Here comes Ash Wednesday…Let us Rejoice!

When you pray

Here comes Ash Wednesday! Let us rejoice and be glad!

“…But when you pray,
go to your inner room,
close the door,
and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”
~ Jesus (MT 6:1-6)

Rejoice and be Glad!

The preceding passage comes from the Gospel for Ash Wednesday. No matter where we are, whether we are in prison, school, work or war, we are being called to our inner room. Where is our inner room?

I believe beyond a doubt that our inner room is closer than we could ever imagine, but something keeps us from opening the door. Often times, when my everyday life becomes busy and full, I forget to go into that room beyond my heart and soul to find the source of my being. Do we avoid going to unfamiliar places because we are afraid?

When we do find our inner room, we experience heaven on earth. It is that simple, yet we make it so complicated. Next Sunday on the First Week of Lent, the Gospel passage is taken from the first chapter of Mark.

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert,
and he remained in the desert for forty days,
tempted by Satan.
He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.

Jesus, when in the wild desert, found his inner room. His Father repaid him with a special Cross. The Cross is the door to the Sacred Heart of God the Father. If we discover our own inner room, God will repay each of us with an intimate and loving relationship with the Beloved. This is priceless.

Looking for the inner room

Ash Wednesday is the door we must enter in order to find this intimacy with God, Our Beloved. I will conclude with a time while I was out in Iraq, when I found my inner room. God, my Beloved, repaid me for my efforts beyond my wildest dreams. God was giving me a share in His Cross, which of course is priceless.

Lent is an opportunity to seek and find Our Beloved God who heals us, shares in our meals, feeds us, washes our feet, encourages us, protects us from the evil one, and invites us to stand at the foot of His Cross. God lavishes us with grace upon grace, gift upon gift. Our Beloved even entrusts His Beloved Mother to us. O Beloved, let us truly enter lent with the Ashes on our foreheads and enter the true inner room in the inner chambers of Jesus’ Sacred Heart. The pay and benefits are great!

A Talk with God in my inner room 10-4-2004

You knew, O Beloved Lord, better than I what was to unfold
yesterday. You had me in your arms as I wrestled, whimpered,
cried and sadly…complained.

Transportation was a mess as I attempted to provide Catholic
services to the forward operating bases outside Camp Fallujah. I
am sorry, Lord; I may have been irritated and slightly ugly. But
all along you had me in your love, even though you may have been
disappointed with me. My homily was about faith, and I exhibited
little faith, if any. And that is the problem. It wasn’t my homily; it
was yours: your stories, your parables, your suffering and your
death. I did nothing for I am a servant, unprofitable at that, of your
Word, your Love, your hopes, your dreams, and your commands.

Yesterday was for me. My inconveniences and frustrations were
all gifts. I see this now; the purpose was to bring me and draw me
closer to your heart.

Forgive me, Lord, for doubting. Forgive me for my harsh words
and my insane stubbornness. I knew it was a graced moment when
Captain Brian Heatherman invited me to the infamous Abu Ghraib
prison. It was you, more than me, who desired and wanted your
Body to be sacrificed there. I didn’t trust you. I feel so goofy, almost
ashamed. And yet I know within my soul and heart, that you desire
not that I be ashamed or embarrassed. I will profit immensely if I
simply follow you and fill my being with you – Love itself.

O Beloved, you are mightier than the storms of hatred and insanity.
It is You, and You alone, who will bring peace and stability to this
region of the world. It is You who is already at work in every darkened heart, fulfilling Your promise given here almost 4,000 years ago.

Awesome! Lord Jesus, my spirit, life, and breath; I beg of You to
show me Your plan so I can better follow You into Eternity.

What a story last night. You placed me in the center of those men,
Baptists and Protestants, to lead them in the Word of God. I felt their
mistrust, but I knew You placed me there. About 25 men gathered for
the non-denominational prayer service. Chaplain Ron Kennedy was
very sick, and You urged me to be uncomfortable and cover for him.
When I proclaimed Your Word, the authority was there. I felt it. When
You spoke to them through me, I was in awe. I’m not sure You wanted me to
lay hands on them, though, because some of them got up and scattered at that!
Suspicious I presume of the Anti-Christ and us ‘Catholics.’

What must You have endured when Your very own people got up and abandoned
You as you gave them Your body, Your blood, and Your heart? Come to think of it,
I still do this. You say to me, “And you, Ron Moses, are you going to leave me,
too?” I fumble with words, “O not me, for You Jesus have the words of Eternal Life.”
And yet, You know me so well. I will choose death over and over until I surrender
not just my will, but my very life and breath.

O Jesus, what have You done? There are so many holier priests than me. How
could you pick me when these men and women will be ex-periencing life-changing
amputations, wounds or even dying? I want to trust You totally, Jesus.
Increase my faith! Increase my love!

What have you done, Jesus?

And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do,
that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
John 14:13

You ask, “What do you want Me to do for you?”
I say, “Increase my love for You and my neighbor and my enemy.
Increase my love. Increase my love.”
And you answer me in my inner room…in secret.

Then I ask for more…
Teach me patience, Lord, Beloved, Holy One.
Teach me wisdom…
Teach me Love.

I love you, Ron Moses +

After the inner room

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:13

Jesus reached out his hand and touched me!

Still in chapter one of the Gospel according to Mark (1:40-45), we encounter the touch of Jesus.

A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, “I do will it be made clean.” The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.

How amazing, that a mere human being can move God. And yet, we rarely understand this to its full impact. We are like the cubs that a mother elephant defends to her death. There are so many instances where nature merely gives a hint to the compassion and devotion of a mother for her child. The Prophet Isaiah is quite clear about it in chapter 49, as he is the voice of God:

I will never forget you my people. I have carved you in the palm of my hand. I will never forget you; I will not leave you orphaned. I will never forget my own. Does a mother forget her baby, or a woman, the child within her womb? Yet even if they forget, yes even if they forget, I will never forget my own.

Absolutely remarkable is that God is saying that even if the Alpha and Omega were to die and leave us orphaned, God will rise above death to defend us, protect us, and love us. Love is stronger than death. Nature is all about survival. I am amazed how flowers can grow out of a wall in a mostly cement city or animals are so able to adapt to our encrouchment. God is crazy in love with you and me. That love is for everyone. God desires that we get along with one another, whether we be Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, Protestant, Atheist, Mormon or Catholic.

The most painful hurts from another come from our own friends and families, not our enemies. Only those we love can truly hurt us. And that is the true leprosy that keeps us separated. When we fail to love all and to be loved by all we get nauseated with one another. We carry the hidden puss of spiritual leprosy. Jesus came to heal this kind of leprosy. Jesus is delighted when he hears us beg,

“If you wish, you can make me clean.”

Jesus stretches out his hand and touches me saying, “I do will it, be made clean!”

All living creatures have a sense of touch. Let us be open and be stewards of our sense of touch.

Breathe in…
Breathe out…
…and experience the touch of Jesus.

How remarkable it must have been to be in that upper room with locked doors when Jesus entered the room. It must have taken their breath away to hear his voice bouncing off of their eardrums as he said, “Peace be with you.”

Then they saw with their own eyes; the nail marks in his hands and the wound in his side. Now experience his breath touching you as he breathes the Holy Spirit on you and those around you. That gentle, kind and loving breath burns away everything unclean in you and me. Wow! And ooh! And o my!

Jesus truly has reached out his hand and touched me.
Let us be true stewards of the touch of Jesus.
Receive the gift.
Nurture the gift.
And return the gift with increase!
I can hardly keep it to myself. How about you?

Love, joy, peace,

Father Ron Moses +

Touched by Jesus

Everyone is looking for you!

On leaving the synagogue Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her. He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them.
When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. The whole town was gathered at the door. He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him.
Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you!” He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.” So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.

The Gospel according to Mark 1:29-19

When I was growing up, my whole family went to church every Sunday. The nine kids took up a whole pew! On the way home, we often would talk about the Gospel as we either got donuts or prepared the Sunday brunch that was usually around 2 p.m.

Crushed by Love

Many times, we would be in New Hampshire skating on Lake Winnipesaukee or in the small boat as a family. The consistent factor of all Sundays was that those over the age of 7 had the Body of Christ in their own body and soul. Missing Mass was unthinkable. Those who hadn’t received their First Communion yet were very close to Jesus in a very special way. We literally walked, splashed and played with Jesus throughout our lives.

Can you see Jesus?

When Jesus went “home” with brothers Simon, Andrew, James and John, they must have lived in a similar way. They talked about the Jewish readings. If someone got sick, everyone in the family knew about it. Jesus entered the life of the people to let them know that we are all part of an even larger family where God is our Father and Jesus’ mother is our Mother. Families need to pray and play together in order to grow in deeper love and appreciation.

Jesus healed a lot of people that day. The religious leaders were upset and jealous with Jesus. They accused him of breaking the laws because he healed people on the Sabbath. The people waited until the Sabbath was officially over before they had the courage to bring the sick and addicted to Jesus. I wonder if Jesus was somehow multiplying the loaves and fishes so that he could feed the people after he healed them.

But early in the morning, before the sunrise, Jesus took off to pray.

When is the last time you “prayed” to God or Jesus and didn’t ask for something? When is the last time you got up early to just sit with God with no expectations? How often do you simply say, “Good morning Jesus, it is great to be alive. Where do you want to go today?” Simon and those who were with him pursued Jesus until they found him. Their prayer was a petition so that the people could experience miraculous healings. “Everyone is looking for you!”

Ron and Diane after Mass

Jesus knows when we are sick. When people ask me to pray for healing for them, my prayer is usually for the person to just relax and accept their cross. I truly look forward to my death, but I also look forward to living here on earth. With regards our health, if we are honest, we sometimes are under-responsible for it. And then we are over-responsible for others’ health. Personally, I believe that Jesus is the best health insurance we could ever obtain…and it is free!

Whenever I have been sick physically, mentally or spiritually, I thank God for my sickness, my cross. It wasn’t easy when I got shingles a few years back. In some ways, it gives me time to appreciate my usually good health. I simply breathe in… and then I breathe out…

Jesus has been beside me, above me, below me and within me all my life. I have no fear when I realize that Jesus, my beloved, won’t let anything harm me. When I was in Iraq, I realized the incredible power I had. I can tell Jesus about the need for healing…and I actually do. However, Jesus usually asks me to help Him in the healing. I could see well beyond the war that the people I served would need the healing of Jesus. Once I find Jesus, he is already going on to other places.

“Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.”

We are Called to...

Jesus our Savior is counting on you and me to follow him. If you noticed, the disciples never got sick while they were with Jesus. Most of them died because they were murdered. Jesus is on a mission. If you truly follow him you will be healthy. It will require great faith. Jesus is approaching you at this minute, grasping your hand, and helping you up.

Trust Jesus.

Go with him as he spreads the Good News to all nations and peoples.

“The Spirit of the Beloved is upon me because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. God sent me to proclaim liberty to captives, recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to Our Beloved God.”

Let us all have the best week ever as we play and pray with Jesus.
Love, joy, peace,
Father Ron Moses +

Jesus with me...always!

Ronnie

PACHYDERMS: One Soldier’s Experience of the Vietnam War

By Danny Buoy
Link to Pachyderms updated

This book was updated and edited and reads well. The story is truly a diamond

Review by Ron Camarda MWSA
January 26, 2012

Life after War

Pachyderms is a diamond in the rough. The book reads like a screenplay of a movie with substance…but better. The characters come alive, albeit complex, simple and surprisingly likeable, through the mind of a very gifted and clever author. St. Augustine’s Confessions came to my mind as I finished this book. Danny looks deeply into his own heart and soul and recognizes his own faulty judgments and foibles. The book is raw and demands that you feel, think about, experience and observe the fears, terror, boredom and blunt force of an illogical war. This is accomplished through the observations of a young new recruit who was overwhelmed by the inevitable deployment to an unpopular, seductive and perplexing Vietnam War. It was a war that blasted the body, mind and soul of the people who endured it.

If you dare to take the journey of this book, you will require a good dose of courage for the self-reflection. The author forced this Iraq combat veteran chaplain to re-evaluate some of my false assumptions of Vietnam Veterans and all combat veterans for that matter. Humbling.

To me, the book is more than real. It explores the depths of the heart and soul of young unsuspecting kids thrown into a caldron of invisible enemies, confusion, lust, virtue, immorality, poor leadership, superb leadership, terror, friendship, passion, fickleness, greed, death, red tape, the Army way, and love.

The story is compelling and resonates with life on many levels and dimensions. The book is connected and comes full circle in most cases. Some of the “unresolved” issues are just that, irresolvable. How could anyone understand suicide, returning soldiers treated like criminals, inept commanders receiving awards for causing so much misery, or a scared friend not saying goodbye?

The story, which more resembles a memoir, is complicated. Vietnam Veterans are complicated. This story really got under my skin. Any American History teacher or scholar would discover that Pachyderms is a hidden treasure, to use a Scriptural analogy. The story has the power that could assist healing in combat veterans.

Before I read about the deployment of PFC Cooby, the soldier narrating, I was so intolerant and skeptical of Vietnam vets in general. I was blind to the plight of the enlisted. When I read in shock about the R & R trysts of the soldiers to places like Hong Kong and Penang with the debauchery, lust and plain bad behavior, I was really angry with the soldiers. But I still really loved them unconditionally and I understood that they were not thinking with their brains, but only with their broken hearts. I forgave them and read on, as difficult as it was.

I am filled with gratitude for these men who suffered and were tormented by even their own family members upon return. There is much dissimilarity in the return of troops from the war in Vietnam compared to the recent wars. I am not sure I would have survived it. In war, “Charlie” (code for the silent and invisible enemy), can never hurt us other than physically. Only friends and loved ones can inflict the wounds of the heart and soul. And that is very clear to me, what all of us Americans did to our returning Vietnam Veterans. For some of them, death was a more humane or compassionate outcome compared to returning to a hostile America of the time. It just is. Vietnam Vets are not innocent nor without sins, but they do deserve to be forgiven for their own sins. They do not need to take the responsibility of those politicians and lousy leaders who sent them there without true support for the troops. My own sins are plethora. Who are we to judge?

Danny, like his Sergeant who went from feared boss to endearing friend, mentored me through this journey. Just as his former Sergeant corrected Danny Coobat, when he failed to mentor his replacement, in a very subtle way, Danny encourages those who dare to listen to his story.

‘The reader’ has never been in a bunker during incoming mortar, has never pulled a burned body from a Chinook, didn’t return from R & R only to find his buddies rotated, and has yet to be hailed by Rule number four. As far as I know, ‘the reader’ did not lose his first love Madilla, and only has one talent like you in July 1966. “Live and let live.”

At 17 years old, I entered into the overwhelming world of the military complex. Danny touches on many of those highs, middles and lows in navigating the torturous journey of becoming, not just a modern warrior…but also a decent and mature human being capable of honest and humbling self-criticism. He also shares with us the ability to love and to be loved.

The story is ordinary, gut wrenching, extremely thought provoking, and profound.

Thank you Sergeant Danny Coobat (and your friends both living and dead).
Welcome Home!

“Not good enough, Danny.” I wish I could embrace you, Sergeant Coobat, in a long hug,
engrossed in a feeling ‘brothers in war’ share. My eyes are too wet to confirm seeing a tear in yours, but my ears heard your voice crack when you said, “Good-bye Reader.”