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5 Habits That Are Hazardous To Your (Spiritual) Health


 

Although Lent is winding to a close, there is still plenty of time to work on the many bad habits that hurt our relationship with the Lord. If you were to make even the smallest progress overcoming one of your bad habits, then your Lent would be a success. While God never expects us to overcome our imperfections by ourselves, He does expect us to take the first step and try to fight against these tendencies. Here are 5 bad habits that, if not controlled, will keep you from growing closer to Christ. Are they the worst ones in the world? Maybe or maybe not, but every one of these tendencies will keep you from being the best Catholic you can be.

1. Anger – Despite the Lord’s repeated warnings, we often feel justified getting angry with others on a daily basis. Anger can be lethal to our spiritual lives and should be high on our list of faults to eliminate this Lent. How can we overcome it? With lots of prayer, receiving the Sacraments and by reading (and re-reading) the Lord’s words:

“You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire.” (Mt 5:21-22)

2. Impatience – Although this fault is more subtle than anger, it can be very destructive to our spiritual lives. St. Paul tells us that “love is patient and kind” (1 Cor 13:4) and to “be patient with them all” (1 Thess 5:14), but we tend to lose sight of this when someone doesn’t move fast enough or disagrees with us. Let’s face it, we get annoyed with others several times each day, despite the fact that God is ALWAYS patient with us. For many years, I was a lukewarm, apathetic Catholic who’s purpose in life was to have a good time. By the grace of God, I’m still here and so are you. We should work on becoming more patient while we still have time. As a word of warning, if you pray to become more patient, expect people to pop up in your life who will give you PLENTY of practice!

3. Worry – Often we think of worry as something that’s inevitable. Many people have told me that “everyone worries”. I disagree. I’ve met people who, although they experience fear and even anxiety, don’t worry. Why? Because they have a deep trust in God. This is going to be painful to hear, but when we worry, we tell God that we don’t trust Him. Even though He tells us in Scripture that “all things work for the good” (Rom 8:28), we sometimes worry about events that are happening or MAY happen in our lives. Citing the previous Bible verse in his book Uniformity With God’s Will, St. Alphonsus Liguori stated that if God sends us suffering, it’s for our own good. After proclaiming the famous “Let not your hearts be troubled” (Jn 14:1), Jesus told us to believe in God and to believe in Him. Do we?

4. Lack of Charity – In our zeal to spread the “Good News” of our Faith, we sometimes overlook the need to do it WITH CHARITY. I’ll defer to Sts. Peter and Paul, who make the point more effectively than I ever could:

Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence. (1 Pt 3:15)

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. (1 Cor 13:1-3)

5. Over Sensitivity To Criticism – We sometimes try harder to please others than to please Christ. Many of us “like to be liked” and that desire can sometimes get in the way of our relationship with the Lord. Today’s world is not very friendly to Catholicism and the message of Jesus Christ. When we live and share our faith, we can expect to be criticized. In fact, the Lord told us exactly what would happen when He said “you will be hated by all for my name’s sake” (Mk 13:13). A bitter pill to swallow, right? Maybe, until we hear what He says next. “But he who endures to the end will be saved”! As we continue to travel the road to heaven, we should strive to make all of our actions pleasing to Jesus. As long as we do that, we’re in great shape!

If you’re like me and can identify with more than one of these bad habits, don’t panic! Pick one of them and make up your mind to use the remainder of Lent to work on it. Above all, don’t forget to ask the Lord for the grace needed to improve. Also, make it a point to receive additional grace through the Sacrament of Confession. Once you begin to see good progress (and you will, if you keep at it), tackle another one and keep going. While working on our bad habits should be a year round pursuit, Lent is a great time to get started. When we start to attack our faults like this, Jesus begins to increase (in us) and we begin to decrease (Jn 3:30). Ultimately, we’ll be able to echo the words of St. Paul and proclaim:

“It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” (Gal 2:20)

Sandy Hook – A Time For Mourning, Not Lecturing!


 

Before I begin this post, I want to make a few things clear. I am 100 percent pro-life and have written about the evils of abortion many times. In addition, I pray the rosary with a group of people each week outside of an abortion clinic. I believe, as the Catholic Church teaches, that abortion is murder. No exceptions…it is ALWAYS murder! I also believe that most people who support abortion are unaware of what takes place as unborn children are pulled from their mothers wombs. I feel that there is a great need to educate the world as to what really takes places under the guise of “the right to choose”. All things considered, however, I think it is WAY too early to compare the murders that happen legally in this country every day with the horrible crime that took place on Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

Twenty children (between the ages of 6-7) were gunned down at close range, 6 adults unexpectedly lost their lives and faced their judgment (quite possibly unprepared to do so), the lives of those who lost loved ones in this tragedy were shattered at a time of year when peace and joy should be the prevailing message. A community, a country and the entire world is devastated and confused, perplexed as to how God could allow this to happen.

I have been seeing way too many comments on Facebook and other social media sites that are using this tragedy as an argument for many different agendas. In my opinion, this is not the time for Planned Parenthood comparisons, statements about the need for gun control laws or criticism of President Obama for expressing outrage and sorrow for what transpired. Rather, it is a time to pray for our brothers and sisters who lost their lives. It’s a time to mourn along with those who were affected in any way by the tragedy. It’s a time to do what we can to live out our Christian faith every day, which includes loving one another. It’s also a time to remember that there is evil in the world, but that the Prince of Peace, who we are preparing to welcome can and will bring good out of that evil.

There will come a time when we should point out the need to mourn for the many children who are legally murdered every day, but it’s too soon. There will be a time to discuss gun control laws or the need to return God to public schools. However, the victims from the Sandy Hook massacre have not even been buried yet. Let’s first show some respect and compassion for those souls who passed away and for their families, many of whose lives will never be the same.

Don’t Take The Our Father So Personally!

 

Are you kidding me? How can I not take the Lord’s Prayer personally? It allows me to communicate directly with my Heavenly Father and has been called the “Perfect Prayer”. Why shouldn’t I take it personally? Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let me explain what I mean. While it’s important (and encouraged) to have a personal relationship with our Heavenly Father, we want to make sure we don’t limit the effectiveness of this powerful prayer by focusing solely on our own personal intentions. Although we should pray for our own needs, we shouldn’t forget the needs of our brothers and sisters located around the world. The Lord’s Prayer provides the perfect opportunity for this type of global outreach. Need some examples?

Our Father Who Art In Heaven – The title says it all. He’s not just “my” Father, but the Father of my co-workers, the person who just cut me off in traffic, the irate customer who just yelled at me on the phone, the criminals whose mug shots appear in the newspaper, the homeless man begging on the street corner and everyone else on the face of the earth. When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we speak on behalf of each of these individuals and ask for God’s blessings to be poured out upon them.

Hallowed Be Thy Name – On behalf of the entire human race, Father, I ask that Your name be made holy on earth. May those who ignore You learn to love You. Forgive those who use Your name in vain and allow them to see why this is wrong. Allow the entire world to have a greater appreciation of Your mercy and learn to turn to You in times of trouble.

Thy Kingdom Come – Jesus proclaimed that “the time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:14). We ask You, Heavenly Father, that this truly takes place in the world. Allow us to see the need for repentance and grant us the grace to turn away from sin. And let Your kingdom spread throughout the world.

Thy Will Be Done, On Earth As It Is In Heaven – In addition to praying that God’s will be done in our own lives, let’s pray that His will be done everywhere in the world. That means no more abortion, crime, pornography, hatred and selfishness. That’s the way it is in Heaven. Let’s pray that it will be this way on earth!

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread – By praying this one petition on behalf of the entire human race, we are placing our trust in God’s providence. We pray that all of the starving people will obtain food, we pray that all atheists will come to know and love the Lord, we pray that the unemployed will find jobs and we pray that everyone will receive and accept the grace they need to get to Heaven. By concentrating on “this day” (and not tomorrow), we put our faith in God’s providence and follow Jesus’ command to avoid worrying about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34).

Forgive Us Our Trespasses As We Forgive Those Who Trespass Against Us – If we think beyond our own personal needs, we can ask the Father to forgive the sins of the entire world and request that they be able to practice that forgiveness as well. Can you imagine what the world would be like if that became a reality?

Lead Us Not Into Temptation – Help us to avoid gossip, selfishness, sexual immorality and greed. We are surrounded by temptation and need your help, Lord. Our human weakness makes it impossible to avoid these sins, but with your grace, we can do it.

Deliver Us From Evil – Father, we were created to live forever with you in Heaven, but we sometimes lose sight of that fact and turn away from You. On behalf of all of Your children, please allow us to achieve our salvation and live with You in perfect happiness.

There you have it! By broadening our focus as we pray the Our Father, we can intercede for all of God’s children throughout the world. Many of them don’t even realize that they should be asking the Father for these things, so we can step in and help them out. While the Lord’s Prayer can and should be very personal to us, let’s not limit the Father’s generosity. There is more than enough grace to go around. Let’s share it with the rest of the world!

Dear Lord…Thank You For My Enemies!

 

For the most part, people who read my blog care about becoming more spiritual. If I had to guess, I’d say that the vast majority of my readers are just like me…Catholics who want to learn more about the Church’s teachings and grow closer to Christ. Despite wanting to follow the Lord’s commands, however, some of us tend to struggle with pride and often have a bit of a short fuse. Speaking for myself, there are times when I conveniently overlook (or even ignore) some of the core teachings of Jesus Christ because of my pride. In my opinion, one of the Lord’s most difficult teachings is the following:

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44)

The words of Christ are clear and there’s really no wiggle room…He’s telling us to love not just those who love us back, not just those who ignore us, not just those who annoy us, but OUR ENEMIES! That means those who threaten us, insult us, curse at us and even want to harm us physically. That’s a really powerful and challenging commandment. It’s also one I fail at (to some degree) every day and I know I’m not alone. If we’re going to get to Heaven, however, this is a command that we’re going to have to understand and follow. Rather than look at this challenge negatively, let’s turn the tables and address it in a more positive way. As crazy as it sounds, I propose that we learn to thank God for our enemies. Once we begin to do so, we’ll find it a lot easier to love them. Why should we be thankful for our enemies?

They Allow Us To Be More Like Christ – As Christians, we should be striving to imitate Jesus at all times. Reading through the Bible will remind us of just how many enemies He had. His teaching was rejected, He was thrown out of towns, He was threatened and challenged, and finally, He was humiliated, tortured and put to death. By experiencing rejection and hatred, we can share in Our Lord’s suffering and understand some of what He experienced. Without enemies, this would not be possible.

They Let Us Love As Jesus Loved – Can you imagine enduring what Jesus went through and still being able to say, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34)? To a lesser degree, every time we love someone who offends us, we love as Christ loved. When we forgive those who offend us, we imitate Jesus.

They Help Us Conquer Our Pride – I like to be “right”, especially when someone tells me that I’m “wrong”. When challenged about a variety of issues, I have a tendency to want to win the argument. Often that desire (even when trying to defend the Faith) causes me to fall into sin. By learning to walk away and let someone else “win”, I become a bit more humble. Now, this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t proclaim the truth – not at all! We should (especially when it comes to the teachings of the Church), but we must always keep in mind that our words aren’t responsible for converting others. Rather, it’s the work of the Holy Spirit. If we plant some seeds and get rejected, that’s OK. We did our job…God will do the rest.

They Remind Us Of God’s Mercy – When people attack me, I remember all of the times that I attacked others. Throughout my life, I’ve treated many people unfairly. My words and actions have often be hurtful and offensive. I’ve been sarcastic and arrogant. But, in spite of it all, Jesus never stopped loving me and was always ready to forgive me. I should do the same for others.

They Are Often Right – Although it can be sheer torture, the accusations and insults of our enemies often open our eyes to the fact that we’re wrong. We can become so blinded by our sinful habits that we don’t even notice them. Sincerely listening to the words of our enemies, even though they may sting, can make us see that we need to make some changes in our lives. That is an invaluable gift.

Loving our enemies is challenging, but is necessary if we expect to get to Heaven. With God’s grace and by learning to appreciate their presence in our lives, we can better live our Catholic Faith and be an example to those around us. Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to have enemies!

Don’t Be Afraid To “Cross The Line” For Jesus!

 

“There was a preacher once who was saying to the congregation, ‘It is wrong to steal horses.’ The congregation answered, ‘Amen,amen.’ ‘It is wrong to steal cows.’ ‘Amen, Amen!’ Then he said, ‘It is wrong to steal chickens.’ And someone shouted back, ‘Now he is meddling.’ Up until that point, conscience was not touched.” (Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen)

I recently wrote a blog post about the need for Catholics to take action against some of President Obama’s policies, mainly his health care plan and the HHS mandate. My analysis was clear and to the point – there are provisions in this plan that oppose Catholic teaching and, following the lead of our bishops, we must speak out and take action. While I expected some opposition (mainly from non-Catholics), I wasn’t prepared for what I received…FROM CATHOLICS!

Here’s a sample…

For the first time, a health care plan addresses the lack of health coverage for 60 million Americans who had been up to now left to die on the side of the road until the Good Samaritan bill was passed.

OK, not bad…some editorializing, but still respectful. Things start to go downhill with the next response…

I don’t think that our religion should have anything to do with politics. That is what is so great about our religion, it is the one true church but we aren’t taught to force our religion on people. If we did we would be looked at just as the Protestant church is. The Supreme Court ruling does go against some of the church’s teachings, but it is also for many of the teachings. Let’s not forget that 6 of the justices are Catholic.

A little more direct, but not really nasty. Then I got this one…

Certainly, everyone is entitled to their opinion but I find it improper for Gary Zimak to have the gall to think he speaks for all Catholics. This man is not a Bishop, Priest, or even a Brother for the Church. From where does his authority spring forth? I am wary of any person who speaks or writes in the name of God and doesn’t use Scripture…Yes…abortion is wrong. Yes…its even murder. However, Barack Obama is not a supporter of abortion! Some people do support it and use it as an after-the-fact form of birth control. That is murder. But then others, like Obama simply say that government will not regulate it by making it against the law.

This gentlemen finishes his comments with…

The conservative right (which I would never call religious) are the ones who DO NOT CARE ABOUT THE POOR as Jesus did. They love money, not God or their fellow man. Zimak derided the recent Supreme Court decision. Why? He is a rich white man! He doesn’t care about how the needy are finally getting health care reform that will help the poor and middle class! I am disgusted by those who would use Catholicism to further their own personal agenda. Those are the people Jesus called “Vipers!”

As a Catholic evangelist, I often write and say things that are met with resistance. As long as I stick to generalities (“God loves us”, “We can all be a little nicer”, “Prayer is effective”, etc.), then everyone is happy and nobody gets offended. However, the minute I start to challenge people’s beliefs or practices, the negative comments begin to flow. A few years ago, I wrote an article, “Ten Facts Most Catholics Don’t Know (But Should)”. For the most part, it was very well received. However, when one diocesan newspaper picked it up, the readers went crazy! My assertions on the all male priesthood, the Bible being compiled by the Catholic Church and all salvation taking place through the Church were met with the following comments…

“I wonder if Mr. Zimak realizes who his audience is. Some American Catholics are critical thinkers.”

“It is with dismay that I read the article by Gary Zimak in the guest commentary. He purports to be the founder of Following The Truth ministries. I am doubly troubled that you him as an authority of sorts. May I please know the authority by which this lay apostolate says he speaks for the Roman Catholic Church regarding women priests? What in fact are his credentials for representing the Vatican in any way?”

“We were rather startled by the guest commentary by Gary Zimak in the July 30th issue. We think that Mr. Zimak is a questionable source at best…As for No Salvation Outside of the Church, perhaps someone should explain the teachings of Vatican II to Mr. Zimak. He seems to have stopped his belief in Catholic teachings at the Council of Trent.”

“Then there was Gary Zimak’s statement that “Women will never be priests”. (Gary, didn’t your mother tell you ‘never say never?)”

“I wondered what you had in mind when selecting the piece for publication. It provided no new insights, but instead the same old worn out points that are often made by some finger-shaking, pre-Vatican II conservative ‘traditional’ Roman Catholics…Certainly, the piece did not contain any new, enlightened points of view that would pique the interest of forward looking, contemporary Christians searching for new understanding.”

And my personal favorite…

“Today I read ‘Ten Facts Most Catholics Don’t Know’ with the smirking picture of the author…”

Our Catholic Church teaches that we MUST evangelize. This requires us to charitably share the truth with others. Depending on just how much of the truth we share, however, we’re eventually going to be met with resistance. It happened to the prophets, it happened to the Apostles and it happened to Jesus. Our Lord warns of this with His chilling words:

“Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” (Luke 12:51-53)

As Catholics, we must be willing to speak the truth, even if it makes someone angry. We live in a world that is filled with darkness. Many people do not want to learn the truth because it is in direct conflict with a sinful and selfish lifestyle. While the world may not WANT to hear the truth, the world NEEDS to hear the truth and it is our responsibility to proclaim it. A close friend (and excellent writer), Shane Kapler, wrote an excellent article in which he discusses the “Caricature Jesus”. In Shane’s words…

We prefer an imaginary Jesus, who forgives our failings but makes no demands. The imaginary Jesus never gets upset – unless it’s at religious bullies, and they’ve got it coming, don’t they? He came to relieve suffering (because pain, not separation from God, is the ultimate evil) and to teach us that if we’ll just be “tolerant” enough of everyone else’s opinion (translation = truth does not exist in fact; truth is what we individually believe it to be), peace will finally come.

Unfortunately, despite some people wanting to believe otherwise, the teachings of Jesus Christ as presented through His Church are very concrete and real. They cannot, and should not, be watered down or ignored simply to avoid conflict. As Catholics we have the duty to speak the truth, even if it means “crossing the line”. Jesus warned us of the hatred that we’d experience, but He also promised a great reward…

You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved. (Matthew 10:22)

Join The Fraternity Of Kindness

 

(Listen to Following The Truth on BlogTalkRadio every Friday at 8 PM Eastern as Gary discusses the book, “The Hidden Power Of Kindness” by Father Lawrence Lovasik!)

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-2)

In my life as a Christian, one of the most difficult things for me to do is to love everyone. Even though Jesus commands me to do this (John 13:34-35, 15:12, Matthew 5:43), loving everyone does not come easy for me. While it’s easy for me to love people who are nice to me, I have a REALLY hard time loving those who don’t love me back. Although it’s difficult, I need to take the Lord’s command seriously IF I expect to get to Heaven! Fortunately, I recently ran across a very simple method of putting Jesus’ instruction into practice.

In his book, The Hidden Power Of Kindness, the late Fr. Lawrence Lovasik urges that we all become members of the Fraternity of Kindness.

This “organization” has no officers, no meetings and no dues. In fact, its rules are simple. There are three little don’ts and three little do’s. Brilliant in their simplicity, these do’s and don’ts will put us on the right track for loving everyone:

DON’TS
1. Don’t speak unkindly of anyone.
2. Don’t speak unkindly to anyone.
3. Don’t act unkindly toward anyone.

DO’S
1. Do speak kindly of someone at least once a day.
2. Do think kindly of someone at least once a day.
3. Do act kindly toward someone at least once a day.

If we violate any of these rules, Fr. Lovasik suggests the following actions:

1. Make a brief act of contrition (ex. “My Jesus, mercy!”)
2. Offer an apology, if possible.
3. Say a little prayer for the one to whom you have been unkind.

Although the Fraternity of Kindness is not an official group, living by these “do’s and don’ts” will allow you to follow the Lord’s command to “love one another” and keep you on the road to Heaven. Just don’t forget to ask the Lord for the grace necessary to carry them out. If we try to do this on our own, it’s not easy, but…

“With God nothing will be impossible!” (Luke 1:37)

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. (1 John 4:20)

Moment Of Truth with Gary Zimak 1-26-12

 

Good Morning Friends!  Here’s today’s Moment of Truth with Gary Zimak, the memorial of Sts. Timothy and Titus…

Moment Of Truth with Gary Zimak 1-26-12 (mp3)

An Advent Challenge: Love Your Enemies!

Dear Lord,
So far today I’ve done all right.
I haven’t gossiped, cursed, or lost my temper.
I haven’t been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish or overindulgent.
I am really glad about these things.
But, in a few minutes Lord,
I am going to get out of bed,
and from then on,
I’m probably going to need a lot more help.
Thank You,
In Jesus’ Name. Amen.  (Author unknown)

Most of us will chuckle when reading this prayer, but isn’t the message really true?  One of the most difficult aspects of being a Christian is dealing with people.  Especially challenging is Jesus’ command to love one another.  Even more difficult is the Lord’s command not just to love those who love us back, but to love those who annoy us and to love those who (gulp!) hate us…our enemies!

If I had my choice, here’s how I would like to practice my faith.  I’d take a prayer book, rosary, and my Bible and sit in church or an adoration chapel for several hours each day.  I would be able to speak with the Lord, feel His presence and experience total peace.  Although it’s not impossible, it is very difficult to commit sin while I’m in church.  By using this approach, chances are good that I wouldn’t be sinning that much.  Therefore, achieving my salvation would be a “piece of cake”.  Brilliant strategy, right?  The only problem is that this is not even close to what the Lord wants me to do.

Like it or not, most of our lives are spent interacting with people.  We must deal with family, friends, coworkers, fellow students, store clerks, uncaring receptionists at doctor’s offices, demanding supervisors, customers who scream at us because they are not happy and individuals who absolutely don’t like us and want to make us suffer as much as possible.   Do you get the picture?  Some of these dealings are just not going to be pleasant.  Fortunately for us, the Lord gives us some guidelines to follow:

I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. (John 13:34)

That’s fine, I can handle that.  How about if somebody treats me badly?  What should I do then?

Then Peter approaching asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. (Matthew 18:21-22)

This is getting tough, but I think I’m still good.  If someone apologizes, I have to forgive them.  I guess the only exception to this “love one another” thing is when someone hates me and makes no effort to be nice.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48)

Now, my friends, you see what being a Christian is all about…and it ain’t easy!  In order to call ourselves followers of Jesus, we must love as He loved.  How did He love?  By forgiving those who tortured, mocked and crucified Him.  To make matters worse, the reason He was on the cross in the first place was to redeem all of mankind, which included the very people who were putting Him to death.  And despite the fact that they laughed at Him, beat Him, and hung Him on a cross to die, He forgave them!  In the same way, Jesus expects us to do the same to those who mistreat us.  While it sounds impossible, it isn’t.  The only catch is that we must ask for help.  We can’t be expected to accomplish this on our own.  If we pray and receive the Sacraments frequently, we’ll receive the graces necessary to pull this off.

The season of Advent is all about preparing for the coming of Christ.  We should be using the time to turn away from our sinful behavior so that we’re better prepared to meet Him.  For the remainder of this Advent season, why not pledge to pray for and be kind to that individual who hates you?  Ask the Lord to bless that person and offer thanks for having them in your life.  Why?  Because without that person, you wouldn’t be able to fulfill Jesus’ instructions to “love your enemy”.  Loving that enemy will help you to get to Heaven one day.

Even if you don’t have any real enemies, I’m sure you can think of a really annoying and difficult person for whom to pray during Advent.  That would be a great use of the next few weeks.  Personally, I’m glad to be able to share this post with my Internet followers and speak about it on the radio.  For, when asking everyone to pray for the most difficult and annoying person they know, I know I’m going to get some prayers directed my way!

Do something good for someone you like least today.  (St. Anthony of Padua)

Dominican Sisters Care For The Dying While Relying On God’s Providence

“It’s the most unusual place I’ve ever been. You’re not conscious of people being ill here. We all have cancer and we’re all terminal, but it’s serene and there are lots of moments of fun and laughter.”  (Harriet Boyle, resident of Rosary Hill Home in Hawthorne, NY)

I recently ran across a story about the Dominican Sisters Congregation of St. Rose of Lima, who operate a palliative care facility in Hawthorne, NY (north of New York City).  The sisters care for the terminally ill in a home known as Rosary Hill, totally free of charge.  Even more amazing is the fact that they don’t accept government funds or insurance reimbursements.  They rely solely on God’s providence.

This story is inspiring in so many ways.  For one thing, we see an example of women dedicating their lives to caring for the dying.  These sisters aren’t doing this for money, they’re doing it out of love.  We can also see a great example of trusting in God’s providence.  In this Sunday’s gospel (Mt 14:22-33), Peter learned how easy it is to lose sight of the Lord, especially when faced with major problems.  Although it’s often counter-intuitive, it’s precisely at these difficult times that we must rely on the Lord’s help.  Both the sisters who work at Rosary Hill and the patients seem to seem to have a strong understanding of this concept.  As a result,  they are surrounded with God’s peace, even in the midst of uncertainty.

We can all learn so much from this great story.  In addition to the obvious lesson of providing for our brothers and sisters in need, we are reminded of the importance of trusting in God’s providence.  Just as St. Peter started to sink the minute he began to focus on the storm (instead of the Lord), we too will struggle when we attempt to tackle our problems without God’s help. 

The full story about the Dominican Sisters’ work at Rosary Hill can be found here.

Who Is Your Neighbor?

On today’s episode of Following The Truth, I discussed the parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:25-37).  The lawyer questioning Jesus was well aware of the law, but still asked Him, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  Jesus answered by referring back to the law, which contained the instruction to “love your neighbor as yourself”.  The lawyer responded, “And who is my neighbor?”

The parable of the Good Samaritan reminds us that we must love everyone.  This includes the “annoying” person at the office, your “short tempered” husband, the “incompetent” cashier, and even Osama Bin Laden!  Before you fall off of your chair at hearing that last name, he is still a child of God and desperately stands in need of prayers for his soul.   Everyone is “our neighbor” and the Lord reminds us that loving them is a condition of achieving eternal life.

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