Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Tiny One

Tiny One

Tiny as a mustard seed,
dancing like a tumbleweed.
Out of sight and under foot,
just where will you set your root.

Tiny one you are so small,
dreaming of the sky so tall.
Visions way beyond your sight,
ever reaching for that light.

Wind and water, drought and rain,
test you yet you still remain.
Bursting forth you set your root,
sending out a tiny shoot.

Time and time and time again,
towards the light you grow and bend.
Tiny shoot now muscle bound,
spreads your shadow all around.

Giant one with majesty,
king among the other trees,
what then will you leave behind,
what gift is it we will find?

As I look upon the ground,
there a speck is barely found.
What has fallen near my feet?
Just another mustard seed.

From "Poems in the Shade of the Tree of Life"  by Dan Strizak

Copyright 2016 Daniel Strizak

Monday, July 25, 2016

My Grandmothers Hidden Gift

This is a true story about a hidden gift that my grandmother on my mother's side left for me. I didn't know about it until many years after her death. It was a special gift, an inheritance, more precious than the finest gold, yet she probably never meant it to see the light of day.

I have received several inheritances before from people I loved. I am not rich but comfortable, never expecting any money from anyone. In most cases I received these gifts well before my loved ones died. They were special gifts.

From my mom and dad I received my Catholic faith which anchored my love for God and peace of heart. From my grandmother on my dads side I saw a deep appreciation she had for Jesus, the Holy Spirit holding and rocking me at night when I stayed at her apartment. My great aunt on my mother's side opened my eyes to see and help those nearby me who were weaker than myself. My great uncle left me the analytical problem solving skills that I have used over the years to make my living. My mother-in-law and father-in-law always welcomed me and showed their love openly. My father-in-law was also a close friend who always shared his wisdom. These are just a few that come to mind.

My grandmother on my mother's side showed my siblings and I a special tender love. She was the first one to stand behind me when I was young and first setting out on my own. Years after she died my father found a prayer hidden inside a holy statue she had left behind. It was a prayer written to Mary and Jesus. I will show this prayer but first I must explain a few things about Catholic beliefs.

Mary is a prayer partner who is a powerful intercessor and is always close to her son. (see my post on Mary, Who and Why - July 6, 2016). My grandmother's prayer was to Mary as intercessor and Jesus as God and savior.

Holy statues are not idols that we pray to anymore than we would pray to a pictures of our family. Holy statues are reminders of holy people, places or events, representing a sculpture's three dimensional prayer frozen in time. When I was young my family visited the New York worlds fair and we saw "The Pieta" by Michelangelo. I was not into art then but when I saw it I was blown away.  It was as if Mary was holding her dead son in front of me and suddenly someone had frozen them in time. This prayer is still etched in my mind.

The first question I have asked myself is why would someone place a written prayer inside a statue? Once the prayer is prayed God will receive it and remember it for all time so what is the point? Maybe she left this so she could join her prayer with the sculpture's prayer. Then every time she saw the statue she would remember her prayer. Maybe it is a message in a bottle, scattered into the world for someone to find. A message for someone to discover when God deemed it was the right person and the right time. That person was my dad who shared this with me. Below is my grandmother's prayer:

"Dear Blessed Mother, Dear Jesus. Thank you very much. I must not grumble. Take care of my dear ones. Protect them always. Keep them all safe and well, both my families!
Thank you, dear God."

My family is full of good God loving people but they are human. My family, on both sides, has ethnic and religious divisions. This prayer by my grandmother asks God to breach all those divisions with his love. She did this out of pure love and this prayer now stands as a blessing for every single person in my family and in my wife's. Every time I see a breach healed I know I am seeing this prayer come to life, just like I saw the Pieta come to life. I stand and remain blessed by my grandmother's prayer.

Now you may ask what is the gift that I will leave? I too will leave a hidden gift, a message in a bottle. I will leave my words, my posts, my written pictures of God I have seen with my earthly dim vision of him. May these posts bless my family on both sides. May they bless anyone who finds them. May they bless me but once, but everyone else to their last generation.

May God bless all of you!

Copyright 2016 Daniel Strizak

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Heart of Blue

Heart of Blue

My badge, my gun, my heart of blue,
so firm and tall I stand for you.
When trouble stretches out its reach,
there I will be to fill the breach.

I will stand for you.

I do not care just who you are,
I'll cover you from near or far.
I'll run to trouble, blind from fear,
my beating heart I will not hear.

I will stand for you.

If my last efforts fall and fail,
if I fall short upon my trail,
know that you will not be alone,
my brother blue will stand as stone.

He will stand for you

Brother who fell I weep for you,
brother my hero, heart so true.
Brother before God standing tall,
brother for me he gave his all.

I will pray for you.

Dan Strizak

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Mary, Who and Why

As a Catholic I believe that Mary is the mother of God. She has many other titles and a special relationship with her son, Our Lord. Who is she and why should it concern us? I will answer this from my heart and leave the apologetical discussions to experts such as the people at "Catholic Answers to Explain and Defend the Faith" (see my "Other Useful Sites" for a link")

First I will say who Mary is not. She is not a goddess; she is a flesh and blood human. She does not focus on herself; she focuses on her son, Our Lord. She does not look to build her own kingdom; she only serves God and his kingdom

Now I will say who she is. She is the mother of Jesus, the son of God. She conceived Jesus by the Holy Spirit. She is Queen of the Jews (also of heaven and earth). She inherited this title since her son was King of the Jews (also Heaven and Earth) and every Jewish mother of the king became the Queen Mother. As a Jewish queen she had no power of her own but merely had access to her son's power. This is enough information for me to answer the next question: "Why is Mary Important?"

Since Mary and Jesus were human, they had a very special and deep mother and son relationship. Jesus had perfect love so he was the perfect loving son. Since Jesus made us his brothers and sisters that would mean Mary is our mother also. Mary, never far from her son, can only bring us closer to her son.

Since we have direct access to Jesus why would we bother to go through his mother? The same reason that we ask others to pray for us.  The same reason that we go to church. The same reason we have missionaries. It it because God reaches out to each of us in a different way. Some, like St Paul,  he reaches directly. Some he reaches through members of his church. Some he reaches through his mother. God paints a picture of his face for each of us in a different way.

I have witnessed Mary only indirectly in my life. I have prayed for her intersession and the Lord has answered. Once my wife had a bad reaction to a drug the doctor gave her. We asked Mary to intercede. Within a short time the pain mysteriously receded despite the fact that the drug still had another 8 hours to get through her system.

Mary has actually appeared to many witness over the years. I have not seen her myself but a year before he died, a non Catholic friend of mine told me he saw a beautiful lady's reflection on his wall. Since I had been asking for Mary to bring him her son's peace, I was shocked that she may have actually appeared to him. I had asked Mary for her help because she is the best prayer partner you could have. If you were Jesus who's prayers would you answer first, your prayer or Marys? My friend died a year later alone in a hospital room where they kept the family out most of the time. A room where the attendants spent most of their time sitting and playing cards in a separate room. My friend was angry and disappointed at God because of the loss of his wife some time earlier. Mary loves all of God's children and does not care about denominations, bringing hope to the hopeless. She is a reflection of her son's pure love. Just as Mary was one of the few under her sons cross when he died, she will always be under our crosses too. When she is near us her son is always near too, whether we call him or not. I believe that she answered my prayer and brought my friend peace. She brought him her son.

Copyright 2016 Daniel Strizak

Queen of Peace

Queen of Peace

She sits silent beneath the cross,
looking upon her dearest loss,
holding her Son, a last embrace,
a look of peace upon her face.

And each pain of her Son she knew,
as in her heart it passed right through.
Yet in the Lord she placed her trust,
as all one day will know they must.

They took from Him his life, you see,
from Him they took his dignity,
and then the very ground did shake,
his mother's love they could not take.

For one last time she looks at Him,
who bore the weight of all our sin.
This Holy One that she did love,
sits with His Father far above.

Yet if you look within her eyes,
a different peace behind them lies,
a peace not found here on this earth,
a peace from God, a second birth.

Many have seen this Queen of Peace,
God's holy gift to never cease.
If she appears on your heart's wall, 
know surely from her Son she calls.

(In remembrance of a very good friend,)

From "Poems on the Litany of Loreto"  by Dan Strizak

Copyright 2016 Daniel Strizak