Life lessons I need to keep remembering…

The past few years have helped me to learn me a lot of lessons, but some of them are frustratingly hard to keep in mind and to follow. Here are a few of them. They may sound trite, but if they are oft-repeated, it is because they are true.

  1. The past cannot be changed, and to live in it or lament it is pointless. The best (and most) you can do is be grateful for the good you have received, ask forgiveness for your offenses, and learn from both good experiences and mistakes and bad decisions (yours and those of others).
  2. You must do your best to understand and recognize the present for what it is, not for what you’d like it to be. That includes knowing and accepting the truth about who you are right now and what your relationships are with the people around you, with your work, and with God.
  3. It is your own responsibility to act in the present to help shape the future.  You can’t wait for others to decide or act for you.
  4. You should act in a way that is consistent with reality and with your principles. That is not always easy – it has consequences that are not always what you want – but the longer you let fear or anxiety paralyze or blind you, the worse things will get, for you and for others whose lives you touch.
  5. Making the right decisions requires making the effort to inform yourself and use your best judgment, as well as relying on the advice, counsel, guidance, knowledge and wisdom of others.
  6. If you need help, ask for it. But the more important the help you need, the more careful you should be about whom you ask.
  7. Looks can be deceiving.
  8. You are not in control of what happens around you.  No human being is. The universe is an incredibly complex network of causes and effects, natural laws, and decisions made with varying degrees of freedom and rationality. Rely on God’s providence and guidance. He is the only one who really knows what is going on – and he does know.
  9. In this life, you will never fully understand God’s plan. Just when you think you’ve got it, he will probably throw you a curve ball. Trust that he can bring good out of any situation.
  10. The previous two rules mean that you need to pray a lot: prayers of thanksgiving and of petition, prayers for others and for yourself. And believe that those prayers will be heard and answered, although the answer may not be what you want nor come when you would like it to.
  11. God is the only person whose expectations you must live up to. And God’s expectations are often not the same as yours, or anyone else’s. You discover them as you go along; always be open to the unexpected.
  12. God wants you to develop the gifts he has given you the best you can, in your specific circumstances, and to use those gifts in a way that makes you and others happy (the two go hand in hand). You must be the best “you” that you can be.
  13. The previous two rules mean that your happiness will come from fulfilling God’s specific plans for you, not from living up to any other standard.  No two people are the same, nor should they be.  Other people can serve as an inspiration or model in certain ways, but you cannot measure your success in life by direct comparison of your achievements with those of someone else.  We all start life with unique talents, difficulties, and resources.  We pass through unique challenges, circumstances, influences (both positive and negative), etc.  The results will inevitably be different. Don’t ask whether or not you are better or worse than someone else in any given aspect of your life or personality; ask whether or not you are the best “you” you can be in your circumstances.

These are easy to write, but I never manage to apply them all at once…

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God is Good (and so is vacation)!

God has been consistently, amazingly good to me. God’s plans can be strange, unexpected, unfathomable, and/or painful at times, but God’s goodness is boundless. Sometimes I ask myself why God takes such good care of me and answers my prayers with such generosity; why God’s presence has been made manifest to me so often, since my childhood, in a way that many people don’t seem to experience.  All I can do is say “thank you!” and try to respond to that love and generosity in whatever way God seems to be asking of me at any given time.

Besides publicly acknowledging God’s overwhelming goodness, I am writing to let my blog subscribers know that – as you can see – I am still alive!  I haven’t published here recently for a number of reasons, due to major changes in my life and activities. I have become very busy with new things that don’t involve public speaking, so I no longer have the same steady source of publishable content that formerly made up the bulk of my posts. Nevertheless, I have a few new topics about which I am itching to write, so I hope to get back to blogging soon, if that’s what the Good Lord wants… In the meantime, here are a few of photos as “proof of life”…  Taken during my recent long weekend vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico! One of God’s many blessings.

 

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The Forgotten Sign, Because Humility Just Isn’t on Our Agenda

Matthew Green:

A good Lenten reminder!

Originally posted on Biltrix:

Am I my brother's keeper?

Am I my brother’s keeper?

When I give tours at the Metropolitan Art Museum in New York, I like to stop by this paining and not say a word. Eventually, someone asks, “What’s this painting about?”

Most people do not see what’s going at first or even second glance. Surprisingly, some people never see it until you tell them the title of the painting, and even then, some still don’t see what is going on. 

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Praying for the Legion of Christ’s General Chapter

It isn’t a secret I have not been overly optimistic about the success of the Legion of Christ’s ongoing General Chapter.  I want things to go well, but over the past three years time and again I have read and heard things that have not been encouraging.

Yet, today I looked over the photos of all the Legionaries present at the General Chapter.  I know the vast majority of them; almost all have been my classmates, teachers, superiors, co-workers, etc., at one point or another.  Seeing their faces flooded me with memories of them – of their hard work, their dedication, their advice, and their humor; memories of time we spent together, moments both of fun and of difficulty. I remember their virtue in the face of hardship and suffering, and their sincere efforts to carry out the work assigned to them, even when in some cases perhaps they were not the right man for the job.

Certainly, we all made mistakes, as we were living to some extent in an illusion. We were following rules, traditions, and an internal culture carefully organized by a man we thought was holy, but who was really the polar opposite.  Nonetheless, the men in the Legion, at least most of them, are – as I have said before – well intentioned, talented, devout, hard-working men. The priests in the General Chapter are a sampling of that, and their photographs helped me to remember it.

What happens to the Legion now doesn’t affect me very much directly; I am definitively on my way out, and am starting a new (and very different) life.  But I care very much what happens, because I really do love those men, and so many other people who are connected with or affected by the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi in one way or another.

Please join me in praying that God’s will may be done.  May the Holy Spirit move the hearts and minds of all those involved – the Legionaries, the cardinals involved in the General Chapter, and the Holy Father Pope Francis – for the best possible outcome.  May the Holy Spirit also help all those affected by the results of the General Chapter to recognize God’s plan its short and long-term repercussions, whatever they may be. I cannot think of any outcome that would make everybody happy, but if everyone does their best to follow God’s will, I’m sure He will surprise us all with His wisdom and goodness.

Click on the pic to see the full page with the photos and profiles of the “Chapter Fathers”:

chapter fathers

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Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s been a while since I posted. So much has happened in my life over the past several months that it’s been hard to find the time to sit down and write something… but I can’t let this occasion pass by!  I have too much for which to be thankful!

First I want to thank God for being continuously near me and guiding me, hearing and answering my prayers with amazing generosity and, often, with unusual clarity.  I guess that’s always been the case, but it has been particularly noticeable over the past year.  The path on which He is leading me is marvelous, albeit sometimes disconcerting!

Next, I want to thank my family – especially my parents – for being there for me always and supporting me unfailingly.  My life has not been boring; since my adolescence, I have been on a journey, both literally and figuratively, that has included more than a fair share of the unexpected.  Just when it looked like things were slowing down in the early 2000’s,  my world got turned upside down in 2009 (it’s a long story).  The past four years have been something like an amusement park ride – occasionally scary, often beautiful, with moments of tranquility alternating with bumpy stretches and abrupt twists and turns. But like on an amusement park ride, I have never felt truly in danger or alone.  My family have always been there for me. I cannot thank them enough.

The journey of life is taking me to beautiful places. I took this photo on a highway near Monterrey, Mexico.

The journey of life is taking me to beautiful places. I took this photo on a highway near Monterrey, Mexico.

Much the same can be said of the many friends and acquaintances I have made along the way.  I have always been welcomed and helped wherever I have been.  I truly wish I could spend more time and stay in more constant contact with all these wonderful people.  Thank you, everyone whom I have had the privilege of counting as friends, colleagues, and “family” in the extended sense of the word!  Special thanks are also due to my spiritual directors, confessors, and to others who have given me guidance, counsel, etc., over the past few years.  You are, all of you, amazing people.

Also, special thanks to those who are helping me get established in my new home in Monterrey, Mexico – part of the latest, perhaps most unexpected, and truly wonderful twist in the plot of my life!

Thanks again to you all.  May God reward you for your love, generosity, and goodness. You have my love and my prayers.

Sunset in Acapulco

Sunset in Acapulco in early November

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World Origami Days, day 7: Hurray for the Red Sox!

 

Origami red socks designed and folded by me (one square each), in celebration of our World Series champions!!! The sock design is a no brainer, really. The challenge would be to make both socks out of one sheet of paper… maybe next time!

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World Origami Days, day 6: Origami Jack O’Lanterns

 

Designed and folded by me, although both designs (yes, there are two, with slightly different results in the details) are so simple someone else may have documented them first!

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