Archive for February, 2015

How Do We Keep Love Fresh???

Posted: February 27, 2015 in World On The Edge

falling_in_love-t2

Love is the greatest virtue. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.–Colossians 3:14

Too often, we get down on ourselves and those we profess to love. We feel less than we are, and treat them less than we should. We may even get tired of our everyday lives—always so much of the same thing, we can’t even call it love.

And so, we long for something different, something more alive, fresh, and vibrant. But how do we go about finding or creating this kind of love in our lives?

The answer to that question lies in the answer to this one: What is love, really? What should we expect from it?

Love is not a fairy tale–don’t we all know that! Yet, it truly is meant to bring delight. It is a story that’s meant to have something like a prince and princess; a knight who would die for his lady if he had to, and vice versa.

Our Love is meant to change the other person in such a way that they are better than they would have been without us. If it doesn’t do this, if it makes the other worse, we ought to question what sort of relationship we actually have–because it’s probably not love.

Love’s expression is tied with the virtue of kindness. In our own love story, are we kind to the other person? Many times we’re much kinder to strangers than those we say we love. Is this because we take their love for granted? Taking someone for granted is another way to ruin a relationship.

You may be surprised to hear that love and suffering go together. When we truly love another person we can expect to suffer. That’s because people are fallible and can hurt us, yet true love continues to love.

Love means to love that which is unlovable; or it is no virtue at all.–G.K. Chesterton

 

When Do We Draw The Line????

Posted: February 26, 2015 in World On The Edge

diceIn some situations, things are said by another that might bother us, or even go against our deep beliefs, but we let them go, and keep our thoughts to ourselves. Is it because we’d rather not create a fight, or do we just plain lack the courage to address an issue out loud?

There times when we ought to have courage enough to draw the line on what we know is wrong. Times when we just have to say, “Whoa–I can’t go for that!”

Courage, or fortitude, is another of the virtues. It takes courage to stand up for what you believe in. It takes courage to face the ridicule of others. It takes courage not to hide within the skirts of the crowd, but to put yourself on center stage if that is needed. BUT..it does not take much courage when one’s only intention is to simply be obnoxious.

Today I need to draw the line, and ask a question.

As many of you know, I’m a Catholic, but this blog is not intended only for Catholics. It is intended to address God’s children from any religion. And since, I have many wonderfully faith-filled Protestant friends and family, as well as followers of this blog, I joined a social media site for Catholics and Protestants, a group with the purpose of—well, I don’t know what it’s purpose really is, although I did ask the question after I saw what was going on. But I got no answer because the participants were just too busy snipping at each other like unruly second graders. Several participants in the conversation were so full of venom for the other’s religion that I was really amazed.

And I ask why? Why now? Why in a time when people of faith need to bond–and when we have so much in common–do some delight in maligning the other’s faith (which is never going to change anyhow) with the same old hard-shelled, antique arguments. Why? Why? Why–when we have the capability to accomplish miracles together as a unified people of God.

Why Be Patient???

Posted: February 25, 2015 in World On The Edge

patientTHE ACQUIRED VIRTUE OF PATIENCE

The word “patience” is derived from the Latin word pati, which means to suffer, to endure, to bear. Already that tells us much about the nature, meaning and necessity of the virtue of patience.

Patience helps us encounter frustrations, disappointments, contradictions, privations, sickness, hardships, etc. (all of which cause pain) without losing serenity, without becoming irritated or despondent. It helps us not to be upset by trivial incidents however unpleasant in our daily lives and thus not lose peace of soul. And no doubt, it is a virtue that everyone is called upon to exercise frequently.

“If we reflect upon the number of times each day that we are confronted with situations, persons and things that displease us and make us sad, we can see how often patience is needed …. It is important because it prepares the way for the practice of all the other virtues. Virtuous action is usually difficult and likely to cause sorrow on the sense level. Patience, by moderating the emotion of sorrow, removes one of the serious obstacles to the practice of the other virtues. All virtues owe something to patience, and no one can long follow the path of virtue without it.” (The Christian Life, Francis Cunningham, O.P., p.697)

Patience is the ability to keep control over the impulse that rises suddenly when something disagreeable happens. It is not just disregard of or indifference to life’s daily irritations or upsetting incidents, but a real control of self, of one’s feelings and impulses. On the contrary, impatience is the lack of self-control, and leads to other and greater faults. It can easily grow into anger, irritability, harsh words, unpleasantness towards others, etc. Many a serious quarrel starts with impatience over little annoyances or inconveniences. Fr. Walter Farrell, O.P. gives the reason for this:

“Patience is one of the humble, workaday virtues; but it is, in a real sense, the root and guardian of all virtues, not causing them, but removing obstacles to their operation. Do away with patience and the gates are open for a flood of discontent and sin.” (Comp. to Summa, III, 394)

Patience is an important virtue, and much needed in daily life, but it is not an easy virtue. After all, it’s often hard to keep watchfulness over our emotions and impulses. Patience is acquired by slow continual repetition of patient control – in spite of many failures. But it’s greatest value is that a patient person is a person at peace, and not at the mercy of every chance happening.

–From Theology for the Laity, by Father Paul A. Duffner, O.P.

Maryhill_Museum_Romanian_crown_7-11 (1)We don’t often think of our leaders, or others who hold power, as being humble—because, frankly, most of them are not. Instead, they seem to constantly be pointing to the crowns on their heads.

But when offered a ride in limo after becoming Pope, Associated Press reports that Pope Francis replied, “I’ll just go with the guys on the bus.”

That’s another of the seven virtues. It’s called Humility. A big, big word–not easy to accomplish.

When we talk about being humble, many people picture sort of a slumped and wimpy individual with eyes and head down. But that isn’t humility.

Humility is a virtue, in contrast to narcissism, hubris and other forms of pride. And it is often the most disregarded teaching–indeed, commandment– of Jesus, because it’s so hard to let go of an over abundance of “love of self.”

I remember a song from many years ago–a fun song my girl friends and I loved to parody. It began: “Oh Lord, it’s hard to be humble, when you’re perfect in every way!”

Of course, we knew we weren’t perfect, but maybe that’s why we tried to act a if we were. Because of an immature pride, we wanted everyone to perceive us as more, as better, as greater than we were. We did not realize that real greatness is always found in the service of others, rather than the service of ourselves.

C.S. Lewis writes, in Mere Christianity, that pride is the “anti-god” state, the position in which the ego and the self is directly opposed to God: “Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.”

In contrast, Lewis states that, in Christian moral teaching, the opposite of pride is humility and, in his famous phrase, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”

How much more could we become in our short lives on Earth if we thought less of ourselves—less about how we look, about what others think of us, about how we can best a situation to our own advantage? Just think of the serious stress that we could remove from our everyday worry about Me. Me. Me. And the serious joy we could receive through a genuine concern about You. You. You.

I think our own image when we look in the mirror would be greatly enhanced.

After all, we may look great in our skin-tight jeans, with our perfect hair, and money in our pocket—but I don’t think that’s the ticket to eternal life. Do you?

How Much is Enough????

Posted: February 23, 2015 in World On The Edge

The_Hunter_and_the_WolfHow much do we really need? How much food, drink, drugs?

How big a house, or car? How much power?

How much flattery? How much time for ‘just us?’

When we consider only ourselves, often no amount is too much.

So here’s another virtue to consider–Temperance.

Temperance is, in short, moderation. Moderation not only in eating and drinking, but in our other habits–in fact in everything we do as human beings.

A Fable from Aesop tells about what can happens when we are greedy for too much.

A GREEDY HUNTER one day shot a fine Deer, and ere he could dress it, a pretty Fawn came that way, and an arrow brought it to the ground. A Boar now chanced to be passing, and the Hunter wounded it so that it lay on the ground as if dead. Not satisfied with this game, he must need pursue a Partridge that came fluttering near, and while he was doing so the wounded Boar regained enough strength to spring upon him and kill him. A Wolf came that way, and seeing the four dead bodies, said: “Here is food for a month; but I will save the best, and be content today with the bow-string. But when he seized the string, it loosened the fixed arrow, which shot him through the heart.”

Moral: The greedy man and the miser cannot enjoy their gains.

Today, one of the most obvious ways a person can lack temperance is through his/her own vanity.

So, how much is too much when we continue to stand in front of the mirror, obsessing over our looks??

wolf

Yesterday, the second day of Lent, we considered the seven virtues, those attributes that lead us toward being moral human beings. We also considered the seven deadly sins, those choices that allow us to act without morality.

But what is Morality? Most dictionaries define it as principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong, or good and bad, behavior.

Today, there are many who don’t give a thought to the morality of a situation. And if they do, the word is twisted with statements such as: “Your morality is not my morality.” Or “Don’t impose your morality on me!”

Every human being has within him or her a set of morals, good or evil, to handle the inevitable problems that come with being a person upon on this earth. And that set of morals is expressed in both individual and universal ways.

Individually, do we pose a threat of danger to others? For example, as parents are we showing morality or immorality through our personal actions? Are we greedy, vindictive, angry, selfish? Because children will imitate, no doubt about that!

Are we moral in our dealings with others–spouses, friends co-workers? Do we lie to them, cheat them, or steal from them?

Are we personally moral to ourselves–do we overindulge in our habits or addictions to the point of ruining our health, messing up our minds?

We can decide to follow the path of Morality or Immorality. We have free will. We can choose evil or good.

Our personal choices will affect our actions in more universal ways, too; for example in a group, a school, an institution, a governing council–anywhere group decisions are made. In this capacity, does our group profess, teach, and insist upon destroying the beliefs of other groups as the means to our own ends?

Today, We NEED universal morality more than ever. By that, I mean discriminating between those things which are inherently good or inherently evil. From the ancient Platonist and Stoics until today, long traditions and great thinkers have moral universalism., of what is good and what is bad. Take as an example, The United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Of course, it hasn’t worked very well! But isn’t that a kind of moral universalism? The morality is that every human being has certain rights. The immorality is when those rights are destroyed. So there is, in humanity, a universal morality.

And Universal Morality must be put into action when a country, or terrorist group with the desire, is able to kill vast numbers of people at a time. The only hope for humanity is a moral system that makes it immoral to hurt other people.

But actually, all this begins with each individual’s daily human choices, those that become habit within us, those that affect others. So–which set of choices are we feeding?

Seven Deadly sinsHave you heard of the Seven Deadly Sins? Not the movie, although it was a good depiction of all seven. But the deadly capability of each of the seven deadly sins exists in each of us. And even the movie’s advertising agrees. In listing the seven sins, it pronounces: Seven Ways to Die.

Sometimes called Cardinal Sins, the Seven are: Lust, Gluttony, Avarice, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, and Pride. They are the evil in humanity.

Each of us has the capability to commit these sins, but not all of us do. What keeps us from doing so?

Well, there are the Seven Cardinal Virtues. Chastity, Temperance, Charity, Diligence, Patience, Kindness, Humility. And they are the goodness in humanity. So let’s concentrate on the Cardinal Virtues, rather than the Cardinal Sins. The positive, not the negative in our human nature.

And let’s start with Chastity. It’s opposite is Lust.

Just mention the words, human virtues, and see what reaction comes from it. You’ll probably figure out that some people resent the virtues. Instead of using them as inspiration to live a better life, they try to destroy the moral standard of a virtue in the eyes of others.

The Catholic Education Resource Center says that Chastity is probably the most resented virtue. Chastity is no longer seen as something good, something noble, something we should all pursue. Just the opposite: Chastity is now often portrayed as something evil something harmful for human persons! Some argue that chastity is harmful to the psychological well-being of young men and women, because sexual desire is natural, so it’s ‘unnatural’ to restrict it in any way–i.e. No restrictions.

Today, our very culture seems to resent chastity. We see the resentment in many college classrooms, in many “sex ed” programs, and especially in the media. For example, when a Hollywood film or prime time sitcom portrays romantic relationships, how often is chastity held up as a moral ideal? How often is chastity presented as something good, something that makes us happy, something that heroes intentionally make a priority in their lives?– Catholic Education Resource Center

Instead, we get the opposite. How deceiving!

“The greatest deception in modern times has to be the illusion that lust is love, therefore to balance the equation love must be lust. It is becoming clearer day-by-day that, on one hand the world needs an injection of the energy of real love, respect, and understanding, and on the other hand – lust – the kind that not only violates others, but destroys the innocent lives of children and adults, is now prevalent everywhere at every level of society. Lust is the ‘sweet’ deception, that very same tool that is used to sell us everything from clothes, to cars and even lifestyles. When are we going to wake up from this illusion?”–Confluence Media, ‘It’s Time’ by Aruna Ladva, BK Publications London