Be a Sheep

Pretty Sheep - Day 41/365

If we are sheep, we overcome;
if wolves, we are overcome

As long as we are sheep, we overcome and, though surrounded by countless wolves, we emerge victorious; but if we turn into wolves, we are overcome, for we lose the shepherd’s help. He, after all, feeds the sheep not wolves, and will abandon you if you do not let him show his power in you.

What he says is this: “Do not be upset that, as I send you out among the wolves, I bid you be as sheep and doves. I could have managed things quite differently and sent you, not to suffer evil nor to yield like sheep to the wolves, but to be fiercer than lions. But the way I have chosen is right. It will bring you greater praise and at the same time manifest my power.” That is what he told Paul: My grace is enough for you, for in weakness my power is made perfect. “I intend,” he says, “to deal in the same way with you.” For, when he says, I am sending you out like sheep, he implies: “But do not therefore lose heart, for I know and am certain that no one will be able to overcome you.”

The Lord, however, does want them to contribute something, lest everything seem to be the work of grace, and they seem to win their reward without deserving it. Therefore he adds: You must be clever as snakes and innocent as doves. But, they may object, what good is our cleverness amid so many dangers? How can we be clever when tossed about by so many waves? However great the cleverness of the sheep as he stands among the wolves – so many wolves! – what can it accomplish? However great the innocence of the dove, what good does it do him, with so many hawks swooping upon him? To all this I say: Cleverness and innocence admittedly do these irrational creatures no good, but they can help you greatly.

What cleverness is the Lord requiring here? The cleverness of a snake. A snake will surrender everything and will put up no great resistance even if its body is being cut in pieces, provided it can save its head. So you, the Lord is saying, must surrender everything but your faith: money, body, even life itself. For faith is the head and the root; keep that, and though you lose all else, you will get it back in abundance. The Lord therefore counselled the disciples to be not simply clever or innocent; rather he joined the two qualities so that they become a genuine virtue. He insisted on the cleverness of the snake so that deadly wounds might be avoided, and he insisted on the innocence of the dove so that revenge might not be taken on those who injure or lay traps for you. Cleverness is useless without innocence.

Do not believe that this precept is beyond your power. More than anyone else, the Lord knows the true natures of created things; he knows that moderation, not a fierce defence, beats back a fierce attack.

— A homily by St. John Chrysostom
H/T to Steve for sending it to me.
Photo credit to Olivia Bell Photography

Keeping Your Faith When Your Life is Crazy Busy

Last night, I gave a talk at Joe Bologna’s for Firestarters. Here is an outline of the talk, so you can share, as I think that these points may be good for all, and not just the young adults. 🙂

Here’s a link to a Word version of this, which will be prettier and formatted for printing.  🙂

1. Know your faith
a. You can’t hang on to what you don’t have!
b. But I’m busy!
     i. Have a portion of the Bible or CCC e-mailed to you.  The e-mail can serve as a reminder, plus we tend to make time to read e-mail when we don’t make time to sit down with a book.
          ii. Multitask.  Attend events like F3 which can combine friend-time and meal-time with something that can inform you in your faith.
          iii. Listen to faith-related podcasts.  You can find homilies and talks online that you can listen to on your daily commute, while running or anytime.
         iv. Fill your feed-reader with websites from orthodox Catholic bloggers.  This way, their posts will collect for you to read whenever you have a free moment.

2. Maintain your relationship with God
a. Pray
        i.  Make time
1. Set an alarm on your calendar.
2. Set aside a specific time per day.
          ii.  Make a point to pray before meals, when you wake up, when you go to bed
          iii.  Visit the chapel, even if just for 5 minutes, e.g. on your way to the store or on your way home
          iv.  Make sure your prayer isn’t just a list of things you want
b. Make use of the sacraments – they actually work!

3. Stay motivated
a. Keep your eyes on the prize!
  i.  Figuratively – we want to end up home in Heaven:  what in my life will/will not help me get there?
          ii.  Literally – add something visual to your environment that will remind you
1. This is not just for your home!  Maybe also your car, workplace, rosary in your pocket…
b. No man is an island
          i.  Make and foster friendships in your life that nurture your faith
          ii.  Try to work together, support each other
c. Serve others
          i.  Great way to stay humble and focused on what’s really important in life
d. Think of it as staying spiritually healthy
          i.  While you are at it, don’t forget to exercise both your body and your mind.  We are body/soul mixes, and neglecting either part is unhealthy

4. Don’t despair!
a. We all mess up!
          i.  Don’t rationalize your way into greater sin
          ii.  Go to confession
          iii.  Forgive yourself and move on
          iv.  Forgive others
b. Pick up where you left off

And, kind of going along with this theme, here is a link to a great article from the National Catholic Register, outlining “Ten Silly Reasons You Won’t Pray Today (and Why You Should Reconsider).” Enjoy!

Categories F3

Vacation 2012: Day 1

Flight-Poster-Denzel

Saturday, my first official day of vacation! Whoot! Let me say that it was rather like a typical Saturday and rather low-key. I slept in, I read a little, I spent most of the day in my PJs. 🙂

I made Lemon Rice soup for lunch, too. I’ll give that it’s own post, since I’ll include the recipe and maybe some photos. It was yum! Next time, I may add some veggies and chicken.

About 4:30 pm, I got a knock on the back door and opened it to find my neighbor-across-the-street’s daughter. It turns out that my neighbor, whom I’ve known my whole life, died on Monday. As of right now, I anticipate going to the viewing/reception on Monday. I made sure to call to let my parents know.

I quickly took a shower, as I was STILL in my PJs, and found my friend, Terry, waiting for me in the driveway after I had dressed. We went to dinner, but since I was still rather full from my lunch (after not eating much for the past several weeks being sick, I can’t eat too much), I ordered a small side salad and a sundae (and only ate about 1/4 of the sundae, to my disappointment).

We then went to the AMC Star John R movie theaters and watched Flight with Denzel Washington. It wasn’t quite the movie that I anticipated it to be, but still very well done! It focused more on the pilot than the flight. It was a more sober movie than yesterday’s but it gave me a lot to think about and I was glad to have seen it.

Here’s the trailer for this movie:

I know. So far it seems like my vacation is all movies! 🙂 But that’s not a bad thing, is it? 🙂

I’m ready to see what Day 2 will bring! 🙂

Vacation 2012: Day 0

Hotel Transylvania

Friday. My last day of work before vacation! It went by sooooo slooooooowly. Brutal.

But finally 5 pm came and I was FREE!!!

I was getting low on gas, but gas in Ann Arbor is more expensive than gas in Plymouth, figure that. I stopped by church on the way and called a friend. See, I have an it to LEAVE TOWN! It’s practically a moral imperative. I spent the better part of the day looking for air fare online to see where I could go. Nothing seemed particularly affordable — I guess that’s what you get when you try to book last minute.

Anyway, a trip out of state is planned and mayhem will commence shortly! Keep watching! 🙂 Maybe I’ll even manage to surprise you!

After planning, I spent some time in the church, before heading over to the movie theater in Canton to watch Hotel Transylvania. It was so cute! I have to remember to buy a copy when it comes out on DVD. 🙂

Here’s the trailer. If you haven’t seen it yet, you totally should! 🙂 ❤

After the movie, it was late, but I hadn’t eaten yet. I went through the drive-thru of a fast-food place. The guy taking money at the window recognized my credit card and said the he had been in the Navy, also, as a corpsman. 🙂 Made my evening. It’s probably one of the few situations where someone can call me ma’am and I won’t get upset….

Wednesday Musing

God’s most precious gift He could give us is the gift of His only Son, right?

I get that parents usually love their children more than themselves and therefore the gift of an only child would be a greater gift than if you sacrificed yourself for another person.

But on the other hand, it can seem a bit … external.

Good thing for us there is no dichotomy here. Because Jesus *is* God. As the Word of God, He is the incarnate reality of God the Father’s perfect self-image. So, in a way, you can think of it as God — in giving His only Son — is giving everything that He is, holding nothing back. A complete gift of self. To us.

He’s giving us all that He is and all that He holds dear. There is nothing else that could be given above this. And He lays it all before us, and waits to see what our response will be.

I’d Forgotten How Much I Hate This

I have been spoiled rotten.

I haven’t had a “regular” illness in over 4 years. For serious. No cold or flu or anything like that. This started in fall of 2008, when my godmother was in the last months of her battle with lung cancer. I begged God to keep me healthy and non-contagious, so that I’d be able to be with her as much as I can. I guess prayer really works!

On Tuesday after I taught catechism, my voice was a little scratchy. I chalked it up to “yelling” at the kids to keep the volume down. However, by Wednesday morning, it was clear that I was getting a case of laryngitis — and it HURT! Add to this the fact that I work in a call center currently and have to talk on the phone all day. Ouch! I went up to my boss, so she could see how bad I was getting, but she had no sympathy at all and just shrugged and said that she got that all the time. She’s one of those who looks at you like “Seriously?” if you try to say you’re sick, and I’m one of those who will continue working until someone sends me home, so I suffered through the workday.

Thursday, I was feeling worse. My throat was very painful and I was squeaking like crazy. By 3 pm, I had had enough. The patients calling in couldn’t understand me and I was sure that they were deathly afraid of catching my germs over the telephone lines. I asked a coworker to call my PCP’s office to see if I could be seen. They had an appointment in 20 minutes, across town — across downtown Ann Arbor. I asked my boss if I could leave and got permission to go. I called the doctor’s office on the way to my car and took that 3:20 spot. I could be up to 20 minutes late. I got there at 3:30 pm.

When I saw my PCP, I only had symptoms of laryngitis, although my left ear was starting to close up — always a sign of worse impending sickness. But I truly didn’t feel bad otherwise. My doctor wrote me a note to allow me to be off work on Friday, since resting my voice would help me to get it back faster.

Over the weekend, I got a lot sicker. It became a full-on cold and a pretty nasty one at that. I don’t really recall the weekend that much, except that I spent most of it in bed and didn’t make it to Mass on Sunday. You might be thinking that a cold, while uncomfortable isn’t really a big deal, and this is normally true. However, because of my other health issues, it causes problems. My doctors have told me before that I’m not allowed to get sick again, and here I am, doing what I shouldn’t! Typical. 🙂 So while I normally get short of breath, this was exacerbated and I could only take small “sips” of air at a time. This also caused me to get tachycardic quite a bit.

Since my doctor’s note only covered for Friday, I went back to work on Monday. And Tuesday. And since my boss was out the rest of the week, I felt obligated to come in. And I was miserable and resentful the whole time. Each day, I could manage for a few hours, but the last 6 hours were pure torture. I got a runny nose and used so many of our cheap Kleenex that my nose became chapped and raw. Once that subsided, I developed horrible coughing. I thought I was going to rupture something and my throat again became very swollen and painful, until I didn’t want to eat or drink anything.

I was doing a pretty bad job of eating and drinking in general, although I tried. My house was getting dirtier and all of my dishes were in the sink and I was so upset that I didn’t have help. When you are sick, you realize some things about your character. Turns out, when I’m sick I get whiny (thankfully, usually only in my head) and cranky (again, usually I can keep my comments to myself) and want attention.

[Here I am, finally editing this post to publish, and I am sick again! Ugh! This sucks! But hopefully I won’t get as sick as I did here in November (it’s April 2013 now). I ended up in the ER for dehydration – is how this tale ends. I know that eventually I will get better, just as I eventually recovered from this, but the living through it is difficult. Working while sick is pretty miserable too! My sympathies and prayers to all those out there who are also sick.]