So, who Am I?
Friday, June 23, 2017
Who Am I ?
So, who Am I?
I am a happily married husband of a wonderful wife who is a perfect compliment to me. Am I a perfect husband? No! I do my best, every now and then succeeding .
I am a theist, a believer in God. Have I seen God? No, but I have not seen gravity either, though I have seen it's effects. I was a principal scientist yet I do not fully understand Einstein's work. If I can't understand Einstein, there is no way I would understand a God who created everything. As a statistician I have seen too many coincidences happen in my life to believe that they add up mathematically, they don't. God is too bright for you to see directly. In this universe we only see his shadow. If you're not even looking for him you'll never see him.
I am a Christian, a follower of Christ. I believe God gives us our freedom to choose to follow our own way or to follow him. Adam and Eve choose to follow their own way and got lost. They soon learned that without God they had no future. This is called sin. God sent his son, Jesus, the Christ, fully God and fully man into the world as our shepherd. He lifts our sin from us and lead us instead towards God the father. In short we are either moving towards or away from God. The further we are away from God the deeper we sink into hell. With all the confusion and distractions in this world we easily drift away from God. Jesus, the shepherd is the only light who can guide us to God, the father. He takes our sins and lightens our load. The closer we are to Jesus the closer we are to heaven.
I am a Catholic. Does this mean that I worship idols? No! I worship Jesus. Jesus was a man, he was God and not an idol. As a man I can see his face, seeing him smile, seeing him praying, seeing him weep for me. Since Jesus was before my time how can I see him? I see him in the word pictures drawn in the Bible. I see him in the writings of the early Christians. I see him in the early drawings of the early Christians. I see him in the frozen prayer of the great sculpture Michelangelo. I see him in the hearts of the long line of God's stewards who followed after Jesus in Peter's footsteps. I see him in my local priest when I confess my sins to him and I feel God's forgiveness flow through him, through the cross, through Jesus and into my heart. And finally I am awestruck as I receive Jesus into my heart, not just in words but fully present in his body and blood in the form of bread and wine. I believe this just as the apostles did, as the Catholic saints did, as even Luther himself did. Why do I believe this? I am a statistician, and the probabilities of all the coincidences I have seen in my own life only add up one way. Jesus is the word, he is the light, he is the bread of life. I may not always notice when he is with me, but I do always notice when I am not with him.
Copyright 2017 Daniel Strizak
Thursday, March 9, 2017
When we pray and ask for something from God how do we know he hears us?
If we get what we wanted then we know. Maybe not. Maybe it is just a random natural occurrence that God permits. Maybe God wants us to learn for ourselves that what we want is wrong. After getting what we want things don't always work out in the long run.
If we hear him when we pray and he tells us he is granting our prayer then we know he has heard us. Maybe not. Maybe we are not hearing God but only our own mind, our own desires.
If we don't get what we prayed for then it must not be his will. Maybe not. Maybe we just have to wait longer. St Augustine's mom had to wait many, many years for her sons conversion to Christianity. Maybe God is building patience in us.
It seem like praying is almost impossible. I once heard a wise priest on television talk about this and give me hope. He said that if we pray, wrongly thinking we heard God, he will still honor our prayer. Following our own will instead of his may take us in the wrong direction but God will eventually get us where he wants us to be. We may, however, travel the longer, more difficult way to get there. Over the years I have often followed my own will, learning painful lessons. There were a few times, however, when it was crystal clear to me that I had heard God's voice. While God speaks to each of us differently there are some things I noticed about God's voice when I was sure he spoke to me. For what it is worth, I will share these with you.
- God's voice in my case is not an actual voice but a clear voice in my mind. It is usually something that I myself would not say or think.
- What God has told me is never contradictory to the Bible, often giving me a deeper understanding of it. Neither is it contradictory to any Catholic doctrine.
- When I pray about something and my wife and I receive the same answer then it is almost always God's answer.
- When I pray more often God's voice becomes clearer, knowing it becomes easier.
- Often when I am doing some simple chore, like mowing the lawn, God talks to me then and there.
- When I am praying in church, hearing God's voice, it is almost always his.
- When I receive the Eucharist (the actual body and blood of Jesus in the form of bread and wine) in the state of grace, the voice I hear is always him.
- When God is talking to me it is always an enlightening and teaching moment.
- When God is talking to me he is often asking me to follow him by stepping out further in my faith.
Prayer is a journey with God, an adventure. He is always with each one of us. We need to listen for his voice. We will eventually hear him. We need to look for his answers in the many small signs that build up around us. A prayer journey with God will never be boring!
Copyright 2017 Daniel Strizak
Jesus, Mary and Joseph
A statue is a work of art. What is art? Art is an attempt to create a scene from real life and depict it's meaning in a visual form. A statue is an attempt to do this as a three dimensional art form. A statue attempts to show what the artist is seeing, reflecting an image from the camera of his mind. To me a religious statue is also a work of art, reflecting a frozen prayer from the artists heart. I seriously doubt that an artist's intention was to create an idol to be worshiped. His intention was to share his prayer, similar to a writer sharing his prayers in a devotional book. I don't see the difference.
I find it easier to understand an artists prayer as a statue rather than in a book. A lack of imagination on my part? I have often used statues to pray to the Lord. I have never actually worshiped the statue itself. When I was young I was fortunate enough to see Michelangelo's "Pieta " at the New York World's Fair. This was one of the few times it left Rome. This was a statue of Mary holding her dead son Jesus in her lap. This is a classic, timeless work of art. It was so real that if not for its pure whiteness, I would have expected to see Mary start to move. Michelangelo has taken us to the last moment between Mary and Jesus before he was placed into the tomb. You feel like you are an interloper actually standing there watching. That is quite a prayer!
While you can pray anywhere, a church is a good place to pray. It is a structure built by human hands dedicated to God. Catholic churches often have statues inside to help place our focus on God and his gifts of faith. Once I was having some problems with my family and I had decided to visit a church and pray.
I lived in Mobile, Al and I decided to go to a local church that had a life size replica of the "Pieta". I got there and the church was locked. I was upset and decided to go to my own church where there was a statue of Mary in our small chapel. I got there and the floor was being replaced and the chapel was closed. I was again wounded but I went into the main part of the church to pray near the statue of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. As I prayed a strange feeling came over me. I looked up at the statue and saw the Holy Family. I suddenly realized that this was not only the right place to pray and it was also the right answer to my prayer. God had guided me to the place where he wanted me to pray. What better example could I have of the perfect family than Jesus, Mary and Joseph. It helped me see my family through the lens of Jesus’s family. I suddenly knew what I needed to do. I knew what a true family was. I also knew that I would always be part of God's own family. I would always be part of His church.
Copyright 2017 Daniel Strizak
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
What is this day, this precious gift of love?
God sends to us a snow white turtle dove.
Sent to break our hearts as cold as stone,
His Spirit comes to make our hearts His throne.
And as we look within each others eyes,
we see God's light of love is there inside.
We only see this light when reaching out,
that's what a Valentine is all about.
I know sometimes I only see myself,
an empty cold reflection looks for help.
Not knowing where to turn I see your smile,
I know that I'll be warm here for a while.
I have not much to give I know it's so,
but all the love I have I give, you know.
Of all the gifts God gave me it is true,
His sweetest gift of love, He gave me you.