You're more like St. Therese than you think

Think Again Pin copy 
Do you think you have little in common with St. Therese? Think again.

If I’ve learned anything in writing Trusting God with St. Therese, it’s how much Therese’s struggles were like mine. Consider these points:
Therese was born weakened by Original Sin.It took her years of grace and hard work to overcome family tragedy.She had difficulties relating to other children at school.She suffered from scruples. God repeatedly made her wait for things she believed were His will.Her family members misunderstood her spirituality.She felt natural aversion to people with difficult personalities.She feared losing her remaining loved ones.Spiritual darkness and dryness in prayer were her norm.Great deeds for God were beyond her capability.She suffered terrible pain.She was tempted to despair.Now tell me that none of those sound like you.

Think you can’t become a saint? Think again.

Therese believed in the same God you do. He was her strength and her righteousness. He can be yours as well.

Connie Rossini blogs at Contemplative Homeschool.

Fleeing temptations from the world

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The Renunciation of Worldly Goods by Ghirlandaio.

 
Over the past few weeks, we’ve been considering the sources of temptations and how to overcome them. We complete the series today by pondering how to flee temptations coming to us from the world.

As we saw earlier, when we speak of “the world” in the context of temptations, we don’t mean the created world. Everything God created is good if used correctly. The problem is, when we lost our proper relationship with God in Adam’s sin, we also lost our proper relationship with one another and with creation.

“The world” is the society that delights in pleasure more than it delights in God.  The world entices us to join in the “fun.”

The world values pleasure, power, violence, wealth, fame, and comfort. It does not stop at tempting us. When we resist, it mocks and persecutes us. The world cannot stand to be rejected, having the fury of the proverbial scorned woman.

The world exalts the lowest things to the highest stature.  Its motto is “sex, drugs, and rock and roll.” It uses crude, vulgar, and blasphemous language without a second thought. It enshrines these values in book, magazines, TV, and movies. Ancient Rome’s coliseums and circuses exemplified the depths the world can sink to.

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A sad anniversary and a free chapter of Trusting God with St. Therese

This is my family (plus two friends) on June 10, 1974. I'm the one with the braids in the front. Terri is behind me next to my mom.
This is my family (plus two friends) on June 10, 1974.
I’m the one with the braids in the front.
Terri is behind me next to our mom.
Here is how our car looked thirty minutes later.
Here is how our car looked thirty minutes later.

Today is the fortieth anniversary of one of the saddest events in my life so far. On June 10, 1974, our family was driving to the annual Catholic Charismatic Conference at the University of Notre Dame. We began our journey in Spokane, Washington, where we had spent a weekend on retreat. Just outside Missoula, Montana, the car rolled over three times, landing in the median of the freeway. I was in the back with the seat down and no seat belt. So were two of my siblings and two friends.

I ended up with stitches in my leg and a bump on my head. My sister Terri, who had been sitting next to me, was thrown from the car and died. She was ten years old.

Why did God let this happen? Didn’t He know where we had come from and where we were going? Hadn’t He heard Terri’s voice, when she had volunteered that morning to pray for a safe trip?

Continue to Connie’s blog to receive a free chapter of Trusting God with St. Therese.

The Prayer that Jesus learned

Morning, Daily and Evening Prayer ABEL_-_Figure_Kneeling_in_Prayer

The first prayer that Jesus would have learnt from his mother, like all other Jewish children, was called the ‘Shema Israel, part act of faith, part prayer. Its first words proclaimed belief in the One God who should be loved ‘with the whole heart and mind and with one’s whole strength’. This embodied the essence of Jewish wisdom that Jesus had come to bring to perfection. The ‘Shema’ was the first prayer to be said on the Sabbath in the synagogue where it was also said three times a day to coincide with the sacrifices made in the Temple. For those who were unable to go to the Synagogue, it was said at work, in the fields, or at home, so that the whole day would be dedicated to the love of God.  more

from David

Battling the temptations of the flesh

Allegory of Virtues and Vices

We’ve been delving into temptations coming from the world, the flesh, and the Devil. Last week we discussed demonic temptations in detail. Today, we’ll examine temptations of the flesh and how to combat them.

We saw that people with melancholic or choleric temperaments tend to be more prone to the temptations that come directly from the Devil: pride, envy, and anger. Temptations of the flesh particularly plague the other two temperaments. More specifically, sanguines often struggle with gluttony and sins against chastity. Phlegmatics  struggle with sloth. (I will be writing more about the four classic temperaments throughout this year. I am creating a spiritual growth plan for you to use with your children of each temperament.)

As I have said before, the flesh can be the most relentless of the three sources of temptation. While the Devil may leave us alone for a time, and we can shut out the world to a certain extent, we can never get away from our own flesh. It remains with us every moment until the end of our life, but we can learn to resist it.
 Gluttony, lust, and slothThe Catechism defines concupiscence as “the movement of the sensitive appetite contrary to the operation of the human reason… Concupiscence stems from the disobedience of the first sin. It unsettles man’s moral faculties and, without being in itself an offense, inclines man to commit sins” (2515).

Sanguines are easily moved by what they experience through their exterior senses. Thus, immodest entertainment might lead them into sexual sin. An all-you-can-eat buffet might tempt them towards gluttony. They might start using vulgar and blasphemous language if they listen to the wrong kind of music.

Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.

How to overcome the Devil’s temptation

Dante’s Inferno, Canto 8 by William Blake (Wikimedia Commons).

Last week I wrote about the three sources of temptation. Now let’s look at temptation by the Devil in more detail.

Two Scripture passages show us how the Devil tempts us. Genesis 3 tells how Adam and Eve gave in to temptation and sinned. Matthew 4 tells how Jesus resisted the Devil’s temptation. The two stories contain striking similarities.
 The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of lifeWhen the Devil tempted Eve, the first thing she noticed was that the forbidden fruit was “good for food” (Gen 3:6).  Similarly, the Devil first tempted Jesus by telling Him to turn stones into bread (Mt 4:3). So we see that the Devil often begins by appealing to our natural appetites. In fact, he tempts us with the desires of the flesh.

Apparently, Eve was not completely swayed by this temptation, for she also noticed that the fruit was “a delight to the eyes.” Catholic tradition equates this delight with greed–the desire to have something that is not rightly ours, or to have it in overabundance, or otherwise outside of God’s will. Matthew’s Gospel sets this as Jesus’ third temptation. The Devil promised Jesus all the kingdoms of the world for the “small” price of worshiping him. It’s easy to see how this corresponds to temptation by the world.

Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.

Repentance

Our Father – Repentance

On the feast of Pentecost the Jews celebrated the day on which God had given the Law to Moses. However the first Pentecost after the Resurrection was the day on which God gave his new law – the law of love. This law was not primarily a list of rules and regulations like the laws that were given to Moses, but the same personal love that God had showered on Jesus. It was this love that enabled Jesus to practise to perfection the New Commandments that he taught his disciples. Namely, to Love God with their whole hearts and minds, and with their whole being, as he did, and to love others as he did too, and still does. read on

Becoming your children's spiritual director

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Have you ever thought of having a spiritual director for your kids or grandkids? Have you ever thought of being one? It’s not enough to teach children “religion”–i.e., Catechism. We also need to teach them how to become saints.

I am developing a spiritual growth plan for my three older children. (J is a little too young at age three!) Here are the areas I am considering:
TemperamentD is almost purely choleric, M is melancholic-phlegmatic, and C is primarily phlegmatic. (I haven’t completely figured him out yet–he’s eight and doesn’t know himself as well as the others do.)

Each of the four classical temperaments has a different perspective on life. Each has typical strengths and weaknesses. I seek to encourage my boys in their strengths and help them fight their weaknesses. I plan to do much of this through reading. Books will inspire them where lectures won’t.

Talents and interestsTemperament is only one part of personality. Each child has unique talents. For example, cholerics are bursting with energy, but one may be good at football and another at track.

Quiet and reserved M has a surprising acting ability.

How can my children use their gifts to glorify God? How can their talents help them choose a vocation and a career?

Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.

Church Authority

The authority of the Church, which was once accepted by the churched and respected by the secular, is in modern times no longer a means through which our belief system can be argued or upheld. This sad reality, while a cause for dismay, is also an opportunity for expansion of pedagogical and catechetical methods.

However, this expansion can not come at the price of the recognition that our beliefs stem not from our own intellect, as a sort of series of philosophical conclusions about how to live that were constructed by a group of 12 disciples some 2,000 years ago, but from the Church as guided by the Holy Spirit and led on earth by the Pope. As the noted communications mantra goes, “The medium is the message.”

This is why methods of teaching and conversion that do not ultimately stem from a belief in the magisterium, or teaching authority, of the Church are limited in scope. For example we as Catholics can point to Aristotle’s reason-based arguments for the existence of God, but we can not talk about God as Trinity without citing Christ’s teachings and the theology developed by the Church over thousands of years. The Church guards and passes on the deposit of faith given by Christ.

To believe in the authority of the Church, you see, is simultaneously to believe in Him who formed it, namely Christ. We must then ask ourselves rhetorically: why would Christ form the Church without equipping it with the means (councils, the Papacy, tradition, scripture, etc.) to construct correct dogma? And so to follow church authority means to believe in all of its teachings on faith and morals. This does not entail a blind faith that accepts a series of teachings simply because “Father ‘John Smith’ said so.” In praying each week in the Creed that we “believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church,” we are instead embracing theology arrived at via reason and based upon the premises of faith.

Ryan Bilodeau
Prayer to Pen

You can make someone else’s suffering meaningful

Portrait de l'artiste avec un ami, by Raffaello Sanzio, from C2RMF retouched.jpg
Self Portrait with a Friend by Rafael.

In the middle of Lent, I received an email from a new reader I’ll call Jill. Jill shared with me her years of darkness in her personal and spiritual life. My heart went out to her. I wanted to do something for her, more than just writing an encouraging answer. So I thought about it and prayed about it. Then I had an insight.

Here, in part, is how I replied:

“I explore these questions [about God and suffering] a lot in my book. I will give you a brief version here. Rabbi Kushner, writing in When Bad Things Happen to Good People, said that we shouldn’t ask why when we suffer. Instead, we should ask, What now? How am I to react?
 Finding meaning in our suffering“Similarly, Holocaust survivor Victor Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning wrote, “Suffering ceases to be suffering in some way in the moment that it finds a meaning.” He found that in the concentration camp, those who were able to survive and be psychologically sound found a purpose in their suffering. For Frankl himself, that purpose was to rewrite the manuscript of his book on helping his psychiatric patients find meaning in life. The Nazis had destroyed his manuscript when he was stripped of his possessions at the camp. So over the years he rewrote the manuscript, partly in his head and partly on any strips of paper he could find. He had the will to survive so he could publish his work…

“My question for your situation then was, How can your suffering become purposeful? Some people would counsel you to offer up your suffering. But if you are unable to complete even small projects because your darkness has sapped all your energy, offering it up may just be beyond your strength. What then?

Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.