Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Blindest Are Those That Try Not To See...

Hello from a saturated People's Republic of Pasadena on this 14th day of March, 2010.

This could be an interesting one...I'm writing it on the fly, and not really sure how it's going to turn out...that could be a dangerous thing considering I'll be blogging about one of the more emotional topics - religion. This one is also going to be pretty uncharacteristic of this blogger, but I have something to say (and by all means, nothing can hold that in!).

I'll preface with a little bit of my religious background. I was brought up Catholic - I was Baptised, received my First Communion, did the Sacrament of Penance, was Confirmed, attended (by parental edict) CCD, and went to Mass (again, mainly due to my parents - more so my Mom - "making" me go). I've frequented Immaculate Conception in Towson, the Church of the Nativity in Lutherville-Timonium, The Church of the Resurrection and St. Louis Catholic Church in Howard County, and more recently, St. John's down in Severna Park. I've even been to the "vacation-minute-masses" at St. Luke's while visiting Ocean City!

I digress...

I was brought up Catholic. I was taught the differences between right and wrong (from my folks) built solidly on a foundation of Christian beliefs. I attended Mass, but never really listened. I prayed...more often than not only when the proverbial stuff hit the fan, things were out of control, or I desperately needed/wanted something tangible (I'm not talking about seriously praying for a winning Mega Millions lottery ticket!).

However, I got a little disenfranchised at the whole Catholic thing due to (1) scandals in the Church, (2) the overwhelming feelings of guilt that seemed predominant in any and all aspects of Catholicism, and, for lack of a better word, (3) the bore-factor...when people stood up and said The Apostle's Creed or The Lord's Prayer (The Our Father, for the less religiously-inclined readers) out loud, it was monotone - no emotion, no feeling, no anything...words - nothing more, nothing less.

Finally, as I got older and wasn't being "forced" to go to Mass, I stopped going.

Now don't get me wrong, I have taken the Leap of Faith - I truly believe in God and His Son Jesus Christ, Who walked the Earth as a man, Who died for our sins, Who rose from the dead, and Who truly is The Way to Heaven.

I also know, beyond a shadow of doubt, that I am a sinner.

I've had my ups and downs with the Man Upstairs...I'd be surprised if anyone who believes hasn't.

I've asked "Why me?" more times than I can count.
I got angry when my folks were taken a mere 70 days apart, and when they were (in MY mind) far too young.
I've questioned.

Again, I know I'm not the only one who has felt this way.

A few gentlemen that I worked with at my previous job got me thinking about religion again...they made me want to get back into things, and see where my Faith stood. I dabbled. A few visits to Church here and there, an incomplete Bible study, and some good conversations made me want to go back and actually listen this time. But when I figured out it was time to go back, things always came up.

Too tired.
Too late.
Too early.
The boys wouldn't behave.
The lawn had to be cut.
The house had to be cleaned.
Always something.

Then, this past January 30th, I found myself in a place where I was lost...a significant event occurred that made me realize I HAD to go back. I NEEDED to go back.

So I did.

I picked Ash Wednesday to start. And I'm proud to say I've been every Sunday during Lent, I'm getting something out of it, and I intend to continue my journey.

All of which brings me back to the point of this blog - today's Mass was a good one. The Readings struck a chord, and I want to have a little say about them.

The Second Reading today was from the Book of Ephesians,Chapter 5, Verses 8 - 14. A few lines stood out to me...

"Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness;
rather expose them, for it is shameful even to mention
the things done by them in secret;
but everything exposed by the light becomes visible,
for everything that becomes visible is light."

Whoa! That's some heavy-duty stuff! Everything exposed by the light becomes visible...expose the darkness to the light...visible is the light...

Then the Gospel came from John, Chapter 9, Verse 1 - 41. A Cliff Notes summary - Jesus made a man, who was blind from birth, see. The Pharisees (a sect of Jewish men whom were held with high regard back in the day) weren't too happy about this because Jesus performed this miracle on the Sabbath, a no-no (no work was to be done during the Sabbath), which made them think Jesus was a sinner and couldn't be from God, despite performing the miracle. The once-blind man was also called a sinner by the Pharisees. Jesus told the once-blind man who He was, and the guy worshipped Him. The best line in the Gospel is something Jesus says to the once-blind man...

"I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind."

Again - Holy Smokes! Heavy!

"Amazing Grace" was one of the hymns today - I love that song, and it has struck a major chord with me since it was played by a bagpiper at Dad's funeral in May, 2005. But again, I never really listened to the words.

"...was blind, but now I see..."

I noticed a reoccurring theme...blindness/being able to see...darkness/light. The Homily (which today was an amazing and inspirational speech by the Deacon) brought it all together perfectly...and it really got me thinking (like all Homily's should)...

Here's my take...

I've been BLIND. I sin. Often. I've done a ton of messed up things...nothing I'm proud of, things I knew where wrong, but did anyway..."fruitless works of darkness".

Yet I am beginning to see. My eyes are opening.
How's that?
Because I am recognizing the wrong, I am asking for forgiveness of the sins, and I'm trying to straighten the boat...and the only way to do that is to allow the Light in.

On the flipside, there are many individuals out there that claim to be straight and narrow...that claim to be better than others (due to socio-economic factors, popularity, looks, the company they keep, etc.)...that claim to speak God's Word and do His bidding, but use that as a front to cover-up their lies, their deception, their's those individuals whom are truly blind because they refuse to see...refuse to notice how wrong they are, and how unrighteous they act.

The world would be a much better place, regardless of Faith or Belief, if everyone simply opened their eyes. And dare I say, the first thing everyone should truly look at is the reflection staring back at them in the mirror.

The world would be a better place if the blindest of us, the folks that try NOT to see, would open their eyes, remove their blinders made of prejudice, malice, selfishness, hate, greed, and scheming and let some Light in...

It all starts with a simple blink...a recognition.

I've got a long (LONG) way to go before I can see clearly, so to speak...but at least my eyes are now open. I said, a little uncharacteristic of me...but something I had to say. So I said it - laid it all out there. Tread lightly.

God Bless, Beatdowners.

Until next time...

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