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Friday, July 25, 2014

Passions of The Heart

The Catholic Church teaches:

1772 The principal passions are love and hatred, desire and fear, joy, sadness, and anger.

1773 In the passions, as movements of the sensitive appetite, there is neither moral good nor evil. But insofar as they engage reason and will, there is moral good or evil in them.

1774 Emotions and feelings can be taken up in the virtues or perverted by the vices.

1775 The perfection of the moral good consists in man's being moved to the good not only by his will but also by his "heart."

As always, Holy Mother Church cuts right to the chase and demonstrates how much God the Father respects His Human creatures.

To understand that there is neither good nor evil in the passions we have is a comfort. We feel. We feel because we are human. We are human, made in the image and likeness of God and so our feelings, our passions, cannot in and of themselves be either good or evil.

Ah, but when those passions engage our reason and our will, then either good or evil can manifest. Our emotions can be either virtuous or perverted by vice. It is our choice.

I am sure we have all met that grown up Catholic who tells us that they were taught that 'thinking about committing a sin is the same as committing it'. I can vaguely remember being taught that as well - and thinking the same thing as a child. Shoot, if thinking it is the same as doing it then why not just do it...I am in trouble either way.

However, as a mature Catholic I can start to understand the difference between thinking about wanting to grab that person's stuff and running off with it and then stopping my thinking and realizing doing so is a sin and just sitting and dwelling on taking that stuff. Playing with the idea. Planning the heist. Thinking over and over how much I could use it, how they don't deserve it and I really really want it. Even if I pull myself back from the brink and do not commit the act, I have taken myself so close to the edge of sin it is important to go to God and ask for forgiveness.


Well, the obvious answer is because I offended God. The less obvious answer is that I receive the Sacramental Grace to not go there again. I receive what I need to unite my thoughts more firmly with the Will of God the Father, my sufferings with the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ and my actions in adherence with the Love and Will of God The Holy Spirit. I become more likely to live a Trinitarian, Sacramental life.

I have less chance of hurting someone. I have a better chance of forgiving those who may hurt me. I have a GREAT chance to be appreciate what I have, what great gifts I receive every day in the form of friendship, laughter, opportunities to serve.

I have a better chance of living as I should live - as a Catholic Out Loud.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Week Begins with a SMILE

I have given myself a personal challenge and I met that challenge two days in a row. Today will be day three and I am determined to keep the promise to myself and meet that challenge again.

The challenge is simple - up my cardio in the gym to 45 minutes before hitting the weight machines.

That probably seems a little weird to some people; however, what I know about me is that going to the gym is always going to feel a little odd and uncomfortable. I have been pretty faithful in my attendance, excluding times of illness, for the past three years. I know where the gym is, I have a locker and work out clothes and I even take a quick shower there because (finally) my metabolism has changed enough that I actually sweat while exercising.

All that being what it is, whenever I am on the treadmill doing my little jogging routine, I half expect someone to walk up to me and say, "I'm sorry, Ma'am. We checked the records and you do not belong here. If you will allow me to escort you across the street to the pizza parlour, I will be glad to order you an extra large pan pizza with lots and lots of cheese. However, you need to stop this whole exercise thing right now. It does not fit you at all".

This attitude has permeated my 'let's get fit' goal. It holds me back. It keeps me at the minimum.

Starting last Saturday, I told myself my new routine for the three times I go this week would be:

15 minutes on the treadmill (jogging, not just walking)
15 minutes on the elliptical (if I spelled that right)
15 minutes on the bicycle (at a good strong level)

45 minutes of solid cardio, mixed up to keep me focused (as I have the attention span of a flea), but done before I do my six or seven weight machine exercises (three sets of 12, thank you).

Let me tell you what is funny - half way through the first 15 minutes, my little alkie head said, "Hmmm...I wonder if I really need to do THAT much cardio?".

Here is what I do when that happens: I remind myself that this is not about what I need to do; rather, it is now a matter of integrity. I made myself a promise. If I don't keep that promise I am not being an honorable and trustworthy woman. If I can't even trust ME to be good to me, how can I expect anyone outside of me to be good to me?

Yes, actually deciding that keeping my word is a matter of integrity and allows me to be a better steward of this creature that is me helped me to stay on that treadmill, move to the bike and then do that dumb ol other thing that I can never spell.

And I did that Sunday too. In fact, I not only did that Sunday, I upped the time by two minutes just for fun.

And tonight, after work, will be day 3.

I liken my determination to honor my own promises to me to my reconversion to the Catholic Faith. Incremental in its application, I would tell myself "I will faithfully attend Mass for one month and see how it goes". I would not slack on it (ok, so that is only 4 times in a row but trust me, I can talk myself out of pretty much anything that is good for me) and then I would evaluate the experience. If there was nothing negative about it, I would continue and today I cannot imagine not celebrating the Eucharist on Sunday with my Catholic family. The sermon can be lousy, the music can stink and I might not like the person standing next to me or in front of me but by golly I am there - no longer for me, but for Him.

My hope is that by challenging myself in the gym I will begin to have a minor conversion experience and start to feel as though it is ok that I go there three to four times a week. No one will kick me out or say, "Forget it, Lady, you are out of here".

I may never be a real athlete, and you will not see me compete on America Ninja Warrior, but I can take good care of my temple and do so with honor.

That too is a way to be Catholic - Out Loud.

Monday, July 14, 2014

A Beautiful Weekend

This past weekend was spent with the family members I will be traveling with this December. Our plan is to attend a commemorative celebration in honor of relatives killed by the Nazis in 1944. It is a difficult journey - the town, Ravarano, is small and in the mountain region of Castellano, Italy. It is going to take some maneuvering but we have been planning this for two years and we are determined.

I am going to try and track down the mayor of the town today. If I cannot get a name, I am going to contact one of the television stations. This might be fun for them, a kind of human interest story they like to do, and maybe we can get some better information before we start buying tickets.

We had such a lovely day.

I also had a great talk with my brother on Sunday. He has grown tremendously over the past five years and is a great example of what happens when one stops blaming others and pointing fingers and starts to take a firm look at how they have contributed to chaos and destruction. He gave me some great advice. I am going to take it. I am always looking for ways to improve and as long as the ways given to me do not require me to go against my moral and religious code, I am open to trying in order to achieve peace.

I miss my dog.

Other than that, everything is pretty great right now. I just am overwhelmed with the love and support I have received. I am encouraged by the people who tell me to keep going and keep trying. I am encouraged by those who, with love, have pointed out my errors.

All in all, I am one grateful sober Catholic woman today.

Thank you all for allowing me to be in your lives.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Shaw's William Wallace MacDuff
Loyal friend and Companion
8/23/2006 - 7/7/2014

I will miss my little guy.  I am so glad for the time I had with him!  I am really grateful to the hard work done by the doctors, vet techs and all the people who worked so hard to save him.  

Thank you, Lord, for the chance to learn and grow and become closer to You in grief.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

For Love of God and Dog - part DEUX

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

2416 Animals are God's creatures. He surrounds them with his providential care. By their mere existence they bless him and give him glory.197 Thus men owe them kindness. We should recall the gentleness with which saints like St. Francis of Assisi or St. Philip Neri treated animals.
2417 God entrusted animals to the stewardship of those whom he created in his own image.198 Hence it is legitimate to use animals for food and clothing. They may be domesticated to help man in his work and leisure. Medical and scientific experimentation on animals is a morally acceptable practice if it remains within reasonable limits and contributes to caring for or saving human lives.
2418 It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly. It is likewise unworthy to spend money on them that should as a priority go to the relief of human misery. One can love animals; one should not direct to them the affection due only to persons.

My Scottish Terrier is now the most expensive dog on the block, but it looks like he has turned the corner and is on the mend.  He is still in the hospital, and will probably remain there one more night, and he still has a lot of healing to do but he is on the mend, and for that I am grateful.

I love that little guy and take darn good care of him.  Because of this little episode I am back in debt - not an unreasonable debt, but a debt none the less - but the reality is if this had happened to a dog that was 12 or 13 years old, he would not have been put through the operation and the last three days of horrible recovery.

Something else happened during the past few days and I am going to try and share this as best I can.  I am still processing the spiritual growth I have experienced so forgive me if I sound silly or distorted. Suffice to say, it makes sense to me.

When Duffy got sick, my first prayers were basically, "Please, God, not Duffy.  He is all I have - I am all alone and he is it".

During the first 24 hours, when things were so gloomy and I was trying to be strong, to prepare myself for losing him, I came to realize what my sin  - what my part - in all this is and it was a little embarrassing.

I heard the voice of God in my heart and He said, "I love you".

That simple - that simple and complete.

"I love you".

It came to me that my attachment to my animal was a sin, if I put my love for him and my dependence upon him before my love and dependence on God.

Duffy is a creature.  God is the Creator.

My first loyalty has to be to God.

More importantly, it came to me that I am still way WAY too dependent upon the love of creatures - animal or human - and that when I pray, "Jesus, I trust in You" I am (essentially) lying because I am looking too much to the world for validation.

Even now, after 22 years of sobriety and becoming closer and closer to the Mind of the Church, I am still too darn concerned with what you think, with having creatures love me rather than relying upon the knowledge, the faith, that God Loves ME.

When that hit me, my prayer changed.  I gave Duffy to God.  I told God, "He is Your dog, he is Your creature.  If you want me to continue to be the steward of this creature, I will be that but only because You have that as Your plan for me.  But if You want this creature's life to end, I am OK with that as well, because I know You love me".  

I try to be as honest with God as I can…I told Him that I need His Grace and Strength to do this but I am willing to cooperate with Him in order to just stay focused on this:  His love is enough for me.

From that moment on, Duffy began to improve.

Duffy is not out of the woods yet and I may be saying good bye to him soon, but even if that happens I know what I was supposed to learn from all this craziness. 

I was supposed to learn to rely even more on God.

Thank you for the lesson, Lord.  Now please, help me to live up to it.