On Loathing Worthless Food

I was at a Young Adult event a couple weeks ago, which was entitled “Drinks and Dumb Questions.”  The format for the event was that our young adults wrote a bunch of questions, and two of our priests took turns answering the questions that were raised.  During the talk, there was a two part question that was raised in which it was asked, “Why be Catholic, and if I feel connected to God at a different church, why do I need to come to Mass?”

While answering, there was a particular Bible passage that sparked some thoughts.  In the book of Numbers, the Israelites become impatient and begin to complain to Moses saying, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food” (Num (21:5).  The worthless food is of course the manna (the bread come down from Heaven), which foreshadows Jesus, the true bread from Heaven.  Shortly after, the Lord sends fiery serpents to bite at the Israelites.  When Moses prays for the people, God commands him to create a pole and mount a fiery serpent upon it.  When the Israelites are attacked, if they look at the snake, they will be saved.

There was one line in that encounter that stuck with me for the rest of the night.

We loathe this worthless food…

Locker Room Lessons: Perseverance

I’ve been around a baseball field all my life.  I’ve learned a lot from being on the diamond, some bad things, but mostly good. This series, Locker Room Lessons, is my attempt to share the many lessons that sports have taught me about faith.  With each post, I’ll offer a glimpse into a new lesson and relate it to some aspect of being Catholic or Church teaching. Some lessons are harder than others, but all are worth talking about.  There are plenty more lessons, to be sure, so I hope you’ll join me as I dig in.

Throughout my high school and college baseball days, I spent countless hours doing things that weren’t necessarily enjoyable, yet were pivotal in my success as a baseball player.  I’ve spent hundreds of hours doing sprints, taking batting practice and ground balls, lifting weights and putting my body through more physical stress than I sometimes care to recall.  But why would I put myself through all that struggle for a simple game?  In part, because I love the game, and have always wanted to do what I needed to, in order to be the best that I could.

Only when we put ourselves through the struggle, , can we ever grow.  It is in the failures that we learn the most.  When we fail and take a look inward at ourselves, we learn how to adapt, make changes and move on.  In baseball, you fail far more often than you succeed.  If you make an out seven out of ten times at bat, you are inducted into the Hall of Fame!  I can’t think of any other situation where you can succeed at your job 30% of the time, and be considered great at what you do.  In our lives, God uses the struggles and difficulties to help us grow.  In both sports and in life, we have the option to choose to participate.  We can either choose to sulk and complain about a struggle, or we can embrace it and learn from it.  Because of the fall (Gen 3), we will continue to sin throughout our lives, but the mercy of God is continually offered to us.  He picks us up, dusts us off, and gives us the grace to keep going.

In Further Defense of the Church

The classic Scriptural pure garcinia cambogia text for apologetics is 1 Peter 3:15, “Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence.”  The Gospel reading for this past Sunday’s Mass provides us with an interesting look at the Church, and evidence for what the early Church looked like, and what they taught.

One of the best ways to read Scripture is to read on our knees, begging the Holy Spirit to help us understand.  It is important to ask questions, and read in context, keeping in mind the time that each book is written, knowing a little bit about the places and circumstances that surround each author.  As Catholics, we do not proof text passages from Scripture, but rather look for clues from the whole of Scripture.  When reading, we should put on the mind of a detective, searching for clues to understanding.

Here is the reading from this past Sunday:

15If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone.  If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.  16But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the Church; and if he refuses to listen even to the Church, there am I in the midst of them (Mt 18-15-20).

Coming Out of Spiritual Dryness

In the last few days, I’ve been thinking a lot about the spiritual dryness that I’ve been experiencing, and pondering my situation.  As I walked out of work, I realized that maybe things haven’t been so bad after all.  Maybe the sun was starting to shine, and I somehow missed it.  I realized I had missed seeing God’s love and attention in so many places, because I was looking for one particular instance.  If we show our love in different ways (sending notes, giving gifts, with hugs and kisses, etc), and we’re made in God’s image, why did I think that God would only show love in one way?

As I got in the car, I heard “Is it me that you love, or the feeling you get inside?”  As I looked for the many ways that God reveals Himself, I saw that He wasn’t gone like I thought He was.  But, the feeling of being on fire faded, and that’s what I missed.  As I was doing all my research and reading, there were so many “light bulb moments” and those have been few and far between lately. Yet, there have been so many good things that have happened in the past few months, and I somehow managed to overlook those because I was so focused on the fact that I didn’t feel the same way.

Locker Room Lessons: Love

A drawing of me - waiting to hit

From the time I was in diapers, I was around a baseball field.  I’ve learned a lot from being on the diamond, some bad things, but mostly good.  This new series, Locker Room Lessons, is something that originated from my post on manhood.  There are many lessons that we can glean from sports, and I’ll attempt to give a glimpse into a few of the lessons that I’ve picked up over the years.  Some lessons are harder than others, but all are worth talking about.  I already have ideas swirling for posts on leadership, Heavenperseverance, speech, community, and the bane of my existence – patience.  There are plenty more lessons, to be sure, so let’s see where this takes us, and I hope you’ll join me as I dig in.

There is a great divide on some rather complex issues in our world today.  It’s not uncommon to see heated debates on issues like abortion, embryonic stem cell research, same-sex marriage, euthanasia, pornography, divorce and the destruction of the family, and many others.  All of these issues, while important, seem to stem from a common thread – a fundamental difference in the understanding of love.

With that thought in mind, I’ve decided to start by sharing some lessons on love that I’ve learned from playing sports.

Love can be a tricky subject…

Bright Maidens: Spiritual Reading For The Soul

I’ve been meaning to add a “books” page since I got the blog up and running, so leave it to the Bright Maidens to finally give me the motivation to put some thoughts down, and get my act together!  Go check out the posts from Trista, Julie, and Elizabeth, as well as all the other posts here.

I love to be outdoors, so summer is a time when my desire to read dwindles substantially.  Yet, I certainly know that others love a hammock and a good book.  So, as we approach the “dog days of summer,” here are a few of my favorite books worth checking out:

Jesus of Nazareth by Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict writes in such a clear, concise style.  I read this book and the sequel (Jesus of Nazareth – Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection) leading up to, and during Lent.  Both are fabulous reflections on our Lord by our Holy Father.  In the first book, Pope Benedict meditates on significant events in the life of Christ, beginning with the Baptism in the Jordan, and culminating with reflections on the Transfiguration, and Jesus declaring His identity.  As stated by Pope Benedict, his concern in Part One was to “present ‘the figure and the message of Jesus.’”  Part Two focuses on a relatively short period of time, Holy Week. If you remember my post on being engaged during Mass, you’ll recognize the vision I had during the “Holy, Holy, Holy” shortly after reading the beginning of Part Two.  Both these reflections are definitely worth a read, and be sure to watch for a potential third installment on the infancy narratives.

Sibling Novena – Thank You

I’ve been visibly absent from the blogging world lately, and if you’ve read my last post, you’ll know why. But, I wanted to take a moment thank the many people that were involved with the sibling novena.  If you haven’t seen it yet, go check it out here!

First of all, a heartfelt “thank you” to Trista, who wrote the prayer, and did the research on Sts. Benedict and Scholastica.  Also, a big “thank you” goes out to Lisa Schmidt from The Practicing Catholic.  She posted a link on her blog, facebook, she tweeted it, and used just about every other type of media to spread the word!

Just the other day, Lisa left this story (from one of her friends) in the comments on the original post:

Just wanted you to know that the sibling novena is being started today by our family. We have a reunion next weekend and there will be +/- 80 relatives gathering in Northern Colorado. I have sent out the novena for all to pray with the idea we will complete it together next Sat evening when we are together. Thanks for sharing! Be blessed always and in all ways!

What an incredible story!!

Also, I have to thank everyone that left a comment with your intentions!  So, “thank you” to Julie, Allison, Elizabeth, my mom, Ann, Kendra, Emily, my Aunt Trischa, Liesl, Rosemary, Marc, Palaminko, and Sam. And, last but certainly not least, thank you to all those who prayed with us in silence!

This novena has been a true blessing in our lives, and I pray that it continues to bear fruit for years to come!

Sowing Seeds in a Spiritual Desert

I haven’t posted much in the last month or so, and the reason is twofold.  First, it’s summer, and as a result, my schedule tends to get filled quickly. Second, I’ve been feeling very spiritually weak, and my prayer (when existent) has been rather dry. Think about the driest, most deserted place you can, and that’s where I’ve been.  Much like when Jesus spends 40 days in the desert, temptation becomes amplified when we are at our weakest.  The Devil comes and launches his attack when we are at our most vulnerable.

What happens often with me is God plans events to happen in my life, and then He speaks to me in the Scriptures that week at Mass.  It was rather fitting that we heard the parable of the sower during the Gospel last Sunday.  I see myself as different soil at different times.  Here is the parable as heard last Sunday at Mass:

A sower went out to sow.  And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up.  Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil.  It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots.  Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it.  But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirty-fold.  Whoever has ears ought to hear (Mt 13:3-9).

Sometimes, God comes to me with something, and in my selfishness, I really don’t want to deal with it.  So, the seed gets snatched before it can take root.  Lately, I’ve felt like the seed sown among thorns.  Praying and listening to God’s words seem especially difficult because of the many distractions of my busy schedule.  The Lord gets put on the back burner and becomes less of a priority when there are other things to do.

Novena to Sts. Benedict & Scholastica

For Ourselves and Our Siblings

A few weeks back, I asked the Catholic tweeps to pray for my little sister during some rather difficult times she was having at school and at home.  The response was overwhelming, and Trista mentioned that we ought to do a novena for ourselves and our siblings.  After doing some research, she came up with the idea to pray to Saints Benedict and Scholastica.

If you’re like me, who didn’t know what a novena (noh-vee-nuh) was, it’s simply a devotion consisting of prayers for nine consecutive days.  We’re planning to start next Monday (July 11th), which just so happens to be the feast day for St. Benedict!  So, for nine days, beginning on the 11th, we will pray the prayer below, followed by an Our Father, a Hail Mary, and a Glory Be.  Oh, and just in case you don’t know much about Benedict and Scholastica, we’ve included a quick bio for your viewing and learning pleasure!

If you’d like to join us, please leave a comment below, so we can include everyone’s intentions as we all pray together.  If you don’t have any siblings, feel free to pray for the participants and their siblings or to join in and pray for those whom you consider like siblings.

Also, please help us spread the word!

 

The Story of Sts. Benedict & Scholastica

Sts. Benedict and Scholastica were twins born in Nursia, Italy in the early 400s. After St. Benedict founded the Benedictine Order at Monte Cassino, he established a convent, where his sister, St. Scholastica, became the first Benedictine nun.

Though the siblings had a great love for each other, the rules of their homes prohibited them from visiting at the monastery, and they were permitted one visit at a local home per year.  During one such visit, Scholastica asked Benedict and his monks to stay the night, so that they could continue to talk about heaven and other spiritual matters.  Benedict refused, saying he could not be gone a full night from his Abbey.

At his answer, Scholastica bowed her head and began to cry and pray.  Within seconds, a severe thunderstorm raged outside.   Gregory the Great later explained that “her prayer and the rain did so meet together…that in one and the very same instant, she lifted up her head and brought down the rain.”

Benedict was not pleased with this turn of events.  ”God forgive you, what have you done?” he complained.

“I desired you to stay, and you would not hear me.  I asked our good Lord, and he has granted my petition,” Scholastica replied.  Benedict and his monks were forced to spend the night and stayed up late talking of heaven.

This was the last visit between Scholastica and Benedict.  Three days later, Scholastica died.

History paraphrased from  http://saintbenedict.org/stscholastica.htm

 

The Novena Prayer

Dear Saints Benedict and Scholastica,

As siblings you encouraged each other to grow in faith and love of God;

As saints, you encourage the world to do the same.

We turn to your knowledge of the struggles as siblings, from different perspectives and desires, to time and distance spent apart.

Despite the struggles, you also experienced the fruits of friendship, love, and support.

We humbly pray for your intercession, for ourselves and our siblings.  Open our hearts to the Lord; guide us on the path to holiness; and bind us together, so that one day we will greet you in heaven with our siblings by our side.

Our Father–Hail Mary–Glory Be

 

Experiencing The Eucharist

Last fall, I was approached by a friend in the parish, and she asked if I would consider becoming an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion.  The thought was certainly intriguing.  She said that our parish could always use more young faces sharing the joy of the Eucharist with everyone.  I saw it as a great opportunity to step up and serve.

About a month ago, I had the opportunity to serve in that capacity for the first time.  The days leading up to Sunday were nerve racking, but I knew that it would be an incredible chance to serve and be a witness to all the other people at our parish both young and old.

Here is a glimpse of the thoughts going through my head, as we approached to begin distribution of the Eucharist:

  • Whoa! There are a lot of people at Mass today!
  • Don’t trip going up the stairs…
  • Is the cup supposed to be this full?
  • Don’t trip going down the stairs…
  • Lord, can you help stop my knees from shaking?

In the end, it all went by in a blur.  It is amazing sometimes how we put so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect, the first time we try something new.  I can’t help but think the first time I rode a bike, or tried playing baseball, I failed more often than not.  Yet, by sticking with it, and immersing myself totally in what I was doing, I learned so much.

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