Joe De Matteo

Writings and thoughts (with many digressions)

Short-fictionEssaysNon-FictionFaith/ReligionNovels - soonmore to come


Ten days ago I read a meditation written by Father Maurice Zundel.  While it made a strong impression on me, I quickly moved on from it.  However, the events, thoughts and prayers of the last few days made me reread it. 

Wow!  This single paragraph has brought me to a new level in my spiritual life.  But that is not all.  Over the last 6 or 8 months I have been moving in a direction that has resulted in my making a major, life changing decision, reluctantly, I must add.  Fr. Maurice’s words have given me a deeper understanding my new venture, and ultimately, will positively affect my performance.


The first line of this wonderful piece is, “To empty ourselves, we must be in the presence of God.” 

Now let me say this: Since I was 10-years old, kneeling or sitting before the Eucharist has been the place I have run to in deep emotion, walked to in calm deliberation, gone to for consolation, and crawled to in utter despair. 

I know about the power of being in the presence of God; I’ve longed for it and been comforted by it for over 50-years.  Fr. Zundel’s words have brought another dimension to this contact that I love so much.

When anger rears its vicious head and plunges its long claws into my heart, I stop thinking intellectually and begin scheming emotionally.  Fr. Larry Richards on a CD called Confession, states that having an evil thought pop into your head is not a sin, because you did not will the thought, the sin happens when you act upon that thought, using your will to take it to the next step.  Yes, I see that.  And, yes, I do that.  I always respond to the thought with at least one or two willed thoughts.  Now I realize that this is the time to run to the Eucharist, to sit with my heavenly Father.

The next line in Fr. Zundel’s piece is, “I cannot [empty myself] on my own, but it is solely by encountering this countenance of love within myself that I can be healed of my pride in self…As long as man is not in God, he is necessarily a prisoner of himself.”  He goes on to say the kicker, “If I do not dwell in God, I will count on myself and others who are like me.”

How true is this statement?  We are prisoners of ourselves because the self we are depending on is this same self so easily swayed by the actions of others.  We are that person who the instant the man on the screen picks up a glass of beer, we run to the refrigerator for a cold one; a whiff of smoke comes our way and desperately desire a cigarette, though we stopped smoking 10 years ago.  Or we run to a friend at our local hangout and over beer and cigarettes we spill our guts out to him in the vilest way, and actually listen to his drunken recommendations. 

Therefore, Fr. Maurice tells us, “Charity is helping others count on God and not on themselves”.  Here I paraphrase, charity is aware of shortcomings, charity suffers shortcomings; charity suffers from shortcomings and it bears them; and charity counterbalances shortcomings as needed.

We are comfortable when everything goes along at a dependable pace, sure we get bored, but we are satisfied.  But all existence is in constant movement; some things only change in minuscule increments, and then violently crash into something else.  The fact is that no matter how comfortable we are, change is going to happen, and when it does we are forced into it.  The correct way to change to grow; life must be looked at as a constant rise up.  Up to new and higher levels of existence: growth.  We must manage our growth, but to manage it correctly is to use an amazingly astute life manager, and the best one for you is God.  He knows everything. 


He also is the one who made you, you unique person, you.  He gave you talents and gifts and he prepared a specific place and job for you in this world.  Happiness and fulfillment are only achieved when we are following our Life Manager’s directions. 

Consulting with Him in person brings a marvelous dynamic to pray; visit the Eucharist.  A visit with a friend or family member at the cusp of a decision of change is a wonderful experience. 

Going to Mass with your friends and praying together, receive your Daily Bread together, and when you meet to discuss problems or begin a trip or venture. 

My Christian brothers and I do this pretty regularly and it is amazing the growth we see in each other, the change in attitude, and the satisfaction in life.  It’s all good.

I’d like you to read the whole piece as it appeared in Magnificat (this excerpt from Fr. Zundel’s book, With God in Our Daily Life, it is below). 

Finally, I’d like to give you a Gospel verse that came up recently at our group’s Bible Study, it is Matthew 12:43-45. 

“When an unclean spirit goes out of a person it roams through arid regions searching for rest but finds none. 

Then it says, ’I will return to my home from which I came.’  But upon returning, it finds it empty, swept clean, and put in order. 

Then it goes and brings back with itself seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they move in and dwell there; and the last condition of the person is worse than the first.  Thus it will be with this evil generation.”

The words of Jesus

When you go before God by walking into church and kneeling before the Eucharist, or better still, at Mass (they have them everyday, you know), as you walk down the aisle to receive our Lord’s Body and Blood in the Eucharist, empty yourself of your burden, surrender to God completely, and call the Holy Spirit, “Come Holy Spirit” and say to Him, “Empty me of my burden, empty me of this yoke the world has put on me and my dependence, as well as my idealization of it, and fill me.  Fill the void in me, Holy Spirit, give me Wisdom, Knowledge and Understanding, and Peace, and make me love you more.  I ask, I seek and I knock in the Holy Name of Jesus.”  Now receive your Daily Bread in communion with the rest of the Body of Christ, in which you are a member, you in your place and Jesus at the Head of His Body.


The Charity Shown the Rich Young Man by Father Maurice Zundel

To empty ourselves, we must be in the presence of God.  I cannot do that on my own, but it is solely by encountering this countenance of love within myself that I can be healed of my pride in self…As long as man is not in God, he is necessarily a prisoner of himself.  If I do not dwell in God, I will count on myself and others who are like me.  Charity is helping others count on God and not on themselves.  Charity is aware of shortcomings, it suffers them, it suffers from them, it bears them and counterbalances them as needed.  In order that human beings may change levels of being, we must give them a helping hand.  That is the meaning of charity, to give a helping hand and enable humans to rise from one level to the next…When someone makes a fuss about himself, it means he is calling for help.  If we ourselves make a fuss about our own self-esteem, that will raise our self-love to the second power and God will no longer be able to come through.  We shall keep this very clear feeling that self-love conceals an infinite secret and we shall never forget that man can dwell only within himself if he does not dwell in God.  It is up to us, inasmuch as we are willing, to be for others this countenance, this presence, this heart, this space that prevents others from turning upon themselves, and counting on themselves instead of counting on God.


As printed in Magnificat, an excerpt With God in Our Daily Life by Father Maurice Zundel.

And, I continue on my journey.

Joseph De Matteo, January 2008


Joseph De Matteo

Joseph De Matteo


© Copyright All rights reserved 1999-2012

Top Soundtrack

Top 12 Soundtracks




Carolyn New York
Created by a professional for superior results