8.31.2007

Classes Are In Session -- Watch For Children


The school bells are ringing once again. The laughter and shouts of children are filling the air. The Summer is quickly coming to an end. It is hard to believe.

Today, I want to focus on children and our task of looking out for their well-being. You have seen the title of this post before as bumper stickers and on highway billboards urging us to be cautious because children are around us. Isn't that funny? Children are around us each day and yet we go out of our way to be more aware of their presence when the summer months are coming to a close.

When the hot months occur that is when we should be most concerned with our children since they are in our view more often. They watch us -- at the mall, in the parks, at home and in church. And yet, we are told that when the classes are in session and they fill the seats of desks we should be more in tuned to them. Funny, strange, weird, huh?

As adults, we should be continuously strive to be living out our sainthood. We are examples to the younger set. We should be watching ourselves, our actions and words, daily. There are teachers, not just those in the classroom, that can change the world.

According to the Catholic Church, the fruitfulness of conjugal love extends to the fruits of the moral, spiritual, and supernatural life that parents hand on to their children by education. Parents are the principal and first educators of their children. In this sense the fundamental task of marriage and family is to be at the service of life. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1653.

So according to the Church,

CLASSES ARE IN SESSION (EVERYDAY) -- WATCH FOR CHILDREN (AND YOURSELF).

8.27.2007

Faith-filled Optimism

Let’s face it, we all get depressed at times, it is part of being human. However, as with all things, when it becomes excessive, depression characterized by dramatic mood swings, loss of interest in things one used to do and becoming lethargic is very detrimental to our overall health. In recent years, I have heard depression in the confessional many times.

Unfortunately, those of us who do suffer from this ailment and have been diagnosed as being clinically depressed, question the reason for living. Some might ask, "Is there hope?" Yes, there is. It is summed up in one word; FAITH. And what is Faith?

Well, according to Hebrews; "It is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not yet seen"(11.1), in layman's terms, it is believing in what you can't necessarily see, feel or touch, but knowing that it is there and will be beneficial for you.

Remember when you may have fallen of your bike as a kid and after your mom nursed the bruise she tells you "let me kiss it so the pain goes away..."? Well as adults, we know that didn't necessarily make the hurting stop...per se, but in being told that, as kids we automatically believed "Well, if mommy says it'll go away by kissing it, then I believe it will...” The trick is the second part of that thought is what made it happen! Believing that what mom said she'd bring about will happen!

Evidently, kids in their innocence come by a natural ability to live by faith. We all were graced with this gift at our birth, but sadly the it dissipates, leaving room for such negative forces as depression, doubt, self-hatred, you name it.

It's no wonder Jesus said "To enter the Kingdom of heaven, you must be like little children..." He went on to say: "The kingdom of Heaven is within you" (Luke 17:20-21) Wow...what a statement! Now as powerful as faith is and as necessary as it is to overcoming depression, it needs to be exercised wisely to be strengthened.

Here are some tips:
1. Always act like it is impossible to fail, believe that it always works.
2. Pre-condition your mind to success in all things.
3. Realize that even the most positive people have losses, set-backs, etc.
4. Try, really try! Think, really think! Believe, really believe!
5. Perhaps most importantly, some things are are too much to bear alone and sound medical advice and counsel are always aids to a healthy you. (Please check Comment below from Tiber Jumper)

You are what you are and will be where you want to be based on your thoughts. Admittedly, it may not always be easy, but that is what life is all about and one comforting fact is God has promised in His word: “No temptation (problem) has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted (tested) beyond what you are able, but with the temptation (problem) will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Think on that, strengthen your faith with the tips above and you too will soon be overcoming depression.

8.23.2007

Good Sportsmanship: Not Just For Players

The season is about to turn and the practices have already started. The Fall sports schedules are completed and the games are ready to go. The athletes are preparing and the coaches are planning strategies. However, there is something to the phrase, "Winning isn't everything."

What is it that drives some people so far to that place where they feel that losing is bad? I have never been an athlete. My interest in sports is dismal. So I am sure that someone can call my placing this post "out of bounds", but the truth is that I have witnessed many, many situations in which people have lost control of their senses because of the possibility of not winning. The worst offenders are not the players, but rather the coaches and parents.

When I was in high school ministry, I tried to attend several games of the students to show my support for them. In the prayer before the games I never ask God to give them the win, but rather to keep them safe and provide the players with enjoyment. Sitting on the side-lines or in the bleachers, I remember so many occasions when parents lost their tempers at the refs for "bad calls" or at the coach for "not using my kid". Sometimes I would even see the players cringe at the sight of their parent's unruly behaviors or be brought to tears because they did not meet their coach's expectations.

It seems to me that when these things happen we lose sight of the real meaning of the sport. St. Paul tells us that we are to "run the race so as to win". That is correct. But, whenever there are several competitors, there is only one winner. Someone has to lose. How we handle loss is up to the individual. To sulk, snub, or lash out are characteristics of a real loser. One can never be a winner that way.

Keeping the Rules of Good Sportsmanship make us winners always, especially in the eyes of our Father.
Play Fair
Play the Best for Self/Team
Take the Results Well

8.15.2007

Bless Me Father, For I Have Sinned

Reconciliation.... yes, that Sacrament with which many Catholics have a problem. I understand, completely. When I was in high school, college and even after entering the seminary (I am ashamed to say) I did not go to confession. Why? Well, the answer at the time seemed so logical to me -- now it just shows my ignorance.

The reason: I knew I was not a bad person, there wasn't anything that concerned me that much to cause me to avail myself to the opportunity. I hated the sacrament when I was a child, being marched over to the parish church for confession with my classmates, forced into a line of the priest I didn't want to hear my confession, then feeling obligated to make up sins so that I was considered a normal kid.

It wasn't until I got to seminary and had the class on the Sacrament of Reconciliation that my perspective changed. The problem I encountered was looking at my sin as personal. I failed to see the communitarian aspect of sin. Remember our first parents Adam and Eve and their refusal to live in God's love. Because of them, we inherited original sin. As their descendants, we need Baptism to bring us back to the existence we were to occupy from the beginning.

If we remained in that pure post-baptismal state, if we were not tempted, if we were not giving into sin, we would not need the Sacrament of Reconciliation. But we do sin and we need the forgiveness of the Lord. Each sin I commit, I hurt a relationship. The relationship can be with God, another or myself. God created us to be a community. Every time one of us sins we remove humanity from our rightful inheritance. Am I my brother's keeper? What do you think?

8.10.2007

The Liturgy of the Hours

When one hears the term "Liturgy of the Hours", the thought of a priest praying at morning, noon, afternoon, evening, and night comes to mind. However, since Vatican II the Church has tried to bring the praying of the Hours to the entire faithful. It is the prayer of the Church, for the Church.
In days past it was common to see a priest walking around dressed in cassock and biretta with Breviary in hand. However, in the modern world in which we live today, the many demands upon the normal parish priest have escalated so much that he is now a CEO of the parish, as well as the minister of sacraments. (But that is a topic for another time.)
As was the Jewish practice of reciting prayers to God at specific times of the day, the early Christian church founders kept the tradition for the harmony in the life of Christian converts. As time went on the practice of the faithful praying the Hours, fell to the side. The priests, however, vowed at ordination to keep the Hours as a rule. The Liturgy of the Hours consists of psalms, prayers, canticles, readings and antiphons.
If you have never prayed the Liturgy of Hours I have posted a link on the top of the right column. When clicked it will take you to Universalis.com once there look for Office of Readings, then next to that choose either Morning, Evening or Night Prayer. It is great to know that in this technologically advanced age the Hours are only a click away for those who desire them. It is also great that you don't have to flip through the confusing pages of the book, too.

8.07.2007

Catholic Viewpoint on Cohabitation

Listen to this audio feed. Check out the individual sites posted.

That Catholic Show

What a great resource for catechists! Greg and Jennifer Willets have produced several wonderful "That Catholic Show" videos. Check them out.

8.04.2007

Barn Building

This Sunday's Gospel reading includes the Parable of the Rich Fool. I guess that we often can admit to our foolish ways, but when it comes to our spending habits, we would rather just ignore them. How many times have you purchased something only to regret it within a couple of months, weeks or (dare I say) hours?
I know that each time I move from assignment to assignment, one can get the feeling that I have mastered the Miracle of Multiplication, not of Loaves and Fishes, but possessions. Of course, with each move I promise myself that I will do better, but.....
Jesus is asked a question regarding inheritance and then turns the matter to the wider problem of materialism. He suggests that the farmer in the parable is hoarding his property in barns and silos. Simply, he is selfish and should have shared his wealth with the poor. Accumulation can be a curse when one does not do what one is called to do. Here are some practical antidotes to hoarding:
  • If you didn't wear something in the last year, give it to charity.
  • Consider shared ownership with neighbors or within families. How many ladders does one house need?
  • Commit to purchase things on your "Need List", not the "Want List".
  • Look at how much you spend a year on clothing, eating out, entertainment, grooming, hobbies, pets, etc. Does it match up on your charitable giving?
  • Don't rent a storage unit. Oh, what a trap! If you can't fit it into your home, you probably don't use it or need it.

Check out how many days left until Christmas on the right. Remember it the "Season of Giving", NOT the "Season of Getting".

8.03.2007

Cohabitation

Remarkable, to say the least. MTV actually allowed this to be shown on their network. Startling facts, huh?