PathToHoliness

Sanctification in Daily Work
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Relaxation Time

My shoulder surgery recovery is going well enough that I spent a couple hours on the beach doing some fishing. The Gulf waters had some strong breakers and lots of grass but this bluefish found my bait. He became lunch for today.

It’s amazing how tired out you can get doing something like this after major surgery. Besides pain, the hardest part for me is patience and wanting to do more than I should. I can’t deny getting down sometimes when it seems like everything hurts and I can’t do something I want to do. But I am very thankful for all the people who have helped me, starting with the doctors and nurses and all my family.

I keep thanking God for the challenges in my life and all the blessings. Pain is a good thing to offer up and I try to remember to do so.

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.

2013 Retreat Notes

Our journey is toward Heaven in this year of faith. But there are often obstacles. Sin.

Sin is saying no to God. Personal sin has a social impact. By poor example, even internal sin worsens the human condition. We give bad witness. We are leading people down the wrong path.

Lord let me see myself as I really am.

This is a tough one for a lot of people I have talked with about personal decisions and their impact on other people. I have friends who can’t understand how what they decide to do or think has an impact on other people. Even people on the other side of the world from them. It’s easy to understand that if you steal from someone or damage their property that you’ve had an impact. Or that if you feed a hungry person some food you’ve had an impact. But what about the choices you make when you look at what we’ll just call inappropriate images on the internet? You might wonder how that can hurt someone. But have you thought about the exploitation of the person you might be looking at? If you didn’t look then perhaps there wouldn’t be that exploitation. And let’s face it, the pornography industry exploits people in terrible ways.

So I take from this meditation point from my retreat that I need to keep my thoughts pure as well as make sure I am not actually doing something sinful that others can see.

Get Up And Do Something

I’ve been trying for years to figure out what my “voice” is on Path to Holiness. My first reason for creating it was to help promote the spirituality of Opus Dei which has had such a profound impact on my life. I still want to do that but I also want to do more than that. So here’s my first shot at a way I might use this mechanism to accomplish what I feel called to do.

Don’t let your life be barren. Be useful. Make yourself felt. Shine forth with the torch of your faith and your love.

This is a part of the first point in The Way, by St. Josemaria Escriva. You can find his and his books are not expensive .

When I first read The Way and especially this first point, I mediated on it and what it meant to me. I realized that it’s not enough to just say my prayers and go to Mass. I am called to do more. Not to do miraculous things, no. But to change my life so that just my example will have a positive impact on everyone I meet. I need to not just have my faith but I must live it and that means getting off my butt and doing something even if it’s just some little thing no one but God will know about.

I don’t know about you but I believe in the spiritual life. Our thoughts and actions have an impact on it. We can’t say that our actions don’t have an impact on others. Of course they do. A positive or negative thing I do impacts everyone.

So, here’s my start. I’ll write as often as I can and I welcome your feedback and comments.

Total Consecration Time

I just completed my annual Total Consecration to Jesus Through Mary and thought I’d suggest once again that you consider it for yourself. This 33 day effort is well worth your time, especially if you’re looking for a good series of meditations that let you focus on what’s important.

The preparation for consecration booklet is currently available for $5 from Montfort Publishing. I would recommend you first read “True Devotion To The Blessed Virgin Mary.” You can also find these in the iPieta app for iOS or Android smartphones.

I’ve been using this “spiritual journey” for quite a few years and have come to look forward to it. The 33 days of preparation are broken up into series of reflections on your self, Mary and Jesus. We should all be doing daily meditation, especially with a particular examen. However, several weeks of extra contemplation time are really useful in our fast paced world. I also have been able to start out this devotion each year deer hunting. So I’ve been able to do the daily readings, prayers and reflections while sitting in a tree or on the ground in the woods. It just doesn’t get much better than that!

Feel free to email me if you’ve got questions about this devotion.

Do We Need To Pay More Taxes?

Last week I attended the annual meeting of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ). This meeting brings in people from all over the world for farm tours, presentations from government/agribusiness/farm group representatives and professional improvement sessions on topics like writing, photography, etc. I’ve been attending these for a number of years including in countries like Switzerland, Norway and Japan. It’s fascinating to get to know and communicate with people from different cultures.

It’s also an eye opener. Let’s take as an example a man from Denmark who approached me and after a brief exchange of greetings said, “The problem with your country is you don’t pay enough in taxes.” Really? I told him he was out of his mind. He got a little agitated and said “My son was able to go to college for the equivalent of about $800 this year. That’s why our system is so much better than yours.” He wouldn’t even consider a difference of opinion. Keep in mind that this guy is a journalist. He’s writing the “news.” Wonder from what viewpoint he writes about for things like government policy . . . I don’t know about you but I consider his policy views extremely liberal and polar opposite of mine. I tried explaining how high our taxes are but he refused to believe me. When I asked him if he’d like to pay more taxes back home he started to get even more indignant. So I found an excuse to move on away from him.

Let’s contrast that with another anecdote. We visited a dairy farm owned and run by a family of Amish descent. Our tour guide pointed out a school owned and run by the local Amish community as we approached the farm. He told us that the Amish school their own children and don’t accept any government funding for it. If they go to a doctor or hospital they pay the health care system back even though they pay their taxes. They don’t want and refuse to accept government assistance! I think these folks are proving we don’t have to have the government take care of us.

These stories made me think about how much our society in the good old USA has moved to a government dependent one. Although, I know many people who are fed up with this mentality. Every “crisis” (I hate that word) can be solved by just spending more money, at least according to every tv news story I see where they show talking heads calling for more and more spending. I wonder how we can keep allowing this to happen. Is it going to require a public revolt to change things? How about we just vote for a new batch of politicians and hold them to their word? Naw. That would never work.

Let’s Thank American Agriculture

After several weeks on the road I’m getting caught up. Can’t believe how long it has been since I posted here. Since we’re about to celebrate Thanksgiving I thought I’d share a post that my wife Cindy did on our AgWired website. We’re so blessed here in America with so much food so it’s a great time to thank all the people who produce it. This includes the farmers as well as everyone else in the food chain that bring it to our tables. As usual, our Holy Father says it well. Here’s Cindy’s post:

Pope Benedict calls agriculture an “indispensable resource for the future” that is not given enough importance today.

During an address on November 14, the Pope reflected on the importance of agricultural work in light of the global economic situation. “In this context a strategic re-launching of agriculture appears decisive. In fact, the process of industrialization has often overshadowed the agricultural sector, which, while also drawing benefit from modern technologies, has nevertheless lost importance, with notable consequences, even at the cultural level. I believe that this is the moment for the reevaluation of agriculture, not in a nostalgic sense, but as an indispensable resource for the future.”

The Pope called for “a truly unified way to a new balance between agriculture, industry and services, so that development be sustainable, and no one go without bread and work, and so that air and water and the other primary resources be preserved as universal goods.”

Something to think about this week as we “give our thanks to God for the fruits of the earth and the work of man.” Amen!

Let Your Example Be A Force For Change

It’s a challenge to find time to write here when I am on the road live blogging events for my company. During the week I had several inspirations for posts that I have now forgotten. Hopefully I’ll come up with them this weekend.

However, a couple of things come to mind. Several people I’ve spoken with this week have expressed feelings of despair, hopelessness and doubt over what they see as a world out of control. They see and hear so much alarmist information that they feel on edge emotionally all the time. I think they may be bordering on depression as a result.

I understand why and how they can have those feelings. Let’s take abortion as just one example. If you really stop and think hard about how many babies are killed just in the United States each day it will drive you crazy. Especially when you consider how little you can do about it. But I’ve learned that you cant give in to these feelings of hopelessness. That’s what our faith is for, and not just my Catholic faith.

I just got back home from an agricultural animal health conference. There were people there despairing over the impact from animal rights wacko groups like the Humane Society of the United States. In case you think they are an animal welfare group that supports animal shelters, think again. They’re a huge scam operation of militant vegans. You can find out all you need to know about them at HumaneWatch.org. Don’t support them. Support your local animal shelter instead!

Okay, back to the subject. New digital media tools are allowing all of us as individuals to have a voice in the world. That’s why our Holy Father has urged priests and the laity to use them to evangelize the faith. At the same time they’re being used by anarchists, terrorists and to promote promiscuity and pornography. But I think we can let ourselves get overwhelmed by the messages and lose our peace.

Let’s step back. Take time to meditate in a quiet place. For me, daily Mass is a great way to put all that behind me and put myself in the presence of God who loves me and will always protect me. I get a fresh perspective and then go back to my work knowing that I will not allow the forces of evil in our society to discourage me and that I can make a positive impact for true change, not the kind touted in Washington, DC these days.

Consider this. If you courageously speak up when you need to for what is right, correct people you come in contact personally when they’re wrong and set a good personal example by your own conduct, you will be a force for change. I like to think that if I save one baby from being killed in my whole life that I will have made an accomplishment of immeasurable value. If I convert one person, if I bring one person back to the faith, if I change one mind for the good, I have done what God wants and I have something to be proud of. I don’t care if I ever know who I impacted. Maybe I will after I die. I don’t know but God does.

That gives me a real sense of peace even in light of the terrible things that are happening in our society and around the world today.

Politically Correct Words

I don’t know about you but this era of extreme political correctness is really wearing on me. One of my latest retreat notes said, “Satan hides behind politically correct words like diversity, pluralism, choice . . .” Isn’t that the truth? I’d add words like tolerance to the list. People who preach the mantra of tolerance seem to be the most intolerant people themselves. If you don’t agree with them they attack you and if that’s not intolerance I don’t know what is. How about this word to describe them: hypocritical.

Another word I’d add to the list is sustainability. I work in agricultural communications and this has to be one of the most overused and misunderstood words in our vocabulary, along with organic and natural. What does sustainability mean? Ask 10 people (including so called experts) and they’ll give you 10 different answers. It’s a hide behind word for people with a political agenda for the most part. Guess who’s hiding behind it? Answer is found above.

Sadly, these words are not bad in and of themselves but in how they’re being used in our mainstream media and by politicians, lobbyists and people who want to attack Christian values. So, what can be done about it? For starters let’s use these words in a context that’s defined by our religion and faith. Let’s not lash out in anger at those who are misusing them for their own ends but pray for them instead. Do you have any other suggestions? Feel free to comment.

New Year’s Resolutions

Happy New Year and welcome to a new decade.

It’s that time when a lot of people make resolutions. Resolutions are a very good thing and I highly recommend that you always have some kind of active resolution. It’s also a good thing to review how you’re doing with your resolution. This is very similar to doing a daily examination of conscience. We should all resolve to do our best to live as Christ would like us but no matter how hard we try we aren’t perfect. So taking a short look at how we’re doing helps us keep our goal on the top of our mind and it’s during that examination that we can formulate resolutions to make changes in our behavior or activities if needed.

So, have you made any resoulutions? You don’t need to make many and making just one and working on it might be best. I’m finalizing mine and will write them down and make sure I have a convenient place to review them periodically.

The Start of Advent

Today starts the Advent season. “The word Advent derives from the Latin word meaning coming. The Lord is coming.” That’s what the days leading up to Christmas are all about. We’re looking forward to the coming of Christ. Christmas is His birthday.

I sure wish that’s what people would keep in mind. It never ceases to amaze me to read the stories about Black Friday. Even here in central Missouri we had reports of people fighting as the doors were opened at retail stores. Talk about a society that is overly concerned with “things.” We’ve got one.

Our local paper, small as it is, has had some good stories about helping the poor though. Why don’t we focus more on that? We’ve got plenty of people right here at home who need help. Instead of battling to get the best price on a new toy or appliance why not donate to a family in need, or participate in your church holiday assistance program? You would be storing up a treasure in Heaven that has infinitely more value than any treasure you can store up here on Earth. This doesn’t mean that having things is bad. It isn’t. But the stories and appearances are that people are putting way too much value on what we have here.

I am just finishing my latest spiritual reading on the the Cure D’Ars, by Abbe Francois Trochu. This saint was one of the most detached people from things of this world that I’ve ever read about other than perhaps St. Francis of Assisi. He had a supernatural ability to care nothing for things. I don’t know how it would be possible to live like he did but at least he showed us an example of how living detached and only for God can lead to holiness and sanctity.

I have been very blessed to enjoy good health (although I did have a serious issue this summer), a good job and now my own company (along with my wife) and many nice things. Increasingly I feel like getting rid of a lot of “stuff” though. I’m having difficulty finding the time to do it. But it is a goal of mine. I’m also working on worrying less about what I have as I get older. This includes my “retirement plan.” We’re reading more and more stories of people who don’t have enough money put away for their retirement. But what is their definition? Enough money to live high on the hog like they did throughout their career? Let’s all worry more about today and what we can do for others and less about what the future holds. Advent is a great time of the year to contemplate this and do something about it.

We Have a Mother in Heaven!

A reflection for the feast of the Assumption from the Apostleship of Prayer:

Personal Reflection

Patience. Trust. Faith. Suffering. Hope. Disappointment. These are just some of the things I’ve felt in the last month of battling a complicated pneumonia infection. After over 2 weeks of an initial treatment that didn’t work I wound up in the hospital for 10 days. During that time I had pretty major surgery to remove the infection from around my left lung. The doctors finally figured out the exact bacteria causing it and now I’m on an extended antibiotic treatment and feeling much better. I’m home and having to carefully work back to a sort of normal routine.

So, I guess I’m writing to say how much this experience has meant to me spiritually. I think I’ve run the gamut of emotions you can have and really don’t know how I would have handled this without my faith. I always have a rosary with me but I’ve prayed it more often and fervently and I believe Mary has been by my side helping me to cope with all the uncertainty and fear of what was happening. Of course God has been with me every step of the way too and my guardian angel. We’re never alone!

One of the things that this whole experience has forced me to look at is the end of my earthly life. I know it’s not something to really worry about since it’s going to happen sometime and if we’re in a state of grace then it will lead to eternal life with our Lord. But I’ve always tried not to think about it and so I guess this experience has been beneficial in making me examine myself more closely to see how I can improve my life and what I need to work on even more, especially after recovering from this setback.

When I had my personal conversion experience years ago I knew my life would never be the same and that there were things in my life I would change permanently. I have been amazed to realize how much more I still need to work on and I am resolved to make more changes now.

So I thank God for this great spiritual opportunity. It’s not easy but it will be well worth it.

Work and Rest

The latest edition of electronic news from Opus Dei has an article titled, “Work and Rest.” I found it very appropriate for this morning’s reflection since I’ve been on 2 weeks of forced rest due to a case of pneumonia. I’ve never had this before and hope you never do. But as bad as it has been it has allowed me a lot of time to contemplate on what is important in life. My wife and I have a very successful small business which has been a real blessing for going on 6 years now. The most difficult thing we’ve had to contend with is growth and managing our time. I’ve had concerns about us working too hard and traveling too much but haven’t done anything about it, although we have developed a list of free lance writers and photographers to call on. I’ve had to cancel 3 different events I was supposed to work at in this time I’ve been sick and that has cost us a significant amount of revenue while I’m sure we’re going to be getting multiple bills from doctors, etc. So we are concerned about what that will mean. At the same time though I’m taking this as a sign that I should slow down my pace and as we have since starting the business, put it in God’s hands what will happen.

The Opus Dei article focuses mostly on keeping Sunday a day of rest but makes it clear that rest is an integral part of our existence and important to our path to holiness.

God knows his creatures well. While inviting us to collaborate with him, he knows that our nature is fragile and vulnerable. The divine calling to work includes the need to rest. As we see in the creation account, “the alternation between work and rest, built into human nature, is willed by God himself.”[9]

So I guess in my reflection I would have to add that besides resting from work I also need to become more patient. I think part of why we don’t allow ourselves to rest properly is an impatient attitude that says “I have to get everything done now.” A lot of times that’s just not possible anyway. So, as this illness clears up it’s my resolution to take more time to rest from work. I don’t mean sit in the recliner in front of the tv either. I mean take time away from work to spend with family or on a project that will benefit others.

I have to add my thanks to my family, especially my wife and daughter Chelsea, who have helped me out so much during this last 2 weeks. I am a very blessed husband and father!

Fear Over The Climate

I don’t know about you but I’m really get tired of hearing about global warming. I don’t care if it’s man made or not man made, I’m just tired of it. The rhetoric is so alarmist that even if there was credible evidence (I haven’t seen any) that we’ve somehow actually changed the climate of the globe I would ignore it. It’s kind of like chicken little. It’s been pushed too hard and too often for me or apparently most Americans to take anymore. On news reporting of global warming, a recent Gallup poll says that “. . . a record-high 41% now say it is exaggerated. This represents the highest level of public skepticism about mainstream reporting on global warming seen in more than a decade of Gallup polling on the subject.”

I believe a lot is being done to mitigate our collective impact on the environment. Take the growth in biofuels production and research as just one example. Of course, even with the incredible amount of work being done in this area a whole new group of outspoken critics have materialized, some even saying that burning gas made from oil is better than burning a fuel made from a renewable resource like corn or ultimately other cellulosic material. Look at the recent hoax about food vs. fuel which has been scientifically proven false.

I really believe that all the alarmist news on this subject and people’s fear as a result can be linked back to a lack of faith in God. This is just one example I see of what’s happening here and in other parts of the world where the Christian faith is being persecuted so much. Remove God and the peace of soul that comes from a solid belief in Him from society and you have a people who searching for something they can’t define and open to all manner of suggestion even the kind built on a pack of lies.

When it comes to this particular matter of global warming you might want to look at some information that just isn’t reported by the alarmist media. In fact, there is plenty of credible evidence of the exact opposite of global warming. My prediction is that you’re going to be hearing more and more of these global warming doomsdayists backing up and saying that the research they’ve been relying on is flawed. However, they’ll still persist in their claims and just move the timetable for doomsday ahead a little further.

I believe we should all act responsibly when it comes to the environment. Government and fear mongering won’t get it done. A solid belief in God will help people act more responsibly than anything else will.