How do I sincerely place members of my family above me and my desires?
As the family leader I am most able to determine its spiritual, social, and financial atmosphere through my actions. How do I sincerely place members of my family above me and my desires? What do I do to be sure that I am not keeping score or manipulating situations to my advantage, rather teaching through humility.
1. Romans 12: 1-12
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service.
2 And be not fashioned according to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, and ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
3 For I say, through the grace that was given me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think as to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to each man a measure of faith.
4 For even as we have many members in one body, and all the members have not the same office:
5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and severally members one of another.
6 And having gifts differing according to the grace that was given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of our faith;
7 or ministry, let us give ourselves to our ministry; or he that teacheth, to his teaching;
8 or he that exhorteth, to his exhorting: he that giveth, let him do it with liberality; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness.
9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
10 In love of the brethren be tenderly affectioned one to another; in honor preferring one another;
11 in diligence not slothful; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
12 rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing stedfastly in prayer;
2. 1 Kings 3:10-14
1. Part III, Section One; Article 7: 1808-1809 (page 444)
1808 Fortitude is the moral virtue that ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good. It strengthens the resolve to resist temptations and to overcome obstacles in the moral life. The virtue of fortitude enables one to conquer fear, even fear of death, and to face trials and persecutions. It disposes one even to renounce and sacrifice his life in defense of a just cause. “The Lord is my strength and my song.”70 “In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”71
1809 Temperance is the moral virtue that moderates the attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of created goods. It ensures the will’s mastery over instincts and keeps desires within the limits of what is honorable. The temperate person directs the sensitive appetites toward what is good and maintains a healthy discretion: “Do not follow your inclination and strength, walking according to the desires of your heart.”72 Temperance is often praised in the Old Testament: “Do not follow your base desires, but restrain your appetites.”73 In the New Testament it is called “moderation” or “sobriety.” We ought “to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world.”74
To live well is nothing other than to love God with all one’s heart, with all one’s soul and with all one’s efforts; from this it comes about that love is kept whole and uncorrupted (through temperance). No misfortune can disturb it (and this is fortitude). It obeys only [God] (and this is justice), and is careful in discerning things, so as not to be surprised by deceit or trickery (and this is prudence).75
Small Group Questions
1. What do you do to make sure that you are placing others before you?
2. Do your children believe that you are sacrificing for them? How do they understand this without you “laying a guilt trip” on them?
3. How do you manage the line between putting others first and not being taken advantage of?
1. Rediscovering Catholicism, by Matthew Kelly, pages 27-29
1. This week bring this topic up to your family at the dinner table and have a discussion about putting other needs above their own.
Taken from 2009 syllabus and adapted by Mark Oliva
Step out of the rat race and enjoy life. How can we achieve a less stressful life with an over-scheduled family that has too much to do and never enough time to do it? Work, school, and social commitments have us racing from event to event, seldom with the time to savor the wonder of the good life God has given us. Less is more!
Have you ever contemplated how calm and peaceful people are when they have very little to “clutter” their lives? In our motivation to be active, be involved, and acquire goods we often find ourselves to be exhausted, stressed, and never satisfied. Give some thought to how you might re-prioritize what goes on the calendar, how you could reduce your possessions, and be more satisfied with a simpler life having what you need rather than what you want. Think about practical ways to separate the wheat from the chaff in your life and the life of the family you lead.
1. Matthew Chapter 19 19-20
The young man said to him, ‘I have kept all these. What more do I need to do?’ Jesus said, ‘If you wish to be perfect, go and sell your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’
2. Wisdom Chapter 1 : 1
Love uprightness you who are rulers on earth, be properly disposed towards the Lord and seek him in simplicity of heart.
1. Paragraph 2470
The disciple of Christ consents to “live in the truth,” that is, in the simplicity of a life in conformity with the Lord’s example, abiding in his truth. “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth.”
2. Paragraph 533
The hidden life at Nazareth allows everyone to enter into fellowship with Jesus by the most ordinary events of daily life: The home of Nazareth is the school where we begin to understand the life of Jesus – the school of the Gospel. First, then, a lesson of silence. May esteem for silence, that admirable and indispensable condition of mind, revive in us. . . A lesson on family life. May Nazareth teach us what family life is, its communion of love, its austere and simple beauty, and its sacred and inviolable character… A lesson of work. Nazareth, home of the “Carpenter’s Son”, in you I would choose to understand and proclaim the severe and redeeming law of human work. . . To conclude, I want to greet all the workers of the world, holding up to them their great pattern their brother who is God.
Small Group Questions
1. What have you done, or heard of others doing, to simplify their lives?
2. How do you and your wife decide on when “enough is enough” on the calendar.
3. What guidelines or rules do you have in your home as far as number of activities for children?
1. “Simplify Forum” http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=470791
2. Seven Levels of Intimacy – Matthew Kelly – This book serves as a good reminder of why we need to simplify our lives, reevaluate our purpose in life, and the priority we give to our relationships.
3. How to Simplify Your Life – Jeff Cavins – on CD
1. Make a family project to go through items in the garage, make liberal use of the garbage can, and have each child pick out items that you will take to St Vincent DePaul. Next week…the basement!
2. Commit to giving “nothing” a regular spot on your family calendar. Keep holy the Sabbath.
3. If you get a new item (coat, shoes, bike), be sure to give the old one away.
4. Sign up for no more than one team/club per season!
5. Unplug at the dinner table and on vacation.
Reid Rooney / Kevin McDonough / Anthony Your
Ten Ways to Simplify Your Life – by Jennifer Ottolino
In this very fast-paced world, it seems impossible to simplify our lives. But consider this: how much time and energy do you waste on the unnecessary? How much time do you waste because you can’t find things? How much energy do you waste telling yourself all the things you should do?
We often make life much more complicated than it needs to be and somehow we convince ourselves that our lives must be filled to the max. We over-schedule our lives, and then wonder why we feel dissatisfied. In turn, we end up spending the majority of our time on the things that don’t matter to us.
Here are some strategies to help you weed out the unnecessary and simplify, simplify, simplify.
1. Extend your boundaries
It is okay to say no. If you are not comfortable committing to a task, or something doesn’t feel right to you, then don’t do it. We often get in trouble because we ignore our gut feelings, and most of the time it leads us down the wrong path.
2. Drop your to-do’s
Drop the to-do’s that have been on your list for a couple of months. Get rid of those tasks that you keep telling yourself that you will get done but you always find something more interesting/important to do. If you have not done them by now, they are not important and are merely draining your energy.
3. Remove clutter
How much time do you waste looking for things? Do you have stuff that you need to get rid of? The more cluttered your space is, the more stressed you are going to feel. When you remove clutter, get rid of stuff that you no longer need, and your life will run more smoothly. In addition, you will create a space for new things to enter your life.
4. Define your values
Determine what your values are and live to those values. We often feel conflicted because how we are living is out of sync with our values. For example, if your number one value is family and your job requires you to work 65 hours a week, is it any wonder that you feel unsettled and unhappy? When you’re clear about what is important to you, it will be easier to let go of things that don’t fit.
5. Examine your Beliefs
What are your core beliefs? Some of your beliefs maybe limiting your ability to let go of tasks and projects that don’t add value. If you believe that you create value by being busy, it is much harder to let go of tasks. If you believe that the only way to make money is to work hard, then you will always work hard. Remember, we look for circumstances in our lives to reinforce what we believe.
6. Create priorities
Determine one or two things you want to accomplish within the next year for your career/business, home life, relationships, and self. Work only to those priorities. If your goal is to develop a new income-generating product line, then that is where you should spend significant time focusing your attention.
It’s very easy to get distracted from our priorities, because there is so much information out there that attracts our interests. How often do you get diverted to other projects and never finish what you were originally working on? What happens? The year goes by and you did not accomplish any of your objectives. When new ideas do excite us, get an idea notebook and write all of your new ideas down for future projects. One note, if you find yourself working on everything but your stated priorities, it may be time to reexamine what you think you want.
7. Give yourself permission to relax
We live in a culture that has taught us that relaxing is the equivalent to being lazy so we have created lives that are bursting at the seams and don’t give us time to think. There is another way. Give yourself permission to relax. Revel in doing nothing. Give yourself time to just think and do nothing. You will be amazed at all the new and interesting discoveries that come to you.
8. If you are struggling – let it go
If something is a real struggle, or you can’t come up with a solution, drop it for a while. Giving yourself a mental break will allow your brain to rest and therefore create new ideas. Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night and had an aha? This happens for two reasons, 1) because you are relaxed, and 2) because you were not trying to direct your brain’s thoughts. Giving yourself a mental break from a challenge is a great way to consciously create that aha.
9. Take care of yourself
Isn’t it funny that we take better care of our cars than our bodies? Take care of your body and mind. Eat things that bring you a sense of energy and lightness. Eat to fuel your body. Exercise your body to reduce stress and clear your mind. Exercise your brain with new activities. This will go a long way in helping you feel more calm and relaxed.
10. Have fun
Why is it so hard for us to have fun? Make time each week to do something that brings you joy. Do something completely silly. Have fun with yourself. Laugh. Forget all the other stuff for a while and just have fun. You will feel a whole lot better.
Pope Benedict has stated that the Catholic Church’s principal focus in the public square is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and outlined three specific areas that are “non-negotiables”
As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable. Among these the following emerge clearly today:
· protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death;
· recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family – as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage – and its defense from attempts to make it juridical equivalent to radically different forms of union which in reality harm it and contribute to its destabilization, obscuring its particular character and its irreplaceable social role;
· the protection of the right of parents to educate their children
The pope recognized that these principles “are inscribed in human nature itself and therefore they are common to all humanity.” They are “addressed to all people,” regardless of religious affiliation.
“Consequently, Catholic politicians and legislators, conscious of their grave responsibility before society, must feel particularly bound, on the basis of a properly formed conscience, to introduce laws inspired by values grounded in human nature,” he said.
“These values are not negotiable,” he said in the new document.
The pope also said that local bishops in the United States have a responsibility to encourage local politicians to uphold pro-life values.
“Bishops are bound to reaffirm constantly these values as part of their responsibility to the flock entrusted to them,” he wrote in the document.
The bishops are also charged with the task of monitoring whether elected officials in their local churches shouldn’t be receiving communion because of a violation of the church’s pro-life teachings.
“There is an objective connection here with the Eucharist. Bishops are bound to reaffirm constantly these values as part of their responsibility to the flock entrusted to them,” the pope said.
1. Deuteronomy 30 : 11-20
“For this command which I enjoin on you today is not too mysterious and remote for you. It is not up in the sky, that you should say, ‘Who will go up in the sky to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’ Nor is it across the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’ No, it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out.
Here, then, I have today set before you life and prosperity, death and doom. If you obey the commandments of the LORD, your God, which I enjoin on you today, loving him, and walking in his ways, and keeping his commandments, statutes and decrees, you will live and grow numerous, and the LORD, your God, will bless you in the land you are entering to occupy. If, however, you turn away your hearts and will not listen, but are led astray and adore and serve other gods, I tell you now that you will certainly perish; you will not have a long life on the land which you are crossing the Jordan to enter and occupy. I call heaven and earth today to witness against you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him. For that will mean life for you, a long life for you to live on the land which the LORD swore he would give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”
1. Paragraph 1934
Created in the image of the one God and equally endowed with rational souls, all men have the same nature and the same origin. Redeemed by the sacrifice of Christ, all are called to participate in the same divine beatitude: all therefore enjoy an equal dignity.
2. Paragraph 2270
Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person—among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.72
Small Group Questions
1. When evaluating politicians, how much do moral values really count?
2. Does a politician being Pro-Choice automatically eliminate them from consideration even though they maybe the best qualified?
Tim Arnold & Trey Rouse
All married couples have arguments, or rather fights. How you fight is the key to whether or not you will have a successful, long term marriage. This Father’s Team topic will help you discover/learn this critical marital skill.
1. We’ll need to discuss the importance of fighting. Rather than avoiding conflict in marriage, we must embrace healthy conflict as a way to enjoy and love our spouse. Avoiding or denying the inevitable mix-ups of marriage only postpones having to really deal with them and grow through them.
2. Then we’ll see that resolving conflict is a balancing act. By purposefully holding back honest communication, the silent partner in marriage can stunt the growth of the relationship. The opposite characteristic – being the overly dominant spouse – also has its pitfalls. By finding appropriate balance between these extremes, we create a better marriage. More importantly, these characteristics often carry over into our relationship with God.
3. Lastly, we need to examine the role of emotional and sexual intimacy in marriage. We honor God when we consistently resolve marital conflict without letting it build into resentment. Sexual intimacy, then, stems from emotional safety in marriage.
Here are some suggested principles to guide you through the process of fighting fair:
· Emotions are nothing to avoid or be afraid of. Emotions just are. God gave them to us. Let’s celebrate them in all their messiness, complexity, joy and pain.
· Emotions are signposts that help you navigate the journey of marriage. Embrace the emotional expressions of your spouse and look for the message behind the words. What does your spouse’s anger mean about their current experience and satisfaction in marriage? Learn from these.
· You make a better marriage when you work through conflict and honestly confront emotions.
Here are some things to think about:
· Maybe you’re the spouse using words to tip the balance of power in your favor. You trample on your spouse’s feelings, self-esteem and dignity with every hurtful verbal exchange. Maybe you find yourself rationalizing your communication style by saying, “She needed to hear that,” or, “I know the truth hurts, but somebody has to tell her.” If this is you, I’d caution that there are very rare, limited cases when a married individual should take this stance of being marital judge and jury.
· Find balance in your style of managing marital conflict. Silence hurts. So does verbally lashing out. Neither is a healthy way to resolve conflict in your marriage. In extremes, both styles of resolving conflict are futile relational power-grabs. If you’re the quiet one, learn from your blabber-mouth spouse. If you’re the talker that shoots verbal darts non-stop, learn from your tight-lipped spouse. Stop doing things the way you’ve always done them, and begin looking for different results.
· Most importantly, though, don’t focus solely on the balance of power in your marriage. Focus on the balance of power between you and your Maker. Balance this scale, and the rest tends to take care of itself. Are you talking with God? Or are you the silent partner?
Here is a checklist of items to consider:
1. Don’t let little things that bother you build up until one of you explodes the issue into a large fight. That’s not fighting fair in your marriage.
2. If you are angry about something and don’t try to talk about it with your spouse within 48 hours, let it go. Otherwise, you are not fighting fair.
3. If your spouse doesn’t want to discuss the matter, set an appointment within the next 24 hours to have your fair fight. It is okay to go to bed angry. You need your sleep. Just make sure that the issue is addressed the next day.
4. Fighting fair means you know what the issue is. Then, both of you stick to the subject.
5. Keep your fight between the two of you. Don’t bring in third parties like your mother-in-law, his best friend, or your children.
6. Fighting fair means you don’t bring up past history.
7. Fighting fair means no name calling. Even endearing terms and pet names can be hurtful when you are using a sarcastic tone.
8. Be careful how you use humor. Laughter is good, but teasing can be misinterpreted and can be hurtful.
9. Listen to one another fully while you fight. This includes watching body language. Look at one another while you speak.
10. Don’t interrupt during your fight.
11. Fighting fair means you don’t blame one another make accusations.
12. Try to use ‘I’ sentences instead of ‘you’ sentences.
13. Be open to asking for forgiveness and being willing to forgive.
1. Ecclesiastes 3:1
There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens.
2. Ecclesiastes 3:7
A time to rend, and a time to sew: a time to be silent and a time to speak.
3. Ephesians 4:25-26
Therefore, putting away falsehood, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry but do not sin, do not let the sun set on your anger.
1. Paragraph 1638
“From a valid marriage arises a bond between the spouses which by its very nature is perpetual and exclusive; furthermore, in a Christian marriage the spouses are strengthened and, as it were, consecrated for the duties and the dignity of their state by a special sacrament.”
Small Group Questions
1. Examine your last ‘fight’ with your spouse – what role did you play – aggressor or silent?
2. This is not the first time we have talked this topic – what steps have you put into place to ‘fight fair’?
Focus on the Family – http://www.focusonthefamily.com/marriage/communication_and_conflict/fighting_fair.aspx
About.com – Marriage – http://marriage.about.com/cs/conflictandanger/ht/fightfair.htm
1. This week would be a good time to have a discussion with your spouse about how you fight.
2. Think about addressing this as you are ‘developing’ your children in the way you and your spouse interact
Talking to God is important. However listening to God is imperative. Do we only know how to talk to God and ask or tell Him what to do or are we trying equally as hard to listen to what God wants from us?
The really sad thing about not talking and listening to God, is that you miss a golden opportunity to draw closer to God, to get to know him better, and to let him know that you realize that you want and need his help. When you fail to talk and listen to God, you greatly limit God’s ability to accomplish the things that he wants to do in your life. When you don’t communicate with God you miss the Godly advice given at James 4:8, “Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you”. Instead, when you don’t talk or listen to God you pretty much tell him that you don’t need him, that you can do things on your own, that his advice and his concern are not needed, that you are very capable of going through your life under your own power and doing it your own way.
1. 1 Samuel 3:9
‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’
2. Proverbs 12:15
The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.
3. James 1:19-20
My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.
1. Catechism 308
The truth that God is at work in all the actions of his creatures is inseparable from faith in God the Creator. God is the first cause who operates in and through secondary causes: “For God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Far from diminishing the creature’s dignity, this truth enhances it. Drawn from nothingness by God’s power, wisdom and goodness, it can do nothing if it is cut off from its origin, for “without a Creator the creature vanishes.” Still less can a creature attain its ultimate end without the help of God’s grace.
Small Group Questions
1. Think about a situation you have been in lately and note if you have stopped to listen for God or if you are simply choosing what you think is best to do?
2. After the discussion above share your thoughts on the possibility you may not like what God wants you to do.
3. At this point in your life how do you shut God out of your life in terms of how you may listen to God?
4. Do you put God on a time table and if you don’t get the answer you want you simply shut God Down?
1. This week would be a good time to start thinking of various ways we can let God guide our lives. Take steps to ask God what God wants you to do – NO MATTER WHAT
2. Commit to one action you will make to talk and/or listen to God and share your experience next week.
1. Listening and Talking to God
Book: How to Listen When God Is Speaking: A Guide for Modern-Day Catholics [Paperback]
Steve Green (Previous Author)
By Fr. Jonas Abib
Founder Cancao Nova
©Catholic Online 2004
The important thing is always to practice listening to God. You do not listen to Him with your ear but with your heart.
Listening to God is embracing God’s inspirations in your heart. God’s answers us in your heart, in our deepest inmost core where He dwells. If you want an answer from God, look for it deep inside yourself. You should learn to plunge into the temple of your heart and look for your answers there.
It is something that cannot be done externally, amidst noise and lots of activity; it is something that cannot be done in your head. We often try to decide things in our mind, know everything in our conscious mind. Though what we really need is to plunge into our hearts and search for an answer in deep prayer.
We all know the benefits of prayer, especially prayer in tongues, followed by deep silence. In fact, what you experience is not a real silence, an empty silence: on the contrary, it is a silence of plenitude, a pleasant silence, a silence through which you plunge into your own self.
It is something like plunging into the depths of your own spiritual oceans in a sea-probe, going deep down inside yourself and entering that place inside you where God dwells. That is the place where God gives you the seeds for the answers of everything you ask Him.
It is a question of learning how to listen to God.
You listen to Him not with your ears but with the wisdom He inspires you in the recesses of your praying heart.
TALKING AND LISTENING TO GOD (Partial)
Talking to God
We talk to God in order to constantly build and strengthen our relationship with him, to get to know him better, to learn what he expects of us, what we can expect from him, and to find out how we can best accomplish the things that he wants us to do. We also talk to God in order to seek his advice and help, to show him that we recognize his existence and awesome power, and of course to show him that we have trust and confidence in him.
And talking to God should be the same as if you were talking to your best friend. You should tell him your thoughts, desires, hurts, and problems, as well as giving him your thanks and praise. Talking to God not only tells God that you have knowledge of him but that you also have faith in him. Talking to God also tells him that you have a desire for his presence in your life and that you need him and are dependent on him. It also shows God and that you want to be obedient to him. He wants to hear these things from you. He already knows what they are but he wants you to tell them to him. He wants you to make the effort to talk to him and not to take him for granted.
If you really want to communicate and talk to God, if you want to become close to him, if you want to begin to grow strong spiritually, and if you want to begin a glorious and meaningful relationship with him, then do two things.
1) Talk to God daily, in a normal everyday type of conversation. Remember that God can read your mind and that he is constantly observing your inner most thoughts at all times, so he knows what is going on in your heart and your mind far better than you do. So your conversations with God do not have to be vocal and you can mentally talk to God anytime you want. God gave us little taste of his ability to search the hearts of men and read their minds back in Jeremiah 17:10 when he said, “I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds.”
So you can easily talk to God in your thoughts, and these conversations can be done anytime or anyplace. They can be done in school, at work, or at any other place, even if the rules of the world are against it.
2) The second thing you need to do in order to better communicate with Jesus is to read the Word of God each and every day. The Bible was the one thing that Jesus left for each one of us to read and study so that we would be able to find out about God. Only by reading the very word of God can we hope to draw near to him.
When Our Lord sees that you are taking the time to read his word every single day then what he is going to do is begin to peel away the layers of cloudiness that are covering your eyes and that hide the truth. Once he sees that you are serious about reading his word, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit will begin to open your eyes and mind, and allow you to begin to understand the Word of God and the incredible meaning that it has on every aspect of your life. It won’t be long before you realize that the Bible isn’t difficult at all to read and understand, and to your amazement you will begin to also realize that you and Jesus have been drawn closer together. Suddenly you will know that indeed he is communicating with you.
It is really a joyous occasion to see a believer who has devoted the time to talk to God and to read his word daily, suddenly realize just how much God is speaking to them. The true believer takes great comfort in knowing that Jesus Christ is constantly talking to them, directing them, guiding them, and teaching them throughout each and every day.
Also keep in mind that the way you talk to God is extremely important. Do you talk to him only when you are in trouble and need help? If so then it shows God that you are simply taking him for granted. However if he sees that you are setting aside certain periods of time during each day just to talk to him, then what you are doing is opening up the channels of communication between you and God.
We are living in a world that rarely thinks about Jesus and seldom talks to him, and if Jesus sees one person out of a million who is actually taking the time each and every day just to talk to him, then you are going to put great joy in his heart. Just think of it. The creator of the entire universe will be personally listening to you each and every time you talk to him.
He may watch for a while to see if what you are doing is only temporary and whether or not you will stop it after a few days. But if you continue, then God is going to be extremely pleased and I believe he won’t be able to wait to begin to communicate with your heart, your conscience, your soul, your spirit. In fact you will not believe how much God will be talking to you.
Listening to God
Listening to God is probably the most important thing that will ever happen to a person. In fact your entire eternal future is based on you hearing God speaking to you and whether or not you listen to him. And this is because your spiritual life doesn’t begin until God speaks to you and you finally decide to listen. This is so beautifully described in John 10:27-28. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand”.
It is for this reason that you need to not only talk to God constantly about everything, but you must also listen for God to speak to you. And the best way to listen for God to speak to you is to look to your heart and your mind for his answer. Most people expect God to answer them in some divine way or somehow speak to them verbally, right out of the heavens, but that isn’t the way God operates. God speaks to a persons heart. To their mind. To their sense of moral righteousness and fairness. To their sense of what is right and Godly. When Jesus Christ is dwelling within a person he is communicating constantly with that person’s, heart, conscience, soul, and spirit. His answer may even be in that certain feeling that you have. That unexpected feeling that came out of no where and that shines additional light on the problem. His answer may lie in that sudden pause that you experience. That pause that gets you thinking about a different path to take.
And those methods of communication that God uses are extremely loud and clear. The true child of God can hear God speak just as clearly as if God was standing right along side of them and verbally talking to them. However for most people, especially in the beginning, they need to be quiet and really listen for God’s answer because it is so very easy to block his answer out. You can get busy watching a TV program or cleaning the house and you never really hear his side of the conversation.
It’s amazing, but a true child of God is carrying on a constant two way conversation with God all day long. This is why talking and listening to God is so easy. It’s like listening to music. That’s why if your driving down the street going 30 miles over the speed limit, you know that’s the voice of God telling you that you are wrong and that you must get back to the proper speed limit. That speeding is against the law, that you very possibly might hurt or kill another person, that you will be stopped by the police and given an expensive ticket, that your insurance rates will go up, or any number of other reasons. (You know it’s not satan talking to you because if it was satan he would be telling you to go faster, that a little extra speed doesn’t matter, that the other drivers owe you, or that it is ok for you to speed because you are in a hurry).
Another example might be if you are at work and you see something that you would like to have at home, and you suddenly begin to think that your employer will never miss it, and that it really isn’t that expensive. Well, that’s God speaking to your entire being through your conscience. He’s pleading with your heart not to steal that item. He’s telling your mind that it will only bring dishonor and guilt upon you and upon God. He telling your moral righteousness that it is very wrong, and that nothing good can ever happen when you steal from another.
After a while God is carrying on a conversation with you even while you are talking to other people; and you are tuned in to God just as much as you are to the other person. When was the last time you and another person were talking and that person used the name of God in vain. Did your mind not hear the Lord cut into that conversation and instantly begin to tell you that the conversation was wrong. That it is wrong to be around someone dragging his Father’s name through the dirt? Or how about the time when you were talking with another person and one of you happened to mention vicious gossip about another person. Didn’t your heart hear God tell you that it wasn’t right to gossip? Did you feel that gentle warning letting you know that you were traveling out of God’s camp and into an area that is owned and ruled by satan. That was God simply talking to you. And it will be one of the most glorious days of your life when you finally realize that you can conduct a constant two way conversation with God 24 hours a day.
Also a great many people love to say that God works in mysterious ways. That they have absolutely no idea how or why God does what he does. But for the true believer, God’s ways aren’t mysterious. His ways aren’t concealed behind smoke and mirrors. It is just the opposite. Because once you begin to understand Jesus Christ, once you begin to learn what he is all about, once you begin to understand what he is trying to do in this world and in your life, once you begin to understand the tremendous importance that he holds for all of mankind, then his actions will not be mysterious. That’s when his ways will become crystal clear. In fact many times you will actually be able to predict what he is going to do.
The believer, who has surrendered his life up to Jesus Christ, will see God actively working in their daily lives. But this seeing will not be a visual image focused in our eyes. Instead, God has allowed his children to see him through his faithfulness, his blessings, his guidance, his encouragement. Our very spirits tell us that he is very near to us. Do we not see him by the feeling of peace and calm that his very presence brings? Do we not see God through the daily provisions that he brings for our many needs? We see God when he is carrying our burdens, when he is lighting our paths, and when he is nestling us in his arms. The believer that has surrendered, is able to see God all day long.
Ever feel like you are just going through the motions. Like you are going to church because you know it’s right, but it just isn’t making that special connection. How do you work your way out of it? What can you focus on to bring you back to a rewarding relationship with God and the church?
It seems like a lot of people go through spiritual dry spells. People sometimes feel apathetic about their relationship with God and/or feel like God’s voice is silent during a difficult time. The objective is to provide some practical tips for getting through times of spiritual dryness.
1. Hebrews 11:6
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
2. Job 30:20
“I cry out to you, O God, but you do not answer; I stand up, but you merely look at me.
3. Matthew 8:26
He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
- Paragraph 2088
The first commandment requires us to nourish and protect our faith with prudence and vigilance, and to reject everything that is opposed to it. There are various ways of sinning against faith:
Voluntary doubt about the faith disregards or refuses to hold as true what God has revealed and the Church proposes for belief. Involuntary doubt refers to hesitation in believing, difficulty in overcoming objections connected with the faith, or also anxiety aroused by its obscurity. If deliberately cultivated doubt can lead to spiritual blindness.
- Paragraph 162
Faith is an entirely free gift that God makes to man. We can lose this priceless gift, as St. Paul indicated to St. Timothy: “Wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting conscience, certain persons have made shipwreck of their faith.” To live, grow and persevere in the faith until the end we must nourish it with the word of God; we must beg the Lord to increase our faith; it must be “working through charity,” abounding in hope, and rooted in the faith of the Church.
Small Group Questions
1. What do you do when you are going through a spiritual dry spell?
2. Is there some activity, sacrament or inspirational book that jelps you get back on track with your spiritual journey?
1. Any links to online resource or referenced books
2. Best ways to: http://www.example.com/howto
1. Ask yourself – is there anything I am doing to block God’s voice? Take time to reflect on what you have been doing lately.
2. Have you been praying, receiving the sacraments, etc.?
3. Are you filling your life with other distractions?
1. From http://www.conversiondiary.com/2009/07/9-tips-for-spiritual-dry-spells.html
1. Make sure you’re not doing anything to block out God’s voice
– Is there specific sin in your life that is blocking you relationship with God?
– Are you holding a grudge against someone?
2. Keep praying (no, seriously, keep praying)
– Mix up your prayer life a bit. Add the rosary if you are not currently saying it. Pray with your spouse.
– A spiritual dry spell is not the time to start subtracting spiritual practices that you once felt called to do.
3. Receive the sacraments
– Increase the frequency with which you receive the sacraments of the Eucharist and Confession. As with prayer, it’s tempting to slack off on going to Mass or Confession if it doesn’t lead to an emotional experience, but the sacraments are channels of grace regardless of how we feel when we receive them.
4. Read inspiring spiritual books
Mother Teresa’s Secret Fire
In the Shadow of His Wings
Come Be My Light
He Leadeth Me
Finding God’s Will for You
10 Prayers God Always Says Yes To
5. Make sure there’s not a physical cause
-Though we always have free will to turn to God no matter what the circumstances (as I was recently reminded), I’ve found that if I’m staying up too late, constantly eating junk food, not exercising, pushing myself too hard, etc., I’m far more tempted to turn away from God than when I’m feeling good physically — and this alone can lead to spiritual dry spells.
6. Make sure you’re recharging your batteries
-This is similar to the above, but it’s so important yet so often overlooked that I think it’s worth addressing as a separate point. It is critically important to understand how you recharge your batteries, i.e. knowing what activities give you energy vs. what activities drain your energy.
7. Find a spiritual director
-Spiritual directors can help you work through questions like, “Am I doing something to block out God’s voice?”, “What could be the purpose for God’s silence in my life right now?”, “How can I keep praying when I feel so unmotivated?”, etc.
8. Consider counseling
-If you think you might have serious unresolved issues in your life that are impacting your relationship with God, you may want to consider finding a Christian counselor to help you gain peace in those areas of your life.
9. Research the Christian understanding of spiritual dry spells
-If you’ve done all of the above and nothing is better, it may simply be that God is withholding spiritual consolation from you for a reason.
Is your parish a place you look forward to visiting or just a place to go to Sunday mass? The parish is our religious home base. A place where we feel welcome and in the presence of God and people who share our faith and views. How do we support this most important organization and all of the good it does in faith ministries, outreach, education? Are there ways we might not think about that we could make a difference in the parish or someone’s life through our time, talents and treasure?
1. Matthew 5:13-16
You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lamp stand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.
2. John 13:12-15
So when he had washed their feet [and] put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am.h If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet.I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.i
1. Paragraph 898
“By reason of their special vocation, it belongs to the laity to seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and directing them according to God’s will…It pertains to them in a special way so to illuminate and order all temporal things with which they are closely associated that these may always be effected and grow according to Christ and may be to the glory of the Creator and Redeemer.”
2. Paragraph 2179
“A parish is a definite community of the Christian faithful established on a stable basis within a particular church; the pastoral care of the parish is entrusted to a pastor as its own shepherd under the authority of the diocesan bishop.”115 It is the place where all the faithful can be gathered together for the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist. The parish initiates the Christian people into the ordinary expression of the liturgical life: it gathers them together in this celebration; it teaches Christ’s saving doctrine; it practices the charity of the Lord in good works and brotherly love: You cannot pray at home as at church, where there is a great multitude, where exclamations are cried out to God as from one great heart, and where there is something more: the union of minds, the accord of souls, the bond of charity, the prayers of the priests.116
Small Group Questions
1. Talk in your small group about those in the group who are active in a ministry and why they do it, what they get out of it. Recall that even being the small team lead in Fathers Team is supporting a ministry of the parish.
2. How can you take what you receive from Fathers Team out into the greater parish? How can you get involved with small steps in supporting the parish?
3. If you are already active, is there something calling you further? Is there something new you can try, meet new people, and find new ways to be a part of the bigger picture?
1. List of Ministries at IHoM http://www.ihom.org/GETINVOLVED/Ministries/ListofMinistries/tabid/90/Default.aspx
John Fahrmeier (updated from 2009 Syllabus)
God has a plan for you as a man, husband and father? Do you know what it is and are you living it? You are invited this coming Friday morning to hear Deacon Russ Feldkamp discuss John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.
The Objective is become familiar with Theology of the Body and why it is important to us as men, husbands and fathers.
Theology of the Body is the topic of a series of 129 lectures given by Pope John Paul II during his Wednesday audiences in the Pope Paul VI Hall between September 1979 and November 1984. It was the first major teaching of his pontificate. The complete addresses were later compiled and expanded upon in many of John Paul’s encyclicals, letters, and exhortations.
1. Genesis 1:27-28
God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them, saying: “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that move on the earth.
2. Genesis 2:18, 23-25
The LORD God said: “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him.” When he brought her to the man, the man said: “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; This one shall be called ‘woman,’ for out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body. The man and his wife were both naked, yet they felt no shame.
3. Mark 10:6-9
But (Jesus said to them) from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother (and be joined to his wife), and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.”
4. Tobit 8:4-8
When the girl’s parents left the bedroom and closed the door behind them, Tobiah arose from bed and said to his wife, “My love, get up. Let us pray and beg our Lord to have mercy on us and to grant us deliverance.” She got up, and they started to pray and beg that deliverance might be theirs. He began with these words: “Blessed are you, O God of our fathers; praised be your name forever and ever. Let the heavens and all your creation praise you forever. You made Adam and you gave him his wife Eve to be his help and support; and from these two the human race descended. You said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; let us make him a partner like himself.’ Now, Lord, you know that I take this wife of mine not because of lust, but for a noble purpose. Call down your mercy on me and on her, and allow us to live together to a happy old age.” They said together, “Amen, amen,”
5. Psalm 51:12
A clean heart create for me, God; renew in me a steadfast spirit.
1. Paragraph 387
“Only the light of divine Revelation clarifies the reality of sin and particularly of the sin committed at mankind’s origins. Without the knowledge Revelation gives of God we cannot recognize sin clearly and are tempted to explain it as merely a developmental flaw, a psychological weakness, a mistake, or the necessary consequence of an inadequate social structure, etc. Only in the knowledge of God’s plan for man can we grasp that sin is an abuse of the freedom that God gives to created persons so that they are capable of loving him and loving one another.”
2. Paragraph 221
“But St. John goes even further when he affirms that “God is love”: God’s very being is love. By sending his only Son and the Spirit of Love in the fullness of time, God has revealed his innermost secret: God himself is an eternal exchange of love, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and he has destined us to share in that exchange.”
Small Group Questions
1. What have you learned about Theology of the Body?
2. Are you living according to God’s plan? Are you and your wife together living according to God’s plan?
3. Is God challenging you with this teaching? Explain.
1. Theology of the Body Institute: http://www.tobinstitute.org/
2. General Audience By Pope John Paul II on Theology of the Body from 9/5/79 to 11/28/84
3. Book: “Theology of the Body some thoughts and reflections”, by Karen Doyle
1. Take some time to Reflect on today’s discussion and how God is calling you as a man, husband and father.
2. Have a date night with your wife and discuss the ideas of Theology of the Body with her.
Presentation by Deacon Russ Feldkamp
Did you know the experts (American Mental Health Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Family Physicians) have established guidelines regarding child discipline? Their recommendations are a good place to start our discussion of “Is there a ‘best’ way to correct children’s behavior?” Please join us as we travel from “Old School” to New Age” to explore options to make us more effective and aware parents.
Discipline is the process of teaching your child acceptable versus non-acceptable behavior (follow the rules). Discipline may involve punishment (time-out) or more importantly, rewards. Effective techniques aren’t about physical punishments. Most of the time they are more about treating children like adults, making them understand the gravity of the situation, and leading by example. The AAFP recommends several ways of shaping behavior: 1. positive reinforcement (focus on good behavior) 2. redirecting 3. verbal instruction/explanation 4. time-outs 5. re-explain expectations until compliance 6. grounding and 7. withholding privileges. Their charts indicate at what age these strategies work and when they are non productive (see Dr. Phil.com).
The American Mental Health Association says that being authoritative is the best parenting style. This parent sets clear expectations and consequences and is affectionate toward his or her child. The authoritative parent allows for flexibility and collaborative problem solving with the child when dealing with behavioral challenges. Corporal punishment is not recommended because there is no proof it works and has several negative consequences. Tips they recommend are:
1. Guide your discipline techniques to fit well with your child’s temperament.
2. Communicate your discipline plan
3. Be respectful of your child
4. Be consistent
5. When it’s done its done ( for both parent and child)
6. Understand what is appropriate for your child’s development
7. Look for the why behind behaviors. This doesn’t excuse behavior, but it can help prevent reoccurrence
8. Admit your mistakes
9. Realize some days will be challenges. If the situation becomes dangerous or intolerable, seek professional help (see webmd.com)
No discussion would be complete without considering the concept of positive discipline. This approach does not use any form of punishment. It is about loving guidance as opposed to threats and punishment. It is based on minimizing the child’s frustrations and misbehavior rather than giving punishments. The foundation of this style of discipline is encouraging children to feel good about themselves and building the parent’s relationship with the child so the child wants to please the parent. To achieve this, children need some time with parents every day that they can enjoy and feel good about. Children recognize a parent’s love through the time spent with them. Discipline and teaching work best within such positive relationships. Other important aspects are reasonable and age-appropriate expectations, feeding healthy foods and providing enough rest, giving clear instructions which may need to be repeated, looking for the causes of any misbehavior and making adjustments, and building routines. Children are helped by knowing what is happening in their lives. Having some predictability about their day without necessarily being regimental will help reduce frustration and misbehavior.
Some parents feel that positive parenting and non-punitive discipline is too permissive and will lead to unruly and disrespectful children. They also argue that there is no recourse for parents of misbehaving children to effectively control their misbehavior. Deliberate misbehavior, they say, must be firmly punished to prevent its recurrence.
Proponents of non-punitive discipline argue that children who misbehave often do it not out of malice, but out of ignorance, boredom or frustration, and simply need to be taught, listened to, or redirected. They argue that a close and loving relationship is vital and if there is such a relationship, the child will want to please the parent and will better accept rules and listen to reason. They also feel that punishments and smacks weaken the relationship which will lead to more problem behavior.
1. Hebrews 12 7-11
7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers to discipline us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time at their pleasure, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
2. Ephesians 6 4
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
1. Section 2223
Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for education in the virtues. This requires an apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery – the preconditions of all true freedom. Parents should teach their children to subordinate the “material and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones.” Parents have a grave responsibility to give good example to their children. By knowing how to acknowledge their own failings to their children, parents will be better able to guide and correct them:
Small Group Questions
1. Is there anything you can take home and use for child discipline in your family?
2. Is child discipline a life long obligation? How does it mix with unconditional love of a child?
3. Corporal punishment is outlawed in 24 countries (Europe and Latin America) but is legal in all 50 States of the Union. Are there situations when it is necessary?
4. Is positive discipline a possibility with a large family? Is it unrealistic?
All resources were found by internet searching
a. Many related links listed on site (AAFP Guidelines Charts)
a. Catholic Parenting Website
a. AMHA Guidelines
a. The do’s and don’ts of child discipline
a. History and Positive Discipline Description
a. Five Principles of Discipline
1. Are you willing to briefly tell your small group partners one thing you did differently regarding child discipline next week? What were the results?
2. Did you discuss with your wife how you will handle discipline for the children?
Kevin McDonough / Reid Rooney