How to Stop Freaking Out (with some Help from the Saints)

Thank God for the communion of saints.  Remarkably, there isn’t much in our crazy busy lives that the saints haven’t dealt with in some other iteration.  Even though the world we live in seems angrier and more anxious than ever before, the basics of human nature haven’t changed much. We have the same faults, sins, struggles, and hopes that we have always had, through dressed in modern circumstances.

Anger and anxiety have tried to strangle people and cultures with their icy hands for centuries.   Like good friends who have walked a road before us, the saints give us advice and hope for living a life of joy, peace and courage in the midst of the storm.

saintsWinning the War against Anger

We are living in the age of rage.  Hearing the news or scrolling through social media, it seems everyone is angry about something or someone.  Since Cain killed Abel, anger, also known as ‘wrath,’ has been a part of the human existence. The saints were not immune to this sin either.

St. John, the apostle of love, was once known as one of the ‘Sons of Thunder’ who wanted to call down fire from heaven to destroy a town that snubbed them.  You may be thinking that if you had the chance to spend three years at Jesus’s side, it would cure you of your anger too.  Well, maybe. Perhaps that’s an important lesson.  Prayer changes us.  St. John lived prayer.  He rested on Christ’s chest at the last supper.  He was so aware of the love of God for him that he came to name his identity as ‘the apostle that Jesus loved.’  That’s how he knew himself.  Spending more time in prayer, especially in adoration, changes our hearts and makes them less thunderous and more loving. Continue reading

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Genesis 1-11 and Salvation

salvationGenesis Chapter 1 to 11 was like a prologue to God’s salvation of man.  It showed a repetitive pattern of man sinning against God, hence, God’s punishment, and led to God’s salvation for man.  This ultimately brought out the key message of God’s infinite love and mercy for man and His preparation for the salvation of man, since the beginning.  ‘From the beginning until “the fullness of time,” Word and Spirit remain hidden, but it is at work. God’s Spirit prepares for the time of the Messiah’ (CCC 702).

Although man continually and repeatedly sinned against God, i.e. original sin by Adam and Eve (Gen 3:6), Cain killing Abel (Gen 4:8), Lamech being the first bigamist (Gen 4:23), the wickedness of man (6:5) and the Tower of Babel (Gen 11:4) etc., which God grieved and was sorry that He had made man on earth (Gen 6:6), God still loved man and never ceased the opportunities for man to repent.  Again and again, He offered a covenant to man (CCC 55), just as He established a covenant with Noah and blessed man after the flood (Gen 9:11), so man could return to the loving relationship with God, just as when they were first being created.  For He wishes to give eternal life to all those who seek salvation by patience in well-doing (CCC 55). Continue reading

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What Makes You Worry?

worry“Do not let your hearts be troubled. (Jn 14:1)” Our Lord doesn’t leave a margin here. Worries are a red flag; something is wrong. We are never supposed to worry. He doesn’t say “do not let your hearts be troubled too much.” No. It is never his will that we be weighed down.

“Cast all your worries upon him, because he cares for you. (1 Pet 5:7)” Peace is God’s gift and a sign of his presence: “The Lord blesses his people with peace. (PS 29:11)” It’s the melody that resounds throughout Christ’s entire life: “Peace on earth! (Lk 2:14)” “Peace I leave you. My peace I give you. (Jn 14:27)” “I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. (Jn 16:33)” Where Christ is, there is peace. So if we are drowned in worries? But our lives are so filled with the often deafening din of worries that we can’t hardly grasp the concept of a life without them. Is such a life even possible? Continue reading

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Embracing the Poverty of Purgatory

povertyMy response to restlessness is to fix things, or to do something that makes me feel like I’m fixing things. I remember being overwhelmed as the 23-year-old mother of a 6-week-old child and deciding that I HAD to rearrange the furniture in the living room at 3:00 in the morning.  Dragging couches and chairs, and moving everything somewhere else gave me a satisfying sense of control in the whirlwind of motherhood that had taken over my life. It changed nothing, but it made me feel better.

This pattern has repeated itself over and over in almost every are of my life.  Something is uncomfortable, so I ‘do something’ to fix it, or at least to feel like I’m in control.  Resting in restlessness has never been an option I’ve embraced. Continue reading

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Easy Love/Tough Love

commandment

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees,
they gathered together, and one of them,
a scholar of the law tested him by asking,
“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”
He said to him,
“You shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart,
with all your soul,
and with all your mind.
This is the greatest and the first commandment.
The second is like it:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22: 34-40

The Gospel from the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time has been rambling around in my brain for the past couple days.  It started Sunday when I read the Holy Father’s address at the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square on the “Great Commandment.” Continue reading

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Developing a Catholic Worldview Part 2: Finding our True North

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

-J.R.R. Tolkien

Today’s world has a lot that glitters, and not a lot of obvious love for true gold in terms of what it values and lives by.  To form our own values and principles for action in a way that reflect the Gospel means talking a personal responsibility for shaping ourselves and our consciences through an integral formation.  An integral formation is a reflection of the classical idea of a liberal education, something the Church has always valued. Not ‘liberal’ in the modern, political sense of the word- but in the true sense that this formation or education liberates you- makes you ‘free’ to act from your own well-formed and rooted principles, instead of from the effects of the events around you. You are free to see the ‘unglittering gold’ and have roots deeper than the current frost can reach, as Tolkien speaks of. Continue reading

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Developing a Catholic Worldview: Part 1- Where is our foundation?

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” Mt 7:24-27

peace

Romano Guardini

This year’s hurricanes make us look at the power of the storm and the grave impact it can have on our lives. It also reminds us of the reality of the storms in our culture, our world, and in our own hearts.

How do we build our lives on the rock instead of the shifting sands of the culture around us?  How do we keep our compass straight in a world where “north” is declared “south” and even truths and teachings of the Church are skewed to fit peoples’ pet projects?

Msgr. Romano Guardini, the great twentieth century theologian, mentor to Pope Benedict XVI and prolific writer, prophetically summarized the danger of being lost in the modern world while he wrote about the importance of forming and living by a Catholic world view. If we don’t, he says, Continue reading

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Time to Renew

renewI have had the experience a few times.  It happens during Mass and it makes me squirm.  I might even sneak a look around to find out if people are looking at me.  And I’m willing to bet I’m now the only one who has had this particular experience:  The Catholic Creeps.

There I sit in Mass, well-behaved, quiet. The priest is giving a perfectly fine homily.  Then he warns the congregation of a particular shortcoming or temptation that plagues people and I have the sense he is talking directly to me. Continue reading

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Trust is Greater than Certainty 

trustTrust is greater than certainty. Let me explain. Trust is certain, yes, and I would say the greatest certainty, because it is based on God and not us. What I mean is intellectual certainty. 

Certainty about what will happen in the future doesn’t exist. Not even the Blessed Mother had it. We can do our best to control all the factors, but there is still so much we can’t control: health, accidents, the free will of others, our own weakness. 

This uncertainty makes us feel so insecure. If only we could take it away! But would that make us happy? I would argue no.  Continue reading

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The Other Ignatius

antiochWe often hear of St Ignatius of Loyola, valiant founder of the Jesuits.  Another Ignatius impacted the world with his faith many centuries before him, Ignatius of Antioch.

The persecution of the disciples in Jerusalem, Cyrene and Cyprus pushed the threatened evangelizers to go farther and farther abroad, extending the boundaries of the Kingdom.  It was Peter himself who went to Antioch and led the church there.  He found a man who would build a foundation of faith during uncertainty, clarity amidst confusion and fidelity surrounded by heresy. Several years later, St. Peter left Antioch for Rome.  After being ordained by the first pope himself, and then mentored by St. Paul and St. John, Ignatius became bishop of Antioch, where the bible tells us, that the believers were called for the first time, Christians. Continue reading

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