Blessed Trinity

February 17, 2018

The Challenge of Being in a Service Business

Last month, on January 21, 2018, I celebrated the 35th anniversary of the opening my law practice. I graduated from law school in May 1982, and received my license to practice law in November 1982. Two months later, on January 21, 1983, I rented an office from an established Peoria attorney.

Nine years later (1992), I hired my first associate attorney. At that time, I was 35 years old. The attorney that I hired was 10 years younger than me, and had just graduated from law school.

At the time that I hired the attorney, I had an office manager, two full-time secretaries, a full-time receptionist, and a part-time secretary. Hiring an attorney was a big step for me, and I didn’t feel as though I knew enough about running a business to continue to move forward without some assistance.

The same year that I hired the attorney, I signed a contract with Gerber Business Development Corporation to provide me with coaching on how to properly run and grow my business. I had committed to paying the attorney a large salary and I didn’t want to make any catastrophic mistakes in managing and growing my law firm.

I found out about the Gerber company when I read a book that was written by its founder, Michael Gerber. The title of the book was, The E-Myth: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It. What Gerber said in his book about small businesses in America hit a raw nerve with me.

I had previously represented several business clients who had done well for a while and then, for one reason or another, had made mistakes that caused their businesses to fail. I had also handled several bankruptcies for individuals who had failed in their own businesses. Many of the businessmen that Gerber wrote about in his book reminded me of my own clients and their failure to succeed in their businesses.

February 10, 2018

The Death of a Special Christ-Like Priest

Georgette and I met on August 4, 1978, when we were both 21 years old. We were married in June 1980, while I was on break from law school. Ten months later, in March 1981, we had our first child, Harry. I graduated from law school in May of the following year.

We moved back to Peoria during the summer of 1982. At that time, Georgette was pregnant with our second child, Anna. I started my law practice in January 1983, and Anna was born the following month. We had our third child, Maria, 13 months later, in March 1984. When Maria was born, I was 26 years old.

It was during this period of time that my mom and my sister Colleen started commenting about how I had become too serious and I needed to lighten up. Colleen is a year and a half younger than me, and of my eight sisters, she was the one I was closest to while we were growing up.

When my mom and sister told me that I had become too serious, I hadn’t realized that my behavior had changed from the young, carefree guy who liked to have a good time and tease other people to an older guy who felt overwhelmed by the burdens of life.

But I wasn’t bothered by their comments about my being too serious. To me, that was what responsible adults did — they grew up and did their best to care for and support their families. In some respects, my mom and my sister were correct. My newfound responsibilities made me feel overwhelmed. At times, I felt as though I was doing well just to keep my head above water. Georgette and I had three babies in three years — Maria was born on Harry’s third birthday — and I was doing my best to support my family while managing my law practice.

Now, more than 30 years later, Georgette and I have 13 grandchildren, with three more on the way. I’m still serious, but I’m having more fun now than I’ve had in years. I’ve given myself permission to lighten up and revert to my childhood when I’m around my grandchildren. Their parents sometimes get irritated with me because they think I get their children riled up too much. But that’s OK with me, because I’m finally able to do what my mom and my sister wanted me to do all those years ago.

February 3, 2018

A Dream & The Greatest Showman

I recently joined my wife and some of our children at a local theater to see the movie, The Greatest Showman. The movie is a musical about the life of P.T. Barnum. It begins when Barnum is a boy. He is the son of a poor tailor who does work for a wealthy man. The man looks down on Barnum and his father, because of their lower-class status.

Barnum is a fun-loving boy who is infatuated with the wealthy man’s daughter. The man knows that Barnum likes his daughter and makes it clear to Barnum that he’ll never be good enough for her. After that, the daughter is sent to finishing school for several years. While she is away at school, she and Barnum continue to keep in contact by writing letters to each other.

Years later, when the daughter returns home from school, she is reunited with Barnum. They end up getting married and starting a family. After borrowing money from a local bank, Barnum buys an old museum building in downtown Manhattan. He then sets up Barnum’s American Museum, which showcases wax figures.

After struggling to make his new business work, Barnum’s children tell him that instead of featuring wax figures, he needs to have characters who are “alive.” Barnum likes the idea and begins searching for and hiring “freaks” to serve as performers. As he is rounding up his new cast of characters, Barnum sings the unique and mesmerizing song, Come Alive.

As Barnum’s new show gains popularity in New York, a reporter for the New York Herald is highly critical of Barnum and his “freak show.” The reporter’s columns about Barnum and his show stir up trouble among certain people in the community, including the upper-class members of the community.

To enhance his reputation with the upper-class, Barnum convinces Philip Carlisle, a local playwright from a wealthy family, to join him in his business. To raise Barnum’s status, Carlisle arranges a trip to Europe for Barnum and his cast of characters to meet Queen Victoria.

January 27, 2018

Why is That Church in a Music Video?

I’ve written before about how I was involved in music during my high school and college years. When I was a senior in high school, I formed a barbershop quartet with three of my friends. I did the same thing in college. While my high school quartet had a limited number of performances, my college quartet performed at several community functions and events.

I’ve always been a big fan of quartets and other a cappella groups. One of the groups that I currently pay attention to is Home Free, an American a cappella singing group that consists of five young men. Home Free got its big break in 2013, when it won a competition on the NBC television show, The Sing-Off. The grand prize that year was $100,000, plus a recording contract with Sony.

Last month, Home Free performed at the Peoria Civic Center. Georgette and I attended the show with some friends. My favorite Home Free song is How Great Thou Art. The music video of the song is posted on YouTube. The video has generated more than 13 million views.

In the video, the group is standing on a hill that is surrounded by several hundred acres of land. The scenery in the background includes cascading slopes and mountains. The beautiful harmony of the group is matched by the gorgeous land that surrounds them. The only building in the video is a small country church, which shows up in a field near the end of the video.

I have the video saved on an iPad that sits on a stand on my bathroom counter. Ordinarily, when I’m in the bathroom in the morning getting ready for work, I use the iPad to play educational, self-improvement, or religious recordings. In the evening while I’m getting ready for bed, I usually use the iPad to listen to music.

My son, Harry, and his wife Kathryn live about five minutes away from where my wife and I live. Because they live so close to us, they’re able to stop by our house to visit on a regular basis. Whenever they stop by for a visit, their two oldest sons, Harry and Liam, immediately start looking around the house for me. Harry is 5 years old and Liam is 3 years old.

January 20, 2018

Why Is It So Hard To Practice Patience?

It doesn’t happen very often, but every once in a while, I complain directly to God about something that’s bothering me. Last week, my frustration with an ongoing issue finally got to the point that one of my thoughts went up to God in the form of a question: Why can’t you just have an angel appear to me in a dream and tell me what to do? I’m tired of playing these cat and mouse games where I’m always struggling to try to figure out what I should do.

Of course, I immediately felt guilty about addressing God in this manner. Who did I think I was? A prophet? King Solomon? Saint Joseph?

But I get extremely frustrated at times, because while I want to do the right thing, I often feel as though I need specific direction from God. Although I’ve always been good at solving problems, I don’t like it when I have to wait on God to reveal pieces of the puzzle that are needed to solve the problem I’m struggling with.

I’m convinced that one of the primary reasons God operates this way is to teach me the virtues of humility and patience. If He sent an angel to tell me how to solve my problems, I wouldn’t need to learn and practice humility and patience. I would simply wait for instructions from the angel and then take credit for being a special child of God.

Most of us fail to realize that in order to really be humble, we must first suffer humiliations. And we must accept whatever humiliations that come our way with love and gratitude. While humility is the most important of all virtues, the virtue of patience has to be among the top five virtues. Why? Because it’s so difficult to put into practice.

Last week, I wrote about the three grades of patience, which are, to bear difficulties without interior complaint, to use hardships to make progress in virtue, and to desire the cross and afflictions out of love for God and accept them with spiritual joy. It would be impossible to put the three grades of patience into practice if we were to try to do it without God’s assistance.

January 13, 2018

The Difficulties That Arise After Years of Marriage

Last week, I wrote about a couple who was having financial problems because of the husband’s inability to work. Here’s what I wrote at the end of the article:
I’ve been a lawyer for more than 35 years. I’ve dealt with hundreds of couples who, after years of marriage, are facing an unexpected crisis. You would think that after being married for 20 or more years, married couples would be more patient and forgiving of each other than they were when they were newly married. But that’s usually not the case. The fact that they’ve spent years together seems to somehow inhibit their ability to practice real patience and forgiveness toward each other.

Instead of being patient and forgiving, they’re extremely frustrated and angry with each other. Why?

When couples get married, there’s always great hope for the future. With that hope comes the expectation that they will be able to work out all their problems. There is also an expectation that they will someday be able to overcome whatever bad habits or deficiencies they have.

Unfortunately, as each year passes, nothing really changes. Husbands and wives stop making the effort that is required to please each other. It’s almost as if they’ve been through too much together. They’re worn out and exhausted. They’ve run out of patience.

I’ve written before about a saying that is common in the business world: “Familiarity breeds contempt.” This saying stands for the proposition that the more familiar you are with a person, the more contemptible that person becomes.

Over time, as people in the business world become more familiar with each other, their defects and weaknesses become more evident. They are exposed to and become tired of each other’s excuses, bad habits, broken promises, lack of respect, mood swings, angry outbursts, and lack of appreciation. Before long, their patience wears thin, and the slightest infraction causes them to treat each other with contempt.

January 6, 2018

Something Married Couples Face After Years of Marriage

Last week, I had an appointment with a man — I’ll call him Jim — who hired me eight months ago to represent him on a personal injury case. As usual, Jim brought his wife with him to the appointment. I’ve met with Jim and his wife on four occasions over the past eight months. Jim was injured when a large truck disregarded a stop sign and collided with his vehicle in the middle of an intersection. Because of his injuries, Jim has not been able to return to work. He’s been without an income for eight months.

Jim and his wife are in their late 30s. He’s a skilled tradesman who has been a member of a trade union for more than 20 years. Jim has never had any problem finding work, primarily because he is willing to travel to other states to work, when necessary. Since the accident, Jim’s financial situation has become progressively worse. He has had to borrow money to support his wife and children, and he also recently cashed in part of his retirement, so he could keep up with his bills.

Prior to the accident, Jim’s wife did not work outside the home. A few months after the accident, she felt that she had no other choice but to get a job, so she applied for and secured a job at a local business.

Each of the times I’ve met with Jim, he’s been upbeat and happy. He’s an intelligent, good-natured person who likes to talk and tell stories. His wife has come to all his appointments and has always been courteous and friendly — until last week.

Last week, when I entered the conference room to meet with them, Jim was the same as he’s always been, but his wife was quiet and had an angry look on her face. Her demeanor indicated to me that she and Jim either argued on the way to my office, or she was fed up with his situation.

I talked to Jim about his condition and he indicated to me that he was still receiving physical therapy three times a week. He said that he probably wasn’t going to be able to return to work for at least another 10 to 12 months. He told me that before the accident, he worked at the same trade for 20 years.

December 30, 2017

What Did Mary Really Know?

Every year during the Christmas Season, there are articles published that are critical of the song, Mary Did You Know. As expected, in early December, Fr. Robert McTeigue, SJ, published an article with the title, “The Problem With ‘Mary Did You Know.’” In the article, Fr. McTeigue criticized the following lyrics: “Did you know that your Baby Boy has come to make you new? This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you.”

Fr. McTeigue’s complaint was that the lyrics imply that Mary was a sinner who needed to be delivered from her sins. This is contrary to Catholic doctrine which states that Mary was preserved free from all stain of original sin from the moment of her immaculate conception, which allowed her to be a pure vessel in which the Son of God could be conceived and born without ever having come into contact with sin.

Another article that was published before Christmas stated that the song implies that Mary was not fully aware that she was the mother of God. The article went on to say that anyone who is familiar with the Bible knows that Mary possessed knowledge that she was the Mother of God, not only because of the Angel Gabriel’s announcement (Luke 1:26-56), but also because of her “song of praise” — known as “The Magnificat” — which indicated that she was aware of her role in the salvation of mankind. Here are the first two sentences of the Magnificat:

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his handmaid. For behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed; for he who is mighty, has done great things for me and holy is his name. (Luke 1:46-49)

Whenever I read anything about the life of Mary, I think about a book that I read in the early 1980s, while I was in law school. The title of the book was, The Life of The Blessed Virgin Mary. The content for the book was taken from the recorded visions of the well-known 19th-century Catholic mystic, Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774 – 1824).

January 27, 2018

Why is That Church in a Music Video?

I’ve written before about how I was involved in music during my high school and college years. When I was a senior in high school, I formed a barbershop quartet with three of my friends. I did the same thing in college. While my high school quartet had a limited number of performances, my college quartet performed at several community functions and events.

I’ve always been a big fan of quartets and other a cappella groups. One of the groups that I currently pay attention to is Home Free, an American a cappella singing group that consists of five young men. Home Free got its big break in 2013, when it won a competition on the NBC television show, The Sing-Off. The grand prize that year was $100,000, plus a recording contract with Sony.

Last month, Home Free performed at the Peoria Civic Center. Georgette and I attended the show with some friends. My favorite Home Free song is How Great Thou Art. The music video of the song is posted on YouTube. The video has generated more than 13 million views.

In the video, the group is standing on a hill that is surrounded by several hundred acres of land. The scenery in the background includes cascading slopes and mountains. The beautiful harmony of the group is matched by the gorgeous land that surrounds them. The only building in the video is a small country church, which shows up in a field near the end of the video.

I have the video saved on an iPad that sits on a stand on my bathroom counter. Ordinarily, when I’m in the bathroom in the morning getting ready for work, I use the iPad to play educational, self-improvement, or religious recordings. In the evening while I’m getting ready for bed, I usually use the iPad to listen to music.

My son, Harry, and his wife Kathryn live about five minutes away from where my wife and I live. Because they live so close to us, they’re able to stop by our house to visit on a regular basis. Whenever they stop by for a visit, their two oldest sons, Harry and Liam, immediately start looking around the house for me. Harry is 5 years old and Liam is 3 years old.

December 9, 2017

Managing Your Anger

One of the ten principal virtues of the Blessed Virgin Mary was “continual mental prayer.” During her life, the Blessed Mother was constantly in tune with God’s will. Every morning she woke up thinking about God, she thought about Him continually throughout the day, and she went to bed thinking about Him. She was “the new Eve,” who possessed the same preternatural gifts that Adam and Eve possessed before they sinned.

As a reminder, in addition to an immortal soul, God gave our first parents, Adam and Eve, the preternatural gifts of integrity, bodily immortality, and infused knowledge. The definition of preternatural is “that which is beyond the natural but is not strictly supernatural.”

The preternatural gift of integrity (the absence of concupiscence) gave Adam and Eve the natural ability to control their desires and passions. Although they could be tempted from outside forces, they could not be tempted from within. The preternatural gift of bodily immortality meant that Adam and Eve possessed bodies that would never die. The preternatural gift of infused knowledge meant that they did not have to study, work, or sacrifice to obtain knowledge. They were created with some knowledge of God and complete knowledge of the secular world.

It was the first sin of Adam and Eve that destroyed the preternatural gifts of integrity, bodily immortality, and infused knowledge. From then on, every person who has come into existence has been conceived without the preternatural gifts, except for the Blessed Virgin Mary. Because of the direct intervention of the Holy Spirit, the Mother of God was conceived in her mother’s womb without sin; therefore, from the moment of conception, she possessed the preternatural gifts of integrity, bodily immortality, and infused knowledge.

November 26, 2016

Are you on the take?

on-the-takeLast weekend, after Mass at St. Philomena Church, a young woman in her 20s approached me and asked if I would write an article about what it means to show praise and thanksgiving to our Lord. The celebration of the Mass had been in honor of Christ the King and she felt that the upcoming Thanksgiving and Advent seasons provided a perfect opportunity for us to praise and thank God for what he has done for us.

A few days after I talked to the woman, I looked up the word “thanksgiving” in the dictionary. The word was described as an “act of giving thanks; grateful acknowledgment of benefits or favors, especially to God.” The phrase “thank you” was defined as “an expression of gratitude and appreciation to someone.”

Unfortunately, in the world in which we live, there are a lot of people who are accustomed to taking whatever they can from others without showing gratitude or appreciation for what has been given to them. The phrase that is used most often to describe those types of people is that they are “on the take.” People who are on the take have an attitude that they are deserving of what others have, or that they are entitled to take from others because they are less fortunate than the people they are taking from.

This attitude arises out of their envy and resentfulness toward people who have gifts, talents, abilities, or possessions that they don’t have.

People who are envious and resentful have trouble showing gratitude and appreciation toward others. When they fail to express gratitude to those who help them, the people who have previously helped them feel as though they have been taken for granted and stop helping them. This causes the people who failed to show appreciation to become even more envious and resentful.

Gratitude and appreciation are closely linked. An expression of gratitude is the equivalent of an expression of appreciation. There are two primary definitions of the word “appreciation.” The first definition provides that when there is appreciation, an increase in value occurs. Within the context of this definition, the word appreciation is most commonly used in the valuation of assets. For example, when we hear that there has been an appreciation of gold or stocks, we know that those items have increased in value.

July 25, 2015

The Key to the Side Door

KeyLast week, I wrote about an experience I had during the summer of 1974. At that time, I was 17 years old. I had a part-time job at the Ramada Inn in downtown Peoria, and one Saturday night after work, I drove to the Shrine Mosque in downtown Peoria to see if I could catch the second half of a show that featured a professional barbershop quartet. The quartet had won the previous year’s international competition of barbershop quartets.

When I arrived at the Shrine Mosque, it was intermission and the men in the quartet were standing outside near the back of the building, getting a breath of fresh air. After I introduced myself and told them that I had missed the first half of their show because I was working and that I had organized my own quartet in high school, one of the men invited me to watch the rest of the show from backstage. I gladly accepted and followed them into the side door of the building.

Years later when I thought about what had happened, two questions popped into my mind: Would the organizers of the show have approved of me entering the building through the side door to watch the second half of the performance, without first paying for a ticket? Did the men in the quartet have the authority to allow me to enter the building to watch their performance?

Regardless of whether they had the authority, the men in the quartet had the power to invite me to watch the show from backstage. Authority and power are two different things. The U.S. Supreme Court may have the power to legalize abortion and same-sex marriage, but they don’t have the legal or moral authority — either under the U.S. Constitution or under the laws of God. Our politicians may have the power to allow illegal aliens to enter into and remain in our country, but neither the Constitution nor any law gives them the authority to do so.

January 22, 2014

The Queen of Titles

The dictionary defines the word “title” as “an appellation of dignity, honor, distinction, or preeminence attached to a person or family by virtue of rank, office, precedent, privilege, attainment, or lands.”  It is said that the Blessed Virgin Mary has more than 1,000 titles, a handful of which are: Mother of God, Queen of Heaven, Seat of Wisdom, Mirror of Justice, Vessel of Honor, Cause of Our Joy, Gate of Heaven, Morning Star, and Comforter of the Afflicted.

All the Blessed Mother’s titles identify her with dignity, honor, distinction, and preeminence.  They are attached to her by virtue of her unique relationship with the three persons of the Blessed Trinity.  She is the daughter of God the Father, spouse of the Holy Spirit, and mother of God the Son.  No other human in the history of the world has ever been recognized by so many titles.

Of all her titles, which one do you think would be most descriptive of her life?  Which one would best reflect the role she plays in our lives?

In my opinion, the one title that is most descriptive of the Blessed Virgin Mary is “Our Lady of Sorrows.”  There is a feast day that is dedicated to her as Our Lady of Sorrows, which falls on September 15, the day after the Feast of the Cross.

The word “sorrow” is defined as “a deep distress, sadness, or regret especially for the loss of someone or something loved.”  Synonyms for the word sorrow include “affliction, anguish, grief, and heartache.”

There is only one word that can adequately describe a mother who personally witnessed the torture and murder of her innocent son: sorrowful.  The Blessed Virgin Mary understands, at a deep level, distress, sadness, affliction, anguish, grief, and heartache.  Because of the personal suffering she endured — combined with her role as the mother of mankind — she is the ideal person to assist you and me with our sorrows.

February 14, 2013

Ashes, Flesh, and the Resurection

Every Ash Wednesday we hear the following words while a priest places ashes on our foreheads in the form of a cross: “Remember, man, that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.”  It was in the book of Genesis that we were told that man was created from the dust of the Earth and will ultimately return to dust.  (Genesis 3:19)

As a result of original sin, our flesh, organs, and bones will begin to decompose after our death and eventually turn into dust.  There are only two individuals who have escaped this fate: Jesus Christ and His mother, Mary.  Rather than being left on Earth to decompose, after their deaths Christ ascended body and soul into heaven and Mary was assumed body and soul into heaven.

It was John the Evangelist, the only apostle who did not suffer a martyr’s death, who said, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God … and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”  (John 1:1,14)

We know from our faith that there are three divine persons in the Blessed Trinity – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Although the Son of God is one person, He possesses two natures – one human and one divine.  Prior to the incarnation, Jesus was a divine person with a divine nature.  When He was conceived in the womb of Mary, He “became flesh” and took on an additional (human) nature.

The foundation of our Catholic faith is our belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ.  In order to be true Christians, we must first believe that Christ was divine – that He is the second person of the Blessed Trinity.  Is it difficult for some to believe in His divinity?  Yes; even Thomas, one of His own apostles, doubted His divinity after being told that Christ had appeared to the other apostles after His death on the cross.

September 21, 2012

Two Kinds of Love

Could God the Father ever decide that He no longer loves the Holy Spirit?  Could He say “I’ve loved the Holy Spirit for thousands of years and I just don’t love Him anymore”?  Could Jesus go off on His own and decide He is no longer going to love the Father and the Holy Spirit?  Could the Holy Spirit bail out on His relationship with the Father and the Son?

The answer to all these questions is “no.”

The love that the three persons of the Blessed Trinity have for each other is known as a necessary love.  It is impossible for them not to love each other.

What kind of love does God have for you and me?  Is it a necessary love?  No, His love for us is what is known as a free love.  With God, there are two kinds of love: necessary love and free love.

We were not created out of necessity.  God could have chosen to not create us, but in an exercise of divine freedom and love he chose to create the human race.  In creating us, God gave us our own freedom – the freedom to love him.  He could have designed us in such a way that we had to love him out of necessity.  But He chose not to do that.  Instead, He gave us the freedom to love Him.

But why?  Why give us the freedom to love Him when He could have designed us in such a way that we would have had no other choice but to love Him?  There is no answer to this question because the answer has never been revealed to us.  The question highlights one of the mysteries of our faith.

The real question for each of us to ask is how would I behave if had been created to love God with a necessary love rather than a free love?  Would I always choose Him over my own selfish desires?  Would I spend more time praying and learning more about Him?  Would I think about and reach out to Him more often?  Would I ever commit a sin?

September 5, 2012

Do they have clocks in heaven?

One of the hardest concepts to grasp is that “time” does not exist in heaven.  On earth, from the moment a person is conceived until that person dies, he or she is limited by time and space.  In heaven there are no such limitations.  It’s hard to imagine living in heaven for eternity and never having to mention or be concerned with time.

Since our childhood there have been constant reminders about time.  Our parents had to repeatedly tell us that it was time to go to bed, time to get up, time to eat, time to study, time to pray, and time to work.

Can you imagine living in eternity and never saying or hearing the word “time”?  I’m looking forward to never hearing anyone tell me, “It’s time to get up!”  In heaven I’ll be able to sleep as long as I want – and wake up rested.

Did you notice that I used the word “long” in the previous sentence?  Since “long” refers to time, we won’t be using that word in heaven either.  There will be no need to refer to how long it takes to do something.

We know that Jesus had two natures: one divine and one human.  As a human who lived among us, Jesus was bound by time and space.  As one of the three divine persons in the Blessed Trinity, He is not bound by time and space.

It is commonly said that Jesus came to this earth because man had sinned.  The use of the phrase “had sinned” is not appropriate because it is past tense, which is possible only when time exists.  Since there is no time in eternity, there is no past or future – only a continuous present.

The Blessed Trinity lives and dwells in a continuous present; therefore, our Lord died for the sins of all humanity, from the first sin until the very last sin that will be committed prior to the end of the world.

Our limited minds have no way of comprehending what it’s like to live in a continuous present where time and space do not exist.  We can, however, look forward to living in a continuous present where we’ll be treated to a never-ending experience of love, fascination, and joy.

Contact