Archive for the ‘Spiritual’ Category

As fathers and as men, we have an obligation to live up to the responsibilities of our vocation.  Too often we, feel like “walking away from it all”.  Our vocation calls us to be men of strength and courage.  The Lord will challenge us but will never give us more than we can handle.  If we are responsible with little things, He will then be open to make us responsible for greater things.

As fathers, we are depended upon, by our wives and children. We must show attentiveness to the need of our spouse, our children.  One of the most powerful instructions we can give to our children as fathers is our example in fulfilling our daily responsibilities to our family.  We pray to Saint Joseph for his help so that we do not omit these responsibilities, that we won’t grow tired, that we won’t feel like “walking away from it all.”

Prayer To St. Joseph

Oh St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in you all my interest and desires.  Oh, St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your divine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  So that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers.  Oh, St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you, and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart.  Press Him in my name and kiss His fine head for me and ask Him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath.  St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls — Pray for me.

 

Responsibility … Response–Ability

  • The ability to respond to life with:
  • open eyes,
  • open heart,
  • open hands…
  • – to see life and the world with wonder and reverence
  • – to care about people because they matter
  • – to reach out to others and make a difference
  • Responsibility is a privilege, not a burden.
  • It is a bond we make in faith, a bridge of promise between the uniqueness of me and the uniqueness of you.
  • Responsibility means giving myself in a “yes” to you with a firmness you can trust, because we have come to know God, Who has first pledged Himself to us.
  • “I am there with you always”.

 

Scripture Reading Luke 6:43-49

When we are responsible to our vocation and realize that our strength as fathers lies in the gift of our vocation then we are in fact a man listening to the Lord’s words and acting on them.  We are men who are laying a strong foundation, a foundation for our family that does not conform to the world but is transformed in Jesus Christ.  Jesus is where the strength in our vocation comes from.  He is our strength, our courage. But if you don’t realize the gift of God, the gift, and responsibility of your vocation then we are simply a man calling Lord, Lord but not doing what He commands.  If we do not have the strength of Jesus with us, then the foundation is weak, it falls, and we want to walk away from it all.

  • Scripture Reading Sirach 27:4-7

As men of God we are responsible to our speech.  Our speech shows whether or not we are men of God.  Our speech is a dead giveaway and shows whether we have conformed to the world or have worked to transform ourselves in Jesus Christ.  The key word is “worked”.  It is work to transform our self in Christ.  If you don’t want to work at it then you have automatically conformed yourself to the world because that is all it takes is to do nothing. Our children notice our words more than we give them credit.  Think before we speak.  In our words we are tested.

Other questions to consider:

  • Does your house reflect your faith?
  • Does your check book reflect your faith?
  • If someone walked in your house would they know how important Jesus is in your life?
  • Do we get time alone with our spouse?
  • Do you take time to share accomplishments, hopes, dreams, concerns?
  • Do we involve ourselves in our children’s projects, sports?
  • Do we maintain strength and consistency as a disciplinarian?

Actions to Live By

  • Get your “honey-do” list and knock off an item a day or a week until they are done.
  • Next make a list of seven things that are great about each of your kids.     Affirm your child in those areas, once a day for a week.

 

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Energetic

Posted: September 24, 2014 in Fatherhood, Fitness, Physical, Spiritual
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A man whose heart is set on God is always energetic.  God placed this energy within us.  We never become tired in our vocation if our focus is on Him.

This energy within us must also be properly channeled and focused so that good fruit is produced.  If not focused properly it turns to the self, what I need, what I want – this energy becomes selfish.

It is important as fathers that we are energetic and enthusiastic about our faith and our participation in the Church.  It is important that our faith is alive in us all week and not just on Sunday’s for an hour.  Our faith should shine through in how we live our lives. Our families will not be interested in learning about their faith when the father shows no excitement toward what they believe in.  Our families will never be interested in participating if every time we are asked to partake in a Church function or help on a project we look for an excuse for why we cannot be involved.

Take time for your faith.  Live it and teach it to your children.  Your children should see your faith alive in you daily.

Remember God gave us the tools, the gifts, the talents to be involved and energetic.  We need to produce; we need to produce our fruit.  It is expected of us.

“For this reason, I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands.” (2 Tim 1:6)

Traditions are a good way to focus our energy as fathers.  Not only holiday traditions, but daily events that take place in the house with your children from a very young age that show positive energy and enthusiasm to your faith.

Examples of these are:

  • daily prayers with the children,
  • reading lives of the saints and bible stories,
  • mealtime prayers,
  • blessing them with holy water,
  • saying a short prayer when you hear a siren,
  • make the sign of the Cross when passing a Catholic Church
  • helping the poor

Actions to Live By

  • In order to have informal teaching opportunities, you need to have some informal times together.
  • What things do you enjoy doing? Is it basketball?  Playing catch?  How about a board game?  A drive in the country?  A walk in the park of the woods? A craft?  What is the best day of the week for some fun with the kids?  Pick one or two or all of the suggested activities, or add your own, but make sure that you have at least one informal time together every week. Sometimes they will just happen, so look for informal teaching times, no   matter where you are.  Some people call it “quality time.”  Once you are in the informal period – listen and watch.  The lessons will come, but don’t force them.  In the mean time you’re having fun with the kids.

Strong

Posted: September 8, 2014 in Fatherhood, Physical, Prayer, Spiritual, Spiritual Warfare
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Men. Fatherhood is your vocation, your calling by God.  So many lay men think only the priesthood is a vocation.  They thought they had a vocation at one time but then decided to get married.  Then they are shocked when they find out marriage is not easy and the first time it gets tough they don’t know what to do, they run, they want to leave their marriage.  No!  Marriage and Fatherhood is our vocation.  It is not easy.  It isn’t supposed to be.  If it was easy God would not have made it a sacrament.  It is a sacrament because we cannot do it alone.  We need God’s help.  God knows we cannot do it alone.  We need God’s sacramental grace for strength. We become strong through our vocation, through Fatherhood. 

Our strength comes from being responsible.  We have great responsibility for the gifts and talents we have been given as fathers.  Show your strength to your children as a Father who helps clean, who helps with dinner and dishes.  Show your strength in being a servant to your family.  Jesus said the greatest is the one who serves.  We are accountable for producing the fruit from the talents      given us.

Our strength comes from always working.  If our work is for the Lord, we will not get tired.  We will be able to work past our own expectations.  If our work is not for the Lord, we will tire easily.

Our strength is in being trustworthy.  The Lord never gives us a cross that He has not already given us the strength and grace to handle.  Our strength comes from trusting and learning to listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.  Listen and Learn!  Trust in God’s promise that He will not forsake you.

We must be strong against the abuse and inappropriate use of sex.  Unfortunately, our world views sexual promiscuity as the mark of a real man.  We need to set boundaries to protect ourselves against immoral relationships and pornography.  We need to protect ourselves from situations where women are exploited; from the near occasions of sin.  We need to be careful about the movies we choose, the magazines we look at, the TV shows we watch, the bars we attend. 

Saint James tells us, “Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.  Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown brings forth death” (James 1:14-15).  Don’t fall into the trap.  Avoid the near occasion of sin by getting rid of any pornography you have.  Just throw it away; the magazines, the cable channel, all of it.  The real man is the one that has strength and seeks the strength in God to rule his passions.

Following these guidelines will make us strong and confident in God.  Our strength must be “spent” on God’s vocation for us.  That way when we die, we enter into heaven as though we are truly coming home, head held high, confident.  We can truly say we did our best.

“The Lord is my strength and my shield.  In Him my heart trusts, and I find help.”  ()Psalm 28:7)

 In many families, the father may be called to courage in trying times. If the father offers bold faith in God and solid Scriptural leadership in the home, the entire family will benefit.

Actions to Live By

  • List all of the emotions you think your father had. Now list his behaviors. After making the two lists, evaluate yourself in the light of them.
  • Next list both his strengths and weaknesses. Now compare yourself with your lists.
  • Where have you imitated and where have you just followed his lead? What needs to be changed?
  • Take one area from the list that needs change and work on it until your actions match up to your new thinking.

Strength

Forgiveness

Posted: August 25, 2014 in Fatherhood, Spiritual
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Men, most often, have great difficulty with forgiveness.  By being able to forgive we show our greatness; we have to be able to let go.  After all, we really don’t have power to forgive anyhow.  By letting go, we can ask God to forgive.  We give it to him and don’t take it back.

“Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34).  By letting go, giving the problem to the Father, we ask for His forgiveness.  By doing so, we come to better understanding of God’s mercy.

God’s forgiveness starts with us.  Often times we believe in God’s mercy and forgiveness but are not able to let go of our selfness.  We hold the hurt to us tight.  Without forgiveness we don’t allow ourselves to make mistakes, we become critical of others, we lack compassion and understanding, we become miserable and bitter.  Without forgiveness we destroy the relationships that God has given us; relationships with our brothers, sisters, wife, parents and children.  Peace cannot be in a family without forgiveness.

God’s mercy and forgiveness are infinite.  Don’t limit God working through you by not letting go.  Let go.  Healing our pain begins with forgiveness.

“Father, forgive them, they know not what they do”  (Luke 23:34)

Grandfathers

A Father’s Love

“Love is patient, love is kind. 
It does not envy, it does not boast, 
it is not proud. It is not rude, 
it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, 
it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil 
but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, 
always trusts, always hopes, 
always perseveres. Love never fails.” 
(1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

Can you insert a special father’s name in each verse, in place of the words “love” and “it”? If you can do this and read the verses honestly, then you are fortunate.

A loving father points the whole family to the love of God all year long.

Actions to Live By

  • Maybe you’ve dropped the ball – you may have lost your temper, maybe missed a family activity.  If family life is like a ball game, then we’ve all dropped the ball a few times.  What can you do now?  Play the next play.  Sometime this week – play a game with your kids – baseball, basketball, or a board game.  When it’s over, let your kids know that there are times that you felt like you’ve failed, dropped the ball, landed in the wrong square. Let them know you’re sorry!  Then tell them there is another day.  The game isn’t over, you’ll do your best.  You may drop the ball again but together as a family you’ll win the game.

Selfless

Posted: August 18, 2014 in Fatherhood, Spiritual, Spiritual Warfare

Men, this is where we lay down our life, die to self.  Our constant struggle will be with selfishness, our self-will and self-restraint.

Within this guideline we also discuss sexuality.  The most intimate union is between husband and wife.  Two become one and co-creators with God. Sexuality is a gift from God.  Many forget God created sex.

Two of the biggest lies the world has to offer is contraception and abortion.  In marriage we stand before God, two become one.  Marriage is to be a total gift of one to the other. We promise to give our whole self to each other and love each other until death.  We promise to accept children willingly.  But then in the most intimate single moment with our spouse we say “No” when we use a contraceptive.  We say no to the person we just vowed to.   We reject God’s word, we reject His gift of co-creator and from that point selfishness and lack of generosity seeps into every single part of our life.  If you have contraceptives, get rid of them.  Throw them in the garbage today.  As men of God we need to stand up against the lie of contraception in the world today.  We need to be open to life.  Don’t be part of a culture that says contraception is a good thing.  God condemned it in Genesis 38: 9-10 (Judah and Tamar) and Galatians 5 (Proper Use of Freedom).  God the Father is holy and pure and He is calling us to be His sons and be like Him.

Within this gift of sexuality, God gives us lasting pleasure.  When God gives, He gives in fullness.  Our union is blessed when we love sexually without contraception.  We love our spouses totally, without inhibition.  We respect them completely.  We respect God’s gift of “co-creator” without inhibition.  When we love in this way, God wraps his arms around our union, for this is the pure love that he intended and created.  Yes, we need to be responsible and prayerful.  But we need to be unselfish and generous with God.  And when we are, His blessing and protection are upon our marriage continually.

Sex outside of marriage or use of contraception leads to “destruction” of our persons, our relationship with each other and our relationship with God.  There is no “construction” in this type of relationship, only destruction.  We are asked to imitate God our Father and contraception is a sin directly against the Fatherhood that we are called to imitate.

When you take away the “self”, you receive the gift and blessing in its purest form.  When you take away lust and selfishness from sex, you will have an intimate, pleasurable, fulfilling union.

Our sexuality is a gift from our Father.  He created it.  When we receive it as a gift, we treasure it. We desire to make our relationship holy because it is meant to be.  This is everlasting happiness.  This union with our spouse and God is Matrimony, a sacrament.  Our goal is that we love our wives in twenty, thirty or forty years more than the day we were married.  God knew marriage was not easy.   He knew we would need His special grace.  He gave us marriage as a sacrament because He knew we cannot do it alone. We need His sacramental grace and through this sacrament you become a channel of God’s love to your wife and your wife becomes a channel of His love back to you.

“What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?”  (Mark 8:36)

Actions to Live By

  • Search your data banks. Where have you been dishonest in the way you live?  Take that to God and ask for His forgiveness.  The next stop is to start making some changes.  Your wife and kids want the honest and real you.
  • A lot of us struggle with seeing ourselves correctly. Remember, we may not be able to see our faults, weaknesses and hypocrisies, but our kids can.  Pick    out one area that needs some work and start on that one.  Make it an easy    one so you can see some quick results.  Then try another.

Selfless

Five Lessons from Saint Joseph – From The Integrated Catholic Life

  1. Saint Joseph was obedient.  Joseph was obedient to God’s Will throughout his life.  Joseph listened to the angel of the Lord explain the virgin birth in a dream and then took Mary as his wife (Matthew 1:20-24).  He was obedient when he led his family to Egypt to escape Herod’s infanticide in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:13-15).  Joseph obeyed the angel’s later commands to return to Israel (Matthew 2:19-20) and settle in Nazareth with Mary and Jesus (Matthew 2:22-23).  How often does our pride and willfulness get in the way of our obedience to God?
  2. Saint Joseph was selfless.  In the limited knowledge we have about Joseph, we see a man who only thought of serving Mary and Jesus, never himself.  What many may see as sacrifices on his part, were actually acts of selfless love.  His devotion to his family is a model for fathers today who may be allowing disordered attachments to the things of this world distort their focus and hinder their vocations.
  3. Saint Joseph led by example.  None of his words are written in Scripture, but we can clearly see by his actions that he was a just, loving and faithful man.  We often think that we primarily influence others by what we say, when so often we are watched for our actions.  Every recorded decision and action made by this great saint is the standard for men to follow today.
  4. Saint Joseph was a worker.  He was a simple craftsman who served his neighbors through his handiwork.  He taught his foster son Jesus the value of hard work.  It is likely that the humility Joseph exhibited in recorded Scripture spilled over into the simple approach he took to his work and providing for the Holy Family.  We can all learn a great lesson from Saint Joseph, who is also the patron saint of workers, on the value of our daily work and how it should exist to glorify God, support our families and contribute to society.
  5. Saint Joseph was a leader.  But, not in the way we may view leadership today.  He led as a loving husband when he improvised to find a stable for Mary to give birth to Jesus, after being turned away from the Bethlehem inn.  He led as a man of faith when he obeyed God in all things, took the pregnant Mary as his wife and later brought the Holy Family safely to Egypt.  He led as the family provider by working long hours in his workshop to make sure they had enough to eat and a roof over their heads.  He led as a teacher by teaching Jesus his trade and how to live and work as a man.

 

Prayer to St. Joseph the Worker

O Glorious St. Joseph, model of all those who are devoted to labor, obtain for me the grace to work conscientiously, putting the call of duty above my natural inclinations, to work with gratitude and joy, in a spirit of penance for the remission of my sins, considering it an honor to employ and develop by means of labor the gifts received from God, to work with order, peace, moderation and patience, without ever shrinking from weariness and difficulties, to work above all with purity of intention and detachment from self, having always death before my eyes and the account that I must render of time lost, of talents wasted, of good omitted, of vain complacency in success, so fatal to the work of God.

All for Jesus, all through Mary, all after thine example, O Patriarch, St. Joseph. Such shall be my watch-word in life and in death.

– Composed by St. Pius X

St. Joseph the Worker

LECTIO DIVINIA
Lectio Divinia is a way of praying with Scripture that St. Ambrose taught to St. Augustine back in the 3rd century. It is a way of prayer that is to be followed in 4 phases, that leads one to a deeper understanding of what Scripure means.
PHASE 1 :  LECTIO (reading)
Reading the text slowly, try to figure out what the text is saying, what in particular jumps out at you and speaks to your heart?
PHASE 2 : MEDITATIO (meditation)
Take one word or phrase and repeat it, allowing yourself to engage in the text to see what images or thoughts come to you, to spark a dialogue with God. What bis this text saying to me directly?
PHASE 3 : ORATIO (prayer)
Speak to God. What experience does the text conjure that leads you to speak openly and honestly to God. Be silent at times too, to allow God the opportunity to speak back.
PHASE 4 : CONTEMPLATIO (contemplation)
While being still and resting in the presence of the Lord, allow God to work on your heart. Allow your mind to be rest peacefully with where the Holy Spirit leads you.
 
CHOOSE a text of the Scriptures that you wish to pray. Many Christians use in their daily lectio divina one of the readings from the Eucharistic liturgy for the day; others prefer to slowly work through a particular book of the Bible. It makes no difference which text is chosen, as long as one has no set goal of “covering” a certain amount of text: the amount of text “covered” is in God’s hands, not yours.

PLACE YOURSELF in a comfortable position and allow yourself to become silent. Some Christians focus for a few moments on their breathing; other have a beloved “prayer word” or “prayer phrase” they gently recite in order to become interiorly silent. For some the practice known as “centering prayer” makes a good, brief introduction to lectio divina. Use whatever method is best for you and allow yourself to enjoy silence for a few moments.

THEN TURN to the text and read it slowly, gently. Savor each portion of the reading, constantly listening for the “still, small voice” of a word or phrase that somehow says, “I am for you today.” Do not expect lightening or ecstasies. In lectio divina God is teaching us to listen to Him, to seek Him in silence. He does not reach out and grab us; rather, He softly, gently invites us ever more deeply into His presence.

NEXT TAKE the word or phrase into yourself. Memorize it and slowly repeat it to yourself, allowing it to interact with your inner world of concerns, memories and ideas. Do not be afraid of “distractions.” Memories or thoughts are simply parts of yourself which, when they rise up during lectio divina, are asking to be given to God along with the rest of your inner self. Allow this inner pondering, this rumination, to invite you into dialogue with God.

THEN, SPEAK to God. Whether you use words or ideas or images or all three is not important. Interact with God as you would with one who you know loves and accepts you. And give to Him what you have discovered in yourself during your experience of meditatio. Experience yourself as the priest that you are. Experience God using the word or phrase that He has given you as a means of blessing, of transforming the ideas and memories, which your pondering on His word has awakened. Give to God what you have found within your heart.

FINALLY, SIMPLY rest in God’s embrace. And when He invites you to return to your pondering of His word or to your inner dialogue with Him, do so. Learn to use words when words are helpful, and to let go of words when they no longer are necessary. Rejoice in the knowledge that God is with you in both words and silence, in spiritual activity and inner receptivity.divina. It is not necessary to anxiously assess the quality of one’s lectio divina as if one were “performing” or seeking some goal: lectio divina has no goal other than that of being in the presence of God by praying the Scriptures.