Sin: Practice makes perfect

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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sin: Practice makes perfect

“Sin creates a proclivity to sin, it engenders vice by repetition of the same acts.  This results in perverse inclinations which cloud conscience and corrupt the concrete judgment of good and evil.  Thus sin tends to reproduce itself and reinforce itself, but it cannot destroy the moral sense of its root.”  CCC 1865

In other words, done over and over again, the act of making a decision and carrying out something contrary to good and moral thinking will make each future act of sin easier.  Practice makes perfect!  For years I would tell my children to practice their instruments each day, “Practice makes perfect, keep playing to get better.” I would say.  So they would grumble at me and head off to practice.  Year after year, they would practice after my constant insistence, and year after year, they honed their craft to the point that they began to win awards, get hired to play for events, and find their voices as musicians.

Do you think repeating bad behavior, alias sinning, is any different?  Likened to learning an instrument and achieving confidence and skill as a  musician, sin is an act, a decision to do something..and one can get good at it!  Good or bad, practice makes perfect.

This is where confession comes in; to come face to face with a bad decision and the desire for forgiveness.  A chance to start over without the heavy baggage of sin.  In order for forgiveness to happen, remorse must be truly internally felt with the desire to be wiped clean of the sin and be able to start over.  The desire to be able to start over and get it right the next time.  Just like learning an instrument, it is a conscience decision one makes from their free will.  A God-given gift for a reason.

I need to go to confession.

 
 

 

 

Save our country. Be a saint.

Uncle-Sam

This can be a frustrating and anxious time for Christians in America. The final version of the HHS mandate was issued on Friday. The Supreme Court overturned DOMA and refused to rule on California’s Proposition 8. Here in Minnesota, wedding vendors are starting to advertise to same-sex couples as the date for the legalization of same-sex “marriage” approaches.

Last year, I prayed and fasted and wrote letters to the editor supporting a marriage amendment. I voted for pro-family candidates. I have discussed these issues on others’ blogs and on Facebook. It seems to have made no difference. I sometimes feel helpless.

There is one thing we can all do to celebrate this Independence Day, one thing that will make an eternal difference for true freedom. We can give ourselves completely to God.

We have had it easy in the USA for a long time. That era is past. We can cave, we can cry in self-pity, or we can change the world.

America doesn’t need more politicians. America doesn’t need more letters to the editor. America doesn’t need more parades or blog posts or debates.

America needs saints.

Continue reading at  Contemplative Homeschool.

This past week at the Catholic Book Blogger I did an interview with author Dr. Diane Moczar which can be found here. Additionally I posted a review of her great book The Church Under Attack : Five Hundred Years That Split the Church and Scattered the Flock. That review can be found here. I would also like to invite all of you to enter the Weekly Book Giveaway. One copy of Kevin Lowry’s Faith at Work : Finding Purpose Beyond the Paycheck. Enter Here! 

Books to teach boys virtue

Finding good books for boys as they get older is always a challenge. Lat fall I put together a list of good books for boys aged 10-14 . You will see that the scope of it is limited.  On my blog, I want to introduce you to some of my favorites in more detail. Not all of these are on the list.

A novel-length fairytale
Front CoverThe Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis are undoubtedly already on your radar screen. The Horse and His Boy is my favorite, and one of my favorite children’s books of any genre.

It is the story of Shasta, who has been raised by a Calormene fisherman, but is light haired like the people of the north. When he overhears the fisherman negotiating to sell him as a slave to a lord, he runs away, taking the lord’s horse with him. The horse, Bree, is a talking horse from Narnia, eager to escape back to his homeland. Soon Shasta and Bree meet up with a young Calormene lady named Aravis, who is also running away with her Narnian horse. The foursome eventually get caught up in politics, racing to warn Narnia of an impending Calormene attack. And Shasta discovers his surprising, true identity.

The entire Narnia series is perfect for introducing your children to symbolism. Aslan, the great lion who rules Narnia from across the sea, represents Jesus. Shasta symbolizes each of us. We are born in slavery to sin, but freed and made children of the King.

Continue reading at  Contemplative Homeschool

A Call To Be Annoying

In a recent homily by Pope Francis, he called upon Catholics to pray for a specific grace and implore the Holy Spirit for “the grace to be annoying.”  Here is what he said:

“There are backseat Christians, right? Those who are well mannered, who do everything well, but are unable to bring people to the Church through proclamation and Apostolic zeal. Today we can ask the Holy Spirit to give us all this Apostolic fervor and to give us the grace to be annoying when things are too quiet in the Church, the grace to go out to the outskirts of life. The Church has so much need of this!…So let us ask the Holy Spirit for this grace of Apostolic zeal, let’s be Christians with apostolic zeal. And if we annoy people, blessed be the Lord. Onwards, as the Lord says to Paul, ‘take courage!’ ”
I found this quote over at Catholic Vote and had to share it.
Blessings,
Noreen

Trusting God with your future

File:St Therese of Lisieux - stained glass window detail ... - geograph.org.uk - 1140602.jpg

Last December, I began a quest to trust God more. It started with my reading The Way of Trust and Love by Jacques Philippe. You can read my original post on St. Therese’s trust here. (I know I link to this post a lot, but that’s because I consider it among my best. Trust is the Lesson from the Carmelite Saints that is changing my life.  If you haven’t read it, I strongly encourage you to do so.)

Later, I told you how I was focusing on trusting God in the ups and downs of my day during Lent.
More recently, I have worked on entrusting my future to God. This next step began with my reading Diary of a Country Mother by Cindy Montanaro. It’s the journal of a mother reflecting on the life of her young son who has recently died. As I hinted in my review, I have struggled with entrusting my children’s futures to God. I hear of so many parents who have lost a child. Two of my siblings died in childhood. My former roommate’s daughter died at age four.  Some of my readers have blogs about their losses.

Then there are the adults I know who have left the faith. Three people in my immediate family are non-practicing. Most families I know have at least one wayward member. (My husbands’ family is a rare but encouraging exception).

Shortly after finishing Cindy’s book, I picked up Left to Tell: Finding God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilibagiza. Immaculee lost nearly all her family to genocide. Friends and neighbors turned into deadly enemies. Yet, not only did she keep her faith–she was able to forgive the murderers.

Read the rest at Contemplative Homeschool.

How to love God more

Simon the Pharisee by Jean Beraud (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

 

Do you ever sit up and listen suddenly during the Sunday homily? That happened to me this week. Instead of the post I was planning, I am writing about Sunday’s Gospel, as I believe the Holy Spirit desires.

You see, for the past several months, I have pictured myself as the Penitent Woman at least once every day, as I pray or seek to overcome temptation. So when the Gospel is about this moving scene, I pay close attention.

I have also lately heard people questioning the need to confess venial sins–both on the internet and in person. The Church only requires us to confess mortal sins, and venial sins can be forgiven in other ways (such as reception of the Eucharist). So why bother to go to Confession for venial sin? (By the way, the Church only requires us to receive the Eucharist once a year too–but would we be satisfied with that bare minimum?)

There are many good answers to this question. I’m going to write about one: Confessing venial sins helps us love God more deeply.

Which comes first–love or forgiveness?
There is a certain mystery surrounding the Penitent Woman, which I believe is part of God’s plan. No one knows her identity. Some say Mary Magdalen, Mary of Bethany, the woman caught in adultery, and the Penitent Woman are all the same person. Others say they are all different. I say, the Penitent Woman is all of us.

Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.

An Ordination and four Gentle Giants

Three men, brave and determined men, took that
final leap into a new life; complete with new titles, responsibilities, and new homes today….never to be the same again. But they prepared for this over a  seven year-span, immersed in the spiritual, biblical, and examples of those around them. They definitely had the support from family and friends, and the diocese, the church was packed!

My family came to know then Deacon Ryan last summer after the bishop appointed the newly ordained temporary deacons to posts at different parishes around the diocese.  The good deacon filled in at different events and study groups over the next several weeks.  Lucky me, I was taking the current bible study offering of the parish, Exodus, and the deacon filled in as the facilitator for a couple of sessions.  We had a blast talking with him, asking him questions and gleaning from his knowledge of the bible and all things Catholic.  Being a younger man of 27, the teens of the parish also got to know him and felt a special bond with him. Our daughters and family friend Bryan decided that they were determined to attend the ordination of their new friend when the date was set.  I agreed, so when the day came, we all got up early and headed to the big, and certainly long awaited, day’s event.

This may sound very strange coming from me, if you are a long-time reader of the “Pillars”, but this was my first ordination.  Yes, yes, I know, where have I been, what is the matter with me for not taking the time to attend such an amazing and important event as this in my Church, I have no excuse, other than the fact that it never occurred to me to attend one.

Anyway enough of the confession, this has been an experience that I will never forget.  All the pomp and circumstance and ceremonial traditions were beautiful and very comforting to be perfectly honest.  Our bishop was overjoyed since he had not ordained as many as 3 new priests at one time before, just one a few years ago and then last year 2 young men.  Our prayers are being answered, we are growing more and more priests!

My heart skipped a beat as the procession came down the aisle lead by the acolytes carrying candles, incense, and the crucifix; followed the seminarians along side the priests of the diocese.  It was quite a showing, a presence, so dynamic and spiritual! 

During the ceremony there were two times when all the priests present are called to show their support for these three, the first time each priest came forward and laying hands on the men individually, prayed over them and the second time by giving them each a sign of peace. This was a beautiful sign of support and approval for the ordinates.  Of course their families and friends were present also, but there cannot be a more meaningful gesture than the support of those in the frontlines already.

We are not alone, not one of us, and watching these three new ordinates receive the support of the priests, the Holy Spirit, and the holy saints, prostrated in front of the altar while the church sang the litany saints; it was clear to me.  They made some solemn promises of obedience, received great gifts from the Holy Spirit, and accepted tall responsibilities as new shepherds during this ceremony, of which, without the help and support of the Church and all of those around them, their tasks could be unbearable, if not impossible.

The Catholic Church continues to grow and lead as Jesus Christ to the world and it is starkly obvious how important my role is, both as a mom and wife, but also as a parishioner of a parish, and a fellow Catholic Christian along side her priests and religious.  I have a responsibility to support and pray for these gentle giants in a world so cluttered with evil and darkness.  There is no other way to say this but, if WE don’t take care of these men and women, who will.  They are rarely thanked, ignored, and just simply taken for granted.  If we don’t have priests, we don’t have a Church!  If we don’t have a Church, we don’t have the support of the sacraments to keep us on the path to righteousness and glory.


Pray, and pray hard for all the priests in your diocese and around the world.  Bring them food, cards, and money.  Smile and shake their hands, give them a hug (if they allow that…ask first), and always, ALWAYS make sure they are happy, taken care of, and loved.

Our family felt so blessed to be a part of Fr. Ryan’s ordination and we look forward to getting to know Fr. Nick as he takes on the role of Spiritual Director for our high school students and our daughters.  They will remain in our prayers always along with the other priests in our diocese. 

We. Are. So. Blessed!

What is detachment in the Catholic spiritual life?

File:John of the Cross crucifixion sketch.jpg

Among Carmelite saints, John of the Cross, co-founder of the Discalced Carmelites with Teresa of Avila, is not the most popular. Why not? He insisted that detachment was necessary for holiness. Many Catholics, misunderstanding his teaching, think it too hard and too dull. On first reading his Ascent of Mt. Carmel, they might be tempted to settle for luke-warmness.

On the other hand, nearly everyone loves St. Therese of Lisieux. The irony is that Therese was a true daughter of John, embracing all that he taught. If we reject John, we implicitly reject Therese as well.

Misconceptions about attachment Let’s examine some of the misconceptions about detachment.

First of all, the detachment John of the Cross speaks of is not aloofness. We should have proper affection for our family and friends.  It’s nonsensical to be cold towards your spouse due to a supposed love for God.

Detachment doesn’t mean denying the good that is in the material world. Rather, it means viewing temporal goods as temporal, gifts from God meant to lead us to Him. Unlike some religions, where the physical world is seen as evil, Christianity does not teach asceticism for its own sake. We give up our desires for things in order to make room in our hearts for God.  Detachment is a means, not an end.

Continue reading about detachment.

Is love or fear the better motivator?

Last week’s post on the Final Judgment (and Mr. Darcy and St. Therese) reminded me of two opposing views I’ve read in books about homeschooling. Some authors say that loving your students is the best way to motivate them to learn. Others say a healthy fear of the teacher is more effective. Here’s my take on the love versus fear debate.

The Machiavellian argument Niccolo Machiavelli famously wrote in The Prince:

“Here a question arises: whether it is better to be loved than feared, or the reverse. The answer is, of course, that it would be best to be both loved and feared. But since the two rarely come together, anyone compelled to choose will find greater security in being feared than in being loved.”

Focus on a child’s fear of his parent(s)–whether it is called fear, respect, or discipline–seems to me to be particularly Protestant. I mean no disrespect to my non-Catholic fellow homeschoolers, but many conservative Protestants have a somber view of humanity. Calvin taught that man was totally depraved. Fundamentalist Christians generally believe that man’s nature is bad since the Fall. Thus a child has a naturally rebellious spirit that must be tamed.

Ruth Beechick was one of the early homeschooling experts among “Bible Christians.” I gleaned much from her book Heart & Mind:What the Bible Says About Learning.  However, her works have the typical Fundamentalist shortcomings, most based on an overly literal interpretation of Scripture.  Since “[t]he fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 3:12), she believes that education must start with discipline.  Without a healthy fear (she says), children won’t be motivated to learn anything.

Read more at Contemplative Homeschool.