Recipe For Holiness – Ingredient #1: Grace

Pope Francis_Recipe for Holiness

The Grace Trifecta

Standing before a room of 30 or so women facilitating my first faith sharing back in 2006, I fumbled around for the proper words as I tried to answer one participant’s seemingly simple question on the grace of God.  What is grace?  While I had this innate understanding, I could not formulate the right words to express what I believed it to be. I realized, I had no definition.

Fast forward a few years, I am sitting in a small chapel in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament (aka Jesus in the Eucharist). In my reading I once again face the question, what is grace? This time I open the Catechism of the Catholic Church; and prayed for guidance from the Holy Spirit.   That day the Allison abridged version of how I define the grace of God, was born … Read More at Reconciled To You 

All Rights Reserved, Allison Gingras 2016

Did Teresa of Avila teach Centering Prayer?

St. Teresa’s Transverberation by Joefa de Obidos (Wikimedia Commons)

Last winter on social media, I came across another Catholic author who was promoting yoga. Not as an exercise program, but for spiritual growth. I was shocked. I asked her why she wasn’t promoting prayer instead. She answered, “Meditation is prayer!”

Nope.

Two months ago, my brother forwarded an email from a colleague, asking about Centering Prayer. A friend was pushing it relentlessly. I looked at the website of the Catholic group that promotes Centering Prayer and found this in the FAQs:
This form of prayer was first practiced and taught by the Desert Fathers of Egypt … the Carmelites St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross and St. Therese of Lisieux…
Nonsense.

The other day a new reader asked in the comments about meditating on Sacred Scripture. “Is this the same as the method of Fr. John Main, who has adapted an Eastern mantra method for Christian meditation?”

Uh-uh.

I have written a little on this topic before, but I think it’s time to revisit it. Let’s start with Teresa of Avila.

Continue reading at Connie’s blog Contemplative Homeschool.

How to suffer like a Christan

Tragic Situations

Suffering. Ever since the Fall of Adam, it’s an unavoidable part of life. We suffer daily in little ways. The alarm clock rings too early. We spill coffee all over our work clothes. The kids are disobedient. We get stuck in traffic. These little things are a reminder that all is not right with the world. Something is out of whack. We have lost the close connection with God we were meant to have.

When we face small trials, we have an opportunity to grow in trust and love.  We can offer our disappointments and dislikes to God in love, asking Him to use them to bring others to Him. We can say, “Jesus, I trust in you,” praying that He helps us to accept His sovereignty over our day. Because after all, we were never meant to be in charge of our life. These gentle reminders of that fact can help us reorient ourselves towards God. (As an aside, I am experiencing a little annoyance right now from my kids. Thank you, Lord, for this opportunity to put into practice what I am preaching!)
 What about tragedies?Every day on FaceBook, someone asks me for prayers. Sometimes, a loved one is seriously ill. Other times, a FaceBook friend faces clinical depression. Prayers for difficult pregnancies and comfort while burying infants or dealing with miscarriage are common.

How should a Christian face tragic suffering?

 Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.

In the spirit of Elijah

In the past week we’ve celebrated two major Carmelite feasts: Our Lady of Mt. Carmel (July 16) and the prophet Elijah (July 20). These two great saints in different ways exemplify what Carmelite spirituality is about.

Elijah demonstrates the prophetic aspect of Carmelite spirituality. The Carmelite seal bears these words of his as a motto:
With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God of Hosts (1 Kings 19:10).
Consumed with zeal for holinessElijah was not afraid to confront the rulers of his day. He risked death to preach repentance to King Ahab, while Queen Jezebel launched an anti-crusade to wipe out God’s prophets. He challenged the prophets of Baal to a contest on Mt. Carmel to see whose god would consume a sacrifice with fire from Heaven. After winning that contest (surprise!), Elijah had all the false prophets killed. He led the people to re-commit themselves to the true God.
Then he went and prayed that, seeing their repentance, God would send rain. Elijah’s prayers had kept the land in drought for three years.
So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Eli′jah went up to the top of Carmel; and he bowed himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees. And he said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” And he went up and looked, and said, “There is nothing.” And he said, “Go again seven times.”And at the seventh time he said, “Behold, a little cloud like a man’s hand is rising out of the sea.” And he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot and go down, lest the rain stop you.’” And in a little while the heavens grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode and went to Jezreel. (1 Kings 18:42-45)Since medieval times, Carmelites have seen the cloud as a symbol of Mary. She rises from the sea of our fallen humanity, a human being herself, yet without the stain of sin. She pours down on God’s people the pure water of His grace from Heaven. So the return of rain to the land of Israel is also a prophecy of the Woman whose cooperation with God’s grace will bring about the Incarnation.
Here are some more facts about Elijah:
His name means, “Yahweh is God.”He heard God speak to him in a gentle whisper (or “still, small voice”).He nearly despaired because he thought he was the last surviving faithful Israelite.He said, “The Lord my God lives, in whose presence I stand” (1 Kings 18:15).He raised a boy from the dead.He was taken up to Heaven in a chariot of fire.
Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.

Mystical Marriage

Some years ago I had lunch with friends in London. On my way out they introduced me to their father who was busy working in the garden. Without thinking I asked him what he was doing and he replied –“I do be digging the garden.” Some months later I met a nun who taught Irish in Dublin and I asked her about this expression that I’d never come across before. She explained that it was an English translation of what in Irish is called the present continuing tense. “Well what does it mean?” I asked, “What was he trying to say to me?” “Oh, what he was saying was this.” she said. “I have been digging the garden, I am digging the garden, and when you stop asking the obvious, I will continue digging the garden!” read on…

A Bit On ISIS Marking Christians for Extermination and Expropriation in Iraq

As jihadist Sunni Islamist terrorists from ISIS/ISIL strive to create a sharia inspired Caliphate as they take over territory in Iraq and Syria, they are slaughtering innocent Christians.  

However, even sharia law allows for dhimmitude, second class citizen status for “people of the book” (i.e. Jews and Christians) so long as they pay the jizya tax.  But that is not good enough for ISIS jihadists.  They have taken to mark the buildings of Christian institutions with spray-painted red marks indicating holdouts to exterminate and expropriate.

Spraypainted ISIS Extermination Graffiti on Christian buildings in Mosel, Iraq
“Nun” 14th letter in Arabic alphabet

 The symbol is “Nun”, the 14th letter in the Arabic alphabet.  It is the first letter in the name “Nazara” (or Nazarenes) the way in which Muslims have referred to Christians since the 7th Century. This is intended as a badge of shame for what is perceived as a contemptible and disobedient sect. 

SEE MORE at DC-LausDeo.US 

Are your fears, doubts, and frustrations keeping you from intimacy with God?

Afraid

How is your spiritual life going? Are you feeling frustrated with yourself? Are you distraught over your lack of progress? Do you keep falling into the same sins repeatedly?
Welcome to the human race!

No, I’m not trying to dismiss your concerns flippantly. Sometimes we just need a reminder that we are, after all, fallen. Adam’s sin affects us all. But here’s something you may not have realized:

Your sins do not shock God!

God is used to sinners. He has centuries of experience with them. He even came down from Heaven to live among them. Then people criticized Him for eating with sinners instead of the “righteous.” Yes, He loved to hang out with people like you and me.

God delights in showing mercy. He delights in lifting our burdens. He delights in carrying our yoke with us, comforting our sorrows, calming our fears.

Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.

Helping your choleric child grow in holiness

 
Today I’m taking a break from talking about my book to return to the new project I’ve talked about a little before–making a spiritual growth plan for children of each temperament. First I’ll give a little overview of the four classic temperaments, tell you a little more about this project, then delve in deeper to help you with your choleric children. At the bottom you’ll find a special download to help you.

 What are the four temperaments?The four classic temperaments are choleric, melancholic, phlegmatic, and sanguine. Catholic philosophers adpoted them from the Greeks. There are several good sources for learning about the temperaments from a Catholic perspective. Art and Laraine Bennett have written several books on the temperaments. Fr. Conrad Hock’s treatment of the temperaments can be read online. Traditional books on spiritual direction usually address the temperaments as well.

To figure out which temperament you have, ask yourself two questions:
Are my initial reactions to stimuli intense or dull?Do my impressions last or do they quickly fade?
Intense & lasting=choleric
Intense & fading=sanguine
Dull but lasting=melancholic
Dull and fading=phlegmatic

Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.

Fleeing temptations from the world

File:Domenico Ghirlandaio - Renunciation of Worldly Goods (detail) - WGA08798.jpg
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.

Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.