The Speech I Never Gave…

This is a graduation speech, but not a speech for school graduates. It is a speech for those approaching the end of their lives, or those saddened by looking forward and seeing very little hope for what remains of their lives here on Earth.

But there is reason to hope, for there is a God. God is good and loves each of us the same. At the end of our lives God will be there to welcome us home.

When I was young, a small child and then student in high school and college, my generation was inspired. I perceived that same inspiration in my parents‘ and grandparents’ generations. Perhaps that’s where our inspiration came from, though we didn’t know it. Those people believed we could all do great things. The people of my parents’ and grandparents’ generation, and some of my own, remained humble, good-hearted people, but they believed this and they struggled to do “great things.”

Not all the Eisenhowers, Trumans and Obamas became President. Some of them stayed home in their small towns and worked in the factories, raised cows, sold cars, and shoveled grain…taught school. To all appearances many of them failed to make an impact on their world, but this is not true. The people around them knew they didn’t fail. Average everyday people build the churches, schools, and homes that build the towns that build the states that build the nations. There is no other way to do it.

In the heart and spirit “average everyday” people are a great success, often more so than the rich and famous. They make the world a better place for those around them, get little back for doing it, and God hears the prayers of their heart and gives help to this world in answer. He also takes those prayers and places them into the blueprint for the gloriously beautiful eternal new world he is building. Their personal contributions will be there when the eternal new world arrives to replace this troubled world that is passing away. “Put your treasure in heaven, for where your treasure is there your heart will be also.”

My family was working class, lived in a very small house and didn’t have a lot, but we all believed this, that each person was destined to do great things in their own way, not egotistically, but with the spirit and the heart…with God’s help.

Our neighbors and townsfolk in our small town believed the same thing. No one there expected to be rich or famous, but they did believe that with God’s help everyone could make an equal contribution—and should. What we can’t do with our hands, we can do with our hearts.

Life doesn’t permit us all to do great things with our lives in the outside world, but God listens to our hearts. He considers those incipient but unrealized great things he finds there in the heart, encapsulated in love, hopes, and dreams, to be acceptable prayers. Because all heartfelt prayers are acceptable, God then asks his angels to make them real, as real as they can be here in this temporary and imperfect world, and fully real in the eternal world to come.

So don’t forget to make your contribution with a heartfelt prayer. This Earth is a wonderful gift that God has given us, but it is passing away; it is failing. We should love and care for it, do what we can, but we can’t completely save it. It isn’t meant to be permanent.

I challenge everyone to continue to move forward in the Spirit of Christ who at the end carried a heavy cross contrived by the devil to test his heart and spirit. But Jesus never gave up even while suffering terrible pain unto death on the cross. He believed God his Father would be there to heal his wounds and lift him up at the end…and he was. We should believe too. All wounds will be healed.

No matter how bad things get here as our present world begins to fail and pass away, we should move forward, inspired, do what we can to make things better right up to the last moment. If we do become rich, powerful, or famous, we should not live as if we were greater than anyone else, just equal…and more fortunate.

God loves all of us the same, poor as much as rich (and in some ways more). He never lets us go if we choose to hold on to Him. In the world of the heart and the spirit great things are possible to all people, even if they only live for a moment as a newborn child, or even an unborn child. If we are willing to give this world a gift from our hearts, love and prayer, God is willing to give what might be called a “matching funds” gift that empowers our gift, making change to this tragic world possible.

Disability and illness doesn’t stop the power of a heartfelt prayer. Suffering empowers the heart. So, don’t forget to ask God for his help to leave your gift for the suffering and poor of this world, as well as for your friends and family’s future. All things are possible to God. Don’t give up on yourself because of past sins, even the most serious ones, murder and service to the devil as a Satanist, etc. God will forgive you if you ask, even to the last moment of life. He’s that good.

Having made your contribution with the prayers of your heart and the small good deeds life may make possible to you, when the new world comes you can point to a beautiful piece of it and say, “I made that…with God’s help.” Stay inspired and keep working, if “only” in prayer. As Mother Teresa said, “No act of kindness is ever wasted.”

Never give up. People confined to a hospital bed or a wheel chair can still do this. In many ways they are uniquely situated to do the most. God gives those who suffer the greatest gifts of the Spirit. And he forgives our sins. God will forgive our sins IF we ask because he never stops loving us. Ask for forgiveness. It restores purity, heals our hearts, and joins us in the Spirit more closing, empowering our prayers. Your prayers are urgently needed in this troubled world today.

God is always willing to forgive, willing to give us a chance to start over. Even if we are 90 years old and have done bad things, rebirth in God’s Spirit and a fresh start are still possible. All our sins will be forgiven if we ask…ask. Don’t let the devil trick you into giving up on yourself…God never does. He is that good…Our Father.

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PS: Nothing is too much for God to forgive. As Jesus reminded us, “Who will love his master the most, he who has been forgiven a little or he who has been forgiven a lot?” Ask!

When that forgiveness and renewal is granted, forget your troubles for a moment and allow yourself to be caught up in the great renewal that occurs on Easter morning as Christ’s victory over death and sin is made present to us again and again each year, a renewal also made gloriously present on Christmas morning as we celebrate the greatest story ever told, the birth of baby Jesus!

Haven’t accepted Christ as your savior? Don’t know how?

 It is not a complicated thing to do. Anyone can do it anytime that God invites you by calling you in your heart.  Conversion is a grace, a free gift of God that he offers to different people at different times during their lives, but it is a grace that God hopes everyone will seek. He also offers renewal of that conversion periodically as we go through life after having once been converted and baptised.

Feeling the call? Then just do this: look up to God in Heaven with love in your heart and ask forgiveness for any sins you may have committed in your life by saying this one line prayer to Jesus, “Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Jesus loved us enough to pay for our sins with his own life, taking our punishment upon himself. He always answers that prayer.

Not sure you are being called to seek that forgiveness? Everyone is. But not everyone allows themselves to hear the call; not everyone slows down their life for a moment to answer it. God does not always offer the grace of salvation to everyone at a given moment because we are not moving towards him, but away. If you don’t clearly hear the call to conversion and forgiveness, turn back towards God with your heart and ask with humility if you can have that grace. It will come. God says, “Grow close to me and I will grow close to you.” We are always permitted to ask God’s forgiveness, no matter how bad our life has been.

“Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” That’s all it takes…and a few tears.

To acknowledge that we are sinners is not to condemn ourselves as wholly bad; it is only to admit that we are not wholly good as we should be. God is wholly good. He wants us to grow in the right direction towards perfect goodness, like caterpillars that grow into beautiful butterflies, in this case, butterflies of the human heart and spirit who are wholly good and who no longer sin against their God and their fellow man.

To remain reconciled to God we should ask for that forgiveness at the end of every day after reviewing what we might have done better. God forgives our sins, heals us, and gives us greater and greater gifts each time we ask forgiveness. He loves us; it’s that simple. But we have a long way to grow. It takes time and it takes work. But it always starts with “Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me a sinner…”

Those with long term illnesses and disabilities or confined to hospitals, and those in prison, are perhaps uniquely situated to work on the spiritual growth process. Far from being unplugged from life, it is they who can make the most spiritual progress. Spiritual growth is largely a matter of prayer and meditation, and receiving God’s gifts at Church if we can get there: the Holy Sacraments of Confession and the Eucharist (the body and blood of Christ in the miraculously changed consecrated bread and wine).

It is a long term struggle to break free from sin completely. There will be some pain involved. Sometimes the devil beats us up in his desperate attempt to hold us down, but it is well worth the trouble to attain God’s paradise in Heaven and the new world that is coming. We may already be good people, but we are not as good as we can be when God helps us grow. Even after a lifetime of trying, we still need God’s help in a final act of forgiveness and purification as we leave these worn-out and sinful bodies behind and reach for higher things, a hug from our Father in Heaven.

Caterpillars may experience some pain turning into a butterfly, but it is worth the suffering to be made beautiful and learn to fly. We may not be beautiful in this world, but we will be in the next, and we will soar to untold heights of the Spirit. Our physical flaws, defects, and deformities will be gone. Our new spiritual bodies will reflect the goodness of our hearts; they will be perfect and gloriously beautiful, although we can still be recognized as being who we are. They will be our bodies, but they will be perfect in their new spiritual form.

There is reason to hope. After Jesus died for us on the cross, life never ends…and the soul never dies. Thanks be to God!

Even little wooly caterpillars have the good sense to have hope. Too many of us have lost it. God’s creatures are all here for a reason, wholesome and worthy of our love and care, though we may not have the wisdom to see it. The reason for the caterpillar is the easiest to see. It reminds us of the glorious potential of the human spirit for transformation when enfolded in the loving hands of God. And it tells us to keep plodding forward even when we can see no refreshing water or green plants ahead to nourish us. In the end, God will gently pick us up, heal our wounds, and nourish us with life-giving water from the eternal spring of his Holy Spirit. He is a loving Father, and a God of justice. None of our sufferings go unnoticed.

“Glory be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen!”