I just got done listening to the fabulous Raymond Arroyo speak here at the Acton Institute. What a pleasure! He reminded me of two things.
Humor counts. Engaging people with grace and humor goes so far. When we are cross and dour (my favorite high school teacher used to say "long-faced Christians"), who is going to listen to the Good News?
Second, suffering counts. He reminded us that Mother Anjelica (who founded the Catholic tv station EWTN) suffered terribly for most her life: twisted spine, asthma, heart problems. Yet, she was joyful, because she knew that her suffering counted. Raymond (I can call him "Raymond" now!) quoted her, "If God chose to treat His Son this way, it's good enough for me."
Go forth: be joyful, even in suffering, and share the Good News!
I am writing this
letter to you on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple. The
evangelist Luke tells us that the Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph, in keeping
with the Law of Moses, took the Baby Jesus to the temple to offer him to the
Lord, and that an elderly man and woman, Simeon and Anna, moved by the Holy
Spirit, went to meet them and acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah (cf. Lk 2:22-38). Simeon took him in his arms
and thanked God that he had finally “seen” salvation. Anna, despite her
advanced age, found new vigour and began to speak to everyone about the Baby.
It is a beautiful image: two young parents and two elderly people, brought
together by Jesus. He is the one who brings together and unites generations! He
is the inexhaustible font of that love which overcomes every occasion of
self-absorption, solitude, and sadness. In your journey as a family, you share
so many beautiful moments: meals, re…
Pope Francis said something very interesting this week to the cardinals gathered for the Extraordinary Consistory of all the Cardinals. We would do well to heed his words:
Dear brothers, I
extend a warm greeting to you all and, with you, I thank the Lord who
has given us these days of meeting and working together. We welcome
especially our brothers who will be created Cardinals on Saturday and we
accompany them with our prayers and fraternal affection. During
these days, we will reflect in particular on the family, which is the
fundamental cell of society. From the beginning the Creator blessed man
and woman so that they might be fruitful and multiply, and so the
family then is an image of the Triune God in the world. Our
reflections must keep before us the beauty of the family and marriage,
the greatness of this human reality which is so simple and yet so rich,
consisting of joys and hopes, of struggles and sufferings, as is the
whole of life. We will seek to deepen the th…
Yesterday, I threw out some ideas for making Lent a bit better, leading you closer to Christ. Today, we're going to talk about ways to really screw up your Lent.
1. Think of Lent as a weight loss program. "I'll give up sweets and try and knock off a few pounds." Uh, dude: missing the point.
2. Doing nothing. "Yeah, Lent. I'll think about that. I'm not sure what I'm going to do yet." And then it's Easter....and your relationship with God hasn't changed one bit.
3. Do too much. "I'm going to fast between meals every day, join a Bible study, give up Diet Coke, make handmade Easter gifts for everyone I know..." Yeah, again, focusing on yourself and not God. Plus doing too much = surefire fail.
4. Measure yourself against others. "Geez, he's giving up THAT? Maybe I should...." Your walk with Christ is completely different from anyone else's.
5. Not listening to sound spiritual advice. One Lent, I was going thr…
I got caught off-guard yesterday: Lent is almost upon us! March 5! That's soon!
Okay, now that I know, I have to plan. And so do you. Because a good and fruitful Lent takes planning. It's not just, "Oh, I'll give up sweets" as you wander through the channels on Fat Tuesday, full of paczki from the office that morning. No, indeed. This will not do - not if you wish to have a prayerful, helpful, sweet, spiritual Lent.
Here are some ideas: Start praying about it now. Ask God what it is He wishes of you this Lent.Instead of "giving something up" (nothing wrong with that), consider "adding something in:" 15 minutes of Scripture each evening, a daily Rosary, etc.Find some spiritual music that moves you and draws you into God's presence. It might be contemporary Christian music, it might be Gregorian chant, it might be classical Mass settings. Listen to and from work during Lent.Plan some spiritual reading. Maybe it will be fiction (Graham Greene…
The Christian life has to be carried out with this music
of patience, because it was the music of our fathers: the people of God. The
music of those who believed in the Word of God, who followed the commandment
which the Lord had given to our father Abraham: Walk before me and be
I just had a lovely lunch with Curly-Haired Daughter. We were celebrating her Happy Adoption Day (the day she came home to us.)
The food was superb and the atmosphere wonderful, but best of all was the enlightening conversation and a peek into the adult mindset my beautiful daughter is developing. We talked like adults!
When you're the mother of young children, all you can think of is that you are stuck in a non-ending cycle of wiping noses, cutting up food, folding laundry and running errands. The thought of talking to an adult is a vision you only hope for once in awhile.
I remember thinking, when my children were small, how long the days were...and how short the years are. It's bittersweet to sit across the table having lunch and conversing at such an intimate level with the little girl who used to invite me to her teddy bear tea parties. I guess that is the joy of it all.
The bishops urged the rejection of “the twin temptations of stereotype
and fear” that can cause people to see the mentally ill as “something
other than children of God, made in His image and likeness, deserving of
our love and respect.”
Assumptions that the mentally ill are violent ignore the fact that the
seriously mentally ill commit less than 5 percent of violent acts each
year, they said. In fact, those with mental illness are more likely to
be victims of violence and sexual abuse. Yet fear of violence helps
perpetuate a stigma that threatens public support for “a community-based
model of treatment.”
In case you haven't seen the story of Olympic Canadian mogul skier Alex Bilodeau, it's a terrific testimony to love, life, family and knowing what is truly important.
Alex Bilodeau won the gold medal in moguls on Monday night, the first
person he wanted to celebrate with was his brother Frederic, who has
cerebral palsy. “Whatever I do in life, my brother is my real inspiration,” Bilodeau said.
“Just like you and I, he has dreams and most of them are not realizable
to him. But he never complains that it’s not realistic to him. Every
day I feel lucky to be a normal person who has that chance to go after
his dream. He does not have that chance. “And for
respect to him, I need to go after that. With his motivation, he would
be four-time Olympic champion. Every step is so hard for him in life and
I have an easy path and I need to go after and do the best I can just
out of respect to him. He lives his dreams through me. So today,
Vancouver, for me, it’s the l…
I happen to know this young man and his family very well. His story is truly miraculous and a testament to God's mercy. It's worth watching, and sharing with others, especially young people in your life who may be struggling.
You don't need to be an economist to know that it's a tough economy for all of us, but especially young people. Trying to get a decent education, work, learn how to budget, balance a social life with responsibilities: it's tough.
Of course, most young adults dream of being "independent" - having the car, the apartment, the whole enchilada. But, it's not always possible. And so living with family is a positive answer, but then you get flack for "living in Mom's basement."
Our oldest nephew lived with us for quite some time when he was working and saving money for school. It was great - he was able to keep his finances in good shape, and we had an extra pair of hands when we had five young children.
Tallest Son currently lives with my sister. She lives in an urban area, close to his work and school. Again, he can keep his living costs down while trying to grow up.
It's no shame to rely on family like this. In fact, it's part of our Cathol…
I woke from a dream this morning. I won't go into the details, as other people's dreams rarely make any sense to anyone else, but I woke with the feeling of being vigilant. It made me think of the ten wise virgins and the ten foolish one; the wise ones were vigilant - waiting for the bridegroom.
"Pray always" the apostle Paul tells us - another form of vigilance. Once when visiting my mother, one of my daughters slept in one of the two twins bed my mother has in her room. Upon waking in the morning, my daughter whispered to me, "Mom, Grandma prays ALL THE TIME...even in her SLEEP!"Vigilance.
Another time I was watching a show on TV that highlighted a group of Greek Orthodox monks. When asked how he followed the directive to "pray always," one monk said that no matter what he was doing (gathering olives, pruning trees, raking), he prayed, "Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner."
So what is this poverty by which Christ frees us and enriches us? It is
his way of loving us, his way of being our neighbour, just as the Good
Samaritan was neighbour to the man left half dead by the side of the
road (cf. Lk 10:25ff). What gives us true freedom, true salvation and
true happiness is the compassion, tenderness and solidarity of his love.
Christ’s poverty which enriches us is his taking flesh and bearing our
weaknesses and sins as an expression of God’s infinite mercy to us.
Christ’s poverty is the greatest treasure of all: Jesus wealth is that
of his boundless confidence in God the Father, his constant trust, his
desire always and only to do the Father’s will and give glory to him.
Jesus is rich in the same way as a child who feels loved and who loves
its parents, without doubting their love and tenderness for an instant.
Jesus’ wealth lies in his being the Son; his unique relationship with
the Father is the sovereign …