is your cup full?

A comment made in the early scenes of the movie Avatar really stuck with me.  One of the Na’vi criticized the ignorance of some of the humans by saying, “You can’t fill a cup that’s already full.”  This is a variation of a saying I’ve heard before, but it really got me thinking.

How truly open are we when it comes to our values and opinions?  Is our cup so full that we stubbornly close our eyes to truth (or just another perspective)?  Do we see this in others when trying to explain the basics of our faith?  We certainly can’t “empty” someone else’s cup that we’d like to re-fill, but we can take close look at our own cup and make sure we leave room for differing views and values.

Many arguments remain unresolved because both sides refuse to allow their cup to be filled with their counterparts reasoning.  I wonder how many wars would be averted if we all had a more open mind and compassionate heart.

environmentalism & faith

My wife and I had the great pleasure of seeing Avatar last night in 3D.  Amazing.  If you haven’t seen it, it’s definitely worth seeing if only for the experience of a truly immersive 3D movie.  That’s not what I want to talk about, though.

The story of the movie brings up a good critique of our society’s treatment of our planet, albeit in a very extreme sense.  On one side you have the humans (us) not caring about nature whatsoever and taking the resources they want through destructive force.  On the other side you have the natives (the Na’vi) who are in harmony with nature and represent the exact opposite.  I certainly don’t buy into the paganistic view they’re shown to have in their connection of nature and their god.  The dynamic between these two races, however, really brings to light the issue of environmentalism and I was wondering how that balances with my faith and other responsibilities.

As a Catholic, I often wonder how far we should take our view and treatment of the planet.  How much are we called to do, as part of our faith and love for God?  I believe that all of this is His creation and that we’re to treat it with love, just as we would for the people he created.  At the same time, I think a lesser emphasis should be placed on loving our earth as we place on loving others.  I would think that we’re judged on our treatment of other people first, then treatment of animals and our planet second.  All of them are important, but I think they do come in some form of hierarchy.

With that said, I think we need to bear some responsibility for our own actions.  Things like recycling, wasting less, supporting programs and companies that are more responsible are all things that we can personally be held accountable for.  All of us doing our share adds up, but feeling guilty for the actions of others won’t do any of us any good (neither will placing judgment on those we don’t think are doing their part).  There’s a very fine line between being actively “green” and negatively affecting others through pushing them to do so as well.  Think of the relationship with that person first and lead by example through your actions.

I look at this the same way I look at my faith and how I approach that with others.  I hold myself accountable for my own actions and take a serious look at where I should improve.  I don’t want anyone judging my progress, so in turn I shouldn’t judge theirs.  The last thing I want is someone challenging my faith, so I don’t go out of my way to do that to others.  The same should be true of my values in regards to my lifestyle and how that affects our planet.  I would hope that others have similar values, but it’s God’s responsibility to hold them accountable, not me.

finding yourself

Much is made about the question “who am I?”.  Retreats are conducted, books are written, self-help programs are followed, all with the goal that we “find ourselves”.  I agree that it important to know thyself, for how else can be be aware of what we do, how we act, etc.

What I don’t agree with is that our “self” can be defined, let alone found.  Our “selves”, in my opinion, are constantly growing and changing as a result of our experiences and lessons learned.  You could only define or find a single snapshot of that self, but that’s all it will be.  Other snapshots would reveal a different self due to the growth you’ve experienced.

I find it much more important and relevant to define who you want to be rather than who you are.  Doing that gives you a goal and a target which should help direct what experiences and paths you’ll need to take to get there.  If you want to be a more peaceful and prayerful person, you know what you can do to become that.  If you want to be a more healthy and happy person, you can put a plan together to achieve that.

The beauty is that this process never ends.  Since we’re constantly growing and experiencing new things in this life, you will constantly be directing yourself in who you want to be and where you want to grow.  This requires a great deal of attention and reflection as well as checking in on your progress.  As many have said before, the success rate of hitting a goal you don’t set is always 0%.

In this New Year, take some time to reflect on who you want to be as a person, as a member of your family, as a member of society, as a child of God.  Write down or visualize who that person is and start to look at what would need to change in you (behaviors, attitudes, activities, etc.) to get closer to that goal.  As you start to feel you’re getting closer, do it again.  As time passes, you’ll be able to look back on where you’ve come from and where you are and you’ll realize that you’ve steadily climbed towards a more loving and joyful life…with full wakefulness of it too!

message from Christ

You might be familiar with Anne, the lay apostle from Direction for Our Times, but if not here’s a quick intro.  She has been receiving locutions from Jesus, Mary and the Saints for several years now (I believe).  On the first day of every month, Jesus gives Anne a new message for the all of His apostles trying to live a holy life.  If you are not familiar with any of this, check out http://www.directionforourtimes.org for more information (trust me, you will be glad you did).

I wanted to post the most recent message (from January 1, 2010) as it hit me right in the heart and was exactly what I needed to hear.  Because of how direct and straight-forward this message is, I don’t think any reflection is necessary (of mine, that is).  Read it through…then read it through again…then take it to prayer.  Here it is:

Jesus
There are many different ways to communicate love. One of the ways that I communicate love to My apostles is through My constant presence. I am in each moment, in each day, offering you My heavenly companionship. I offer you a constant stream of love which heals and reassures, which steadies and directs. When allowed, I can help an apostle to adjust his viewpoint to My viewpoint, which is very different from the viewpoint of one who has either forgotten about My presence or rejected My companionship. With this viewpoint comes calm purpose. The days flow past, one by one, and My will flows through each one of you who has accepted My presence. You do not see big changes at your hands. Perhaps you wonder if your cooperation is helpful at all. I assure you today that if you were to reject Me tomorrow, My kingdom would suffer. Without you, I would have one less home for My great love on earth. Each time I use you to love another, I feel gratitude. My gratitude is a force for change in the lives of those around you. You are gaining graces that only heaven can understand. Only heaven can see how an action of grace is stored in waiting. This grace surrounds each person you intercede for and at a moment when it is possible, meaning that heaven sees the opening, that grace is utilised to protect and advance the soul. Dear apostle, serving heaven so steadily, leave all of your difficulties to Me. Abandon yourself to My providence completely. Serve with discipline in this moment and I will care for your loved ones. I am using you for the purpose of love and I want to use you even more fully. When you become discouraged, please sit with Me and I will help you to grasp the limited nature of your vision. Concentrate on My will for your day. Concentrate on remaining in the present, connected to your service in each moment. Avoid being trapped by the past and avoid being drawn into a future on earth which may not include you. You do not know when I will come for you. But I am with you now, as you read these words, and I have work for you today. Look, together with Me, at what I am asking of you and together we will be a successful force for love. I crave love from you. When you trust Me and reject fear, I am delighted. Calm, steady service is what I require from My beloved apostles who seek to serve Me. Be at peace. I am with you.

There are many different ways to communicate love. One of the ways that I communicate love to My apostles is through My constant presence. I am in each moment, in each day, offering you My heavenly companionship. I offer you a constant stream of love which heals and reassures, which steadies and directs. When allowed, I can help an apostle to adjust his viewpoint to My viewpoint, which is very different from the viewpoint of one who has either forgotten about My presence or rejected My companionship. With this viewpoint comes calm purpose. The days flow past, one by one, and My will flows through each one of you who has accepted My presence. You do not see big changes at your hands. Perhaps you wonder if your cooperation is helpful at all. I assure you today that if you were to reject Me tomorrow, My kingdom would suffer. Without you, I would have one less home for My great love on earth. Each time I use you to love another, I feel gratitude. My gratitude is a force for change in the lives of those around you. You are gaining graces that only heaven can understand. Only heaven can see how an action of grace is stored in waiting. This grace surrounds each person you intercede for and at a moment when it is possible, meaning that heaven sees the opening, that grace is utilised to protect and advance the soul. Dear apostle, serving heaven so steadily, leave all of your difficulties to Me. Abandon yourself to My providence completely. Serve with discipline in this moment and I will care for your loved ones. I am using you for the purpose of love and I want to use you even more fully. When you become discouraged, please sit with Me and I will help you to grasp the limited nature of your vision. Concentrate on My will for your day. Concentrate on remaining in the present, connected to your service in each moment. Avoid being trapped by the past and avoid being drawn into a future on earth which may not include you. You do not know when I will come for you. But I am with you now, as you read these words, and I have work for you today. Look, together with Me, at what I am asking of you and together we will be a successful force for love. I crave love from you. When you trust Me and reject fear, I am delighted. Calm, steady service is what I require from My beloved apostles who seek to serve Me. Be at peace. I am with you.