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Sanctification in Daily Work
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Pope Francis Talks About Agriculture

Pope FrancisPope Francis put agriculture in focus this weekend when he met with a group of managers from the National Confederation of Direct Cultivators. His comments reflected on two main areas, poverty and hunger and protection of the environment. BTW. I love this photo of him from the L’Osservatore Romano.

Here are a few excerpts from his comments

“There is no humanity without the cultivation of the land; there is no good life without the food it produces for the men and women of every continent. Agriculture thus demonstrates its central role”, said Pope Francis this morning, as he received in audience two hundred managers from the National Confederation of Direct Cultivators in the Clementine Hall on the seventh anniversary of its foundation.

The name “direct cultivators”, explained the Pontiff, refers to cultivation, “a typically human and fundamental activity. In agricultural work there is, indeed, acceptance of the precious gift of the land that comes from God, but there is also its development through the equally valuable work of men and women, called to respond boldly and creatively to the mandate forever entrusted to mankind, the cultivation and stewardship of the land”.

This task, which requires time and energy, constitutes “a true vocation. It deserves to be recognised and suitably valued as such, also in concrete political and economic decisions. This means eliminating the obstacles that penalise such a valuable activity and that often make it appear unattractive to new generations, even though statistics show an increase in the number of students in schools and institutes of agriculture, which leads us to foresee and increase in the numbers of those employed in the agricultural sector. At the same time, it is necessary to pay due attention to the removal of land from agricultural use, to make it available for apparently more lucrative purposes”.

Regarding poverty and hunger he said, “Vatican Council II reiterated the common destination of earthly goods, but in reality the dominant economic system excludes many people from their correct use. The absolutism of the rules of the market and a throwaway culture in which waste of food has reached unacceptable proportions, along with other factors, have caused poverty and suffering for many families. Therefore, the system of production and distribution of food needs to be fundamentally re-evaluated. As our grandparents taught us, you do not play with food! Bread forms part of the sacredness of human life, and must not therefore be treated as a mere commodity”.

Then on the subject of the environment he refers to the Bible and the book of Genesis where man is called not only to cultivate the land, but also to take care of it. He also mentioned climate change, which he has done before by saying, “every agriculturalist is well aware of how difficult it has become to cultivate the land in a time of accelerated climate change and increasingly widespread extreme meteorological events. How can we continue to produce good food for the lives of all when climate stability is at risk, when the air, water and the earth itself lose their purity as a result of pollution?”

I’m not sure what information Pope Francis looks at when it comes to climate change but from the words I’ve seen him use he does seem to have a real concern for it and what it means to being able to feed everyone, including the poor. I personally think we have plenty of food to feed the world but have not come up with a system to distribute that food to the people who need it. There are too many political, criminal and other factors in the way right now.

Dr. Carly Zimmerman

Dr. Carly ZimmermanAnother major event for our family in 2014 was the December graduation of our daughter Carly. Carly graduated with a doctorate in physical therapy so she’s now Dr. Carly Zimmerman!

We can’t be more proud of Dr. Carly who not only followed through on the extra years of university but in the field she is most interested in. She also has her first job in Missouri where she wanted to be. How often does that happen?

So, right now Cindy and I are waiting on grandson number two and kind of wondering what else God has in store for us in 2015. We’re working on making some changes in our business and praying that we make good decisions.

Daughter’s Wedding in Cancun

Caitlin and Clint WeddingIn November last year our youngest daughter, Caitlin, got married to Clint Underwood. I’m still getting used to Caitlin Underwood!

Pictured is the priest who performed the Mass and wedding along with Caitlin, Clint and Cruz Baby. They were married in a beautiful chapel on the beach in Cancun. The Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel at the Grand Caribe Real was a perfect and unforgettable setting for the wedding.

This was just one of the big events in our family in 2014. But we had another one in December I’ll share next.

Grandson Getting Old

Cruz BabyIt seems like yesterday Cindy and I made the trip to Missouri to see our new born grandson Cruz. His parents Caitlin and Clint and other family members were all there too.

Now Cruz Baby is one year old and Cindy and I are traveling up to see him at his Saturday birthday party. This little boy is showing lots of early signs of needing a modeling contract. What do you think?

Now Caitlin is expecting another boy so we’ll soon have two grandsons and more reasons to do some extra travel!

2015 Retreat Planned

Roseaire RetreatThis year I am planning on a retreat in Delray Beach, FL at Roseaire. 2014 is the first year in longer than I can remember that I did not make a retreat and my body feels it psychologically speaking. The annual retreat accomplishes a number of things that include spending significant personal time just listening to what God is telling you. Especially for someone like me who makes a living off of almost 24/7 internet connected social communication and over the top traveling to conferences it gives me a few days of unplugging the gadgets. I get to examine my conscience more deeply and evaluate my resolutions.

This retreat also helps me to understand how to better balance my work, personal and spiritual life in service to God. Our work should be be a path to holiness if we understand why and how. The talks given by the priest help us to focus on that.

If you’re interested in a Roseaire Retreat then look them up online here.

Pope Francis to Visit United States of America

World Meeting of FamiliesAccording to Vatican Radio Pope Francis has confirmed he will be attending the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia next year.

“I wish to confirm according to the wishes of the Lord, that in September of 2015, I will go to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families,” said Pope Francis. “Thank you for your prayers with which you accompany my service to the Church. Bless you from my heart.”

The Holy Father speaking at the beginning of a Colloquium on Complementarity of Man and Woman happening in Rome which was sponsored by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The World Meeting of Families takes place September 22-27, 2015, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (USA), and has as its theme “Love is Our Mission: The Family fully alive.”

Shroud of Turin

Shroud of TurinI’m back. Back from Turin, Italy this time. This summer has been one of more international travel than normal. I’ve got more to share from trips to France and Scotland later.

Last week I spent three days in and around Turin. I had one afternoon off and spent it with the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist as my destination. After a subway ride and walk along the Via Roma I found the church. This is where the Shroud of Turin is kept. It is inside this container in a side chapel. Next year there will be an open exposition of the Shroud and there may be a possibility I can go.

However, at this visit I was able to sit and pray for a while. I know how controversial this object is but I can’t help but get goosebumps just thinking about it much less being able to be this close to it.

I’m adding this to the list of the blessings I’ve received to have as life experiences along my Path to Holiness. I don’t think I deserve them and I’ve still got a lot of work to do on achieving the holiness that I would like to have!

Here’s where you can find some more photos from my visit that afternoon: Turin Photos

Beatitudes for Daily Examination of Conscience

BeatitudesOne of the most beloved parts of the Bible is the Beatitudes. I highlighted it in mine a long time ago.

Recently I was visiting friends back in Jefferson City, MO. This included one of my friends who is also involved in the work of Opus Dei. The subject of daily examination of conscience came up and in particular what to search your conscience for when you really haven’t committed any mortal sins against the ten commandments. As is often the case, my friend made a brilliant suggestion that I would not have thought of. He suggested using the Beatitudes during daily examination.

So I started doing that. There is a lot of comfort you can take from these words of Jesus and meditating on them in light of your own words, thoughts and actions put them in a whole new context for me. For example, using “Blessed are the merciful . . .” I am asking myself if I’ve been merciful in what I think, say and do. If I have not, then that is a clear case of an opportunity for atonement and to resolve to be more merciful in the future.

What do you think about using the Beatitudes for this purpose? Make sense?

Two Popes Become Saints

Cannonization of PopesIt’s official. We have two new Pope Saints in the Catholic Church. Saints John XXIII and John Paul II. May they please pray for us.

Pope Francis opened his homily during this morning’s Mass speaking of the wounds Jesus suffered on the cross.

Saint John XXIII and Saint John Paul II were not afraid to look upon the wounds of Jesus, to touch his torn hands and his pierced side. They were not ashamed of the flesh of Christ, they were not scandalized by him, by his cross; they did not despise the flesh of their brother (cf. Is 58:7), because they saw Jesus in every person who suffers and struggles. These were two men of courage, filled with the parrhesia of the Holy Spirit, and they bore witness before the Church and the world to God’s goodness and mercy http://www.wildstarplatinums.com.

They were priests, and bishops and popes of the twentieth century. They lived through the tragic events of that century, but they were not overwhelmed by them. For them, God was more powerful; faith was more powerful – faith in Jesus Christ the Redeemer of man and the Lord of history; the mercy of God, shown by those five wounds, was more powerful; and more powerful too was the closeness of Mary our Mother.

I could not stay awake to watch the ceremony and Mass but you can find lots of information about it online. Here’s the text of Pope Francis’s homily.

Happy Baby

CruzIs it really possible that anyone could look at a picture of a smiling baby and somehow still think that abortion is okay? Must be but I can’t fathom it.

This is my grandson and a pic that got texted in this morning. His great grandmother is visiting this weekend. We wish we could be there!

I have this picture already set at the unlock screen on my iPhone. Every time I turn my phone on I see him and I can’t help but smile back. It’s very uplifting. I recommend it.

Preparing for Lent

It is two weeks until Ash Wednesday and the start of the Lenten season. Are you thinking ahead? I will be in California on a business trip so I will be checking the schedule for the local church where I’ll be.

During this morning’s Mass I once again enjoyed a homily by Fr. Eugene Pathe. I also love his accent. I did a Google search and found a series of Lenten Meditations he recorded in 2012. This one is on Ash Wednesday and provides a good basis for reflection as we prepare for the season.

We Are Grandparents

Baby Cruz and BishopThis year has started off with a bang for us. First of all, our daughter Caitlin, pictured on left, got engaged to her boyfriend Clint. Clint is holding Cruz Alexander Underwood. Cruz is Caitlin’s baby who arrived in the world last week! So, Cindy and I are now grandparents.

We traveled to Missouri to see the family and went to Mass with them in Ozark, MO this weekend. It was the first one for baby Cruz. To our surprise Bishop James V. Johnston, Springfield/Cape Girardeau, celebrated and conferred Confirmation on 12 young folks. Afterward he said a blessing over Cruz. Now that was very special and very cool.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

Christmas South FloridaHere’s a Merry Christmas to you. My family, minus one daughter who is near term for her first baby, posed after Christmas Mass at St. Gregory Church in Plantation, FL. We had hope to get their beautiful nativity scene in the photo but that didn’t work.

Hopefully you are enjoying the end of the year with family and friends. It should be a great time to relax and thank God for our blessings as we get ready to embark on another year. Too many people get all uptight though.

Please remember that January 1 is the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, and a holy day of obligation.

Pray For Us Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of GuadalupeYears ago I went on a business trip to South/Central America with the agreement that when we were in Mexico City I got time out to visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. On her feast day today I pulled out the photos from my trip there (pre-digital) to relive the great memories.

I had a very kind cab driver not only take me to the Basilica but he attended Mass with me, got me into the museum and up the hill to the old chapel. I’ll never forget it. She is the Patroness of the Americas and of my heart.

Our Lady of Guadalupe,
Mystical Rose,
make intercession for holy Church,
protect the sovereign Pontiff,
help all those who invoke you in their necessities,
and since you are the ever Virgin Mary
and Mother of the true God,
obtain for us from your most holy Son
the grace of keeping our faith,
of sweet hope in the midst of the bitterness of life
of burning charity, and the precious gift
of final perseverance.

Amen.

A Pro-life Prayer for Thanksgiving Day

Fr. Frank PavoneThanks to Fr. Frank Pavone for this Thanksgiving Day prayer.

Father of mercies, God of all creation, Source of life and of every blessing, We thank you today, and every day of our lives, For all that you give us!

Our thanksgiving is not only a duty, But a joy and a source of strength, Because it reminds us of your faithful love, And inspires us with the hope of a future filled with blessings!

Lord, we thank you for guiding our fathers, Who, inspired by the prophets And by the saving work of your Son, Founded a nation where all might live as one, Acknowledging their dependence on you As the source of their right to life.

We thank you for your blessings in the past, And for all that, with your help, we must yet achieve.

We ask you to bless us as we thank you, That our giving thanks may be accompanied by our firm resolve To proclaim, celebrate, and serve The gift of human life, born and unborn.

We pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.