Resentment is Poison for Our Soul

 

 

As we begin this New Year, many of us have hopes of being better than we were last year, we have made our resolutions and are trying to change our vises into virtues.  It is a noble cause, yet after so many years of failed attempts at sainthood, we find that the road of sanctity still stretches far ahead of us… seemingly just beyond our grasp. And that even with our daily ‘battles’ we still have so far to go to reach our reward. As we approach this second week of the new year, we might feel a bit daunted by our resolutions, but as Catholics… as Christians... we must continue to fight the good fight…

One of the most damaging things we do to our souls, is that we hold onto things. Both physical things and spiritual things. Things that we shouldn’t hold onto in the first place. Most of these things we should discard or more importantly…  give over to the Lord. But we are stubborn…. and we hold onto these things...these ‘precious’ things‘  one such of which, is feelings of resentment.

Resentment.… It is that bitter beat in our heart, put there by our own free will. Without our consent, it would have no room to grow. But we are stained, marked by sin, and without even realizing the damage that we are allowing… we give it room to grow. Once we allow it to reign in our hearts it has the ability to destroy all the good that God wishes to give us. It is that poisonous!

When we hold onto resentment, we lose our hold of the Lord… we slip... and we begin to fill those places in our heart with bitterness and anger… We, you and I, replace the good with the bad… We are stubborn, and we continue to think that we can punish someone else with our resentment… but all we are doing is punishing ourselves. Someone once said that resentment is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die!

It is an active work against the Lord and it will consume all that God has seen as good… and when we allow it to fester, it will take over … Given free reign in our hearts, it will take on a life of it’s own, crushing us and making it impossible for us to grow the way God intended. And instead of growing in the Lord, we end up giving to the devil what rightly belongs to God…. None of us want that, do we? So during these tempting times, let us hold fast to our goals and give all of our burdens to the Lord, praying that His mercy may be upon us and guide us through our difficult days…

To read an awesome article on this same topic, please click on the following link to a post by Father D. Longenecker.  The Dark Beast of Resentment.

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Happy New Year on This Feast of the Solemnity of the Mother of God

Jan. 1 - Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God newAs we enter into the new year, we begin by celebrating Mary, the Mother of God. This young Jewish girl who with her ‘Yes’, began for all of humanity the road of salvation.

The Church teaches us that by agreeing to the Will of God, Mary not only became the Mother of Jesus, but became the Mother of God as well! But it doesn’t end there!!! Regardless of how fantastic that is … She became our mother as well! She cares about each of us who love Her Son….Regardless of how un -perfect our ability to love Him is, She is always there with the most precious… the most sweet and the most patient love you could ever imagine, waiting… wanting to guide us, wanting to carry us to Her beloved Son, Jesus.

It really is an awesome thing. She is the Mother that all of us need. The mother who will console you when the rest of the world is willing to destroy you. She is there trying to shield you, trying to hold back the torrents of pain that the world wishes to consume you with.

It is into her tender arms that we often fall, when  the strength of our arms is spent.  It is She who carries us, close to Her bosom and places us in the tender embrace of Her gentle Son… Who like the Good Son that He is… cannot deny His Mother… our Mother…. Mary, Queen of the Universe … Mother of our God…. anything!!! Happy New Year and God bless!

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6th Day of Christmas – December 30th

This is a post I wrote two years ago, it contains a bit of good information that I once again wish to share, and since I haven’t much time to rewrite…I have chosen to just re-post the whole thing. Don’t worry though, most of you didn’t read it back then, so it will still be ‘new’ to you, but please take the opportunity to read through it now…as there are a few indulgences the Church has attached to the next few days that you may just want to take advantage of. Merry Christmas and God bless.

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On the sixth day of Christmas my True Love gave to me….six geese a laying, five golden rings…. four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves and a Partridge in a pear tree…”

As we round out the first week of this the Christmas season, we are fast approaching the final days of this year…fast approaching the first day of the coming New Gregorian Year. And even though we haven’t accumulated the great number of gifts that we have been singing  about in the “Twelve Days of Christmas“… We do have a great and loving Father Whose generosity will not be outdone! Just this week alone we have have had much to rejoice about and be glad…starting with Nativity and the birth of Christ…God has started this season with the Best…yet he still keeps on giving…And this weekend as we ring in…

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Happy 4th Day of Christmas

As we head into the weekend following Christmas, and we notice how all the hustle and bustle of the secular world has calmed down a bit, let us not be lulled into the misguided thinking that “Christmas is over”… For it has just begun! Regardless of the piles of tinsel laden Christmas trees we now see lying on the curb or the isles of red valentines that have replaced the jolly elves and Santa in the stores…. As Catholics… as Christians; our lovely encounter with the Child Jesus should not be coming to such an abrupt end… Rather, it is only beginning and we should be striving to carry this love that has exploded in our heart for the Baby Jesus, out into the rest of the world.

When a child is born into a family, it is not a one day and done kind of ordeal… No, there are weeks of congratulating the new parents and countless opportunities of oohing and awing over the new baby… showering them with your love. How could we treat the Baby Jesus to any less than that?

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Spend time in front of the creche… contemplating over the Holy Family and the tiny Babe in the middle of it all. If you haven’t already done so, open your heart to Jesus. Ask Him what He wants of you during this season of Christmas. What gift do you have for Him?

If you find that you are having a hard time finding a way to love sweet Baby Jesus, take a look at the beautiful picture I saw posted earlier today on Facebook. Take a look at this sweet little girl, her actions sum up what our response to Him should be, perfectly…. We all should be approaching the Baby Jesus with the innocence of a little child… and sharing with Him everything we have to give. Merry Christmas and God bless.

 

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Merry Christmas

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Sometimes…when man uses the gifts that God has endowed him with…wonderful things happen… the above painting is one such example…. Handel’s Messiah: Hallelujah, is another… Merry Christmas and God bless!

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Feast of the Immaculate Conception

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Today’s Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the solemn dogma defined by Blessed Pope Pius IX in 1854, was transferred from the 8th because of the Sunday Liturgy.

Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, “full of grace” through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Blessed Pope Pius IX proclaimed on December 8, 1854: “The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.” — Catechism of the Catholic Church

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Preparing for Spiritual Battle

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Now, when we read the phrase ‘Spiritual battle’ it often invokes images of the mighty battle that raged in the heavens between the once favored Lucifer and St. Michael the Archangel. It is the battle in which Lucifer was cast out of heaven into the fiery pits of  what became hell, dragging with him all the other evil spirits who did not wish to serve God.  The phrase though, can also conjure up dark images of  mankind doing battle with demons and the demonic.  This image is quite dramatic and not for the faint of heart… although, I am not saying that we will not be called to such heroic scenes, for now, I’d like to focus on the spiritual battles most of us deal with on a regular basis.

We have all heard about putting on the ‘armor’ of God, so we know that as the Church Militant we are called on a daily basis to do this battle. For most of us though, our battles will be a bit more mundane. And unfortunately, some of us even  believe that our daily battles really aren’t that important and don’t matter in the whole scheme of things. But nothing could be further from the truth!

Each day we are called to battle. From the very moment our alarm clocks sound, we are called to the ready. You might be surprised to hear, but this is the moment for us to begin our battle. We must rise quickly and without hesitation. God wants us to work for Him, and to do so, we must conquer ourselves… we must conquer our tendency to be lazy… even if it is just for five more minutes… It is in these ‘small‘ battles that we can gain so much from the Lord. Some of our sweetest victories happen, when we overcome ourselves, and offer these to the Lord. For without Him, nothing would be possible. Even St. Josemaría noted :

” The heroic minute.’ It is time to get up, on the dot! Without hesitation, a supernatural thought and . . . up! The heroic minute; here you have a mortification that strengthens your will and does not weaken your body.”

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This is just one battle, and we haven’t even gotten out of bed! So now dear reader, you can see that as conscious Christians, we are called every moment of our lives to do battle for the Lord. Most of it will be like this, small, and invisible to the outside world. These will be small victories to give to the Lord if we can accomplish them.

Another important part of our spiritual battle comes with us in learning how not to get discouraged when we fail. We may not overcome our temptations or our weaknesses easily, but we mustn’t fret. We mustn’t allow the peace of our soul to be disrupted. In the book Searching for and Maintaining Peace, Father Jacques Philippe writes:

“The 1st goal of spiritual combat is not always in attaining a victory over our temptations and weaknesses, but rather in the learning to maintain peace of heart under all circumstances- even in the case of defeat.”

This is the hard part for most of us. We can find peace when things are going well. When we are alone and no one is bothering us. Or if we have all of our needs fulfilled. We may begin to mistakenly  think that if so and so were like this, or if such and such were more like this, well then, I’d have peace. We start to blame our shortcomings on others. We may even begin to think that since we continue to struggle with our personal vises that somehow God is okay with our faults. Instead of putting more effort into our conversion, we still try to change those around us so that we can regain our peace. We don’t even realize that we have given up on the battle. But it shouldn’t be like that. God has made us all for great things… we just have to stop fighting with His goodness.

In order to do the Will of God we must maintain our peace. We can’t expect to overcome all of our faults and failings so easily. It will take work, and lots of sacrifice and prayer. We must rely on God for His help. We must be in total surrender to His Will. That is why we must overcome ourselves in the little things. ‘We’ must decrease so that He can increase’…(John 3:30)

We have so many excuses as to why we lose our peace… The people who try our patience. The project that isn’t coming together. The spouse that won’t change… The list is endless as there are a many number of things that try us throughout the day. This is our battle. Not so much to change them…but to change ourselves. To maintain our peace. It is difficult, but it is our battle… our spiritual battle so that God may work and move in our souls. It is only when we have peace… true peace… that we can then begin to work on eliminating our defects and imperfections. Of course, we must remember,  all of this can only be done with God’s grace.

As we start each day, and are confronted with our ‘spiritual battles’, let us face each of these moments with the desire of doing God’s Will. Let us work to overcome our tendency to want to do it by ourselves and let’s open our hearts to God’s love so that we may carry His Love in our hearts, not only for the benefit of others but for our own peace too… Remember, this is a daily struggle a daily ‘spiritual battle’ and we will fall. Over and over again, but we mustn’t lose hope or get discouraged … We mustn’t lose our peace, because it is in this first step of maintaining our peace that we can even begin to fight the good fight in overcoming the evils of sin. God Bless.

 

 

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Maintaining Our Sense of Sacred

As the calendar propels us thru these final months of the year, taking us right smack into the fast approaching ‘holiday season,’ we must hold back and remember where our hearts lie. Even though we have come to that time of the year when all of the stores and advertisers scream at us to join the frenzy, to abandon ourselves to the chaos and join in the frantic rush to fill our lives with excess and celebrations. As a Christian people, we must pause and recollect our calm. We must aim to maintain our sense of peace, while focusing on true reason for the coming season; the fact that God was made Man, in Christ.

This year, the season of Advent begins December 1st, just a few short days after Thanksgiving. Yet, if you walk through any of the shopping malls or big box stores… the ‘holiday gift buying season‘ is already in full swing. It seems that the time between All Hallow’s Eve and Christmas continues to shrink… pulling us… thrusting us into the mad dash of ‘holiday’ shopping, and all the worldly notions that go with it.

Every year, Thanksgiving gets glossed over, almost forgotten... as the retail giants tempt us into spending what we don’t have on things we don’t need. We are prompted to believe that we have got to buy into all of this or somehow we are failing. It’s as, if  we don’t join in, we have done something wrong. And for many of us, these nagging doubts chew away at our peace. Unsettling the peaceful quiet of our souls. And this my friends, is no way to approach the coming holy celebrations.

As we make our preparations for Thanksgiving, let’s not forget to approach God with a thankful heart… He is, after-all, the source of everything that is good. We must strive to maintain a sense of humility and peace within our souls. We have got to stop measuring our worth by the values of a world gone mad with greed. Don’t lose yourself in the measure of man… for that is not what we were created for… Have a heart filled with gratitude for all that the Lord has given you… that is what is a good. Even when it doesn’t seem so good…

It is a hard battle to remain focused on what really matters, when the world is trying to tempt you away from your ultimate goals. Maintain your regimen of prayer and keep your faith at the center of all your preparations. And contrary to what the world tells you, giving your heart to the Lord and living for Him, will give you true happiness and joy. It may sound a bit odd and seem like a radical idea, but it can be done… And as Christians we have got to stop being a part of the secular world. We’ve got to decide to maintain our sense of  prayer  and even when our days get crammed with activities and distractions, we have got to maintain our sense of the Lord… maintain our sense of the Sacred.

 

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Feast of the Holy Souls

A Prayer For The Souls In Purgatory

O most gentle Heart of Jesus, ever present in the Blessed Sacrament, ever consumed with burning love for the poor captive souls in Purgatory, have mercy on the souls of Thy departed servants. Be not severe in Thy judgements, but let some drops of Thy Precious Blood fall upon the devouring flames. And do Thou, O Merciful Savior, send Thy holy angels to conduct them to a place of refreshment, light and peace. Amen.

During this month of November, the Holy Mother Church calls the faithful, who are also called the Church Militant,  to offer prayers for the Holy Souls in Purgatory,  who are also referred to as the Church Suffering. The Church teaches that it is a Spiritual Work of Mercy to pray for the souls of the faithful departed, imploring God to purify the souls of the dead “by the fire of His charity” and to bring them at last to their Heavenly Home.

November 2nd is actually the day recognized as the Feast of the Holy Souls. But the  month as a whole, is dedicated to the souls in purgatory and we are called throughout the entire month attend extra Masses and offer up extra prayers and sacrifices for the faithful departed, especially those members of our extended families. As the Church Militant we have to remember that our loved ones who have died are relying on our prayers, as they can no longer offer prayers for themselves. It is part of our obligation as a faithful catholic to pray for the dead.

A good practice during this month, is to visit a cemetery while praying for the holy souls. Even if your family members are not buried there, you can still offer prayers on their behalf. Not only does it benefit our own deceased family members, but it is considered an act of charity to pray for all the faithful departed. The Church teaches that we should never assume that our loved ones have gone straight away to heaven. Rather, in Her wisdom, She teaches us that we are obligated to pray for the souls until we are no longer able. What a beautiful, yet simple act of charity that any of us could do, and yet many of us fail to pray for the dead, let alone our own family members.

This is a duty that should not go neglected, as we would hate to find out that our loved ones have been suffering the fate of purgatory and we did nothing to ease their pains. Searching online, we are able to come up with a variety of prayers that can be said on their behalf, and we can also offer Masses or make other sacrifices for their benefit.

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Saint Gertrude, who was a holy mystic, was given special graces by the Lord. One of these graces were mystical visions. During one such vision she was given a glimpse of purgatory. It was there she saw a man she was praying for and his soul appeared as a toad, suffering from the sins he committed on earth. After reciting a short prayer for him, she asked Jesus if it had any effect. He replied by saying, “Certainly, the souls in Purgatory are lifted up by such supplications, but also brief prayers that are said with fervor are of even greater benefit for them.”

During another of these visions, Gertrude was given a prayer by Jesus for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. It is piously believed that 1,000 souls are released from purgatory by praying this payer with the heart. Can you imagine the joy that one simple act of charity can have on so many souls!!

Below is this powerful prayer, when praying it, one trusts in the unfathomable mercy of God, which was poured out for us on Calvary.

Eternal Father, I offer You the most Precious Blood of Your Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for all sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal Church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen.

If up until now, you have neglected your duty in praying for the dead, it is not too late to start. Remember, if you begin today and pray as often as you can throughout the month, there is a good chance that you will continue this holy and charitable practice long after November has ended, making it not only beneficial for the holy souls, but for your holy soul as well. Make it a beautiful November and God bless.

 

 

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True Peace Comes From the Lord

We have all been there, heck, I imagine many of us are there right now, rocking in an unsteady boat.. So often, we spend years… perhaps even, the majority of our days, caught in the chaotic unbalance of the world, trying to find ‘steady’… trying to find peace. Searching for Truth and balance, yet ignoring the One place we can find it. We fret and we worry and we search… seeking in the world, what it cannot offer us.
Yet, if we have been raised in the Faith… specifically, the Catholic Faith, we know that Jesus revealed the answer to us. And in theory, we know His Words to be true …”for with God, all things are possible”… But in reality, we are human and prone to arrogance and sin, and even with this teaching… this revealed ‘Truth’, we still struggle. We want our peace the way we want it. Wrapped with happiness. Sprinkled with calm…

We want our peace to come with all those feel good emotions that we tend to lack on our own. Listening to the lies of man… we cave in, and we ignore the Truth, and start believing  in the ‘happy’ promises of the world. We buy into it. Staking our life on it. After all, we are weak, and we are apt to want to satisfy the physical first, without even worrying about the spiritual realm. By shifting our focus away from Christ’s promise of peace, and the truth that we were in fact, created for the ever lasting, we fall and this is where the struggles really begin.

Now what do I mean by that? Well, so often we lose ourselves in the moments of the day. The constancy of pains and miseries that so often find their way into our waking hours… They begin to consume not only our intellect, but our heart… and whether we want to admit it or not, they begin to consume our soul as well. Unsettling it. Pulling us further away from the Truth. Then, when we are so wrapped up and focused on our physical and emotional wellness, we get sidelined. By a variety of foes… illness… sadness… loss… anxiety… even death… Soon we are back to treading on unsteady ground… grasping… gasping for life. In vain, we are trying to put everything back into order. Man’s order. It becomes an endless cycle of just trying to stay afloat.

With the waves crashing all around how are we to find balance? To find peace? This is where we must turn from the world and those promises of comfort, and rely solely on God. Rely completely on the Lord. He is our life vest… He is our Salvation. When we rely on ourselves, we put everything into the perspective ‘of man’ and we lose sight of the big picture. We lose sight of the reality of God and the fact that He is our only hope for peace.

I recently heard a young father describe his role in his young daughter’s life, and it pretty much sums up what God, Our Heavenly Father should be to each one of us. He said that his little two year old sometimes gets scared by a dog that is running along the fence barking or at a loud thundering noise, sometimes she even falls and gets hurt. Regardless of what causes her upset, and still being the trusting child that she is, without thinking… without analyzing it… she runs to him.  Trusting that he is her father, she allows him to hold her, to cradle her close to his calm body. He doesn’t really ‘do’ anything. He doesn’t have to chase the dog away, and he certainly can’t undo the loud noise. He really can’t even ‘fix’ her boo-booed knee. But what he can do, is offer her his loving peace. A place to retreat to when her world becomes unbalanced…unsettled. Even when she has suffered a hurt, and is in pain, his calm comfort… his peaceful presence, surrounds her and she is able to regain her sense of peace.
This is what God is like. He may not take away the barking dog, or the loud thundering noise. And most times we will still have the hurt of pain, but He is there, like the good Father that He is, surrounding us with His calm. Surrounding us with His secure embrace. He won’t make everything ‘peachy keen’ and it won’t be smooth sailing from here on out, but if we run to Him… allow Him to comfort us, He will give us the calm to rest our souls and make it through the chaos here on earth. It won’t be easy… there will be no gentle breezes and calming music… but if we trust in what Christ taught…”My own peace I give to you: a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you”… He will never abandon us  in the chaos. Never.  Not ever. But we, my friends, in our stubbornness,  may continue to abandon Him.

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