My family . . . the blessings of my life!

My family . . . the blessings of my life!
Sean, Mackenzie, Pat (hubby), me, Jeneah

Friday, December 31, 2010

Charity


Never speak badly of your brother, not even when you have plenty of reasons. Go first to the Tabernacle, and then go to the priest your father, and tell him also what is worrying you.

And no one else.
– St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way, #444

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Catholic Catechism #2548

Life in Christ: Catechism #2548

Desire for true happiness frees man from his immoderate attachment to the goods of this world so that he can find his fulfillment in the vision and beatitude of God. "The promise [of seeing God] surpasses all beatitude...In Scripture, to see is to possess...Whoever sees God has obtained all the goods of which he can conceive."

Reflection from St. Augustine

We ought to be persuaded that what God refuses to our prayer, He grants to our salvation.
– St. Augustine

Reflection: Poverty, true poverty


Rather than in not having, true poverty consists in being detached, in voluntarily renouncing one's dominion over things.

That is why there are poor who are really rich. And vice-versa.
– St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way, #632

Monday, December 20, 2010

You Can! {follow Jesus}

One Minute Meditations

You Can!
When Our Lord called the first Apostles they were busy mending their broken nets by the side of an old boat. Our Lord told them to follow him and statim – immediately – they left everything – relictis omnibus – everything! And followed him.

Sometimes, though we wish to imitate them, we find we don't manage to leave everything, and there remains some attachment in our heart, something wrong in our life which we're not willing to break with and offer it up to God.

Won't you examine your heart in depth? Nothing should remain there except what is his. If not, we aren't really loving him, neither you nor I.
– St. Josemaria Escriva, The Forge, #356


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
As we approach Christmas Day, the birth of our Savior, let us spend some time reflecting on this *important* meditation -- Jesus is calling each of us, just as he did these *imperfect* fishermen...will we love him enough to leave everything and follow him *completely* as the fishermen did?

May we all ask the Holy Spirit to open our eyes and our hearts to see any and all attachments that we have *not* been willing to break and may the Holy Spirit change our hearts to docile and radically changed hearts that will follow Jesus NO MATTER THE COST as the fishermen did...they left *everything* behind to completely follow Jesus.

What is in our lives that Jesus asks us to *leave* behind (things we do that should not be actions of a Christian, Matthew 4:19-20, 22). We should seek to be "He whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean, who desires not what is vain."

What is in our lives that Jesus asks us to *change* (i.e., love those who persecute us, Romans 12:14).

The two great commandments that contain the whole law of God are:
1. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and with thy whole strength;
2. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

As we approach Christmas, let us renew our commitment to follow our Lord and Savior Jesus with all that we are. Let us be *completely* transformed and give our *all* by living lives fully committed to pleasing Jesus Christ in all we think, do, and say...and trust that he knows we are imperfect but that we are honestly trying our very best to love & serve him in all we do.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Oddly enough, just as I posted the above meditation, I read another (below). Although from a different perspective, I feel the advice is important. Let us be like the fishermen above, not the description below...whatever is in us from below, let us ask the Lord to change so we may better follow him.

One Minute Meditations

Other Virtues
I see you, christian gentleman – that is what you say you are – kissing an image, mumbling a vocal prayer, crying out against those who attack the Church of God..., and even frequenting the holy Sacraments.

But I don't see you making any sacrifice, or avoiding certain conversations of a 'worldly' nature (I could with justice use another term), or being generous towards those in need or towards that Church of Christ, or putting up with a failing in one of your brothers, or checking your pride for the sake of the common good, or getting rid of your tight cloak of selfishness, or... so many things more!

I see you... I don't see you... And yet you say that you are a christian gentleman? What a poor idea you have of Christ!
– St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way, #683

Friday, November 26, 2010

Fishers of Men

Christ expects a lot from your work. But you will have to look for souls, as the Good Shepherd went after the hundredth sheep: without waiting to be called. Then make use of your friends to do good to others. Tell each one of them that nobody can feel at ease with a spiritual life which, after filling him, does not overflow with apostolic zeal. {emphasis added}.
– St. Josemaria Escriva, Furrow, #223


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Short description of our Catholic Faith

{This is a repost from Insight Scoop, link follows article}

My favorite paragraph from the Catechism

I rarely go a day without reading or referring to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which has been one of my favorite books since I first read it in late 1995. And of the many wonderful passages and quotations contained therein, my favorite paragaph remains the opening paragraph, which I think expresses the essential core of the Christian Faith as well as anything I've ever read of similar length outside of Scripture:

God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength. He calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family, the Church. To accomplish this, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son as Redeemer and Saviour. In his Son and through him, he invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life.

Many years ago (in 1998, if I remember correctly), not long after I entered the Church, I wrote a short piece about this paragraph; here it is, from deep in the vaults:

"Sola Gratia, Sola Christo" by Carl E. Olson

If asked to provide one paragraph explaining what the Catholic Faith is about, it would be hard to do better than the opening paragraph of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It offers a concise summary of what Catholics believe and lays the groundwork for the more involved details and nuances of the Faith. Here, broken into six phrases––each followed by brief commentary––is the first paragraph of the Catechism:

God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself,

There is but one God and he is complete and holy in and of himself. Jews, Muslims and Christians believe that God is One; all other major religions are pantheistic (everything is God), polytheistic (there are many gods), or atheistic (there is no God). Monotheists also believe that God is Other and He needs no other. Christians believe that God is Trinity: one nature and three persons, the greatest mystery of the Christian Faith. Modern man often tries to bring God to his level, seeking to stuff him into a box the size of our limited conceptions or disordered desires. Such attempts are futile, but the most amazing fact is that God, who we so often ignore and try to minimize, loves us and desires a relationship with us.

in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life.

This should be startling––shocking––to us. God created us out of the overflow of his Divine Love, that eternal and blinding exchange of self-giving between the three Persons of the Trinity. Creation is the expression of God’s nature (love) and the evidence of God’s goodness. All that is, is good. Evil is not a thing, but the absence of a good. That is why Catholics, more than some other Christians, revel in the beauty and wonder of creation. But while creation provides evidence of God’s existence, it does not emphatically prove it, for the Lover does not force himself on the beloved, but beckons us, always respecting our free will.

For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength.

God is a Lover; he is the one who initiates the relationship. He calls, he asks, he offers––but he never forces himself on us. The heart of love is freely deciding to give of oneself, as Jesus Christ states in all four Gospels: “For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it.”

He calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family, the Church.

There are many important truths implicit in this sentence. Mankind was originally a single family, with a common father named Adam. When Adam sinned, all of mankind fell with him from a life-giving relationship with God. At the Tower of Babel humanity attempted to reach God by their natural, futile efforts; God “confused their language” and scattered them throughout the earth. But God already had a plan for man’s salvation, involving a newly unified family bound together by supernatural life. This family is the Church, the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, which is the “household of God” and “the pillar and support of truth” (1 Timothy 3:15).

To accomplish this, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son as Redeemer and Savior.

This is the second great mystery of the Christian Faith: the Incarnation. The Second Person of the Trinity, the Divine Word, became man and entered into time and space. As T.S. Eliot wrote, the Incarnation was “[a] moment in time but time was made through that moment: for without the meaning there is not time, and that moment of time gave the meaning.” Jesus Christ is “the center of the universe and of history” stated Pope John Paul II in Redemptor Hominis (Redeemer of Man), and so Christ should be the center of our lives––he is the exclusive Redeemer and Savior of humanity.

In his Son and through him, he invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life.

Christ is also the sole mediator between God and man. Through the sacrament of baptism, by water and the power of the Holy Spirit, we are “born again” (Jn. 3), made “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4) and become true children of God (1 Jn. 3:1). By grace we become sons in the One who is Son by nature, the same one who guides us through his Church and nourishes us with his Body and Blood in the Eucharist.

The Catholic Faith is sola gratia, sola Christo: grace alone, Christ alone. Amen.

Link to original article HERE.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Reflections from the saints ...St. Charles Borromeo

If we wish to make any progress in the service of God we must begin every day of our life with new eagerness. We must keep ourselves in the presence of God as much as possible and have no other view or end in all our actions but the divine honor.
– St. Charles Borromeo

Vicar of Christ


Your deepest love, your greatest esteem, your most heartfelt veneration, your most complete obedience and your warmest affection have also to be shown towards the Vicar of Christ on earth, towards the Pope.

We Catholics should consider that after God and the most Holy Virgin, our Mother, the Holy Father comes next in the hierarchy of love and authority.
– St. Josemaria Escriva, The Forge, #135

{Liz here}
Oh how much this reflection fits my spirituality!

Being a convert to Catholicism, I find myself frustrated with the Catholics who boastfully *disagree* with teachings of Holy Mother Church, or are *free* with their opinions of *what* the Church should change (i.e., ordination of women, contraception, and abortion just to name a few in my own personal experiences).

I know as Catholics and since we're *human* that God created each of us unique we will have varying *opinions*...I can deal with that!! When I find myself frustrated, is when their opinion of Catholicism that is NOT IN LINE WITH THE POPE & TEACHING OF THE CHURCH.
I get frustrated when those with opinions opposed to *mine* (actually the correct word would be HOLY MOTHER CHURCH), and those people go to extremes to attempt to *help me understand* or to clarify for me. That's fine if their intent is truly for GOOD. Does an opinion or advice coming from truly *good* intent feel a certain way when received? I wonder. I know sometimes, often, after receiving opinions or advice from those who see Catholicism differently than I do, I have a very uncomfortable feeling inside of me. When I compare that feeling to the advice I've received lovingly, I can't help but think that truly loving advice does feel different.

Or are we just so free with our own advice and opinions that we don't discern enough when to share them? I am positive I have shared an opinion or maybe 10,000 opinions that I should not have...

I guess I sorta got off track here...My point after reading & agreeing with this beautiful reflection regarding loving, esteeming, and being completely obedient to the Vicar of Christ on earth was meant to say, "AMEN! I COMPLETELY AGREE, ST. JOSEMARIA ESCRIVA. THANK YOU FOR THIS GIFT OF A REMINDER IN MY LIFE THAT AS LONG AS I MAKE SURE THAT *I* STAY IN LINE WITH HOLY MOTHER CHURCH THEN I AM TAKING CARE OF MY FIRST RESPONSIBILITY. WITHOUT TAKING CARE OF ME FIRST, I CANNOT BE A GOOD WITNESS OR EXAMPLE TO MY FAMILY OR ANYONE ELSE...SO I WILL KEEP WORKING ON ME & STAYING OBEDIENT TO MY CATHOLIC FAITH THAT I LOVE AND APPRECIATE SO VERY, VERY MUCH!!!"

Monday, October 25, 2010

Reflection: Struggle...Christianity vs. It's all about ME

Struggle
If you are fatuous, if all you can think of is your own personal comfort, if you centre everyone else and even the world itself on yourself, then you have no right to call yourself a Christian or to consider yourself a disciple of Christ. He set the level of what can be demanded of us when he offered, for each of us: et animam suam – his own soul, his whole life.
– St. Josemaria Escriva, The Forge, #141


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Catechism #2467 - TRUTH

Life in Christ: Catechism #2467

Man tends by nature toward the truth. He is obliged to honor and bear witness to it: "It is in accordance with their dignity that all men, because they are persons... are both impelled by their nature and bound by a moral obligation to seek the truth, especially religious truth. They are also bound to adhere to the truth once they come to know it and direct their whole lives in accordance with the demands of truth."

"Man tends by nature toward the truth." Powerful.

"...bound by a moral obligation to seek the truth, especially religious truth." Bound by moral obligation to seek especially religious truth. Guide me in your truth, Lord. I thank you for my Catholic Church that I love so much!

"...also bound to adhere to the truth once they come to know it and direct their whole lives in accordance with the demands of truth." Direct their WHOLE life...lead me, Lord.

Scripture speaking to me...again??

Ephesians 4:31-32

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

{Liz here}
God-incidence that this is the scripture for me today??
I love it when God does this!
Today, by the grace of God, a step toward forgiveness was taken...
painful and peaceful...thank you, Lord.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Could it be that you have a mistaken idea of what is proper?


The Struggle
I will grant that you behave properly... But, allow me to speak sincerely. You must admit that you are doing things in such a leisurely way that, apart from not being entirely happy, you remain very far from holiness.

That is why I ask: Do you really behave properly? Could it be that you have a mistaken idea of what is proper?
– St. Josemaria Escriva, Furrow, #153


Saturday, September 25, 2010

If liberals hate the new translation, it must be good

I admit this has me laughing much more than the dog tired nap joke I just posted.

I found this adorable cartoon & post over at one of my much-loved blogs Catholic Cartoon Blog



I've read some of the reaction to the updated translation that will be put into effect in 2011. I can't help but laugh at the protesting and ugliness on display by those who are against it. Their argument is that they've had this translation for 40 years - why change it? What's funny is that some of these same aging hippies saw no problem with ditching 1900 years of tradition way back in 1969.

Now they're crying because a few words and phrases are changed? It's almost as if they're saying "Look, we've dumbed this down for 40 years and we're not going to stand for you 'smartening' it up!!!".

You can always judge the efficacy and worthiness of something by the reaction of liberals. If they love it, it can't be good, and if they hate it, it's GOT to be good.

As I see it, the new translation is a good start. They need to keep working.

Just for laughs, read some of the back and forth on the National Catholic Distorter site: http://ncronline.org/news/faith-parish/pope-receives-english-translation-roman-missal

(Liz again)
Although I am still a "baby" Catholic convert (1992), I admit I have mostly experienced the "traditional Mass" when traveling...AND I ADMIT I LOVE IT!!!!! The new "fluffy" Masses I've experienced remind me much of my Pentecostal services I grew up in...clap, clap, clap, sing, sing, sing, everybody feel good, everybody happy??? ...OKAY YOU GET THE POINT. Not to mention that I am the product of a 60's, James Dean, free love, free sex, free everything relationship (don't get me wrong, I LOVE MY PARENTS DEARLY, they can't help it that they were born in that generation!). Seriously here, I'm fairly certain I could even find a picture of myself wearing an outfit similar to the hippy in the cartoon...picked out by my parents, I'm sure! (laughing). I know for sure I had the headband. If I find the pic, I'll definitely post it & link it here.

Enjoy the chuckle, I sure did. Still chuckling...

And if you don't enjoy the chuckle, there's a fancy-dancy button on your keyboard labeled DELETE. I certainly won't be offended! Remember YOU CHOSE TO VISIT MY SITE, SO BE NICE OR LEAVE (as my cute little blinkie on the right says)!!

Cute joke...

Thought this cute little joke was worth sharing . . .

Or it could be that thanks to this irritating sore throat & cold that I'm fighting that I am definitely dog tired & closely connected to the topic of NAPS...

especially considering I LOVE NAPS!



LET SLEEPING DOGS LIE

One afternoon, I was in the backyard hanging the laundry when an old, tired-looking dog wandered into the yard. I could tell from his collar and well-fed belly that he had a home. But when I walked into the house, he followed me, sauntered down the hall and fell asleep in a corner. An hour later, he went to the door, and I let him out.

The next day he was back. He resumed his position in the hallway and slept for an hour. This continued for several weeks. Curious, I pinned a note to his collar: "Every afternoon your dog comes to my house for a nap. "

The next day he arrived with a different note pinned to his collar: "He lives in a home with ten children - he's trying to catch up on his sleep."

Reflection on Character . . .

Character
Faith, cheerfulness, optimism.

But not the idiocy of closing one's eyes to reality.
– St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way, #40




Friday, September 24, 2010

Sorrow and Suffering . . .

Present sorrow and suffering is the way to glory, the way to the kingdom.
– St. Bernard


He is the Light

Cheerfulness
Hope does not mean beginning to see the light, but trusting with one's eyes closed that the Lord possesses the light fully, and lives in its clarity. He is the Light.
– St. Josemaria Escriva, Furrow, #91

Friday, September 17, 2010

Do you strive to be recognized on earth or in heaven?

Today's reflection:

Fruitfulness
Some poor people seem to get annoyed by the good works you are doing, as if a thing ceases to be good when it is not being carried out or organized by themselves.

This lack of understanding cannot be an excuse for you to slacken off in what you are doing. Try to do it even better, right now. When you get no applause on earth, your work will be all the more welcome in Heaven.
– St. Josemaria Escriva, The Forge, #962

As I read today's reflection something hit me...
"When you get no applause on earth, your work will be all the more welcome in Heaven."

"WHEN YOU GET NO APPLAUSE ON EARTH..."

WOW, isn't that contrary
to our "IT'S ALL ABOUT ME" way of life in America?




It's so apparent that our society is focused on ME, ME, ME...


I am human, I am powerful, I am educated, I am the boss, I am in charge...

I am awesome...
Most importantly I DESERVE RECOGNITION
tends to be the thought in our world today, everywhere...
It's all about me...I deserve it! I am awesome!



But the reflection says...
Some poor people seem to get annoyed by the good works you are doing, as if a thing ceases to be good when it is not being carried out or organized by themselves.

This lack of understanding cannot be an excuse for you to slacken off in what you are doing. Try to do it even better, right now. When you get no applause on earth, your work will be all the more welcome in Heaven.
– St. Josemaria Escriva, The Forge, #962

Why do we strive to live good, true, Christian lives?
Why should we strive to KEEP OUR EYES ON JESUS & NOT ON THIS WORLD???
WHY should we want our reward in HEAVEN AND NOT ON EARTH??

Because...


Yes, God loves you enough that he gave His son FOR YOU...FOR EACH OF US.



His love for you is evident, if you only search for it...



Let HIM love you...Letting HIM love you, allows HIM to increase and you to decrease.
(Going against the flow of "It's all about me")

Truly, God's love IS best of all!
Every moment of every day is an opportunity to
KEEP OUR EYES ON JESUS...
LOVE HIM WITH ALL THAT WE ARE...
LET HIM LOVE US...
BRING OTHERS TO HIS LOVE...
DESIRE OUR *REWARD* TO BE IN HEAVEN, NOT THE SELF-PLEASING RECOGNITION & REWARDS OF THIS PASSING WORLD.

Keep your eyes on Jesus. Live your life on this earth so that you may spend an eternity in heaven with God who loves you & created you to spend an eternity with him.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Personal retreat planning & anticipation!!!

My amazing hubby has insisted that we take a little personal retreat weekend...just for us!
{trust me, he didn't have to do too much arm twisting!}

He mentioned BEACH! Oh yeah, let's go!
He mentioned HORSEBACK RIDING! Oh yeah, let's go. THIS is what I prefer to "hiking" (let the horse do all the work, ha ha).
He mentioned JET BOAT RIDE on the Rogue River! YES, YES, YES...LET'S GO!!

This is the breathtaking Oregon Coast, near Gold Beach, Oregon that our room will overlook! I'll grab a good book, a blankie, and a sweatshirt & enjoy this! Oh, how I do miss living near the ocean...walking along the beach & the crashing waves...memories of our life in San Diego come creeping in.


Beautiful bridge & river!
In Gold Beach, Oregon, the Rogue River meets the Pacific Ocean.

This is going to be us!!! Pat has never been on a horse before (deprived child,
ha ha). Horseback riding is one part of my childhood I truly miss. I will be dreaming of horseback riding on the beach until it happens!
Thank you for this surprise, Pat! You are the best hubby!


Another little excursion we will take during our days on the Oregon Coast, is something we'll both really enjoy (yes, I mean Pat may not really enjoy the horseback riding mentioned above, but he's doing that for me!). We will get to ride a jet boat on the Rogue River for an 80-mile excursion...
and I think these things go fast, too...wooo hooo!
A getaway just husband and wife...I am really looking forward to this!
Thanks again, Pat...you really do spoil me!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Assumption Reflection...



One Bread, One Body is one of my favorite Daily Mass Reflection sources.
Today's reflection on The Solemnity of the Assumption is wonderful.

Prayer:
Jesus, send Mary to greet me. At her greeting, may hope spring up inside me (Lk 1:44).

God's gift...The Eucharist


God in His omnipotence could not give more, in His wisdom He knew not how to give more, in His riches He had not more to give, than the Eucharist. (emphasis added)
– St. Augustine

Fill my heart, my God, my Love...


Fruitfulness
My Lord Jesus, grant that I may feel your grace and second it in such a way that I empty my heart, so that you, my Friend, my Brother, my King, my God, my Love... may fill it!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Selfishness...


Wise words for a secular society that focuses on ME, ME, ME...

You Can!
The majority of people who have personal problems "have them" because they selfishly think about themselves.
– St. Josemaria Escriva, The Forge, #310


One Minute Meditations - Conversation

Purity
That conversation was as dirty as a sewer.

It is not enough to take no part in it. You must show your repugnance for it strongly. (emphasis added)
– St. Josemaria Escriva, Furrow, #840

Monday, August 9, 2010

Friend or foe...doesn't matter God FIRST!

What a great reminder for me. It's so darn easy to get caught up in the pain of losing a friend or the pain from conflict with anyone friend or foe.

Thanks again, St. Josemaria Escriva for bringing my eyes back to God!

"...I should not like to think that behind this false respect lurked a spirit of comfort or lukewarmness. At this stage, do you still prefer poor human friendship to the friendship of God"
– St. Josemaria Escriva, Furrow, #204

Sunday, August 8, 2010

One Minute Meditations - Perseverance

Perseverance
Unshakable: that is what you must be. If your perseverance is disturbed by other people's weaknesses or by your own, I cannot but form a poor opinion of your ideal.

Make up your mind once and for all.
– St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way, #995

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful reminder!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Reflections from the Saints - Temptations & Virtues

Today's reflection:
Do not grieve over the temptations you suffer. When the Lord intends to bestow a particular virtue on us, He often permits us first to be tempted by the opposite vice. Therefore, look upon every temptation as an invitation to grow in a particular virtue and a promise by God that you will be successful, if only you stand fast.
– St. Philip Neri

==============================================================

As I read the above reflection, I thought of virtues as our Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches them. Possibly I thought of them in a much different & deeper way because of the recent Men's Spiritual Adventure "A Retreat In Motion" that my wonderful husband led -- a retreat that focused on one virtue per day, along with one hour of silence to reflect on that particular virtue, then followed up in the evening with sharing. When the men's retreat focused on one virtue per day, I thought to myself, "Do we as Catholics, whose Catechism teaches beautifully the virtues, take time in our own lives to deeply focus & contemplate these virtues in our lives?" Then when I read today's Reflections from the Saints that feeds into my home page, I again found myself pondering daily focus on one virtue (and its counter-temptation/vice).

These two similar & closely timed thoughts led me to an idea...
I'll post one virtue per day for seven days.
Follow along if you please. And, try to take some quiet time to reflect on the daily virtue.

Doing this will give me (and force me) to read the materials myself (which is often how the Lord works with me..."Liz needs to learn/focus on such & such, so I'll assign her to present the material" LOL). I'll be grabbing the materials on virtues from reliable Catholic teaching (we have much better teachers than I can ever dream of being, so why would I attempt to reinvent the wheel??) For my much-loved and respected non-Catholic Christian friends, I think you'll enjoy these days of reflecting on virtue in our lives.

Why do this? As CHRISTIANS we are called to grow in virtue to be more like Christ in all we do. How do we grow in virtue if we have not spent some time learning and deepening our understanding?

Tomorrow will be DAY ONE of VIRTUES.

Before we begin on the daily virtues, let me offer a little deeper understanding of virtue.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says this:

THE VIRTUES

1803 "Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."62

A virtue is an habitual and firm disposition to do the good. It allows the person not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of himself. The virtuous person tends toward the good with all his sensory and spiritual powers; he pursues the good and chooses it in concrete actions.

The goal of a virtuous life is to become like God.63

I. THE HUMAN VIRTUES

1804 Human virtues are firm attitudes, stable dispositions, habitual perfections of intellect and will that govern our actions, order our passions, and guide our conduct according to reason and faith. They make possible ease, self-mastery, and joy in leading a morally good life. The virtuous man is he who freely practices the good.

The moral virtues are acquired by human effort. They are the fruit and seed of morally good acts; they dispose all the powers of the human being for communion with divine love.

The cardinal virtues

1805 Four virtues play a pivotal role and accordingly are called "cardinal"; all the others are grouped around them. They are: prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. "If anyone loves righteousness, [Wisdom's] labors are virtues; for she teaches temperance and prudence, justice, and courage."64 These virtues are praised under other names in many passages of Scripture.

The virtues and grace

1810 Human virtues acquired by education, by deliberate acts and by a perseverance ever-renewed in repeated efforts are purified and elevated by divine grace. With God's help, they forge character and give facility in the practice of the good. The virtuous man is happy to practice them.

1811 It is not easy for man, wounded by sin, to maintain moral balance. Christ's gift of salvation offers us the grace necessary to persevere in the pursuit of the virtues. Everyone should always ask for this grace of light and strength, frequent the sacraments, cooperate with the Holy Spirit, and follow his calls to love what is good and shun evil.

IN BRIEF

1833 Virtue is a habitual and firm disposition to do good.

1834 The human virtues are stable dispositions of the intellect and the will that govern our acts, order our passions, and guide our conduct in accordance with reason and faith. They can be grouped around the four cardinal virtues: prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Fr. John Hardon on Virtues link (excerpts of text below, EMPHASIS ADDED)
Human excellence thus defined shows itself in two forms:
the habitual subordination of the senses and lower
tendencies to rational rule and principle, and in the
exercise of reason in the search for the contemplation
of truth. The former kind of excellence is described as
moral, the latter is intellectual virtue.


......


St. Thomas defines virtue as "a good habit bearing on
activity," or a good faculty-habit
[ habitus operativus bonus ]. Generic to the concept
of virtue, then, is the element of habit,
which stands in a special relation to the soul,
whether in the natural order or elevated to the
divine life by grace.

. . . . . .

The soul is the remote principle or source of
all our activities; faculties are the proximate
sources built into the soul by nature;
habits are still more immediate principles added
to the faculties either by personal endeavor or
by supernatural infusion from God.
Consequently the soul helps the man,
faculties help the soul, and habits help the faculties.

Habits reside in the faculties as stable
dispositions or "hard to eradicate" qualities that
dispose the faculties to act in a certain way,
depending on the type of habit. If the habit is acquired
it gives the faculty power to act with ease and facility;
if it is infused, it procures not readiness in
supernatural activity, but the very activity itself.
Natural or acquired habits result from repeated
acts of some one kind; they give not the power to act,
but the power to act readily and with dexterity.
Thus in the natural order, the faculty without the habit
is simple power to act,
the faculty with the habit is power to act with perfection.
Since custom is parent to habit, it is called second nature.
Faculty is like first nature, and habit the second.

Not every habit is a virtue, but only one that
so improves and perfects a rational faculty as
to incline it towards good -- good for the faculty,
for the will and for the whole man in terms of his
ultimate destiny.

There is a broad sense in which we can speak of
the natural dispositions of any of our powers as
innate virtues, but this is a loose rendering and
leads to confusion. More properly the infused
virtues should be contrasted with the acquired habits,
in which the autonomous will of the individual plays
the dominant role. My consistent effort to
concentrate on a given course of action,
repeating the process over a long period of time
and in spite of obstacles, gradually develops
a tendency to perform the action spontaneously
and almost without reflection, yet to a degree of
perfection that someone else without
the virtue cannot duplicate.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Let us Pray for All Fathers

This weekend we observe Fathers’ Day. We thank God for faithful fathers who, like God himself, give and protect life.
Let’s also pray for fathers who are afraid to be fathers.
Thousands of times a day, children are aborted, not because of a choice of the mother, but because of the choice of a father, who fails to show the faithfulness and willingness to protect the child he has helped conceive.
At other times, fathers tried to stop the abortion. But the law excludes them from the final decision about the abortion.
Men do suffer grief after the abortion of their child. Healing programs are available for these fathers.
Let us pray today for all fathers. When their child is unexpected, may they welcome that child and encourage the child’s mother to say yes to life.

ORIGINAL LINK HERE

One Minute Meditations - Detachment

Heart
Don't you feel that greater peace and closer union await you when you respond to that extraordinary grace which demands your total detachment?

Struggle for him, to please him: but strengthen your hope.
– St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way, #152

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

My One Minute Meditation for today . . . LOVE IT!

Struggle

Your deepest love, your greatest esteem, your most heartfelt veneration, your most complete obedience and your warmest affection have also to be shown towards the Vicar of Christ on earth, towards the Pope.

We Catholics should consider that after God and the most Holy Virgin, our Mother, the Holy Father comes next in the hierarchy of love and authority.

– St. Josemaria Escriva, The Forge, #135


I love my Papa Benedicto XVI!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Spirituan Direction -- How willing are you??

One Minute Meditations

You Can!
Spiritual direction. You must have that true supernatural sense and holy shamelessness to allow another to poke at your soul and determine how far you are able – and willing – to give glory to God.
– St. Josemaria Escriva, The Forge, #327

Monday, May 24, 2010

Providential Meditation for today . . .One Minute Meditations

Selection
It is not pride, but fortitude, when you make your authority felt,
cutting out what needs to be cut out,
when the fulfilment of the Holy Will of God demands it.
– St. Josemaria Escriva, The Forge, #884

Thanks Lord...I needed this today. {Lizzy K}

Sunday, April 18, 2010

One Minute Meditations - Interior Life

Work
If you know that study is apostolate, but limit yourself to studying just enough to get by, it is clear that your interior life is going badly.

If you are so careless you will lose the right spirit. Just like the worker in the parable who cunningly hid the talent he had received, you may, if you do not put things right, exclude yourself from God's friendship, and be stuck in the mire of your comfort-seeking calculations.
– St. Josemaria Escriva, Furrow, #525

Thursday, April 15, 2010

One Minute Meditations - Character...temptation

Character
Turn your back on the tempter when he whispers in your ear: 'Why make life difficult for yourself?'
– St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way, #6

LIZ'S QUESTION TO ASK OURSELVES...
Do we turn our backs or do we look for ways to make life less 'difficult'?

Following Christ doesn't mean an easy path, but it does mean a peaceful heart despite rocky paths.

Hold strong to Christ. Do not be lukewarm. Turn your back on the tempter. Grab onto our Mother Mary's hand and ask her to take you to her son. Life is difficult. Choose Christ. Choose virtue. Pray hard.

The tempter wants you to take...
The easy way out.
The less difficult choice.
The 'But I deserve to feel good don't I???' choice.

The tempter KNOWS standing for Christ is going against the flow of the secular world and is often the 'less popular choice, therefore the more difficult...that's why he tempts you with avoiding difficult paths or tempts you with 'feel good' choices that are temporary and fleeting... but as Christians our goal should be the PEACE THAT CHRIST OFFERS. HIS PEACE IS FOREVER.

Being a Christian calls us to turn our back on the tempter as he whispers, "Why make life difficult for yourself?"

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

My recent ponderings "Has humility been lost in our culture?"

Somehow since our first trip to San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala, in 2006, I have found myself wondering about humility in the American culture.

I wonder, "In our zeal for women to become educated, career women, have we foregone the great virtue of humility?"

This question appears in various circumstances that draws me into attempting to see this more in a spiritual way (Holy Glasses, if you will)...wondering about what God really asks of us.

Most often this question arises because I am a stay-at-home mom...or in the eyes of the world, "You don't work?" ... Uhm, YES, I do work. I work a lot.

One of the other ponderings I have regarding lost humility in women in America is the need to be equal or even more than equal ('top dog') to others (not just over men, but over everyone). In our quest to become "IMPORTANT" or "OF VALUE" did we lose the importance of HUMILITY?

  • Do we dislike having people in authority over us?
  • Does it bother us to reverence another?
  • Are we willing to humble ourselves to serve others...WITHOUT BEING ASKED?
  • Must the initials after our name be of higher 'value' than others around us?
  • Do we dislike using titles of others that acknowledge their importance (i.e., Mr., Mrs. Dr., Father, Deacon, etc.)
Here's the recent reason why I find myself pondering this loss of humility in my opinion, in the culture of American women.

Our deanery recently held the yearly, "Good Friday Stations Walk" where young and old alike gather to walk and pray the Passion. This year the walkers experienced a heightened 'offering of suffering' as it decided to pour buckets of rain!

As I looked through the pictures, a couple caught my attention, and I found myself in tears!
LITERALLY SOBBING!


Do you see what I see?



Here's a close-up...do you see what I see?

Do you see the women...
lovingly holding umbrellas over the two priests?


I was told, not only did they hold the umbrellas over the priests, but to do so sometimes meant walking in the gutters of flowing water from the downpour. TRUE HUMILITY. TRUE REVERENCE.

I know one of these women, and she is educated and a career woman. However, she's not too proud to humble herself by reverencing her SPIRITUAL FATHER. This woman does not struggle with the need to feel 'equal' to him -- obvious by her truly humble actions. By this action, I would also assume she would not have a problem with using his proper title of "Father" before his name.

Yet, many American women I know would struggle with both aspects of this lady's loving humility -- if they were asked to do such a thing as 'lower' themselves.

Not only that, knowing these two priests, I would be safe to guess that they would NEVER EXPECT such treatment. However, they do deserve it. They gave their lives to our Holy Mother Church to be our spiritual fathers.

Have we lost the beautiful virtue of humility? I pray not.

Saint Zita, pray for us!

Just yesterday I had the conversation with my kids about our family rule of calling ADULTS by Mr. or Mrs. so and so. And how many of the adults don't like it (for various reasons). But that begged the question, "How did this happen?" ... "Why do kids insist on addressing adults by their first name, as if they are EQUAL?" When I grew up (hundreds of years ago according to my 13 y.o.) we would NEVER think of addressing a teacher or leader with anything but Mr. or Mrs. Yet, today in preschools you have Little Johnny addressing his teacher by Miss Liz, rather than Mrs. Kearns. WHY? What are we teaching Little Johnny when he is allowed to address adults by their first name? Will he then as a teenager resist ever using a title that acknowledges the fact that he is NOT someone's equal?

Is it a lack of humility?

Saint Joseph, pray for us!

Here's the reflection that brought all of this to mind this morning:

One Minute Meditations

You Can!
True faith shows itself in humility. Dicebat enim intra se – that poor woman said to herself: Si tetigero tantum vestimentum eius, salva ero – if I can but touch the hem of his garment, I shall be healed.

What humility she showed. It was both a result and a sign of her faith.
– St. Josemaria Escriva, The Forge, #324

Actions speak much louder than words...
Mary, Mother of God, intercede for us.

Scripture Verse of the Day - Dishonesty, Gossip

Proverbs 16:28

A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.

When you speak are you cautious not to gossip about others? Is it gossip if it is true? Can the truth be harmful or slanderous to another?

Do we realize how these 'little' sins add up and the importance of our acknowledging our failures and finding true contrition as well as a strong resolve to watch what we say...at all times.

Here's what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say, in part, about the importance of awareness & even confessing these 'little' sins...

1458 Without being strictly necessary, confession of everyday faults (venial sins) is nevertheless strongly recommended by the Church.59 Indeed the regular confession of our venial sins helps us form our conscience, fight against evil tendencies, let ourselves be healed by Christ and progress in the life of the Spirit. By receiving more frequently through this sacrament the gift of the Father's mercy, we are spurred to be merciful as he is merciful:60

Whoever confesses his sins . . . is already working with God. God indicts your sins; if you also indict them, you are joined with God. Man and sinner are, so to speak, two realities: when you hear "man" - this is what God has made; when you hear "sinner" - this is what man himself has made. Destroy what you have made, so that God may save what he has made. . . . When you begin to abhor what you have made, it is then that your good works are beginning, since you are accusing yourself of your evil works. The beginning of good works is the confession of evil works. You do the truth and come to the light.61
HERE IS A LINK TO THE CATECHISM PAGE REGARDING CONFESSION & VENIAL SINS (LITTLE SINS)

We must guard our words to be pleasing to the Lord, who is all good and loving -- as we should try our best to be as good as possible and as loving as possible. Let us all see Christ in those around us and build each other up rather than tear down.

Making Eucharistic Adoration priority in our lives . . .

What a powerful testimony of the importance of Eucharistic Adoration in our lives.

In this reflection today I am reminded of this great and simple necessary part of every Catholic's spiritual life. I especially love the closing sentence, "So, I think it is important to go back to the Eucharist, and give a real place to the Eucharist in our lives and in the lives of our families."

How blessed we truly are to have Jesus -- Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity -- available to adore. At our parish we are so deeply blessed to have Perpetual Adoration. May we all take advantage of this gift from God at every possible opportunity.


Saturday, April 3, 2010

One Minute Meditations - Holy Purity

Holy Purity
Don't try to reason with concupiscence: scorn it.
– St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way, #127

Liz's Note - strange how the Lord works. Between raising teenagers, talking with young adults, and yes, even married couples, I find myself discussing or researching Church teaching on the subject of restraining purely physical temptations. So when I saw St. Josemaria's meditation today, I figure maybe the Lord is using this as an instrument of teaching.

Defining concupiscence a little deeper:
In its widest acceptation, concupiscence is any yearning of the soul for good; in its strict and specific acceptation, a desire of the lower appetite contrary to reason.

But the lower appetite is of itself unrestrained, so as to pursue sensuous gratifications independently of the understanding and without regard to the good of the higher faculties. Hence desires contrary to the real good and order of reason may, and often do, rise in it, previous to the attention of the mind, and once risen, dispose the bodily organs to the pursuit and solicit the will to consent, while they more or less hinder reason from considering their lawfulness or unlawfulness. This is concupiscence in its strict and specific sense. As long, however, as deliberation is not completely impeded, the rational will is able to resist such desires and withhold consent, though it be not capable of crushing the effects they produce in the body, and though its freedom and dominion be to some extent diminished. If, in fact, the will resists, a struggle ensues, the sensuous appetite rebelliously demanding its gratification, reason, on the contrary, clinging to its own spiritual interests and asserting it control.

"The flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh."

Dedication to Jesus
Lord Jesus Christ, take away my freedom, my memory, my understanding, and my will. All that I have and cherish you have given me. I surrender it all to be guided by your will. Your love and your grace are wealth enough for me. Give me these, Lord Jesus, and I ask for nothing more. Amen.
St. Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556)

St. Teresa of Avila
“For mental prayer…is nothing more than an intimate sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us. The important thing is not to think much but to love much…Love is not great delight but desire to please God in everything.”

St. Thérèse of Lisieux
"...So I sought in holy Scripture some idea of what this life I wanted would be, and I read these words: 'Whosoever is a little one, come to me.' It is your arms, Jesus, that are the lift to carry me to heaven. And so there is no need for me to grow up; I must stay little and become less and less."

Magnificat
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name. He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm, he has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever.