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Sanctification in Daily Work
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My Shoulder to Bear

Just over a week ago I had rotator cuff repair surgery. It doesn’t really sound too intimidating until you learn about it and especially those first few days after the surgery. I confess that I was dreading it and scared of it. I had to make a promise to myself to quite Googling every term, medication, outcome, problem.

To start with, it means that I can’t drive for at least six weeks and have to have my arm in a sling night/day. So that means no business travel or the kind of field work I do. Then I have another six weeks before I’m allowed to lift anything with my dominate right arm.

Lots of questions about how this is going to affect my business, how am I going to be one-armed and left handed, will the surgery be successful, etc. were running through my mind constantly.

I was finding it very hard to concentrate on my prayer life and to trust in God that no matter what happens it is His will and He will give me strength to deal with it. So, I’ve made it a part of my meditation each day to just let God help me, provide me with inspiration. Then when this subject came up speaking with my wife and Chelsea, my daughter who was paralyzed in an auto accident 17 years ago. I was complaining about how annoying having my arm strapped to my side was. She casually reminded me that she wore a very restrictive collar around her neck for months after her spinal cord surgery. Wow. Did that ever put things in perspective for me. I almost started crying on the spot out of shame for this trivial little matter that will most likely be very successful for full arm use and within less than that amount of time.

How can I not be thankful to God for this? It happened when I picked up a heavy object and there was a loud (to me) pop and pain in my shoulder. Yep, torn tendon. Not good. But then, maybe it really is. I can thank God for this and offer up my pain united with His on the Cross.

I have still had a few early bouts of what I guess they call situational depression while sitting in a recliner and feeling sorry for myself. Worse, I’ve imagined all the things that can go wrong and started focusing on the challenges my business faces, family relationship problems and more.

It’s pretty easy to become lukewarm with my faith at these times but that does no good. By the end of my first week post-surgery I am feeling a renewed energy and positive outlook for the future. I know my goal on Earth is to become a saint and look at this wonderful opportunity God has given me to work toward that.

I continue to pray that I’m worthy of God’s love, dedicate myself to my prayers and finding ways to help others, by starting with my wonderful wife and business partner. I take her for granted so much. She is the wonderful mother of my children and on this Mother’s Day I want her to feel special, needed, valued and loved. I pray to my Mother Mary to pray for me and for us as we move forward on the path to holiness. Amen.

The Merida Foundation

Here’s a charitable organization we support that I thought I’d bring to your attention. It’s the Merida Foundation. At Mass this morning Rudy gave me their current update letter to save postage. That shows you how committed they are to using donations carefully! Rudy and Dorothy just got back from a trip to Mexico and had a good trip with Fr. Fred Elskamp, who has been a Pastor at our church. They make about 3 trips a year and bring about 1,200 pairs of eye glasses with them to distribute to the poor with vision problems. That’s just part of the good work they’re doing. Here’s a description:

The Merida Foundation is a charitable corporation originally founded and funded by Dorothy and Rudy Lemke in December 2003 to benefit the descendants of the ancient Mayan people of Mexican’s Yucatan Peninsula. Since 1982, now retired optician, Dorothy Lemke has been providing eye glasses to the poor, visually impaired people in the rural villages surrounding the city of Merida.

Since its inception, the Merida Foundation has also funded nutrition projects for undernourished school children in the region. Today, the foundation is feeding approximately 350 hungry children at six nutrition sites.

Here’s where you can find information about making a donation.

I Am a Roman Catholic – and I LOVE It!

All of it, no exceptions:

(h/t: Happy Catholic)

St. Bernard of Clairvaux On Love

st. bernardI thought this was utterly beautiful. From today’s Office by St. Bernard of Clairvaux:

Love is a great thing so long as it continually returns to its fountainhead, flows back to its source, always drawing from there the water which constantly replenishes it. Of all the movements, sensations and feelings of the soul, love is the only one in which the creature can respond to the Creator and make some sort of similar return however unequal though it be. For when God loves, all He desires is to be loved in return…

It is true that the creature loves less because she is less. But if she loves with her whole being, nothing is lacking where everything is given.

Read more

Do You Really Want to Follow Jesus Christ?

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps. (1 Peter 2:21)

Crucifixion

Archbiship Chaput has a wonderful reflection on what it means to follow Christ that we should think about this Good Friday, from his book Render Unto Ceasar:

Jesus accepted every measure of suffering on the cross. He did it freely. He chose it. The Father made this sacrifice for us through his Son because he loves us. There is nothing weak or cowardly or life-denying about that kind of radical love – and any parent who has suffered along with a dying child instinctively knows it. The question we need to ask ourselves, if we call ourselves Christians today, is this: Do we really want to follow Jesus Christ and love as he did, or is it just too inconvenient? We can choose differently. We can choose the kind of routine, self-absorbed, halfhearted anesthetic Christianity for which Nietzsche had such contempt. It is certainly easier. It also costs less…

[R]eal discipleship always has a cost. We can’t follow Jesus Christ without sharing in his Cross…Discipleship demands more than reading about the Catholic faith or admiring the life of Jesus. Christ didn’t ask for our approval or agreement. He doesn’t need either. He asked us to follow him – radically, with all we have, and without caveats or reservations.

Following Christ means paying the same price out of love for others that Jesus paid to redeem us. (pp.39, 45)

    Crucifixion

Ave verum Corpus natum
de Maria Virgine:
Vere passum, immolatum
in Cruce pro homine.

Cuius latus perforatum
fluxit aqua et sanguine:
Esto nobis praegustatum
mortis in examine.

O Iesu dulcis!
O Iesu pie!
O Iesu fili Mariae.

English:
Hail, true body,
born of the Virgin Mary:
Truly suffered,
died on the cross for mankind:

From who pierced side
flowed water and blood!
Be for us a foretaste
of death in the last hour!

O gentle Jesus!
O holy Jesus!
O Jesus, Son of Mary!

Other Good Friday related posts:
The Paradox of the Cross
Christ Teaches Us How to Die

The Time for Complacency is Over

This is a great motivational video for all Catholics defending the sanctity of all human life, especially those heading to the March for Life this week. It’s time to follow in the footsteps of the Lord:

When you call on your congressmen to fight FOCA don’t forget to also encourage them to oppose expanding funding for embryonic stem cell research! And pray for the conversion of our pro-abortion Catholic politicians!

You are Not Alone

Our LadyThis was a great source of comfort to me during my adoration earlier this week:

You’re not alone. Suffer tribulation cheerfully. It’s true, poor child that you don’t feel our Mother’s hand in yours. But have you never seen the mothers of this earth, with their arms out-stretched, following their little ones when, without anyone’s help, they venture to take their first shaky stems? Your not alone: Mary is beside you. The Way ~900

And Christ, our Lord, is with us, even to the end of time (Mt. 28:20):

What we cannot do, our Lord is able to do. Jesus Christ, perfect god and perfect man, leaves us , not a symbol, but a reality. He Himself stays with us . He will go to the Father, but he will also remain among men. He will leave us, not simply a gift that will make us remember him, not an image that becomes blurred with time, like a photograph that soon fades and yellows, and has no meaning except for those who were contemporaries. Under the appearances of bread and wine, He is really present, with His body and blood, with His soul and divinity. Christ is Passing By, essay on the Eucharist

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

St. AnthonyFrom a sermon by St. Anthony of Padua:

The man who is filled with the Holy Spirit speaks in different languages. These different languages are different ways of witnessing to Christ, such as humility, poverty, patience and obedience; we speak in those languages when we reveal in ourselves these virtues to others. Actions speak louder than words; let your words teach and your actions speak. We are full of words but empty of actions, and therefore are cursed by the Lord, since he himself cursed the fig tree when he found no fruit but only leaves. Gregory says: “A law is laid upon the preacher to practice what he preaches”. It is useless for a man to flaunt his knowledge of the law if he undermines its teaching by his actions.

But the apostles spoke as the Spirit gave them the gift of speech. Happy the man whose words issue from the Holy Spirit and not from himself! For some men speak as their own character dictates, but steal the words of others and present them as their own and claim the credit for them. The Lord refers to such men and others like them in Jeremiah: So, then, I have a quarrel with the prophets that steal my words from each other. I have a quarrel with the prophets, says the Lord, who have only to move their tongues to utter oracles. I have a quarrel with the prophets who make prophecies out of lying dreams, who recount them and lead my people astray with their lies and their pretensions. I certainly never sent them or commissioned them, and they serve no good purpose for this people, says the Lord.

We should speak, then, as the Holy Spirit gives us the gift of speech. Our humble and sincere request to the Spirit for ourselves should be that we may bring the day of Pentecost to fulfilment, insofar as he infuses us with his grace, by using our bodily senses in a perfect manner and by keeping the commandments. Likewise we shall request that we may be filled with a keen sense of sorrow and with fiery tongues for confessing the faith, so that our deserved reward may be to stand in the blazing splendour of the saints and to look upon the triune God.

Happy Anniversary, Jen!

Catholic blogger Jen at Et Tu? came into the Church at the 2007 Easter Vigil. She has a wonderful one year anniversary reflection centered on the Eucharist:

When I received my first Communion at Easter Vigil last year I had come to accept that the teaching on the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist is true. Or, perhaps more accurately, I was willing to accept on faith that it was not false. I was undoubtedly being led to the Catholic Church, and found its defense of this teaching to be solid and compelling, so I trusted that it was true in some mysterious way, even though I didn’t really get it. That was the best I could do, and I never expected to understand it any more than that. Even as the months have rolled by, after receiving Communion week after week, I still don’t know how it works. I don’t even have a visceral reaction when I first see the consecrated host held above the altar, and don’t think I ever felt the Holy Spirit hit me like a ton of bricks the moment the consecrated host was placed on my tongue. And yet, despite the lack of immediate emotions, despite the fact that I can’t tell you exactly how it all works…I believe now with all my heart that it is true. I know that I eat the flesh and drink the blood of God at the Mass, and that it is the source of my strength. Read more.

Jen has been a real gift to me. Her blog reminds me of this quote from St. Josemaria:

Conversion is a matter of a moment. Sanctification is the work of a lifetime. (The Way 285)

Conversion is nothing without the work of sanctification – a life spent in cooperation with God’s graces, confident in His mercy and divine providence. Jen lets us all in on her own personal journey along the path to holiness, including sharing her spiritual struggles that anyone striving to live out holiness in their daily lives can relate to.

Happy anniversary Jen, and welcome home to all of you who have come into the Church this Easter season!

Meditating on Christ’s Passion

nullThe words of Christ to St. Faustina:

“There is more merit to one hour of meditation on my sorrowful Passion than there is to a whole year of flagellation that draws blood; the contemplation of my painful wounds is of great profit to you, and it brings Me great joy.”

That should give us motivation for meditating on Christ’s Passion this Holy Week!

Love and Be Loved

null“This is the great mystery of our faith. We do not choose God, God chooses us. From all eternity we are hidden ‘in the shadow of God’s hand’ and ‘engraved in his palm.’ Before any human being touches us, God ‘forms us in secret’ and ‘textures us ‘ in the depth of the earth, and before any human being decides about us, God ‘knits us together in our mother’s womb.’ God loves us before any human person can show love to us. He loves us with a ‘first’ love, an unconditional love, wants us to be his beloved children, and tells us to become as loving as himself…

God has been trying to find me, to know me, and to love me. The question is not ‘How am I to find God?’ but ‘How am I to let myself be found by Him?’ The question is not ‘How am I to know God?’ but ‘How am I to let myself be known by him?’ And finally, the question is not ‘How am I to love God?’ but ‘How am I to let myself be loved by Him?'”

This is an excerpt from The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri J.M. Nouwen. I thought it was appropriate for the beginning on Lent and wanted to share it with you all. The greatest challenge of the spiritual life is not to love God, but to allow ourselves to be loved by Him. Not to ask for forgiveness, but to let go of our sins and allow ourselves to be forgiven. This Lent, through fasting and prayer we reflect on the emptiness of our lives without God. Let us also reflect on His great mercy and forgiveness and his desire to love us lavishly.

I have been seriously neglecting Path to Holiness lately. I’ve been torturing myself with politics and trying to keep up writing on Reflections. I hope to spend more time on both blogs and less time obsessing over politics. God bless you all this Lenten season!

Aspire to the Life of Perfection

March For LifeI meant to post this on the feast of St. Francis de Sales a few days ago. The Office of Readings for that day had an excerpt from his that really explains the spirit of Opus Dei, and really the mission of the Christian vocation.

When God the Creator made all things, he commanded the plants to bring forth fruit each according to its own kind; he has likewise commanded Christians, who are the living plants of his Church, to bring forth the fruits of devotion, each one in accord with his character, his station and his calling.

The bee collects honey from flowers in such a way as to do the least damage or destruction to them, and he leaves them whole, undamaged and fresh, just as he found them. True devotion does still better. Not only does it not injure any sort of calling or occupation, it even embellishes and enhances it.

Moreover, just as every sort of gem, cast in honey, becomes brighter and more sparkling, each according to its color, so each person becomes more acceptable and fitting in his own vocation when he sets his vocation in the context of devotion. Through devotion your family cares become more peaceful, mutual love between husband and wife becomes more sincere, the service we owe to the prince becomes more faithful, and our work, no matter what it is, becomes more pleasant and agreeable…

Therefore, in whatever situations we happen to be, we can and we must aspire to the life of perfection.

“So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt. 5:48)

I have not yet read Intro to the Devout Life, but I have heard wonderful things about it. I might have to pick it up for spiritual reading when I finish Spe Salvi.

Psalm 23 as You’ve Never Heard it Before

Thou whose glory above the heavens is chanted by the mouth of babes and injacts, thou hast founded a bulwark because of thy foes, to still the enemy and the avenger (Psalm 8:1-2).

Mass is a Place of Hope

Jennifer at Et tu? has a wonderful post reflecting on the beauty of the Mass, not only seen in the breaking of the bread, but in the faithfulness of all those participating:

As I watched and listened to the now-familiar rituals of the Mass, I noticed the the serious, loving intensity with which our priest does his job; I saw people cross themselves in prayer every now and then, even when it wasn’t part of the ritual; I heard the deacon speak of people in great need, and every voice in the building echo his words, “the Lord hear our prayers”; I saw hundreds of people, almost everyone in the building, stand up out of respect for hearing the words of the Gospel; on the way out I walked past people who remained kneeling at their pews, whispering quietly to God.
Read more

It is easy, especially for those of us attending Mass on a daily basis, to get too comfortable with the weekly routine and take for granted the awesome experience of the Holy Mass which is literally heaven on earth. I needed this post today…

Look to Christ on the Cross

‘When we suffer, God is preparing our hearts for something greater’ (h/t Driving out the Snakes):

“If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Mt. 16:24-25)

“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet 1:6-7)