Showing posts with label Christian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christian. Show all posts

7 Nov 2017

Scripture quote with inspirational reflection

Welcome Friend,

Have new posts set up. They are short inspirations. A quote from scripture and a quote from a person. Usually along with a reflection inspiring all. Maybe with a life story.

Let me know what you think.

Read all about it here. 

See you there.



2 Jul 2017

Sweet Tea and Jesus

Welcome

Here with me, today guest posting is Steve Sawyer. He has more than three decades of experience as a writer, editor, reporter, technical writer and writing teacher. He graduated from Auburn University in Montgomery, Alabama with a degree in journalism studies. He and his wife Marie, co-parent their two granddaughters, four and seven.
He sings in his church choir and remains active in his men’s prayer group. Since he retired in 2010 he enjoys writing for his family-friendly, Christ-centered blog Monday through Friday. He is passionate about writing to help readers know, understand, believe, and live out of their true identity in Christ.

Sweet Tea and Jesus 

Folks who live outside the Deep South don’t understand Sweet Tea. If you go to most restaurants or truck stops north of the Tennessee read more

4 Sep 2016

2016 ELECTION USA: A DEAD END FOR CATHOLIC AND CHRISTIAN VOTERS?


 
This year, the United States of North America chooses a new President, that is, not only the head of his Government and nation, but one of the world leaders with more influence over the fate of humanity. Within an electoral bipartisan democratic system as the American, the political parties and its principles had been, until recently, clearly defined and differential in conservative party and liberal party. But in recent decades the differences on the principles of these parties have been disappearing, especially in the area of human and social well being, leaving voters with more of the same.

This problem is  becoming critical for Catholic and Christian citizens in general. Aalthough they constitute the majority of the population in that country,  they are facing  the dilemma of whom to vote for  without letting down their Christian principles, because almost none of them are reflected in much of what the candidates propose. (1)

22 Feb 2015

The Greater Art of Falling Down

In Akido, there is a concept called, "the art of falling down." Falling down is considered an art because if falling is done with skillfull intention instead of just being caught unaware by a blow, the person who falls will be safer. 

During this Lent, I have been following Blessed Titus Brandsma's meditations on the Stations of the Cross. He wrote these meditations in Scheveningen Prison, awaiting his execution. Tonight, I read about the "seventh station," where Jesus falls for the second time. Blessed Titus wrote that Jesus allowed himself to be overwhelmed by the weight of the cross and to fall. 

I hadn't contemplated this before, but of course He did. Our Lord God incarnate, maker of miracles and who later resurrected would not do or allow anything to be done to Him without intentionality. Jesus intentionally fell down. 

Falling is an art. Not just for our "safety." Not just so we can learn lessons in life. Not so we can build the courage to get up again when we "fail." No. There is more.

There is a greater art of falling down. 
Falling down may be the most important thing we ever do. 

12 Dec 2014

Why I Cope With Life Better Today (as a Catholic)

I do not know how I would cope with my life if I were not Catholic. I can easily tell you that I would not cope well. Years of living beforehand would bear that out.

Here are some differences in how I get through tough times today vs. during my "heretical" years. 

(1) My emotions do not control my decisions as much

Free will has to do with making decisions without being driven by emotions. I am making more solid, logical and clear choices now than I ever have before. During my "heretical years," I believed that free will had to do with extricating myself from the oppression of moral obligations in order to be free to follow my feelings. How did that work out for me? Hmm.. I'm writing this... so...

(2) I take care to have selfless motives. 

When I pursue being of the greatest service to God above the motives for comfort, public opinion or material things, each decision I make has meaning. When I work to make my life a gift to God rather than a gift to myself, I do not have time to immerse myself in self-pity or resentment.

Good feelings and material things will all pass away. Peace in my heart, mind and soul will never be possible if I waste any time trying to chase any other goal than to serve God. 


30 Aug 2014

The 7 Most Mindblowingly Liberating Things I've Learned By Being Catholic

I finally figured out what matters.
This is it.

(1) I do not need a happy ending in life. 

The Meaning: Life isn't meant to be a fairy tale. Whether....

The Freedom: No matter how my life ends, ....

(2) How I feel about my life doesn't matter. 

The Meaning: Whether I think my life is going well or not is....

The Freedom: Less time wasted with pointlessly evaluating my life in....

(4) Even if I became a god or goddess, it wouldn't matter. 

The Meaning: Having "personal power," or realizing the greatness in my soul in order....

The Freedom: Who cares who I am?...

"Lord, when we ask you for honors, income, money or worldly things, do not hear us."
-St. Teresa of Avila

(7) Never stop asking- "How Could I Do Better?" 

The Meaning: It doesn't matter...

The Freedom: This is the annoying part...


Here's the rest of this post: "The 7 Most Mindblowingly Liberating Things I've Learned As A Catholic," Laura Paxton, Carmel Heart.

2 Sep 2013

A Christian Writer...


Let me write from my core self, intuitively,creatively and most of all authentically in unity with His Spirit.

30 Mar 2013

How To Always Be Successful

"We are not called to be successful. We are called to be faithful." -Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Lately, I ponder this quote and its meaning on a daily basis. In my mind, I am never successful enough. I never get enough done in a day. The work I actually do is not productive enough. No matter how much I do, it does not make enough impact on society.

And, you know what? It won't. Ever.

I can't do anything without God. I can't blog. I can't brainstorm. I can't even breathe. Without God, not only is doing anything at all impossible, but everything I do becomes meaningless and pointless.

Our new pope said something today which rang true for me. He said, ""...self-help courses can be useful in life, but to live by going from one course to another, from one method to another, leads us to become pelagians and to minimize the power of grace, which comes alive and flourishes to the extent that we, in faith, go out and give ourselves and the Gospel to others, giving what little ointment we have to those who have nothing, nothing at all."

Before becoming Christian, that's what I did. I hopped from course to course, method to method, believing I would eventually get somewhere. I had gurus and teachers who told me there was nowhere to arrive at and that I was perfect as I was but those same teachers would sell me the very courses and methods that propagated the illusion. 

Amazing thing, grace. It's not just a "feel good" song. It's the truth. 

Grace gives us reason for living and the power to do it. Grace makes it okay to be human, because we let go and let God do what we alone cannot do. He becomes the fiber of our being, the blood in our cells.

So, what is being faithful? Being faithful is remembering just that. Believing and trusting in the power of grace. 

That's all God expects from us.  

Yet, just remembering the truth isn't really faithfulness. God expects us to embody and practice that faithfulness, through demonstrating our faith in all we do.  

But, when we let Christ live in us, everything we do is enough, no matter what our neighbors think, the government thinks, the media thinks, or anyone else for that matter.

Jesus expected the disciples to stay awake for an hour while he prayed. He expected them to be loyal and faithful. They all failed Him. Yet, was Jesus a failure? 

Jesus was the greatest success in history. We will always be a failure without Him.
 


25 Mar 2013

The Myth of Persecution

Te Martyrum candidatus laudat exercitus.~ from the Te Deum
When I wrote to Dr. Moss requesting her latest work The Myth of Persecution, I received a prompt and gracious reply assuring me of a copy. Dr. Moss hoped that I would not see the book as an attack upon the Church. I responded that I did not see the book as an attack on the Church and even if it was, the Church has been through worse. We have nothing to fear from the truth of history.

After reading the book my reply is not altered. It is a well-written book with clear explanations indicative of a skilled teacher. However, I recommend Myth to others with reservations, since in spite of the genuine scholarship which Dr. Moss shares with us, there is a contemporary political slant given to the narrative which clouds the objectivity of how the historical evidence is presented. For instance, my cognitive processes are strained to envision St. Justin Martyr (pp. 109-112) and Glenn Beck (p. 250) as confreres in a long battle of paranoid right-wing true believers to demonize the opposition. And the whys and wherefores of the legend of Saints Chrysthanus and Daria (pp. 83-88) are intriguing enough without dragging Ann Coulter into the mix. (p. 255)

The main premise of Myth of Persecution is that the early Christians, and those generations who followed immediately after them, exaggerated the Roman punishment of those who refused to comply with the laws of the Empire. (p. 16) Dr. Moss claims that the Christians made it appear that they suffered one long relentless persecution for over three hundred years, which made them see themselves as victims and everyone else as the enemy. (pp. 18-19) The book goes on to assert that Christians have continued to do this and are doing it now, especially the conservative branches of the various Christian offshoots who marginalize anyone who does not agree with them, especially anyone involved in the abortion industry. (p. 252) This view completely overlooks the vast number of Christians who are engaged in giving practical help to the unfortunate, including those with post-abortion trauma.

 I grew up around Christians, most of whom were either Catholic or Episcopalian; they certainly did not instill in me an idea of non-Christians being the enemy. Nor did I ever have the impression that the early Christian persecution by the Romans was non-stop. I was aware at an early age that some Emperors persecuted and some did not, Diocletian being one that did. While I understand the point the author is trying to make, I think it is an oversimplification of a complex process involving many types of Christians and different cultures over two thousand years.

What makes Myth of Persecution an interesting read is that it shows how the Roman authorities saw the Christians. They saw them as annoying, crazy, disrespectful, cowardly, vengeful, violent, devious and even incestuous. (pp. 170-187) I have the impression that much of this assessment is shared by the author as well. Such bias mitigates the effectiveness of the genuine lessons which are to be learned from the book. Certainly, there are elements among the diverse Christian communities who exhibit a harsh and paranoid reaction at every hostile hiccup on the horizon. I am not denying that sometimes in showing zeal for a cause Christians forget that the charity of Christ is what defines them. If Christians who read this book will take that lesson to heart then progress will have been made.

The book does indeed offer a great deal of wisdom which should not be taken lightly. In Chapter 6, "Myths about Martyrs", Dr. Moss makes an excellent point about how imitation of the martyrs does not mean the complacent acceptance of an abusive or oppressive situation. The martyrs were killed because they stood up to injustice, not because they were doormats. (pp.201-204)  To quote: "As much as we admire those who are willing to sacrifice themselves for others, there are also circumstances in which this in inappropriate. Modern theologians have criticized the idea that imitating the suffering Christ means obedience and submission in circumstances of oppression." (p.202) I would interject that for persons of faith suffering can still be personally redemptive, even while working to correct the injustices which create the suffering.

Now the author does not deny that, in spite of the title of the book, the Christians were genuinely persecuted by the Roman authorities from time to time. This is, of course, a fact of history. Dr. Moss insists that the persecution undertaken by St. Paul in the Acts of the Apostles was not a genuine persecution, saying:
 That Paul himself would admit that he had participated in this practice [i.e., “persecuting the church of God”] lends credibility to the narrative of Acts, but it does not prove that Jews persecuted Christians. The primary reason for this is that there were no Christians! Not only did the name ‘Christian’ not yet exist, but the idea of Christians as a group distinct from the rest of Judaism did not exist in the lifetime of the apostles. (p.133)
So according to Myth of Persecution, St. Stephen the first martyr was not a bona fide martyr. Whatever the people later to be known as Christians were called, Paul persecuted them, and later repented of it. The Acts of the Apostles affirms that the Followers of Jesus were first called Christians in Antioch (Acts 11:26) a good hundred years before the Dr. Moss claims they began to be called Christians. Furthermore, Dr. Moss claims that the Christians were not really persecuted by the Romans, but "prosecuted." (pp. 159-160) "Romans saw themselves not as persecutors but as prosecutors....Just because Christians were prosecuted or executed, even unjustly, does not mean that they were persecuted." (pp163-164). Unfortunately, this sort of sophistry is rampant in the book.

The highlights of Myth include the discussions of the executions of Christians under Decius and later under Diocletian. Decius, around 250 AD, did not single out the Christians for persecution. (pp.145-151) Rather he passed a law which required that all Roman citizens participate in the Emperor worship. The Christians did not want to do this, and had to either find a legal loophole around it, or else apostatize their faith. Some chose neither option, and when asked to sacrificed they refused, were tortured and killed. Many were able to escape prosecution but those who were executed became the martyrs whom we honor. As for the Great Persecution of Diocletian, Christians were singled out, beginning in 303, and for the next several years the persecution ebbed and flowed throughout the empire, depending upon local leadership and political circumstances. The persecution of Christians is definitely NOT a myth.

Speaking of Daria and Chrysthanus, the book spends a great deal of time demonstrating how the legend of their acts has many historical inconsistencies. (pp 83-88) This is the case with many of the old legends which grew up around the various martyrs of the early Church. When I was a child during the Second Vatican Council, I remember when many early martyrs and saints were removed from the Roman Calender because of lack of solid historical evidence of their ordeals or even of their existence, St. Catherine of Alexandria being one. The same saints, however, were retained by the Byzantine Catholic calender, since they and the accounts of their sufferings were seen as being hallowed by sacred tradition. I think Myth of Persecution would have been richer if it had taken into account the power of storytelling and the liturgy as a means of permitting the believers to participate in the sacred drama. Whether every detail of the story of Chrysthanus and Daria really happened is not what was important to our brothers and sisters in the faith. What mattered was the inner truths the story conveyed which the believers would enter into and participate in through prayers, veneration of relics and the sacred liturgy. We will never have the newspaper accounts of the death of Daria and Chrysthanus and of any number of other martyrs. The accounts do not exist. We do, however have a rich tradition about them, passed on through good times and bad. And we have the relics of Chrysthanus and Daria, which have recently been examined, according to the National Geographic, showing that they were young, highborn and possibly buried alive.

There is a great deal in the book about how Christians see the world as the enemy. But Jesus warned us that it would be so. "In the world you will have distress, but have confidence, I have overcome the world." (John 16: 33) Christians must always guard against the things of the world which threaten the health of the soul. We must not forget the confidence which we are invited to have in Jesus Christ, and this confidence should preserve us from the very perils we wish to avoid, the tendency pass rash judgment, to despair, to become bitter, to hate, to be greedy. Martyrdom is overcoming those things of the world, and in that way supersedes political and cultural vicissitudes.

(This book was sent to me by the author's representative in exchange for my honest opinion.)

28 Aug 2012

Starting a Woman’s Study is Easier Than You Think!

Wrapped Up Companion Journal
Wrapped Up
A woman asked me how to start a study for her friends in her parish. After that a young college girl inquired about starting a bible study in her sorority. That was followed by a mother wanting to begin one, in her home, with her friends. It got me thinking...How many women would like to start a study but feel it might be more than they could handle?

The good news is, starting a woman’s study is easier than you think! 




Here are a few guidelines; and, I would be more than willing to answer any questions as well. I can be contacted at Cheryl@BezalelBooks.com or by calling 248-917-3865.

Getting the group together:

If you already have a group of interested women, your best bet is to look at your own schedule and offer a couple of options for getting together. I would suggest an hour and a half to two hours, once a week. So, for example if Tuesdays from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. or Wednesdays from 6:30-8:00 p.m. work best for you, send out emails, or make phone calls, to everyone sharing these options and ultimately go with the most popular choice. Too many options will muddy the waters; just a couple is fine.

If you do not have a group of interested women, ask your church paper to put in a small article stating that you are starting a study while also send out inquiry emails to your own friends and family. Ask them to send the email on, as well, to their friends and family. I’m not a math person but I know that there is some general idea that to get, say, 5 women, you may need to contact 50 (the 10% rule or some such thing). Anyhow, if you are advertising in your church paper or through email, give a “reply by” date and an idea of how many women will be your minimum and maximum.

Once you have your group, you will give a start date that gives you enough time to buy the supplies. This is whatever book will be your resource and, of course, you’ll make sure that everyone brings a bible. I wouldn’t discourage different Catholic bible versions because your group can have beneficial discussions on different words used in a variety of translations. It is usually best when the “leader” orders the resource books and I always suggest that the leader order an extra copy or two for people who are bound to join the group after they hear how wonderful the study is! My last parenting workshop started with eight people and ended with fourteen! Buying an extra book or two allows new people to start right away versus waiting another week or so to get a book, but it is certainly not necessary.

Your books and resources:

Once the group size is known, the leader orders books and resources and then typically collects the money on the first night of the study. All this is, of course, just a guideline. If you have four people signed up, you might feel comfortable buying the books and resource materials up front and then collecting the money. But if you have a fifteen people signed up, you’ll probably want to collect the money first.

Wrapped Up: God’s Ten Gifts for Women is structured so that it can facilitate the group in any number of ways. There is an audio version of the book with both myself and Teresa each reading her section of each chapter. That may be the perfect way for the leader to begin each section—with the participants listening to the chapter together. It is a perfect supplement to the book which can be read through the week at each person’s leisure. The companion journal is where the ten gifts identified in the book are explored in depth. Scripture verses and Catechism excerpts are used in both the book and the companion journal—which has room for personal reflections.

For your first meeting you might provide a light snack and beverages and have a sign up sheet for the following three of four get-togethers. If you try to sign up too far into the future, people tend to forget. And it is always good to recognize that a reminder email is helpful as we all get caught up in our schedules and sometimes forget these things that nourish our souls! Something that goes out to everyone a day or two before the meeting and is a simple message like; Blessings…I just wanted to remind everyone of Tuesday’s bible study and that we are looking forward to Sue’s snacks…

For the Wrapped Up: God’s Ten Gifts for Women study, the companion journal has instructions for conducting the study as well as prayers for each of the ten gatherings. There are reflections and questions that are meant to engage the heart and mind of each participant. All in all, studies make for great times! They immerse you in the Word of God and allow you to help others on their journeys with Christ.

Wonder Woman: Very Good (Though Perhaps Not Amazing)

After months of hearing nothing but praise for the new female-driven superhero movie Wonder Woman , it's now out on DVD so I finall...