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Showing posts with the label virtue

Secrets, Visible and Invisible - Book Review

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What a treat it was to read Secrets – Visible & Invisible, a selection of seven short stories, written by seven different Catholic teen authors. Each story centers on a secret, and each story’s protagonist(s) depicted virtue, worthy of emulating. So, here is the run down: Secrets of Faith The Underappreciated Virtues of Rusty Old Bicycles, is a dystopian tale from Corinna Turner. In this story we meet Margo and Bane, two pre-teens out for a joy ride. They live in a futuristic time where religion and faith are taboo, yet Margo and Bane are practicing Catholics. Masses are said underground. After attending a secret Mass, they get into trouble while trying to get home on time. Will the authorities let them go, or will they convict them of joining the “Resistance?” Margo and Bane’s faith is only one of several secrets revealed in this page-turning, fast paced story, that serves as a prequel to I am Margaret. Secrets of Generosity In Recreation, by award winning novelist, Cynthia T. Ton…

Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

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Today marks the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. This feast day, in honor of our Blessed Mother, originated in the early 1700’s. It is a day to celebrate the universal church. On this special day, we call on Our Lady to pray for us. We ask for prayers just like when we ask a neighbor to pray for us. Yet, the power of Mary is far greater, as she is the Mother of God. In honor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, I found this prayer on catholic.org to share with you: A Prayer to the Most Blessed Virgin, Our Lady of Mount Carmel (State your intention/need) O most beautiful Flower of Mount Carmel, Fruitful Vine, Splendor of Heaven, Blessed Mother of the Son of God, Immaculate Virgin, assist me in this my necessity. O Star of the Sea, help me and show me herein you are my Mother. Read more...

Feast of Saint Benedict of Nursia

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Today is the feast of Saint Benedict of Nursia, Italy. Saint Benedict was a late 5th, early 6th century saint, who founded the Benedictine Order. He is considered the father of monasticism, most notable for building twelve monasteries used to house laity. During this time in history, monasteries were built for housing the religious. However, God had other plans for monasteries! This beloved saint is a great example of how God uses us to work in accordance with His plan, and sometimes we don’t even know it until we look back and see his handiwork. Saint Benedict, the Builder of Monasteries Saint Benedict came from Roman nobility, and could have had a very easy life. Yet, all he wanted was to go into the wilderness, live in a cave, and seek God in prayer, all by himself. So, that is exactly what he did. However, as I said, God had other plans! While Benedict was living in the cave, people would come by seeking his advice. The crowds grew and grew! They wanted to learn all that they cou…

We Live in a Crazy Mixed Up World

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Let’s face it! We live in a crazy mixed up world! With trade wars threatening to plummet us into another Great Depression, and children being separated from their parents while trying to enter the country seeking asylum, we simply carry on. Sometimes, the only way we can cope is to ignore the news. While evil acts seek to destroy us as a society, we carry on with our hope placed in Christ. Yes, we live in a crazy mixed up world, but we don’t have to cave in to the crazy. We can rise above it. When life gets crazy, I enter into some serious prayer time; for I know that some of the messes that we get ourselves into, only God can get us out. I pray for peace (my own and for others), as well as the strength to carry on, and the courage to rise up, when needed, to make a positive difference. And then there are times when all we need is common sense, a little laughter and a dose of kindness. Use your common sense to determine verifiable truth. (Don’t believe everything you hear without ver…

Authentic Freedom at Risk: Grasping at Apparent Goods

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Today, in the United States, we celebrate our independence from Britain. The whole basis for the Revolutionary War was for a desire to be a free and independent nation in the New World. As Americans, we wanted to chart our own course. We wanted the freedom to make our own decisions; our own mistakes. Yet, what we really wanted was authentic freedom, which is different from a freedom that allows us to do whatever we want. Gaudium et spes defines authentic freedom as follows: Only in freedom can man direct himself toward goodness. Our contemporaries make much of this freedom and pursue it eagerly; and rightly to be sure. Often, however, they foster it perversely as a license for doing whatever pleases them, even if it is evil. For its part, authentic freedom is an exceptional sign of the divine image within man. For God has willed that man remain ‘under the control of his own decisions,’ so that he can seek his Creator spontaneously, and come freely to utter and blissful perfection thro…

Living Virtuously, by Erin Harrison - Book Review and Give Away!

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In Living Virtuously, Erin Harrison teaches us how to embrace and embody virtue in our homes. Harrison is a homesteading and homeschooling mom. She shares with us her own trials and triumphs in addressing vice and embodying virtue; using real-life recollections. Harrison’s perspective on life, and her tone of writing, calls us back to a time when manners and etiquette were valued. She’s quick to point out that the technological advances of the 20th century do not always give us a better quality of life. In Harrison’s opinion, sometimes it is better to do things the old-fashioned way – like talking to each other face to face! If you are a working mom, or a woman who doesn’t quite embrace the whole “submissive” thing (Eph 5:24), then you may not initially relate to Harrison’s suggestions on how to best incorporate virtue into your family life. But, I strongly suggest that you continue reading this gem of a book and allow yourself to search deeper, to find the numerous golden nuggets wa…

What Kind of Fruit Do You Produce?

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In the early Church, those who spoke in the name of the Lord were considered prophets. It was important for the early Christians to discern between true and false prophets. In today’s Gospel, from Matt 7:15-20, Matthew writes about false prophets. He uses the analogy of trees that bear good fruit (true prophets) versus those trees that bear bad fruit (false prophets). The analogy is meant to correlate to the works of those who speak on behalf of the Church. Some of those who spoke were false prophets, evidenced by their bad deeds. With bad intentions, these false prophets produced bad fruit. Whereas, the Apostles and their disciples, who remained true to the teachings of Christ, produced good fruit via their good deeds. In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus asks a rhetorical question: “Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?” (Matt 7:16). Jesus’ question is more of a statement. He tells us that people know the difference between good and evil. People know where to …

Do You Not See Your Own Sin?

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How easy it is to judge others! How much more difficult is it to be honest with ourselves! In today’s Gospel we hear Jesus ask, yet again, another “pointed” question Matt 7:3-4. Jesus quickly points out that we fail to see our own sin. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye? We are so quick to point out the faults of others; to admonish the sinner, under the guise of a spiritual work of mercy. Yet, we fail to see our own sins; let alone do anything about them. Rather than looking to find fault with others, we need to look inward and take stock of our own sins. Judging others is God’s business and none of our business. Only God can judge others, because only He can read every human heart and know the true intention for one’s actions. Do you not see your own sin? If you want to judge someone, then the only …

My Last Day with My Dad - A Story of a Father's Love

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Today is a very difficult day for me. It was June 20, 1999, Father’s Day, that I had my last conversation with my dad. In 1999, my husband and I lived in Utah, and my dad lived in New Jersey. On June 11th of that year, he was taken to the hospital; diagnosed with emphysema, pneumonia and congestive heart failure.  Things didn’t look good. So, my husband and I flew home on June 12th. When we got to the hospital, and walked into the room, my dad was so happy to see me. He kept telling me repeatedly throughout that evening that he loved me. I consciously appreciated hearing the words, but I thought it odd as well, as my Father was never the gushy type. The words “I love you” were sparse throughout my life. Yet, by his actions, I always knew that he loved me. To hear him repeatedly state his love for me that evening turned out to be one of the greatest gifts given to me. My Last Day with My Dad The next day, my father couldn’t breathe on his own, so he was intubated. From that day on he …

Emily's Hope, by Ellen Gable - Book Review

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In Emily’s Hope, by Ellen Gable, Gable gives us a glimpse into the two mindsets of the abortion/pro-life movements. In this fictional tale, Gable introduces us to Katherine Clayman, circa early 20th century, when women did not have the right to an abortion, let alone the right to vote. We learn of the illegality of ending a pregnancy and the lengths women would go to do just that.  Kathryn is a proponent of ending unwanted pregnancies and she doesn’t believe in God. Her philosophy was, “we live our lives, then we die and that’s the end of us.” (p.304). Contrast that thought with that of Emily Greer, Katherine’s Great-Granddaughter, who believes in the sanctity of life. Emily, born in 1959, sees life as a precious gift from God. She believes in a God who is the giver of life; seeing children as the fruit of self-giving love between a husband and wife. Katherine and Emily’s viewpoints on life offer a stark contrast, worthy of the read. Throughout the novel, Gable takes us back and fort…

Feast of Saint Anthony of Padua

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Today is the Feast Day of my favorite saint, Saint Anthony of Padua, Italy. Although a Portuguese native, he died in Padua, Italy in 1231. His remains are buried at the Basilica of Saint Anthony, in Padua, Italy, which I had the good fortune to visit back in 2011. He was a Franciscan friar, who dedicated his life to serving the poor. He is one of my favorite saints because he acts as my role model, in giving self-sacrificing love to Jesus, by always being willing to do God’s will and God’s will alone. Oh, if I could be like Saint Anthony, I would be a far better person! Many acclaim Saint Anthony with being the patron saint of lost items. But, did you know that he is also known for his devotion to prayer, his knowledge of Scripture and as a theology scholar? He preached against heresies, bringing souls back to Christ. Also, he wrote theological sermons as well. Other kids may want to grow up to be like Mike (Michael Jordan), but I want to grow up to be like Saint Anthony of Padua! Sa…

Jesus Asks: Why Do You Call Me Good?

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In today’s Gospel, Jesus asks, why do you call me good (Mark 10:18)? In the Gospel reading, we hear the story of the rich young man who seeks information from Jesus about what is required to enter Heaven. The rich young man refers to Jesus as “Good Teacher.” It is an interesting, brief exchange between the rich young man and Jesus. The reference to the goodness of Jesus might easily be overlooked, when reading the passage, simply because Jesus gives a quick retort. “No one is good but God alone” (Mark 10:18). He then moves on to the gist of the story, that has nothing to do with His goodness. Yet, I find it to be a very intriguing question. The rich young man knew of Jesus’s work. That is why he approached Jesus in the first place. He must have had some personal experience to draw upon, and for that, chose to call Jesus good. With two thousand years of history, this question might be easier for us to answer in the 21st century, as hindsight is 20/20. We have the luxury of studying do…

Jesus Asks: “O faithless generation, how long will I be with you?”

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In today’s Gospel reading Jesus asks: “O faithless generation, how long will I be with you? How long will I endure you?(Mark 9:19). On face value, it seems like a couple of strange questions, coming from Jesus, given that He has promised to be with us always, even until the end of the age (Matt 28:20). To the average reader, this would seem like a contradiction. So, what exactly is Jesus saying when He asks these questions? “O faithless generation, how long will I be with you? Jesus never answers this question. He only poses it, as a rhetorical question, to a group of people gathered around Him seeking Jesus’ assistance in curing a young boy of seizures.  By His statement, He recognizes the weakness of human faith, as we are imperfect beings. We all have our doubts from time to time. His reaction is to cure the boy of seizures; to demonstrate to each of us that we can place our full faith and trust in Him. Therefore, He is calling us to be a faith-filled generation. How long will I e…

Are You Ready for the Holy Spirit? Pentecost is Upon Us!

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This Sunday, we celebrate Pentecost, the birth of Christ’s Church, when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles and confirmed them in the faith. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit graced them with the gifts of Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, and Awe. These gifts enabled them to go out and preach the Gospel. To be effective in fulfilling Christ’s mission, they needed: Wisdom, to know and aspire for the things of eternal lifeUnderstanding of the Divine truthsCounsel of the Holy Spirit, to know the ways of God, so that we may fulfill God’s planFortitude, to bear their own crosses and fate awaiting themKnowledge, to know God, as well as themselves; to grow in perfection and saintly waysPiety, to find honor in serving GodAwe, to be filled with reverence for God Get Ready to Receive the Gifts of the Holy Spirit We are just like that scraggly group of men who became the first leaders of Christ’s Church on earth. Read more...

Remain in My Love; Love One Another

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In today’s Gospel from John, we hear Our Lord command us, once again, to “love one another” (John 15:17). Jesus gives this directive, yet He leaves it up to our own free will to choose to love one another, for love is a choice. Love wouldn’t be love, if it were not given and received freely, for love is a gift. In this directive from Jesus, He is asking us to be generous with one another; to forgive, to be merciful, caring and compassionate with one another. He is asking us to treat others as He treats each of us; with a heart full of unconditional love! And when we do so, we remain in His love. When we love one another as Jesus loves us, we give back to Jesus His love, because Christ lives within each of us. That is how we remain in His love. The “Love One Another” Challenge I challenge you today, to step out of your comfort zone, and express Christ’s love to someone. Give the gift of your love, and as a result, show your unconditional love for Jesus. For example: ...Read more...

The Grace of Charity: A propeller, glue and a prod!

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Charity is known as the queen of all virtues. Therefore, it stands that the grace of Charity, bestowed upon us by God, is the fuel that propels us to do good, the glue that holds family and relationships together and the impetus for embracing all other virtue. We can do nothing truly good, without charity in our heart as the basis for action. Take for example this passage from Luke 21:1-4. When he looked up he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins. He said, ‘I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.’ Where the wealthy give from their surplus, most likely to receive esteem from their peers, the poor widow gives everything she has, for the love of God. Her act was a true act of charity; whereas, the wealthy’s intentions make their act one that has only the…

The Grace of Hope Fills Us with Aspirations and Encouragement

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The grace of Hope that God bestows upon us, is not a hope for things of this world, but a hope in everlasting life. It is with the grace of Hope that we can place our trust in Christ and His promises. With Hope, we do not rely upon ourselves, but rather on the workings of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Hope gives us aspirations, rather than desperations. With the grace of Hope, we aspire to be happy, even in times of trial. Especially during times of trial, we can find joy and hope, because of Christ and His promises of salvation. Hope gives us encouragement, rather than discouragement. With the Grace of Hope:We know that Christ is always with us, and He will never abandon us.Hope is a... Read more...

The Grace of Faith

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Faith is the bedrock of Christian living. Without a strong faith, we would easily lose our way. But, the grace of Faith guides us, and aides us in getting to know God intimately. It is through the grace of faith that we come to know God, our Father, Creator of all that is good. Faith is a gift from God, a supernatural virtue infused by him. ‘Before this faith can be exercised, man must have the grace of God to move and assist him; he must have the interior helps of the Holy Spirit, who moves the heart and converts it to God, who opens the eyes of the mind and makes it easy for all to accept and believe the truth.’1 The Grace of Faith leads us to God Faith, combined with the use of reason, leads us to determine what is true. So, rather than believing in “alternative facts,” we apply our faith, and use our reason, to determine objective truth. With the knowledge of objective truth, we choose to follow God’s way. We know this is the right thing to do because... Read more...

A Life Such as Heaven Intended - Book Review

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Let me take you back in time, to the early 1860’s, when the American Civil War was raging. There, we meet Brigid McGinnis, in Amanda Lauer’s A Life Such as Heaven Intended.  Brigid is 17, and coming of age, as a typical southern belle. However, rather than marrying, Brigid sees herself giving her life to God as a nun. That is, until one day, when Brigid finds a very handsome stranger, lying injured in her backyard. Charitable young thing that she is, Brigid tends to the injured soldier, who seems to have lost his memory because of a head injury. Together, she and the injured soldier try to make sense of what might have happened to him. As he recovers under Brigid’s care, love blossoms between the two. From the onset, Lauer takes us on a romantic journey of chaste love, valuing the virtue of chastity. In this second book in a series, we see the virtues of charity, compassion, honesty and love on full display. There are fascinating sub-plots addressing the horror of slavery, and the ba…

Thirsting for God, Daily Meditations by Mother Teresa

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In Thirsting for God, by Mother Teresa (in conjunction with her editor, Angelo D. Scolozzi, M.T.), we catch a glimpse of Mother Teresa’s insights, via 366 daily meditations. These meditations shed light on Mother Teresa’s call to bring souls to Christ; to satisfy Christ’s thirst for souls. She teaches us that by thirsting for God, we satisfy His thirst for each of us. A love given, a love returned, is what it means to thirst for souls; to thirst for God. Everything Mother Teresa teaches us, through her many quoted adages, comes down to loving God as He loves us. Mother Teresa drives home the message that we can show our love for God by loving our neighbor. It is through acts of kindness, forgiveness and mercy, that we express charity. She says it best in her meditation of March 12th: “Be kind and loving with each other, for you cannot love Christ in his distressing disguise if you cannot love Jesus in the hearts of your neighbors” (p.45). When we humble ourselves, we find truth and s…