Friday, August 10, 2018

The Garden of the Lord

Feast of Saint Lawrence, deacon and martyr

John 12:24-26

I wish I had taken a picture of our garden shortly after planting in the spring. It would be a barren picture of brown-grey dirt, empty, and by all appearances lifeless. Yet deep in that soil new life was beginning. Those dying seeds were about to rise to a new and more fruitful life. The tiny sunflower seed, only a half an inch long, has sprung forth to a flower that towers 14 feet over the garden and chicken coop. The almost invisible lettuce seeds have died and in their death emerged with layer upon layer of lush green life. The fragile corn seed, subject to the unrelenting attack of the birds, has died in the ground and leaped up giving forth fruit 30, 60, 90 fold! All of this abundant life came with a price, the death of those seeds.

Jesus teaches us this in today's Gospel, fittingly chosen for the Feast of Saint Lawrence. He says, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit." Not all of us, in fact, not many of us will have the opportunity to obtain the crown of martyrdom. Yet this is no excuse for not seeking to lose our life for the sake of the Gospel. Christ asks us to die to our sinful, selfish desires so that abundant life may spring forth from our souls. This is not easy but the words of Saint Paul, from the first reading, give us hope, "God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work." and again, "The one who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness."

FROM THE SAINTS - "I tell you again and again, my brethren, that in the Lord's garden are to be found not only the roses of his martyrs. In it there are also the lilies of the virgins, the ivy of wedded couples, and the violets of widows. On no account may any class of people despair, thinking that God has not called them. Christ suffered for all. What the Scriptures say of him is true: He desires all me to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth." - Saint Augustine

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

God Challenges

St. Dominic

Matthew 15:21-28

I love a good challenge. I love to be challenged to rise up and meet a difficult task. I often find that I create these challenges myself. I am currently working on an allegorical poem with an insane rhyming scheme. It usually takes me an hour or two to finish eight lines but I love the challenge.

I must admit, however, that I have a melancholic temperament and sometimes challenges can overwhelm me. It's not that I can't overcome the challenge but rather that I often consider all the options in such detail that I become paralyzed, unable to begin. Instead of pushing forward and acting, I think too much and quickly become overwhelmed by the situation. It is at these times that I need to imitate the woman in today's Gospel.

It probably took a great deal of courage for this woman to approach Jesus, seeking an exorcism for her daughter. First, she had to seek Jesus out. He was basically looking for a break, a retreat of sorts. He was trying to hide for a little rest and relaxation. The homeowners where He was staying probably told the woman this but she persisted. Second, she was not only not a regular follower of Jesus, she wasn't even a Jew.

After overcoming the first two challenges she is given what appears to be a nasty insult from Our Lord, "For it is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs." Here I would probably have walked away with my head down. I would probably have been disheartened and overwhelmed by my situation. But this woman simply brushes it off. In fact she uses His words against Him as she persists in her request. Our Lord's heart is won over by the faith and determination of this wonderful Gentile woman. His "insult" becomes a catalyst for her imploring Him all the more.

Lord Jesus, I know that nothing happens in my life without Your permission. I know that you love me and often that love comes in the form of difficulty and suffering. Give me the grace to accept the sufferings of my life. Help me to rise and meet the challenges You allow for my own good and for my growth. In short, Jesus, help me to carry my cross a little better each day without complaint.

FROM THE SAINTS - "Pernoctans in oratione Dei" - "He spent the whole night in prayer to God," says St. Luke of our Lord. And you? How many times have you persevered like that? Well, then...
- Saint Josemaria Escriva The Way #104

Monday, August 06, 2018

Feast of the Transfiguration - Go for the Glow

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Transfiguration.  In this video meditation we take a look at who is transfigured and how that affects us today.

Sunday, August 05, 2018

What sign can you do?

18th Sunday of Ordinary Time 2018

If I wasn't in the same boat as these sinners following Jesus I would probably be laughing right in their face. I often wonder how Jesus kept from rolling on the grass laughing at what some people do.

Today we hear the crowd ask Him, "What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do?..."

Is this not the same crowd who in verse 2 we are told - "followed him, because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick."?

Are these not the same people who in verse 14 "when they saw the sign he had done, they said, "This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world."?

Yet still they seek a sign. However, they are not seeking a sign so that they might believe, they are wanting to be fed. Jesus worked a "sign" with the loaves and the fishes and now they want Him to do it again. Jesus is using their bellies to get to their hearts!

I often imagine myself being in the crowd of people following Jesus. This section of the chapter, especially verse 25, always makes me laugh. Jesus knows they are following Him seeking more bread but they act like this meeting is simply coincidence. "Rabbi, when did you get here" in my mind is like saying, "whoa, Jesus, what a coincidence all 5000 of us running into you here on the other side of the sea. We were coming over here, bread, actually..."

I certainly cannot look down on those people. I too have a short memory. I too often forget the many miracles God has worked in my life. When I want something from God I cry out, putting Him to the test - Do you love me? Show me a Sign! I forget about my conversion or think that it was my own doing or was going to happen naturally anyway. I forget about the perfectly arranged events that led me to meeting my wife.

My desires for signs, like those people in the Gospel, are often fleshly desires. I want to feel this way, again. Like them I want to experience that "high" of witnessing a miracle and I don't want that high to end. Yet, if I am observant, patient, and open, Jesus can use that base desire to lead me to higher things. He can turn my hunger for good bread into a hunger for the Bread From Heaven. He can turn my desire for earthly things into a desire for Heavenly things.

FROM THE SAINTS - "Stoics, ancient and modern, were proud of concealing their tears. He never concealed His tears; He showed them plainly on His open face at any daily sight, such as the far sight of His native city. Yet He concealed something. Solemn supermen and imperial diplomatists are proud of restraining their anger. He never restrained His anger. He flung furniture down the front steps of the Temple, and asked men how they expected to escape the damnation of Hell. Yet He restrained something. I say it with reverence; there was in that shattering personality a thread that must be called shyness. There was something that He hid from all men when He went up a mountain to pray. There was something that He covered constantly by abrupt silence or impetuous isolation. There was some one thing that was too great for God to show us when He walked upon our earth; and I have sometimes fancied that it was His mirth." - G. K. Chesterton - Orthodoxy

Monday, July 30, 2018

The Smallest Act of Love

The Kingdom of God,
Starts very small,
Like mustard seed or yeast.
Yet when it grows it changes all,
the greatest from which was least.

Our efforts seem,
To no avail,
Or seem to take too long.
Yet when we see the good that's grown,
Happily we are wrong.

Your task it is,
To sow the seed,
To be tiny leaven.
By action, deed, prayer, and thoughts,
Help others on to heaven.

Be not discouraged by failure,
Or slow imperceptible growth.
It is the smallest act of love,
That changes the world the most.

From The Last Dragon and Other Poems by James M. Hahn

Monday, May 14, 2018

Mother's Day Weekend.

Mother's Day Weekend -

Happy Mother's Day to all of the mothers, in the many facets of motherhood, who read this blog.  It's been a while since I simply blogged and talked a bit about family.  Our lives have taken on some major changes since I've last posted about the family.  

The biggest change is Nicole going back to work as an RN at a nursing and rehabilitation facility.  It's been a big change for me mentally and emotionally not only as one who has viewed himself as the sole provider of the family but I am also now in charge of herding kids a full 3 days per week!!

Life is extremely hectic with so many kids and so many activities to keep straight.  I continue to work as a life insurance agent with the Catholic Order of Foresters, operate Real Life Rosary, and write, working on any one of 10 books on my list of books to write before I die.  

My brother, Fr. William Hahn, is currently in Israel and then on to Scotland as part of his 3 month sabbatical.  We certainly miss having him around and continue to pray for his safety and spiritual growth.

Over the weekend, in addition to celebrating Mother's Day, we also celebrated Catherine's 10th birthday.  She's come a long way in 10 years and has been through more than any of us will ever experience health-wise.  Thank you to everyone who has prayed from the beginning and who continue to pray for her and us.

Of course, like your life, everything is more complex and hectic than the preceding paragraphs make it sound.  However, sometimes simplifying makes things's some pictures from the weekend....
Sunrise Saturday morning from the front deck.

Freshly tilled garden ready to plant.

Basically how we tilled the entire garden.

There's something to the story of Adam being formed out of the earth...

More minions (children) planting pumpkins while I was planting sweetcorn.

Planting a flowerbed just for fun and beauty.

The gorgeous mother of my children and love of my life, Happy Mother's Day!

Part of our Mother's Day dinner - chicken and asparagus.
We also celebrated Catherine's 10th birthday!!  Hard to believe it's been 10 years!

Girly presents have the boys attention.

Time for a post-party siesta.

Monday, April 02, 2018

Questions for the Guard

Easter Monday
Matthew 27:8-15

You were bribed to keep your mouth shut though your eyes were wide open.  They were not shut.  You were not sleeping.  You saw what you saw and yet, now, coins fill your pockets but your heart is empty.

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How do you sleep at night?  How do you ever close your eyes again after what you saw...and denied?  Does the glorious image of the Resurrection now float behind your sleeping eyes as a nightmare?  Do you find yourself awakened by your own body falling to the stone floor just as you fell back when you saw the angels?  Can you ever dream a pleasant dream again after denying that which the prophets of old longed to see? 

Do you and your cohorts exchange haunted glances in the halls and on the parade grounds?  Do you ever begin a conversation with another soldier about that fateful morning?  Does he answer your inquest with a head shake as though trying shake the image from his mind once again?  Did you, and they, try to reason away what it was that you saw?  Was it the stress of war, illness, or a bad batch of wine that opened your eyes to see Him who changed water into wine, death into Life?

Do you see His face in the common man on the street and does your heart skip a beat? Are you hesitant to visit the tombs of your own loved ones for fear that He may be there, perhaps looking like a gardener or a rabbi?  Are you haunted by the echo of that great stone slowly rolling away as you looked on helplessly?  Does the morning sun shining through the windows make you jump to your feet in fear and trembling as though you are living that great and terrible morning once again?

Were your coins spent on women and wine in an attempt to forget it all?  Do you see the angels in your drunken stupor, the women, Him?  Why is it that you still hold on to that last coin?  Why do you refuse to spend it?  Is it a charm to ward off that which you cannot keep at bay?  Is it the only weight that is keeping you moored to this passing earth?  When will you let go of it and let Him in?

How will you spend the rest of your years?  Will you continue to try and run from Him?  Will you come to terms with what you know you saw...and denied?  Will you convert?  Will you leave everything and live for the only One who is worth dying for?  What have you to say, you, who after all these years still guard an empty tomb?

More from James M. Hahn can be found on this blog or on his Author Page at Amazon.

The Garden of the Lord