Leonard

“His library burnt down in a recent fire.  Both books were lost.  And he hadn’t even finished coloring one of them.”  Jack Kemp

“What could you hope to achieve except to be sunk in a bigger and more expensive ship this time?”  Admiral Mountbatten

Ash Wednesday this year is February 18, so please submit your insults by Sunday, February 15, 2015 to be included in this year’s Insult the Devil Day!

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Father, My Father!

When I started this journey I had already grieved so much – for the man he wasn’t, for the man he could have been, for the beautiful relationships he could have had, for the beautiful relationship we could have had.  It seemed to me that he had died a long time ago.  I was desperate to save him, but felt so incapable; my skills so handicapped and his walls so impenetrable.

I was bothered by people assuming he went to heaven, as if death magically erased all the harm he had done, all the selfish things he had done and painful things he had said so easily, so often, without compromise and without repentance.  He was rarely wrong, but he was rarely edifying or merciful.  I was relieved that he could no longer hurt others and others could no longer hurt him.

I want so badly to know he went to heaven, but it is not for me to assume, I have too little information, too fuzzy sight.  Perhaps purgatory…

In every prayer, God gave me overwhelming reassurance of His love for my father, His son.  He reminded me very clearly of His infinite mercy.  After all, he had been baptized into Christ, and nothing my father did was unforgivable… the Lord would have spoken to his heart, and perhaps interior repentance was all this fragile soul could do… nothing he did was unforgivable.

What comfort!  What strength!  What hope!

Such grace did He fill me with in those moments… it was almost tangible.  The results were contagious.  I could feel my family grow strong once we were all together.  The Lord was there, we would help each other.

A friend of mine said a few helpful things – one, he almost certainly didn’t go to hell; two he may not have been capable of a certain kind of self-reflection; and three, my concern could almost be considered judging him.

Many people have memories of him that were good, positive, loveable… where are mine?  They must be there, maybe I can borrow some of theirs… maybe my perception of him was inaccurate.

At the head of his casket was a candle.  A red candle – exactly like the ones we use to signify that Christ is present in the tabernacle.  The realization that ‘Christ is present’ was a great comfort.

As I stood looking at him I knew there was something on the tip of God’s tongue…

Then the Lord showed me that my desire for Him is insatiable, and that maybe I was demanding too much of my father. 

He was (of course) exactly right.  This was so unfair of me.  Perhaps I could have loved him better, or had more affection for him, if I had not always been mourning some disappointment.  It is almost as if I had made him an idol.  But how do I lower my standards without growing callous, cynical, jaded?

I realized that I must be careful not to let my children make this well-intentioned error.  God alone is deserving of our efforts.  I want them to work for His glory and pleasure, not mine.

I don’t mind having low expectations of people I dislike.  I don’t want them to go to hell; I want them to know Jesus, but I don’t pursue them or lose sleep over their apparent lack of conversion.  Isn’t that evidence of my hardness of heart?  My lack of love?  I could never do that to my father!  I did cry for him, I did worry for him, offer sacrifices for him, and lose sleep over him.

But it is now 10 days later and I still have not experienced overwhelming grief of his passing.  I have sadness because others are hurting – my sister, my brother, my mother…  And I have lost opportunities to love him better.  I will miss his voice and his intelligence, and the way he told stories and shared his thoughts.  I always found it so hard to ignore how much of his words were laced with pride, fear, anger, judgment.  How surprised he must have been to experience the Lord’s unconditional love and mercy!

I hope that I will see him in heaven.  I try to imagine him without the sin that was so heavy in his life while he was here… will I even recognize him?  What is he really like?  What does it look like for him to love with reckless abandon, to trust Someone other than himself, to be carefree, cheerful, merciful, free of the pain he held onto, and confident in the Lord?

What a dazzling sight… what an amazing transformation is the soul that emerges from the fire of God’s loving embrace after death.  In this Moment of Mercy, the Lord cannot but make a glorious saint of the man He gave me to call my father.

Lord, I beg for your mercy on my father, and on me and my loved ones here on earth.

Holy Mary, Sweet Mother, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.

 

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Princess And Sisters

Princess and sisters
wake up with the sun
and open the window today.

Their bird friends are chirping
and tweeting outside;
praise God in a beautiful way!

What’s in the closet
special to wear?
Pretty dresses and bracelets
and crowns for our hair.

Now princess and sisters are ready to go
onto the horses,
oh what a show!
Wave ‘goodbye’ to the guards,

Gallop fast past the gate
with the wind in their hair
there’s no time to wait.

A great adventure is out there -
we must explore!
Through the woods to a clearing,
horses rest by the shore.

By the water they sing songs
and climb in the trees
Sun sparkles the lake,
there’s a sweet gentle breeze.

Lets put on our swimsuits to
go for a swim!
Princess wears purple,
swings, and somersaults in!

One sister wears yellow and
another wears pink.
Then they get an idea,
and smile with a wink.

Find all the small seashells,
shiny pebbles and rocks,
trinkets and treasures
to go in the box.

Three sets of bare feet tip toe
on mossy ground,
across an old log, and hop over the frog!

Behind the waterfall,
duck under the tree, there’s
a secret spot you can just
barely see.

Little hands clear away
to discover anew
the King’s special box, faded, worn, and blue.

The carvings exquisite, the details like lace,
Left for His children to find in this place.

Inside it are letters,

and small gifts of His love

for His beautiful daughters,
from Father above.

They play all afternoon in
that place in the sun.

Too soon it is time to pack up and
be done.

Princesses ride in the purple sunset
as they pray
and remember the day.
Thankful and hopeful in one happy voice,
they giggle and whisper a peaceful rejoice.

(inspired by “A Day at the Seashore” by Kathryn & Byron Jackson, Golden Books 1951)

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Prayer of the Frustrated

Lord,

since this unpleasant situation

does not look likely to change any time soon,

what can I do differently?

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Matthew 25

The Judgment of the Nations

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne,

and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me,

naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’

Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?

When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?

When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’

And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me. (Matthew 25:31-40)

Ever notice how the righteous are confused about the fact that their good works were done for the Lord Himself? It is as if they have never heard this part of the Bible. It is as if they were wholly unaware of Jesus and His teachings and His worldly disguises.

A Christian would be familiar with this Scripture.

A Christian would know what he was doing.

A Christian would be intentionally serving Christ in the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the ill, the imprisoned.

A Christian would not be surprised to learn he was among the righteous in this way.

A Christian may not know exactly who his actions are impacting, but he would have the intent of being salt and light and leaven, because that’s what his Lord asks of him.

And a Christian certainly would not look Our Lord straight in the eye at the end of the world and feign a humble surprise at having cooperated with the Lord’s plan to love as He loves.

It is almost as if the righteous in Our Lord’s tale are not Christians…

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