Recipe 4 Holiness: Small Acts

Pope Francis_Recipe for Holiness

 

To our #Recipe4Holiness we will now add a special ingredient, that is actually many ingredients in one…  Small Acts – those often unseen moments our of lives that create a saints heart within us!

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If you’ve been reading my blog for a while – or even a few days – you are acutely aware of my many deficiencies.  The one that I regret the most – and try the most to overcome is my lack of hospitality and thoughtfulness.  Though, probably a more fair assessment would be my lack of follow through!

I often think of the nice or caring things I could do to help others – however, for a myriad of reasons (none of them good); my follow-through statistics are very low.   At first this behavior came from self-preservation and lack of instruction; but as an adult with fully formed conscience it is not longer acceptable behavior.

AWARENESS IS NOT HALF THE BATTLE

While I would love to say, that once I realized the necessity of a life in Christ to include reaching out to others my behavior changed – I can not.  I still every day have to resist my self-absorbed ways.  In all too painful ways the Lord has allowed me to feel the DEEP regret of not acting on an inspiration of the Spirit to reach out to another.

 

All Rights Reserved, Allison Gingras 2016

Recipe for Holiness: 3 parts Fortitude

fortitude francis

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”James 1:5  Where I lack the greatest wisdom without a doubt is in discerning the Will of God. There are several factors that block my clearly hearing God speak in my life – primarily my own voice and will are often drowning out God’s voice. A very anxious person by nature – I erroneously believe the more of my life I control; the better my life will be. I seem to have this crazy notion that I know better than the creator of the universe what is needed for me to be happy.  

God is not in the happiness business – he is in the holiness business.  Paradoxical however  the more I order my life to holiness – the truly happier I will be. Not the fading worldly happy but a much deeper, “it can’t be taken away from you” joy! His ways are always ‘different and higher’ (Isaiah 55) from any ideas I may hold onto.   I see tomorrow, and the next day – he sees into infinity (and… oh come on we have to go there… BEYOND!). My greatest desire is always to avoid pain and suffering – though God did not spare his only begotten Son this fate; why would mine be any different.   Jesus willingness to accept the Father’s will, to drink from the cup that was not passed him by – opened the gates of Heaven.   Jesus instructions are clear. If you want to follow him – if you want to journey toward those open gates – pick up your cross DAILY and follow him.

A few years ago I was leading a Confirmation retreat – at the end of the day – one young man stood up and began to YELL at me!!  Yell… swear… berate — completely misunderstanding and twisting my words, he stirred the entire class into a frenzy.  In my arrogance, I fought back. 

FIND OUT how this all turned out … read more on Reconciled To You ….

All Rights Reserved, Allison Gingras 2016

Bloom Where You Grow

There are a couple of flower boxes on our back deck railing. Anyone who has cats knows what that means – anything growing there has to be pretty persistent or it will be crushed under the furry bellies of our lounging feline friends. In fact, for the past couple of summers we haven’t even bothered to plant anything in them.

That’s where a delicate salmon-colored poppy comes into the story. Even though the parent plants are far below – on the ground below this raised deck – somehow a tiny seed made it to the soil in one of the flower boxes. Not only did it make it, it germinated, set down roots, and has been beautifully blooming for a few days now.

What can we learn from this persistent, lovely little plant?

We aren’t always where we thought we’d be in our lives. Maybe we don’t even want to be where we are at all. It’s easy to focus on an idealistic image of if only. In this imaginary, perfect world we would be saints, may be successful (in a worldly way), or admired by all. Every effort would reap the anticipated reward and failure would only come if we didn’t try hard enough – or didn’t have enough faith.

Yet scripture tells us that we will be tested. That our trials – and how we handle them – will shine a light for others to see. We can become the salt for them and the leaven for their spiritual bread.

Matthew 5:13-16
13“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men. 14“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. 15Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

It isn’t always ours to choose where life leads us but it is our choice when it comes to how we react. When life hands us an unexpected detour from our search for perfection, we should choose to react with grace. As a sweet little lady used to tell me,

Bloom Where You Grow smaller file size

“We need to bloom where we grow”.

Wherever God has planted us that is our place to shine – to shine with His love and compassion and faithful service. Then we will be headed down the road of success – and toward sainthood!

Do We Trust More in the Power of God or the Devil?

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Why don’t we, as Catholics,  give the Holy Spirit permission to do His job? The Holy Spirit is our inner Companion who leads us; we do not  live in fear of  spiritual revelations. Many of God the Father’s children are so afraid that the devil will lead them astray, they do not even listen to His interior whispers of love. Surely we trust more in God  the Almighty, ruler of heaven and earth than the devil, a mere fallen angel?

”But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” John 16:13

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Pope Francis: The Importance of Fathers

On February 04, 2015, Pope Francis continued his catechesis on the family, reflecting on the role of fathers.This week, the pope focuses on the positive roles and qualities of effective fathers. He discusses three great Biblical fathers to illuminate qualities of a good father: the parable of the Prodigal Son, the figure of God “Our Father,” and the figure of St. Joseph.

 First, the pope began this teaching by referring to Book of Proverbs, quoting words a father addresses to his son: 
“ My son, if your heart is wise, my heart too will be glad. My soul will rejoice when your lips speak what is right” (Proverbs 23:15-16). 
 Effective  fathers do not create robot sons who merely repeat verbatim what has been drilled into them. Rather, an effective father transmits wisdom right into his son’s core, enabling him “to feel and act, to speak and judge with wisdom and righteousness.”  It is not easy to transmit this heritage of wisdom; a father must be close, gentle but firm with his children. continue reading

Melanie Jean Juneau is wife and mother of nine children. The very existence of a joyful mother of nine children seems to confound people. Her writing is humorous and heart-warming; thoughtful and thought provoking with a strong current of spirituality running through it. Part of her call and her witness is to write the truth about children, family, marriage and the sacredness of life.She blogs at joy of nine9 and mother of nine9.

Why Be Moral?

Before answering the Why question a philosopher would ask the What questions- what is morality? what is a moral life? After answering the What and Why they would likely then proceed to the How questions- how can I live ethically? how can human societies be collectively moral? This helps explain why philosophy books tend to be quite big and not very popular. They seem to spend a lot of time proving what the reader already knows to be true or attempting to disprove what the reader thinks of as ‘common sense.’ Religion appears to offer a way of short-cutting all this tedious playing with words. All religions have associated moralities and within the Abrahamic religions these have the sanction of divine revelation. Morality is what revelation says it is, obedience to God is the only acceptable response to revelation and within the content of that revelation, either in the form of scripture or divinely mandated authority, is all the guidance required for individuals and societies to live out the moral life in practice.

There is no real doubt that if this is an accurate summary of religious belief then many of the criticisms levelled at religion by New Atheists like the late Christopher Hitchens (God grant him rest) and the current Richard Dawkins (God keep him on Twitter) are well merited. Such a rigid structure which requires no moral judgement on the part of believers but merely an acceptance of the first principles of faith would lend them and their belief system to being manipulated in the service of anyone who could pervert the interpretation of revelation to suit their own purposes, as Islamic State and Boko Haram appear to have done with Islam. There are, however, a number of things which could be said about this critique….click here to read more 

Is the Eucharist Really Just A Symbol? Five Very Convincing Proofs that Say that It’s Not

My new friend Brittany has posted another great article in her series Letting God Lead: My Journey Through Protestant and Catholic Beliefs on her blog Equipping Godly Women.
This one is called Is the Eucharist just a Symbol? 5 Convincing Proofs that say that it’s not!

This is a great article of Catholic Apologetics…and Brittany isn’t even Catholic!
Let’s pray for her RCIA journey…we’d love to have her on our team. =)

God, Genocide & Good Neigbourliness

 You shall consume all the peoples which the Lord, your God, is giving over to you. You are not to look on them with pity, nor serve their gods, for that would be a snare to you.
Deuteronomy 7:16 

And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. But the stranger that dwelleth with you, shall be as one of yourselves, and thou shalt love him as thyself: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.
Leviticus 19:33-34

Those who attack the God of the Abrahamic faiths as a genocidal maniac often quote the text from Deuteronomy but never the one from Leviticus. The reverse is true for those who conceive of Abraham’s God as some kind of ethereal fluffy bunny. Yet both texts belong to the same religious tradition and are considered to form part of the divine revelation of God to man. It is especially difficult for the followers of Jesus to reconcile the smiting hip and thigh which forms such a great part of the Old Testament histories to the peaceful teachings and witness of the Son of Mary. So much so that from the earliest times various heresies have been proposed by figures like Marcion and Mani suggesting that there is an evil God who does bad things (most of the Old Testament) and a good God who does good things (most of the New Testament.) Whilst such heresies are seldom actively advocated nowadays they are, as it were, taught by default by those, mostly liberal, theologians who simply omit to defend the ‘difficult‘ passages of the Old Testament.

Is there a single common thread which unites the command to destroy the Canaanites with the Law demanding that strangers be treated with love? click here to read more

The Devil is Dead?

Be sober, and watch: for your adversary the devil as a roaring lion walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren which are in the world.
1 Peter 5:8-9

Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains
Jean-Jacques Rousseau- The Social Contract

The philosopher Nietzsche was somewhat premature in his announcement  “Could it be possible! This old saint in the forest hath not yet heard of it, that GOD IS DEAD!” (Thus Spake Zarathurstra- Prologue) Despite several centuries of continuous assault belief in God is still buoyant even in Western Europe where the atheist campaign began and where it has been most successful. The associated attack on organised religion, specifically Christianity, has had more effect but still the Christian Church and the ecclesial communities of the Reformation remain stubbornly alive and kicking in Europe whilst expanding elsewhere in much of the world. By contrast there has been no real parallel assault on belief in the devil yet such belief has withered on the vine and even among Christians there are many who do not take the idea seriously.

Various factors no doubt contribute to this decline in satanic credibility but I will focus on one. The answer to the question ‘what is Man?‘ (meaning female and male) has changed over the past six centuries or so and with this altered understanding of ourselves has come an altered conception of the forces that influence us….click here to read more

Stealing God’s Job

If you asked a typical Catholic, “Are you stealing God’s job?”, they would laugh out loud at such a ridiculous question and emphatically deny it.  I know I did.  Granted, the wording of this question is designed to shock. Yet the question is also meant to provoke self- examination.  After someone asked me this question, I examined my life and was surprised at what I discovered. I realized like almost everyone else, I was trying to fulfill the role of God in my day-to-day life.
It is an easy trap for most modern people since we are pressured by obligations. In an attempt to cope, we resort to rushing around independently without God. We seize control as we  try to be ever more efficient with little time to relax, pray or socialize. The result is we end up living in isolated, man-made prisons that shut out other humans, never mind other living creatures and God.  Instead of seeking communion, each of us exists at the absolute centre of our little artificial universe.  continue reading

Melanie Jean Juneau is wife and mother of nine children. The very existence of a joyful mother of nine children seems to confound people. Her writing is humorous and heart-warming; thoughtful and thought provoking with a strong current of spirituality running through it. Part of her call and her witness is to write the truth about children, family, marriage and the sacredness of life.She blogs at joy of nine9 and mother of nine9