Monday, September 28, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are

I think this movie is going to make me cry.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Love, not Judgment

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Happy Sunday! What a beautiful day outside! Yesterday was cloudy and rainy all day. Today, I woke up to a sunny Sunday morning on my way to the most beautiful celebration between heaven and earth!!! Praise God!

Today's Gospel was about removing whatever causes you to sin. Figure out whatever it is that divides you and God... now work with all your mind, body, and soul to remove it. Get rid of it. The love of God is so powerful and so pure that to be united with Him in love is the greatest ecstasy that humans can experience. The first reading was about ministry in the name of the Lord.

"For whoever is not against us is for us." Mk 9:40.

What a joy to know we have such support! That means that whoever is not against Christ's message to "Repent", is for it. This support is shown in love.

One thing that I have noticed and felt in the past few days here at the Abbey is judgment. I know it happens everywhere, not just here. The fact that it happens here is the basis for this blog.

Brothers and Sisters, we are called to LOVE.

Matthew, in chapter 7, verse 1, says:
"Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you."

We can't love God if we're hating others. Don't judge your brothers and sisters in Christ... whoever is not against us is for us. To be an effective witness for Christ, we have to spread love.

Martin Luther King Jr. says "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

When the Pharisees and the Sadducees asked Jesus what the greatest commandment is, he said "You shall love the Lord, you God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments." Matthew 22: 37-40.

Our generation is looking for love. We need to show them the true love that is found in Jesus Christ. "Be the change you wish to see in the world" - Ghandi

Please, I beg you, love each other. Judgmental glares and hateful words can wound people to the core. In the world we live in today, single actions by the faithful can drive hesitant believers away from the church.

I stumble and fall in the journey too. Remember, Jesus fell three times on the way to His crucifixion. Nobody's perfect. I'm not trying to raise myself up with this blog so please don't take it as preaching. I'm trying to spread the love of Christ.

I'll leave you with this meditation on Christ's third fall.
Our Lord falls for the third time, on the slope leading up to Calvary, with only forty or fifty paces between him and the summit. Jesus can no longer stay on his feet: his strength has failed him, and he lies on the ground in utter exhaustion.
He offered himself up because it was his will; abused and ill-treated, he opened not his mouth, as a sheep led to the slaughter, dumb as a lamb before its shearers (Is 53:7).
Everyone against him.. the people of the city and those from abroad, and the Pharisees and the soldiers and the chief priest.... All of them executioners. His mother--my mother--weeps.
Jesus fulfills the will of his Father! Poor; naked. Generous: what is there left for him to surrender? "He loved me and delivered himself up unto death for me--Gal 2:20.

My God! May I hate sin and unite myself to you, taking the holy cross into my arms, so that I, in my turn, may fulfill your most lovable will, ... stripped of every earthly attachment, with no other goal but your glory,... generously, not keeping anything back, offering myself with you in a perfect holocaust.
-Meditation taken from the Stations of the Cross in the Daily Roman Missal.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

One Body in Christ

Peace be with you,

Last night, I had the honor of attending one of Belmont Abbey's many shining gems of excellence; the Cuthbert Allen Memorial Dinner for The Ecumenical Institute of the Carolinas. Being a theology major, I received an email looking for general interest in the idea of a college age student giving an hour long presentation about his research of Anti-Catholic sentiments in Greenville, South Carolina. I was happy to see that this student was none other than an old high school youth group friend, Casey Cole. He did an amazing job presenting the information that he collected and analyzed over his ten weeks of research. (side note: It's a truly beautiful thing to see the fruits of Christ manifested in the lives of youth. Casey and I both felt the call to youth ministry while we were active in the same youth group and now Christ has blessed us with the further discovery of our vocation: PRAISE GOD!!!)

After Casey's presentation, the Benedictines welcomed the group to join them in Vespers (night prayer which involves singing the psalms) and the majority gladly joined. Following the service, the Ecumenical Institute hosted a MAGNIFICENT Salmon dinner with roasted herb potatoes, steamed broccoli, delicious salad, and sweet tea. I was given the opportunity to dine with fellow peers and to catch up with Casey about his research and college in general. Our student honoree table included a Greek Orthodox Catholic, a Wake Forest student converting to the Quaker tradition, a Protestant (I forgot the denomination and for that I deeply apologize) and a few Catholics. We were recognized for "efforts, both scholarly and personal, that support the goals of the Ecumenical Institute and for the potential demonstrated to make even greater contributions in the future". I was baffled. All I really did was attend a friend's presentation, go to Vespers, and eat dinner. The dinner moved me to action in this area of the faith so hopefully future blogs will address these ecumenical contributions.

After the scrumptious food we were able to receive wisdom from the erudite Dr. David Steinmetz of the Duke Divinity School on the topic: "Is the Reformation Over?". This man spoke with such conviction and such passion that I couldn't help but be moved for the cause of inter-faith dialogue. Along with the recognition of Msgr. Leigh Lehocky, the events of the night showed me that there really is something to ecumenical efforts. There's a purpose in trying to get the various religions and denominations together and finding common ground. To be quite honest, I used to think that everyone had their own opinions and there was no real way to find "common ground".

Casey's presentation informed me of the ignorance for each others' faiths that the majority of Christians have. We have more in common than not. We may differ in a wide variety of beliefs, but we all believe in being called to love. Christ died for all of us. He died so that we may have life abundantly. He wants us to be happy! Christ didn't create these silly divisions that we argue about. He came to create The Body. He came save the fallen mankind.

Essentially, what I got out of the night was that we are all called to love. We are all working towards the same goal: unity with our Heavenly Father! What if we all prayed for each other instead of criticizing each others' beliefs? We are called to "recognize the Christian substance of the other", not to tell them why they're going to hell.

As a final point, Dr. Steinmentz called us not to grow weary in well doing. We are revived by the same Holy Spirit as the early Church fathers. We are touched by the same Spirit that appeared upon the heads of the apostles at Pentecost. We have a gift! Let's use it for the glory of God!!!

God bless your week! You're in my prayers as I visit the most beautiful St. Joseph Eucharistic Adoration Chapel here on campus. I love you. Please keep me in your prayers as well.

Matt Merry

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

It's in your best interest

Hey friends,

As many of you know, I've just started my senior year of college. I'm getting situated into my classes, my apartment, my state of mind, and I'm really enjoying it. I love my apartment but there's a disturbance in the force.

Well, recently there have been a few cats outside of my apartment building living off scraps the already poor college students leave for them. At first there were three. It seemed like a mother and two kids. A few residents (who will not be named as they are in direct violation of college policy) have taken in two of the cats out of the kindness of their hearts. Unfortunately, that leaves tiny tim outside our apartment crying for his mommy. Don't worry, we're trying to make things right.

Let me set the scene for you. My apartment building lies right on the edge of a small forest and the chosen dwelling place of the kitten (who's just being a good kitten and following the rule of stay in the last place you saw your family) is between some bushes and the side of the apartment. He sits there and cries when people walk by on their merry way to and from class but of course he's scared so he won't approach anyone who wants to help him. Well my apartment mates and I have set out on an epic quest to rescue tiny tim and reunite him with his long lost family. Though we have spent hours trying to lure the kitten into a makeshift cat trap made of a small twig and a laundry basket filled with tuna, we have been unsuccessful so far. It's too easy for the kitten to scurry between the bushes and the protection of the forest underbrush. We try to rescue the kitten and it's to his own benefit if he will just overcome his fear let us get him. We want to help him, but that's not how he sees it.

Isn't this how we act in our walk with Christ sometimes? We think we know what's best so we decide not to do something because we're scared or we're unsure of the outcome. We're scared to step out the boat and test new waters. God knows what's best for us and He wants to help us but He said it wouldn't be easy. Maybe God has been asking you to step out of your comfort zone recently. He wants to help you. Of course I'm not saying that God traps us into being saved. We have free will. I'm just saying He gives us opportunities to grow in love.

I know it's a stretch to make this connection but hopefully you can take something from it. Let us continue to pray for each other. God bless!