Advice to the Groom

Dear Dave,

When your mother and I got married, we used the standard vows right out of the book. I did not even know what my promises would be until the priest read them to me at the rehearsal. Just in case you have not read ahead, they go like this:

“I, David, take you, Lisa, to be my wife. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.”

No trick phrases. No hidden clauses. These vows are simple enough for Forrest Gump.

“I take you to be my wife,” is a very vague job description. Who will cook? Who will clean? Fix the car? Mow the lawn? Change the diapers? Different couples work it out different ways. It is not about who does what. The important thing is with whom you do it.

In the Song of Songs, the groom says, “There are sixty queens, eighty concubines, and maidens without number. One alone is my dove, my perfect one.” (Songs 6:8-9) There are beauty queens, video stars, and girls everywhere you look. This vow says, “Of all the girls, in all the world, you are the one for me. I take you”

“I promise to be true.” No cheating. No fooling around. Enough said.

“I will love you.” Do not confuse romance with love. Romance is an unreliable feeling that incites romantic notions such as, “I will climb the highest mountain for you. I will fight dragons for you. I will die for you.” Real life poses a different challenge:

You are sitting on the couch, watching TV, and go looking for a snack during a commercial. You find some apples in the refrigerator and pick out a good one. Then you call, “Lisa, do you want an apple?” “Sure, Dave. Thanks.” But there is no second apple that looks good. Heading to the couch, you ponder which apple to give her. Romance says, “I will die for you.” Real life asks, “Are you going to give her the good apple?” Love says, “Yes, give her the best.”

“I will honor you.” This was the surprise vow for me. I did not expect to make a promise to honor her. But I gave it a try, and it worked out well. I stopped teasing her and made it a habit to defend her and take her side when friends or family wanted to pick on her.

Honor is the most unappreciated vow. Some husbands make jokes about their wives, with little put-downs that are supposed to be funny. These are bad jokes. They cut, they wound, and they destroy trust. A marriage can die the death of a thousand tiny cuts. Avoid negative humor. It is not funny.

Honor is about respect. Treat her like a queen. Make your children respect their mother. Don’t let anyone put her down. She is your lady, and your lady always gets treated with respect.

God bless you, Dave.

Love,

Dad

by John Przybysz, President, Christian Family Movement-USA

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Message about Holy Spirit from Pope Francis

Pope Francis, Holy Spirit, Vatican IIWhile some Catholics would like to undo the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, others basically are trying to build a monument to it rather than fully live its teachings, Pope Francis said.

In his homily April 16 at an early morning Mass in the chapel of his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae, Pope Francis said Christians must struggle with the temptation to tame the Holy Spirit.

“To speak plainly: The Holy Spirit annoys us,” he said. The Spirit “moves us, makes us walk, pushes the church to move forward.”

But, too often, he said, Catholics are like the Apostle Peter on the mountaintop when Jesus is transfigured. They, like Peter, say, “Oh, how nice it is to be here all together,” but “don’t bother us.”

“We want the Holy Spirit to sleep,” he said. “We want to domesticate the Holy Spirit, and that just won’t do because he is God and he is that breeze that comes and goes, and you don’t know from where.”

The Holy Spirit is God’s strength, the pope said. The Holy Spirit “gives us consolation and the strength to move forward,” and the moving forward part is what can be a bother.

People think it’s better to be comfortable, but that is not what the fire of the Holy Spirit brings, Pope Francis said.

While Catholics today may be more comfortable speaking about the Holy Spirit than they were 50 years ago, it doesn’t mean the temptation to tame the Spirit has diminished, he said.

Pope Francis said reactions to the Second Vatican Council are a prime example.

“The council was a beautiful work of the Holy Spirit,” he said. “But after 50 years, have we done everything the Holy Spirit in the council told us to do?”

The pope asked if Catholics have opened themselves to “that continuity of the church’s growth” that the council signified. The answer, he said, is “no.”

Catholics seemed willing to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the council’s opening in 1962, he said, but they want to do so by “building a monument” rather than by changing anything.

At the same time, Pope Francis said, “there are voices saying we should go back. This is called being hard-headed, this is called wanting to domesticate the Holy Spirit, this is called becoming ‘foolish and slow of heart,'” like the disappointed disciples on the road to Emmaus.

The same phenomenon can be at work in Christians’ personal lives, he said. “The Holy Spirit pushes us” to live the Gospel more seriously, but resistance is often one’s reply.

Pope Francis ended his homily encouraging everyone to pray for docility to the Holy Spirit, “to that Spirit who comes to us and urges us forward on the path to holiness.”

The ‘Liebster’ privilege!

Liebster Award, Blog AwardsI have had the privilege of being ‘Liebster-ised’ once again. This time by 1catholicsalmon and Roy.

Thank you both of you for the acknowledgement. I am just glad that someone somewhere is helped in someway by my witness or at the least is introduced to Christ Jesus. Because THAT is one life-goal I am struggling to achieve – to be a worthy witness of Christ.

And I know that I am nowhere near the goal. Especially when I read blogs like yours and Joseph’s The Lonely Pilgrim and 1Catholicsalmon and Terry’s 8 Kids and a Business, I realise how small and far away I am.

The catholicsalmon is much appreciated for her faithfulness to the Catholic cause. One look at her blog and you know how passionate she is about it. Her posts will always give you some food for thought.

There’s always something that touches my heart when I read Roy’s posts. They are heartfelt and earnest. Roy when you look at your stats page next, remember to think of someone in this corner of the world who has been helped by your writing. 🙂

Well, coming to the requirements for accepting this award:

  1. Post the Liebster award graphic on your site.
  2. Thank the blogger who nominated the blog for a Liebster Award and link back to their blog.
  3. The blogger then writes 11 facts about themselves so people who discover their blog through the Liebster post will learn more about them.
  4. In addition to posting 11 fun facts about themselves, nominated bloggers should also answer the 11 questions from the post of the person who nominated them.
  5. The nominated blogger will in turn, nominate 9 other blogs with 200 or less followers (We’re guessing for our nominees) for a Liebster award by posting a comment on their blog and linking back to the Liebster post.
  6. The nominated blogger will create 11 questions for their nominated blogs to answer in their Liebster post.

Sorry Roy, I am going to skip the part about 11 facts. Most of the posts and the About Me page does that already.

However, I will answers the questions from you:

  1. What is your favorite comfort food? – I have a huge sweet tooth. I dig into whatever sweet is available. If nothing at all, then I will reach out for a spoonful of sugar… urrrgh you say! yummmm I say… 🙂
  2. What are you reading right now? – Several books at one time – (1) Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer  (2)  A Story of a Soul by St.Therese  (3) I Surrender All by Clay & Renee Crosse  (4) My Cousin Rachel by du Maurier
  3. If you were given a day to play hooky from work or school, what would you do? – ummm… er… let me see… coming up with zilch 😦
  4. What is your favorite sense? Touch, sight, smell, hear, taste?  How do you treat it? – The 2 Ts. I hug and kiss my son all the time. I indulge my taste buds equally often.
  5. Firefly or Farscape?  If you can’t answer that, just tell us what your favorite TV show is. – Friends.
  6. I feel most connected to God when I am in need. Then I approach the Throne of Grace and ask. Ask for His help to be what He wants me to be, to do what He wants me to do, to live the life He wants me to. I beg for His grace to help me love Him with all my might and live to please HIM ALONE.
  7. What are you most grateful for right now? – For the fact that He considered me worthy enough to reveal Himself to me and that I now live in the knowledge of Christ and His Gospel. Am also grateful for my son.
  8. Name Five people you want to talk to the moment you see them in Heaven. – Jesus, Mary, St.Therese, St.Augustine and my husband.
  9. What are some of the questions you would ask them? – Haven’t thought of it yet.
  10. Where do you need more discipline in your life? – I need more patience and humility.
  11. What inspired you to blog?  What keeps you blogging? – It began as a place for recording my thoughts, events and graces received. But presently it is going nowhere as I am not mentally available to write much.

The Nominations

I would urge you to visit each of the following blogs and benefit from the grace-filled writings of these lovely people. Each one has a unique story to tell and I am pretty sure each blog will touch some chord in your heart.

  1. Laura
  2. Terry
  3. Greg
  4. Fr Hugh
  5. The red-haired salmon from British Isle
  6. Ronnie
  7. J P Bentley
  8. Jenn
  9. Diane

What I would like to know about the above Nominees

  1. What brought you to the Lord / to His knowledge?
  2. Do you have your down days in the spiritual life?
  3. What brings about this aridity? And how do you come out of it?
  4. What is your favourite prayer?
  5. Who is your favourite saint and why?
  6. If there’s one thing you were to be granted by the Lord, what would you ask for?
  7. What is the one thing you absolutely want to inculcate in your children?
  8. What is the one fun thing you love to indulge in?
  9. Name one book that has moved you deeply and has impacted your life.
  10. Name one thing you do daily as a follower of Christ’s Way.
  11. Please say a prayer for Pope Francis.

Dilemmas of Christian Living

This post has been in the making in my mind for some time now. Something happened today and the words just tumbled out of my head onto the keyboard. I have tried making it as coherent as possible. But if I don’t make too much sense, I would love to know your views on the topic.

So you’ve met Jesus. And you’ve found heaven. All the consolations and heavenly hugs make you giddy with joy. You just want everyone else to have the same joy from knowing Christ. Your mind is occupied with God. You want to keep talking about Him to others. You feel like your life is finally on track.

But the euphoria lasts for only so long.

St.John of the Cross in the Dark Night of the Soul says:

the soul, after it has been definitely converted to the service of God, is, as a rule, spiritually nurtured and caressed by God, even as is the tender child by its loving mother…. but, as the child grows bigger, the mother gradually ceases caressing it and hiding her tender love, puts bitter aloe upon her sweet breast, sets down the child from her arms and makes it walk upon its feet, so that it may lose the habits of a child and betake itself to more important and substantial occupations. The loving mother is like the Grace of God, for as soon as the soul is regenerated by its new warmth and fervor for the service of God, He treats it in the same way…

And when God starts treating you like a grown up, the struggle begins. And it IS a struggle. To stick to His way, which is narrow and how!

A lot of us fall on the way. Some get discouraged and give up. Others, knowing that it is OK to fall, will get back up and keep going on. Only a few recognize this spiritual aridity as grace of God and use it for a greater good.

Most of us in Christ know what is good and what’s bad. We are generally aware of what the Lord expects of us in sticky situations and with difficult people. It still takes special push to bring us to our senses.

Especially for me, I am the gravest of the sinners. Even after knowing Christ, I am full of pride. A lot of times, introspection leads me to the same conclusion – that I lack perseverance, patience and humility.

1)                  I am troubled if someone doesn’t think good of me.

2)                  It hurts me if my family doesn’t include me in some plans.

3)                  Sometimes it hurts me if my friends don’t give me time or an ear when I need it.

4)                  I get irritated when people act unfriendly and difficult.

5)                  It even hurts me many times if things don’t go my way.

And I realize that it is all self-love.

Loving God alone brings peace of mind. Trusting Him assures you that “all things work out for good for those who love the Lord”. If God is the centre of your life, all of the above will not cause ripples in your life. And yet, when we are living in the world we are living in, being constant in Christ is a walk on tight rope. You are faced with so many small and big dilemmas.

Tell me:-

1)                  What does living holy and Christ-like entail?

2)                  Do you listen to secular music?

3)                  Do you watch secular movies?

4)                  How do you handle the guilt over watching and listening to it?

5)                  Is it OK to sometimes want to be ahead of others?

6)                  Someone at work pulls strings to get a promotion. Do you voice your protest or be quiet surrendering the injustice to God or is it OK to be indifferent because you are not so ambitious yourself and so you don’t really care.

7)                  How do you treat your desires and wants vis-à-vis the merit in self-denial?

8)                  How do you stick to a prayer routine when the cares of life leave you with no time or mental strength?

9)                  What about your impatience with your family and friends? You realize that more often than not you are being unfair to them and yet you struggle to control your emotions and temper.

10)               What about the temptations in relationships and personal life? Where and how do you draw a line?

11)                Should living Christian life mean that you will overflow with love for everyone, all the time?

12)                Does it mean you obey God all the time? What if you fail sometime?

13)                Does it mean you sin less than other people in the world?

Have you ever had any of the questions confusing your Christian Life?

Some days I think I have an answer to all these nagging thoughts. But I understand it cannot be all that simple.

What I keep realizing often is that the answer definitely lies in denying yourself and pleasing God alone. However, realizing and acting on it are two different things. And I am still not able to fully put myself out of my mind and replace thoughts of self with thoughts of God.

I try. God knows I make that effort hoping that someday the ‘I’ will be completely replaced by ‘J’. But for now, I am like:

the tiny child who is learning to stand up, but doesn’t know how to walk yet. Absolutely wanting to reach the top of the stairs to find his mother, he lifts his little foot in order to climb the first step. But his trouble is of no use! He falls back down without being able to advance. Well, you be that little child. Through the practice of all the virtues, lift you little foot in order to climb the stairway of saintliness, and don’t imagine that you will be able even to climb the first step! No! But all the Good Lord asks of you is good will. From the top of those stairs, He looks at you with love. Soon, won over by your useless efforts, He will come down Himself, and, taking you in His arms, He will carry you for all time to His kingdom, where you will never leave Him anymore.

The above quote is from the words of counsel of St.Thérèse who is my measure for human love towards God. And I live each day in the hope and struggle that with some help from Heaven, I would someday affirm and live the following as the saint:

O Jesus! When you travelled on earth, you said: “Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart. Your souls will find rest.” O powerful monarch of the heavens, yes, my soul finds rest in seeing you clothed with the form and nature of a slave (Phil 2:7), lowering yourself to the point of washing the feet of your apostles. Then I remember those words that you said so as to teach me to practice humility: “What I just did was to give you an example: as I have done, so you must do…The disciple is not greater than his master. Once you know all these things, blest will you be if you put them into practice.” (Jn 13:15-17) I understand them, Lord, I understand these words that came forth from your gentle and humble heart; with the help of your grace, I want to put them into practice.

I want to humbly lower myself and to submit my will to that of my sisters, not contradicting them in anything and without seeking whether they have the right to command me. O my Beloved, no one had this right where you were concerned, and nevertheless you obeyed not only the Blessed Virgin and Saint Joseph, but even those who tortured you. Now I see you bringing your annihilation to the full in the host. How humble you are, o divine King of Glory… O my Beloved, how gentle and humble of heart you appear to me hidden behind the veil of the white host!…

O Jesus, gentle and humble of heart, make my heart like yours.

Redemptive Suffering

Redemptive SufferingI’m a believer in what the Church calls “redemptive suffering.” St. Paul says, “This is a wicked generation and your lives should redeem it” (Eph. 5:16). He wasn’t saying that Jesus’ life and suffering needed our redemption, but he was saying that we need to cooperate with Jesus — to unite our suffering with His.

I’ve been sick all my life. I don’t remember a day I wasn’t sick with something. And I think that Our Dear Lord’s hand was on me. I’ve had cross after cross from the earliest time I can remember. But it kept me dependent on the Lord to do whatever He asked me to do. The pain was a safety for me because I could never give myself credit for any accomplishment. It’s a protection; it’s like a shield for me.

I think that’s true of everybody; they just don’t see it or they’re not told about it. There’s an obvious grace to being treated by the Father as He treated His Son for our sanctification and for the sanctification of other souls. We’re so interested today in helping people and social work, why don’t we help them to offer their pain and suffering up to God?

When we can’t alleviate their pain, we need to give them a spiritual answer that strengthens them and teaches them that their pain and suffering is not only important, but also necessary to the world.

– Mother Angelica

If you liked the above thought, you may like to read the following too:

Redemptive Suffering