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But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness,

godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. ~ 1 Timothy 6:11

Monday, November 25, 2013

You Are Loved

I really hope this gets to you.  I had no idea how to reach you, so I put it here and prayed you would find it.

This is the most important thing I will ever tell you.  And it may be the only thing I ever get to tell you.

So, please stop what you are doing.  Please listen to what I am saying for 5 minutes.  I need you to really hear this...deep down...in your innermost being.


You are loved.


You are loved by God.
God!  The creator of the sun, the moon, and the stars, loves you.

He loves you like you can't believe.  With a love unlike anything you have ever experienced.  A love that is given freely, whether you ask for it or not....whether you return it or not...whether you want it or not.  God loves you.

And He knows you.  God knows your thoughts.  He knows your dreams.  He knows everything about you.  And He thinks you are beautiful.  He finds you fascinating.  To Him, you are so important.

He takes great joy in you and is with you wherever you go.  He laughs with you.  He cries with you.  He feels your joy and He feels your pain.  He hates it when you get hurt and He wants more for you...so He did something about it.

He came down to Earth.  To us.
God became man.  For us.

His name was Jesus.
And for thirty years He lived.
Eating, sleeping, working, and breathing like a normal person.

Then He started teaching because He wanted us to know the truth.
Then He started healing because He wanted us to know love.

And then, we killed Him.
We killed Him by nailing Him to a cross.

But He had a plan.
You see, He had experienced the hurt and the suffering in our lives.
He saw that our pain was caused by the bad things we did when we turned from God.
So he offered Himself as a sacrifice to pay for these sins.

He paid the price for every bad thing we would ever do.
He forgave while we were still sinning.
He did it because He loved us.
He freed us from slavery to sin.

And then, because he didn't want us to die, he rose from the dead.
He rose up and conquered death, so that when our bodies die our souls won't.
We can go to Heaven, and be with Him for all eternity.
Which is what He wants more than anything.

And to make sure you heard this, before He died He created a Church.
He gave the keys to heaven to Peter, the apostle.
He told Peter to spread the good news to all nations.
And for 2000 years, the Church has existed so you could hear the truth.

That truth is:
That God loves you, no matter what.
That He wants you to live forever with Him.
That He's already paid the price and set you free from sin, by dying for you.
That He is offering you the gift of eternal life and all you have to do is receive the gift.
That He is waiting to enter your life and all you have to do is welcome Him.
That even now, He is there.  Waiting lovingly.  To be loved back.

God loves you that much.


That's it.
That's what I needed to tell you.
I am alive today so I could tell you that.
I pray that you hear me.
Jesus I trust in you.



Keep Pursuing,

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

What is Just War Doctrine?

The Catholic Church is the first to testify to the evils and injustices that accompany all war.

However, the Church also recognizes that as long as the danger of war persists, governments cannot be denied the right of lawful self-defense, once all peace efforts have failed.

As such, the Church crystallized thousands of years of learning into the "Just War" Doctrine to inform the decisions and actions of nations around the world.

CCC 2309 states:
The strict conditions for legitimate defense by military force require rigorous consideration. The gravity of such a decision makes it subject to rigorous conditions of moral legitimacy. At one and the same time:
  • The damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain 
  • All other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective 
  • There must be serious prospects of success 
  • The use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. (The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.)
Almost every conflict in history fails to meet the conditions listed above. But the Catechism goes on to also discuss the limits for engaging once in a war:
The Church and human reason both assert the permanent validity of the moral law during armed conflict. "The mere fact that war has regrettably broken out does not mean that everything becomes licit between the warring parties."
Non-combatants, wounded soldiers, and prisoners must be respected and treated humanely. 
Actions deliberately contrary to the law of nations and to its universal principles are crimes, as are the orders that command such actions. Blind obedience does not suffice to excuse those who carry them out. Thus the extermination of a people, nation, or ethnic minority must be condemned as a mortal sin. One is morally bound to resist orders that command genocide. 
"Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation." A danger of modern warfare is that it provides the opportunity to those who possess modern scientific weapons especially atomic, biological, or chemical weapons - to commit such crimes. 
CCC 2312-2314

And here, any remaining wars that might have passed the criteria for entering into war, lose their status for a "just war" in how they were carried out.

To be clear, not a single war in history could be labeled as a "just war".




Keep Pursuing,




Additional Resources

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Rosary

The rosary a great prayer made of a collection of smaller prayers.  The rosary can be prayed on rosary beads like the ones shown below.

This is what you say when praying the rosary:
  • Start by making the sign of the cross
  • On the cross (1) say the Apostle's Creed
  • Then, on the next bead (2) say one Our Father
  • On the next three beads (3) say one Hail Mary on each bead
  • Then, on the next bead (4) say one Glory Be
  • Now we start a decade on the next bead (5) by saying one Our Father
  • On the next ten beads (6) say one Hail Mary for each bead
  • And on the next bead (7) say one Glory Be to finish the first decade
  • Use the same bead (7) to start the next decade by saying one Our Father
  • Continue as you did for the first decade all the way around the rosary (five decades)
  • Afteive decades you should be back at the beginning bead (5)
  • Say one Hail Holy Queen
  • And one Rosary Concluding Prayer 
  • Finish by making the sign of the cross

Praying the Rosary

There is no wrong way to pray a rosary. Some people like to focus on the words of the prayers they are saying.

Personally, I like to meditate on the mysteries of Christ. There are four sets of mysteries.  Each set contains five mysteries to correspond to the five decades of the rosary.  The four sets of mysteries are:
(If you go to the links above, you will see that each mystery has 10 "thoughts" associated with it that can be meditated upon while saying the 10 Hail Mary prayers in each decade.  These are not required, but are a nice addition.)

The mysteries are said on a schedule according to the day of the week.  The schedule is:
  • Sunday: Glorious
  • Monday: Joyful
  • Tuesday: Sorrowful
  • Wednesday: Glorious
  • Thursday: Luminous
  • Friday: Sorrowful
  • Saturday: Joyful

The Origins of the Rosary

The origins of the Rosary are not confirmed, but it is believed the practice started around 800 AD in the efforts of lay people to imitate the practices of local monks.  

The monks were widely respected for being holy and sang all 150 Psalms each day.  The lay people wanted to imitate the practice, but most of them could not read and the Psalms were too long to memorize.  So the lay people began saying the Our Father 150 times.  

In order to avoid losing count, the lay people filled a leather pouch with 150 small stones and would throw one out each time they completed an Our Father.  

Eventually, a knotted rope with 150 knots replaced the bag of stones as it was much easier to carry around. Soon, the rope was simplified to 50 knots, to be repeated 3 times a day.  

When the monks began travelling and evangelizing, they took the practice of praying on these knots with them.  Soon, praying on knotted ropes was a common practice although the prayers said were not uniform.

Eventually, the prayers were recorded in three sets of five mysteries.  The initial three mysteries were the Glorious, Joyful, and Sorrowful.  Each mystery corresponded to one set of ten Hail Mary prayers, or one decade.  Thus, saying all three sets of mysteries resulted in 150 prayers!

Later, in 2002, Pope John Paul II added a fourth set of mysteries focusing on the public life of Christ, the Luminous mysteries.


Keep Pursuing




Additional Resources

This wonderful site is the most concise and ordered explanation of the rosary I have found:
It is the resource I used when learning the mysteries.


Friday, September 27, 2013

Bible Cross Reference Infographic

Chris Harrison has created a series of info graphics on the Bible.  Here is my favorite:

"The bar graph that runs along the bottom represents all of the chapters in the Bible. Books alternate in color between white and light gray. The length of each bar denotes the number of verses in the chapter. Each of the 63,779 cross references found in the Bible is depicted by a single arc - the color corresponds to the distance between the two chapters, creating a rainbow-like effect." ~ Harrison
Isn't that gorgeous?!  But you know what is also pretty neat?  This only maps a fraction of the cross references in the Bible.  There are literally hundreds of thousands more!  What an amazing work the Word of God is!

Keep Pursuing,

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Gospel Spectrum Infographic

The Gospel Spectrum hosted by Thirteen Squares presents a unique view of every single verse in the Gospels in an interactive chart shown below.


  • Each of the bars (almost 250) represents a major event in life of Christ.  
  • The length of each segment indicates the number of verses dedicated to that life event.  
  • The color of each segment represents which Gospel the verses being counted came from.

That by itself would be cool.  But then it has tools to splice the data at the bottom!

  • The four colored boxes on the left let you toggle which Gospels are being displayed.  
  • The thirteen gray boxes in the middle group the near 250 life events into general categories.
  • The four blue boxes on the right show how many Gospel's versions are in harmony.

A summary of the creator's thoughts can be found in this PDF.  And an introduction to the tool can be found at this link.

Keep pursuing

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Saint Patrick's Breastplate Prayer

This is how you say Saint Patrick's Breastplate Prayer:
I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.
+
I bind this day to me for ever.
By power of faith, Christ's incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan river;
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spic├Ęd tomb;
His riding up the heavenly way;
His coming at the day of doom;*
I bind unto myself today.
+
I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of the cherubim;
The sweet 'well done' in judgment hour,
The service of the seraphim,
Confessors' faith, Apostles' word,
The Patriarchs' prayers, the Prophets' scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord,
And purity of virgin souls.
+
I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the starlit heaven,
The glorious sun's life-giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind's tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea,
Around the old eternal rocks.
+
I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward,
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.
+
Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility,
I bind to me these holy powers.
+
Against all Satan's spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart's idolatry,
Against the wizard's evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave and the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.
+
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
+
I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same.
The Three in One, and One in Three,
Of Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

What a warrior's prayer!  Saint Patrick said this prayer every day when he went out to convert the druid tribes of Ireland to Catholicism.  Saint Patrick succeeded in this endeavor and lived on to found the monasteries of Ireland.

Keep Pursuing


Friday, August 23, 2013

The Books of the Bible

Here is a list of the books in the Bible:

The Old Testament

The Pentateuch
  • Genesis
  • Exodus
  • Leviticus
  • Numbers
  • Deuteronomy
  • Joshua
  • Judges
  • Ruth
The Historical Books
  • 1 Samuel
  • 2 Samuel
  • 1 Kings
  • 2 Kings
  • 1 Chronicles
  • 2 Chronicles
  • Ezra
  • Nehemiah
  • Tobit
  • Judit
  • Esther
  • 1 Maccabees
  • 2 Maccabees
The Wisdom Books
  • Job
  • Psalms
  • Proverbs
  • Ecclesiastes
  • The Song of Songs
  • The Book of Wisdom
  • Sirach
The Prophetic Books
  • Isaiah
  • Jeremiah
  • Lamentations
  • Baruch
  • Ezekiel
  • Daniel
  • Hosea
  • Joel
  • Amos
  • Obadiah
  • Jonah
  • Micah
  • Nahum
  • Habakkuk
  • Zephaniah
  • Haggai
  • Zechariah
  • Malachi

The New Testament

Gospels
  • Matthew
  • Mark
  • Luke
  • John
  • Acts
The New Testament Letters
  • Romans
  • 1 Corinthians
  • 2 Corinthians
  • Galatians
  • Ephesians
  • Philippians
  • Colossians
  • 1 Thessalonians
  • 2 Thessalonians
  • 1 Timothy
  • 2 Timothy
  • Titus
  • Philemon
  • Hebrews
The Catholic Letters
  • James
  • 1 Peter
  • 2 Peter
  • 1 John
  • 2 John
  • 3 John
  • Jude
  • Revelation

Keep Pursuing



Additional Resources

(This post is part of a mini-series on the Bible.)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi

This is how you say the prayer of Saint Francis:
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy. 
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console.
To be understood, as to understand.
To be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. 
Amen

Keep Pursuing


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Stop Breeding Hatred

Here's a true story that happened to me yesterday, July 2, 2013.  I am not telling this story for sympathy, nor to show one side's superiority.  Please bear with me.

...

I went to the capitol to to register my support for HB2 (a pro-life bill).  After registering, I shared the elevator back up with a woman wearing a bright orange shirt and shorts (signifying she was pro-choice).

We joked about needing to get out of the suffocating environment. When we reached street level, I opened the door for her.  As we walked out we discussed what a nice day it was. 

A man covered in tattoos and piercings approached us and asked as where to go to register.  Together we provided directions that ensured he would get there. 

Afterwards, she asked me where I worked. I told her National Instruments and she shared that her grandfather had worked at NASA and was a specialist on a key piece of hardware.

At this point we had been walking together for five minutes, two amicable strangers being friendly and making conversation.

Then she asked, “So what side are you on?”

I replied, “Oh, I am very pro-life.”

Horror stretched across her face. She turned 90 degrees and starting walking away at a brisk pace while accusing me over her shoulder. 
“You disgust me.” 
“You hate women.” 
“You don't believe in religious freedom"
"You're a jihadist who wants to enslave women."

In my shock, I offered, “You don’t need to yell, we could have a discussion about this.”

She turned to face me while walking backwards and screamed:
“I will never talk with you, YOU TERRORIST!"
"You can’t tell me what to do with MY BODY!”

I replied (perhaps mistakenly), “But it’s a child.”

She was now at the street corner and stopped in a crowd to scream back:
“It is NOT."
"It is FLESH!"
"AND YOU ARE A TERRORIST!”



This event shocked and saddened me. We had been acquaintances having a friendly conversation. And the moment she found out I held an opposite point of view she was outraged and terrified. 

This woman isn't alone. And she isn't the bad guy. She is a victim of cruel leadership and vile propaganda that breeds hatred.

The “pro-choice” side isn't the only side that does it. All sides of all issues are doing it more and more. It needs to stop now.

If I’m supposed to be enemies with others who don’t share my views, does that mean I can only be friends with like-minded individuals? What a narrow minded, bland way to live!

Am I supposed to hate everyone who disagrees with me? What a hate filled, cowardly life!

The demonizing of the “other side” is hurting everyone. How can we ever have a logical discussion to settle our disputes when all we do is attack and refuse to listen?

The hatred needs to stop!


What You Can Do

Start with people who will listen to you.  Stand up to your friends when they used exaggerated, hurtful words.  Stand up and leave when people on "your side" incite hatred and bigotry.

I know that I am asking for a lot of courage.  These are the hardest people to stand up to, the ones you don't want to let down.

But the "tactics" being used now hurt everyone, including the people on "your side".  This is causing pain, ruining relationships, and eliminating any chance of ever settling a dispute logically and peacefully.

Please stop hating.


Keep Pursuing

Saturday, June 1, 2013

What is the Catholic view on the death penalty?

The results of the Gosnell trial  have sparked lots and lots of discussion about Catholic teachings, pro-life sentiments, and the death penalty.  So what does the Catholic Church teach about the death penalty?


Murder

Well to start with, we have the Fifth Commandment of the Ten Commandments given to man straight from the mouth of God in the Old Testament in Exodus 20:2-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21: Thou shall not kill.

While that seems relatively straight forward, the Mosaic Law between Exodus 19:1 and 24:18 also lists numerous instances in which killing is acceptable or even called for.  And from there, as usual, we humans made quite a mess of things following the technicalities of the law.

Fortunately, in the New Testament, Jesus came to set us straight.  He preached the spirit, rather than the letter, of the law.  (A great example is the parable of the good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37).  He also led by example, saving numerous sinners from their executions, such as the adulteress in John 8:3-11.  The Catechism summarizes all of this with:
In the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord recalls the commandment, "You shall not kill," and adds to it the proscription of anger, hatred, and vengeance. Going further, Christ asks his disciples to turn the other cheek, to love their enemies. He did not defend himself and told Peter to leave his sword in its sheath. ~ CCC 2262
In short the deliberate murder of an innocent person is gravely contrary to the dignity of the human being, to the golden rule, and to the holiness of the Creator. (CCC 2261)


Self Defense

So we have established that murder is bad, however the Catechism goes on to address a specific situation that arises all too often: self defense.
Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one's own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow. ~ CCC 2264
Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for someone responsible for another's life. Preserving the common good requires rendering the unjust aggressor unable to inflict harm. To this end, those holding legitimate authority have the right to repel by armed force aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their charge. ~ CCC 2265
I find the distinction for self defense to be logical.  And while I do find relief in the fact that I am called to protect myself and my loved ones, this may also open the door to justification for the death penalty.


Capital Punishment

Skipping the intricacies of the relationship between Church and State, let's focus on whether we Christians should support capital punishment or not.  Well, starting with the basics, the Catechism states:
The State's effort to contain the spread of behaviors injurious to human rights and the fundamental rules of civil coexistence corresponds to the requirement of watching over the common good. Legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime. ~ CCC 2266
To re-emphasize, it is the duty of a just State to protect human rights by penalizing crime.  But to what end?
The primary scope of the penalty is to redress the disorder caused by the offense. When his punishment is voluntarily accepted by the offender, it takes on the value of expiation. Moreover, punishment, in addition to preserving public order and the safety of persons, has a medicinal scope: as far as possible it should contribute to the correction of the offender.  ~ CCC 2266
Fascinating.  The punishment is not only for the safety of society, but also for the rehabilitation of the criminal.  That is a beautiful concept.  So with this premise established, is capital punishment ever called for?
The traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude, presupposing full ascertainment of the identity and responsibility of the offender, recourse to the death penalty, when this is the only practicable way to defend the lives of human beings effectively against the aggressor. ~ CCC 2267
So yes, the Church acknowledges the potential need for the death penalty.

That could be considered the end of the argument.  However we would be repeating the mistakes of our Old Testament brethren if we only followed this technicality and did not give due diligence to the qualifiers listed: CERTAINTY of the offender and NO OTHER WAY to protect the innocent.
"If, instead, bloodless means are sufficient to defend against the aggressor and to protect the safety of persons, public authority should limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.  ~ CCC 2267

Practical Application

Those two qualifiers (certainty that you have the right guy and no other way to protect innocents) seem to be rarely, if ever, met.  Look at how many people are freed from wrongful imprisonment by modern DNA testing.  In addition, today we have the most advanced penal systems the world has ever known.

It appears that I am not alone in my reasoning either.  Blessed Pope Jean Paul II wrote similarly in EV 56.  In addition, I called Father Simon at Relevant Radio and you can listen to his answer in this broadcast between 18:14 and 20:25.

Given this, I can't see ever justifying the use of the death penalty today.

But we can still go further.  We also established that the punishment should be, whenever possible, aimed towards the rehabilitation of the criminal.

Just as a parent punishes because they love their child and hopes to correct ill behavior so their child can be a better person.  So to should we strive for correctional measures that help an offender to no longer commit crime.  This beautiful concept is very much in line with "love the sinner, hate the sin".  

And loving the sinner leads me to my final point.  That we, as Catholics, do not want ANYONE to be damned to an eternity in hell without God.  Rather, our mission in this life is to evangelize and lead as many souls to salvation as possible.

If that is true, then how could we ever wish for the death penalty for someone who is obviously in a state of mortal sin?  Given our calling, doesn't reason dictate that we always want to grant the criminal the opportunity to meditate on wrongdoings, obtain a penitent heart, and seek absolution?

Given this logic, and given the capabilities at the disposal of modern society, I don't think we should ever support capital punishment.


Closing Thought

In Luke 15:4-7 we learn that "there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance".  In opposing the death penalty we might allow millions of sinners a second chance to come back to Christ.  If only one sinner repents and comes back, won't that be worth it?



Keep Pursuing,

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Twelve Apostles

These are the 12 Apostles of Jesus:
  1. Peter
  2. Andrew
  3. John
  4. James 
  5. Philip 
  6. Bartholomew
  7. Matthew
  8. James
  9. Thaddeus
  10. Simon
  11. Thomas
  12. Judas (replaced by Matthias)
They are listed in Matthew 10:2-4Mark 3:14-19, and Luke 6:13-16.



Additional Notes on Some of the Apostles

1.) Peter
  • Formerly called Simon
  • In Matthew 16:18-19 Peter was chosen by Christ to lead the Church 
  • Peter was the first pope
2.) Andrew
  • Andrew is Peter's brother
3.) John
  • Was the only one of the 12 to not by martyred, he died of old age
  • Mary went to live with him after Jesus was crucified
  • Brother to James
4.) James 
  • Also called James the Greater
  • Brother to James, son of Zebedee
  • One of the "sons of thunder", so named because of their tempers
7.) Matthew
  • A tax collector (and as such despised by society)
8.) James
  • Also called James the Lesser
  • Son of Alphaeus
9.) Thaddeus
  • Also called Jude or Judas 
  • Son of James
10.) Simon
  • Also called the zealot
  • From Cana
11.) Thomas
  • Poor Thomas is always remembered first as doubting Thomas (John 20:24-29)
12.) Judas Iscariot 
  • Infamous for betraying Jesus and handing him over to be crucified for 30 pieces of silver
  • Judas was replaced by Matthias after Judas' suicide (Acts 1:15-26)


Keep Pursuing

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Marriage Insurance

I recently attended a presentation given by Father Rocky of Relevant Radio. He was offering "marriage insurance", saying that if you followed the rules he laid out, he would guarantee your marriage for life.

After listening to the talk, I agree with him, this would make your marriage invincible. The points were so simple and compelling, I wanted to share. Below are Father Rocky's 13 rules divided into 6 categories:

Warning
.
1.) Absolutely No Cohabitation Before Marriage
  • It doubles the chance for divorce. 
  • By the latest estimate 75% of couples who cohabitate before marrying end in divorce.
.
Body
.
2.) No Artificial Birth Control
  • Not using artificial means of contraception requires a couple to communicate which is critical to marital success. 
  • Learning about each others cycles, discussing whether you want children right now, and considering each other’s feelings each month increases intimacy. 
3.) Daily Physical Contact
  • As humans, our spiritual and physical needs are intertwined. 
  • We need daily physical contact to guard against estrangement. 
.
Soul
.
4.) Daily Prayer Together
  • Even if it is just one “Our Father” every morning. 
  • The family that prays together stays together. 
5.) Weekly Mass Together
  • A marriage takes three…you need to keep Jesus at the center of your marriage. 
  • Receiving Jesus weekly keeps you spiritually fit. 
6.) Monthly Confession
  • There is nothing like a clean soul! 
  • Confession is great practice for marriage. It makes you say words that are crucial like, “I was wrong”, “Forgive me”, and “Thank you”. (See #12) 
.
Time
.
7.) Go on a Weekly Date
  • Set aside one meal, one day a week for just the two of you to go out alone and just be together. 
  • Just because you are married does not mean you are allowed to stop courting one another. 
8.) Have a Weekly Business Meeting
  • Set aside 30-60 minutes each week for just the two of you to discuss family business like finances, calendars, and tasks. 
  • This builds unity by tackling problems together. (See #11) 
9.) Yearly Vacation
  • Once a year, just the two of you go on a three day vacation. 
  • Just because you are married does not mean you are allowed to stop courting one another. 
10.) Go to Bed at the Same Time
  • A large amount of our communication and time spent together happens naturally when you go to bed. 

.
Money
.
11.) Financial Transparency
  • Financial problems are one of the leading causes of divorce. 
  • Don’t have separate bank accounts, don’t have secrets, and face decisions. (See #8) 
.
Words
.
12.) Phrases You Should be Saying Weekly (if not daily)
  • "I love you" 
  • "I am Sorry" 
  • "I was wrong" 
  • "Please forgive me" 
13.) The Word You Should Never Say
  • "Mine" 
.
Reflections
I was blown away by how deceptively simple these rules were. Everyone can do these. They seem like common sense.

Ask yourself honestly, do you think a marriage would ever fall apart if you followed these 13 guidelines?

And now ask yourself honestly, are you currently following these 13 guidelines?

Time to get started!


Keep pursuing,





Additional Notes

Here is the short list of additional notes I took that did not fit neatly into the above 13 points.

Father Rocky pointed out that we insure things that are important in our life...houses, cars, jewelry...but why not our marriages? The call to marriage is a vocation that trumps almost all other responsibilities in life. Shouldn't we take greater care of it?

These points seem to dismiss the children in a family. However, nothing could be farther from the truth. The best thing you can do for your kids is to love your spouse.

My relationship with God comes first, my relationship with my wife second, my relationship with kids third, everything else comes after those three.

As a husband one of my paths to holiness is laying down my life for my wife. (That includes living for my wife.)

The current chance for first time marriages to end in divorce is over 35%. But if you look at people actively involved in the Catholic Church, the rate drops to almost zero. (As an example, the divorce rate in the Lay Ministry of Opus Dei is 1%.)

Marriage is the only sacrament that requires five people to be present.for it to be valid. Most only require two!

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Act of Contrition

There are many variations of the Act of Contrition.  Don't worry, they all work.  Here is a good version that I like to use:
My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart.
In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good,
I have sinned against You whom I should love
above all things. I firmly intend, with your help,
to do penance, to sin no more, and
to avoid whatever leads me to sin.
Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us.
In his name, my God, have mercy.


Keep Pursuing


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Ash Wednesday

What is Ash Wednesday?

Ash Wednesday is the official beginning of the season of Lent.

What is required of me on Ash Wednesday?

Ash Wednesday is an obligatory day of fasting and abstinence (from meat).

What happens on Ash Wednesday?

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday.  In addition, a special rite is performed where the faithful receive ashes on their foreheads.

What is the purpose of the ashes?

In Biblical times, ashes were used as a sign of mourning.  We receive the ashes to remind us that we are entering a season of penance focusing on, and preparing for, Christ's sacrifice on the cross.

In addition, the ashes are a symbol of our mortality.  They serve as a reminder that we will die and are reliant upon God's grace and mercy.  "For dust you are, and to dust you shall return." ~ Genesis 3:19



Keep Pursuing

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Serenity Prayer

The Serenity Prayer is a beautiful prayer that was first written by Reinhold Niebuhr.

This is how you pray it:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference. 
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next. 
Amen.

Keep Pursuing

St Gertrude’s Prayer

This prayer was given to St. Gertrude by Jesus. Jesus promised that every time it was said, 1,000 souls would be released from Purgatory and allowed into God's Presence.

This is how you pray it:
Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family. 
Amen.


Keep Pursuing




Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The 12 Tribes of Israel

These are the 12 tribes of Israel:
  1. Reuben
  2. Simeon
  3. Levi
  4. Judah
  5. Zebulun
  6. Issachar
  7. Dan
  8. Gad
  9. Asher
  10. Naphtali
  11. Joseph
  12. Benjamin

Keep Pursuing



Additional Resources

The listing of the 12 can be found in Genesis 49.  It contains the following:
Jacob called his sons and said: "Gather around, that I may tell you what is to happen to you in days to come.  "Assemble and listen, sons of Jacob, listen to Israel, your father.   
"You, Reuben, my first-born, my strength and the first fruit of my manhood, excelling in rank and excelling in power!  Unruly as water, you shall no longer excel, for you climbed into your father's bed and defiled my couch to my sorrow.  
"Simeon and Levi, brothers indeed, weapons of violence are their knives.  Let not my soul enter their council, or my spirit be joined with their company; For in their fury they slew men, in their willfulness they maimed oxen.  Cursed be their fury so fierce, and their rage so cruel! I will scatter them in Jacob, disperse them throughout Israel.  
"You, Judah, shall your brothers praise - your hand on the neck of your enemies; the sons of your father shall bow down to you. Judah, like a lion's whelp, you have grown up on prey, my son. He crouches like a lion recumbent, the king of beasts - who would dare rouse him? The scepter shall never depart from Judah, or the mace from between his legs, While tribute is brought to him, and he receives the people's homage. He tethers his donkey to the vine, his purebred ass to the choicest stem. In wine he washes his garments his robe in the blood of grapes. His eyes are darker than wine, and his teeth are whiter than milk.  
"Zebulun shall dwell by the seashore (This means a shore for ships), and his flank shall be based on Sidon.  
"Issachar is a rawboned ass, crouching between the saddlebags. When he saw how good a settled life was, and how pleasant the country, He bent his shoulder to the burden and became a toiling serf.  
"Dan shall achieve justice for his kindred like any other tribe of Israel. Let Dan be a serpent by the roadside, a horned viper by the path, That bites the horse's heel, so that the rider tumbles backward. "(I long for your deliverance, O LORD!) 
"Gad shall be raided by raiders, but he shall raid at their heels.
"Asher's produce is rich, and he shall furnish dainties for kings.
"Naphtali is a hind let loose which brings forth lovely fawns. 
"Joseph is a wild colt ,a wild colt by a spring, a wild ass on a hillside. Harrying and attacking, the archers opposed him; But each one's bow remained stiff, as their arms were unsteady, By the power of the Mighty One of Jacob, because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel, The God of your father, who helps you, God Almighty, who blesses you, With the blessings of the heavens above, the blessings of the abyss that crouches below, The blessings of breasts and womb, the blessings of fresh grain and blossoms, The blessings of the everlasting mountains, the delights of the eternal hills. May they rest on the head of Joseph, on the brow of the prince among his brothers. 
"Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; mornings he devours the prey, and evenings he distributes the spoils." 
All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said about them, as he bade them farewell and gave to each of them an appropriate message. Then he gave them this charge: "Since I am about to be taken to my kindred, bury me with my fathers in the cave that lies in the field of Ephron the Hittite, the cave in the field of Machpelah, facing on Mamre, in the land of Canaan, the field that Abraham bought from Ephron the Hittite for a burial ground.  There Abraham and his wife Sarah are buried, and so are Isaac and his wife Rebekah, and there, too, I buried Leah - the field and the cave in it that had been purchased from the Hittites." When Jacob had finished giving these instructions to his sons, he drew his feet into the bed, breathed his last, and was taken to his kindred.