unfinished artwork…

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For the past several weeks, I’ve been working on a project as a meditation piece. It’s a painted glass picture showing a lady in tears being comforted by Jesus. On the panel adjoining, there is a ship breaking apart as the waves and fierce storm lashes at it and its human cargo.

It reminds me that as this world continues to cling to false narratives and lies, comforts and luxuries, they do so at a cost. The vessel in which they find their comfort will not withstand the spiritual trials and repercussions of living a life far removed from suffering.


We do not grow if we do not suffer. We do not learn if we do not press on through the hard times.

I was listening to a song that my oldest told me about. It was held at the funeral of a little boy who died last year.

A comment struck me as I perused the comment section. Someone said it was so nice to see people jumping up and down and throwing their hands in the air with the song. It showed to them how much they were praising and worshipping God.

But the same reaction can be seen from the 1960’s as people jumped, danced, and threw their hands in the air to the acid and abismal rock and roll music that was on display at such venues as Woodstock. And it can be seen in African tribal music as well, where much of the beat originates.

It excites the body.

It doesn’t excite the soul.


The soul isn’t moved by emotion. Emotion is moved by emotion.

The soul is fed by hearing, not the movement of music. (Romans 10:17, RSCVE)

Worship has long been associated with formal liturgy. It can be so found in the original Fathers and Doctors of the Church: St. Ireneus, Justin Martyr, the writings of the early Church Fathers from the first through the Third Centuries. Altars chiseled out of stone were discovered in the Catacombs from those times. And writings showed what that liturgy looked like.

It looks very much like the Mass is today. In all it’s languages; in all it’s forms.

And it is found in the Bible.

I will not go through the discoveries here because I would be recreating a wheel that Scott Hahn has put together so eloquently in his talks and writings entitled, “The Lamb’s Supper”.

But suffice it to say that worship of the Creator is something far more subtle than raucous music and emotional highs.

Worship is deeper – far deeper – than that. It is a relationship that far surpasses anything one could imagine or sing about. It changes who you are, and it solidifies what you believe.

True worship is a complete annihilation of self for the sake of another – for one Greater than you. And it changes the very core of who you are. Forever.

Form and Format…

Worship is the precursor, as it will, to the Graces that enter into a person’s soul. They don’t happen by feeling. They occur by cooperation.

The First Day of the Week stated in the Bible was the Roman’s first day of the work week. It began at that time on Sunday, not Saturday, which was considered the Sabbath to the Jews and the end of the week to Jew and Roman alike. But the Christians, after the Resurrection, began to come together for worship on the First Day of the Week. Sunday.

The form of the liturgy was already in place. It came from the form of the liturgy handed down by the Jewish Priests and the Passover Supper.

The difference was that the Lamb was already Sacrificed. But this time on the Cross. And He continues to offer Himself on that Cross every day during every Mass at every hour around the world.


In like manner, we who participate in that Sacrifice of the Mass, also cojoin our own suffering to God at that Mass. And we continue to do so throughout the days and weeks of our lives. All our sufferings.

That cojining generates Graces to and for others by participating in the Suffering of Christ and the rest of the Body of Christ throughout the world.

We must not shy away from the hardships that come our way.

They aren’t pleasant, but they are necessary.

We do not grow if we do not suffer. Our character isn’t developed if we remain seeking pleasure – the best preachers that “feed” us, the music that makes our hearts race, the person with the greatest information and teachings – as long as it agrees with our understanding.

We know whether or not we suffer willingly if we hear things that are hard and disagreeable – but True. Be it about ourselves, or about the world around us.

Not Right or Left…

This understanding is apolitical. It has no affiliation with liberalism, communism, socialism, conservatism, or any other forms of polarizing positions.

It is all about God.

Joshua found that out when he was in the middle of a battle between his people and his enemy.

An angel appeared before him. When Joshua realized this creature was from God, he immediately asked which side of the battle the Angel was on. Like do in every aspect of our lives.

The Angel answered that he wasn’t on either side. His side was to do the will of God. (Joshua 5:13)

Turning our understanding to something greater…

When we finally understand that people are people, created in the Image and Likeness of God, we will then understand why it is so important to pray and suffer for others.

It is for their salvation. Their immortal souls.

Without Grace, no soul is won. Without offering our sufferings for their sake, no Saint was able to convert a single person to God.

This isn’t an emotional “Just as I Am” moment. This is something far deeper. Again, often without any emotional context.

Our stand for or against God comes at the times we are in our hardest trials. And our most difficult conflicts.

And it often comes at a high price. Often our livelihoods, as many have just gone through in these past few years.

Moral accountability or moral indifference. The choice we make will affect our eternal lives.

The bigger picture…

Just like those in the boat of what they perceived as a safe place, we often turn to the familiar. We follow the person who looks like they will take up our cross for us, as we go back to our lives and jobs without lifting a finger to help.

We take the drugs, follow the latest trends, endure the pain and sufferings of mortal life with gripes and complaints, and we find ourselves, in the end, hollow.

As one great country song once said, you’ll never find a Uhaul behind a hearse. You can’t take all these pleasures with you.

And avoiding suffering, which comes to us all, is to shirk your opportunity to grow and offer ourselves for others, just like Christ did.

If we truly are following Him, then it goes beyond the noise. It comes from inside.

And you will be willing to face the hardships, even if you don’t like them.

They are coming…

Are you ready to become the finished artwork that God has intended you to become? The tapestry woven for the sake of others; the suffering servant displaying the finished painted glass window to color the light shining through.

Who you are and what you will become in the end is up to you. The choice is between a willingness to serve and give up all, or fight against the hardships to pursue a pleasant life of ease on earth.

The treasures you gain are eternal. What you gain here is passing. Life isn’t forever.

But the finished artwork is.

people silhouette during sunset
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