Resurrection

February 24, 2018

I’ll Believe It When I See It

Last week, I wrote about one of the challenges that I have as a lawyer, which is the failure of many of my clients to understand the nature and extent of the work I do for them. Much of what I do as an attorney is hidden from my clients.

When I represent a client on a personal injury case, if I’m able to get the case settled without having to file a lawsuit, it customarily takes from 18 to 22 months to conclude the case. If it becomes necessary to file a lawsuit, it can take up to five years from the date of the injury to get the case resolved.

During the time that I work on a client’s case, there is not much that I do that my client can see, touch, hear, smell, or taste. At the end of the case when I collect my fee, which can at times be substantial, I want my clients to understand the breadth and scope of the work that I performed for them. So what is it that I can do to help them understand the extent of the work that I do on their behalf?

From the beginning of time, man has been a visual creature. The serpent seduced Eve to bite into the apple in part because it was so visibly appealing. I suppose you could call the serpent the first advertising and marketing expert that ever existed. He crafted a compelling and irresistible message that enticed Eve to defy God.

After he described the apple as being beautiful, delicious, and life changing, he appealed to her pride by saying, “All you have to do is bite into it to be like God.” There is no doubt that the tree and its apples were beautiful and inviting to the eye. But it was her ability to actually see in her imagination the future that the serpent painted for her — a future that promised that she and Adam would have the same powers as their God — that convinced her to act.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the saying, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” That’s what Saint Thomas said after our Lord’s apostles reported to him that Jesus had risen from the dead. Our Lord later reprimanded him for his lack of faith and said, “Blessed are they who have not seen and have believed.” John 20:29

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.

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.

April 4, 2015

Flushing Poison Out of Your Heart, Mind and Soul

Forgiveness - PoisonDo you know what the Blessed Mother, the apostles, the disciples, and all the followers of Jesus had in common, other than believing that Jesus was the Son of God? They all forgave everyone who was involved in the torture and murder of their Savior. Think about how difficult that had to be. I know how hard it is for me to forgive certain people for what they have done to me, but I can’t imagine how difficult it would have been to forgive those murderers.

Because I am the type of person who holds grudges, there have been several occasions during my life when it was extremely difficult for me to forgive individuals who betrayed me or treated me unjustly. When I was younger, there were a few occasions where it took several years for me to forgive different people. It no longer takes me years to forgive, but it can still take several weeks or months before I finally give in.

Each time I have had to confront the issue of forgiving someone, I have argued with myself. Some of the arguments that have gone through my mind to try to convince myself that I need to forgive are:

●  You know that you’re going to have to eventually forgive him if you ever want to get into Heaven. That was one rule that was laid down by our Lord. He was very specific when He said that God is only willing to forgive us to the same degree as we have forgiven others.

●  It’s not good for your mental, emotional, and spiritual health to refuse to forgive him. In fact, he probably isn’t thinking about you anyway. While he’s going on with his life, you’re continuing to let what he did negatively affect you.

●  Your anger and resentment toward him are robbing you of your inner peace. It eats away at your spiritual, mental, and emotional well-being.

Some arguments that I’ve used to convince myself that I’m not ready to forgive a person are:

April 11, 2013

The Role of Women in the World

Last week, at a general audience, Pope Francis touched on the role of women in the Catholic church.  He started out by discussing the importance of the death and resurrection of Jesus, and then, in a bold expression of the importance of women in the church and in society, stated:

Today, however, I would like to dwell … on testimony in the form of the accounts that we find in the Gospels.  First, we note that the first witnesses to this event were the women.  At dawn, they go to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus, and find the first sign: the empty tomb. (Mark 16:1)

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In the professions of faith of the New Testament, only men are remembered as witnesses of the Resurrection, the Apostles, but not the women.  This is because, according to the Jewish Law of the time, women and children were not considered reliable, credible witnesses.  In the Gospels, however, women have a primary, fundamental role. 

Here we can see an argument in favor of the historicity of the Resurrection: if it were invented in the context of that time, it would not have been linked to the testimony of women.  Instead, the evangelists simply narrate what happened: the women were the first witnesses.   This tells us that God does not choose according to human criteria: the first witnesses of the birth of Jesus are the shepherds, simple and humble people, the first witnesses of the Resurrection are women.  This is beautiful, and this is the mission of women, of mothers and women, to give witness to their children and grandchildren that Christ is Risen!  Mothers go forward with this witness!  

What matters to God is our heart, if we are open to Him, if we are like trusting children.  But this also leads us to reflect on how in the Church and in the journey of faith, women have had and still have a special role in opening doors to the Lord, in following him and communicating His face, because the eyes of faith always need the simple and profound look of love.  The Apostles and disciples find it harder to believe in the Risen Christ, not the women however!  Peter runs to the tomb, but stops before the empty tomb; Thomas has to touch the wounds of the body of Jesus with his hands.  [Emphasis added.]

March 23, 2013

Modern-Day Goliath Crushes David

David-GoliathLast month, a “David vs. Goliath” case was argued before the Supreme Court of the United States.  The “David” in the case is Vernon Hugh Bowman, a 75-year-old farmer from Indiana.  The “Goliath” is the mighty Monsanto Company.

Monsanto is an American multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation that has its headquarters in Creve Coeur, Missouri.  At one time, it was one of the top chemical companies in the United States.  You may have heard of some of the controversial chemical compounds used in products it manufactured: Agent Orange, PCBs, and the insecticide DDT.  Monsanto sold off its chemical operations in the late 1990s so it could focus on agricultural biotechnology.

One of Monsanto’s most popular products is its genetically modified seeds, which are known as Roundup Ready seeds.  These seeds were specifically designed by Monsanto to survive applications of “Roundup,” the company’s number one-selling weed killer.  The use of Roundup Ready seeds enables farmers to kill weeds with Roundup without harming the crops.

Roundup Ready seeds have become so popular that they now account for approximately 90 percent of the soybeans and 70 percent of the corn and cotton grown in the United States.

In order to purchase and use Roundup Ready seeds, farmers are required to sign a contract that prohibits them from saving and replanting seeds from the resulting crop.  Since the offspring of the Roundup Ready seeds contain the same genetically engineered trait as the original seeds, farmers are not allowed to save and replant the second-generation seeds.  If farmers wish to benefit from the genetically modified seeds, they are required to buy new seeds from Monsanto for each new planting season.

Since the invention of Roundup Ready seeds, Monsanto has sued farmers on 146 different occasions for violating the terms of the contracts they signed.  The cases have involved farmers in 27 states.  Of the 146 cases, Monsanto has settled 135 in its favor and won the 11 cases that went to trial.

April 7, 2012

The Resurrection & The Woman

Do you know who saw Jesus for the first time after He rose from the dead?  According to the gospel of St. John, it appears as though it was Mary Magdalene, one of the women who was standing at the foot of the cross when our Lord died.  (“Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.”  John 19:25)

St. John also revealed to us the details of Mary’s encounter with Jesus on the morning of His resurrection:

“But Mary stood outside the sepulchre, weeping.  As she was weeping, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, and she saw two angels in white, sitting, one at the head, and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been laid.  They said to her: Woman, why are you weeping?  She said to them: Because they have taken away my Lord; and I don’t know where they have laid him.  When she said this, she turned and saw Jesus standing; and she did not know that it was Jesus.  Jesus said to her: Woman, why are you weeping?  Whom do you seek?  She, thinking it was the gardener, said to him: Sir, if you have taken him, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.  Jesus said to her: Mary.  She, turning, said to him: Rabboni (which is to say, Master).  Jesus said to her: Do not touch me, for I am not yet ascended to my Father.  But go to my brethren, and say to them: I ascend to my Father and to your Father, to my God and your God.”  John 20:11-17

I have a question for you: We know when Mary Magdalene saw Jesus, but when was it that Mary, the mother of Jesus, first saw her Son after He rose from the dead?

At a General Audience that Pope John Paul II gave on May 21, 1997, he reflected on the question of whether Jesus appeared to His mother after His Resurrection.  Here, in part, is what the Pope said:

April 23, 2011

The Illumination of a Soul

Have you ever heard of the practice of using canaries in coal mines to alert coal miners of danger?  Canaries are small songbirds that were first bred and used as domestic pets in the 17th century.  Because they are more sensitive than humans to toxic gases (such as methane and carbon monoxide), canaries were, at one time, routinely used by coal miners as early warning devices that danger was imminent.

By placing caged canaries in various sections of a coal mine, workers knew they were in danger when a canary stopped singing or dropped dead.  If such an event occurred, the miners knew they needed to immediately evacuate the mine, because of dangerous levels of toxic gases that could cause an explosion or cause the minors to die of suffocation (because of lack of oxygen).

Although canaries are no longer used in coal mines, they are one of the most popular household pets for people who want to own a bird that can sing.   Canaries have been used extensively by researchers seeking to discover how some birds are able to sing while most others lack the same ability.

As I was sitting in the adoration chapel thinking about Easter Sunday and our Lord’s resurrection from the dead, I thought about the canaries in the coal mines.

The celebration of Easter starts with the Easter Vigil Mass which takes place after nightfall on Holy Saturday.  It consists of four parts: Service of the Light, Liturgy of the Word, Liturgy of Baptism, and Liturgy of the Eucharist.  During the early years of the Church, the night before Easter was celebrated by the illumination of the churches and in some cases, the illumination of entire cities.

It is in Baptism that a person’s soul is cleansed of all sin and sanctified in Christ.  The light of Christ illuminates the soul with sanctifying grace.  In addition, the mind and the will of a newly baptized person are also illuminated with sanctifying grace.

April 3, 2010

A First & Last Prayer

MaryAndTheResurrectedJesusChristAs Catholics, we know from what we’ve been taught that it was necessary for our Lord to die on the cross in order to redeem us from our sins and to open the gates of Heaven.  Prior to His death, because of the sins of Adam and Eve, Heaven was “off limits” to everyone.

In the New Testament, the only people who were identified on Calvary where our Lord was crucified were the soldiers, some antagonists, and five other people: the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Mary Magdalene, St. John the apostle, and the two criminals who were crucified with Jesus.

Most Catholics overlook the role the two criminals played in the final moments of our Lord’s life.  Is there anything we can learn from them?  If not, why was it that the Holy Spirit inspired St. Luke to record what was said by the criminals?

Here’s the information we have about the criminals who suffered the same fate as our Lord (Luke 23:33-43):

And when they were come to the place which is called Calvary, they crucified him there: and the robbers, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.  And Jesus said: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.  But they, dividing his garments, cast lots.  And the people stood beholding.  And the rulers with them derided him, saying: He saved others: let him save himself, if he be Christ, the elect of God.  And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him and offering him vinegar.  And saying: If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself.  And there was also a superscription written over him in letters of Greek and Latin and Hebrew THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.  And one of those robbers who were hanged blasphemed him, saying: If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.  But the other answering, rebuked him, saying: Neither dost thou fear God, seeing thou art under the same condemnation?  And we indeed justly: for we receive the due reward of our deeds.  But this man hath done no evil.  And he said to Jesus: Lord, remember me when thou shalt come into thy kingdom.  And Jesus said to him: Amen I say to thee: This day thou shalt be will be with me in paradise.

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