Holiness

August 29, 2014 under Syllabus 2014-2015

Summary:

Holiness: by doing ordinary things with extraordinary love.

Objective

1Thess 4:3 “This is the will of God: your sanctification.” Our purpose in life should be to make it to heaven. To be with God. Forever. With all others who make it to heaven.

There are practical means by which we can strive for holiness in our everyday life. We don’t have to become a deacon or a missionary. By practicing virtues at work, at home, and at play we can become more holy. In fact, this is what God is calling most of to do – to become more holy in our everyday lives whether we are in client meetings, changing diapers, driving to work, or mowing the lawn.

Bible Readings

1. 1 Peter 1:14-16

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

2. 2 Corinthians 7:1

Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

3. 1 Thessalonians 4:7

For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.

4. Leviticus 20:26

You shall be holy to me, for I the Lord am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine.

5. Isaiah 35:8

And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it. It shall belong to those who walk on the way; even if they are fools, they shall not go astray.

6. Romans 12:1

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

Catechism Readings

1. 2013   

“All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity.”65 All are called to holiness: “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”66 (915, 2545, 825)

2. 2015   

The way of perfection passes by way of the Cross. There is no holiness without renunciation and spiritual battle.68 Spiritual progress entails the ascesis and mortification that gradually lead to living in the peace and joy of the Beatitudes: (407, 2725, 1438)

3. 2024   

Sanctifying grace makes us “pleasing to God.” Charisms, special graces of the Holy Spirit, are oriented to sanctifying grace and are intended for the common good of the Church. God also acts through many actual graces, to be distinguished from habitual grace which is permanent in us.

Small Group Questions

1. What things about your job or family life do find the most mundane?

2. What things at home or at work (or at church) the most frustrating?

3. How can you turn those mundane and frustrating times into the most sanctifying acts of love?

Recommended Resources

1. “Introduction to the Devout Life” by St. Francis deSales

2. Littleflower.org

3. “Holiness for Everyone” by St Josemaria Escriva

4. “Do Ordinary things with extraordinary love.” Saint Therese of Lisieux

Author(s)

Bob Walton

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Are We called to be Saints?

August 18, 2013 under Syllabus 2013-2014

Summary

In one sense, everyone who is baptized into Jesus’ death and resurrection is a saint. This is not to diminish the special role of the canonized saints but to highlight the immense gift that is all of ours in Christ. Because of the power of the cross, each Christian has the same inheritance in heaven as the great saints whose lives we commemorated in a special way on All Saints Day.!

Objective

“Are you a saint?” If someone were to ask you this question, how would you answer it? At the very beginning of his letter to the Philippians, Paul called his readers “saints,” or “holy ones” (Note: many Bible translations use the word saints in place of “holy ones.”) When we hear the word “saint,” most of us think of the special Christians of the past-canonized saints-who are renowned because of their extraordinary holiness and witness, in some cases to the point of martyrdom. However, when Paul used the word “saint,” he used it with a small “s” not a capital “S.” and thus meant all Christians-even us today!

Bible Readings

1. 2 Timothy Chapter 1, 9

He saved us and called us to a holy life, not according to our works but according to his own design and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began.

2. Philippians Chapter 1, 1-11

Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus, to all the holy ones in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the overseers and ministers: grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I give thanks to my God at every remembrance of you, praying always with joy in my every prayer for all of you, because of your partnership for the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.

It is right that I should think this way about all of you, because I hold you in my heart, you who are all partners with me in grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.

Catechism Readings

1. Paragraph 823

“The Church… is held, as a matter of faith, to be unfailingly holy. This is because Christ, the Son of God, who with the Father and the Spirit is hailed as ‘alone holy,’ loved the Church as his Bride, giving himself up for her so as to sanctify her; he joined her to himself as his body and endowed her with the gift of the Holy Spirit for the glory of God.” The Church, then, is “the holy People of God,” and her members are called “saints.”

Small Group Questions

1. How would you answer the question: “Are you a saint? Are you Holy?

a. Correct answer is: “yes I am holy, not because of me, but because of Christ, Who lives inside of me. The day I was chosen and baptized, god set me apart as His own. Now I am holy in God.”

2. What steps can you take to open yourself more to the work of the Holy Spirit to form you more and more into a “saint”?

3. At the end of your meeting, pray for one another that each of you would be empowered to be saints and a witness to this broken and hurting world. Use this prayer as a starting point.

“Father, thank you for giving me a share in the fellowship of your saints. By your Spirit, empower me to embrace Jesus and his life in me. Empower me to be a saint.”

Recommended Resources

http://catholicexchange.com/what-does-it-means-to-be-a-saint/

Based on the characteristics that Paul mentioned in the first few verses of Philippians, we can begin to define what makes a person a “saint.”:

  • Saints are “in Christ” (Philippians 1:1).
  • They are united with Jesus; they are “partners . . . in grace” (1:7).
  • They have access to the love and power of the Spirit in their everyday lives.
  • Because of their “partnership for the gospel” (1:5), they are all called and empowered to proclaim the gospel and build the kingdom of God.
  • Baptized into Christ and filled with the Spirit, saints stand as a sign to the world of the love and power of God.

Author(s)

Fr Larry Richards, Be a Man Chapter 9.

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Teaching your Children the importance of God, Family and Friends

August 20, 2012 under Syllabus 2012-2013

Summary

Do we take it for granted that our children will know the importance of God, family, and friends? One of the most important things we can do in life is to make sure our children understand how important this is as well as what it takes to continue to grow in the faith.

Objective

It is our duty as Fathers to uphold the teaching regarding the importance of God to our families. We do this by loving example and at times needed discipline. We are called to lead our families to Christ and to nurture the process along the way. The focus on the importance of God will transcend in the decision making of how our children choose the friends in their lives as well.

We can get help with this by following Seven Lessons Fathers Should Teach Their Children by Deacon Mike Bickerstaff (see resources)

  1. Teach by Word and Deed
  2. Be a Family of Prayer
  3. Make the Home a Place of Peace, Hope and Love
  4. Live Simply, Give Generously, Be Present
  5. Teach Your Children the Faith
  6. Live the Sacramental and Liturgical Life
  7. Get to know St. Joseph

Bible Readings

1. Genesis 18:19  

For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.”

2. Proverbs 22:6 

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

3. Isaiah 54:13 

All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children.

4. 1 Corinthians 15:33

Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”

5. Ephesians 4:29-32

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you

Catechism Readings

1. Paragraph 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…

2. Paragraph 1655

“Christ chose to be born and grow up in the bosom of the holy family of Joseph and Mary. The Church is nothing other than ‘the family of God.’ From the beginning, the core of the Church was often constituted by those who had become believers ‘together with all [their] household.

3. Paragraph 1656

“In our own time, in a world often alien and even hostile to faith, believing families are of primary importance as centers of living, radiant faith. For this reason the Second Vatican Council, using an ancient expression, calls the family the Ecclesia domestica [Domestic Church]. It is in the bosom of the family that parents are ‘by word and example . . . the first heralds of the faith with regard to their children. They should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each child, fostering with special care any religious vocation.’”

Recommended Resources

  1. How to teach your children about God
    http://www.ehow.com/how_6083735_teach-children-god.html
  2. Bible Verses About Children- 25 Inspirational Scripture Quotes
    http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/bible-verses-about-children-25-inspirational-scripture-quotes/

Accountability

  1. Really look at the weekend and the week ahead in a different light. Pray that Christ reveals to you the miracles of every day. Ask for his help and to help other in his name.
  2. Report back to your group next week and discuss what you saw.

Author(s)

David Karsten

Included Resources

1. Seven Lessons Fathers Should Teach Their Children
http://www.integratedcatholiclife.org/2012/06/deacon-bickerstaff-lessons-of-our-fathers/

Who Introduced You to the Lord?

The first question I would like to pose, is simply this: “How did you come by your faith, whether it be weak or strong, new or old? Where and when did you first come to encounter Jesus and his glorious Gospel?” For many of us, the answer would be, “I first came to know Jesus in my home, from my father and mother.” This is not the case for everyone, but, it is the general plan of God that our first witnesses and teachers of the faith are our parents who share the good news of salvation with their children. For this reason, the family is referred to as the Domestic Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) teaches of the role of the family.

CCC 1655 – “Christ chose to be born and grow up in the bosom of the holy family of Joseph and Mary. The Church is nothing other than ‘the family of God.’ From the beginning, the core of the Church was often constituted by those who had become believers ‘together with all [their] household.’ (Cf. Acts 18:8) When they were converted, they desired that ‘their whole household’ should also be saved. (Cf. Acts 16:31; Acts 11:14) These families who became believers were islands of Christian life in an unbelieving world.”

It was no accident, rather, it was the will of God that Jesus Christ was conceived of woman and born into a family where he was lovingly raised and received experiential knowledge as he matured from infancy to adulthood. Everything Jesus received from that family experience is an example for us to follow. Nothing of his life is to be neglected by us as if it were irrelevant to our lives. The same is true of every word written in Sacred Scripture.

What You Should Desire for Your Children Above All Else?

So then, this is the second question, “Just how deeply do we parents desire that our children, along with ourselves, should also be saved?” You see, each Christian is called to be “salt” of this earth where too many things have soured and a “light” in a world too often filled with darkness. Note what the catechsim says above, “These families who became believers were islands of Christian life in an unbelieving world.” Such is the both the dignity and obligation of Christians, to become witnesses to an unbelieving world and to form families; domestic churches that are islands of Christian life.

Our vocation is the path by which we journey to Heaven. God has called each of us by name to Himself. In baptism we each received a share in the divine mission and a responsibility to be faithful to that mission. When a man and a woman answer God’s call to the vocation of marriage, they agree to live out this responsibility together as man and wife, and if blessed by children, then also together as father and mother. The obligation of their baptismal calling expands in a particular way to include the sanctity and salvation of their spouse and children.

CCC 1656 – “In our own time, in a world often alien and even hostile to faith, believing families are of primary importance as centers of living, radiant faith. For this reason the Second Vatican Council, using an ancient expression, calls the family the Ecclesia domestica [Domestic Church]. It is in the bosom of the family that parents are ‘by word and example . . . the first heralds of the faith with regard to their children. They should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each child, fostering with special care any religious vocation.’”

I grew up in the 1950′s-1960′s. I raised my children in the 1980′s-2000′s. Without falling into a sense of false nostalgia, I believe I can say that in relative terms, my childhood took place in a much more simple and safe time compared to the time of my children. And today, the world has become even more complex and more “alien and even hostile to faith”. Therefore, the second question posed above is clearly one of great urgency and it is critical that we understand the obligations of our vocation.

CCC 1657 – “It is here that the father of the family, the mother, children, and all members of the family exercise the priesthood of the baptized in a privileged way ‘by the reception of the sacraments, prayer and thanksgiving, the witness of a holy life, and self-denial and active charity.’ Thus the home is the first school of Christian life and ‘a school for human enrichment.’ Here one learns endurance and the joy of work, fraternal love, generous – even repeated – forgiveness, and above all divine worship in prayer and the offering of one’s life.” (Cf. Mt 11:28)

When I recall my childhood, the specific occasions remembered are those times and events that, at the time, held special relevance to me. It is difficult to predict what an adult will one day remember of his childhood. But know this, children are like video recorders, capturing everything. One day, when the need arises, an adult will pull from his memory banks examples to serve him in time of need. Will these memories serve him well, leading him to life or will the wrong message and example be there, leading him to wrong and destructive choices? I was blessed with good and holy parents; I can only hope, now that my children are grown, that they are able to say the same about me.

Too often in our families, the handing on of the faith falls upon the shoulders of our mothers. And may God richly bless those holy women who have been faithful to the good God by introducing the faith to a new generation.

But, fathers, we must ask ourselves where we are in this most important of responsibilities entrusted to us by God. The witness to faith is not nearly so strong within the family if mother and father send mixed messages to their children.

What memories are we, as fathers, making for our children?

Seven Lessons Fathers Should Give their Children

This is not a comprehensive list, but I would like to share a few lessons I have learned as a child and a father that I believe are crucial. I encourage you to add to this list in the “combox” below.

1. Teach by Word and Deed

Do our words match our examples? You have heard it said that you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time. I would like to modify that. You can never, over time, fool your children even some of the time. Children seem to have a built-in detector for hypocrisy. Fathers, do you think that you can teach your children to love and honor their mother if you don’t love and honor her in both your words and actions? It’s not going to happen. Nor will you likely succeed in any area if your words and actions do not match. So, fathers, teach by word and deed.

Going to Mass, making a novena or praying a family rosary was never a chore for my mother. These were joyful expressions of her love for Jesus, His Blessed Mother and His Church. Even in later years as I struggled to maintain and grow my faith, the memory of the example given me by my mother served as an anchor keeping me from crashing against the rocks of the pagan culture of my college years. I may not have demonstrated that to her at the time, but it is true nonetheless. One thing I always knew – my mother was praying for me. And deep in my heart, I knew that my father who had died when I was 16 was praying for me too. He was not Catholic, but he supported my mother’s efforts at every step. At that time, I retained the sense of the importance of God because God was important to my parents. They taught me this by their deeds. And I could feel their prayers. Because they taught my sister this too, I knew she also was praying for me. My life and the example of my family has taught me to never discount the power of prayer.

2. Be a Family of Prayer

This leads me to the topic of prayer. One of the great errors of our time is the failure of the individual Christian to advance in the prayer life and of the family to pray together. We are never going to truly know God until we become people of deep prayer and our children are not going to learn from their parents how to pray until they see them in fervent, urgent, persistent, faithful, expectant prayer – praying alone, praying together as husband and wife, and praying together with the entire family. No, we are not going to always feel like praying. And the devil is going to throw up obstacles, making us feel like we have no time to pray. Nor will our children always want to pray. But we must be faithful to God in our efforts to pray. And in this, fathers should take an active and leading role.

First, fathers need to commit to their own prayer life and that means more than simply reciting vocal prayers. We must practice meditative prayer – the Church teaches that this expression of prayer is a neccessity for the beginner – pondering in our hearts the events in the life of Christ and His Holy Family, reflecting on the lives of the saints, praying the scriptures, and thinking about the persons of God and the truths entrusted to the Church.

Second, pious practices such as grace before and after meals, a morning offering, blessing ourselves when driving past a Church where Christ is sacramentally present, offering a “Hail Mary” when seeing an ambulance or firetruck speeding down the road, all serve also as teaching moments for our children.

Third, fathers should encourage the family to come together on a regular schedule to pray a family rosary. This is a great way to introduce your children to the practice of prayer. There are endless ways to practice prayer as a family.

My previous pastor told the story of how his vocation to the priesthood developed in spite of all the obstacles he encountered on the road to ordination. He has vivid memories of his family praying an evening rosary together daily. But he remembers something more. After all had turned in for the night, he would hear, and sometimes look into his parents bedroom to see his parents (father and mother) praying together at the end of the day when none of the children were watching. This told him that prayer for them was really important. Their example provided him the fortitude to answer his call.

3. Make the Home a Place of Peace, Hope and Love

Peace and concord in the family is so important, yet it seems to be under fire more than ever. We are told in Scripture to be of one mind, yet members of families today seem to each have their own life and wants. Especially in these difficult economic times, the tendency is to allow worry and anxiety to permeate the home. Do you bring the troubles of work home to fester within the home? Do your children think that your work is more important than they are?

Saint (Padre) Pio of Pietrelcina wrote, “Don’t worry about tomorrow because the very same Heavenly Father who takes care of you today will have the same thought tomorrow and always. . . What does a child in the arms of such a Father have to fear? Be as children, who hardly ever think about their future as they have someone to think for them. They are sufficiently strong just by being with their father.” Make sure that the environment of the home provides this example for our children. Our children should be raised to believe, “Jesus, I Trust in You.”

4. Live Simply, Give Generously, Be Present

Love, honor and respect for one another in the home and for those outside the home should be faithfully practiced. Charity should prevail in all things. In this increasingly materialistic world, we do our children a grave disservice by the excessive accumulation of possessions. We teach them to love creation more than the Creator. Resist all disordered attachments that keep you from advancing in the life of grace. Living simply allows us to live with a generosity of spirit that teaches children to care for their neighbor who is in need… remember Our Lord’s teaching that when we fail to serve the least of our brethren, we fail to care for Him.

Look for ways to reach out beyond the family to assist those in need, both with your financial means and with your presence. Involve your children. Have them contribute to a charitable fund from their allowance. Involve them in preparing aid packages for the local shelter and food bank. Take them with you, where appropriate, to serve in person those less fortunate.

Most of all, be present to your children… patient and loving, firm and steadfast. Protect them from the evil of the world and help them discover their vocation from God.

5. Teach Your Children the Faith

It is simply not enough to expect the local parish or Catholic school to be the sole teacher of your children when it comes to what the Church teaches. We must take an active role as their primary teachers.

CCC 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…”

This “primary” roles means it is both before and above all others who are teachers of our children. We need to teach them in all the ways already discussed, plus we need to make sure that our children do not grow up to be doctrinally illiterate. Teach them their catechism, read the bible with them, and make discussion of heavenly matters and their role as pilgrims on this earth a natural part of the family experience. They were made for heaven, so keep their eyes fixed on their supernatural home even as you help them navigate the waters of this temporary world. Teach them the human virtues of the life of grace by which they can overcome sinful tendencies. Teach them “what a wonderful savior we have in Jesus.”

6. Live the Sacramental and Liturgical Life

While the family is the first, that is, the Domestic Church, the Christian family is also a part of the larger family of God, the Church. Therefore, as parents, we have a grave responsibility to make sure that our children participate in the life of the parish, especially in the liturgical life and sacraments. As our children grow, their involvement in worship as part of the Catholic parish should be fostered through practice and education. The Mass will never be “boring” to one who has been raised to understand what it is. Assist at Holy Mass on all Sundays and Holy Days, even while traveling on vacation… even if it is very inconvenient to do so. Take your children to Confession regularly – help them prepare and teach them not to be afraid. Show them God’s mercy and love. Develop in them a love for the Blessed Sacrament.

7. Practice Devotion to St. Joseph

Get to know St. Joseph. Meditate and reflect on his life and example. God did not entrust Jesus to only Mary, but also to Joseph. Find in him an example to follow and a powerful intercessor in prayer. Call on him in prayer each day as you raise your children and honor their mother.

There are many other lessons which could be included here. I hope you will share them with one another. We need to instill in our children the sense that they have been called to a high and noble purpose. Teach them to give praise and honor to God and to be grateful for His many blessings and to be good stewards of His gifts. How wonderful it is to be a part of this family which is the Catholic Church.

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Balance in Our Life: What can we learn from St. Benedict and Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta?

August 20, 2012 under Syllabus 2012-2013

Summary

Are you in control of your day? The Rule of St. Benedict offers wisdom into balancing our life and ministering to our body, mind and soul. Can you work for ten hours a day and keep a joyful smile? Why are the Missionaries of Charity founded by Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta able to work ten to twelve hours a day with the poor and still keep a joyful smile?

Objective

The family is called “the domestic church” and thus might also be called “the domestic monastery.” Given the busy lives that we lead, can we gain balance in our lives by looking at The Rule of St. Benedict; as well as, the daily schedule used by Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Benedict was a genius at understanding human nature. While he calls the monks to an austere life of work, prayer and study (sacred scripture), he also realizes that people need affection, understanding and love. One of the most famous of Benedict’s lines is that nothing in the monastic life should be “harsh or burdensome.” The monastic life is meant to be possible, and for it to be possible, Benedict calls for the strict expectations to be balanced with forgiveness, understanding and compassion. Benedict’s model abbot (the superior of a monastic community) is a wise, compassionate and forgiving father to his sons. As such he is a perfect model for Christian fathers.

Bible Readings

1. Luke 18:1

Then he told them a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary.

2. Ecclesiastes 3:1-13

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the sons of men to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time; also he has put eternity into man’s mind, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live; also that it is God’s gift to man that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil.

Catechism Readings

1. Paragraph 1

“God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength.

2. Paragraph 2745

“Prayer and Christian life are inseparable, for they concern the same love and the same renunciation, proceeding from love; the same filial and loving conformity with the Father’s plan of love; the same transforming union in the Holy Spirit who conforms us more and more to Christ Jesus; the same love for all men, the love with which Jesus has loved us. “Whatever you ask the Father in my name, he [will] give it to you. This I command you, to love one another.”

He “prays without ceasing” who unites prayer to works and good works to prayer. Only in this way can we consider as realizable the principle of praying without ceasing.

Small Group Questions

  1. What takes priority in your daily schedule?
  2. Do you schedule prayer and/or Mass in your day?
  3. Are you ministering to the three aspects of your human person: Body, Soul and Mind through Work, Prayer and Study?

Recommended Resources

  1. Saint Benedict for Busy Parents”, by Father Dwight Longenecke
    http://www.kofc.org/un/en/resources/cis/cis327.pdf
  2. Finding Balance: Insights from Benedict for Family Life”
    http://www.stpaulsmonastery.org/7-benedictine-center/documents/FamilyLife.pdf

Accountability

  1. Which is most out of balance in your life: body (work), mind (study sacred scripture) or soul (prayer) and what can you add to your daily schedule next week to increase it?
  2. If you only attend Mass on Sunday, try going to daily Mass one day a week for the next four weeks.

Author(s)

Michael Copfer

Included Resources

“St. Benedict and the Wood-Chopping Way”, by Father Dwight Longenecker, 9/4/2009

http://www.ncregister.com/site/article/st._benedict_and_the_wood-chopping_way/

Part of article included below:

Benedict’s rule balances physical work with prayer and reading. For Benedict, prayer was essentially the liturgical prayer of the Divine Office. The monks go into church seven times a day to sing the Psalms, pray for the world and worship the Lord. The word liturgy actually means “work of the laity,” so their observance of the liturgical life was also part of their work. In this way, their prayer was their work, and because they are encouraged to pray while they work, their work becomes prayer.

This integrated life — in which prayer is work and work is prayer — is completed by the third aspect: reading or study. In a time when books were scarce, the monks in St. Benedict’s day would have spent their reading time memorizing not only all of the Psalms, but also great portions of other Scripture and selections from the great spiritual writers.

This threefold balance of work, prayer and reading is a practical approach to a balanced life, but it also has a deeper significance. The three aspects of the Benedictine life reflect the three parts of the human person. Work ministers to our bodies. Prayer ministers to our souls. Reading ministers to our minds. Only when we have a balance of all three will we be able to develop as completely well-rounded human persons.

The threefold balance of Benedict helps us address our imbalance. Therefore, the individual who focuses only on the physical aspect of life is missing part of his development. The intellectual is incomplete if he ignores the physical and spiritual, and the person who is focused on nothing but prayer is also lacking in a development of the whole person.

If we want to observe the wisdom of St. Benedict, we will examine our own lives and try to make up for what is lacking, and the way to do that is to bring to mind which one of these three we find most difficult or unpleasant. If we find reading and study to be a bore, unfortunately, that’s where we need to do some work. If physical work is not to our liking, then we need to engage in some “wood-chopping therapy.” If we find prayer difficult, then prayer is what we need to spend more time on.

The final result of this threefold balance is that the whole person is being renewed. This is the final aim of the Christian life, as St. Paul writes to the Ephesians, to “grow up into the full manhood of Jesus Christ.” The final goal is to be transformed into the image of Christ — to become a living icon of the incarnate Lord, who was himself a perfectly balanced harmony of body, mind and spirit.

St. Benedict’s rule is deceptive in its simplicity. While it calls for the monks to engage in work, prayer and reading, all the time Benedict has his eyes on this higher goal. The entire activity in the monastery is not an end in itself, but a means to an end. St. Benedict says the monastery is “a school for the Lord’s service.” In other words, it is the environment in which souls can be sanctified.

How might we apply this same wisdom to our lives outside the monastery? As a husband and father — yes, you heard right; I am a convert to the Catholic faith from the Anglican priesthood — it is part of my responsibility to catch this threefold vision for my family, the domestic church. I need to make sure my children are engaged in the work that is required around the home. Suddenly, the kitchen duties, keeping their bedrooms clean, helping around the house, mowing the lawn and raking leaves all have a deeper significance.

Similarly, study or reading is important. In the modern world, this might include more than just book knowledge. It includes watching good films together, going to the theater to see good plays and opera, and helping the children read a whole range of uplifting, inspiring and challenging literature.

Finally, I must be actively involved in encouraging the family to pray on a regular basis. Seven times a day for liturgical prayer is not possible, but maintaining the discipline of grace before meals and prayer at the beginning and end of the day all help to continue the tradition of prayer as one of the aspects of the threefold balance.

As we develop the threefold balance, we will move to that place where, St. Benedict says, “We do all these things which were once duties because they are now our desire.” When we get to that point, we will “run in the path of God’s commandments, our hearts overflowing with an inexpressible delight of love.”

2. Mother Teresa’s Daily Schedule for the Missionaries of Charity:

The passages below are quotations of Mother Teresa from the book “Loving Jesus,” edited by Jose Luis Gonzalez-Balado

 

1. OUR DAILY SCHEDULE:

To be able to give life like that, our lives are centred on the Eucharist and prayer. We begin our day with Mass, Holy Communion, and meditation.

Our community life is very closely-woven together. We do everything together: we pray together, we eat together, we work together.

Since we have only two saris, we wash one every day.

After Mass and breakfast, some Sisters go to the Home for Dying Destitutes, some to the leper colonies, some to the little schools we have in the slums, some take care of the preparation and distribution of food, some go to visit needy families, some go to teach catechism, and so on. They go all over the city (in Calcutta alone we have fifty-nine centres, the Home for Dying Destitutes is only one of them).

The Sisters travel everywhere with a rosary in their hands. That is the way we pray in the streets. We do not go to the people without praying. The rosary has been our strength and our protection.

We always go in twos, and we come back around 12:30 p.m. At that time we have our lunch.

After lunch, very often we have to do housework.

Then, for half an hour, every Sister has to rest, because all the time they are on their feet.

After that, we have an examination of conscience, pray the Liturgy of the Hours, and the Via Crucis, “The Way of the Cross”.

At 2 p.m., we have spiritual reading for half an hour, and then a cup of tea.

At 3 o’clock, the professed Sisters again go out. (Novices and postulants remain in the house. They have classes in theology, Scripture and other subjects, such as the rules of monastic orders.)

Between 6:15 and 6:30 p.m., everybody comes back home.

From 6:30 to 7:30 we have adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. To be able to have this hour of adoration, we have not had to cut back on our work. We can work as many as ten or even twelve hours a day in service to the poor, following this schedule.

At 7:30 p.m., we have dinner.

After dinner, for about twenty minutes, we have to prepare the work for the next morning.

From 8:30 until 9, we have recreation. Everybody talks at the top of her lungs, after having worked all day long.

At 9 p.m., we go to the chapel for night prayers and to prepare the meditations for the next morning.

Once a week, every week, we have a day of recollection. That day, the first-year novices go out, because they are the ones who don’t go out every day. Then all the professed Sisters stay in for the day of recollection. That day we also go to confession and spend more time in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

This is a time when we can regain our strength and fill up our emptiness again with Jesus. That’s why it is a very beautiful day.

2. The Family and the Poor:

We read in Scripture that God speaks of his love for us, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” (Jeremiah 31:3). And he also says, “I have called you by your name. You are mine. The waters will not drown you. Fire will not bum you. I will give up nations for you. You are precious to me. I love you. Even if a mother could forget her child, I will not forget you. I have carved you on the palm of my hand. You are precious to me. I love you.” (Isaiah 43:1—4; 49:15—16).

These are the words of God himself for you, for me, for everyone, even for the poorest of the poor. For he has created us for greater things: to love and to be loved. He wants us to love one another as he loves us.

Let us stop for a moment to think about the tenderness of God’s love for us. There are thousands of people who would love to have what you have. And yet God has chosen you to be where you are today to share the joy of loving others.

To make this love more real, more loving, more living, he gives himself as the Bread of Life. He gives us his own life. He wants us to love one another, to give ourselves to each other until it hurts. It does not matter how much we give, but how much love we put into our giving.

In the Constitution of the Missionaries of Charity, we have a beautiful part which speaks of the tenderness of Christ, and also of his faithful friendship and love.

To make that love more living, more sure, more tender, Jesus gives us the Eucharist. This is why it is necessary for every Missionary of Charity to feed upon the Eucharist in order to be a true carrier of God’s love. She must live on the Eucharist and have her heart and life woven with the Eucharist. No Missionary of Charity can give Jesus if she does not have Jesus in her heart.

3. REASON TO BE HAPPY:

Why are the Sisters always smiling?

Because we are not social workers. We are trying to be contemplatives in the heart the world. We have chosen to be Missionaries of Charity, to be carriers of God’s love.

We have no reason to be unhappy.

How can that be?

If the words of Jesus are true, “I was hungry, I was sick, I was naked, I was homeless, and you it to me” (Matthew 25:40), then we are touching him twenty-four hours a day.

So you, in your lives, in your own homes, can be in his presence twenty-four hours a day, if your lives are woven with prayer and sacrifice.

4. SHARE THE JOY OF LOVING:

What does it mean to be a co-worker with the Missionaries of Charity? A co-worker is a person or a family where there is love, peace and joy. If you have no peace and love in your own family or your own heart, how can you give it to others?

Love, to be true, has to hurt. I hope you will learn that in your lives and share the joy of loving, because a co-worker is someone who loves God. If you love God, then you will love those around you. Then there will be joy, love and peace in your families. Then you will become carriers of God’s love.

We will be very blessed to have the joy this love brings of working together and making our work a prayer.

With Jesus, for Jesus, to Jesus. With God, for God, to God.

That way we are praying to God, not just doing our work.

When you are cooking, washing clothes, working hard in the office, do it all with joy. That will be your love for God in action!

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