Creating A Good Day

summer landscapeIf there’s one thing the world needs more of it’s joyful and faithful people. Yet, how often do we provide that kind of witness to the rest of the world? Sadly, it’s considered unusual when a person lives his or her Christian faith consistently in places like work and social activities. However, it shouldn’t be!

Sometimes, I think we set ourselves up to fail. We wake up in a bad mood, rush through the morning, curse our luck, and trudge through a job we either can’t stand or feel neutral about. Still, no matter our calling, we can share our faith through our deeds. And, we can find meaning in our lives, no matter how mundane. Remember Brother Lawrence? He lived his faith by washing the dishes!

Here are a few ways you can great a good day (and one that is joyful and faithful)

Begin and Continue With Prayer

Morning and Evening Prayer are the most popular types of prayer (and before food). And, the importance of starting and ending the day with prayer can’t be understated (as well as blessing our meals). But, it’s also important to continue in prayer throughout the entire day, especially if that day is a bad one. Pray for patience, love, and especially for those in your life who annoy you.

Make Time For Corporate Worship

If you can steal time for a morning or noon mass, then go for it. Be nourished by Christ through worship. If you don’t have time in your work schedule, then gather your family together for prayer in the evening.

While any type of prayer is valuable, gathering with other human beings is not only spiritually edifying, but also emotionally satisfying. Make an effort to add some type of corporate worship to your schedule everyday, not just on Sundays.

Immerse Yourself In Nature

St. Francis and other holy ones throughout church history have recognized the value of finding God while immersed in nature. Being outdoors is calming and conducive to prayer. Take a hike, walk at a bike path, take up kayaking. Find a way to get outdoors and be present with God in his creation. You’d be amazed how it will help you be more balanced, faithful, and joyful. Although you have to bundle up, being outside in the winter can be especially calming, quiet, and meditative.

God bless you on your Christian journey. Hopefully you can create a joyful, faithful, and good day each day of the year.

Attributes of God

holy trinity iconWhile it’s not necessarily related to the Church year, today I want to get a little theological. I’m going to list and discuss a few of the attributes of God. Keep in mind these are not complete, but general traits. They aren’t simply restricted to Catholic theology, but would apply to most other Christian groups (and even Judaism). With that in mind, here are the Christian attributes of God.

Omniscient

This means that God is all knowing. He knows the entire past, present, and future events. He knows our thoughts and feelings. He has complete knowledge of the very structure of the entire universe.

Omnipotent

God is all powerful. He is in complete control of the universe. While God gives room for freewill, he nonetheless makes sure all in the universe works together for his plan and his glory. There is nothing outside of the realm of possibility for God.

Omnipresent

This term refers to the fact that God is present everywhere. No matter where we are in the universe, God can be found. However, being omnipresent doesn’t mean God is everything or in everything.

Transcendent

God is above and beyond our understanding and our experience. We will never be able to fully understand his ways or fully connect to his divine majesty. In Christianity, God the Father is the person in the Trinity who represents God’s transcendence.

Immanent

Note the spelling. This term means that God is also present with humanity in a unique way. In other words, while awesome and fully unknowable, God reveals himself and reaches down to get to know us too. God the Son becoming human in Jesus is the immanent side of God in Christian teaching. The Holy Spirit is immanent as well.

Holy

God is perfect and just and has no sin within him. God’s total holiness is one reason for the Christian teaching of Jesus Christ as a mediator and sacrifice for sin. It’s also the basis for the Catholic doctrine of purgatory, which states that souls are cleansed of unholiness to be in God’s perfect presence.

So, hopefully you found this little primer on the attributes of God helpful. Once again, there are many more. But, this list includes most of the key attributes of God.

The Conversion of St. Paul: Taking Christianity to the World

St. Paul PreachingToday (January 25th) celebrates the conversion of St. Paul. A lot of Catholics and other Christians only know about Paul from his letters, whether through public reading or private devotion. I think most Christians really don’t know the impact Paul had on their faith and lives. It really is that huge.

Jesus, although he reached out to non-Jews (Gentiles) on many occasions, primarily tailored his message to a Jewish audience. He preached to Jews, taught about the Jewish law, and chose Jews among his closest followers. He had a plan to expand his message to the entire world. But, he chose his followers to proclaim it. One of those, and the most important, was St. Paul.

Paul preached the Gospel message to the Gentiles and, in the process, made it possible for large numbers of them to convert. He advocated against burdening Gentiles with following the entire Jewish Law. He was especially against circumcision for Gentiles.

Judaism required circumcision for its converts and didn’t have very many. Paul’s argument insured that Christianity would become a world religion, not just another Jewish sect.

So, next time you eat a ham sandwich or enjoy other freedoms in Christ, offer a prayer of thanksgiving for St. Paul. He made sure the universal message of Christianity stayed that way. Thanks to Paul, both through his tireless travels and his theology, Christianity became a worldwide religion.

Celebrating Ordinary Time

Statue of JesusNow that we’re in Ordinary Time, it’s essentially “back to normal.” We return to the color green, the hymns lack any unique emphasis, and the Scriptures are more cyclical than celebratory. In essence, we’ve been through Advent and Christmas and ordinary time can seem a tad, well, ordinary (note: I’m aware “ordinary” comes from the numbering pattern, but bear with my analogy).

In the Church, it’s actually possible to have a little post-celebration letdown. I am somewhat guilty of this as well. I always became excited during Advent and it continued through Christmas. Then, once Ordinary Time started, I began looking forward to Lent. However, this is a mistake. There’s actually a lot we can do to celebrate ordinary time and make it more exciting. Below are a few possibilities.

Celebrate the Saints

There are many feast days during ordinary time. It’s a good time to read up on the saints, ask for their intercession, and generally observe their life and their days. If they’ve left us written writings, maybe even read up some of their wisdom.

Find the Unique Themes

The different appointed prayers and Scripture readings at mass have some unique and fascinating themes. But, since there’s not an overarching theme (like waiting for Advent or penance for Lent), we can miss some of the smaller topics. Pay extra attention during mass and pick out the emphasis and then…

Live the Theme

Each week, focus on living that theme or emphasis throughout the week. Maybe it’s grace or gratitude. Whatever the focus, try to center your week around what you heard read and prayed during the Sunday mass. This will allow you to appreciate the richness of the entire Church Year, not just the larger topics like Advent and Lent. After all, lots of people have put a lot of time into developing these prayers and readings.

So, as we enter into Ordinary Time, I hope you can celebrate it. If you start digging deeper, you’ll find there doesn’t have to be anything ordinary about it.

Giving Thanks For The Kindness of Strangers

Woman sitting next to a childA few weeks ago I was traveling from my current hometown to parent’s house, which is an over two hundred mile trip. The weather was extremely nasty, with Hurricane Sandy’s wrath coming down all around me. About halfway through my trip, my windshield wipers went out as I was driving!

I was in a construction zone, so I quickly pulled off the side of what little road was left. I was near an exit at least, so I said a prayer and made a dart for the ramp. My windshield was totally covered and my visibility was zero by the time I arrived at a gas station. They had no mechanic. The same was the case for all of the gas stations. The exit was in the middle of the country with little civilization.

Since the nearest mechanic was ten miles away and the rain wasn’t supposed to stop for another four days, it was suggested that I try RainX to get me to my parents’ home. However, none of the places had that either! I sat in a McDonald’s having coffee and searching websites trying to fix wipers. But, they were beyond my repair.

I was starting to get discouraged because I had made big plans for that evening with my brother. But, they weren’t happening as I was stuck in that McDonald’s. Either I had to get my car towed and spend the night (or longer) or my parents would have to drive up and get me. There wasn’t a good solution.

Finally, after waiting around three hours, I decided to ask around to see if anyone had RainX. There was one lady who had a hunch and searched her entire car for me. She found a very old bottle. In spite of my efforts to pay her, she wouldn’t take any money. She gave me the bottle, wished me the best, and went on her way.

The wax was old and clumpy, but I applied it as best I could to my windshield then buffed it off. I drove down the country highway for a few minutes, making sure I could travel without the wipers. Sure enough, the RainX seemed to work.

I said several prayers and hit the highway. The ninety minutes back to my parents’ house was harrowing at moments, especially when I passed large trucks. But, I made it safely–and extremely late.

I tell this story to illustrate how one woman and her efforts made a huge impact on my life. It was just a very old bottle of RainX with no material value. But, it meant the world to me. And, her act meant even more. Her act was a great spiritual kindness that I will never forget.

Today and everyday going forward, vow to be a lifeline for others, even in the littlest ways. A small, but kind and loving gesture could have big impacts in ways you never even imagined.

Catholics and Voting

Polling Station signAs the United States elects most of its Congress and its President, I thought it would be useful to mention the Catholic Church’s official positions on voting, community and political involvement, and the responsibilities of voters.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of quotations, just some statements from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Please note: we are not taking sides or endorsing any candidate, just presenting official Church teaching. Taken from the Catechism of the Catholic Church #2238-2246 (click to read in its entirety).

It is the duty of citizens to contribute along with the civil authorities to the good of society in a spirit of truth, justice, solidarity, and freedom. The love and service of one’s country follow from the duty of gratitude and belong to the order of charity. Submission to legitimate authorities and service of the common good require citizens to fulfill their roles in the life of the political community.

Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes, to exercise the right to vote, and to defend one’s country…

Those who exercise authority should do so as a service. “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant.” The exercise of authority is measured morally in terms of its divine origin, its reasonable nature and its specific object. No one can command or establish what is contrary to the dignity of persons and the natural law.

The exercise of authority is meant to give outward expression to a just hierarchy of values in order to facilitate the exercise of freedom and responsibility by all…

Political authorities are obliged to respect the fundamental rights of the human person. They will dispense justice humanely by respecting the rights of everyone, especially of families and the disadvantaged.

The political rights attached to citizenship can and should be granted according to the requirements of the common good. They cannot be suspended by public authorities without legitimate and proportionate reasons. Political rights are meant to be exercised for the common good of the nation and the human community.

Please pray for the United States and its citizens as we make these important voting decisions.

Blessed All Souls Day!

woman crying at graveWe all have family members, friends, and others we know who have departed this life. They may have been faithful Catholics or other Christians, but nonetheless had their faults.

Although we believe in prayers for the souls of the dead, maybe we don’t always get around to actually doing it. Today is the day when we, as a Church, remember them.

Here a few practices you can do to remember the dead on All Souls Day:

Attend a Mass

Go to a daily mass and offer it up for your departed friends and relatives. You can also join your requests to the prayers of the worldwide Church.

Pray For the Souls of the Dead

November is actually the month of All Souls. So, not only is it a good practice to pray for the souls of the dead today, resolve to pray for them throughout the entire month of Novemebr.

Here is a list of All Souls Prayer Resources.

Visit A Cemetery

Even if you’re not Hispanic and interested in their Day of the Dead traditions, All Souls is a good day to visit the graves of your relatives, if anything to make sure everything is kept up and in good order.

Hopefully, you can have a meaningful All Souls Day. For more about the day, please visit our All Souls Day page. We leave you with the traditional prayer for the departed:

Eternal Rest grant unto them (him/her),O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them (him/her).
May they (he/she) rest in peace.

 

Happy Feast Day of All Saints!

Icon of All SaintsDo you have a grandma that everyone swore was a saint? What about that priest who lived a very holy life and helped you come to know God more intimately?

We all know those individuals (or have heard of them) who lived holy lives, but are nonetheless not officially honored officially by the Church. Today, All Saints Day (November 1) is their day.

In addition to those unknown saints, All Saints Day also celebrates those Saints who are known to and recognized by the Church. This includes those that we may not find on the general calendar even though they have been officially canonized.

Perhaps they are best known to a region, a town, or even a religious order. They receive honor and celebration in those contexts, but the average Catholic may  not even know about them. We honor them on All Saints Day too.

In addition to the obligatory mass, a good way to celebrate All Saints Day is to remember them in some way. You can pray a Litany of the Saints, find a devotion to someone more obscure, or read a little bit about some of the unfamiliar ones. Whatever you choose, we hope you have a happy and blessed All Saints Day.

For more information on the history and practices of the holiday, please visit our All Saints Day page.