SPIRITUAL MAXIMUMISM

Many people today are electing to follow a minimalist way of life. Living on basic needs and forgoing the many luxuries this life has to offer is a noble effort. In fact, Sacred Scripture tells us over and over again that we must leave everything, pick up our cross, and follow Christ to gain eternal life.

Denying ourselves the pleasures of this life is a tall order and one that is not easy to put into practice. Taking cold showers each morning or living with one car in a family with several children may be practices of the minimalist. Those living in this simplistic way, take on these types of challenges in many aspects of their lives. When living minimally is done in the context of serving the Lord, one may reap many blessings in this life and the next.

As some practice earthly minimalism, many today practice spiritual minimalism, doing the very least to grow spiritually, adopting secular values, and not growing in their knowledge of Church teachings. Not having an active prayer life, not attending Mass on Sundays and holy days, not receiving the sacraments nor following the precepts of the Church are additional indications that one may be a spiritual minimalist.

We are Catholic. We have received from the Lord His Church which provides for us the fullness of divine revelation and all the means of salvation. When it comes to your spiritual life and journey to eternity, practice spiritual maximumism! Start today living a life pleasing to God, following all that the Church teaches and reveals to be true. Maximize your opportunity to grow closer to the Lord each and every day.

Ponder: What changes can you make in your life today, to enhance your spiritual journey towards eternity?

Reflect: Luke 21:24

Pray: Heavenly Father, send me the grace that I need to pick up my cross and follow you.




GOD CHOICES ARE GOOD CHOICES

Everyday we make choices. From the time we wake up until the time our head hits the pillow, there are many decisions we must make. Most of the time, our daily decisions are rather unremarkable. The meals we eat, the internet we surf, the television we watch are among our routine daily decisions.

But, often we face decisions that have major consequences on our future, on our family, and on others. Marriage, family, and career are among the choices that have lifetime implications. How do we make such weighty decisions with confidence that our choices are good ones?

Simply put, follow these steps. First, start with prayer asking the Lord for guidance and clarity in your decision. Second, examine the facts regarding the decision, in a calm state of mind. Third, talk to others close to you that may be impacted and those whose advice is sound. Next, follow the teachings of the Church in all moral decisions. Finally, continue to pray and ask for the intercession of the Blessed Mother and the saints for wisdom. God answers prayers giving a peace of mind with his answers. If you have continued anxiety or stress in your decision, continue to pray until peace of mind prevails.

We are Catholic. We know that God answers all of our prayers in his time and according to his will for us. Be patient and wait on the Lord for his answers to your decisions in life. God choices are good choices.

Ponder: Do you trust that the Lord will always answer your prayers?

Reflect: Psalm 138:3

Pray: Heavenly Father, give me the patience I need to await your directions in my life.




KEEP YOUR EYES OF FAITH WIDE OPEN

At a recent daily holy Mass, a young boy around the age of six, entered the pew where his grandmother was already seated. The pew was located toward the back of the large church.  The young boy lamented that he could not see what was happening at the altar. The grandmother leaned down toward the young child and whispered to him, “Put on your eyes of faith.”

Coincidentally (although we know that there are no coincidences), the Gospel reading for the day was the story of the apostle’s walk to Emmaus. As we know from this familiar story, during the long walk to Emmaus with Jesus in their midst, the two apostles did not recognize the Lord in their presence. Just like the young boy at Mass, they could not see.

We are Catholic. How often in our daily lives do we miss opportunities to recognize the Lord walking with us, guiding us, and speaking to us? Jesus never tires of communicating with each one of us in our normal, everyday life. It is up to us to keep our eyes of faith wide open.

Ponder: When do you feel the Lord’s presence in your daily routine?

Reflect: Lk 24:13-35

Pray:  Lord, help me to see you clearly with eyes of faith each day.




UNABSOLVED MORTAL SINS DO NOT HAVE AN EXPIRATION DATE

Our human mind often protects us from focusing on negative events and experiences that have occurred in our past. When we have committed acts that have hurt others, or when others have hurt us, the passing of time allows the mind to dull, if not remove, these experiences from our memories.

In much the same way, our past unconfessed grave sins committed since our baptism may also become buried in our minds.  Maybe in our past we intentionally missed Mass on a Sunday or a holy day of obligation, knowing the Church’s teaching that missing Mass is a mortal sin. Perhaps we had lived with a person to whom we were not married or had sexual encounters outside of the covenant of marriage, again acting with the knowledge of the teachings of the Church. Since these grave sins and other sins we may have committed happened long ago, we may feel the passage of time removes them from the obligation of sacramental confession.

We are Catholic. The Church teaches that it is necessary for the salvation of our souls to confess and be absolved of all mortal sins we have committed in order to enter the kingdom of heaven.  If you have committed mortal sins in your past, seek spiritual healing through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Our souls are in need of the sanctifying grace received through sacramental absolution, because our unabsolved mortal sins do not have an expiration date.

Ponder:  What sinful actions do we justify because they have been normalized in our culture?

Reflect:  Rev. 21:27

Pray:  My Lord and my God, I am so sorry for ever having offended thee.




LET GOD BE GOD

We live in a time when information about virtually any topic is readily available to us. When we desire or need information, we simply “Google” it.  With this easy access to information, our minds are continually expanding with knowledge about the world around us.

With knowledge comes power, many believe; therefore, one may conclude the more knowledge we gain, the more power we have. Often our own knowledge fills us with pride as we no longer feel the need for God, and we confidently rely on our own natural wisdom.

Our natural wisdom, however, is often in conflict with God and his Word, Jesus Christ, and the teachings of His Church.  Many have turned away from Church teachings on contraception, marriage between one man and one woman, women’s ordination, the precept of Sunday and Holy Day Mass attendance, and above all the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. On all of these fundamental Church teachings, many, in their natural infinite wisdom, have concluded that they know better than God and decide for themselves what they will and will not believe.

We are Catholic. The wisdom of the Church on matters of faith and morals cannot be changed, deleted, or left to our individual decisions. Even though we may grow in knowledge and understanding of these fundamental teachings, we must know that God is unchangeable. He has given us his Word, Jesus Christ, and the Church to guide us. It is never wise to think we know better than God. We must always let God be God.

Ponder: What teachings of the Church do you struggle with and how can you reconcile with God?

Reflect: Romans 2:5-8

Pray: Heavenly father, send me your spirit of wisdom and understanding on teachings I struggle with. Send me your spirit of peace, when wisdom and understanding are not present.




BE ALL IN WITH HIM 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” (Jn 3:16). This is a beautiful verse from the Gospel of John. In fact, it is a popular verse recounted by our Protestant friends when evangelizing to others.

Ponder this verse for a moment. Simply believing in Jesus is enough for eternal life. It sounds easy enough, right? After all, Jesus is a known documented  historical figure. We can therefore conclude that many people believe in Jesus and His impact on the world from this historical perspective.

But this verse means so much more than simply believing in Jesus as a man who walked the face of this earth 2000 years ago. Believing in Jesus requires us to believe in everything Jesus said and did. It requires us to follow His ways, His commandments, and His Church. Believing in Jesus is more then an altar call.  It is a total transformation in the way we live our daily lives.

We are Catholic. We are called to believe in Jesus and live His will for us each and every day. We are called to follow His Word in Sacred Scripture. We are called to follow all of the teachings of His Church, the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church.  We are called to be all in with Him.

Ponder: Are you all in with Jesus and All that the Church teaches?

Reflect: Jn 3:16

Pray: Jesus, help me to give All that I am and all that I have to You completely and totally every day.




INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST

We often hear our Protestant friends convey the need for everyone to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. In fact, many, while evangelizing, will come right out and ask the question, “Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?”
 
As Catholics, we should be able to respond to this question without a breath of hesitation. Our response should convey that our relationship with the Lord goes much deeper than a personal relationship. We, as Catholics in good standing, have an intimate relationship with Christ.
 
We are Catholic. If we live according to the teachings of the Church and follow the way of Jesus, we can experience the most intimate relationship possible on earth, the Holy Eucharist, the Real Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. Do Catholics have a personal relationship with Christ? You betcha and more! We have a most intimate union with Him on the face of the earth. We have Jesus in the Eucharist.
 
Ponder: How will you respond when you are asked about your relationship with Jesus Christ?
 
Reflect: Jn 6:56
 
Pray: Jesus, thank you for giving me Your Body and Blood so that we can become one every time I receive you worthily in the Eucharist.



DO YOUR BEST…GOD IS WATCHING

Have you ever slowed down on an interstate when noticing a radar cop hiding in the brush? Have you ever changed what you were doing when you noticed your boss wandering your way? Have you ever changed computer screens when you noticed your teacher coming by?
 
Let’s be honest. We behave differently when others in authority are watching. We always want to be seen doing what is expected of us and exhibiting behaviors that make us look our best.
 
What’s really interesting is that most of us don?t realize that God is watching us all the time. That’s right. He’s watching and listening to everything we think, do, and say. He is even taking notes, so to speak.
 
We are Catholic. If we behaved all of the time knowing God is watching, we would most certainly be on our best behavior, following all that God has commanded of us. Get to know God, his commandments, and the teachings of his Church. God is always watching.
 
Ponder: Reflect on times when you routinely change your behavior when authority is present.
 
Reflect: Prov 15:3
 
Pray: Lord, help me to always follow your Holy will and may my thoughts, words, and deeds be always pleasing in your sight.



DON’T ALLOW INTELLECTUAL PRIDE TO BE YOUR GUIDE

Most of us have had times when we feel we know something as fact but find out later we were wrong. It is often difficult to accept our erring thoughts and ways.

It is also common, in our modern times, for many Catholics to come to their own conclusions about Church teachings, thinking they know better than the Church. Believing that the Church has not evolved into the modern world, their pride becomes their intellectual guide. Church teachings on marriage and divorce, contraception, and women’s ordination are a few examples of areas where some allow intellectual pride to eclipse Church teaching.

We are Catholic. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and always and the Church established by Christ contains this truth. We are called to obedience to Church teachings even if we disagree, lack understanding, or feel we know better. Be a steadfast follower of Jesus Christ and follow the teachings of His Church and don’t allow intellectual pride be your guide.

Ponder: What are some teachings of the Church that may be difficult to follow in this modern age?

Reflect: Heb 13:8

Pray: Holy Spirit, please give me the wisdom, strength, and perseverance I need to follow all of the teachings of the Church.




SPIRITUAL ANOREXIA

In our daily life, we have many desires. Some are very basic and necessary to sustain life. For instance, we desire and need food and water. We desire adequate rest and relaxation. We desire love and companionship.

Sometimes our desires go beyond what is needed and may be harmful for our consumption. We may, in fact, consume certain pleasures which could have a devastating impact on our souls. Consuming too much pleasure in entertainment in music, movies, television, and the internet may leave little room for consuming things of God. Consuming sinful carnal pleasures in pornography and sexual lust may additionally cause our souls to be put in the jeopardy of mortal sin.

When we feed our bodies and our minds with too many earthly pleasures and sins of the flesh, we leave little or no room for Jesus Christ. Spiritual anorexia sets in and a spiritual remedy is needed, pronto.

We are Catholic. We must take in all that is of God everyday to avoid spiritual anorexia. Begin replacing harmful physical indulgences with prayer, sacred reading, and assisting at Holy Mass. Become the person that God has created you to be every day in every way and find nourishment in the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

Ponder: What are some physical indulgences that you can replace with spiritual activities pleasing to God?

Reflect: 1 Cor 6:9-10

Pray: Heavenly Father, help me each day to focus on doing your Holy Will and to avoid spiritual anorexia in my life.