Archive for August, 2015

REFLECTION: A tribute to a blessed man…

Friday, August 21st, 2015

“Harvey was a blessed man.”  repeated Fr. Landry.  I wondered how that was possible when Harvey’s life was shorted by ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) or Lou Gehrig’s disease.   Harvey was my first encounter with ALS and I was amazed of his strength and courage throughout the years when he still made public appearances.

I didn’t know much about the disease, but I could visibly see how it took away Harvey’s ability to walk.  Harvey was a Sherriff at North Vancouver’s Court House.  The rapid, progressive disease attacked his nerve cells responsible for controlling his legs, arms and face and it stripped away Harvey’s ability to serve his community.  What ALS was not able to do was to strip Harvey of his God given faith and because of that, Fr. Landry was readily able to proclaim that Harvey was a blessed man.

If my memory serves me, I believe Fr. Landry quoted from Hebrews 10:38“The just man lives by faith.”  He continued, “Harvey gave to life what was due to life… to his neighbours, to his family and to God.  He gave a positive respect to all.  Although his job was difficult, Harvey treated each person justly, perhaps extending to them what they didn’t experience in life, even if they treated others unjustly.”

In the earlier years when Fr. Landry visited him at home, Fr. Landry would unknowingly refer to Harvey as “Charlie” (Harvey’s father’s name) and Harvey would laugh.  He thought it was funny.  From time to time, Fr. Landry would purposely call Harvey “Charlie” just to see him laugh.

“Harvey had a sense of truly belonging even if he chose to live life independently, living on his own conscience.  Harvey was a blessed man in the community of faith.”  Harvey and Marisha’s wedding was the first one Fr. Landry performed at St. Stephen’s parish.  “A few years after, Harvey discovered he had ALS.  He came to Mass as his mobility diminished and over time, he felt at home and blessed here.  The Knights of Columbus built him a ramp so he could continue to come to Mass.  His wife, Marisha, challenged him and he was happier for it.  He saw the hand of God in the situation.  He was deeply loved and cared for by his wife.  He was not alone in the illness.  The only time he felt alone was when he periodically felt God’s goodness was not with him, but I (Fr. Landry) encouraged him to look at all his other blessings.”

“Harvey never lost faith and he never looked for any alternative.  He had faith and it allowed him to experience the goodness of God.  Through it, he was able to offer his life daily to God.  It gave him a hope beyond understanding.  He knew God wouldn’t leave him like that.  He was greatly blessed in his faith.  Harvey and Marisha prayed daily and persistently.”  Fr. Landry anointed Harvey several times with the Holy Unction, allowing Harvey to join his suffering with Christ’s.  Harvey made his suffering an offering to God.

“Harvey brought us an awareness of ALS as he endured it, as there is no respite or freedom from that condition.  Harvey’s endurance helped us pay attention to what the disease is.”

” Let us recognize the hope that Harvey lived by.  He was a just man, giving to God what was owing to God.  He was a blessed man.  Harvey had the humility to recognize that he did not have the answer to the needs of his life and He needed God’s help.  Harvey was called to be a just man and He was able to give back to God.  Harvey was a blessed man.”

Rest in God’s loving arms Harvey.  I thank God for giving you the grace and mercy to endure your hardship to the very end.  You are truly an example of living faith.   May God’s grace and mercy continue to shower over you, Marisha.

God bless,

Melissa – August 21, 2015

p.s. – The following is an article that was published about Harvey and ALS in the B.C. Catholic…Taxi023 (2)

Taxi022 (2)

REFLECTION: Love God? What about with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might?

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

To my surprise and delight, we had a special visit from the mountain tops one Saturday morning.  Fr. Peter Nygren of Westminster Abbey in Mission, B.C. and his young seminarians came our way to enjoy the trails of West Vancouver.  I had never had a prior conversation with him, but I referred to him as the tall guy who always had a punch in his homily.  Unfortunately, one has to travel all the way to Mission to have a chance opportunity to listen to one of them.  Nevertheless, two weeks ago, our Father blessed me with his homily, a chat, a little counsel and a warm handshake!

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”  Deuteronomy 6:5 cited Fr. Peter.  “This is part of today’s first reading.  But we don’t love God with all our heart, with all our soul nor with all our might.  Many have become lunatics because they don’t love.”

“What is wrong with us?  Love is being poured into us, but we don’t love.  Many are indifferent about offending God because they don’t love Him.”

Did that strike you?  It did with me!  Disrespect for many things, let alone God, is rampant these days.  Human life is no longer sacred.  Look around… infanticide, in the form of abortion, euthanasia, bullying, shootings in schools…killing innocent young ones are taking place in greater masses.  What is going on?  Is it because love no longer exists in the hearts of man?

“In today’s society, pleasure and pain are what govern our thoughts and choices.  We are afraid of pain; we are afraid of pain which love ensures.  We protect ourselves from loving because we fear pain.” 

Is this what’s happened to us? Have we regressed to function as animals, relying on pleasure and pain to govern our direction in life?  Have we lost our ability to think and to rationalize and to look forward to the future, to see that some temporary sacrifices have to be made to gain a little more?  Are we so afraid of pain that we no longer dare to love?  Have we not learned that endurance and strength are gained by experiencing pain?

 “If we are not reflecting on the pleasures and pain of Jesus and Mary, we focus on our own.” 

Sadly, not many reflect on God, let alone Jesus or Mary.  In truth, hardly anyone is reflecting at all these days.  We go on doing things without reviewing what we have done or the consequences of our actions or lack of them.  And if we dwell on ourselves, we normally enter through the doors of self-pity and we dwell there until we don’t have the strength to crawl back out.  Do we fail to see how destructive self-pity is and how it shackles us and how it removes the vision of hope from our horizon?

“When we experience sorrow, we also experience guilt.”  This was one I failed to grasp and hence our brief chat.  Fr. Peter expanded, “When we experience sorrow, many times, we begin to wonder… Had I done things this way or differently, would this have happened?  Could I have done more to prevent this from happening?” 

I failed to comprehend. I had always thought that our sentiments of anger and resentment would normally accompany sorrow.  I had assumed that guilt only came when one was at fault.  By definition, guilt means “a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined;  a feeling of shame or regret as a result of bad conduct.:  Perhaps I misunderstood the definition of sorrow.  It reads “a feeling of deep distress caused by loss, disappointment, or other misfortune suffered by oneself or others.”

On the surface, what connects “sorrow” and “guilt” is that they are both feelings.  They are emotional states.  And so is “love”.  As I ponder deeper, I ask our Father, “Where is the connection?”  Perhaps our Father was already teaching me something through a disappointment and hurt that occurred last week and He brought Fr. Peter down to help me make sense of it?  As I think about it, I realize this would have taken a lot of foresight and fore planning to get this all to work out, but that’s exactly what God does for each of us…because He loves.

God’s love for each of us, regardless of whether we love Him in return, is so immense. He does everything for us including allow us to exercise our own free will.  It may be difficult to fathom, but it is because of true love that He waits for us to exercise our free will.  Love is a feeling, but love is also a choice.  Unless we freely choose to love Him, it would not be true love.

I am of the opinion that it is when love comes to play that one experiences guilt in times of sorrow.  My oldest daughter had just dropped off a dead bird in a box.  It had flown right into a window where my youngest is staying.  My “not so little one” tried everything she could to resuscitate the bird but she couldn’t.  She was so distraught that she had difficulty breathing.  She felt so guilty that she couldn’t do anything to save its life.  Her older sister came by to console her and she picked up the bird so mom could bury it.

Although she had no previous encounter with this one, my daughter’s loving encounters with our other pet birds brought love into her heart.  If love did not prevail, she would not have taken actions to assist the bird and had love not prevailed, she would not have agonized over her inability to save the bird.

God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. Jesus, God’s precious Son, took on the punishment and He died for the world’s sin once and for all.  His resurrection brings eternal life to those who believe in Him.

God so loved the world;  God so loves you.  Do you love Him?

God bless,

Melissa – August 17, 2015

REFLECTION: The challenge…

Monday, August 17th, 2015

As I put in one CD disc in after another, I prayed “Lord, please make this one work.”  Finally with great relief, another CD began to play after I previously got one too many “no disc” display on my antiquated CD player.  It was another of Fr. Jim’s Nisbet’s CD teaching, but this time it was on the book of Romans.

REFLECTION:  Break my heart with what breaks Yours…

Friday, August 7th, 2015

“Break my heart with what breaks Yours.”  Have you heard that phrase sung before?  Why would anyone want their heart broken, let alone with one that breaks God’s heart? And yet that is part of the lyrics of Hillsong United’s popular song, “Hosanna“.  Christians sing along, but I wonder how many actually understand what they are singing?  Have they grasped the truth of the lyrics?

Tonight I had sensed God say the phrase was intended for someone in the Prayer Group.  No one claimed the word and so I continued pondering over it as I drove home.  I asked the Lord what He wanted to convey.  It didn’t take long before I began to realize that the hearts of many had been hardened; thousands are dying around the world from hunger, disease and from persecution and war and yet many of us don’t even flinch.  We watch the news with glazed eyes, hardly responding or reacting to the tragedy others have encountered.  Have our hearts turned into stone?

Another portion of the song caught my attention tonight… “I see a new generation, rising up to take their place; with selfless faith, with selfless faith.”  Have you wondered what “selfless faith” means?  I googled it and found this response…”To me, it means that the purpose of your belief in God and Christ is not based upon your desire to go to heaven, but that you believe because you know it is the truth. Also, it means that you don’t act just to serve your own purpose, but for the well being of others.”

I am of the opinion that without realizing it, many Christians have become self-serving.  The world has become too demanding and too engaging and many a times, we have progressively began to focus on ourselves, forgetting about the others.  When was the last time we looked intently into the eyes of the other, recognizing the pain that is hidden beneath the smiling facade they had on?  When was the last time we built up another, recognizing their talents, gifts and achievements rather than pulling them down with one criticism after another?  When was the last time we prayed for the intentions of another not because we felt it was our duty, but because we felt and shared the pain they were experiencing?

We sing “Heal my heart and make it clean; Open up my eyes to the things unseen; Show me how to love like you have loved me.”  I believe that if we sing this stanza with sincerity and true conviction, then what breaks our Father’s heart will also break ours.  It is only then when we can truly sing “I see a new generation (people with changed hearts) rising up to take their place, with selfless faith, with selfless faith.”

God bless,

Melissa – August 7, 2015

p.s. – <- Hosanna by Hillsong United