Remaining Silent…When You Really Want to Scream

No one is so good and devout as not to encounter some worries and troubles in life. When you face tribulation and are sorrowful in heart, you are with Jesus on the Cross. And again, when through the grace of the Holy Spirit you enjoy consolation in prayer, you rise, as it were, with Christ from the dead and the tomb, and with a jubilant heart you celebrate Easter with Jesus in the newness of life.

 

When someone directs harsh and unkind words against you, you are given to drink of the chalice of the Lord as medicine for your soul. Remain silent and drink of the cup of salvation without complaint, for the Lord will be your protection in nothing more admirable than to remain silent and patient, for in this way you curb the mouth of him who utters evil against you, and at the same time, you follow the example of Christ, who remained silent before Pilate, though much false testimony had been brought against Him. You are no better than God, who, for your sake, endured scourging, ridicule, and death at the hands of the wicked.

Thomas à Kempis, Bountiful Goodness, pp 36-37

God’s timing is always perfect, isn’t it?  I read this passage a couple days ago, just when I was seeking some answers about a recent encounter with someone who had some harsh words for me. This person said some pretty nasty things to me that aren’t worth repeating, but it was made clear to me, they had no idea just how rude they were being.

My initial response was silence, mainly due to shock that someone would disrespect me so much, but also because I have never felt it beneficial to respond to hate with hate (or in this case, disrespect with disrespect, as her comments weren’t really hateful as much as they were just downright rude and nasty).

Only one thought went thru my mind as she lashed out at me, and that was “Hurt people hurt people.” So I stayed silent, said little, and finished up my work with her. She is no longer in my life (she was a client) and this was her final session with me. My mind was racing after she walked out thinking, “Why would she say such awful things to someone she barely knows? What did I do to deserve such a beating? Where was this anger coming from?”

I even went so far as to reverse the situation and ask myself, “When was I this nasty to someone? When have I lashed out at someone trying to help me?” I was seeking the lesson here, and I admit, I struggled to find it. I am by no means perfect but I don’t recall in recent memory reacting in a similar way this woman did with me.  I got an answer though, and that was: “This isn’t about you. She’s struggling with someone/something that has nothing to do with you.”

Still, I was feeling conflicted and completely out of sorts.

These questions were still on my mind as I went on a retreat for the entire weekend. I felt bad because this woman was still on my mind as I was trying to enjoy myself and get into the “spirit” of the weekend. It’s a retreat, for crying out loud! You’d think of all places this was my best medicine.

In the end, I eventually got the bad taste of this client out of my mouth and my mind. I was inspired by the young ones I spoke to and their fire for the Lord. The answer to my questions maybe didn’t come directly to me that weekend but I did find comfort and a welcome distraction in the many people I encountered. Many of them had some amazing witness stories which definitely put my problems into perspective.

I came home Sunday evening to find this book, Bountiful Goodness, at my doorstep, almost forgetting that I had ordered it.

And this reflection on “Divine Consolation and Tribulations” was one of the first ones I read.

Remain silent and drink of the cup of salvation without complaint…

So for those who have been hurt by the unkind and harsh words of another person, I’m right there with you. As much as we want to react and fight back, sometimes it’s best to just remain silent and let that person go. I think that’s showing mercy, isn’t it? Pope Francis would probably agree in this Jubilee Year of Mercy that this is the right thing to do.

A prayer for them will probably serve them better than our own spiteful remarks and reactions.

And wouldn’t you know it, there’s a prayer for EVERYTHING out there! I found one specifically for our “Enemies” although I don’t consider her a true enemy. She’s probably not a friend though…maybe one day though!

Almighty God, have mercy on N. and on all that bear me evil will and would do me harm, and on their faults and mine together, by such easy, tender, merciful means, as Thine infinite wisdom best can devise; vouchsafe to amend and redress and make us saved souls in heaven together, where we may ever live and love together with thee and they blessed saints. O glorious Trinity, for the bitter passion of our sweet Savior, Christ. Amen.

– St. Thomas More

 

 

You Don’t Need A Bible To Evangelize

From The Holy Longing by Ronald Rolheiser:

 

The task of taking God to others is not that of handing somebody a Bible or some religious literature, but of transubstantiating God, the way we do with the food we eat. We have to digest something and turn it, physically, into the flesh of our own bodies so it becomes part of what we look like. If we would do this with the word of God, others would not have to read the Bible to see what God is like, they would need only to look at our faces and our lives to see God.

 

Fit In Your Faith Today: When was the last time someone asked you why you are a Christian? Or why you go to mass? Do you think others find you unapproachable when it comes to asking these questions? As the passage above suggests, we wouldn’t even need to hand out reading materials to anyone who questions our faith, they would just need to see the way we treat people, the way we spend our free time, the ways in which we interact with those less fortunate, etc., to see where and how God is a part of our lives.  Think of ways you can show how God is at work in your life by putting your faith into action.

The Best Quotes About Lent

The practice of Lent

Matthew 6:1 Jesus said, “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.”

Pope Benedict XVI: “Lent is like a long ‘retreat’ during which we can turn back into ourselves and listen to the voice of God, in order to defeat the temptations of the Evil One. It is a period of spiritual ‘combat’ which we must experience alongside Jesus, not with pride and presumption, but using the arms of faith: prayer, listening to the word of God and penance. In this way we will be able to celebrate Easter in truth, ready to renew the promises of our Baptism.”

Mother Teresa: “As Lent is the time for greater love, listen to Jesus’ thirst…’Repent and believe’ Jesus tells us. What are we to repent? Our indifference, our hardness of heart. What are we to believe? Jesus thirsts even now, in your heart and in the poor — He knows your weakness. He wants only your love, wants only the chance to love you.”

Pope Francis: “Live your Lent as if there is no Easter.”

“No act of virtue can be great if it is not followed by advantage for others. So, no matter how much time you spend fasting, no matter how much you sleep on a hard floor and eat ashes and sigh continually, if you do no good to others, you do nothing great.” – John Chrysostom

Fr. Robert Barron: “Jesus, having resisted these temptations from the devil in the desert for 40 days, is now ready to make God the center of His life. This, too, is our purpose during Lent.”

Prayer:

Matthew: 6: 5-6 “And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

Martin Luther: “To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.”

Paul E. Billheimer: “Satan does not care how many people read about prayer if only he can keep them from praying.

Various Priests and Deacons: “Pray in your car, it’s the perfect setting. You’re alone, you’re forced to slow down when you’re stuck in traffic. Begin a conversation with God right there.”

St John Damascene: “Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.”

Fasting:

Matthew 6:16 “And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Pope Francis suggests we fast from indifference to others:  “Indifference to our neighbor and to God also represents a real temptation for us Christians. Each year during Lent we need to hear once more the voice of the prophets who cry out and trouble our conscience.”

Fr. Robert Barron: “The pleasures of the body sometimes dominate and take over – so we fast from them purposely so as to allow the deeper hungers to arise and emerge.”

John Piper, Author of A Hunger For God: “Christian fasting, at its root, is the hunger of a homesickness for God.”

Almsgiving:

Matthew 6: 2-4 “So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

Father Robert Barron: We all have too many material things. Here are 3 ways you can express almsgiving:

  • When you receive something in the mail and it is requesting money, donate to that cause.
  • If you see a homeless person who asks you for money, give them something (does not have to be money).
  • When you want to buy something, take a look at what you would consider your first choice. Then buy the model or the version just beneath it/less expensive than your top choice. Use the money that’s the difference between those two and give it to the poor.

Mike Aquilina – Catholic Education Resource Center: Almsgiving is a form of prayer because it is “giving to God” — and not mere philanthropy. It is a form of fasting because it demands sacrificial giving — not just giving something, but giving up something, giving till it hurts.

Book of Tobit 12:8-9: “Prayer and fasting are good, but better than either is almsgiving accompanied by righteousness … It is better to give alms than to store up gold; for almsgiving saves one from death and expiates every sin. Those who regularly give alms shall enjoy a full life.”

Fit in Your Faith Today (and this Lenten Season): Practice the 3 aspects of Lent – Perhaps you take just one a day. Which one do you need the most help with? Do you find that you aren’t giving to the poor enough when it’s NOT Lent? Work on how you can give to those less fortunate, even if it’s not monetarily.

Do you go about your day skipping prayers and forgetting to give thanks to God? Arise every morning with a short prayer of thanksgiving.

What do you have too much of that you can fast from this Lent? It could be food, it could be social media, or it could be a certain bad behavior/habit you have been meaning to cease.

Is 46 days too much to ask to abstain and use that time/energy/money on something for your community of fellow Christians? Start your Lent off on the right foot and start a calendar or write down in a journal how and what you’re going to accomplish this Lent. At Easter, note how closer you have come to putting God first in your life.

The Feast of the Epiphany

Today Catholics in the United States celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord, the moment the three wise men had an epiphany, a moment of realizing the truth about God.

Here is the gospel reading for today from Matthew 2: 2-12:

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,
in the days of King Herod,
behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star at its rising
and have come to do him homage.”
When King Herod heard this,
he was greatly troubled,
and all Jerusalem with him.
Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people,
He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea,
for thus it has been written through the prophet:
And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
since from you shall come a ruler,
who is to shepherd my people Israel.”
Then Herod called the magi secretly
and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance.
He sent them to Bethlehem and said,
“Go and search diligently for the child.
When you have found him, bring me word,
that I too may go and do him homage.”
After their audience with the king they set out.
And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them,
until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Then they opened their treasures
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they departed for their country by another way.

If you’ve been a catholic most of your life, you may recall the story of the three wise men and think, “Yes I know this one, everybody knows this story!”

But no matter how many times you’ve read or heard this gospel, you can always learn something new. You can always have an epiphany yourself!

For instance, it wasn’t just Herod the Great who was “greatly troubled.” It was “all of Jerusalem.”

When King Herod heard this,
he was greatly troubled,
and all Jerusalem with him.

We know why King Herod was troubled by this news; He was not the rightful heir to the throne of David so many Jews hated him as a usurper. If Jesus was an heir, trouble would arise. Also, Herod was ruthless, and because of his many enemies, he was supicious that someone would try to overthrow him. Herod would not want the Jews to unite around a religious figure.

So why would all of Jerusalem be greatly troubled? According to the Life Application Study Bible commentary: When Jesus was born into the world, people immediately began to react. His presence did not soothe and comfort most people; instead, it startled and disturbed them. In some he awakened spiritual longings; in others, fear and insecurity.

It seems that Jesus’ birth had quite the effect on the people around him, even when he was just a newborn. By the time the three wise men probably met Jesus, it was most likely a year or two after his birth. A trip on camel or on foot back then would have taken a long time. Most people would like to think they arrived just moments after his birth but actually, Jesus was probably 1 or 2 years old at the time.

Another interesting point is that Herod tells the wise men: When you have found him, bring me word,
that I too may go and do him homage.

We know this was not true. Herod was a ruthless leader who was threatened by the birth of this King. He had no intention of worshiping Christ. He wanted this king dead so he could remain in power. In fact, he took no chances and ordered all baby boys in Bethlehem killed.

Luckily, as we see from Matthew’s gospel, having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they departed for their country by another way.

The wise men did not give word to Herod and managed to avoid an encounter with him. They had an epiphany, and changed direction.

Fit in your Faith Today: How can you learn something new from the story of the 3 wise men and apply it to your own life? Is there a King Herod in your life who is threatened by your faith in God? Have you been warned by someone or something to avoid a ruthless person from entering your life? Did you have an epiphany recently that caused you to change direction in your own life? Take some time to reflect on some of these points and look at the story of the 3 wise men from a different direction.

Pray for Wisdom

Proverbs 8: 9-12

My words are plain to anyone with understanding, clear to those with knowledge.

Choose my instruction rather than silver, and knowledge rather than pure gold.

For wisdom is far more valuable than rubies. Nothing you desire can compare with it.

I, Wisdom, live together with good judgement. I know where to discover knowledge and discernment.

Wisdom should affect every aspect of our lives, from beginning to end. We should always strive to increase our wisdom, always willing to learn something new about our faith, about relationships, about life. Under God’s direction and guidance, we can attain all kinds of wisdom and knowledge.

As for the value of wisdom, Proverbs teaches us it’s far valuable than gold or silver and jewels. Our goal should never be to increase our wealth. If we keep our eye on the prize of wisdom, we’ll be far happier with the results.

Money and fame and material possessions have temporary effects. They will only give us satisfaction that lasts a short while. It’s far better to have a wealth of knowledge, than a wealth of money.

Fit in Your Faith Today: What can you learn about God today? What is He trying to teach you and how can you share this new found wisdom with others?

Chasing the Wind

Ecclesiastes 2:9-11

So I became greater than all who had lived in Jerusalem before me, and my wisdom never failed me. Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors. But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless – like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anymore.

The book of Ecclesiastes can be a depressing one as we read Solomon’s words on life. He was the wisest man in the world. Yet he lived a lot of his life away from God. So he wrote this book as a way to spare future generations the bitterness of learning through their own experience that life is meaningless apart from God.

Solomon summarized his many attempts at finding life’s meaning as “chasing the wind.”

In all our accomplishments, even the big ones, our good feelings are only temporary. We might get that promotion at work and that feels great. But then we have to work even harder to keep that job. Security and self-worth are found, not in these accomplishments, but far beyond them in the love of God. Think about what you consider worthwhile – where you place your time, energy, and money. Are you always on the lookout for what will make you happy? “Once I lose this weight, then I’ll be happy.”  “Once I get that job, then I’ll be content.”  “Once we can finally afford that new home, then our lives will be so much better.”

Really? Chances are, once all these things happen, you’ll find something else to shoot for and won’t be happy until that next goal is met. Don’t look back at your life and think that you, too were “chasing the wind.”  Above everything we should strive to know and love God. He gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy.

Fit In Your Faith Today: Take a look at where you put the majority of your efforts and energy. Are you yearning to know God? Or are you chasing the wind and searching for things that will only provide temporary satisfaction?

 

A quote to inspire…

“Appreciate the incredible opportunity you have to become fit. You have to prepare your meals, but many have no meals to prepare. It’s hard to train before or after work, but many are out of work. Lifting weights takes effort, but some can’t even lift their body from a wheelchair or bed. This is a privilege, so make the absolute most you can out of it. From that perspective, there are no failures—only opportunities.”

Love Love Love this quote.  Sorry, don’t know the source.  It was from an article on Bodybuilding.com.

I consider just being alive a privilege.  I try to appreciate the fact that I have legs and arms and a body that moves and a brain that functions and a roof over my head and money to buy my food a huge blessing.  Everyday.  Blessed.