Catholic Soup is a food for thought blog based website designed to provide Catholic insight through personal experience.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Joys of a Failure: The Guiding Goodness

With my job here in Denver as an Emergency Assistance Adviser, I help those in need pay down their bills, specifically rent and utilities. One of the things I see the most among my clients is a down, stressed, worried face, the face of failure. So often they are in tears coming into the office because of the burden they have of paying off bills, or debt. I always hear "life is tough" and "it's tough out there."

 In my mind it has to be tough.

Life has to be hard, and we have to go through those rough times of suffering and pain. The beauty of suffering is knowing that it prepares us for something greater. Life has to be tough or else what would there be to gain? Saint Rose of Lima once said that if we knew the value suffering has, we would pray for it. The philosophy over this is great to think about because it reveals to us that through our pain, our struggles, our burdens and worries we can understand that Heaven, the greatness and goodness of all Beauty and Glory, is real.

Look at the world for instance, we can agree that there is goodness in the world. A concrete goodness like the air, the water, the land and even our hearts that supply blood by way of the veins throughout our bodies. But more fundamental, I think what else is good is our personal ambition and our success, otherwise we wouldn't strive to do good. Face it, there is a desire for success and as rappers Biggie and 2pac would say, "Get Money."

Humanity throughout the course of history strives for success. We strive for that perfect job, we strive for that perfect relationship and that "dream home." For those in third world countries it's called "El Sueno Americano" or the American dream. The fact is that goodness, is always moving for the greater, we see this because we are always striving for something greater, for something better. Notice that there is never enough money, never a nice enough phone, or (and I love this) never a final Apple Product that tops them all. The beauty is that because of this desire for permanent Goodness, there has to be something that IS greater then all the rest otherwise, there would be an infinite regress of good things. This is Heaven, with perfect unity and relationship with God the father who is the primary Goodness. That continuous desire for goodness is a call to Heaven, a call to holiness and perfection.

But why the struggles? The answer to me is that we need those struggles and pains to strive for something better. It should be a reminder for us to learn to seek goodness, not only earthly goodness of success but Eternal goodness of holiness. Struggle prepares us, pain prepares us and teaches us what we are really made for, that is Joy and peace with our Father in Heaven. I'm reminded of getting burned as a kid, I didn't know what I was doing, all I knew was that it hurt and I wasn't doing it again. I wish I can say that from that moment on I walked away from the stove telling myself that fire was hot and you know what maybe I'm not suppose to be in the kitchen.

The joy, is that on our journey  to success there will be failure and times will get tough, but if its not tough how can we be molded? I like to say when the journey is tough, the destination will be great. If we can see how God is working in our lives through the suffering and through the trials, there will be an awakening of our own spirit, to strive for that goodness and seek true happiness by virtue and holiness. Today, being the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas here's a perfect quote.

"Man's beatitude or happiness consists in this: to see God through God's essence." -Saint Thomas Aquinas

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Come After Me - Gospel Reflection

Today in the Gospel reading, we hear about a great move, a great change and a leaving that could be for better or for worse. I'm always fascinated by the obedience the first Apostles had. In the book of Mark, Jesus is walking by the Sea of Galilee and he sees Simon, and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea. Jesus, a man they hardly know, calls out to them saying "Come after Me."

It's interesting because at this point scripture tells us that they abandon their nets and followed him. We have to understand that as a fisherman, was hard work, not only was it hard work but it was who they were, their livelihood, their careers and their professions. We're talking about tossing nets and pulling them in constantly throughout their lives. This sort of thing was the moneymaker for the individual or for the family, it was the trade. I think a comparison can be made with a modern day ambition or personal motive, or goals. The fact of the matter is that they just abandoned all that they had, their futures, careers an trades for something else. It's like changing majors a year before your set to graduate, let's face it...That isn't normal.

Again, they left having complete trust and obedience in Jesus who was proclaiming the gospel. The message earlier in the gospel is emphasizing that the time is now, this is the time of fulfillment. Not later, or tomorrow, or the next day but now. I can only imagine how that dialogue would of been:

Jesus: "Come after Me."

Simon: "Huh?"

Jesus: "Come after Me."

Andrew to Simon: "What'd he say?"

Simon to Andrew: "He said to follow him."

Jesus: "...I will make you fishers of men."

Simon: "Alright, give us a second, we just gotta pull these nets up real fast. It should only take a minute."

What? Like no. They just flat out left. In fact, there isn't any dialogue mentioned in the book of Mark. It's fascinating to me. I think the call to change is now, the call to follow is now and the gospel proves that. It reminds me of religious life. Sometimes in the morning I wake up two minutes before the set prayer time. There's no time to brush your hair or check your Facebook. In my head, that time is now. If your late, your late, there is no waiting. And it's just a reminder that the time to commit ourselves to following Christ is now, the time for living a life of prayer and virtue begins now. It was really comforting to hear the gospel this morning. There's always a reminder, today it was that reminder of forgetting about what you think you ought to do, your what you think you have to do because of ambition or pride. The call, is to leave that behind and take up something that's better.

Jesus tells us, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men." Mark 1:14-20