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Posts Tagged ‘pray’

By: Erin Healy

Today as I leave work and venture home to cook dinner, many Iraqi Christians will lie in fear, starved of food and water. Tonight, as I brush my teeth, wash my face, and snuggle under my covers, Iraqi Muslim minorities and non-Muslims will awake from another uneasy night, wondering, I’m sure, if it might have been their last.

Iraqi Christian WomenGenocide is taking place 6,200 miles away and many (myself included) are left feeling helpless. We can temporarily change our Facebook profile picture, repost the horrific media reports, and support our government’s decision to deploy airstrikes and aid. But at the end of the day, this tragedy does not have an immediate human solution. In these moments, as we should with all things, we must turn to the Divine.

As we pray and fast for the safety of our Christian brothers and sisters, and all those suffering persecution in Iraq, we must also remember to ask that God’s mercy be shown to their aggressors and all those who seek to destroy human life. In the Gospel of Matthew, we are reminded of the words of Our Lord: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.”

St. Therese of Lisieux, a great saint and Doctor of the Church, modeled this commandment at a young age. Upon hearing of the infamous French serial killer, Henri Pranzini, who was to be guillotined, she began to courageously pray for his conversion. The morning following his death, the paper reported that just moments before his execution, Pranzini grasped the crucifix held before him and kissed the wounds of Christ three times.

Following the words of Our Lord, let us not lose heart in tragedy, but take our prayers and sacrifices to Him, confident in His faithfulness and infinite mercy.

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By: Erin Kisley

According to the Oxford Dictionary, “advice” is defined as guidance or recommendations concerning prudent future action, typically given by someone regarded as knowledgeable or authoritative.

erin and joe 4

It’s actually kind of amusing, but when you become engaged (or have a child, I imagine), knowledgeable and authoritative individuals pop out of the woodwork. Suddenly, everyone who’s attended a wedding is doling out advice like participation awards in tee ball.

For those bride-to-be’s among us with a touch of pride, the temptation is to be secretly (or visibly) irritated and offended. And, I get it. This is your wedding. But, here’s my advice: Take a deep breath, smile and thank whoever is thoughtful and concerned enough to give you their time and attention. When you feel the urge to start tearing through downtown Arlington like King Kong, make an effort to remember that it’s all coming from a place of love. I know, easier said than done.

Truthfully, I have received (and continue to receive) a lot of quality advice…some of which I wish that I had listened to! Although, I have noticed that the bulk of it has more to do with our wedding and less to do with our impending marriage. In this time of transition and busyness, it’s easy to forget that there is much more to the ‘I do’ than the hydrangeas and the buttercream frosting.

So, for those who have years (or months) of wisdom to share, I would like advice that won’t expire on June 27, 2014: Guide me about how to pray with my spouse and with my (future) children. Recommend a Catholic book on womanhood. Tell me about your experience with Natural Family Planning. Help me to understand what being a loving, respectful and submissive wife actually looks like in the day-to-day. You can’t find that on theknot.com; I know, I tried.

I’m not trying to downplay the practical wedding planning tips; they are so useful! But, on behalf of all brides-to-be, offer us the advice you wish someone had offered to you.

This is the tenth installment of Erin’s weekly Wednesday series on marriage preparation and its inherent struggles. An engaged woman at the humble age of 26, Erin hopes her experience will encourage and teach. Her final posts will culminate in the event that marks the purpose of it all—taking her wedding vows and tying the knot on June 27, 2014.

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By: Rev. Paul Scalia

One fundamental dimension of holiness is otherness.  We find it perfectly in the transcendent God, Who does not lose His otherness even in drawing close. We who are called to be holy because He is holy (cf. 1 Pt 1:15-16) must approximate this otherness in our lives. Which is precisely where we draw back and hesitate about holiness. No, we do not want to be at odds with God…but neither do we want to be other. We do not want to be odd or weird or apart from the crowd.  We desire togetherness, not otherness.

00-james-jacques-joseph-tissot-the-pharisee-and-the-publican-1894But all this is to misunderstand otherness, as so many have done throughout history. The Pharisees — whose very name means “the separated ones” — founded their holiness on not being like other men (cf. Lk 18:12). As we heard last Sunday, our holiness must surpass theirs (cf. Mt 5:20) — that is, be of a different, nobler kind. If we take seriously the Gospel imperative to holiness (admittedly, a big “if”), we must understand this dimension of otherness.

To be other means to be rooted in and to draw life from the One Who is Other. God alone is the Holy One. We, in drawing every bit of our life from Him (or, rather, being aware that we already do), attach ourselves to His holiness. We become other because who we are and what we do does not come from this world. It comes from the Other and is going to Him. Thus Saint Paul exhorts the Romans, “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Rom 12:2). This is not a hatred of the world so much as a recognition that the Christian draws his life breath from beyond this world — that he allows all his thoughts, desires, words, and actions to be determined not by any worldly standard but by Him Who is Other.

Only with this in mind can we then grasp the negative component: that we must separate ourselves from what keeps us from God.  And that means, first and foremost, ourselves.

Only with this in mind can we then grasp the negative component: that we must separate ourselves from what keeps us from God. And that means, first and foremost, ourselves. We must sever ourselves from the worldly, rebellious part of us — the “old man” (cf. Rm 6:6). “If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” (Lk 14:26). What keeps us from God most of all is our own self-centeredness. To be other we need to reject our own way of thinking, speaking, and acting — and adopt His. 

Only after self-denial do we look to separating ourselves from the world.  To be other means that we do not shape our lives according to the world’s lust, vanity and pride (cf. 1 Jn 2:16). We will not be holy if we allow the world to shape how we think, speak and act. Nor will we be any good for the world. Which brings us to another point… 

398px-Transfiguration_Raphael“Other” does not mean aloof. One of the greatest mistakes is to think that the more we are distant and disconnected from things, the holier we are.  …As if sanctity can be defined simply by what it is not. Certainly the world proffers many evil things that infect our souls. Too many Catholics have neglected that truth. Thus Mother Church speaks of a “withdrawal” from the world. But the Catholic instinct has never been to barricade ourselves from the world. Our Lord is clear that we are to engage and evangelize the world, which we cannot do from a bunker. Even the most remote hermit withdraws from the world not to escape but to be with Being Himself and from that vantage point to pray for the world. As Jesus prayed for all His followers at the Last Supper: “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not pray that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from the evil one” (Jn 17:14-15). Or, in a rephrasing of the old saw, We are not to be of the world, but in it.

We are not to be of the world, but in it.

Indeed, the otherness of a Christian — because it roots him more deeply in God Himself — enables him to draw close to each person. Because who is closer to all than God Himself? Mother Teresa’s mysticism did not make her less concerned for others. Padre Pio, while occupying the heights of holiness, was amazingly attentive to those he encountered. More to the point, it was because of their otherness, not despite it, that such saints loved their neighbors so concretely. It is a mark of the saints that in becoming other they were able to be more attentive to others.

It is a mark of the saints that in becoming other they were able to be more attentive to others.

“Other” does not mean odd. Certainly, the Communion of Saints has some eccentric members. But whatever quirkiness some may have possessed was not essential to their holiness.  We worry perhaps that the more we give to the Lord, the odder we will become. Of course, the world may indeed consider us “odd.” But that should disturb us only if the world as it is constitutes what is normal. Nevertheless, otherness does not require oddness. From the first Christians sought to live holiness — as our Lord did — in the midst of the world, as men and women who live, work, play, laugh and cry in the midst of everyone else…but with hearts set on heaven.

Ultimately, it is the otherness of Jesus Christ Who, in becoming one of us, did not lose what makes Him distinct from us. Indeed, He became one with us precisely so that He could communicate and bestow upon us what makes Him other. If He were not one of us, He could not enrich us. If He were not other, He would have nothing with which to enrich us.  So we Christians ought to enrich others with our presence…but always bringing that Otherness that truly enriches.

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I don’t know if you’ve signed up to read the entire Catechism in a year (a daily dose delivered by email), but I am woefully behind. I should be setting time aside daily, but it hasn’t really happened, so I often find myself catching up and reading four or five sections at a time. This morning, in one of these catch-up sessions, I read a section on faith (articles 153-159), which perfectly corresponded to a conversation I was engaged in over the weekend.

In a nutshell, I was discussing with a friend whether any faith traditions were valid; if they all were; or if they were all fake. From her (agnostic) perspective, religions are merely methods people used to make themselves happy on earth, but aren’t actually based in reality. I argued that my faith was real (not just an excuse to give structure to my life), and that reason could show that the universe was created. What she said that I couldn’t prove with reason alone – and she was right – is that God (a Catholic God) was real and present in my life.

I can’t prove God’s presence to her by reason alone because it is faith that allows me to know, love and serve God. Yet somehow to unbelievers, to say “I believe” is not enough. Sadly, too many people think that faith is neither credible nor reasonable.

The Catechism section I read this morning, however, reminded me of several very helpful things about how faith is real, how it builds on reason and how it is, in fact, reasonable. It says:

 

  1. Faith is a Gift: I cannot just argue someone into believing in God. The Catechism says, “Faith is a gift of God, a supernatural virtue infused by him.”
  2. Trusting in God is a free, human act: People who have faith have not given up their freedom. Rather, they have chosen to accept this gift from God and believe in Christ. The Catechism says, “Trusting in God and cleaving to the truths he has revealed is contrary neither to human freedom nor to human reason”
  3. While one cannot reach Faith by reason alone, we have proofs that Faith is reasonable: Revelation that we have seen in our own lives and throughout Church history allows us to even more reasonably claim our faith. The Catechism says, “The miracles of Christ and the saints, prophecies, the Church’s growth and holiness, and her fruitfulness and stability ‘are the most certain signs of divine Revelation, adapted to the intelligence of all’; they are ‘motives of credibility’ (motiva credibilitatis), which show that the assent of faith is ‘by no means a blind impulse of the mind’.”
  4. Faith is a certainty: There can be no doubt in the tenets of faith once we have faith because, as the Catechism says, God cannot lie.
  5. Faith seeks understanding: Faith implies a love of God. When we love someone, we naturally seek to know him or her more. The Catechism explains that this is a cycle of growth: out of faith, we seek to know more about God, and as we learn more about Him, we grow even more in our faith.
  6. Faith and Science will never contradict each other: God created the world and therefore created science. True scientific discoveries will not contradict the faith, and faith will not contradict science. The Catechism says that science “can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God.”

 

Too often, I am swayed by our agnostic culture into somehow forgetting that faith is the most reasonable position we can possibly hold: believing in God Who created me, Who sent His Son to save me and Who demonstrates His love for me time and time again.

 

During this Year of Faith: Lord, increase my faith.

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