Meditation is an ideal way to pray. Using God's word (Lectio Divina) allows me to hear, listen and reflect on what the Lord wants to say to me - to one of his disciples - just like He did two thousand years ago.
The best time to reflect is at the beginning of the day and for at least 15 to 30 minutes.
Prior to going to sleep, read the Mass readings for the next day and then, in the morning, reflect on the Meditation offered on this website.
I hope these daily meditations allow you to know, love and imitate the Lord in a more meaningful way.
God bless you!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Mt 10:34-11:1 All In The Family

Monday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

Jesus said to his Apostles:  "Do not think I have come to bring peace upon the earth.  I have come to bring not peace but the sword.  For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one's enemies will be those of his household."

Date: July 11, 2014
Location: Nkozi, Uganda (Uganda Martyrs University)

"But Haley, if there is a God, how can He allow evil to exist? And if He doesn't allow evil to exist, but cannot do anything to stop bad things from happening, then how can He be considered an all-powerful God?"

If I had a dollar for every time I've been asked this question, I'm pretty sure I'd be able to single-handedly save the entire continent of Africa.

A number of my close family members and friends are atheists (they deny the existence of God). Now, in my opinion, there's really nothing wrong with that because I love them just the same (if not even more, since they don't know the love of God), but it is always very interesting to converse with them about the reasons for their disbelief.

"It just doesn't make sense to me," they say. "How can evil and God exist simultaneously? If God actually exists, there wouldn't be evil in this world."

They began constantly questioning me in this manner around the time I was in 6th or 7th grade. At that time in my life, I'd usually respond like this...

"Well, daddy, this is the way I see it. Earth is not a perfect place. Heaven is a perfect place; perfection is meant for Heaven. If earth was in fact perfect, then we would have no need for Heaven. Evil exists on Earth so that we have a choice between good and bad, life and death, a God-filled life and a Godless life. Whichever we choose will determine if we spend the rest of our lives in Heaven with Jesus or the rest of our lives without Him. But why doesn't God choose to stop bad things from happening to good people, you ask? Well, imagine a world where God constantly forced us to act in a certain way, as if we were His little puppets. That wouldn't be much of a life at all. Instead, God loves us so much that He gave us free will. You see, He knew we would abuse this free will and fall into sin everyday, but because He loves us, He lets us live our lives in whatever way we choose."

That 6th grade response was never enough for any of them. The conversation usually resulted in more questions, some verbal attacks, and a few tears on my part, of course. Typical sensitive Haley. Thankfully, today I don't shed any tears during those conversations, and my answer has in fact improved (slightly) since 6th grade. Yet above all what I realized in those hard conversations was that the most beautiful thing about our faith is the fact that some questions will never be answered. As much as we think we know Jesus, we don't. He is beyond our understanding. No amount of pondering and reflection and research will ever allow us to understand fully the beauty of His ways. "'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,' declares the Lord" (Isaiah 55:8). We will never fully comprehend Him, yet what we do know is this: "the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength" (1 Corinthians 1:25). This we know to be true, that God is wiser and stronger and higher and more powerful than we will ever be able to understand.

So for once, let's stop asking questions. Let's remain silent, with our eyes fully open and our hearts prepared to trust in His presence and receive His love each and every day of our lives. Because no matter how hard we try, even if we spend our entire lives searching and searching for answers, we will never be able to wrap around our brains around the greatness of God. He is too wonderful, too powerful, too awesome to ever be understood by such imperfect human minds as ours.

Still, I must admit that it is very fascinating to hear other peoples' opinions about this topic as I continue to refine my 6th grade response. The other day, I asked my Ugandan roommate, Agatha (Aggie), what she thinks about it all. Aggie is a Christian like me, yet she has been through more suffering in her 22-year-old life than I may ever experience in all of mine. She grew up Mbale, Uganda, and attended primary and secondary school (the equivalent of American middle and high school) in Jinja and later Entebbe, Uganda. Today, she is approaching her third and final year at Uganda Martyrs University (UMU) where she studies statistics and economics. She comes from a humble background of a loving, wonderful family of 10 (5 girls, 3 boys, and her parents) whom I had the privilege of meeting about a month ago, and she has dreams of becoming an economics lecturer in the future. This summer, Aggie and I are research partners at UMU, working together to design and implement the next phase of the Savings and Internal Lending Communities created by Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in the 12 villages of Nnindye Parish right outside of Nkozi, Uganda. Now that you have some background information about this wonderful human being I call my best friend and future bridesmaid (she has already promised to come to America for my future wedding between me and my currently very nonexistent boyfriend), read her thoughts about God and how an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good Creator could possibly allow evil to exist and possibly allow bad things to happen to good people...

"If everyone were rich, there would be no way to tell who is compassionate and who really cares about God's people. If every student in the class knew all the answers and was perfect in every subject, there would be no need for teachers. Yes evil exists, but evil exists so we can have the chance to show our love for God. So God exists. The benefits of knowing the love of God will always outweigh the cost of evil existing in the world. God can never give you something you can't handle. Yes there is evil in the world and God has put you in the world to deal with this evil, but He has put all the power you need in your hands. It is entirely up to you how you want to use that power (of free will). We are free to decide anything we want to. That is a gift God has given us: freedom. Freedom to choose the right way or the wrong way. It's all about obedience."

And get this: later when I mentioned the word "atheist" to her and told her that many of my closest family members and friends are atheists, she responded, "All the 'atheists,' or however you call them, try so hard to ignore God, but they each end up back in the same place, the Church, realizing that God is in fact real. If you doubt this just give God a try and see how your life will change. Anyone who says they are atheist hasn't actually given God a try and if they have, they have turned away because they fell into the trap of believing that God is just a happy feeling and if you don't feel that happiness 24/7 then He's not real. That's not true. God is not a feeling. Faith, like love, is a decision. Remember, it's all about obedience. The more you choose to follow Him, the more you will experience His love."

The more you choose to follow Him, the more you will experience His love.

Today, soak up His love. Today, be comfortable with not knowing all the answers to the world's many questions about Jesus. Yes, do your best to defend your faith and develop your own answers to these questions, but find REST in the fact that no matter how hard you try, you will never be able to comprehend how awesome and mighty and powerful and beautiful His love really is.

"I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen" (Ephesians 3:16-21).

As always, I love love love you for reading,

Haley is a student at the University of Notre Dame.  This meditation was reprinted with permission (a virtual handshake and a hug).


  1. Beautiful meditation, Haley. Love it!! Absolutely perfect for today's gospel reading. Thank you so much for your incredible witness. Wow, just amazing a young woman like yourself is willing to spend the summer in Africa. Very courageous. Best of luck. I think God has great things planned out for you. :)

    God Bless!


  2. Wow. Both Haley and Aggie impress me with their eloquence, and not just for their age but generally speaking. What a blessing that both of you could find faith in God despite your surroundings. The argument of evil is an easy one to make, but the answer to it is complex. I find it ironic that a 6th grader can understand this and even make the argument while most adults seem to doubt because the answer is complex. You're right, the Christian life, which asks us to meditate on Christ's suffering, will help us refine the answer as we grow older.

    Before a skeptic complains about the presence of Evil, I think it's important to recognize just what evil actually is. Is it suffering? Is it inflicting suffering on others? Is it not having as much as you'd like? If one thinks that evil is objective and real, they at least believe in something: evil. Does their belief in evil necessarily deny their belief in goodness? How could it if evil is the absence of goodness? And, as you and Aggie say so wonderfully, what would a world without Evil actually look like? It seems like people want some kind of passive vegetable kind of life devoid of freedom, growth, virtue, and love. Perhaps they imagine heaven this way: just some kind of blissful coma (just read the lyrics of the Talking Heads song, "Heaven"). I like to think that God wants us to live to the fullest, and so he allows for evil.

    I like Aggie's remark on atheists. Most of them have no clue what Christians mean by God. I would even argue that most of them don't even know what Christians mean by evil or suffering since the ones who complain about it often have the most comfortable lives. They think God is some "happy feeling," with no correlation to reality--one atheist arguing with me called God a sky-daddy, as though I believed in some physical entity residing in the sky. Maybe they make this mistake out of ignorance, but I think they like to belittle the reality of God because, like any insecure person, it makes them feel big, and because it's easier. I admire's Aggie's confidence that these people will return to the Church in the end. We can only hope and pray that they do.

    1. "Most of them have no clue what Christians mean by God."

      Almost every atheist I know grew up as a Christian. I would guess more of them know what you mean by god than you think.

      Of course, not everyone has the same idea of what god means. Obviously there will be some differences between different denominations, but I would imagine that even within denominations there will be some disagreement. Perhaps a good working definition would be helpful.

    2. I like your comment. Did you grow up Christian? If so, then what is your understanding of God? Let's see if Benedict's comment is so far removed from reality. I doubt it. I look forward to your definition.

      My experience with atheists is that they are ignorant of the faith they claim they once professed or were educated in. In the recent past, a certain anonymous attempted to convince others of their superior knowledge of Christian doctrine (specifically Catholic doctrine) only to see it shot down and corrected. A humiliating experience, I must say, but thankfully, what protected them was their anonymity. Apparently, they were not confident enough to put their name or reputation with their words.

  3. Excellent thoughts by these two young ladies. We often make simple things complicated. I think Aggie hits the nail on the head when she says "It's all about obedience."As we move through life and those challenges come our way that may test (yes even shake) our faith, I remember the words of Blessed Mother Theresa "God does not call us to be successful, but to be faithful." Keep the faith ladies!!!

  4. Thank you so much for posting this, Father Alfonse! I miss you and can't wait to see you soon. To the three people above, I read your comments, and please please know how much I appreciate them and how happy they made me :) If anyone would like to read more of my writings and the lessons I've learned from Uganda, visit my blog page here: Thanks again, Father!!!!

    1. Haley:

      I checked out your blog. It's so great!!! You remind me so much of me when I was young! I am an Ursuline alumna, too (UA '85) and am very much committed to social justice and service like you. Although I didn't go overseas, I used to work as a social worker for Catholic charities in NJ with the homeless and later went on to Georgetown Law to work on national poverty issues. There have been definite points in the last 25 years when it's easy to feel overwhelmed by so much poverty and injustice in the world that you just give up! Don't! Keep the faith! It's just like Aggie said...the poverty and injustice give us a chance to choose to respond.

      I know you are treasuring the experience in Uganda right now. Keep it close to your heart in the years to come! I was telling my best friend from college about your blog this past weekend. She and I were so involved when we were your age and we were feeling old because we've spent the last 20 years raising kids, changing diapers, carpools, etc. We read your Mango Tree post and loved it. She said that it was hard to feel so enthusiastic when we were changing diapers, waiting in carpool, volunteering at the thousand of activities for our large families,cooking dinner, laundry, etc. We concluded that we have to find joy in these mundane things and take comfort in the fact that hopefully we were raising kids as awesome as you and Aggie!!! We think you are so filled with the Holy Spirit. Keep going and bringing Christ to those around you.

      My oldest is a rising senior and hopes to go to Notre Dame next year! She wants to be a pediatric surgeon someday. I hope you can meet.


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