The other day I played hooky from work, something I don’t usually do. I had a bunch of things that needed doing that can only be done during the week so I spent the day driving from here to there and back again. One of my stops included a local Trappist monastery. While my visit was brief, I came away realizing I would never be able to make it as a monk.
Picture this, you’re at work and wasting some time looking at your Facebook page. Out of the blue you receive a friend request from a familiar name. It is an old girlfriend (or boyfriend) from high school. This was your first, and we all know we never forget our first… Continue reading “Lead Us Not Into Temptation”
It’s been just about a year since I moved from the little house on the lake and completed a life transformation that began about a year before that. Reflecting on the past few years I can see such a difference from where I was then to where I am now, and I owe it all to God. I was defeated, worn out and just going through the motions. Until I began to put my trust in God. I talked to him about my problems, asked him for help, listened, and followed his answers. Yes, God will give us the answers. They may not always be the answers we want or expect but they are the right ones. Continue reading “The Time is Now”
Okay here it is the first day of Lent and it is required that I do something for Lent, either fast or some other “penance” for the next forty days. After thinking about it I have decided on exactly what I will try to do.
It won’t be fasting since I am already on a diet after having been recently diagnosed as a Type 2 diabetic. So I already have given up all the foods I love. And since I already live a pretty simple life there really isn’t any one thing I can cut down on. So my idea will be to write at least 500 words each day of Lent. I am guessing this should put me back into writing mode, which I haven’t been in lately. Like anything once you get out of the habit of doing something, it is hard to get back into it, you know, like exercising. (Yes, I have started that again as well, I’ll show that doctor I can get off the Diabetes meds.) And since I have always felt that God has been calling me to write about different things, like the story of my journey back to Him and all the things I have learned along the way.
Whether this means I will post something every day or not I am not sure yet. Of course if I don’t post something that people can see each day then who knows if I am writing? Well He knows. At one time I have several outlets for my writing, but they have all kind of fallen by the wayside, but I will think of something. Maybe I will get back to the book I have started and stopped about thirty times. Let me tell you about the time I fell off the back of a truck….
One thing is definitely true, and that is I have simplified my life considerably over the last year. I sold the little house on the lake and moved into a small apartment with my better half (soon to be official), downsized to one vehicle and pretty much decided to follow the advice of Jesus to life a simple life. By doing so I have removed 90% of the stress from my life. It’s funny how when you don’t have all kinds of material things to worry about that stress just melts away. When you don’t have to worry about things you can’t control, stress goes out the door. When you trust in the Lord to guide you (now I didn’t say take care of you, just to guide you) you will be surprised how you will be filled with an inner peace and know that no matter what happens you will be okay.
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” – Mt 6:25
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.” – Mt 6:34
Two verses from the same paragraph that pretty much explain it all, at least my philosophy on life. Take it one day at time, listen to what God is trying to tell you, and you will be surprised at how things will work out. Sometime during the next 40 days I will discuss this further but for now I have over-written my 500 words.
Isn’t that the truth? The road to hell begins smoothly, you drift a little to one side or the other and you don’t even realize it. As Lewis says, there aren’t any signposts, nothing to let you know you are going the wrong way. The Evil One won’t post signs for you, he will just let you go on your way. That was certainly the way for me.
It doesn’t have to be this way. We don’t need a GPS to stay on the right road, the narrow path, all we need is to follow Jesus. He will guide us, He will provide us with all the road signs we will ever need. It took me a long time to understand this. As I am sure many from my generation did, I decided I would be my own guide through life, picking and choosing which lessons I wanted to learn from the church. keeping some, discarding most. Unfortunately one result of this is we also failed to teach our children that there is a road map to life out there they can use. This has led to at least one, if not more, generations either falling away from or never joining the church. We see plenty of evidence of this each and every day.
In my last post I talked a little bit about discernment. I mentioned an article by Peter Kreeft. In the article he lists five general principles of discernment.
- Always begin with data
- Let your heart educate your mind
- Have a soft heart but a hard head
- All God’s signs should line up
- Look for the fruits of the Holy Spirit
If we don’t educate ourselves, we won’t know what the data is, how to educate our minds, how to soften our hearts, what God’s signs are or what the fruits of the spirit are. How can we follow if we don’t know what to follow?
Every day I am thankful for God waking me up to Him. Falling off that truck a few years ago woke me up and brought me back to the Catholic Church and the teachings of God and Jesus. While I certainly don’t claim to know everything, nor will I ever, I have come a long way and now I can follow the five principles Kreeft lists to help me discern God’s will.
Will I get to Heaven or am I still on the wide path? I don’t know for certain, but at least I feel I am heading in the right direction.
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One of the first things I did when I decided to find my way back to God was to read the Bible. This is something I had never done. I remember once as a teenager, perhaps when I was in college, picking it up and starting to read it but I didn’t get very far. This time I had more motivation and actually read the whole thing … twice.
One of the first things I noticed was that the Bible is full of good advice. I am not just talking about spiritual advice, although there is plenty of that, but just plain old common sense advice on life. Whether it be relationships, work or business there is something for everyone. I look at the Bible as a collection of writings with good advice for everyone. Even if you are one who doesn’t believe the Bible is real, that is is a elaborate myth written by people with some kind of agenda to promote religion, it is hard to argue that there is a wealth of knowledge inside it.
Yesterday’s gospel reading is a good example:
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” – Matthew 7:1 -2 (NIV)
What does this passage tell us, especially the last eleven words? Time’s up. It tells us that we will get back what we put into something. This is true whether we are dealing with people, work, faith or even writing blog posts. If we do everything half-assed then this is what we will get back. If we treat others like dirt, we can expect to get treated like dirt in return.
In these times, especially here in the US, individualism, Hedonism and minimalism are the norm. Here is a quote from Matthew Kelly’s Book “Rediscovering Catholicism”:
Individualism: When most people today are faced with a decision, the question that seems to dominate their inner dialogue is “What’s in it for me?”
Hedonism: Hedonism is the philosophy that emphasizes pleasure as the ultimate goal in life. The motto, the creed, the catch cry of the hedonist is, “If it feels good, do it!”
Minimalism: A minimalist is always seeking to exert the minimum effort and receive the maximum reward. (You can get a free copy of this book here. I recommend both Catholics and non-Catholics get it. )
These three terms certainly described me for most of my adult life. I am definitely the product of the late sixties through the early eighties when these traits took over our country. Although in my defense, once I had children my individualism turned more to a “family-ism” where I tried to do everything for them. I truly believe that had I not ran away from the church and the teachings of Jesus, had I studies (or even just read the Bible) I would not have fallen for these three traits and become the sinner I did.
Back to Matthew 7, when we only care about “What’s in it for me?” we don’t care what we do or who we hurt to get what we want. It is also the same with “If it feels good, do it!” I could write a book about my experiences with that one but I don’t write porn, not that I didn’t in another life. And it should be evident that minimalism isn’t really the best course of action. When you do as little as possible, when you only care about what is in it for you or doing only what makes you feel good, you will get back what you put into any situation.
If the measure you use is to lie in order to have as many sexual partners as you can, then guess what? Others will lie to you. If you cheat, you will be cheated on, if don’t give 100% at your job, then your job won’t give 100% back to you. When we strive to be materialistic, hedonistic, a minimalist of an individualist, we spend more time worrying about those things than we do about the truly important things like our health, family, friends and our faith.
I’ll leave you with one more passage from Matthew.
“For this reason I say to you, [n]do not be worried about your[o]life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the [p]air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his [r]life? 28 And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But [s]seek first [t]His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be [u]added to you.
Isn’t this good advice, even if you leave the source out of it?
Comments? Questions? Criticisms? Feel free to comment below.