You Are What You Eat

Most of us know this as a fact: if we eat unhealthy food, then we become unhealthy. But the reverse is true too! The more healthy food we eat, the healthier we become. Everything we consume becomes a part of us. We are actually made of bits of bánh phở, nem nướng, strawberries, sushi, black sesame gelato, pizza, katsu don and everything else we have eaten before. It sounds funny, but it is very true that you can trace the origin of certain proteins and lipids within you to your breakfast bacon last month!

So then, ask yourself: what do you want to be made of?

Do you want to be made of just bacon grease? Just rice? Just cheese? (Don’t get me wrong – I love cheese, but I do not want to be cheesy!)

Of course not. And we’re all made of a complex combination of the things we eat. But of all those varieties, what is the most amazing thing? What are we made of that nothing else is made of, that not even most people are made of?

We are made of God.

And not merely made of His love either (everything is made of that)…

[Click on the Crib for Shane Kapler's Blog]

[Click on the Crib for Shane Kapler’s Blog]

But for you, ever since you started receiving Holy Communion, your body has been being rebuilt by True Food and True Drink. Don’t take my word for it, but take The Word for it, when Jesus speaks in the Gospel of John, Chapter Six – He tells us we must eat His holy flesh and drink His holy blood (John 6: 35-67).

Jesus is God, and God made us (body and soul). He knows how our bodies work, and He wants us to be like Him – exactly like Him, made of Him. The fancy word for this is “divinization” or “theosis”, and God wanted this for us since the Beginning. God always meant for us to be like Him, so stop falling for the serpent’s original lie (Genesis 3: 5) and realize that when we Catholic Christians follow Jesus, we also must follow His diet for us. He wants our mortal flesh to be made of His eternal flesh, because then we are not only adopted children of God, but actual children of God!

Let me take this reflection a bit further: what we eat and how we eat also changes our spirit. We notice this most during Lent when we set aside sweets, meats, and other treats. In this way, we exercise our will power, our self-mastery, our spiritual muscle (which is always more challenging to train). So when we live according to the Jesus Diet – when we live the Eucharistic Day – we also let the Lord remake our souls. It takes real will-power, self-mastery and spiritual biceps to live the Eucharistic Day, but all good workouts are worth it in the end.

 

[Originally written April 28, 2014: for the Northeast Region Youth Leaders of the Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Society in America.]

Strawberries in Heaven

My beloved friends,

Guess what happened this weekend in Cedar Bluffs, Nebraska?
About 150 campers got to peek at the beauty of Heaven. Let me tell you more of what we experienced…

Every summer across the U.S., Catholic Vietnamese Americans criss-cross the interstates. This year in the Midwest, friends in states from Michigan to Kansas, from Minnesota to Ohio, and even from Washington and Georgia, converged in the Cornhusker State for 55 hours of learning, praying, practicing and discovering friendship with one another and with Christ.

And there it was: a chance to catch a preview of Heaven.

I once heard some people say that they were afraid of Heaven, “It’s gonna be so boring! Who wants to pray all day, every day, for all eternity? The same thing — forever… what a drag!”

But that’s not Heaven. Instead, Heaven is where He makes all things NEW. ALL things (Rev. 21:5).

strawberry-wallpaper
I love strawberries. I didn’t always love them as much as I do now, but I daydream sometimes about strawberries in Heaven… …

-Me: “Oh look, a strawberry! Don’t mind if I help myself!”

-Jesus: “So you like that strawberry, eh? Well… try THIS ONE!” (pulls out another berry from behind His back)

-Me: “Whoa… this one’s even better!”

-Jesus: “Yes, now try THIS ONE!!” (pulls out yet another berry)

-Me: “Whoa! This one is better than the last two combined!”

-Jesus: “Think so? Try THIS ONE!!!” (and this could go on FOREVER)

Christ. What a curious God He is. Who makes something that is already perfect, into something better… better than perfect! Always new! How could that ever get lame?!

It’s like the love we experience in this life: love makes every moment new, a new experience. The restaurant of your first date becomes special, not repetitive. The movie you first watched together, laughed through together, sniffled through together… that movie becomes a highlight, and  every time you watch that movie or visit that restaurant with your beloved, it’s something new: you’re both a little older than the previous time, both in a different state of mind than before, in a different life-situation.

Now let’s go deeper.

There is one thing people never get bored of doing. NEVER.
Yes, I will get bored of strawberries.
Yes, you will get bored of _____________.
But think a moment before reading on. What do people never bore of doing? What is never boring?

The answer: meeting new friends and strengthening friendships. Sure — we’ll get tired of talking, dancing, dining, traveling, camping, playing games, etc. But after the tiredness goes away, we’re back at it again! We can get “tired” of making and strengthening friendships, but we’ll never be BORED of it to the point of thinking: “No more! I’m so bored of friends! Having friends is so boring!”

Don’t know about you, but I’d rather be exhausted and annoyed with my family/friends rather than be energetic and have no family/friends at all.

So that’s what I saw happen again this past weekend. So many of us stank for lack of showering. So many were exhausted for lack of sleep. So many were cold for lack of a summer. But we were with our friends.

In Heaven, you make friends. And you will never lose a friend. You will meet new persons forever, doing whatever activities that make friendships flourish. Every person is so rich in their specific personality — after all, nobody is identical to another on earth, why would they be redundant in Heaven where ALL THINGS ARE MADE NEW?

And I specifically said “persons” because humans aren’t the only persons in Creation. Angels are persons too! Imagine that… meeting and making friends with the angels. I’d like Saint Michael to give me some jousting and samurai lessons, for sure!

And then, the ultimate person to meet… Holy God Himself.

THAT is the Communion of Saints. THAT is Heaven.

But remember, what I saw happen was only an itty preview: like merely being able to smell fresh baked cookies. But, in Heaven we will finally get to eat the cookies 🙂

vision-of-the-empyrean

[Now if that’s Heaven… then how is Hell like? Where all things are never new. Where you lose friends and are left to solitary confinement. Where time does not pass because there’s nothing that’s going to happen next anyway.]