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301. Flirting

(I Will Preserve Discretion)

Such foolish attachments between man and woman without any matrimonial intentions as are called amourettes,--mere abortions, or rather phantoms of friendship, --must not, idle and empty as they are, profane the name of friendship or love. Yet such frivolous, contemptible attractions often snare the hearts of both men and women, and although they may end in downright sin, there is no such intention on the part of their victims, who consciously do but yield to foolish trifling and toying. Some such have no object beyond the actual indulgence of a passing inclination; others are excited by vanity, which takes pleasure in captivating hearts; some are stimulated by a combination of both these motives. But all such friendships are evil, hollow and vain....

--St. Francis de Salle, Introduction to the Devout Life, CCEL

Proverbs 5:1-14

Flirting is a form of temptation and is not harmless. It can cause jealousy and hurt in a marriage. It is a learned behavior. Children watch their parents or older siblings and pick up on this manipulative kind of behavior.

Would I like my children to learn how to flirt? Would it bother me if my spouse was flirtatious?

302. Understanding and Faith

(Faith Has Overcome The World)

Exhortation of the mind to the contemplation of God. It casts aside cares, and excludes all thoughts save that of God, that it may seek Him. Man was created to see God. Man by sin lost the blessedness for which he was made, and found the misery for which he was not made. He did not keep this good when he could keep it easily. Without God it is ill with us. Our labors and attempts are in vain without God. Man cannot seek God, unless God himself teaches him; nor find him, unless he reveals himself. God created man in his image, that he might be mindful of him, think of him, and love him. The believer does not seek to understand, that he may believe, but he believes that he may understand: for unless he believed he would not understand.

--St. Anselm, Homo, CCEL

1 John 5:1-11

Faith is the window that opens my eyes to the spiritual world. Without faith, I can no more perceive the Kingdom of God than I can perceive radio waves without a radio. If I interpret my faith through the eyes of the world, I am disillusioned and depressed. If I interpret the world through the eyes of faith, I can see how far man has fallen and thank God for sending His Son to bring healing and heart rest.

Is my spiritual receiver on and tuned in?

303. Heresy

(I Will Beware Of False Teachers)

Inasmuch as certain men have set the truth aside, and bring in lying words and vain genealogies, which, as the apostle says, "minister questions rather than godly edifying which is in faith," and by means of their craftily-constructed plausibilities draw away the minds of the inexperienced and take them captive, [I have felt constrained, my dear friend, to compose the following treatise in order to expose and counteract their machinations.] These men falsify the oracles of God, and prove themselves evil interpreters of the good word of revelation. They also overthrow the faith of many, by drawing them away, under a pretense of [superior] knowledge, from Him who founded and adorned the universe; as if, forsooth, they had something more excellent and sublime to reveal, than that God who created the heaven and the earth, and all things that are therein. By means of specious and plausible words , they cunningly allure the simple-minded to inquire into their system; but they nevertheless clumsily destroy them, while they initiate them into their blasphemous and impious opinions....

--St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book 1, CCEL

2 Peter 2:1-3

While both Sts. Peter and Ireneaus were referring to a Gnosticism which was prevalent during the first Christian centuries, heresy essentially refers to the acceptance of only one side of a paradox. For example, accepting that Jesus was God but was not really a man (or vice versa) or claiming that the spiritual is good but the material, which God created, is bad. If I am a heretic in any way, it is probably in that I find it difficult to believe that God will really judge and condemn a person for not specifically believing that Jesus is Lord. This paradox is essentially that God is loving but will not ultimately demand justice.

Are there doctrines that I have an especially difficult time accepting? Is the reason self-serving?

304. Soul Mates

(A Loyal Friend Is Beyond Price)

Do you, my child, love everyone with the pure love of charity, but have no friendship save with those whose intercourse is good and true, and the purer the bond which unites you so much higher will your friendship be. If your intercourse is based on science it is praiseworthy, still more if it arises from a participation in goodness, prudence, justice and the like; but if the bond of your mutual liking be charity, devotion and Christian perfection, God knows how very precious a friendship it is! Precious because it comes from God, because it tends to God, because God is the link that binds you, because it will last for ever in Him. Truly it is a blessed thing to love on earth as we hope to love in Heaven, and to begin that friendship here which is to endure for ever there. I am not now speaking of simple charity, a love due to all mankind, but of that spiritual friendship which binds souls together, leading them to share devotions and spiritual interests, also as to have but one mind between them.

--St. Francis de Salle, Introduction to the Devout Life, CCEL

Sirrah 6:5-17

The old adage that "birds of a feather flock together" is mostly true. In general, I will only make close friendships with those who are quite similar to me in likes, dislikes, attitudes and behaviors (whether these are good or bad). There are two situations, however, when this will not be true. If I recognize that I need to learn something, say some virtue, I will stay close to those who have that quality which I would like to emulate. If I am strong in my convictions and truly believe that God is asking me to do so, I will associate with those that are quite dissimilar from me so that they may learn by my example. In this case I must be sure that God is asking me to do this because I will very likely be opening myself up to harassment and ridicule. In general, I want to be friends with those who can teach me the most about myself and the spiritual life.

What manner of friendships do I have?

305. Soul As A Feather

(I Will Live In The Truth)

The nature of the soul is not inaptly compared to a very fine feather or very light wing, which, if it has not been damaged or affected by being spoilt by any moisture falling on it from without , is borne aloft almost naturally to the heights of heaven by the lightness of its nature, and the aid of the slightest breath: but if it is weighted by any moisture falling upon it and penetrating into it, it will not only not be carried away by its natural lightness into any aerial flights but will actually be borne down to the depths of earth by the weight of the moisture it has received. So also our soul, if it is not weighted with faults that touch it, and the cares of this world, or damaged by the moisture of injurious lusts, will be raised as it were by the natural blessing of its own purity and borne aloft to the heights by the light breath of spiritual meditation; and leaving things low and earthly will be transported to those that are heavenly and invisible.

--Abbot Isaac, Conferences of John Cassain, CCEL

3 John:2-4

The soul does not need anything added to it to be complete. It needs, however, to subtract the faults, cares and desires it has picked up over time. The soul flourishes in the warm sun of Truth and withers when steeped in the mire of the ego. If the soul is not burdened with the world, it naturally rises to God.

In what ways can I unburden my soul?

306. Socializing Vs. Solitude

(I Will Seek Conversation With The Upright)

Either to seek or to shun society is a fault in one striving to lead a devout life in the world, such as I am now speaking of. To shun society implies indifference and contempt for one's neighbors; and to seek it savors of idleness and uselessness. We are told to love one's neighbor as one's self. In token that we love him , we must not avoid being with him, and the test of loving one's self is to be happy when alone. "Think first on thyself," says St. Bernard, "and then on other men." So that if nothing obliges you to mix in society either at home or abroad, retire within yourself, and hold converse with your own heart. But if friends come to you, or there is fitting cause for you to go forth into society, th en by all means go, and meet your neighbor with a kindly glace and a kindly heart.

--St. Francis de Salle, Introduction to the Devout Life, CCEL

Sirrah 9:10-18

Before I went into "Recovery" thirteen years ago, I had a difficult time "conversing with my own heart". I was always agitated and my mind was always churning. Being alone was painful. Since then, I've learned to enjoy my own company and I am generally not afraid to look within myself. There are times when I feel called to be involved in society through volunteer activities and by helping others with their problems. At other times, like the last two years, I feel called to more introverted activity (such as writing this book). I suspect that this period will be followed by a more extroverted one. God must provide the impetus otherwise my "helping" will be co-dependent and my "self-reflection" will become avoidance.

Is their a balance of inner and outer activity in my life?

307. Confessing Self-Truth

(I Will Confess My Sins)

...If thou has confessed thyself a sinner, the truth is in thee: for the Truth itself is light. Thy life hath not yet shone in perfect brightness, because there are sins in thee, but yet thou hast already begun to be enlightened, because there is in thee the confession of sins.... Before all, then, confession; then, love... ...Now let us see whether he commendeth charity in regard of the sins which subsequently overtake us: because charity alone extinguisheth sins. Pride extinguisheth charity: therefore humility strengtheneth charity; charity extinguisheth sins. Humility goes along with confession, the humility by which we confess ourselves sinners: this is humility, not to say it with the tongue, as if only to avoid arrogancy, lest we should displease men if we should say that we are righteous. This do the ungodly and insane.

--BSt. Augustine, Homily 1, CCEL

James 5:16-18

While I have no problem confessing myself a sinner, it has been about three years since I last went to Confession. There are at least three reasons why this is so. Part of it is a distaste for "sin counting" since such a tendency became obsessive with me when I was a child. In addition, while I believe that my sins are relatively minor, some are very bothersome to me because I believe that exterior circumstances seem to have forced me to sin even though I know that this is probably not totally true. Finally, many of my sins are attitudinal and not very specific. While I haven=t received sacramental Confession in a long time, I do confess my shortcomings in the manner of the 12-Step programs. I admit to God, myself and another human being the exact nature of my wrongs. I become ready to have God remove these characteristics. I ask Him to help me remove my shortcomings. While none of this justifies not going to Confession, it at least explains it. May God help me to change so that I can go to Confession more often.

What are my reasons for not going to Confession? How self-serving are these reasons?

308. Speak Of God With Passion!

(I Will Be Sincere And Ernest)

Physicians judge to a great extent as to the health or disease of a man by the state of his tongue, and our words are a true test of the state of our soul....We are apt to apply the hand quickly to the place where we feel pain, and so too the tongue is quick to point out what we love. If you love God heartily, my child, you will often speak of Him among your relations, household and familiar friends...Take care, then, never to speak of God, or those things which concern Him, in a merely formal, conventional manner; but with earnestness and devotion, avoiding the affected way in which some professedly religious people are perpetually interlarding their conversation with pious words and sayings, after a most unseasonable and unthinking manner. Too often they imagine that they really are themselves as pious as their words, which probably is not the case.

-St. Francis de Salle, Introduction to the Devout Life, CCEL

Titus 2:1-6

I hate to admit it but I sometimes fancy myself as a self-styled theologian and talk big words without necessarily being emotionally attached to them. At these times I am not talking about God from my heart but only from my head.. God becomes an academia exercise. My academic words will never win souls for Christ unless they are also heart felt and reflect the way I truly believe and behave.

When I talk about God, are my heart and head involved or do I just mouth dogma and jargon?

309. Light And Self-Knowledge

(I Will Recognize God=s Will)

How much God is distant from the creature, how much the Maker from the making, how much Wisdom from that which is made by Wisdom, far beyond all things must this light needs be. And haply we shall be near to it, if we get to know what this light is, and apply ourselves unto it, that be it we may be enlightened; because in ourselves we are darkness, and only when enlightened by it can we become light, and not be put to confusion by it, being put to confusion by ourselves. Who is he that is put to confusion y himself He that knows himself to be a sinner. Who is he that by it is not put to confusion? He who by it is enlightened. What is it to be enlightened by it? He that now sees himself to be darkened by sins, and desires to be enlightened by it, draws near to it....But thou shall not be shamed by it, if, when it shall show thee to thyself that thou are foul, thine own foulness shall displease thee, that thou mayest perceive its beauty. This is that He would teach.

--St. Augustine, Homily 1, CCEL

Ephesians 5:6-20

Whether or not my "self-knowledge" brings me to light is dependent on several decisions/actions that I make. The first is: Do I accept myself as an imperfect human being? If I don't, I choose to be blind to the truth. If I do, I can go on to the next question. Secondly: What is my attitude toward accepting myself as a sinner? If I don't like myself I will criticize myself, wallow in guilt, and feel hopeless. Or I will say that this is the way I am and I can't change. If I love myself I will humbly accept the truth about myself and have a desire to change. Finally: What actions will I take to change? If I don't love myself, my behavior will not change as I will be stuck in the pattern of sin-guilt-sin. Despair will increase. If I do love myself, I will know that while I cannot change without God's help, I must become ready to change and ask God to help change me. Ultimately, the light will burn away my darkness only if I cooperate with God's grace. This cooperation is my part.

What is my attitude toward my imperfections?

310. The Love Of God

(Jesus Is Praying For And Watching Over Me)

God is love, and all his operations proceed from love. Once he wills to manifest that goodness by sharing his love outside himself, then the Incarnation becomes the supreme manifestation of his goodness and love and glory. So, Christ was intended before all other creatures and for his own sake. For him all things were created and to him all things must be subject, and God loves all creatures in and because of Christ. Christ is the first-born of every creature, and the whole of humanity as well as the created world finds its foundation and meaning in him. Moreover, this would have been the case even if Adam had not sinned.

--St. Lawrence of Brindisi, SOTD

John 21: 15-19 John 17:6-19

"Mark, do you love me?" The words of Jesus to Peter could just as appropriately have been said to me. While Peter denied Jesus three times, my behavior has denied Him many times that (seventy times seven times?). While Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him, He asks me that question every day.

If my behavior is more important than my words, how do I answer this question?

311. God Is My Supervisor

(God Occupies My Heart With Joy)

Discharge the official duties to which you are severally appointed with the utmost fear of God and affection to your prince, and perfect carefulness. Consider that every command of the emperor which does not offend God has proceeded from God Himself; and execute it in love as well as in fear, and with all cheerfulness. For there is nothing which so well refreshes a man who is wearied out with weighty cares as the seasonable cheerfulness and benign patience of an intimate servant...

--Bishop Theonas, Bishop of Alexandria, Epistle to Lucianus, CCEL

Ephesians 5: 17-19

Each work day I ask God to be my supervisor. When I am not fully occupied with my work, I try to do other, non-trivial things which use my talents potentially for the glory of God. This may be doing homework for a social work class, it may be writing a meditation for this book, it may be listening to a co-worker who has the need to talk about their troubles. As it says in Eclesiastees, God occupies with joy those that are blessed.

In what ways can I let God be my supervisor?

312. Blaspheming The Holy Spirit

(The Spirit Is Holy)

He who has offended against the first term and the second, ay be judged to deserve smaller punishment; but he who has also despised the third can no longer find pardon. For by the first term and the second, he says, is meant the teaching concerning the Father and the Son; but by the third is meant the doctrine committed to us with respect to the perfection and the partaking of the Spirit. And with the view of confirming this, he adduces the word spoken by the Savior to the Disciples: "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. But when the Holy Spirit is come, He will teach you...As the Savior converses with those not yet able to receive what is perfect, condescending to their littleness, while the Holy Spirit communes with the perfected, and yet we could never say on that account that the teaching of the Spirit is superior to the teaching of the Son, but only that the Son condescends to the imperfect , while the Spirit is the seal of the perfected; even so it is not on account of the superiority of the Spirit over the Son that the blasphemy against the Spirit is a sin excluding impunity and pardon, but because for the imperfect there is pardon, while for those who have tasted the heavenly gift, and been made perfect, there remains no plea or prayer for pardon.

--Theognostus, Seven Books of Hypotyposes or Outlines, CCEL

Mark 2:28-30

These verses of Scripture have always troubled me. A sin that is unforgivable? As I understand it, this refers to a Spirit-filled person who decides to turn his/her back on the Spirit to such an extent that he/she attributes to the evil one the characteristics of God. The sin is unforgivable in that the person does not seek or want forgiveness. They have tasted the heavenly gifts and have consciously rejected them. God, of course, would forgive them if they repented.

Do I have sins or flaws for which I refuse to repent or wish to be healed from?

313. Secular Knowledge and Culture

(All Truth Is From God)

If, therefore, it should happen that a believer in Christ is called to this same office (librarian of the Emperor), he should not despise that secular literature and those Gentile intellects which please the emperor. To be praised are the poets for the greatness of their genius, the acuteness of their inventions, the aptness and lofty eloquence of their style. To be praised are the orators; to be praised also are the philosophers in their own class. To be praised, too, are the historians, who unfold to us the order of exploits, and the manners and the institutions of our ancestors, and show us the rule of life from the proceedings of the ancients.

--Bishop Theonas, Bishop of Alexandria, Epistle to Lucianus, CCEL

Acts 19: 11-20

Truth is one and I should acknowledge the truth in any source whether it be sacred or profane, scientific or fiction, prose or poetry. I can marvel and learn from the beauty, wisdom, eloquence, style, etc. of any source. God can use any source to get a message across whether it be a billboard or the message on a passing truck. If I have "eyes to see" and "ears to hear", the message will be there. None of this implies that I should accept what is false whether it be from a government official or a trendy movie.

How do I distinguish the kernel of truth from the chaff of falsehood?

314. Role of the Congregation

(I will Serve As Led By The Spirit)

Demetrius has added to his letter that this is a matter that was never heard of before, and has never been done now, -namely, that laymen should take part in public speaking , when there are bishops present. But in this assertion he has departed evidently far from the truth by some means. For, indeed, wherever there are found persons capable of profiling the brethren, such persons are exhorted by the holy bishops to address the people.

-Alexander of Cappadocia, Epistle to the people of Antioch, CCEL

Acts 6: 1-7

The abilities of the laity, the congregation of believers, have often been overlooked in favor of the professional clergy. One can see from the readings from Acts and from the third century that the abilities and gifts of the parishioners were always to be used for the common good of the Church.

In what ways can I use my God given gifts for the benefit of my Church and community?

315. Christian Hope

(The Lord's Plans Are Full Of Hope)

Bishop Theonas to Lucianus, the Chief Chamberlain of Our Most Invincible Emperor. I give thanks to Almighty God and our Lord Jesus Christ, who has not given over the manifesting of His faith throughout the whole world, as the sole specific for our salvation, and the extending of it even in the course of the persecutions of despots. Yea, like gold reduced in the furnace, it has only been made to shine the more under the storms of persecution, and its truth and grandeur have only become always the more and more illustrious, so that now, peace being granted to the churches by our gracious prince, the works of Christians are shining even in sight of the unbelieving, and God your Father, who is in heaven, is glorified thereby; a thing which, if we desire to be Christians in deed rather than in word, we ought to seek and aspire after as our first object on account of our salvation. For if we seek our own glory, we set our desire upon a vain and perishing object, and one which leads ourselves on to death. But the glory of the Father and of the Son, who for our salvation was nailed to the cross, makes us safe for the everlasting redemption; and that is the greatest hope of Christians.

--Bishop Theonas, Bishop of Alexandria, Epistle to Lucianus, CCEL

Jeremiah 29: 11-14a

"I know what plans I have in mind for you, plans for give you a future and a hope." When I read these words of God spoken through Jeremiah, I believe that he is talking about the future redemption of Israel and mankind through Jesus. This is something that Jeremiah could never have fully understood, much less the people of Israel. But Israel had faith and hope in God=s promise just as Christians do. Christians believe that God still has wonderful plans for us even though we may not fully understand what they may be. We only know that they will be good!

Do God's promises give me hope?

316. Communal Guilt

(God's Kindness Lasts 1000 Generations)

Covetousness is a great evil; and it is not possible in a single letter to set forth those scriptures in which not robbery alone is declared to be a thing horrible and to be abhorred, but in general the grasping mind, and the disposition to meddle with what belongs to others, in order to satisfy the sordid love of gain.....Wherefore it seemed good to excommunicate such persons, lest the wrath (of God) should come upon the whole people, and upon those first of all who are set over them in office, and yet fail to make inquiry. For I am afraid, as the Scripture says, lest the impious work the destruction of the righteous along with his own.....Behold, did not Achar the son of Zata transgress in the accursed thing, and trouble then lighted on all the congregation of Israel? And this one man was alone in his sin; but he was not alone in the death that came by his sin.

-Gregory Thaumaturgus, Canonical Epistle, CCEL

Exodus 24: 6-7 Joshua 7: 1-26

Both sin and salvation are partially communal. It is not that God punishes the innocent but that our lives (family, clan, community, world) are so increasingly intertwined that our actions have unintended consequences on others for good or ill. The reading from Exodus, however, makes a powerful point. Our acts of love carry more weight and affect more generations (1000) positively than our evil acts affect negatively (2 or 3).

In what ways have the "victimless" indiscretions I've been involved with have negative consequences when viewed in hindsight? Have any of my actions had unintended positive effects on others?

317. A Pure Will

(The Lord Is My Judge)

My child, often, when the fire is burning the flame does not ascend without smoke. Likewise, the desires of some burn toward heavenly things, and yet they are not free from temptations of carnal affection. Therefore, it is not altogether for the pure honor of God that they act when they petition Him so earnestly. Such, too, is often your desire which you profess to be so strong. For that which is alloyed with self-interest is not pure and perfect. Ask, therefore, not for what is pleasing and convenient to yourself, but for what is acceptable to Me and is for My honor, because if you judge rightly, you ought to prefer and follow My will, not your own desire or whatever things you wish.

-Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ, CCEL

1 Corinthians 4: 1-5

The only way that I can have a fully pure will is to be totally transformed into Christ. Until then, self-will will always play a part, although an increasingly minor role, in my decisions and actions. There are moments when I feel that I am tuned into god's will because the good I do brings me much joy and I recognize that I am being empowered to do something I would ordinarily not consider doing if my own will was in effect. These times come and go as the Spirit moves. My only role is to cooperate with God's grace at these times and pray that such times will increase in number and duration.

In what ways can I cooperate with God's grace? If I know that God's will brings me joy, why do I not strive to be attuned with it more often?

318. Avoiding Judgement

(I Will Judge Myself)

Of a truth, hasty judgements are most displeasing to God, and men's judgements are hasty, because we are not judges one of another, and by judging we ursup our Lord's own office. Man's judgement is hasty; because the chief malice of sin lies in the intention and counsel of the heart, which is shrouded in darkness to us. Moreover, man's judgements are hasty, because each one has enough to do in judging himself, without undertaking to judge his neighbor. If we would not be judged, it behoves us alike not to judge others, and to judge ourselves. Our Lord forbids the one, his Apostle enjoins the other....

--St. Francis de Salle, Introduction to the Devout Life, CCEL

Romans 7: 1-6

While it is best not to judge others from a spiritual perspective, in a society of this world it is unavoidable. "Judge not lest ye be judged" I can only judge others if I am willing to have my own motives and behaviors judged by God and man. True and just judgement, however, can only be accomplished by God since God knows both the deed and the motive behind the deed. He understands and can read the human heart. Human judgement can only judge be the action. It can never fully understand the mitigating circumstances of one's motives.

When I judge others, am I absolutely certain that my motives are both loving and just before I "cast the first stone"?

319. Nature vs. Grace

(God Probes The Mind And Tests The Heart)

My child, pay careful attention to the movements of nature and of grace, for they move in very contrary and subtle ways, and can scarcely be distinguished by anyone except a man who is spiritual and inwardly enlightened. All men, indeed, desire what is good, and strive for what is good in their words and deeds. For this reason the appearance of good deceives many...Nature is not willing to die, or to be kept down, or to be overcome. Nor will it subdue itself or be made subject. Grace, on the contrary, strives for mortification of self....Nature works for its own interest and looks to the profit it can reap from another. Grace does not consider what is useful and advantageous to herself, but rather what is profitable to many...Nature is covetous and receives more willingly than it gives. It loves to have its own private possessions. Grace, however, is kind and openhearted. Grace shuns private interest, is contented with little, and judges it more blessed to give than to receive....Nature does everything for its own gain and interest. It can do nothing without pay and hopes for its good deeds to receive their equal or better, or else praise and favor. It is very desirous of having its deeds and gifts highly regarded. Grace, however, seeks nothing temporal, nor does she ask any recompense but God alone...Nature turns all things back to self. Grace brings all things back to God in whom they have their source...

-Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ, CCEL

Jeremiah 17: 9-10

Lord, may You purify my motives. May You open my eyes to the reasons underlying my actions. May You purify my motives of self-will and selfishness. May You replace this egoism with the grace of Your presence so that my life may be full of grace. Finally, may You allow me to pass on Your grace to those around me for Your glory and my joy. Amen.

Do I truly want my motives to be purified of self-centeredness?

320. Re-Creation

(God Rested On The Seventh Day)

We must needs occasionally relax the mind, and the body requires some recreation also. Cassian relates how St. John the Evangelist was found by a certain hunter amusing himself by caressing a partridge, which sat upon his wrist. The hunter asked how a man of his mental powers could find time for so trifling an occupation. In reply, St. John asked why he did not always carry his bow strung? The man answered: Because, if always bent, the bow would lose its spring when really wanted. "Do not marvel then," the Apostle replied, "if I slacken my mental efforts from time to time, and recreate myself, in order to return more vigorously to contemplation." It is a great mistake to be so strict as to grudge any recreation either to others or one's self. Walking, harmless games, music, instrumental or vocal, field sports, etc., are such entirely lawful recreations that they need no rules beyond those of ordinary discretion, which keep everything within due limits of time, place, and degree. So again games of skill, which exercise and strengthen body or mind...

--St. Francis de Salle, Introduction to the Devout Life, CCEL

Genesis 2: 1-3

One of the big revelations in Scripture from Genesis to the Gospels is that God, as Father and as Son, rested as a part of the creative process. There are places in Scripture where personified Wisdom is pictured as playing before the Lord during Creation.

If we are created in God's image, recreation, literally re-creation, is a necessity to knowing and doing God's will as well as a way of resting the physical body.

In what ways do I recreate myself? Are these periods followed by new energy and creativity? (If they are not, perhaps I am not recreating.)

321. Awareness of Shortcomings

(I Must Account For My Behavior)

My confidence is placed in God who does not need our help for accomplishing his designs. Our single endeavor should be to give ourselves to the work and to be faithful to him, and not to spoil his work by our shortcomings.

--St. Isaac Jogues, Letter of 9/12/1646, SOTD

Ecclesiastes 11: 9-10

My shortcomings are always there. I mostly need to be aware of them, consciously recognize them for what they are and not act on them. Today, on my way to work, I found myself judging and being aggravated by many people who did nothing to deserve my reaction. When I recognized what was happening, I smiled, shook my head and said: AThere you go again Mark, judging others instead of judging yourself.@ The aggravated feeling then left me.

What shortcomings do I possess that prevent God's grace from working through me?

322. Religious Freedom

(The Church Will Be As A Bride Dressed For Her Husband)

In every country, even the poorest of women is permitted to take a lawful husband according to the law of the land and by her own choice; but, through the desire of evil practices of the wicked, Holy Church, the bride of God and mother of us all, is not permitted lawfully to cling to her spouse on earth in accordance with divine law and her own will.

--St. Gregory VII, A Call To The Faithful, SOTD

Revelations 21: 1-4

The Church of Christ is still persecuted in many countries just as it was in the first years of it's existence. This must be counteracted with love by Christians everywhere. A major way of counteracting this evil is to offer love and acceptance to those of other faiths. We should treat them with the love and respect that we want for ourselves.

Do I try to understand and respect those of other faiths?

323. I Am A Blessing

(My Body Is A Temple Of The Holy Spirit)

Go forth in peace, for you have followed the good road. Go forth without fear, for he who created you has made you holy, has always protected you, and loves you as a mother. Blessed be you, my God, for having created me.

-St. Clare, on her deathbed, SOTD

1 Corinthians 6: 19-20

God has created me uniquely and I am precious in His sight. I have been ransomed at a great price, the shedding of my Creator's blood. If I take this to heart, I will be able to be like St. Clare when I reach the end of my earthly road. I will be able to be joyfully ready to meet my Maker and I will thank God for having created me.

Do I believe that I am a unique blessing to those around me?

324. The Liturgy: Surpassing Sacred Action

(God Is Not A God Of Disorder But Of Peace)

Rightly, then, the liturgy is considered as an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ. In the liturgy the sanctification of man is manifested by signs perceptible to the senses...; in the liturgy, full public worship is performed by the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the Head and his members...From this it follows that every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ, the priest and of his Body the Church, is a sacred action, surpassing all others.

--St. Benedict, Constitution On The Sacred Liturgy 7, SOTD

1 Corinthians 14: 26-33a

The Mass is mystically performed by Jesus Himself as High Priest and Head of the Church. It is celebrated, thus, in conjunction with the congregation, a part of His Mystical Body. When Mass is celebrated , Jesus is fully present spiritually and physically. It is a shadow and prefiguration of the worship of God that is being celebrated in eternity.

Am I spiritually prepared to participate in this Heavenly celebration?

325. A Prisoner For Christ

(I Am Not Ashamed Of Those In Chains For Christ)

I greet you from Smyrna together with the Churches of God present here with me. They comfort me in every way, both in body and in soul. My chains, which I carry about on me for Jesus Christ, begging that I may happily make my way to God, exhort you persevere in your concord and in your community prayers.

--St. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Church at Tralles, SOTD

2 Timothy 1:15-18

While I do attend a weekly Bible study, occasionally pray at a ADay of Prayer@ gathering and am open to talk about my faith if asked my opinion, I generally draw the line there regarding expressing my faith at work. I tend to distance myself from the more militant Christians. I have a tendency to justify my distancing by calling them Alunatic fringe@, Athose who would kill for God@, or Athose who love to see others as damned@. They take an active stand on issues like abortion and have gotten into trouble at work for doing so. Many of them are Apeculiar@. All of this said, I somehow suspect that I am not totally correct or honest in this assessment. I suspect that my desire to Afit in@ has outweighed the need to Astand out@ on many issues. Christians are supposed to be a peculiar people.

Are my reasons for distancing myself from more militant Christians self-serving?

326. Cultivating Our Little Garden

(Blessed Are Those Who Seek God With All Of Their Heart)

We cultivate a very small field for Christ, but we love it, knowing that God does not require great achievements but a heart that holds back nothing for self....The truest crosses are those we do not choose ourselves...He who has Jesus has everything.

--St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, SOTD

Psalm 119:1-5 Isaiah 5:1-6

God can take my smallest efforts, bless them, and increase their impacts one-hundred fold or more like grain from a single kernel. God can take the small piece of Earth where I work and extend the goodness that He allows me to accomplish many times over, like a tree growing and spreading its branches. All God needs to do this is for me to have a heart that holds back nothing from Him. I must be willing to bloom where I am planted and become the type of plant I am meant to be.

Do I believe that God can take me as I am and where I am, and accomplish great things through me?

327. An Intimate Friendship

(I Will Be A Friend Of God)

Lord, you have granted me your secret friendship by opening the sacred ark of your divinity, your deified heart, to me in so many ways as to be the source of all my happiness; sometimes imparting it freely, sometimes as a special mark of our mutual friendship. You have so often melted my soul with your loving caresses that, if I did not know the abyss of your overflowing condescension, I should be amazed were I told that even your Blessed Mother had been chosen to receive such extraordinary marks of tenderness and affection.

-St. Gertrude, The Life And Revelations Of St. Gertrude, SOTD

Luke 1:1-4 James 2:18-23

God=s Friend. Abraham was called God=s friend because his deeds reflected his faith in what God, his Friend, promised. St. Luke=s Gospel is written to Theopholis, Greek for Afriend of God@, one who is searching for truth and hungering to see God=s saving activity in everyday life and history. St. Gertrude considers her friendship Asecret@ and Amutual@, almost a love affair, where extraordinary tendencies and caresses are freely given. This is due to God=s grace and her openness to receive it.

What level of friendship do I have with God? (acquaintance, buddy, best friend, soul-mate, lover...) Do I want to take this friendship to the next level? How do I do this?

328. The Friends Of Christ

(The Descendants Of The Saints Stand By The Commandments)

The saints must be honored as friends of Christ and children and heirs of God, as John the theologian and evangelist says: "But as many as received him, he gave them the power to be made the sons of God..."Let us carefully observe the manner of life of all the apostles, martyrs, ascetics and just men who announced the coming of the Lord. And let us emulate their faith, charity, hope, zeal, life, patience under suffering, and perseverance unto death, so that we may also share their crowns of glory.

-St. John Damascene, Exposition Of The Orthodox Faith, SOTD

Ecclesiasticus 44:16-45:6

It is not only the saints of old that I must emulate. I must also learn from the examples of the saints that I live and work with.

Who are those that I have personally known that have taught me how to live a life of virtue, holiness and selfless service?

329. The Spirit Of Scripture

(Jesus Has Sent His Angel To Attest To The Truth)

We Irish, living in the farthest parts of the earth, are followers of St. Peter and St. Paul and of the disciples who wrote down the sacred canon under the Holy Spirit. We accept nothing outside this evangelical and apostolic teaching....I confess I am grieved by the bad repute of the chair of St. Peter in this country....Though Rome is great and known afar, she is great and honored with us only because of this chair...Look after the peace of the Church, stand between your sheep and the wolves.

-St. Columban, SOTD

Revelations 22:16-21

St. Columban and John the Evangelist make a strong point: I=d best beware of departing from the teaching of Scripture. How then does the Holy Spirit, who teaches us over time the things which Jesus couldn=t impart to His Apostles, fit in with this dictum? Since the Aletter@ of Scripture has much to do with the style and personal characteristics of the individual writers, the Aspirit@ of the teaching must be that of Scripture in general and Jesus in particular to be true. If the teaching is loving, just, forgiving and does not contradict Scripture, it may be valid.

What things do I believe violate the spirit of Scripture? Are they self-serving?

330. The Uniqueness Of Sainthood

(I Will Use The Special Gifts I=ve Received For The Benefit Of Others)

From the saints I must take the substance, not the accidents of their virtues. I am not St. Aloysius, nor must I seek holiness in his particular way, but according to the requirements of my own nature, my own character and the different conditions of my life. I must not be the dry, bloodless reproduction of a model, however perfect. God desires us to follow the examples of the saints by absorbing the vital sap of their virtues and turning it into our own life-blood, adapting it to our own individual capacities and particular circumstances. If St. Aloysius had been as I am, he would have become holy in a different way.

--Bl. John XXIII, SOTD

1 Peter 4:10-11

God creates no clones. We are all unique. While we are to strive to be Christ-like, we are not Christ and, thus, do not have all of His qualities. We are to be Christ-like in our own unique way!

What are my Christ-like characteristics? How are my Christ-like characteristics leading me to holiness? What path to holiness would both give me joy and glorify God?

331. Proving The Existence Of God

(The Lord Is God)

I answer that the existence of God can be proved in five ways. The first and more manifest way is the argument from motion...It is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God. The second way is from the nature of the efficient cause...It is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, to which everyone gives that name God. The third way is taken from possibility and necessity...We cannot but postulate the existence of some being having of itself its own necessity, and not receiving it from another, but rather causing in others their necessity. This all men speak of as God. The fourth way is taken from the gradation to be found in things...There must also be something which is to all beings that cause of their being, goodness, and every other perfection; and this we call God. The fifth way is taken from the governance of the world...Some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God.

--St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, CCEL

1 Kings 18:20-40

I don't think that St. Thomas Aquainas' proofs for the existence of God would convince many people today anymore than would Elijah's demonstration on Mt. Carmel. In fact, I don't believe that seeing one rise from the dead would convince many people today. The proof of God's existence rests on faith. With faith, the proofs are unnecessary but readily available. Without faith, no proof would be sufficient.

What proof would convince me of the existence of God?

332. The Human Soul Of Jesus

(Stay Awake With Me)

Behold, I have said this: that the contemplative lover of God is united with God through means (the grace of God, and the sacraments of Holy Church, and the Divine virtues, faith hope and charity, and a virtuous life according to the commandments of God), and also without means, and thirdly, without difference or distinction; and this I find in nature, and in grace, and also in glory. Further I have said that never creature may be or become so holy that it loses its created being and becomes God; even the soul of our Lord Jesus Christ shall ever remain creature, and other than God. Yet, none the less, we must all be lifted up above ourselves into God and become one spirit with God in love; and then we shall be blessed. And therefore mark my words and my meaning, and understand me aright as to what is the condition and the way to our eternal blessedness.

--John of Ruysbroeck, The Book of Supreme Truth, CCEL

Matthew 26:38

I don't think that seeing Jesus in the flesh would increase my faith. It would probably detract from it. To see Jesus' humanity and sense His human soul would probably invoke a response similar to His family's response: Where did He get this? How can he be God if I know of his human origins?

Does the human side of Jesus detract from His divinity in my perception?

333. Is God The Cause Of Evil?

(Perverse Thoughts Separate One From God)

But the evil which consists in the corruption of some things is reduced to God as the cause. And this appears as regards both natural things and voluntary things. For it was said that some agent inasmuch as it produces by its power a form to which follows corruption and defect, causes by its power that corruption and defect. But it is manifest that the form which God chiefly intends in things created is the good of the order of the universe. Now, the order of the universe requires, as was said above, that there should be some things that can, and do sometimes, fail. And thus God, by causing in things the good of the order of the universe, consequently and as it were by accident, causes the corruptions of things, according to 1 Kings 2"6: "The Lord killeth and maketh alive". But when we read that "God hath not made death" (Wisdom 1:13), the sense is that God does not will death for its own sake. Nevertheless the order of justice belongs to the order the universe; and this requires that penalty should be dealt out to sinners. And so God is the author of the evil which is penalty, but not of the evil which is fault, by reason of what is said above.

--St. Thomas Aquanis, Summa Theologica, CCEL

Wisdom 1:1-11

God does not create evil since He has created all things good and draws all things to Himself. He does, however, create correction to bring humankind back to Him when they wander away. This correction may feel like evil from a human perspective but it is for our ultimate good. How can I believe this? Because God, through Jesus, was willing to die for me to show His great love for me. I can trust Him.

Can I believe that what I consider to be evil in my life may really be God's method of drawing me near to Him?

334. The Necessity Of Obedience

(I Will Enter By The Narrow Gate)

Now at this time I cannot set forth my meaning more clearly. In all that I understand, or feel, or have written, I submit myself to the judgement of the saints and of Holy Church; for I wish to live and die as a servant of Christ, in the Christian faith, and I desire to be, by the grace of God, a life-giving member of Holy Church. And therefore, as I told you before, you should beware of those self-deceived men who, by means of their idle vacancy, and with their bare and simple gaze have found the Divine Essence within themselves in a merely natural way; and who pretend to be one with God without the grace of God, and without exercise of virtue, and without obedience to God and to Holy Church.

--John of Ruysbroeck, The Book of Supreme Truth, CCEL

Luke 13:22-30

There may well be times when entering through the narrow gate and exercising virtue may not be in strict accord with the actions of Mother Church. The Church's luke-warm response to the Holocaust is an example as is the poor stand taken against slavery (except for the Quakers). Most recently, the Church's policy of shuffling pedofile priests from place to place is legitimately open to severe criticism. While I wish to live and die as a disciple of Christ and member of His Church, I must remember that there are times when prophetic individuals and splintered pieces of the extended Church may be carrying the true Gospel message.

Am I open to the Spirit even if it seems to contradict the actions of the "larger" Church?

335. The Vision Of Constintine

(The Battle Is The Lord=s)

Maxentius sorely oppressed the Roman people, treating them as a tyrant rather than as a king, shamelessly violating the wives of the nobles, putting many innocent persons to death, and perpetrating other similar atrocities. The emperor Constantine being informed of this, exerted himself to free the Romans from the slavery under him (Maxentius), and began immediately to consider by what means he might overthrow the tyrant...In this state of uncertainty, as he was marching at the head of his troops, a preternatural vision, which transcends all description, appeared to him. In fact, about that part of the day when the sun after passing the meridian begins to decline towards the west, he saw a pillar of light in the heavens, in the form of a cross, on which were inscribed these words, By This Conquer. The appearance of this sign struck the emperor with amazement and scarcely believing his own eyes, he asked those around him if they beheld the same spectacle, and as they unanimously declared that they did, the emperor's mind was strengthened by this divine and marvelous apparition. On the following night in his slumbers he saw Christ who directed him to prepare a standard according to the pattern of that which had been seen; and to use it against his enemies as an assured trophy of victory. In obedience to this divine oracle, he caused a standard in the form of a cross to be prepared, which is preserved in the palace even to the present time: and proceeding in his measures with greater earnestness, he attacked the enemy and vanquished him before the gates of Rome...

--Socrates Scholasticus, History: Book 1, CCEL

John 5:13-6:5

I must explore and pursue the inspiration that I am given. This may not be as drastic or have effects as far reaching as that given to Joshua or Constintine but, if its my part to play in life's drama, I must do it. This, of course, is after the testing of the inspiration against Scripture, the advice of other spiritual people and long-term/solid Church tradition.

Am I willing to explore my inspirations or am I more likely to dismiss them as inconvenient, crazy or irrelevant?

336. A Pattern Of A Saintly Life

(I Am Consecrated To The Lord)

...In my present letter, I mean to give you a brief sketch of the life of our dear Asella. Please do not read it to her; for she is sure to be displeased with eulogies of which she is herself the object. Show it rather to the young girls of your acquaintance, that they may guide themselves by her example, and may take her behavior as the pattern of a perfect life. I pass over the facts that, before her birth, she was blessed while still in her mother's womb, and that, virgin-like, she was delivered to her father in a dream in a bowl of shining glass brighter than a mirror. And I say nothing of her consecration to the blessed life of virginity, a ceremony which took place when she was hardly more than ten years old, a mere babe still wrapped in swaddling clothes...I come now to the life which after her twelfth year she, by her own exertion, chose, laid hold of, held fast to , entered upon, and fulfilled. Shut up in her narrow cell she roamed through paradise. Fasting was her recreation and hunger her refreshment. If she took food it was not from love of eating , but because of bodily exhaustion; and the bread and salt and cold water to which she restricted herself sharpened her appetite more than they appeased it...To the Bridegroom she spoke constantly in prayer and psalmody. She hurried to the martyr's shrines unnoticed. Such visits gave her pleasure, and the more so because she was never recognized...What would perhaps be that she lived this life until her fiftieth year without weakening her digestion or bringing on herself the pain of colic. Lying on the dry ground did not affect her limbs, and the rough sackcloth that she wore failed to make her skin either foul or rough. With a sound body and a still sounder soul she sought all her delight in solitude...

--St. Jerome, Letter 24, To Marcella, CCEL

1 Samuel 1:19-28

The stories of how saintly lives are lived is generally transmitted by those who knew and whose lives were touched by the saintly person. There is no self-proclaiming horn-blowing here! The saintly person is retiring and does not want to be noticed except when it is for the glory of God. Think of how often Jesus did not want anyone to be told about His healings.

Do I have a need to publicize my attempts at holiness?

337. Adopted By God

(I Will Be A Father To You)

If some eminent and powerful prince, having adopted you for his son and co-partner, should forthwith send for you by his ambassador; you would break through all difficulties, and the wearisome extent of sea and land, that you might appear before him, and have your adoption ratified. God Almighty, the Maker and the Lord of Heaven and Earth, and all that is in them, calls you to this adoption, and offers unto you (if you will receive it) that dear style "a son", by which He calls His Only Begotten, and your glorious Redeemer. And will you not be inflamed and ravished with His divine love? will you not make haste, and begin your journey towards Heaven, lest swift destruction come upon you, and the honors offered you be frustrated by a sad and sudden death?

--Eucherius of Lyons, On Contempt For The World, CCEL

2 Corinthians 6:18 - 7:1

Never having been an orphan, I can only imagine what it is like to be adopted. What is it like to be wanted and loved for who I am, not just accepted as the result of a chance birth? What is it like to become a part of a caring family, not just a cog in an institution? What is it like to have a share in an inheritance, not just left the crumbs I can scrape up or that no one wants? God's call to adoption is infinitely more wonderful than anything that I can imagine!

What does it feel like to be a sibling of Jesus? What does it feel like to be a child of Mary?

338. Can It Be Demonstrated That God Exists?

(God=s Power Has Been Clearly Seen)

I answer that, demonstration can be made in two ways: One is through the cause, and is called "a priori" and this is to argue from what is prior absolutely. The other is through the effect, and is called a demonstration "a posteriori"; this is to argue from what is prior relatively only to us. When an effect is better known to us than its cause, from the effect we proceed to the knowledge of the cause. And from every effect the existence of its proper cause can be demonstrated, so long as its effects are better known to us; because since every effect depends upon its cause, because since every effect the existence of its proper cause can be demonstrated, so long as its effects are better known to us; because since every effect depends upon its cause, if the effect exists, the cause must pre-exist. Hence the existence of God, in so far as it is not self-evident to us, can be demonstrated from those of His effects which are known to us.

--St. Thomas Aquanis, Summa Theologica, CCEL

Romans 1:18-22

When I see the incredible diversity in nature, and realize that I see only the smallest part of it, I am awed! New species of life, new secrets to the code of life, new mysteries at the edge of the universe are being discovered daily. Can all of this have happened by blind chance in the last 12 to 15 billion years? I think that it takes more faith to believe that than to believe that an all powerful, all loving intelligence brought it all about for His own purpose.

What are my reasons for doubting the existence of God?

339. Self-Love

(I Will Not Pride Myself As Being Better Than I Really Am)

Whither then at last will this wild and devious affection of men carry them? You know how to love accidental and external goods, but cannot love your own self. That which you so much long for is abroad, and without you; you place your affection upon a foreigner, upon an enemy. Return, or retire rather into yourself, and be you dearer and nearer to your own heart then those things which you call yours. Certainly if some wise man, and skillful in the affairs of this world, should converse and come to be intimate with you, it would better please you, that he should affect your person, than affect your goods; and you would choose, that he should rather love you for your self, than for your riches; you would have him to be faithful unto man, not to his money. What you would have another to perform towards you, that do for yourself, who ought to be the most faithful to your self. Our selves, our selves we should love, not those things which we ... call ours. And let this suffice to have been spoken against riches.

--Eucherius of Lyons, On Contempt For The World, CCEL

Romans 12:3, 9-13

In my 20's and early 30's I did everything I could to prove my lovability and indispensability to others but made no real efforts to truly love and know myself. In fact, I often ran from myself, literally, in the hope of leaving myself behind. At times I would even watch myself, from the outside, laughing and acting out a life which felt like I was an actor in a play. I hated to look inside and see the despair, loneliness, sadness and lack of love. While it is infinitely better today, I still have times when I need to fight with myself to show that I love and respect myself more than I care about what others think about me.

In what ways do I prove that I genuinely love myself?

340. The Importance Of Tradition

(I Believe In The Traditions Of The Holy Spirit)

I have often then inquired earnestly and attentively of very many men eminent for sanctity and learning, how and by what sure and so to speak universal rule I may be able to distinguish the truth of Catholic faith from the falsehood of heretical pravity; and I have always, and in almost every instance, received an answer to this effect: That whether I or any one else should wish to detect the frauds and avoid the snares of heretics as they rise, and to continue sound and complete in the Catholic faith, we must, the Lord helping, fortify our own belief in two ways; first, by the authority of the Divine Law, and then, by the Tradition of the Catholic Church. But here some one perhaps will ask, Since the canon of Scripture is complete, and sufficient of itself for everything, and more than sufficient, what need is there to join with it the authority of the Church's interpretation? For this reason, -because owing to the depth of Holy Scripture, all do not accept it in one and the same sense, but one understands its words in one way, another in another; so that it seems to be capable of as many interpretations as there are interpreters...Therefore, it is very necessary, on account of so great intricacies of such various error, that the rule for the right understanding of the prophets and apostles should be framed in accordance with the standard of Ecclesiastical and Catholic interpretation.

--Vincent of Lerins, A Commonitory: For the Antiquity and Universality of the Catholic Faith Against the Profane Novelties of All Heresies, CCEL

Mark 7:6-9

The words of Vincent of Lerins and Jesus seem to contradict each other but they don't. Jesus rejects traditions which attempt to circumvent the spirit of love contained in the words of the Law. Jesus would accept Vincent's purpose for tradition which is to seek to fulfill the spirit of love behind the words of the Law.

In what ways do I try to circumvent the spirit of laws, whether they are secular or spiritual?

341. The Reversing Of Values

(I Will Live A Life Of Service To The Spirit)

Francis! Everything you have loved and desired in the flesh it is your duty to despise and hate, if you wish to know my will. And when you have begun this, all that now seems sweet and lovely to you will become intolerable and bitter, but all that you used to avoid will turn itself to great sweetness and exceeding joy.

--St. Francis of Assisi, SOTD

Romans 7:1-6

May You change me, Lord: from acting on fear to acting on love, from self-centered actions to other directed actions, from acting out of slavery to the body and ego to acting in conformance with the nourishing of my soul. Amen.

Are my values being reversed? In what ways?

342. Discerning The Truth

(Jesus Bears Witness To The Truth)

What then will a Catholic Christian do, if a small portion of the Church have cut itself off from the communion of the universal faith? What, surely, but prefer the soundness of the whole body to the unsoundness of a pestilent and corrupt member? What, if some novel contagion seek to infect not merely and insignificant portion of the Church, but the whole? Then it will be his care to cleave to antiquity, which at this day cannot possible be seduced by any fraud of novelty. But what, if in antiquity itself there be found error on the part of two or three men, or at any rate of a city or even of a province? Then it will be his care by all means, to prefer the decrees, if such there be, of an ancient General Council to the rashness and ignorance of a few. But what if some error should spring up on which no such decree is found to bear? Then he must collate and consult and interrogate the opinions of the ancients, of those, namely, who, though living in divers times and places, yet continuing in the communion and faith of the one Catholic Church, stand forth acknowledged and approved authorities: and whatsoever he shall ascertain to have been held, written, taught, not by one or two of these only, but by all, equally, with one consent , openly, frequently, persistently, that he must understand that he himself also is to believe without any doubt or hesitation.

--Vincent of Lerins, A Commonitory: For the Antiquity and Universality of the Catholic Faith Against the Profane Novelties of All Heresies, CCEL

John 18:28-38

What is truth? Pilate's reply, while probably said sarcastically, implies that truth is relative, that there is no absolute truth. Jesus responds that there is an absolute truth behind all that we perceive to be reality. Vincent of Lerins indicates that it may take some work to get to this truth on specific matters and even offers a method for discerning it. What is the core of his faith? God is love. He loves His creation so much that He is willing to die for it.

Can any truth be more awesome than this?

343. Infant Death

(Number Of Years Is Not The True Measure Of Life)

What wisdom, than, can we trace in the following? A human being enters on the scene of life, draws in the air, beginning the process of living with a cry of pain, pays the tribute of a tear to Nature, just tastes life's sorrows, before any of its sweets have been his, before his feelings have gained any strength; still loose in all his joints, tender, pulpy , unset; in a word, before he is even human (if the gift of reason is man's peculiarity; and he has never had it in him), such an one, with no advantage over the embryo in the womb except that he has seen the air, so short-lived, dies and goes to pieces again, being either exposed or suffocated, or else of his own accord ceasing to live from weakness. What are we to think about him? How are we to feel about such deaths? Will a soul such as that behold its Judge? Will it stand with the rest before the tribunal? will it undergo its trials for deeds done in life?...But in the cases of infants prematurely dying there is nothing of that sort; but they pass to the blessed lot at once, if those who take this view of the matter speak true.

--Eunomius, On Infant's Early Deaths, CCEL

Wisdom 4:7-19

As a Christian, I believe that all are alive in God in eternity. What I call life is a temporary span that is meant to train me for my future role in the Kingdom of God. When I have completed my training here, from the Lord's perspective, I will be ready to leave and go on to the next class, whatever that may be. Part of the lesson is experiencing death so that I can see first hand, from the transition, that I am already in the stream of eternity and God's love.

When I have learned my lesson here, will I be ready to move on? If a major part of my lesson is experiencing death, is there any major reason to delay the lesson?

344. The Fruits Of A Prophet

(I Will Beware Those That Twist The Straight Forward Ways Of God)

We declare to you, the, that these first prophetesses, as soon as they wee filled with the spirit, left their husbands.. Do you not think that all Scripture forbids a prophet to receive gifts and money? When, therefore, I see that the prophetess has received gold and silver and expensive articles of dress, how can I avoid treating her with disapproval?....For we shall show that those among them who are called prophets and martyrs obtain money not only from the rich, but also from the poor, from orphans and widows....If they deny that their prophets have taken gifts, let them confess thus much, that if they be convicted of having taken them, they are not prophets; and we will adduce ten thousand proofs that they have. It is proper, too, that all the fruits of a prophet should be examined. Tell me: does a prophet dye his hair? Does a prophet use stibium on his eyes? Is a prophet fond of dress? Does a prophet play at gaming-tables and dice? Does a prophet lend money on interest? Let them confess whether these things are allowable or not. For my part, I will prove that these practices have occurred among them.

--Apollinous, Concerning Montanism, CCEL

Acts 13:4-12

Is it proper for me to earn a living using my spiritual gifts? All of my talents and gifts are from God and are to be used for His glory. Jesus indicates that the laborer is worth his wage and that there is nothing wrong with earning my living using my God given talents. However, the more spiritual gifts are, to paraphrase Jesus, given to me without cost and are to be used by me for others without cost. While it is OK for St. Paul to earn a living making tents, it would not be OK for him to make a living from raising people from the dead.

Do I use my spiritual gifts purely for the glory of God?

345. The Calling Of A Family

(Holiness Is Passed On By Example)

Moreover, I also, Polycrates, who am the least of you all, in accordance with the tradition of my relatives, some of whom I have succeeded-seven of my relatives were bishops, and I am the eighth, and my relatives always observed the day when the people put away the leaven-I myself, brethren, I say, who am sixty-five years old in the Lord, and have fallen in with the brethren in all parts of the world, and have read through all Holy Scripture, am not frightened at the things which are said to terrify us. For those who are greater than I have said: We ought to obey God rather than men.

--Polycrates, Bishop of Ephesus, Epistle to Victor, CCEL

2 Maccabees 7:1-41

I doubt that holiness is transmitted through the genes but the thought of eight bishops in one family!! This holiness is evidently taught and transmitted in the family. A similar case is found in the family of St. Therese of Lisieux where she, her two sisters and at least one close cousin became nuns.

Do I recognize the power of holiness in my own life and its potential for being passed on to those close to me?

346. James The Just: His Life

(The Peace Sown Brings A Harvest Of Justice)

James, the Lord's brother, succeeds to the government of the Church, in conjunction with the apostles. He has been universally called the Just, from the days of the Lord down to the present time. For many bore the name of James, but this one was holy from his mother's womb. He drank no wine or other intoxicating liquor, nor did he eat flesh; no razor came upon his head; he did not anoint himself with oil, nor make use of the bath. He alone was permitted to enter the holy place: for he did not wear any woolen garment, but fine linen only. He alone, I say, was wont to go into the temple: and he used to be found kneeling on his knees, begging forgiveness for the people-so that the skin of his knees became horny like that of a camel's, by reason of his constantly bending the knees in adoration to God, and begging forgiveness for the people...

--Hegesippus, Books of Commentaries on the Acts of the Church, CCEL

James 3:13-18

James the Just was an actual relative of Jesus (perhaps a half-brother), was the elder of the Jerusalem community and is the author of the epistle of James (which is one of only a few books in the New Testament that I wish was longer in length). He taught much about the relationship between peace and justice, and fought for fair treatment of the poor by the rich. His message was used by Caesar Chavez for this purpose in the Grapes of Wrath which fought for the fair treatment of migrant farmers.

Do I practice what I preach or do I mostly pay lip service to the hard task of working toward justice in my community?

347. James The Just: His Death

(I Will Be Patient Until The Lord=s Coming)

They came, therefore, in a body to James, and said: "We entreat thee, restrain the people: for they are gone astray in their opinions about Jesus, as if he were the Christ."...The aforesaid scribes and Pharisees accordingly set James on the summit of the temple, and cried aloud to him, and said: "O just one, whom we are all bound to obey, forasmuch as the people is in error, and follows Jesus the crucified, do thou tell us what is the door of Jesus, the crucified." And he answered with a loud voice: "Why ask ye me concerning Jesus the Son of man? He Himself sittith in heaven, at the right hand of te Great Power, and shall come on the clouds of heaven."...Then again the said Pharisees and scribes...cried aloud and said"Oh, Oh, the just man himself is in error."...So they went up and threw down the just man, and said to one another: "Let us stone James the Just." And they began to stone him: for he was not killed by the fall; but he turned, and kneeled down, and said: "I beseech Thee, Lord God our father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." And while they were thus stoning him to death, one of the priests, the sons of Rechab, the son of Rechabim....began to cry aloud, saying: "Cease, what do ye? The just man is praying for us." but one among them, one of the fullers, took the staff with which he was accustomed to wring out the garments he dyed, and hurled it at the head of the just man. And so he suffered martyrdom.....

--Hegesippus, Books of Commentaries on the Acts of the Church, CCEL

James 5:7-15

James the Just died as he lived by praying for his people and patiently waiting for the Lord=s coming.

Do I have the courage to do the same?

348. Eyes Open To See Truth

(I Will See With Spiritual Eyes)

But why this world was made, and why it passes away, and why the body exists, and why it falls to decay, and why it continues, thou canst not know until thou hast raised thy head from this sleep in which thou art sunk, and hast opened thine eyes and seen that God is One, the Lord of all, and hast come to serve Him with all thy heart. Then will He grant thee to know His will: for every one that is severed from the knowledge of the living god is dead and buried even while in his body. Therefore is it that thou dost wallow on the ground before demons and shadows, and askest vain petitions from that which has not anything to give. But thou, stand thou up...and offer thou for thy imperishable soul petitions for that which decayeth not, to God who suffers no decay-and thy freedom will be at once apparent; and be thou careful of it, and give thanks to God who made thee, and gave thee the mind of the free; that thou mightest shape thy conduct even as thou wilt. He hath set before thee all these things, and showeth thee that , if thou follow after evil, thou shall be condemned for thy evil deeds; but that, if after goodness, thou shall receive from Him abundant good, together with immortal life for ever.

--Melito the Philosopher, Discourse in the Presence of Antoninus Caesar, CCEL

Numbers 22:22-35

A friend of mine thinks that animals are more spiritual than people since they live in the moment and see/hear at ranges that are beyond the range of the human senses. Baalam=s donkey is a perfect case in point. He was able to see spiritual realities that his master could not see and acted in a way that saved Baalam=s life. The donkey was able to see with spiritual eyes and was able to know God=s will.

Can I learn any spiritual qualities from my pets?

349. Relatives Of Jesus

(This Is Your Son)

Some of these heretics, forsooth, laid an information against Symeon the son of Clopas, as being of the family of David, and a Christian. And on these charges he suffered martyrdom when he was 120 years old, in the reign of Trajan Caesar, when Atticus was consular legate in Syria. And it so happened, says the same writer, that , while inquiry was then being made for those belonging to the royal tribe of the Jews, the accusers themselves were convicted of belonging to it. With show of reason could it be said that Symeon was one of those who actually saw and heard the Lord, on the ground of his great age, and also because the Scripture of the Gospels makes mention of Mary the daughter of Clopas, who, as our narrative has shown already, was his father...And after James the Just had suffered martyrdom, as has the Lord also and on the same account, again Symeon the son of Clopas, descended from the Lord's uncle, is made bishop, his election being promoted by all as being a kinsman of the Lord.

--Hegesippus, Books of Commentaries on the Acts of the Church, CCEL

John 19:25-27

Symeon, descendent of an uncle of Jesus, may well have known the Lord. His mother was at the Cross of Jesus along with Mary, the mother of Jesus. She would have heard Jesus telling his mother that Athis is your son@ in reference to St. John. I=m sure that the story was passed on in the family for many generations. At some point, however, the family story was lost. It does not matter. By making John, a representative of the Church, Mary=s son, we have all become children of Mary and siblings of Jesus.

What does Jesus= expression that those who do his father=s will are his family mean to me?

350. Untrustworthy Shepherds

(The Lord Will Look After His Flock)

For we may say, to anticipate a little what we intend to write below, that he does not wish to acknowledge that the Son of God came down from heaven. And this is a statement which shall not be made to depend on simple assertion; for it is proved abundantly by those memoranda which we sent you, and not least in that passage in which he says that Jesus Christ is from below. And they who sing his praise and eulogize him among the people, declare that their impious teacher has come down as an angel from heaven. And such utterances the haughty man does not check, but is present even when they are made. And then again there are these women-these adopted sisters, as the people of Antioch call them-who are kept by him and by the presbyters and deacons with him.....We have been compelled, therefore, to excommunicate this man, who has opposed God Himself, and refuses submission, and appoint in his place another bishop for the Church Catholic.....

--Malchion, Epistle In Name of the Synod of Antioch Against Paul of Samosata, CCEL

Ezekiel 34:1-31

Those in positions of authority and power, especially those with spiritual power, will be judged most severely on how they lead their flock. Since a bishop has the potential to lead so many astray and cannot pretend to be acting out of ignorance, he will be judged more severely than virtually anyone. While I may not have the authority or power of a bishop, I do act as an example to many around me and will be judged accordingly.

Do I lead others astray with the power and authority that I possess? How so?

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