This song…I love it!

Standard

I love it even more after I did this, this morning…My challenge for you today is to try and hear this song as it relates to our being married to Christ or the bride of Christ, which is the church, and the opportunity to come together with a priest in the Holy Sacrament of Reconciliation as the chance to be “Broken Together”…

What do you think?

The Non-Curated Path of Holy Week

Standard

Jason:

One of the best I’ve read in a while…

Originally posted on Charlotte was Both:

This is my contribution for today to Living Faith Lent.  I figured that since the season is about over, I won’t be depriving them of any sales by reprinting this.

March 29

I gave my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who plucked my beard;
my face I did not shield
from buffets and spitting. 
Is. 50:6

Left to my own devices, and within the context of my responsibilities, I can essentially design – or, as the fashionable say these days, “curate”  my own life.  I can listen to what I want, turn off what disturbs me and tune out what don’t want to see or hear.  I can, if I choose, live in a bubble, as clear or opaque as I want it to be.

But not this week.

This week, this Holy Week, I am thrust into the crowds.  Crowds that welcome, then…

View original 86 more words

Chastity and Virginity are not dirty words…

Standard

“Spoiler Alert!!!”

I watched a movie last night about a Polish nun, that during her novitiate she was sent to research her family, especially her Aunt.  Her Aunt was her lone surviving family member after the Nazi occupation of Poland. By the way, I hope the fact that I am commented on the movie is not construed as an endorsement, because I would not endorse it, for the reasons I will now point out.  It turns out that she was Jewish, by birth, but obviously had accepted the life of a Catholic nun and was prepared to take her final vows.  Not that there is anything wrong with her acceptance of her family’s faith.  However, during the course of the movie, her Aunt tells her that she should not waste her life by taking her final vows, she models a lack of sobriety and unchastity for “Ida”, who the movie is named after.  The Aunt does not embrace the Jewish faith, but is quick to point out that Ida has turned her back on it.  Ida is her name that she was given at birth, but has obviously chosen to change her name to Anna.  Once the Aunt dies, by committing suicide by jumping out a window, Anna,  the nun, who has chosen to hold off on taking her final vows, decides to see what this drinking and smoking is all about and also finds a man that had been around during most of the movie to give herself to sexually.  The next morning, she wakes up and decides to put her habit back on and walks to the convent as the movie fades to black and the credits roll.

My impression of the movie is that it was stupid.  I don’t pretend for a minute to think that I could understand the complexity of dealing with a family that was wiped out by racial hatred and extreme prejudice, but I don’t think giving in to vice and then deciding to follow your vows is a good message for our young people today.  Of course, the fact that it happens only after she decides that she doesn’t want to share her life with a man who gave himself to her completely the night before is the exact opposite of a “good” message.

Saint Katherine Drexel, pray for us!

On the contrary, I woke up this morning being reminded of the example of the holy life of Saint Katherine Drexel.  Her gift of the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience were not given out of spite for a fallen world.  Rather, she was raised by parents who loved God and when they were no longer with her in this world, she decided to give herself completely to the service of the poor and marginalized in our society.  She eventually became a sister and gave all of her family wealth to the church, in order that it could better serve the people that she was trying to reach out to.  For me, this and the example of many other “Virgins” in the church are what we should be pointing our children to.  This, and many others like her, are examples of how to live a life of holiness that is not concerned with the “sins” of the flesh, which the devil and his minions are constantly trying to get us to focus on.  (Don’t worry, read Revelation chapter 12)

Mary crushes Satan!

As parents that still live in this fallen world, we have got to do a better job of living out our vocation as married people who understand chastity, not as a burden that is dropped on the religious few, but as a gift from God that graces us with the freedom to life holy lives in obedience to God’s will, and not our flesh.  As a Catholic married man, I must be willing to look to the ever-Virgin Mary as the pinnacle of holiness in completely and only human form, as God did, and be willing to submit myself to her authority, that comes from Jesus, but is born out of her free will acceptance of her chastity that was a gift from the grace of God.  Her relationship with Joseph is the model of purity that I will probably never reach in my lifetime, but stands as a strong tower against the pressures of the world that are calling us to give in to the flesh.  By God’s grace, they could abstain from sex to be obedient to the vow that Mary made to God, we can abstain for whatever period of time that we need to in order to be obedient to the will of God in our own lives.  This is not something that I think we should do, in order to be holy, it is a beacon of hope that tells our children saving themselves for marriage or a religious vocation is possible.  It also tells them that we can be different than the society or culture is telling us we have to be in order to be happy.  Joy comes in my life by fulfilling the will of God in every part of my chosen vocation, and never compromising for any reason.  I will probably fail, but I will try to look to the Virgin Mary to intercede for me for mercy and forgiveness, but also the strength to pick up my cross again and hopefully carry it to the end of the mission that I have been given.  Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with you.  Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.  Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of death…Amen!

Come, Lord Jesus!

How does discernment work? (Only for boys!)

Standard

Are you looking for a way to discern your calling?  The message todiscernment me this morning is that our children are missing their opportunity to discern a calling to religious life or even to marriage, because we are not telling them when to start listening.

For a little perspective on this message from this morning, my 15 year old son asked me last week sometime how old you have to be to enter the seminary to become a priest.  My answer was a very calm and cool, it depends on the situation.  He clarified and further got me excited by saying that he wondered if he could just enter the seminary at 15.  I responded by saying that the seminary would usually want to have a young person who had at least completed high school before they started any serious formation.  The conversation pretty much ended there.  However, it got me thinking and I believe the message I received this morning is the directive that we, as Catholic parents, should be using when helping our children through discernment.

So, if you are anything like me, you were pretty much raised by the culture that we live in.  My guess is, even if you were raised Catholic, which I wasn’t, the culture had a major influence on your upbringing, if you were born after 1965.  I used 1965, because it is really just an arbitrary year that I chose, but also because most of the people that I know or have had in depth conversations about the things that influenced them during their childhood were born bfclubafter 1965.  Anyway, the culture told us a lot of things about sex and love and the pursuit of happiness that probably made our process of discernment difficult.  If you were like me, you had close friends that helped that discernment process along whenever you strayed to far in the wrong direction.  For instance, when I was discerning a call to the priesthood, a good friend of mine told me that I needed to be married.  (For reasons that we will leave out of this post.)  However, it helped me realize that God was calling me to share my life with someone who could help shape me into a better version of who I could be if left to my own de”vices”.

So, what does this have to do with discernment for our children today?  It came to me this morning that when our children start experiencing their sexuality for the first times in their life, they will have natural questions.  It is how we answer those questions that will decide whether or not they will be choosing to consult us in the future about clarification of how this works.

For instance, if we find out about our son having a nocturnal emission for the first time, we could choose to make light of it and say it happens to all children in about the 6th grade and let it go.  (Unfortunately, this is the route I chose with my first two boys.)  However, the better route to take would be to ask them about what thoughts they had that could have potentially led to this experience.  It is important that this be done in a non-threatening and non-accusatory way, so we should choose our words carefully.  We could say something like, “Is there anything you can remember from your day that could have caused you to react differently than you can ever remember reacting?”  Truth is, the answer is most likely going to be dull silence from a 6th through 8th grader, but the fact that you are asking means that you respect that this is something that they need to take ownership of.  Their thoughts and reactions to stimuli that exist in the world are important, and they need to learn at a young age to take the fleshly thoughts captive and make sure they don’t let their imagination get away from them.  Once the boundaries are established for the stimuli that led to the reaction of their body, they can start to deal with what their body is saying to them.  It is saying that there bodies are ready to start cooperating with God in creation of new people.  How you word this, really depends on your child and their maturity level/vocabulary.  After establishing the reality of what is phyBible 1 Corinthians spirit God's templesically happening in their body, it would be a good time to start the conversation about saving themselves for their future vocation.  Whether that is a future wife or for a future vocation to the priesthood, their bodies are something that should be kept holy for the purpose that God wills for them.

Enough for now, I will continue this topic once I get some feedback from my wife about having this conversation with our daughter, who thankfully is only 3 years old.  So, we have some time to figure this out, but I would appreciate your feedback and comments for any advice you may be able to help out with…God bless you and thanks for reading!

Lord, please direct our steps as parents to have the conversations we should have with our children when the time comes to have them, and give us the wisdom to follow up on the ones that we may have missed.  I ask this, as always, in the name of Jesus Christ, your Son, through the power of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen!

“ONE SHADE OF WHITE” – Feb 12

Standard

Jason:

I was asked by a friend and colleague on Twitter why more men weren’t speaking out against this movie…I will make sure she sees this post…God bless you!

Originally posted on A DEVOTED LIFE:

“And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him.  For from within, out of the heart of man, comes evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.  All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”  Mark 7:20

50ShadesofGreyCoverArtI appeal to you brothers and sisters in Christ, do not watch the movie Fifty Shades of Grey. If you do not know anything about the book and movie, Fifty Shades of Grey, you may count yourself blessed.  The book, has sold more than 100 million copies and the movie adaptation will be released on Valentine’s Day.  I have not read the book and I have no plans to watch the movie.  My appeal to stay away from this latest Hollywood offering is based on the same rationale as staying away from pornography. There are many good…

View original 840 more words

Read your own stuff…

Standard

I wanted to take the chance to post today about how to keep yourself motivated to keep writing.  Sometimes, we all come to the point where we are accepting the lies of Satan that tell us that our opinion and our writing does not matter.  However, the truth is that if it was only my opinion and my writing that my blog was about, I would have quit posting long ago.  So, every once in a while it is helpful to pick an old post that someone else was looking at today and re-read it with the idea that you are to remember what God was doing in your life and through your writing what he was asking you to reveal to others about your struggle.  Sometimes this is hard, because you don’t know exactly the circumstances that led you to post about that topic on the day, but chances are you are still dealing with some of those same issues today.  God is probably finding new ways to reveal to you the truth about your healing process and finding new ways to use you to spread this good news to others.  If you are still reading this, the Lord wants to continue to use you through this medium of blogging, so you can stop reading now and get back to work!

Here is my offering for today:

Today’s readings…Memorial of Saints Timothy and Titus

For me, the first reading from the 2nd letter to Timothy today goes way back to over ten years ago to the first time that I really took the time to reflect on this scripture…Here is one of my posts from  almost five years ago that is still moving to me today…Today, it is not just about the peace but also the grace that comes from following the will of God at all times in my life that I am thankful for keeping me aware of the gift that is my marriage and my relationship with God that leads every decision I make in my life.  Here is a picture to show you how I still feel today about my wife and the gift that she is to me from a God that graces me beyond my understanding…

the kiss0001

Lust for my wife?

Standard

Some people will read this headline and say, “Why do I want to hear about how some married dude still has the hots for his wife?”  If that was the reason for this post, I would recommend that you not read it either, because the premise for the article would be all wrong.  However, the idea that we should have lust for our significant others that are either married to us, or have a committed relationship with us, is also wrong, and that is the purpose of this post.  Is it possible that the lust we feel for our committed partner is a result of many years of failed teaching about the purpose and meaning of relationships, or is it possible that no one ever took the time to tell us that we were meant for so much more than to be the object of someone’s lust or fantasy.

You may have heard that having a fantasy about someone is perfectly harmless, and I am sure there is a psychologist somewhere who would debate this with me, but I believe that there is no place in our lives for such things.  In scripture, we read, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.”  (Romans 13:14)  It does not say that once we decide to live for Christ, we can dabble in the desires of the flesh, because they are a perfectly normal part of our being.  It says, and I believe we should, make no provision for the desires of the flesh.  To me, that means that we should not only not entertain the thoughts that sometimes can wander, we should utterly reject them as they are not a part of who God is calling us to be.

Now, to answer an old question from a colleague of mine from a few years back, “If we don’t lust after our wife, how do we know that we are attracted to her?”  I will use Paul 1st letter to the Thessalonians, chapter 4, verses 3-5 to answer that question.

This is the the will of God, your holiness: that you refrain from immorality, that each of you know how to acquire a wife for himself in holiness and honor, not in lustful passion as do the Gentiles who do not know God.

I guess the big question is, are we just like the rest of the world?

Do we need lust to tell us that someone is a favorable match for us?  If we are called Christians, we should be about more than just accepting the way our flesh moves us.  Once we have discerned that it is God leading us, we can trust that he will lead us to the person that will help us get to heaven.

Finally, from the book of Tobit, we have a great prayer that I would recommend for every married couple to say to each other before they lay down to sleep together at night…Here it is:

Blessed are you, O God of our ancestors; 

blessed be your name forever and ever!

Let the heavens and all your creation bless you forever.  

You made Adam, and you made his wife Eve

to be his helper and support;

and from these two the human race has come.

You said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone;

let us make him a helper like himself.’  

Now, not with lust,

but with fidelity I take this woman as my wife.

Send down your mercy on me and on her,

and grant that we may grow old together.

After saying this prayer, as Tobiah did with Sarah, you can be sure that the demons that may have surrounded you before will start to quake with fear.  Remember to have patience with yourself, and know that you will need perseverance to see the goodness flow from any relationship, but a good marriage is definitely worth it.  If you have never read the book of Tobit,  I would strongly suggest reading it to help you if you struggle with finding or creating a holy relationship with your wife or husband.  (Check it out here…)

As for me, I choose to not lust for my wife, but with the grace of God, I will wait on the Lord to reveal the new ways that I will learn to love her more each day for the rest of my life.  I pray that everyone who reads this will seek out that love that comes from God, our Father, in their life too!