The Existence of God

world-in-his-hands

By Charlie Johnston

A few weeks ago someone forwarded to me a note from a young man who claimed to be tormented by his sudden lack of belief in God. He wanted proof of God’s existence – and asked for miraculous evidence, claiming he would then believe fully. I took it seriously, though there were some huge red flags poking up. Lately, I have been targeted by a certain type of backwoods preacher who has read a Chick Publication comic and think they are Biblical scholars and theologians. It doesn’t trouble me: I was weaned on such arrant nonsense, but it is a bit of an annoyance. Alas, my response did not satisfy the fellow at all. He demanded a magic show. But contemplating it, I think he did me a service, for reading it back, it touches on some issues that many here struggle with. It may be helpful, so below, I print my reply (most of it, anyway):

“I could go through the intellectual arguments. Way back in 1993 when I was doing radio in Chicago the national spokesman for the American Atheists called me and asked if we could do a debate on the existence of God on my radio show. We were friends, and I agreed. To his surprise, the show we did ended with him conceding that there was a rational basis for the existence of God and that it was reasonable for people to believe in Him. At 18, you may be deeply intellectual or you may not be quite as solid as you think you are. When someone is seriously intellectual, I suggest they study St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica and deal with his arguments before making a decision. But that is very dense and difficult going for most. Instead, you might try Peter Kreeft’s marvelous Summa of the Summa, still requiring some advanced knowledge of logic and philosophy, but much more accessible to get through an introduction of the hard logic behind theology.
 
But I think you need something more immediate and visceral. Most people think that if they could only see, only be shown, that they would do. They are both wrong and have it exactly backwards. I know, I often thought the same way you and others do – but I had a huge advantage. I was being shown all my life. The first time I came to think maybe I was  not as smart as I thought I was was with the abortion issue. It was a horrible thing…but in the 70s when it was first imposed as law on the country by the Supreme Court, I did not take it as seriously as I should have. In those days, there was no talk of a “woman’s right to choose.” Rather, the argument was that a fetus was an insensate blob of tissue – that there was no moral issue at all. I knew that scientific advances would ultimately destroy this argument…and I took the pro-abortion crowd at their word, that they really believed the fetus was an insensate blob of tissue. I naievely believed that once it was firmly established in scientific terms that the fetus is a distinct and individuated human from very early stages, they would step back from the abyss. I loved the growth of ultrasound technology in the late 70s, for I was certain this would be the end of abortion. By the mid-80s it had, indeed, destroyed the notion that the fetus was an insensate blob of tissue. By 1983, internal memos revealed that Planned Parenthood knew it had a major problem on its hands…that their entire argument was being obliterated. To my astonishment, rather than step back from the abyss once they knew it was a child, they toyed with different new arguments, finally settling in 1985 firmly on the argument that it was a “woman’s right.” It shook me badly.
 
Meantime, all my life I have been shown a coming “Storm” that would be the worst crisis in human history, brought on by our apostasy and reliance upon ourselves. It was terrible. But I argued for decades with God and the angel He sent to do most of my training that if they would just show everybody what they were showing me, there would be no  need for a Storm: everyone would turn back from the evil we have let take over our lives. The priests who have guided me and I have laughed ruefully, for over the last decade, it has not taken a prophet to see what is happening in the world. The last few years, it is obviously upon us, and swirling fast. But a great mass of people have not repented at all, only doubled down on the behavior that has brought us to such a terrible border in history. I was wrong again. It has not made me shy about giving my opinion to God, but has made me much more docile to doing it as He lays out.
 
Now people think that if God would only show them, they would do. Making allowances for all the reports of miracles that turn out to be wishful thinking, there are some modern-day occurrences that are undeniable. The tilma on which the picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe is found is one such. If you have not studied it, you should. Now almost 500 years old, the cactus fibers should have disintegrated before it was 40. There is no paint on the surface: rather, whatever forms the image seems to float above the surface. Our Lady’s eyes in the painting reflect the scene in the room where it first appeared when examined microscopically, which there was no technology for or even imagination on how to do such a thing 500 years ago. The Dance of the Sun and the miraculous immediate drying of everyone at the sixth appearance of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal on Oct. 13, 1917, was witnessed by tens of thousands of witnesses, at least 20% of which were atheists gathered to mock and government officials gathered to debunk this “nonsense.” Yet all testified, many in stunned wonder, that it happened.
 
Now you may argue that, okay, even if those are incontrovertibly miraculous, that is not the sort of miracle I seek. Understandable, but God is NOT a genie to be put through His paces by His creation. Personally, I am not a big fan of miracles at all. Not that I am against them, but that all the talk of them convinces so many people to play prosecuting attorney and demand that God stand in the docket to prove Himself before them. God is author of all things, the natural law by which He set things in motion here, but by which He is not bound. In the normal course of things, He expects us to act in accordance with the natural laws He created. The great French Naturalist, Emile Zola, once decided he was going to prove that Lourdes was a fraud. He took a young girl named Marie LeMarchand, whose face was ravaged by lupus, there to be bathed in its waters. It was just a stunt, that would have proved nothing.

Emile Zola

Emile Zola

Most who go to Lourdes are not physically healed, though do find an inner contentment. He took Marie to doctors to confirm how hopeless her condition was. Alas for Emile, Marie was one of the rare ones who was to be immediately and completely healed. He was both astonished and furious. He took her to all the doctors around the area, none of whom could give any natural cause for her sudden and complete remission. At one point, he angrily exclaimed that if everyone who came to Lourdes was healed he would still NEVER believe in a miracle. ON the way back to Paris, he maliciously told Marie he thought her uglier now than before she was healed. It was a difficult thing for him…the rest of his life and his writings were haunted by restless efforts to disprove or discount what he had seen.
 
The thing is, what God asks of us is very simple. He wants us to love one another, to care for each other. He wants us to do. It is a paradox, but I tell people they are wrong: they think if they saw they would do. The reality is that not until they do the very simple things we are asked can they have any hope of seeing – and that once they start doing, they will find real joy and worry less about seeing. We are far more fragile than people realize. I often think the main reason the heavenly host is cautious not to disturb us is that we are like a house made of ashes. The slightest puff could blow us away when confronted with the solid reality of eternity. I have only two people close to me who sought to be shown some things as I am and got their desire. Though I had warned them it was not what they thought – and incredibly intense – they persisted. Both were terrified when it came – and begged and prayed never to see things in that way again. One said that had it not stopped she might have committed suicide. They have both been content to do the little things they should and let angels act subtly around them, rather than reveal the reality that is too scorching for those who are not made to bear it.
 
But even though God is not a genie who will dance to the tune of earthly supplicants who demand it of Him, He will reveal Himself to those who humbly ask – and do. I am going to give you links at the bottom to three pieces from my website that may be helpful to you in exploring some of this. If after you have read them, you want clarification on something, I will respond. But I will close with this:
 
Back in the early to mid-90s I taught RCIA (basically catechism for adults) in a large Chicago-area parish. One year, we had a very dapper, smartly-dressed man in the class. Slightly built, he was in his 40s but had a certain dash and panache about him. He rarely spoke or asked questions, though. This led people to romanticize him, thinking he had some great secret. I was a popular instructor because I invited people to ask me or argue anything with me. I knew this stuff is hard…and people knew I wasn’t going to be shocked or offended by their honest, deep questions. One evening, this man asked to chat after class. We went outside to the parking lot in the cool of the evening. He was obviously nervous. Finally he told me that when he was very young, and then for a good part of his early adulthood, he had made his living as an itinerant  revival preacher, doing tent shows all over the south. I chuckled and told him everyone had wondered about his secret – and now I knew. Quite earnestly, he told me that was NOT his secret. His secret was that though he had made a lot of money at it, he had never been sure there really was a God. He wanted to believe, but just did not know – and felt like such a hypocrite because of his past. I pondered, then asked him if I gave him a prayer he could say with complete sincerity, would he say it every day. His face lit up and he said he surely would. So what I tolkd him to pray was to ask, “God, if You are there at all, please show me.” Oh, he loved that. He was going to say it hundreds of times a day. I forbade him. Told him once was plenty if said with sincere humility, but not to say it more than three times a day…and just go about his business. He eagerly agreed. Several months went by. After the class Christmas Party, he pulled me aside again, his face aglow. All he said was, “Thank you.” He didn’t elaborate on what had happened and I didn’t ask for details. He knew.
 
It is in the doing, in the course of our everyday affairs that we begin to see. You are a young man. You do not need to make a definitive decision right now. There is joy to be had, life to be found in simply doing this: in all things, ask for God’s gentle, silent prompting. Then take the next right step and be a sign of hope to those around you. I assure you, in doing little things well, you will discover you have amassed great things along the way without even noticing. In being a sign of hope to those around you, you will find an unending source of hope for yourself. And now the three articles that I think may be useful for you:
 
What the Next Right Step Really Means
 
Into the Whirlwind
 
On Suffering
 
and one more…
 
For Those Who Grieve

About charliej373

Charlie Johnston is a former newspaper editor, radio talk show host and political consultant. From Feb. 11, 2011 to Aug. 21, 2012, he walked 3,200 miles across the country, sleeping in the woods, meeting people and praying as he went. He has received prophetic visitation all his life, which he has vetted through a trio of priests over the last 20 years, and now speaks publicly about on this site. Yet he emphasizes that we find God most surely through the ordinary, doing the little things we should with faith and fidelity. Hence the name, The Next Right Step. The visitations inform his work, but are not the focus of it. He lives in the Archdiocese of Denver in the United States.
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88 Responses to The Existence of God

  1. Becky-TN says:

    Oh, Charlie. This was spot on. Thank you for this.

    God Bless,

    Becky

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  2. Lizzyjane says:

    Earlier today, I had posted a prayer request for my two sons who have lost faith in God. I asked all of you to pray that God would reveal Himself to them and they would believe. I mentioned that one son refused to believe unless God gave him a miraculous sign of sorts. Knowing that God does not “perform” on demand to such request, I ended our debate about resolving his quandary about the existence of God with the same advice you gave in your column. I said to my son, ” everyday when you awake, simply say to God, wether you believe in Him or not,…. if you exist, please show me.” I asked him to pray it everyday….and everyday, this mother prays to the same God asking Him in His mercy to hear and answer both of our prayers. If ever God wanted a mother on her knees 24/7, this will surely do it. Quite possibly, God allowed this circumstance to occur for just this reason….for my own sanctification. For if it is so, then I owe our dear Lord a great deal of gratitude. My soul has been greatly humbled…..

    Liked by 2 people

    • charliej373 says:

      God bless you, Lizzy…and may St. Monica act as patron to your loving heart, that you may be steadfast.

      Liked by 1 person

    • We all have people we are praying for. But what about those who have no one to pray for them? Whenever I have a prayer need, I include all those in that category who have no one to pray for them. Grandchild not baptized? Pray for your own and all others who are not baptized. Children fallen away from the Church? Pray for them and all those who have lost their faith. If the evil one thinks he has won in taking one soul away, imagine his shock when the 10,000 you prayed for have a change of heart at the last moment! God wins–all the time! Alleluia!

      Liked by 8 people

      • Judy says:

        Very good thoughts, Janet. I have a very long list of people I pray for, including people who have no one to prayer for them, and those in purgatory who have no one to pray for them. I know that God remembers everyone I have put on the list, but it is so long that I cannot. 🙂

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        • Judy, I have made the Blessed Mother administrator of my territory of souls. That way even if I forget the names of a few thousand, they are not forgotten, because She intercedes on my behalf for them with every prayer I pray. Whenever someone asks me for prayers, I immediately place them and their loved ones in the Flame of Love, in the Divine Will. What I cannot do because of human limitation becomes possible in the Divine Will, for “nothing is impossible for God!” Alleluia!

          Once I felt the Lord tell me, “Take care of My business and I will take care of yours.” His business is souls! Since then I offer almost all my prayers for souls, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary and leave my intentions to the love and mercy of Jesus and Mary. Alleluia!

          Liked by 3 people

      • DanSouthChicago says:

        Thank you. Absolutely great idea. God bless.

        Liked by 1 person

    • joanp62 says:

      Lizzy, I am in the same boat with my son. I pray to St. Monica, and offer Masses up for him. I struggle with guilt that I did not impart the faith to him very well, but it seems that all I can do now is pray, pray, sacrifice and leave it to God.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lizzyjane says:

        Dear Joan,

        I’m so sorry about your sons too. If I could offer one thought that consoles me, it is the complete trust in the Divine mercy of Jesus. If as mothers we offer ferverent prayers and masses, our merciful Father will offer them His salvation….even at the very last second. He no more wants their condemnation any more than their mother…as He is also their loving father. But, He wants us to do the hard work and offer our suffering in attonement for their sins. It too will humble and sanctify our own souls in the process. Personally, it has been a great spiritual blessing to me as I rely only on Gods Mercy to save them.
        I will remember your boys with each mass and rosary Joan. We do what God asks of us and put them under the protection of our Lady, and they will be ok. I also plead to every faithful soul I know to pray for them too. Jesus, I trust in You!

        Liked by 1 person

    • donna says:

      I feel your pain Lizzie….I have two sons 24 and 27 and both are away from the church….but I follow St Monica’s lead…..God has a plan, and I trust Him.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lizzyjane says:

        I agree completely Donna….God does have a plan! If they come back, they might be Gods greatest voices about conversion! They are Gods souls and He wants them more than we do.

        God bless you…I’ll add your sons to my prayers…I have a feeling that this is a very big club of suffering mothers….we can pray for each other and for the children who have no one to intercede for them.

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  3. Bonnie C says:

    What strikes me here is your kindness and the time you took to answer the inquiry. Especially knowing how pressed you have been for time. True charity of heart. Today our priest told us how the Apostles saw Jesus from about 100 yards out on the water and how St. John was the one who recognized him. He saw Jesus “with the eyes of his heart”. Yes, let us all look for Jesus with the eyes of our hearts. What a beautiful letter. You planted a seed. Let us water it with prayer.

    Liked by 1 person

    • charliej373 says:

      Thanks Bonnie…I get many such cries of pain and answer them all. Most are serious, some do not respond well, some are just pranksters pulling my chain…but I answer all eventually. It is why I sometimes get so behind. I figure God evangelizes each of us one at a time so, to the extent I can with my limitations, I try to imitate Him. Most do not provide really good material for a post, but this one did. I hope it inspires a little hope.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ed Allison says:

    The temptation to ask for proof is strong. At least, it always has been for me. I’m guessing that I’m not terribly different than most folks. But I dare not ask. Instead I think of Mark 9:23-24: Jesus said to him, “‘If you can!’ Everything is possible to one who has faith.” 24 Then the boy’s father cried out, “I do believe, help my unbelief!” I can certainly relate to the boys father in that passage.

    I don’t think you stated it in this post, but you have said before that if people WERE shown, that most would still not change their ways. I think you are right. All my life, I have said many times, that I do not understand how the Israelites could have worshiped the golden calf on Mt. Sinai after all that God had done for them to bring them out of Egypt. How, after seeing the 10 plagues; the parting of the Red Sea; the Egyptian army being swallowed up by the Red Sea…. HOW could they doubt God and turn to a golden idol? I still do not understand it. They certainly were shown proof, and they still failed to believe.

    If I look back on my life, I can find many events that should serve as proof for me as well. They may not be as dramatic as those the Israelites saw, but I have seen my share of small miracles and divine intervention. Lord, I believe! Help me in my unbelief!

    Liked by 1 person

    • charliej373 says:

      Yes, that is a statement I frequently make, Ed. On my pilgrimage I often said something similar: when anyone insisted I should carry some sort of weapon for protection or avoid certain areas, I was prone to say defiantly, “I will fear no evil!” Then when I was alone again I would pray that the Lord make it true…for I often did fear – but as I have also often said, faith is an act of the will. Thanks be to God, up till now, my will has usually been stronger than my fear.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Barbara Dore says:

      Judas saw Jesus rising St Lazarus from his death. King David saw God and even communicated with God. I still do not know if King David saw God in a flame of fire or a true form. One Prophet said God looked like a human being

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  5. Mark says:

    Ahhh atheism, the belief that everything came from nothing, at no time, without any reason or intention of any sort. They often fail to take that to a logical conclusion that if so ultimately nothing has any real value nor purpose, and there would be no actual Rights. If they are correct there is no actual moral truth; then there is no moral right and there is no moral wrong.

    It would all be relativism, nothing would be greater than the self (and the self would not be greater in any absolute sense than anything else either). Love would be nothing more than a simple evolved trait, an emotion alone. No person would have any more “cosmic” value than a rock, ant or speck of dust. We would simple be self-animate objects that came about by happenstance with no value outside our own thoughts. No use saving the environment as it would have no value.

    Life would be absolutely devoid of any and all meaning and to treat it as such would be to fool oneself. What a depressing concept! I do think many like the surficial idea that there may be no consequence to their actions, few will like the idea, if taken to a logical conclusion, that they themselves then are also of no consequence. Just think Hitler really would not be a bad guy, if there is no absolute good, there is no absolute bad and in fact there is nothing evil.

    Atheists will spout absurd ideas to try to convince themselves that our origin has some purpose such as Aliens starting life on earth etc. They often don’t see the circular arguments they build to create a purpose or creation when they deny the creator. As GK Chesterton stated “When people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing — they believe in anything.”

    The fact alone that we know and believe that there is moral good, truth, justice, value, love, purpose, and/or meaning ultimately shows a faith in God. Conceptually if any of them truly exists, then there also has to be God for them to exist.

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    • charliej373 says:

      I laughed once when an atheist I was debating told me the origin of life was with ancient aliens who left seeds from their own civilization behind. I told him incredulously that he should name that the “turtles all the way down theory.” To his credit, he knew what I was talking about and reddened. He said he got it from Richard Dawkins, I think. I ripped him up, that that was just kicking the can down the road…for the question remained of the origin of life – even if it was passed on by another civilization: where did they originate from?

      For those who haven’t heard it, there is an old story about people contemplating the nature of the universe. One old man said the universe sits on the back of a gigantic turtle. He was asked what, then, the turtle stood on. The man was visibly perplexed. After several minutes, his face brightened and he said, “It’s turtles all the way down.”

      Liked by 2 people

      • Donette says:

        Speaking of Ancient Aliens, Charlie, I have always liked science fiction stories. Maybe it began with the old movies of Buck Rogers that used to be on TV shows for kids on Saturday mornings. More recently, I suppose, it was listening to people who claim to have seen UFO’s that drew my attention to Ancient Aliens the TV program and a friend who’s son seemed to be captivated by the program. She asked me for advice how to counter what her son was telling her.

        One needs to research the background of the “regulars” on these programs to know what is behind them in a presentation such as Ancient Aliens. They draw a lot from Andrew Sitchen or Von Daniken; One, a secular Jew and was a Freemason before he died and the other is an apostate Catholic and is now a non believer. Not having exposed myself to the activities of Freemasons I can only repeat, true or non truth about one of their activities; the worship of the satan. Last evening as I was remoting on the TV, the program came on and I almost choked to see them make all of the connections they do under the words “ancient astronaut theorists believe” when they connected Mayans and Egyptians and Far Eastern gods religious activities to the one who brought “light, agriculture, and medical knowledge to the earthlings. Of course as the story went on, this “god” was connected with Lucifer, the light bearer and maybe present day religions got it all wrong about who Lucifer was….he was not who present day religion claimed him to be…evil…he became in their story telling the savior of the human race.

        Seduction away from God is everywhere and comes in many forms and if you don’t see or know the source, some times you can be lead astray by the minions who serve Lucifer.

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      • Donette says:

        I believe you once told us, Charlie that your angel told you “They must choose!” Well once the satan and his minions become a topic of discussion then of course the next thing that should be considered is the work of the Exorcist.
        I just read on Catholic World Report this article: http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Item/3800/the_return_of_the_exorcists.aspx

        This is probably another reason why we are seeing so much garbage and chaos out there in the land of “Let’s not believe.” If we look at things from the view of God and what He is showing us, it is so that we can make the choice that your angel has encouraged us to do. We then really must choose and help others to see the false light that is being presented and to turn to the One Who truly Is The Light, The Truth and The Way. Yes. It is a time of choice.

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    • Lily says:

      That is a main point for my faith in God. I have wanted to say it a number of times, but the people I am thinking about are depressed enough already. I’m afraid it would add more of a burden to their lives and perhaps cause them to be suicidal. The thing is that they don’t really want God.

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      • charliej373 says:

        Well, as you know I am not much of an advocate of direct and haranguing evangelization. But living joy and making your home a welcome one should not cause despair among many…but I, too, know some people who are so adamant in their rejection of God that they insist that you must reject Him, too, in order to be their friend. And so, we part company…including some who were once very close to me. The thing is, people usually get what the most want at a fundamental level…and the whole world is getting a taste of what things are really like without God.

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  6. mvislander says:

    Thank you Charlie for this wonderful confirmation of faith. I have struggled here and there with mine even after 18 years of Catholic schools. In high school we were taught by the Irish Christian Brothers and one of them instructed us that there really was no devil or hell. This needless to say had a detrimental impact on my faith journey. In 2005 I was in the process of ramping up my faith and I had an experience which propelled me forward. It was May in New England but we happened to be getting a Noreaster and it was rainy and sleeting sideways. I had a break from the job I was doing and went down to the waterfront in my car and was listening to Fr. Tom DiLorenzo on the local radio station. While he was talking about the sinking of the Titanic and using it as a metaphor to describe how we as Christians must try to get others in our lifeboat I was watching a small sailboat being tossed around in the harbor on a day when no small craft should have been out there. As Fr. Tom spoke of the New York socialite who compelled her lifeboat to row towards the sinking ship in order to rescue more souls, the small sailboat continued towards me. As Fr. Tom announced the name of that famous New Yorker the sailboat turned right in front of me and across her transom was “Unsinkable Molly Brown” precisely when he exclaimed it over the airwaves. I was floored when this happened but my human nature still tries to make me believe it was just a coincidence. Do you think God would communicate to us in this way. I like to think that it was a gentle pat on the shoulder. Vince in bono mallum.

    Liked by 1 person

    • charliej373 says:

      Oh yes, I do. That does not mean I necessarily think he created the craft from thin air. Rather, God bars Himself from interfering with our will, but He is not bounded by time or space – and he nudges the “coincidences” we need at the time we need them. He is constantly arranging and re-arranging the ‘furniture’ around us to call us to salvation, to comfort and console us and give us assurance of His love. I will bet you God and your guardian angel exchanged high fives when it all came together and you got the message!

      Liked by 3 people

      • DanSouthChicago says:

        That explanation registered with me, Charlie. Thanks! So that’s why Jesus doesn’t ring our doorbell and say, “Hi, I’m Jesus and I’m God. Here. I’ll prove it.” Even when He hits certain people over the head with a 2×4, it’s still subtle persuasion for those particular people. He’s still not interfering with their free will, because our response would no longer be love if it were not free. It would be forced. Does this make any sense?

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        • charliej373 says:

          He does everything He can to register with us, but we have to do. And yeah, that 2X4 would be cruelty when applied to a rabbit, but is a mild suggestion when applied to a donkey.

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          • MMBev says:

            I don’t know if a 2X4 would be cruelty to a donkey but it sure works.

            A man needed a good, deluxe, hardworking, obedient donkey. He headed down to the donkey dealership. The owner sold him a costly one, with the guarantee that performance would surpass excellence.

            Next day, the customer arrived back, dragging his deluxe donkey behind him. “Liar, Liar! This stupid donkey won’t do ANYTHING! I want my money back!”

            “Oh, my goodness”, exclaimed the owner! “I forgot to give you the starter! Here, I am sooo sorry!” He then handed the new owner a 2X4 and explained that once a direction is give, a solid head blow with the starter had to be applied.

            God give us directions. It seems we have two choices. We can start on our own, or wait until the starter is applied first. I have done both consistently. The starter is more painful.

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          • mvislander says:

            I must humbly admit that I resemble a donkey in every way (except politically). God knows that I needed that gentle application of the 2×4. He often used the Sisters of Saint Joseph to make the application when I was in grade school.

            Liked by 1 person

  7. Steve McGlynn says:

    Charlie, I will not believe in God until you hike another thousand miles, avoid attacks from scores more of miscreants, survive 7 plagues and are published in 15 different languages.
    Cordially,

    Emile

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    • charliej373 says:

      Ha, this is actually my cousin, Ralph. But if he wants to call himself Emile, I’m sure he has his reasons. (Okay, the cousin Ralph bit is an inside joke…this is my great buddy and crony, Steve McGlynn.

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    • SteveBC says:

      Well, “Emile”, Charlie already has Criterion 4 knocked. Anyone in the world can run his TNRS website through Google Translate and read the contents in literally hundreds of languages, not the mere and paltry 15 your imagination has limited you to. And when you consider the concerted attacks of various web trolls, I contend he’s already knocked Criterion 2 as well. Additionally, with the traveling he may soon be doing to various places around the country, and all the pacing he will be doing in front of audiences, he will probably walk another thousand miles sooner than we might think.

      I will agree that he still needs work to satisfy Criterion 3, though. Come on, Charlie, stop slackin’. 😀

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      • charliej373 says:

        Ha, Steve, a weird thing happened not so long ago. The site shows and gives me links to referring sites. There ARE a few places that publish translated versions of some of my columns. On one, it was in a different alphabet than we use. It was bizarre…all these strange symbols…and then every once in a while, I recognized a version of “Charlie Johnston” occasionally. It was so alien to me that I could not even identify which specific column it was…except for the occasional citations of my name. Suddenly it dawned on me…this must be kind of like what it is for our dogs: “Blah, blah, blah, REX (dog’s tail starts wagging) blah, blah, blah REX.” It was an interesting experience.

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    • Judy says:

      Steve, you certainly have a good sense of humor. 😉 Sometimes humor is the very best medicine.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Alphonsus says:

    I once had a conversation with an atheist evolutionary biologist of good will on the topic of Intelligent Design (IE) about whether IE biological arguments constituted proof in my mind of God’s existence. I think he expected me to defend them, knowing I am a man of faith. But, I told him no. They are very weak arguments because they are so selective, for either everything is proof of God’s existence or none of it is. Cherry picking is not an argument..

    I also know a woman who was trained in botany in the former Soviet Union under that extreme atheism. She told me that her study of plants is what brought her to a belief in God because she could find no other explanation for them. She also is a descendent of Armenians who were slaughtered by the Turks during the Armenian genocide. Her grandfather happened to be on holiday in Georgia when that happened. She lost a great number of her ancestors and living family in that genocide. She has no love for Mohammedism or the people who practice it, yet when Russian Moslem “refugees” were resettled in our town she volunteered to be an interpreter for them and to help them. She acquired the heart to do that because she found God through plants in an atheistic totalitarian environment. But she will say to anybody, God found her through that instead.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. Gina says:

    Charlie, with your permission I would like to share this YouTube video with Lizzyjane and anyone else who may be interested. This video is a talk given by Fr. Tim Deeter on his experience in Medjugorje but it is so much more than that. Fr. Deeter gives a wonderful, heartwarming explanation on the importance and value of prayer and the sacraments of our Catholic faith. Fr. Deeter’s prayer on the way to Medjugorje was that “someone would tell him a secret about himself that nobody else would know”. That sounded very similar to what Lizzyjane’s son had mentioned.
    God bless,
    Gina

    Like

  10. Gina says:

    Hear is the video….sorry forgot to attach in my earlier post:

    Liked by 1 person

    • malachi99 says:

      Father Tim is a great priest and family friend. He’s a Chicagoan Charlie with a wicked sense of humour which would be right up your street. Maybe I can get him to do a guest post for you. Believe me he has a lot of stories some of which are like something right out of Father Malachi Martin’s windswept House at one extreme and Father Ted at the other.

      Like

    • EllenChris says:

      Thank you so much, Gina, for posting this. I had a little time to watch it this afternoon, and it really touched me very deeply. It was nothing new to me really, but somehow had new relevance for right now that made a new impact. Many blessings.

      Liked by 1 person

    • luvmercy5775 says:

      Gina, I watched the video then forwarded it to family and friends. May the Lord reap a mighty harvest from this powerful testimony of faith.This is a message that needs to be heard. God bless and keep you.

      Like

    • carol trueman says:

      I highly recommend this video, if anyone cares to take the time to watch this. It goes for almost 1 hour and 5 minutes.

      Like

  11. Phillip Frank says:

    I’m a turtle farmer so I vote for the back of a giant turtle!
    Although, I don’t think I will be able to find an incubator large enough if it lays an egg!
    Phil

    Like

    • charliej373 says:

      I had the strangest episodic encounters with turtles on my pilgrimage. Once, in Amarillo, Texas, I think I found the one good spot for cover in about a hundred miles. It was almost a large bowl of a landscape with heavy woods at the bottom, and nary a river, creek or stream within at least a half a mile. One morning I woke up and there was a turtle, maybe a foot in circumference, loping along and looking at me. It was not a tortoise…but a regular turtle. But along with me, it was way outside of what I always thought its natural habitat would be.

      Like

      • MMBev says:

        I’m sorry, but I think that this is just sooo funny! There are a lot of us turtles out there, ‘Way outside of our natural habitat.

        We’re usually wondering how the dang we got there and where the dang we’re go-in.

        Liked by 2 people

  12. Lizzyjane says:

    Gina….thank you for offering this…I have an appointment now and I will save this for later when I have time to absorb it. Thank you!!
    So grateful to all of you and your comments….angels among us.

    Like

  13. Connie says:

    Thank you ,Charlie, for helping me get back to basics: Trust-Do-Love. I wrote it on my heart today.

    I’m great full for Michael Brown introducing you some time back in Spirit Daily.

    I’m a Catholic convert from no-religion-in-my-home growing up. In another “lucky” encounter with Wayne Weible’s , “Medjugorje the Message” ,I had a holy influx of insight into Catholic truths and joined the Church a few years later.

    By the way, Greg Cring in his book “A Little While Longer” also comes up with the significant year , 2017, from a totally different, numerical perspective (which I couldn’t understand being a mathematical ignoramus),

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Kati says:

    Oh my, Charlie! This is a beautiful piece that you have written! Really!!! It made me think of the beatitude, “The pure in heart shall see God.”

    Like

  15. Father Benjamin Shockey says:

    Charlie, thank you for your kind words to this young man.
    I do appreciate your advice to take the next right step and
    do something. It would seem so incredibly simple. I was
    struck years ago by a passage from the Old Testament and
    it has stayed with me ever since. From Jeremiah 6:16 the RSV
    quotes:

    ” Thus says the Lord:
    “Stand by the roads, and look,
    and ask for the ancient paths,
    where the good way is; and walk in it,
    and find rest for your souls.”

    So, in other words, seek The Lord and his way and then
    take that first right step, cooperate with His will and do
    something. Amazingly in response to such a simple action
    we will find rest for our souls.

    It is my experience that the devil and his minions are very
    busy in our world at this time. That fact is blatantly obvious,
    and yet if you look closely you will see the works of God in
    our world also. Just as a quick example, in the last few months
    three different people have called me who, for whatever reason,
    have been away from the Church for Decades. Each has called
    seeking a restoration with God and His grace. Again Each, soon
    after being absolved, receiving Anointing of the Sick, an apostolic
    pardon and Holy Communion God promptly called them home.
    Three distinct individuals, estranged from the Church for Decades,
    answer Gods vocare in the last few months and are called home soon
    after 😳 Many may not see a miracle in this but I am humbled by Gods
    mercy and His consistent persistence! I like to refer to this as snatching
    souls from the Devil!!!

    Liked by 7 people

    • charliej373 says:

      Thank you, Fr. Shockey, for your faithful service. Another thing I am not sure has been commented on or risen to the surface yet, but I have heard from priests and pastors around the country (Canada, too) telling me that they had record crowds for Good Friday and Easter this year. People are sensing something big – and turning to what is real, to what gives life. I am very conscious of the great task ahead of you and your brother priests and pastors…it has heartened me to hear (mostly privately) from so many – and I like to tell the readers that. But when a priest gives direct testimony of his resolve and faith here, it very much heartens those here, who I encourage to help and bolster their religious leaders. Those that know how difficult times have become and how much more difficult they are likely to become, are rightly nervous about living their call with fortitude and faith. Those who don’t know, will be hit all the harder, but will still need to step up. It is a tough calling in these times – but they are heroic times and you will live an incredible adventure. Thanks for the courage of standing your post.

      Liked by 2 people

      • EllenChris says:

        We had the phenomena of an unusually large congregation at our church here on Easter, and several friends from different states told me the same. I asked the question on this blog if anyone else saw this happen and was surprised that several said, “yes.”

        Like

    • Lily says:

      Thank you for sharing that. It is a miracle to me too. It is encouraging to know these things can happen!

      Like

  16. Bob says:

    ON retreat this year I listened to a lecture, sorry I forgot who from, who discussed the temptations of Jesus and one of them was if He had just jumped off that tower and people would have seen angels save him then they would have believed! Oh the arrogance and the pride for the creature to demand of His Creator that He show Himself when and where WE demand and that He do it to our specifications. As Jesus said “No sign would be given but that of Jonah”, and if the resurrection is not enough for them then they can deal with the satan later. Jesus did not refer to the satan in that quote but He was pretty blunt on how God would respond and what our response needed to be. And yet I wonder why God was so much more patient to me than He seems to have been with some others, in revealing Himself to me?

    Liked by 1 person

  17. diane says:

    Gina, Thank you for sharing this video – I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Fr. Deeter.
    I love this site:)
    God Bless you all and continue fighting the battles that surround us and those God had given us to love.

    Like

  18. Beautiful. Charlie, I hope you don’t mind, I mentioned you in my latest blog. If you do mind, I will delete it. https://veilofveronica.wordpress.com/2015/04/11/the-rest-of-the-story-my-transformation-into-a-disciple-of-christ/

    Like

  19. Diane says:

    That photo of Zola is so defiant ! He looks like he has a heart of stone – how very sad – not being able to open his heart to God’s graces – oh Lord have mercy on us – oh Lord have mercy.

    Like

  20. Sue says:

    Diane, I thought the same thing regarding the photo of Zola. He looks miserable. It made me think, not for the first time recently, of how great the gift of faith really is. And why, rat that I am, did God see fit to give it to me, and not a better person? For my own sanctification, I suppose, so I get off my dupa and use it for the benefit of others. I think I will offer this Mercy Sunday mass for the gift of faith for everyone, every one. Alleluia!

    Like

    • charliej373 says:

      He was brilliant…but how sad the man who thinks his brilliance is his own and grows vain over it. It died with the rest of him when his time came. Whatever gifts any of us are given are from above. It is our responsibility – and to our credit when we hone them – but to be in service to the mission God has laid out for us – which is where we find joy. In fact, our qualities and strengths are usually a clue to what God calls us to. What a great asset to the faith Zola could have been…what joy he would have had and sowed. But yes, you can see the misery, the spiritual miserliness in his mien…and if he made it by the skin of the teeth into purgatory (thanks no doubt to the witness of Marie LeMarchand) he will end up being one of the dimmer luminaries in heaven. (And before anyone starts with any poppycock about how we will all be equal in heaven, St. Thomas blew that notion away long ago. Well, he didn’t really blow it away…it was not that common until a few centuries ago…but he did pre-emptively address and dismiss it. Not all of our disordered vanity has deadly consequences, but all has consequences. I would rather be a steady light here and a brilliant one there.)

      Liked by 2 people

      • Lily says:

        Could you explain more about the luminaries in heaven, or not being equal in heaven? If its not too much trouble or time consuming, I know you are so busy!

        Like

        • charliej373 says:

          Just read Scripture…the Lord talks about how John the Baptist was the greatest of the prophets but that the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than him. Aquinas covers the subject at with some depth. But it just makes sense…as the one who handled one talent well receives double, so the one who handled ten talents well receives double. One has 20, the other two, but they both have a reward suitable to what they did to give the Master a return. They are not equal, but they are both blessed.

          Like

      • Dan Lynch says:

        My memory is that Zola publicly defended Dreyfus, the innocent Jewish military officer, and that should earn him a spot in purgatory.

        Like

        • charliej373 says:

          Excellent, Dan! He did…and I hope he gets one so that he spends much of the early days of his heaven telling people, “Okay, now I believe in a miracle.” – and that he and young Marie are close friends.

          Like

          • Bonnie C says:

            Not to belabor the point, but I couldn’t help but contemplate the great difference between the beautiful and dignified (but not pretentiously) yet humble, photographs of G.K. Chesterton – and this one. Funny, but I wondered if there were more pictures of him, but never thought this might be “cherry-picked”. It just exposes the essence of the man. Very revealing. -As are Chesterton’s.

            Like

        • Bonnie C says:

          I hope he is in purgatory, just as I pray I might make it there – wherever he is, I am sure he regrets that photograph. Ugh! I’m glad he had the grace to defend an innocent.

          Like

          • charliej373 says:

            Alas, Bonnie, if you google him you will see I did not cherry-pick an arrogant looking photograph of him. I could not find any where he did not look smugly self-satisfied.

            Like

      • joanp62 says:

        Absolutely we will not be equal in heaven! Can you imagine someone like Hitler (imagining him avoiding hell) having the same glory in Heaven as Mother Theresa! I do believe though, and I think this is from Therese of Lisieux, that each of us will be as full of happiness as we can be based on our lives, whether our fulness is a shot glass full or a gallon full.

        Like

      • Mark says:

        Intelligence in and of itself is not good or bad. Both God (infinite intelligence) and even Satan are intelligent. I think the difference is in what is done with it, and that is wisdom. I have met wise people who were not necessarily what I would think of as very intelligent, and very intelligent people who were not at all wise. I’d rather take advice from the former rather than the latter. If I just wanted to know or learn facts then the latter may be better than the former, but not their advice in all matters. Of course great Intelligence with Wisdom is the best of all, and we have that in our recent Popes, Mary, Saints, certain people I read (but I don’t want it to go to their heads!)

        Like

    • NancyA says:

      Eek, I am nervous about how I will word this to be certain my meaning is not misconstrued, but it is an issue I must address whenever I see it. So, ..”a couple of things…”

      While it is true that faith is a gift, it is freely given and not withheld from some and given to a select few. It is offered to all, but we must cooperate with it. Not a one of us is deserving of it. There are none “better” deserving than others. And God in His great mercy, sees when it is most readily accepted. In fact, I believe the good Father who just described the returned souls who were taken soon after their return to grace gives an excellent pointed example of just what I am trying to convey. It can be either a pride or a false humility to wonder why God has given one the gift of Faith, while not to some other more deserving, when, in fact, we cannot know either God’s mind or the state of anyone’s soul.

      Just thank God for His great mercy, and for the great gift, and work to cooperate with it better, because none of us is as cooperative as we could be, and believe me when I assure you that I do count myself as much less deserving than many I read here, but I trust in His mercy: He has given me faith; may I not squander it! May I be one of those souls who extol His mercy and are remembered in the novena on day 8, and not one of the tepid, lukewarm, but who are still enfolded in His merciful Heart on day 9.

      Liked by 1 person

      • NancyA says:

        Oh, shoot.. I said “a couple of things” and I forgot the second one. Pray not to reach purgatory; pray you will be a saint! Pray for heaven, and if a stop in purgatory is needed, heaven is still the home we strive to reach!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Bonnie C says:

          I am so grateful to God for the GIFT of purgatory! I just can’t see myself being any more courageous than St. Peter, and I do ask him to pray for me. Hope that I don’t fall into pride and lose trust in my Savior like Judas did. A favorite priest once said that Peter jumped from the boat to get to Jesus before the other apostles when they went out on their fishing expedition after the resurrection because he needed to have a talk with Jesus before the rest of them got there. :). I am the crazy neighbor with a near life-size Divine Mercy image on my barn. My sister told me a woman and her husband who ride their bikes by our place call it the Jesus Barn. I just want it to be a blessing to everybody. The desire of my heart is to be a saint, but I do SO appreciate purgatory.

          Liked by 1 person

      • charliej373 says:

        Marvelous, Nancy…whenever I hear someone tut-tutting over the lamentable lack of faith in someone else, I always think – and sometimes say – you had best beware lest you defame a St. Paul or a St. Augustine in the making. Sometimes – actually often – God allows us to wallow in the very disorders that will give us the experience to ultimately conquer them better in ourselves and in others.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sue says:

        Thank you Nancy, you are right. In my case, it is pride, a not wanting to be so bad after all. I know of a handful of people who are “naturally” more virtuous than myself, (i.e. less of a hothead, more patient, more gracious, etc.) who absolutely refuse to believe in God, and cannot stand any reference to Him, no matter how oblique. Most people would guess that they were the Christian, and I the unbeliever, based on outward characteristics. And Charlie is right about the “wallowing”, I would blow up (more so) like a puffer fish in my own estimation and inevitable social comparisons, if I were not humbled by my seeming inability to practice virtue. So really, my frailty is the Divine Mercy in action. I need to learn to not compare myself to others, something I do so reflexively that I am rarely aware of it, though I often feel the devastating consequences.

        Liked by 2 people

        • charliej373 says:

          Always remember, Sue, that God has use for a passionate person. Those of us who have that quality just have to work harder to keep it under control. Like a spirited horse, we always want to go running off…to exercise those marvelous legs God gave us. Even when we avoid that temptation, we tend to whinny and neigh more than most. You all have gotten to know my sister, Kim, now. Yesterday morning we finished up a shouting match we had begun the day before. It clears the air, clarifies things sometimes, and amuses us in the aftermath. We are what we are…the key is to try to harness those authentic qualities to good purposes and give others hope, while trying to tamp down those moments when we unintentionally scorch the more gentle around us.

          Liked by 1 person

        • joanp62 says:

          Wow, Sue- I could have written your post myself. God bless.

          Like

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