Giving: A Result of Gratitude

Having chosen by an act of will to be grateful for our many blessings and having chosen to pray for God to correct our emotions to bring them into line with the fact of our gratitude. We next should consider an appropriate response to this new attitude.  What action should we take?

I suggest we look at our blessings, note how we have enough, we have what we need, and can recognize how blessed we are in this. From here we should turn out eyes outward, to the news we hear and read, the Christian martyrs in Syria and surrounding areas, Christian women and children sold into slavery in the middle east, Parents forced to watch as their children are ordered to convert to Islam and then killed when they will not abandon Jesus, Christians in Africa facing persecution and death for their faith there, with their children kidnapped to be forcibly converted, killed, and sold into slavery, entire countries suffering the slow tortured death by Ebola.  It is a horrifying prospect!

We are so blessed here. Even with the economic hardships we face, even with the threats of disease and invasions due to open borders, even with the economic persecution of Christian businessmen here, we are still far better off than the Christians, our brothers and sisters, in much of the rest of the world.

We need to look at our blessings and ask how we ought to use them.  Could be buy cheaper coffee and donate to a food bank? Could we donate to Mercy Chefs who are trying to raise funds to ship water purification systems to the refugee camps in the middle east? Close to home or far away, there are needs that are only going to be met if we seek to go from mere gratitude for our good blessings, and move into a response of generosity towards others.  No one of us can do much, but the small bits grow to a huge amount there more of us do our little bits. We are grateful, we are praying, we need to ACT.

Dear Lord, help us to grow in our gratitude for the many blessings You have given to us, and help us from our place of enough, to recognize that others are less fortunate, and find a place to donate our little bit to help.  Please help me, and all of us, to explore expressing our gratitude by means of giving to others. Thank You Lord for helping us see and do right. +Amen.

Preparation for Spiritual Warfare: Gratitude

Preparation for Spiritual Warfare takes many shapes. Confession, aka Sacrament of Reconciliation, is always a good place to begin, but another very good beginning is GRATITUDE. An act of will is a good way to begin with any virtue and can be chosen even in the face of uncooperative emotions. Feelings are not fact!  It is not essential to FEEL a virtue to HAVE that virtue.  I’m grateful as an axiom. Still, I wanted to feel the emotion of gratitude, not just the fact of it.

Recently, we had a fire that cost a lot in lost equipment and there was no insurance because the increased cost of health insurance sucked up so much cash we were forced to drop some of the insurance on equipment that was in storage and presumably safe. Well, it wasn’t. But strangely, that huge monetary loss has resulted in a deeper emotional connection to my gratitude.

To my delight, I FEEL my cup running over.  I LOVE my new office. I love sharing the RV as our sleeping quarters. We have a roof that is sound. Enough food, a kitchen to cook it in, plenty of electricity to run everything, a working coffee pot and plenty of coffee (both decaf and regular!), we are all healthy, we are together, etc. In short, we have what we NEED. Everything we actually NEED is still ours. I feel grateful for how good we have it, and I use some of my leisure to pray more diligently for those who are suffering– I want them to have it good too.

So today, cultivate gratitude. Choose it as an act of will, and make sure you know in your own mind the list of your blessings no matter how your emotions feel. Make gratitude a fact, then ask God to do whatever He needs to do to bring your emotions into proper order with the fact that you choose gratitude.

Dear Lord, thank You for the many blessings in our lives. Please help us make an act of will to choose to be grateful no matter how we feel. Please do the work in our emotions so they come into line with the fact that we are grateful. +Amen.

Prayer Warrior 101

Scripture is clear that our enemies are not the people whom we see before us but the principalities and powers in the spiritual realm who are driving the evil being done by our obvious human enemies. History is full of endless rounds of futile violence that generally cycles back around years after it seems to have all been settled. WHY? Because of sin of course. We all KNOW this if we know anything about our faith, but it is so basic, so obvious, that most of us give it no thought at all. Yet, that sin is the hook that allows those principalities and powers to influence human behavior.

You see, no demon can do much with you if your free will is properly ordered to the things of God.

Which is why doing an examination of conscience every night before bed is such a good practice. Note where your actions that day did not reflect Christ. Repent, and ask God to forgive you and help you grow in whatever virtues are needed for you to avoid repeating that sin. Commit to going to confession.

Catholics have the added spiritual powerhouse of taking their sins to God in the confessional.  There is a grounding that comes from having to NAME your sin, in front of a witness who represents Christ, and the freedom that comes with the words of absolution.

We human beings are really good at rationalizing our sins. It takes humility to name those sins to another person. It is very difficult to rationalize that some sin isn’t so bad when you have to speak it out loud during the Sacrament of Reconciliation (aka Confession). Naming the sin is an exercise in humility.

What is also good is the priest cannot be forced to divulge your sins because he has taken vows. I suppose under torture the poor man might be broken, but even then far more will choose to die for Christ than to betray the trust He placed on them than ever could be made to talk.

Dear Lord, bless all the Priests who serve you each day. Please strengthen their guardian angels and grant them Your protection and much grace. Thank You Lord for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and please encourage all the faithful to go more often to confession and to grow in heroic virtue. +Amen.

Fighting like a Christian

Christians alive today are part of the Church Militant. The secular world thinks of violence when they think of militant things. But the secular world is limited in its thoughts to the would of the visible and material. Church Militant is all about spiritual warfare. Spiritual Warfare is about prayer and growing in heroic virtue. I speak of course of the vocational goal of becoming a SAINT.

So I see darkness rising, what am I to do? As a Christian, I step up my prayers. I make an effort to pray more diligently for the leaders of our Church, for the elected and unelected persons running our government, for my family and those whose lives touch mine on a daily basis. It is the diligent and determined practice of prayer that makes the prayer warrior.

We are to pray for our enemies not just our friends.  We must pray that the principalities and powers that fuel the works of evil are cast back into hell, and that the people who are doing the work of evil will be stopped and hopefully converted to good.

Christians wake and take your Bible in hand, turn to a psalm and pray it out loud today, add prayers for the grace of final perseverance in those who are being martyred for the Faith, pray for the conversion of the enemies of Christ, and then round it out with the Lord’s Prayer.

Dear Lord, thank You for every person who prays that Your Kingdom come and Your Will be done. Please help those who seek Your will to grow in virtues pleasing to You. Protect our families and those people in the Church and in the government who do Your will. +Amen.

When the Dark Comes Rising…

“Right now I have a sense of growing evil that has me both a little shaken and increasingly combative. I am taking some steps in my own life in the face of what I see on the horizon. I suggest that you do to. As part of that preparation… GO TO CONFESSION.”– Fr. Z’s Blog

I’ve been feeling this for a number of years now, growing stronger over time. At first, it would only be short waves of evil, easily over-looked, but in the past year the sense has been intense and almost over-whelming. I’ve stepped up my efforts with my daily Rosary, scripture reading, and prayer. I am nearly a weekly visitor to confession. I see it and Mass as essentials that are even more vital now.

What has changed in the last few months, and calming my anxiety over the growing evil, is an accompanying awareness that there are others standing against the growing evil. It brings to mind a verse from a rather pagan little story I enjoyed as a youngster, “When the Dark comes rising, six shall turn it back, Three from the circle, Three from the track…”[by Susan Cooper, The Dark Is Rising series].  I wonder at how appropriate is the metaphor (not a literal six– after all this is a kids story and not prophecy!) and I am looking for those who are already in place to turn the evil back and wondering from where are they coming?

The line of poetry reminds me that God always knows what is coming, and the changes that are needed are already to launch. Do you know if you are part of that? I think if you want to be you can be.  Joining in is as easy as getting right with God in Confession, picking up a Rosary, and partaking of the Sacraments diligently and reverently. It is already there in the Our Father. “Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will be done on Earth…” Maybe we just need to mean it.

Anyway, those are my thoughts.

Our Father, Who art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name, Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will be done on Earth and it is in Heaven, give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil. +Amen.

One Mom’s Search for Kindergarten Social Activities

What a difficult decision! I want more good adult influences on my Kindergartener, and reinforcement of her Catholicism. The main groups suggested by other home school moms are Girl Scouts (GS), American Heritage Girls (AHG), and the Little Flowers.  The last has no group here. Leaving Girl Scouts and American Heritage Girls as the sole options at this time.

Girl Scouting, at the national level, holds many positions and alliances with which I do not agree. I will leave the listing of them up to other persons. On the up side, the local troop is run by Catholic Moms, meets weekly at a Catholic school, meetings are well organized, the noise level is managed, and the first part of every meeting is a lesson on a Saint or on the Rosary!  The good order and resulting calm made it possible for my daughter to connect with other girls and have a nice play time at the end of the meeting while the moms talked. So at the local level, the Girl Scout troop has the edge in being a better atmosphere and Catholic.

American Heritage Girls is focused from the national level down to the local on being Christian and supporting the moral and ethical ideals of our Constitution and Christianity. However, the organization is non-Catholic, and in some locations the local troops are run by persons who are viciously anti-Catholic. Our local AHG seems to be inclusive. It meets every other week. Whole families attend with the boys team going one way and the girls troop going the other. The facility is spacious, but the noise levels are unpleasant, the chaos makes making friends more difficult than it needs to be, and our being Catholic could cause some families to steer clear.  Nice people, but I am not sure the atmosphere is good for my girl.

I like the adults in both groups.  So for this year, at least for the first semester, we joined both. I don’t know where it will go, but it is an experiment worth having now.

Dear Lord, please help me be wise in my choices of social groups for my child. +Amen.

 

Rosary with Gratitude

The Rosary is the most amazingly versatile prayer ever. Yesterday I prayed the Glorious mysteries twice, once on my own after Reconciliation and once with the congregation before Mass, so this lovely morning I did not wish to repeat the same set of Mysteries yet again. So I chose the Luminous Mysteries and made my focus on each those Sacraments  and sacramentals reflected in them and how grateful I am that the Sacraments were given to us through the Church.

Baptism of the Lord

I cannot pray this mystery without thinking about how odd it used to seem that Jesus, who is sinless, had to be Baptized like any of us sinners. Not long ago it suddenly hit me out of the blue, and I am certain my readers knew this before me but I am slow at times, that Jesus was Baptized because that was His way of blessing all the waters of the world for their future use in the Sacrament. He who is perfect was Baptized to make effective the Sacrament of Baptism for the rest of us. The gratitude wells up in me and I say Thank You, before I begin the decade.

Wedding at Cana

This mystery is about a wedding that ran out of wine so Jesus made a LOT of wine happen. He did it because His Mother asked Him to do something. Jesus both teaches us about the effectiveness of His mother’s intercession and gives her a voice to show us how she would have us act. “Do Whatever HE Tells You To Do” and that is all she said! He also brings a blessing to the wedding itself, and points us to the importance of the Sacrament of Marriage. His first miracle is for the sake of a marriage. And again, gratitude wells up and I say, Thank You, before I begin the decade.

Public Ministry of Jesus

This wonderful mystery covers a LOT of ground. In His miracles, Jesus sometimes uses very physical things, like MUD, to bring about the miraculous healing. He sends others to the authority of the Priests to have their healing confirmed. I see in these miracles a blessing of medicine and of the Church’s use of physical things like oil, and Holy Water, and other sacramentals. Jesus used physical things, so we do too. I find myself filled with gratitude and I say Thank You, for doctors and other medical experts, and for the sacramentals, and for the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.

Transfiguration

What a cool mystery! Jesus, with two of His favorite disciples, goes up on the mountain and His Glorified self is made visible to them and they see Him conversing with Elijah and Moses. Jesus, who is the fulfillment of Prophesy and the Law. Jesus who fulfilled the Old Covenant, that is, He completed it and established His own, New Covenant. Jesus who makes our salvation under the New Covenant possible. Of course, the two disciples were clueless at this point, and very impressed, but they weren’t to comprehend all this until much later. We are so fortunate to be on this side of the Resurrection so I say, Thank You for fulfilling the Old and establishing the New.

Last Supper, First Eucharist

OH this one is so amazing. Imagine being in the upper room on the night Jesus established the central Sacrament of the Mass! Eucharist, with the bread and wine as the Old Testament Priest, Melchiezedek, did, Jesus sets the groundwork. And there was even the first to receive unworthily. Poor Judas, I feel so sorry for him. I am grateful for the Sacrament of the Eucharist, and say Thank You before beginning this last Luminous Mystery.

Dear Lord, thank You for all the lessons we can receive while praying the Rosary and thank You for the Rosary. Please inspire all Christians to participate in prayer every day. +Amen.

Praying the Rosary

Who among Catholics is not familiar with this beautiful devotion? Who has not prayed at least some small part of it? If you prefer the traditional 15 mysteries, pray them! If you love the inclusion of the Luminous Mysteries, bring them in and do them! What is important, is to pray.

The Rosary is for me a deeply meaningful meditation on the Gospels. So I follow the schema of Saint John Paul the Great and pray the Glorious Mysteries on Sundays and Wednesdays, the Joyful Mysteries on Mondays and Saturdays, the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesdays and Fridays, and the Luminous Mysteries on Thursday. Every part of the Rosary is meant to focus us on the life of Jesus and to get us praying.

The most essential thing is not if you like and include the Luminous Mysteries or if you dislike and do not include the Luminous Mysteries, the most essential thing is to pray the Rosary. The Luminous Mysteries are optional, not obligatory. Just as the use of the Rosary, wonderful as it is and recommended as it is, is also optional not obligatory. The Rosary is a healthful spiritual practice, so Traditional only or including the Luminous, it is a blessing to you when you pray it.

Dear Lord, please help us all to realize that what is essential is meditating on the Gospels and Praying. Please help us to enjoy the Rosary in either form and refrain from fussing at those who choose the other way. +Amen

Durability In Children

Small children are durable. Perhaps not all small children, but certainly mine are very durable. They run full tilt, fall flat on their faces in the gravel, and if you compliment the speed they attained before the fall, they pop back up with a smile and take off again without any notice of the scratches on their knees.

I am an older mom. I take these spills with what is apparently a degree of calm that shocks other people. I see persons leap up to rescue the poor fallen waif, when all I see is a perfectly normal learning experience. It is not that I do not care, I do very much.

I care that my children learn to get up from a fall, assess the positives and keep going. I care that they discover for themselves that most failures are merely opportunities to pause and see that they are OK. Soon the new speed is mastered and another risk is attempted.

I teach them, even when they are hurt enough to cry, that they can still assess. Yes, it hurts, you took an impressive spill, and you are still here. You are standing, the scratches will heal, and you have neither broken bones nor gushing woulds and you ALMOST had it. A fall signals an almost success.

Do I step in and stop them? Sometimes, when I see them attempting something beyond their readiness, I will hop over and lift them down and tell them not until they are bigger. Meanwhile, as they gain skills, I am less bothered by climbing, but might ask them to get down, and watch that they are handling it well. Their ability to master their bodies is amazing.

Other times I point out that while they are successful at what they are doing, the price for an error is very high and they should look for that unneeded danger and alter their play accordingly. Jumping from a bottom step is good, if the path forward is clear, but jumping from that same step toward a table with a metal edge is just asking to knock out teeth.  They take note and I see them at later times assessing other play for similar dangers.

We do no favors when we get too excited over a child taking a spill. Children are durable in most cases and need those spills to grow. Teaching them how to respond to spills now will help them later respond well to failures.

Being there for them is important for those times when they manage to get stuck.  Those times are a chance to teach them more about how to extricate themselves without panicking and the next level of learning will commence.

Dear Lord, please help my children to avoid injury as they develop their ability to master their environment. Thank you that they are so healthy and durable that I can be calm and let them learn. +Amen.

Home School Our Way: So we begin!

Starting to do daily home schooling. I am taking advantage of the ipad and some apps that build skills that will translate to handwriting. I can see that the younger set want a turn with the fun educational programs. That is good, will give them a turn later.

The main goal at the moment is to gently build a habit of schoolwork in the mornings. I will be pulling out the curriculum bit by bit and we will be using the workbooks in the various subjects. Right now, the preliminaries are being honed so that the math and language arts will not overwhelm.

Today we played Bugs and Buttons 2 (I forget the company, but their games are wonderfully fun), and Fish School by Duck Duck Moose. Basic, but also fun.  These hold the attention of the 4 yr old, and are challenging enough to gently push skills to develop.

Some children are ready for workbooks sooner than others. Mine are very much movement and action based learners. This has been a challenge for me because I love workbooks. I also like the wide open exploration. The workbooks provide structure and a clearly understandable record of material covered. Grade level is good enough.

The real learning, or deeper learning, is in the free exploration of the world, reading fun books about interesting parts of the world, and plenty of time to play and discuss discoveries. All this is much more difficult to record, so I think I shall merely blog on it and let the traditional workbooks sit as my written record that we are indeed covering the required subjects. My goal is self motivated learners who whip through their grade level work books and jump into their own chosen studies.

Later I will use the need to record the more open learning to teach them various forms of writing.  They will create their own unit studies as a means of recording their explorations of subjects.  That is a ways off right now.  Right now, colors, shapes, basic numbers, fine motor skills, pattern recognition, and many other basics are needed.

So the adventure begins. Wheee!

Dear Lord, please bless our home school. Please give me wisdom as I plan and provide my children’s educations. Please give them patience and diligence in their work. Thank You for this amazing journey. +Amen.