Friday, October 17, 2014

Trees Make A Difference

“Then God said, let the earth bring forth vegetation; every kind of plant that bears seed and every kind of fruit tree that bears fruit with its seed in it.  And so it happened: the earth brought forth every kind of plant that bears seed and every kind of fruit tree on earth that bears fruit with its seed in it.  God saw how good it was.  Evening came, and morning followed—the third day.”

Sometimes when I’m feeling overwhelmed with the difficulty of daily life I go sit beneath a tree and read through the creation accounts in order to remind myself of how good God really is.  Everything around us was made by Him and with that is love.  He saw how good it is, and we have the opportunity to see how good He is in his creation.

The creation story does have kind of a hierarchy though it seems with the progression of creation from light and water to vegetation to animals to man to woman.

“God created man in His image;
in the divine image He created them;
male and female He created them.”

As I am sure you are aware God thought we were pretty neat as well…even good-er than the trees.  But we made a mistake.  Man sinned.  He disobeyed God because he thought he knew better than God.  He really dropped the ball.  Out of the garden.  Now we have shame.  No eternal happiness forever.

But that isn’t the end of the story.  God had a plan, even before man was created.  This plan was going to use a creation from the third day, in order to bring about the salvation of mankind.  He needed to find the perfect victim though, in order to do atonement for the sins of all.

St. Bernard defines humility, “a virtue by which a man knowing himself as he truly is, abases himself.”

If you are unaware of what abases means, like I was, the google machine says ‘to make little’, so in this context, it is referring to a man making himself small.

I ask you to picture a tree growing in an empty garden, growing, growing, growing.  This tree begins to die, and another sprouts near the original stump from the seeds born from the first tree.  As this takes place life all around it has changed.  People have moved.  Babies born.  Children educated.  Sin committed.  Forgiveness begged for.  The simple trees keep growing, dying, bearing fruit for those lives around it.

This my dear brothers and sisters is a part of the plan God had to destroy death by death.  God himself, the God who at the beginning of time created light and water and vegetation and birds and mankind, became man.  No other victim would suffice because man was stained with original sin.  God needed a pure sacrifice and He chose to do this by becoming a sacrifice.  This is the epitome of humility in and of itself.  God, who was perfectly happy in Himself, took on flesh in order to forgive us of our sins.  He was born a baby to a human virgin, and in this needed to learn to talk, to walk, to face difficulties.  He lived a life of rejection from those around Him, the same people He keeps in existence with His thoughts of love.

He was condemned to death.  The creator of the universe was condemned to death.

How did man separate himself from God’s love originally?  A tree. He ate of the one tree that God had forbidden Him to out of pride and unholy curiosity.

How did God return the possibility for man of union with Him forever?  A tree.  God was nailed to the object that man used to condemn himself.

Our Lord added insult to His own injury in hopes that it would cause radical conversion in our hearts to accept entrance into this heavenly kingdom’s gates that were just busted down by love.

Humility.

He did that for you.  He did that for me.

When we sin, we are rejecting the invitation to live in paradise with the One who sees us as very good, just in who we are.

Days drag.  Friendships fade.  Families fight.

No matter how rough a day is, no matter how many struggles are found in friendships and families, God still became a baby.  For you.  God still was beaten.  For you.  God was nailed to a tree that He created.  For you.  Why?  So you can live with Him forever in love.  

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Go for a Walk


Stepping outside, the cold night air hits your face with a level of familiarity.  You see the outlines of a few others under the brightness of the clear night sky.  You begin walking without a word of greeting and the others follow.  You reach into your pocket and pull out a simple chorded string and begin reciting words that point to the reality of a loving God and in that remind yourself to be thankful.  You petition the heavens for an increase in virtue, that you can live a life filled with faith, hope, and love and in that a greater level of joy in being.  As your walk of faith continues, you recall and in some sense place yourself in another walk, a walk that ended in the defeat of death by death. 

Throughout an average week there are times that we are able to enter into leisure with loved ones and in that it is not unheard of that those who you find comfort in hurt you.  As you utter the words of love to our Mother you think back on those instances of your day where you felt rejected and point to the Man who, after being betrayed, continued forward in selfless love, not dwelling on the pain inflicted. 

In the distance you hear cars driving down the road but all you can see are the headlights.  You may start to wonder about the people driving by but the repetition draws you back in.  After the meditation of His agony and yours, you have the realization that something greater is coming but obstacles arise.  In the greater walk you place yourself as a spectator watching the whips come down on his back…this brings you to think about the lasting effects of this physical beating.  You may even question what effects could one find in you brought on by the abuse of others.  You look to the Man again and in His suffering He smiles for He is thinking of you.  This thought humbles you and you begin to thank the good God for the badges of courage that are your emotional scars, and you smile for you are thinking of Him.

The cold night air is beginning to make your face go numb but you have great comfort in the shuffle of the others’ feet on the pavement knowing that you are not alone.  You start to look back on how you portray yourself to others and the mocking that is sure to come if you are honest in who you are.  You look back at the Man and He is mocked and given a crown of pain because He is the King of kings.  A flame is lit in your heart as you gain a desire to be confident in every moment in who you were made to be, without a second thought of persecution.  Your walk begins to reflect pride in the one who made you. 

Your breathing becomes noticeable to you as you see the air in front of your face, your walk is coming near its final leg but as you return to the Man you realize His walk is seeming to just begin again as there is betrayal  and physical abuses.  They place a heavy beam on His back and He continues to walk towards more sacrifice.  In every moment they spit at Him and curse at Him but you can clearly see love present in His eyes.  He falls. You recall the many times we fall whether that be into sin or flat on our face and in either case the Man rises and continues to walk with His beam so we are called to do the same.  The flame in your heart is growing as you find the confidence to stand up after your own falling.  The Man reaches a hill and you know what is to come next. 

The Man gives Himself for you, that you may take this walk on this quiet night.  His head falls after hours of pain.  The flame that had begun earlier in your walk is now burning your heart with a desire to share with others about this Man.  This Man gave Himself completely and after this simple evening stroll, repeating words of honor to His Mother you long to give yourself fully, not on a cross but in daily conversion, in dying to our will for the good of others. 

You finish your walk with telling His Mother that you love Her and that you desire to obtain Her Son’s life within you by the simple act of meditating on the words of these simple prayers, and She in Her Motherly care does bring aid to you.
The rosary my dear friends carries much power.  Go for a walk.  Enter into His mystery.  He, and His Mother love you and are waiting for you. 



Saturday, September 13, 2014

Dusting Love

Dusting.  The most desired of all chores. 

At my Seminary, on Saturday morning we have chores to keep our house in order and one of the seniors is in charge of assigning chores so that you are not doing the same thing every week.  After 3 years of being here I looked at the list after breakfast and my name was alone…under the heading of ‘dusting’.  God truly is good, all the time. 
Dusting is coveted because it is the easiest and quickest job and so your relaxing can start early.  However today, that simple chore hit my heart.  You’re probably thinking…what’s wrong with Blood…he hasn’t blogged in awhile…he must’ve gone off the deep end.  Bear with me.

I dusted the tops of some paintings, the bottom of some tables, but then I walked toward the front of the school and there stands a thousand pound statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  Down the face of Jesus are faint lines, such as that of someone who had been crying.  The tradition has it that every time a man leaves the seminary and he shouldn’t of, our Lord sheds a tear.  In my chore of dusting I was supposed to take care of the statues as well, and so with my cloth I slowly wiped the face of Jesus. 
Maybe dusting a statue is just dusting a statue but as I wiped the face a flood of thoughts came into my mind from the past 6 months.  I have been reading a lot about the mercy of God, and how He loves me even when I don’t deserve it.  With that though, I’ve also realized that the Lord allows me to love Him, even though He doesn’t need it, such as the gift of being able to wipe His face.

God humbles Himself so much that we, lowly sinners, are gifted with the opportunity of aiding in His divine plan, His plan for us, but also for those of the whole world.  He gives us every moment, and with every moment He entrusts another step of His plan to us.  This reality has brought me a lot of consolation because on the rougher of days it is easy to think that you don’t have much of a purpose in the now.  ‘When I’m a priest I’ll…When I’m done with college I’ll…When I get my own place I’ll…’   But no, the Lord has given you a purpose, right here, right now.  Yes it does manifest in different ways but it all comes down to love.  In our loving of Him, we build up His kingdom.  In our loving of His children, our brothers and sisters, we build up His kingdom.  In any moment we choose the greater good over our own desires, we build up His kingdom.  Obviously we couldn’t do anything without Him but He loves us so much that our actions do make a difference.
If you feel like you have no purpose, or your days blend together and you can’t see why you are where you are, look to the Father.  He made you beautiful and you are on a mission for Him right where you are.  Whether you can point to it or not, your heart longs for the love of the Father, and to love the Father.  Ask Him to give you the courage to actively will that love to manifest itself in your daily life.  No matter if you are completely on board with your faith, or if you’re fighting hard to understand it, or even if you are adamantly opposed to it, God wants to be united with you in Heaven someday.  For me that brings a great level of hope, for maybe, just maybe if I trust God to show me what it is that I am supposed to do every day, and I do my best to complete those tasks with generosity and love, I’ll get to be in heaven someday…and that desire is greater even than that of a seminarian on Saturday to get dusting as their chore.  I’m praying for you dear friends, that we together may open our hearts to a love more consistent than we’ve ever experienced before.     

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Love Makes Me Cry


My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
I wrote a blog earlier today that I already deleted because tonight the Lord has set my heart on fire in a way I haven’t experienced in quite some time.  I’m just going to ramble in this post about how good God is, because He is.  We are the Easter people and Hallelujah is our song. 
In this past week I’ve had the joy of serving at the Altar of the Lord with my dear brother seminarians, holy priests of the diocese of Rockford, and our good and holy Bishop.  In that alone you can see how extremely blessed I am.  Before each service I went outside to hold the door and greet everyone as they came into the cathedral.   What a gift.  I got to see the smiles of people coming to take part in the greatest prayer of the Church, the Mass.  Such beautiful faith was shown to me just by their presence. 
I had the opportunity to pray with some of my friends in my limited down time this week as well and the Holy Spirit most definitely blessed my heart with His love.  Friendship is such a beautiful gift.    
I’m so blessed.  I can’t say it enough.  I want to shout from the rooftops that Jesus Christ has risen and that He loves me.  He loves you too.  Such a gift. 
Tonight I served the Easter Vigil Mass and the beauty of the sacraments kept my eyes tearing up all night.  We are joined by a number of new brothers and sisters through baptism tonight and in that we can rejoice that God has newly adopted children through the waters of grace.  Peace is flowing like a river. Seriously though. 
Who am I to witness such great love?  I am lowly sinner.  I mess up every day.  Yet, Jesus still fills my heart with His love. 

I long for all of you dear brothers and sisters to run to the Lord as He runs to you.  Open your heart.  He’ll fill it in ways that you do not even deserve, and that’s okay because He’s our Dad. 


 
Jesus is Risen Alleluia Alleluia


May God bless you all and have a blessed Easter. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

This Applies to You


I went to bed at 2 a.m. last night because I was thinking about you.  Yeah, you.  For a long time people have seen me as the guy who has his stuff together.  I’m in the seminary so people think that living the faith is easy for me but I thought I’d share with you that it is not always so easy and in that I want you to know that you’re not alone.

I’m writing this for all of you who used to go to Mass but went to college and eased away from it.  I’m writing this for those of you who wish you prayed more but don’t know how, or who never had someone to pray with.  I’m writing this for those of you who left the church because there was a teaching that you struggled with and no one was there to talk to about it with kindness and love.  I’m writing this for those of you who don’t know what you believe, because I know how alone that can make a person feel.

Normally the people who give me feedback on my blogs are the uber-Christians from twitter and sure that’s great but those of you who are in a different place in your faith journey are important too. 

My spring break began about a week ago and I’ve had the extreme pleasure of talking with a lot of people about Jesus.  I’ve spoken at a small Catholic grade school where by the time I was leaving they were screaming that they were going to miss me.  I’ve spoken to an older group of women who have switched to a non-denominational church because they felt they are more welcoming.  I’ve spoken to a few sets of parents that are solid Catholics living the faith greater than I could imagine.  I went to my grandfather’s funeral and spoke with my faithfully struggling family.  I’ve also flipped through my year book praying for all of the people I went to high school with hoping that they know how much God loves them.

God created all of us because He loves us.  This connects all of us even if we don’t recognize it.  That’s hard.  Really hard.  In praying for a ton of my old friends something kept coming to mind and that was the rough moments I’ve had in the last few years.  I’ve had difficulties in friendships, pain of oral exams, loved ones passing away, and loneliness at school.  Each time the first place I’d go is the chapel to unload all of my feelings and hurts and Our Lord healed them. Slowly but surely.  It breaks my heart thinking that some people do not have that opportunity because of one of the reasons I put above, disagreements with the Church, boredom at Mass, or those people who just have loss the closeness to the heart of God as they got older.  If any of those are you I just want you to know I’m here.  I want to talk to you.  I want to pray for you.  I want to pray with you.  Even though I can pray for you God desires most to hear your voice.  He’s calling out to you in every moment hoping for you to call back.  Even if you don’t think this is true, or if you haven’t felt it lately I’m here to chat with you.  I’m not going to shove the faith down your throat, but I will ask you questions AND I’m not afraid to tell you the doctrine of the Church.  I promise I’ll share it with love and kindness though.  Why am I pushing this?  Because you deserve to have someone to talk to about God, no matter where you are, without fear of being judged. 

Feel free to email me anytime at robertclarkblood@gmail.com and I’ll respond about anything; and if you have prayer requests send them here and I will offer up specific prayers for them.  Also please share this blog with anyone who you think could use someone to chat with about the faith, or who could use prayers. 

May God bless you and keep you. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

She melts my heart


If you know a seminarian or if you follow Catholic posts on Facebook or Twitter you’ve probably heard, “Valentine’s day in the seminary is like Father’s day in an orphanage.”  Some people think this is hilarious, some people feel bad for seminarians, and some people think it’s offensive.  The first time I heard it I chuckled a bit but the truth is I have great women in my life.  I am blessed beyond belief to know some of the holiest women in the world.  I have a great family of women to look up to, especially my mother who always has and always will be that holy lady praying for the wellness of the people around her.   I have friends who want to do God’s will over anything else and I have the gift of witnessing their continuous acceptance of His mission.  I have the Church, the woman who I lean on and who someday, God willing, I will be strong enough for her to lean on me…you see…she’s a big woman. 

There is one more woman I want to tell you about though.  She is always, always, always there for me.  She truly wants what is best for me.  She untangles all the ‘impossible’ problems I have just by being present to a situation.  She is gentle when my heart is hurting.  She is firm when I lose sight of my goals.  She sees me for who I was created to be.  She has such hope that I can be a better man every day.  She always gives me things that I need even before I know I need them instead of trying to fulfill all of my pointless whims. 

She melts my heart

…and I’m not just saying that. 

In my dorm I’m not allowed to have coffee makers, refrigerators, heaters, etc. But I also can’t have candles so instead I bought one of those things you plug in with a light bulb that melts wax.  It takes this cube of hard seemingly worthless wax and makes a room that houses two college guys smell like a spring meadow…Technology today right?  Seriously though, a little warmth transforms the cube into something that can change a room.  My Lady warms my heart so it melts and it changes who I am, and everyone I come into contact with.

Recently I’ve been talking to my brother seminarians about the struggles we face here.  For some of us we struggle with living in community with 40 some brothers.  For others the hardest part is being away from home, especially when we all have a deep desire to be present to our family and friends in their own journeys to our Lord.  Other seminarians can struggle with academics, or the constant return to the fact that we are here to learn to give everything we have and everything that we are away for the good of the kingdom.  Some guys even have dryness in prayer…Can you believe that?  Seminarians that don’t have perfect prayer lives…

Everyone here has difficulties and I know that all of you reading this do too.  I’ve been repeating the same thing over and over to myself and to my brothers out here.  Go to Mom.  She loves you.  She’ll change you.   I say these same words to you today.  From my own experience I can tell you that She has transformed me through Her Son from a terrible confused sinner to a terrible slightly less confused sinner who daily gets back up for the sake of love.  The words don’t do justice to the way She has moved in my life.  The people you are closest to will see a difference in you when you open up the wax of your heart to Her heat.  Do not be afraid. 

On Valentine’s day many people will be sharing good times with their loved ones and praise God for the gift of being able to share one’s life with another.  Take a moment though to think about that Gal who never stops loving us.

Gentlemen, love the women in your life like they are the greatest creation known to man.  Why? Because they are. 

Ladies, love the men in your life with sincerity and truth.  Why? Because it will compel them to grow.  


Our Lady is a beautiful example of what love is.  She gave us our Savior.  Don’t forget Her. 

Go to Mom.  She loves you.  She’ll change you.