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.

keeping Christ in Christmas

A lot of criticism and disgust turns up around this time of year due to the commercialism that seems to have taken over Christmas.  Much of this is aimed at the many attempts to exclude Jesus and even the word “Christmas” from cards, letters, comments etc.  It also comes from ridiculous things like “Holiday Trees” and “Holiday Lights”.  It’s very easy to be annoyed with this type of behavior as it may seem that our holiday of celebrating Jesus’ birth is being taken away from us.

If that’s the case, how should we respond?  Do we really think that criticizing those responsible for this exclusion or being upset about this situation will bring Christ back into the picture?  Acting in this way takes Christ out of OUR Christmas as well, as we’re no longer focusing on him but on the behavior of others.  To me, the forces behind this secularization win an additional battle by bringing us down and frustrating us at a time when we’re called to be joyful, expectant and loving.

So, this year, instead of hearing “Happy Holidays” and being frustrated, smile and let Christ shine through you to that person so that you can be a living example for what He stood for and was here to teach us.  The more people living as Jesus calls us to live and loving others, the more representatives He will have showing the true Christmas spirit.

Think about it, it’s not our job to be offended on Jesus’ behalf.  He took much more verbal abuse and scorning during His passion than He takes now by his birthday being “taken over”, I’m sure He’s capable of handling it lovingly.  I would think that He would be more saddened by one of His followers being brought down by all of this than by a non-believer trying to join in the Holiday in their own secular way.  So smile, love, enjoy your friends and family and make Him proud through your actions and kindness.

feedback email

As you’re probably aware, this being a blog allows you to leave a comment.  I wanted to open things up a bit further than that and created an email account for feedback.  Here is that email:

lifeawakeblog@gmail.com

If you want to just comment on a specific post, you can do so by clicking “Leave a Comment” and all the world will see.  If you want to just comment to me, you can email me at that address.

I would also love to see questions come through or ideas/subjects that you’d like my own view on.  Not only does it give me more material to write about, but it allows me to connect with you on topics that are on your mind as well.

perseverance

Father Roderick of SQPN.com talked about the importance of perseverance recently.  He pointed out its applications in diet, exercise, prayer life, etc.  I’d like to echo that sentiment with some comments of my own.

As we can all attest, the world tries very hard to pull each of us away from anything that is challenging, difficult and requires discipline.  Think about your diet.  Is it even possible to watch anything on TV without being bombarded with advertisements for unhealthy food choices?  We can’t even go outside now due to the excessive amount of billboard and other advertising showing off the “easy way out” for our diets.

Exercise is very similar, though not attacked nearly as focused as I think our diet is.  The attacks on that come in the form of whispers and excuses as part of our continual spiritual battle.  Think about how much better you feel when you exercise regularly…aren’t you more capable of doing everything else better, including working on your relationship with God?  It would follow then that this activity is one the enemy would want to shake us from as best as possible.

Persevering through prayer is a day to day struggle.  Even though we might be consistent after a while, due to it being routine, the strength and depth of that prayer is something we need to continually work for.  Similar to exercise, this practice is attacked ferociously by our enemy, for obvious reasons.

In all these things, our ability to better ourselves and continue moving upward comes down to how well we persevere through the discouragement, road-blocks, nay-sayers, etc.  All of us will fall, probably quite a bit.  The important thing is that we get back up and we try again (the true nature of perseverance).  Father Roderick pointed out a very important distinction between failing and quitting.  Failing is when you fall, but quitting is when you don’t get back up.

In all things, whether it be diet, exercise, prayer, parenting, work, blogging (yes, I’m guilty of this…notice the delay between posts?), we need to persevere and keep getting back up.  We also need to assist our brothers and sisters of our time so that they, too, get back up when they fall.  Encouragement is contagious and is paramount to persevering through difficulties.

time to wake up

One of my favorite quotes of Anthony de Mello (a favorite of mine, as you’ll find) is as follows:

“My business is to do my thing, to dance my dance.  If you profit from it, fine; if you don’t, too bad!”.

That definitely sums up my purpose here.  Consider me another voice in the cacophony of voices today’s internet hosts.  Nonetheless, I hope you’ll find some interest in my reflections on spirituality and what that means to a Catholic.  Plenty more to come, but for starters…thanks for having me.