Friday, July 27, 2012

The Inestimable Value of Married Consecration (7 Quick takes)

1. Let's say you're Catholic, married, (or engaged, or widowed.) Wouldn't it be wonderful to find a Church-approved vowed form consecration just for the married that would add sacred value to all the ordinary actions of your life?

2. On top of it, you use the internet and other forms of media, maybe you're even a Catholic blogger, and you're aware that the bad use of the media far exceeds the good use. Would you like to spiritually support the good and holy use of the media?

3. Family life is busy, challenging, even grueling at times, but full of rewards and blessings. A special form of consecration for the married that doesn't add much to the daily burden but greatly increases the value of your life in the eyes of God would be an incredible blessing.

4. Within the context of this consecration, you would receive monthly materials in the form of a one hour CD, a booklet filled with guidance oriented toward married and family life and the good use of the media, and other materials. And there is a yearly retreat called the Triduum, at which many couples and families of the HFI gather together for prayer, liturgy, teaching, and fun, and to witness the vows of members.

5. Blessed James Alberione,

the founder of the Daughters of Saint Paul and of the Society of Saint Paul, envisioned an associated group of vowed-consecrated married couples who by the ordinary works and prayers of married/family life would lend support to the media work of the Saint Paul Sisters and Fathers.

6. This group is called the Holy Family Institute. It began in 1960, and in 1993, the Institute and its Statute (Rule of Life) was formally approved by the Catholic Church in this decree.

7. Members pray with and for the priests and sisters of the Pauline Family in their work with the media. They are consecrated in their ordinary duties of married/family life, by special forms of the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience which are completely oriented toward married/family life. If this intriques you at all, visit one of the HFI websites, (here too) (and here) or contact our Delegate Superior, Fr. Tom Fogarty.

God bless you! Have a great weekend, and be sure to check Jennifer's Quick Takes!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Rain And Grace

On the bus, on the way to work this morning, I was amazed at how low the level of the river was. It was perhaps the lowest I've ever seen it. And it's not like there has been no rain. The last week has seen at least two decent rain storms. But that water was here, not north of here, and has already gone down south. I suppose it's a drop in the bucket of how much water flows in the river.

This is one of the worst droughts we've seen. I think I saw it written that it is the worst since 1950, before I was born.

It reminds me of a passage in the prophets wherein the prophet predicts a drought of hearing the Word of the Lord. It is a fearful thing that most of us don't recognize. A drought of grace, a drought of hearing the word, a drought of receiving good, holy, true teaching, and holy help from heaven.

Much of it has to do with receptiveness. Grace, like rain, falling on hearts hardened by sin and self-centeredness and indifference, rolls off without penetrating. It can do no good. It can give no relief. We need to prepare our hearts like the soil, tilling and turning and fertilizing, so that when the rain falls, when grace is given, it will be able to do some good.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Like Children Squatting in the Market Place...

How many chances do we get? How many opportunities will come our way? The old saying goes, "Opportunity only knocks once." Well, it's not true. Opportunities come many times. We just don't see them for what they are. And so, we squander them. We ignore them.

We fight and squabble over windfalls. We fail to use them in justice and charity. We refuse forgiveness; we refuse to forgive and forget. We take what is not ours, we act like little children fighting over some toy, while God's watches sadly, his little gifts wasted, turned into moments of disunity and revenge rather than the acts of love he meant them to be.

This is why people like Mother Teresa and Katie Davis are such important examples for us. They are people who take everything: trials and windfalls, as gifts, precious gifts, not to be fought over, not to be squandered, but as means to extend and continue the Divine love and generosity.

Something to think about.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Pictures

I thought I'd post some pictures now and then. Besides, I can't think of anything to write.

Our front door. It has character, kind of like the face of an old boxer.
What story could be written based on this photo?
Still life of potato and onion basket.
A welcome rain.
Jesus of the Stairway?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Horror Story of Sin

In view of the recent theater killings, and some of the commentaries I have read, and after having read the Wikipedia article about a serial killer, the anniversary of whose arrest is today, I am reminded of a theme I have often dealt with in my short fiction.

Sin has a cumulative and addictive effect on us. We are often warned about sin, repent because death can come at any moment and an awesome judgment awaits.

But that's only part of the concern. Small sins are not really so small, and they can lead to greater sins. Unrepentance can lead to an deeply worsening habit of sin that can totally destroy a person and have far-reaching effects on others.

We must be vigilant, unremittingly vigilant about our sins, our activities, our interests. We must examine ourselves daily, and expose our hearts as honestly as we can to a trustworthy guide.

What I have noticed about the kinds of killers who end up in the news, is that they spent a good deal of time alone, hidden, even ignored, left to their own devices, fantasizing, developing obsessions. They go unchecked in their activities.

This is partly their fault, but it is also the fault of parents who leave their children unchecked, unsupervised, unmonitored. If we, as parents, teachers, people in authority, take note of odd or strange or obsessive or sinful behaviors, we ought to do something about it. We have to have the wisdom to see the path that certain interests and behaviors can take one down, and prudently, gently, yet firmly intervene before the habits are too deeply ingrained.

My point is that sin and occasions of sin and sinful interests, if unchecked, draw one into deeper involvement in sin. Sin attracts and ruins a soul, usually very gradually. If, when we are young, our parents guide us and form us and redirect us, keep track of us, we can learn good habits that will serve us well when we are on our own. Parents must help to form the consciences of their children. Parents cannot leave children too much to their own devices. We cannot stand by and think that a child will form good habits, avoid evil and develop a conscience if we do nothing to guide and influence them in a positive way.

And we must look to ourselves, and strive to sincerely, thoroughly know ourselves, so that we can note the beginnings of an attraction that might be dangerous. We need to develop self-discipline. We need to continually work on forming a good conscience. We need to nip bad habits in the bud as soon as we see them beginning to develop.

The warnings about death and judgment are certainly valid, but I think there is a more immediate concern. Death and judgment do not always come soon. Often a person has far too much time to wallow more and more deeply in sin, and the only thing that might be as bad, or even worse than hell, is the degradation of sin, the destruction of the God-given dignity of the human person. To become a beast, to live like an animal, to wallow in degrading behaviors that make us even less than beasts is the great horror of sin.

The thing is, if we allow ourselves to be deceived about sin, we can convince ourselves that there is such a thing as a little sin, an unimportant sin, and so we can ignore it. Yet, every deliberate sin is an offense against God, is destructive to human dignity, is erosive of goodness. This is why Jesus told us to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect. He knows that we can never achieve the absolute perfection that is intrinsic to the Father's nature. But we can achieve a human, grace-enhanced perfection by self-examination, in the light of Love, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, according to the model of Jesus, with the help of the sacraments, especially of confession and the Eucharist.

Every sincere confession cuts at a habit of sin. Worthy reception of the Eucharist feeds the good roots of virtue and acts as a poison to the bad roots of the weeds of sin. When we carefully examine our consciences, seeking the origins of sin, the reasons for the attractions and the lies we tell ourselves, and confess all to God in the sacrament, we dig at the nascent horror within that would, if unchecked, lead to self-destruction. In confession and the Eucharist, we achieve the perfection to which we are called by Jesus, even if it only lasts for a moment or a day or a week after confession. Hopefully, with each successive examination of conscience and confession and worthy communion, the gift of holiness will take deeper root and last longer, and will more and more thoroughly eradicate the seeds of sin and the beginnings of the horrible destruction of our unique and invaluable dignity.

There are many ways in which the unchecked habit of sin can lead us to self-destruction. Not all habitual sinners end up mass murderers, but the insidious tendrils of sin will always eventually choke and kill and bring darkness and despair one way or another, always affecting others in subtle ways that sometimes only God knows.

We can't wait for the bad habits to develop. And we can't wait for the warning about death and judgment. We have to be aware and stay aware of our inherent, precious dignity and strive with all our strength, with prayer, seeking grace, to preserve that dignity against the erosion of any sin.