Saturday, November 28, 2009

Good advice for "shaping your will" this Advent

As I was reading the following paragraph I was thinking how this advice is great as we are starting Advent and preparing for Lent. Start your spiritual exercise along with your physical exercise this Advent and Christmas season.

Keeping the will in shape requires self-discipline and self-governance. I wish there were a shortcut, but there isn’t. We have to discipline ourselves: use a budget; follow a personal schedule; go to bed at a reasonable hour so as to get up at a reasonable hour; eat and exercise healthily; keep our stuff (room, car, house, office, garage…) clean and in order; avoid over-indulgence in entertainment; do chores; don’t get distracted at work; avoid procrastination… Everything your mother taught you when you were growing up was steeped in wisdom. An ordered life is the backbone of a healthy will. This type of self-discipline, because it requires self-denial, can also be a fruitful source of penance. Sometimes we are attracted by exotic penances, like climbing the Holy Stairs on our knees. Nothing wrong with that. But the warp and woof of spiritual maturity are the quite unromantic realities of constancy and hidden sacrifice. These strengthen us, so that we can say yes to whatever our faith asks of us, no matter how wily our enemies get. Remember, it’s an ongoing thing – we will never be perfect at this here on earth; we will always be tweaking, adjusting, and recovering from bouts of disorder and laziness, but if the effort is constant, the fruits will be too. (emphasis mine)

Excerpt from Introduction to Spiritual Warfare – Part IV – Getting Down to Action

That's some good stuff, right?! I recommend reading the whole article, and the previous 3 articles about spiritual warfare, on the linked site as well. It's important information for our spiritual walk and growth.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Why do people find rules to be bad? We NEED them to guide our broken lives!

Is 'Dogma' a Dirty Word?
From Creative Minority Report blog

What's in your dogma? On what belief do all your other beliefs rest? What's that one belief from which all other beliefs and motives derive?

I heard about two weeks ago a man say in conversation that he's a Catholic but he doesn't believe in all the rules or "dogma" of the Church. (He even threw up the air quotes when he said the term.) He said he doesn't believe God is into rules. (I didn't ask him to explain the Ten Commandments as I wasn't part of the conversation.)

But I know that many people think that way. That's what's behind all the "I'm spiritual but not religious" thing. That means you don't believe there are any rules. That simplistic view, I fear, views rules as impediments to happiness. And they can work themselves into some kind of righteous indignation that somehow all the rules of Christianity interfere with real love which they, freed from rules, are now capable.

But the rules of Catholicism are not incomprehensible. They are the well thought out conclusions of thousands of years of study by the brightest and holiest among us guided by the Holy Spirit. Their thinking is available in the documents of the Church. And moreover, these rules were established for our happiness. These rules are the best thinking on love; real love.

Case in point. The rules against abortion are not a "You shall not!" they are a request to be open to life. The Church is asking all of us to say the great "yes" just as Mary did over 2,000 years ago.

Just as the Church's "rule" that men should be faithful to their wives shouldn't be seen as "No!" to millions of women. It is more properly viewed as a "Yes" to your wife.

The Church's rules on contraception are not meant to make sex less fun. The Church is not prudish about sex. Evidence of that is that many Catholics have lots of babies. The Church seeks to elevate sex into lovemaking which puts the other before the self. Because only when we free ourselves from our selfish desires are we capable of love. Truly love.

Just look at what our culture has done to sex. Our culture argues openly for the meaningless of sex. It's good because it feels good. That's it. But that worldview views humans as animals who simply act on a primal instinct. And what does that bring us? People treating each other as animals. As less than human.

And somehow that's supposed to bring us happiness?

It is the Church's dogma which protects humans from that worldview. But I think that ironically for most people today "dogma" is a dirty word. I wonder without the Church's teaching, what is their dogma? What lies at the bedrock of all their decision making?

I wonder if in the end it isn't immediate personal happiness that lies at the bedrock of those who resist "dogma?" Which would be ironic because the Church's dogma is made for our eternal happiness. And chasing our own selfish desires leaves people in our culture today looking inward which leads them only further into themselves, like a snake devouring its own tail, forming a perfect circle which doesn't allow anyone outside to enter.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Are you running from the Truth? Stop running!

When Pilate asked, “What have you done to get yourself in so much trouble?” Jesus answered, “I told the truth.” Now why would his telling the truth make so many people so angry and so fearful that they’d be willing to kill him to shut him up? Because deep down inside, where lies can’t live, they knew Jesus was right about them and about life. They knew that if they let his truth into their hearts, even for an instant, they’d have to change their lives from top to bottom. And they were afraid that that kind of change was just too much for them — afraid it would spoil what little happiness they’d been able to squeeze out of life.

They’d got it just backwards, because ironically, the lies we sell ourselves in our frightened search for happiness guarantee that we’ll always be sad. That’s because the lies that fear makes us live by always build up walls and cut us off from our best selves, from one another, and from the God who loves us.

Excerpt from the Catholic Exchange article "Are You Running from the Truth?"

I finally stopped running at 34 years old and it's the absolute BEST thing that ever happened to my life. I still have my crosses and burdens to carry but they have purpose and meaning now, which, though it sounds strange (I know!), equals freedom.

If you are ready to stop running and want to talk about it, feel free to contact me through my profile page. I assure you I can likely relate to whatever you are feeling and thinking!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday fun: Why Generation Y?

[hitting forehead with palm] Oooooohhh, THAT'S why they call them generation Y. [nodding head with complete understanding]