Love Never Fails

 

April and her grandma Jean were very close. In fact, April talked about Jean like she was talking about her best friend. Jean inspired April. She encouraged her. She challenged her. She supported her. Jean showed April what it meant to live a life of faith.

Last week Jean was visiting friends and felt a pain in her chest. Thirty minutes later, she was gone. It was a heart attack that came on sudden and strong.

In the blink of an eye, April’s world changed.

At the funeral, as people consoled April and wrapped their arms around her, one thought raced through April’s mind: “When was the last time I told my grandma that I loved her? When was the last time I actually said those words?” She was certain that her Grandma knew she loved her, but now all she wanted to do was tell her.

“If I speak in human and angelic tongues, but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal…If I have faith as to move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” -1 COR 13:1-2

Who do you love in your life? When was the last time you told them that you love them?

Don’t wait.

 

Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK

 

Advertisements

The Power of Words

Susan stopped by the lunch room door. She could hear her co-workers talking in a hushed tone—the kind of tone used only when some juicy gossip was being exchanged. Her first reaction was to walk away and head back to her desk, but something made her stay. Her curiosity got the best of her. She was mesmerized by her co-workers words.

That is until she realized they were talking about her.

We have to admit it: most of engage in some sort of negative conversation at one time or another. If we examined all of our talk topics in a single day, I think we would be surprised at how much of it relies on disapproving reactions to people and situations.

Think about the power of words. Strong words have the ability to unite a crowd…or create a riot. They  can educate and inspire…or ridicule and humiliate. Strong words can create the foundation for our lives…or they can lead us down a path of destruction.

“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” -Luke 6:45

How are you choosing your words? Do you know the impact your words have on another person? Do your words reflect who you are and how you live your faith?

Think about how would you feel if you found out Susan was listening to what you said.

 

Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK.

 

I Believe

“I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.”

Do you ever wonder why we say the Nicene Creed every Sunday at Mass? Why is the Creed important?

The Nicene Creed was first formulated in AD 325 at the First Council of Nicaea, a council of Christian bishops who convened in Nicaea (a city which today is known as Iznik located in Turkey).

It was the first creed to obtain universal authority in the church, and it improved the language of the Apostles’ Creed by including more specific statements about the divinity of Christ and the Holy Spirit.

It was written as a declaration of our faith.

So often we find ourselves simply saying words at Mass and forgetting to truly appreciate the meaning of the words. The Nicene Creed gives us the perfect opportunity to reflect on who we are, where we came from and where we want to go.

We repeat it every Sunday to remind us that we have made a decision to make the Creed the foundation of our lives. We say it together, united as one church.

  • I believe in the message of Christian faith.
  • I stand up for my faith, professing it proudly.
  • I pledge to live my faith every single day.

“Let the creed be like a mirror for you. Look at yourself in it to see whether you really believe all that you claim to believe. And rejoice every day in your faith.”-St. Augustine

 

Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK

 

The Canvas of Life

My friend Joyce is a very talented painter. She focuses on abstracts and has the ability to combine unique colors and patterns in an emotional way on the canvas.

Her art is hard for me to explain. It’s really just a bunch of shapes and lines put together on a canvas. But Joyce is really good at what she does. She knows how to combine the right colors and right brush strokes and the right placement…and the right amount of love with each of her paintings.

Her secret is simple. Years ago she decided who she wanted to be as a painter. She thought about it long and hard, and even wrote down a mission statement for her work. She was clear and concise in her definition.

It was only after she had something that she felt truly passionate about did she actually begin her work. She couldn’t really “live her art” without knowing who she was as an artist.

This philosophy shows up in every piece she creates. It’s complex, it’s exciting, and its full of life.

Who are you as an “artist” of your faith? Do you have a philosophy for how you live your days? Are you passionate about your mission? Are you willing to work hard, every day, to accomplish your plans?

Do the results of your daily actions demonstrate who you are? Are you complex, exciting and full of life?

They say art imitates life, but sometimes we learn our best life lessons from art…and from the artists who create the work.

 

 

Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK.

 

 

Beetlejuice

In June of 2017, I had the pleasure of photographing a wedding with two very special people, Sheila and Mark. It was during this wedding that I learned an important life lesson.

We got an early start that morning. The women spent the morning at the salon, while the men played a round of golf. By mid-afternoon, we all arrived at the church two hours before the ceremony was set to begin. The women were in one room, the men in another.

While there was lots of laughing and hugging being shared, underneath it all was a touch of nervousness. Sheila struggled with anxiety in her life; it was something she had been battling for years. Recently she had two small episodes, minor panic attacks that left her breathless with a racing heart.

As the big day approached, Sheila worried that the emotions of the day would get the best of her. She worried that she would encounter another attack. And worse, that the attack would stop the wedding.

Sheila took a deep breath and began her calming techniques as her bridesmaids buttoned and tied her wedding dress. She could feel the pressure building in her chest.

It was at that moment that she heard a sound, a “ping-ping” coming from the doorway.

She turned and saw Adam, the Best Man, standing at the doorway with his phone in his hand. He looked up and smiled, then slowly walked into the room.

Sheila went into panic mode. What was going on? What was wrong? Why was he here?

Adam looked up and smiled. “Beetlejuice.”

Sheila laughed a nervous laugh. “I don’t get it?”

“It’s a gift from your soon-to-be husband,” said Adam.

Sheila was still confused.

“Mark asked me to set the timer on my phone every hour. When the timer goes off, I’m going to look at you and say ‘Beetlejuice.’”

“Beetlejuice” was the first movie Sheila and Mark saw together at an outdoor film festival. It was their third date, and it was the night that Sheila and Mark realized that this relationship had a chance to be something very special.

“When you hear these words,” Adam continued, “Mark wants you to take a breath and realize that you are surrounded by people who love you and want to celebrate you. These people want you to be happy for the rest of your life. When you hear the words, take a moment to savor. Take a moment to enjoy. And take a moment to say a short prayer and thank God for this spectacular day.”

Sheila instantly teared up and embraced Adam. It was the best wedding gift she could have possibly received.

______________

Today, over one year later, I’m sitting with my family on a pontoon boat in the middle of a lake, watching a spectacular sunset fill the sky. One word comes to my mind: “Beetlejuice.”

What are you savoring in life? How often are you actually doing it?

Are you remembering to thank God for your spectacular day?

 

Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK.

 

Performances of Love

It was February, 2016 and my friend Wanda was officially excited. She had just purchased tickets for her sister and her to see the Broadway production of Hamilton in New York. She had heard nothing but rave reviews for the musical, and she knew this would be a magical night.

For the next two months, Wanda had difficult containing her excitement. She was obsessed with the musical’s soundtrack, listening to it day and night. She made her hotel reservation, secured her flight and actually packed her bag for New York three weeks in advance. It was all she thought about.

The night finally arrived, and she felt a rush of adrenaline as she entered the Richard Rodgers Theatre. And then she began to hear the buzz. And she could feel the disappointment hanging in the air.

The creator and star of Hamilton, Lin-Manual Miranda was sick and would not be performing at that evening’s performance. An understudy was taking over. Miranda was the driving force behind the production, and Wanda felt her heart sink as she made her way to her seat.

The house lights dimmed and the music began. The play opened and the understudy appeared on stage and sang his first words: “My name is Alexander Hamilton.”

It was then that the unexpected happened. The audience burst into applause. The actors froze on stage for a good twenty seconds waiting for the cheers to die down. It truly was a magical moment.

The understudy was magnificent. Wanda and her sister left the theatre inspired. It was a night she would never forget.

Some two years later, I’m still thinking about Wanda’s magical night, this time as it relates to my faith. When Jesus was on Earth, he was literally a Superstar. He was the main attraction, the Man everyone came to see.

When he left our planet and returned to Heaven, he did something very simple: He entrusted all of us to be his understudies.

  • He asked us to study our roles and deliver performances of love.
  • He asked us to not only know our part, but to bring passion to the world and carry on His mission.
  • He asked us to deliver performances that inspire. Every day. With everyone.

In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus said: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.”

The audience is waiting, the lights are dimming. Are you ready?

 

Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK.

What’s Your Super Power?

It’s Summer. That means lots of picnics, swimming and fireworks.

It also means going to the movies to watch a summer blockbuster. And what would a summer blockbuster be without Super Heroes.

Over the years we’ve seen the familiar names: Wonder Woman, Thor, Captain America, Hulk, and Spider Man, just to name a few. Each has a unique and incredible power. Each fights for justice throughout the world, and even the universe. Each is able to use their powers alongside other Super Heroes to form a super group.

Summer is also the perfect time to develop your own super power when it comes to your faith. Each of us has the ability to perfect these powers and fight for justice in our own worlds.

  • The Power of Prayer. Every faithful Super Hero knows that their power comes from a specific source. It’s important to connect with this source on a regular basis.
  • The Power of Forgiveness. Everyone on the planet deserves forgiveness. God is ready to forgive every moment of every day. Are you?
  • The Power of Compassion. All it takes is a little practice and a big heart.
  • The Power of Love. There is nothing stronger and more powerful than the power of love.

Don’t delay! Other Super Heroes are waiting for you to join their Super Hero Group.

Remember this simple phrase that was once told to Spider Man: “With great power, comes great responsibility.”

Are you ready to conquer your world?

 

Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK.

 

The Heart Leaf Philodendron

Many years ago, when I moved into my first apartment, my father gave me a plant. He actually took leaves from a plant that hung in his living room and gave me a portion of it to re-plant at my new home.

What I soon discovered was this was no ordinary plant.

My dad had quite the green thumb—he could make anything grow. The original plant was a Heart Leaf Philodendron, a common house plant. It’s been used as an indoor plant since Victorian times, and it has the ability to grow very large.

He helped me re-plant my new leaves into a small planter, and just like that, I had an instant decoration for my home.

At first it was fun to watch the leaves begin to sprout and expand. Then, the plant exploded. The vines grew long, and I wrapped them around the tiny planter. I knew I would have to re-pot it soon.

My plant traveled with me as I moved over the years. No matter where I put it—living room, kitchen, dining room—it continued to grow. All I needed to do was water the soil, spray the leaves and make sure I gave it a little bit of love.

Then my father died.

He had a heart attack on a Friday morning, and for the first time in my life I came face-to-face with death. It hurt.

The plant now took on a special meaning. This was a connection with my dad, and I wanted it close to me. I wanted to see it, so I could think of him and what he meant to me. So I took it to work and put it in my office.

But, as much as I wanted it around me, I found myself getting preoccupied with projects, paperwork and life…and the plant was neglected.

After returning from a long weekend, I found it drooping, sagging, and brown. A lot of the leaves were dead.

How could I have done this? How could I have treated my dad’s plant this way?

I cut back the dead vines, and grabbed a bottle of water. I had to return to the beginning–a small plant ready to grow again.

And it slowly came back to life, resurrected.

And then it hit me. My dad was a man of great faith. He taught me how to love and honor God. He taught me how to embrace the Holy Spirit’s constant love. He taught me to how to walk with Jesus, through good times and bad.

He was still teaching me, even after he was gone.

Sometimes we all need to stop and cut back the bad vines. We need to water our soil and spray our leaves. We need learn once again how to give a little bit of love.

And we need to believe in the power of the resurrection.

This Heart Leaf Philodendron was no ordinary plant.

 

Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK

 

Firsts

Recently, I got to spend some time with my friends, Sam, Claire and their one-year-old son Jason. From the moment the three of them walked into my house, it was very clear that Jason was going to be the center of attention.

He had just begun to walk, so we all took turns keeping an eye and a hand on him as he bounced around my dining room, kitchen and living room.

Jason was a bundle of curiosity and energy that night. He explored every inch of my house and investigated every item on a table or shelf. (Of course that included trying to put every object into his mouth.)

After a few hours, the night finally wore Jason down and his eyes grew heavy. Sam scooped him up and carried him to the bedroom to put on his pajamas.

“It’s amazing,” said Claire, turning to me with pride. “I love watching him explore every inch of his world. Everything is new to him. Everything is a first.” She brushed her hair from her face and smiled with pride. “He’s given me so much joy not just because I love him so much, but because he’s given me a new outlook on life.” I could see tears in her eyes.

This was something I never expected. I knew the joy of a new child. I knew the love that a parent feels every moment of every day. But I never thought about living with a fresh perspective.

What if we lived every moment of our life as if it were the first time we experienced this moment? How would our life change?

Think about experiencing a sunset or a windy day. Think about holding someone’s hand. Think about sharing a meal with family and friends.

Think about going to Mass. Think about receiving the body and blood of Christ. Think about praying the Our Father with hundreds of people, all joined as one.

Think about what it would be like to open our minds and let the moments of the day satisfy our hearts.

We could be filled with firsts. Over and over again.

 

Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK.

 

Instant Prayer

I recently noticed a habit that I have. I had just finished my grocery shopping and I made my way up to the checkout lane. There were two carts in front of me, and I knew I would have a few minutes of waiting.

I immediately put my hand in my pocket and pulled out my phone. I didn’t even think about, I just mindlessly reached for it.

I didn’t have a pressing email waiting for me. I wasn’t expecting an urgent text message. I simply wanted to flip through various apps and information to see what was going on.

And then I realized something frightening. Whenever I am in “waiting mode,” I reach for my phone.

  • When I’m waiting at a long, red traffic light, I reach for my phone.
  • When I’m waiting for a friend at a restaurant, I reach for my phone.
  • When I’m waiting in a doctor’s office, I reach for my phone.

It’s automatic. My hand simply goes to my phone.

Once I discovered this habit, I quickly made a decision. Instead of fighting my phone addiction, I decided to use it to my advantage.

Every time my fingers touch my phone, it’s a trigger for me to stop. I take a breath, I calm myself and I say an Instant Prayer.

  • At the grocery store: “God, I thank you for the food that you give me to eat. Help me to remember those that are hungry and in great need.”
  • At the red light: “God, you have blessed me with the ability to move about and see your world. Help me to remember those that have daily struggles.”
  • At the doctor’s office: “God, thank you for giving me the gift of life. Help me to live each day to its fullest.”

You get the idea.

An Instant Prayer is a quick acknowledgement of what God has given me in my life. It’s a way to appreciate his love every moment of every day. Even in the grocery checkout lane.

An Instant Prayer is always tied to the environment or the situation at hand. It is quick and direct. It’s heartfelt and powerful.

And sometimes, an Instant Prayer turns into a full blown prayer and I never actually pull my phone from my pocket.

And that’s okay with me.

 

Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK.