Fired by love's urgent longings, I am his rocketman.
Where Does Courage Come From?

Where Does Courage Come From?

In his letter to the Thessalonians, St. Paul commends them for ” … receiving the word despite great trials, with the joy the comes from the Holy Spirit”.  (1 Thess. 1: 6) In his initial greeting, Paul writes: We keep thanking God for all of you in our prayers, for we constantly are mindful before our God and Father of the way you are proving your faith, and laboring in love, and showing constancy of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.  (1 Thess.1:2-3) He praises them further reporting that, “The word of the Lord has echoed forth from you resoundingly.”  (1 Thess. 1:8) God’s word is alive; it strikes the heart.  It pierces more surely than a two edged sword.  (See Hebrews 4:12) The word of God is alive and it strikes my heart.  My job, if you will, is to receive it, with a good heart, that is with joy that comes from the Holy Spirit.  This doesn’t seem too difficult; after all it is the Holy Spirit who gives me the power I need to respond. But once I receive it, I have to go further, to prove my faith, to labor in love and to be constant…[Continue Reading]

Hope of Glory

Hope of Glory

Occasionally someone will ask me what do I really want?  By this they mean what do I want my life to stand for?  Or what is it that I desire to achieve? Or what is it that really motivates me deep inside?  This is and always has been an easy question for me to answer.  I want glory, pure and simple, glory. From the time I was first able to think about this question as a young child, even before I knew it was a question, I understood that I wanted to be a hero.  The particular form of hero changed from time to time, but the basic idea was always there.  I wanted to be the cowboy with fast guns, a fast horse and a noble purpose.  At other times I wanted to be a great athlete, football, baseball, basketball, golf, whatever … It didn’t really matter what I was doing as long as the it ended in glorious victory.  I wanted to win the prize whatever the prize might be. I believe my desire for glory is God given even though I haven’t always understood it or the proper way to express it.  In the letter to the…[Continue Reading]

Learning By Heart

Learning By Heart

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  (Romans 15:13) When I read this scripture verse this morning, I was struck by how well it captures what I long for — what we all long for — joy, peace and hope.  (Obviously, we need love too, but we will cover that in another post).  And not just a little bit of hope but overflowing hope, boundless hope, a full measure of hope, with plenty to share with others. Of course, I have other things on my mind, things that I want and things that I need and so do you.  But I have lived long enough to know that the “other things”, though necessary, at the end of the day are only satisfying to the extent they add to or at least do not take away from our experience of or longing for joy, peace and hope. Too often we think that joy, peace and hope come from what we do, or choose not to do, or what we achieve, or what we acquire, or the difficulties we avoid, or…[Continue Reading]

Tangled Minds

Tangled Minds

In the play “Les Miserables”, the main character, Jean Valjean, repeatedly asks himself, “Who am I?”.  Although his name is Jean Valjean, while imprisoned for nineteen years for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his starving relatives, he was known by his prison number 24601.  For this fictional character, the name Jean Valjean represents all that is good and the number 24601 reminds him of his life as a convict and everything bad that went along with it.  Throughout the play, as Valjean encounters various conflicts, and resolves how he will respond to them,  he wonders who he really is:  Jean Valjean or 24601?  Sometimes, especially when confronted with difficulties, I wonder who I am? Suppose today that I am tempted to lose my patience with one of my co-workers, but I resist the temptation.  I may wrestle in my own mind with the question:  Am I bad because I felt like loosing my temper, or because I wanted to lose my temper? Or am I good for resisting the temptation and overcoming my normal tendencies?  I guess it depends on what I choose to believe. The enemy tells me I am bad because I feel like being impatient…[Continue Reading]

Happy New Year! I pray for each of you who may read this post that the Lord will fill you with knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding to live in a manner worthy of him, so as to be fully pleasing, in every good work bearing fruit and growing in the knowledge of God, strengthened with his power, in accord with his glorious might, for all endurance and patience, filled with joy and overflowing with thanksgiving.  (See Colossians 1:13-14) Since we are at the beginning of a new year I would like to offer some suggestions for New Year’s resolutions through an introduction to Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan and by sharing some of his thoughts with you. Francis was born in Vietnam on April 17, 1928.  He was a nephew of South Vietnam’s first president, Ngo Dinh Diem, and of Archbishop Ngo Dinh Thuc.  He was a Cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church.  Before becoming a Cardinal he was bishop of Nha Trang, in Central Vietnam.  In April 1975, Pope Paul VI named him archbishop of Saigon.  Four months later, on August 15, 1975, he was arrested by the Communists.  He was forced to spend…[Continue Reading]

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The Father sent Jesus for us, born of virgin, a baby, to become a man, to live as we live and to die for us, in our place, so that we can live with them, in love, forever.  Nothing about this makes any sense, but it works.  There is something about the mystery of God becoming man, in the birth of Jesus, that penetrates into the deepest part of my being.  I cannot explain it but when I contemplate it, I know something about the love of the Father, deep inside of me, that I didn’t know before. There are so many things about our lives that are hard, hard to understand, hard to experience, hard to want to do, hard to do and and hard to live through.  If given the choice there are many things that we experience in our day to day lives that we would either avoid or change, but we can’t.  Mostly, we just want are problems to go away or we want someone to fix them.  Sometimes there is no where for our problems to go and some problems cannot be fixed.  It’s even possible that our problems are the best things we have…[Continue Reading]

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The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone  … For the yoke that burdened them, the pole on their shoulder, and the rod of their taskmaster you have smashed … For every boot that tramped in battle, every cloak rolled in blood, will be burned as fuel for flames.  For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests.  They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.  (Isaiah 9:1-4) In my last post, I reflected that Christmas for me and many others is our favorite time of the year.  It reminds us of so many good things, family, friends, wonderful meals, parties, decorations, gifts and lots and lots of happy memories.  With all of the manger scenes and Christmas carols like Away in a Manger, its easy to reduce Christmas to sort of a never ending lullaby.  While those kind of reflections have their place, its important that we not lose sight of the fact that the[Continue Reading]

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Anticipation

Anticipation

How many times have you heard someone say “Christmas is my favorite time of the year”?  I think most people would agree that Christmas is the best time of the year.  I can honestly say, for me, the anticipation of Christmas is better than Christmas itself.  I love getting ready for Christmas:  the Christmas tree, decorating, shopping, wrapping, cooking (I should say watching others cook), sitting by the tree, listening to Christmas music and thinking about what it all means. What Child is this who, laid to restOn Mary’s lap is sleeping?Whom Angels greet with anthems sweet,While shepherds watch are keeping? A certain mystery and sense of magic (good magic of course) hangs in the air during the season of Advent.  It is as if that unknown but long expected event is about to occur at any moment.  There is just something extraordinary about this time that penetrates my heart, regardless of whatever else may be happening.  The Nativity speaks to me and I seem to hear just a little bit better than I usually do. This, this is Christ the King,Whom shepherds guard and Angels sing;Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,The Babe, the Son of Mary Creche in our…[Continue Reading]

Cardinal Francis Xavier Ngyuen Van Thuan In 1975, Cardinal Francis Xavier Ngyuen Van Thuan was arrested by the Communist government of Vietnam and imprisoned for thirteen years, nine of the in solitary confinement, and then finally exiled from Vietnam in 1991. Always reticent about speaking of himself, Cardinal Van Thuan slowly began to realize that his prison experience of suffering and hope could help others in their journey of faith.  The reflections he prepared for the 1997 World Youth Day in Paris became the framework for Five Loaves & Two Fish; the content in his personal Magnificat for the wonders God had worked in and through the small offering of his life – like the fish and loaves in the Gospel, which fed thousands. “Five Loaves & Two Fish reflects a great humility, a great joy, and the virtue of hope.  It calls each of us to give to God the little we have with great confidence that he will turn our small gifts into wonders.” -From the Foreword [Continue Reading]

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Nativity

Nativity

I woke up this morning, like I often do, very early in the morning.  I lay in bed for a while wishing I could go back to sleep, but also aware of a yearning deep inside to get out of bed and pray.  Today, my desire to pray is not driven by anxiety or fear or self-concern.  Rather, it comes from a simple longing to worship God, to express love for him. To be honest, I am tired; I have a pain in the middle of my back that feels like a mild tooth ache and it seems as if I am surrounded by trouble on every side.  Nevertheless, deep in the center of my being I believe the King of Glory dwells and, for a little while, I just want to keep him company.  I don’t want anything from him, I simply want to adore him and let him know that even though I often neglect him — not now, not this morning. So often, I am aware of all the things that are wrong.  I can see plainly everything that I lack.  I see the good that I want to do, but never seem to get around to…[Continue Reading]