2013-04-29

Life's Lessons and Moral Law

It seems that recently, perhaps even increasingly recently, there is no shortage of events upon which to ponder. Pondering often leads to reflection on one's own actions.

Take, for example, the most recent tragedy in Bangladesh where nearly four hundred 1,127 factory workers are missing and presumed dead as a result of the collapse of the building in which these poor souls were working. Just the day before, yes, the day before, a review of the building warranted it unsafe due to large cracks that appeared in its cement structure. Clothing manufactures, which occupied the eight story building, called there workers in regardless of the danger.

I share this story because one of the manufacturers produces a line of clothing carried by the local grocery store in the town where I live. It's a kind of one stop shop, where you can buy your canned goods and cleaning supplies one isle away from the latest trendy cotton plaid button-down shirts or neon colored exercise gear. Part of the reason why the clothing is so popular is because the price is right, especially for the college students who flood this town.

But, the right price comes at considerable cost, especially to the spouses and children who have lost a loved one in the building that now lies as a heap of rubble.

As Catholic Christians, we have a moral obligation not to partake in the buying of merchandise that is made through the exploitation of another person's labor. When factory workers in Bangladesh earn poor pay ($38US dollars per month) and work in unsafe conditions, we are literally profiting off the backs of these workers by buying an item whose price does not represent a fair exchange of value for their labor.

In moral theology, there is something known as natural law, which states that human interactions are governed by a set of ethical norms that are intertwined with the structure of the universe. In other words, they are not man-made. The Holy Spirit has infused into us a knowledge of good and evil. All humans have this knowledge.

Therefore, one must ask, if all humans possess these ethical norms then, why were these poor workers let back into a building that posed such grave danger? Furthermore, if we are aware that the goods available in our stores are manufactured in a manner which is not in keeping with moral law, then, why do we continue to support the very mechanisms that enslave our brothers and sisters?

The answer is, quite simply, a lack of love. If we loved our brothers and sisters, we would not support the systems which perpetuate their enslavement.

Peace,

Peter's Bride

2013-04-21

Reflections on Catholicism: Be a Saint

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
                                                                                                            
                                                                                                        Matthew 5.48

I recall saying when I was a young adult, that I’m not aiming for sainthood. How stupid was I? It is not that I aspired towards evil. I just did not think that I had the capacity to be perfect. I was already a perfectionist falling short of my earthly standards. Aiming higher seemed absolutely impossible.

Ironically, I did not know Jesus commanded us to be perfect, as recorded in Matthew (5.48), nor did I know that much about the saints, an obvious error in my formation as a young adult, practicing Catholic. Saints were to be venerated, I understood. In reality, however, saints are to be imitated.

If you have read any of my earlier posts, you would know that I love learning about the saints. They are the super heroes and the champions of our faith.

Why do I love them so? I think it is because they stood for principles they believed were worth suffering for, even dying for. They recognized the beauty in all of God’s creations. In the disabled. The poor. The wretched. The saints recognized the intrinsic worth that our Lord, Jesus Christ, placed on each individual human life. Each is given the opportunity to become perfect, like Our Lord.

Had I learned sooner, I would have understood that the men and women, boys and girls, who became saints, were aiming to come closer to our Lord, Jesus Christ, by way of serving Him as perfectly as they could.

In Rediscovering Catholicism: A Spiritual Guide to Living with Passion and Purpose, Matthew Kelly points out,
There are two great differences between heroes, leaders, champions and saints that fill the history books and the rest of us. In the first place, they tended to have a singleness of purpose that penetrated every activity of their lives. And in the second place, they formed habits that helped them to achieve their goal. These aren’t the mindless habits that are acquired by choosing a path of least resistance and maximum pleasure, but the life-giving habits that lead to excellence and holiness. (page 114)
We can learn from the lives of the saints through imitation, not by veneration alone. The desire of the saints was to serve God with a singularity of purpose, purity of heart and mind. It was their daily personal challenge to walk in the path of perfect responsiveness to God’s call.

Our modern world offers no fewer opportunities than the saints encountered in their own lives. We are called to be saints, but do we answer the call?

Peace,
Peter’s Bride

2013-04-20

Reflection on Catholicism: Cool, Like St. Francis

 
Whenever a man or woman emerges as an instrument of God’s truth and goodness, people will beat a path to that person’s door.
                                                                           Matthew Kelly

As a middle school teacher, I encountered the ‘tweens, students between the ages of twelve and fourteen. A critical age, really, in the formation of young adults. I learned a lot about what was presently cool and what students were tuning into, what connected.

It would not be earth shattering to announce that being seen wearing the right sneakers or logoed shirt or worse, price tags still hanging from the hat to suggest it was stolen, were all signs of ultimate cool.

Pants falling below the waist was worthy of emulation because so-and-so pop star does it. Being accepted by peers means everything. What these young adults-to-be tuned into were the trappings of popular culture. A kind of ever-changing behemoth that is boisterous, colourful, distracting, and often obnoxious.

Our young people need models of faith, models who regard our Lord, Jesus Christ, and his message, as relevant to their lives and whose message informs the multitudinous choices that these young people will make in the coming years. For these ‘tween and young adults look to the professional athletes, the musicians, singers, and actors because they are constantly spouting messages. Do this! Think like me! Love this! Hate that! Sadly today there are few living spiritual rock stars of the faith.

Can you imagine what it would be like if St. Francis of Assisi was alive at this time? As a young man, he enjoyed the good life his family’s position afforded him.. Son of a wealthy merchant, he was popular, charming, witty and a favourite among many. He aspired to greatness, wishing to become a knight.

During a battle St. Francis was captured and held hostage, eventually becoming very ill. Once freed, he required convalescence. It was during this time of quiet solitude that he came to hear God and to know peace, contentment and beauty.

Our ‘tweens and young adults look outward for cues on how to be in the world. Let us remind them that, most often, the answer lies within.

God bless,
Peter’s Bride

2013-04-18

Digging Deep

Sometimes, a person has to dig deep in order to not be overrun with sadness by the happenings of the world. I think this is why the notion of being grateful is such a major theme in the Catholic faith. It is the proverbial when dealt lemons, make lemonade kind of thinking.

With the events that have happened in the world the past few days - and in my own family - my father having heart attacks - has a way of making one feel vulnerable and alone. Years ago, I would have reacted with a sad spirit and a gloomy look, wearing my emotions on my sleeve to show the world just how deeply I felt.

I don't think like this anymore. In times such as these, I dig deep. I look for what is going well, or, at least okay, in my life and I remember to be grateful for such things. It is a real piece of cognitive self-therapy sometimes.

It is the remembering to remember to be grateful part that often catches people up. But, one must only remember to remember a few times, during difficult circumstances, that builds the cognitive muscle to make being grateful a more automatic process during such times.

I think this is something that the saints understood. They often faced rejection, the hatred of others, hunger, and uncertainty in the beginning of their path towards a saintly life. They must have had to dig deep. In doing so, they likely offered these deeply human feelings up to God, eventually discovering a well spring of love, hope and charity.

We are all called to be saints.

God bless,

Peter's Bride

2013-04-16

A Sorrowful Heart

My deepest sympathy to those families who lost loved ones in the Boston Marathon tragedy. I pray for the repose of their souls.  My heart-felt prayers to those who were injured and those who witnessed the horror.

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host -
by the Divine Power of God -
cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.



Amen


Peace of Christ,

Peter's Bride

2013-04-14

My Battle Shield, Part Two

Wear the Scapular devoutly and perseveringly. It is my garment.
To be clothed in it means you are continually thinking of me, and I in turn,
am always thinking of you and helping you to secure eternal life.
                                                                                                          Blessed Virgin Mary
This is a true story.
When I was about two years old, my family once set out on vacation to visit my grandparents 'back home.' About ten miles away from the house, I apparently discovered that my blanket had not made it into the car and I began to cry. Crying turned into wailing, so much so, that my mother had to turn the car around and return home to retrieve the blanket.
My mother knew that I would not be content without the security that the baby blanket offered me. And, she knew she would have no peace until my blanket was repatriated with its devoted owner. With blanket in hand and out-stretched thumb, I was content to suck my thumb knowing that my "bankie" was with me.
And so it is with the brown scapular. Like my baby blanket, I am offered security in its wearing. I am cloaked in our Holy Mother's mantle and given protection. Our Heavenly Mother has offered such a mantle since 1251, when she instructed Saint Simon Stock to make this sacramental available to the world. The scapular is not a lucky charm. But, it is a sign to follow Jesus like Mary did, to be open to God's will, a commitment to prayer, and to know the my Holy Mother is always with me.
As mentioned in Part One, investiture into the Family of Carmel is a simple process. Most any priest who authorized to do so or is a Carmelite can perform the simple ceremony.  You may want to consider this option when you are being enrolled in the brown scapular and make such a request known to the priest at this time. You may recite a daily prayer, known as the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin or you may wish, instead, to recite daily five decades of the rosary, in order to receive the benefits of the Sabbatine privilege (Our Lady will release you from purgatory on the Saturday after death).
To obtain a free  brown scapular, click on this link. Offered by a lay ministry, these scapulars may be obtained for free. If you are in the financial position to do so, a donation for supplies would be most helpful to this voluntary group who do this work out of devotion to Our Blessed Mother.
If you would like to purchase a hand-made brown scapular made by a sister of the Sisters of Carmel, I invite you to visit this link. Having received one of these for Christmas, I can tell you that they are hand-stitched and truly a work of love.
Please know that I have no connection to these organizations, whatsoever, with the exception of course, of wearing a brown scapular. I am merely pointing you in the direction of two possible places online where the brown scapular can be obtained. You may also choose to visit your local Catholic book store as many also sell sacramentals.

Missed part one? Visit here!
God bless and Happy Easter!
Peace,
Peter's Bride

2013-04-13

My Battle Shield, Part One

Yesterday, I made mention of the Catholic's view of life on earth. Essentially, it's a battle out there. A battle between good and evil.

If you don't believe me, I suggest that you take a look at any newspaper any where. You will see stories of death, destruction, abuse, and misery. Sounds a lot like hell to me.

Believe me when I say that I am not prone to exaggeration and I am not blind, stupid (uneducated), or weak. I have just lived long enough and have witnessed enough malice in the public sphere to have grown wise. 

Some years ago, I began to wear a brown scapular and was enrolled into the Family of Carmel. It comprises a simple and short investiture by prayer and a blessing of the first scapular to be worn.

In wearing the brown scapular, I will receive protection in danger and against evil. My scapular is a sign of salvation and a pledge of peace.  Our Lady promises that those who die while wear the scapular will not suffer eternal fire. But, the brown scapular has even bigger implications for our times.

In a chance encounter in Rome, three men, who later became saints, met on a street corner. They were St. Dominic, St. Francis, and St. Angelus. This was no chance encounter, for the Holy Spirit must have orchestrated such a meeting. Each man made a prophesy to the other. Among the prophecies, as recorded by Ventimiglia, St. Dominic foretold the following:

"One day, Brother Angelus, to your Order of Carmel the Most Blessed Virgin Mary will give a devotion to be known as the Brown Scapular, and to my Order of Preachers she will give a devotion to be known as the Rosary. And one day, through the rosary and the scapular She [the Virgin Mary] will save the world."

Given the world we live in, doesn't it make sense to consider the brown scapular?

Please visit part two of the conversation.

God bless,

Peter's Bride

2013-04-12

A Lesson in Tragedy

Recently, there was a tragic event whereby a young woman attempted to take her own life. Taken to the hospital, she was put on life-support, which was consequently removed. Her story is a tragic one because the downfall of this poor soul began when, at age 15, she and a friend went to a party where liquor was served and morals were not.

This girl was assaulted in the most egregious manner by more than one male. As is the nature of teenagers and digital technology, the hideous actions laid upon this girl were photographed and became fodder for bullying and the subsequent barbarism that is now so commonly conveyed through social media.

As tragic as this story is, the first clue I had to the genesis of the problem was given by the girl's mother who stated in the newspaper that when her daughter was born, she gave her to the world. Herein, lay the first chapter of the tragedy.

Never, ever offer a child to the world.  This world is a battleground and we are nothing more than chess pieces in the competition between good and evil. An assault of this nature upon a person is a wound to the soul, literally. By giving her child to the world, this mother, who is grieving today, gave her child not to God.

Please kindly pray for this young woman and all young women like her. Please pray for the repose of her soul and for the protection of young girls who know not what evil looks like.

Peace of Christ,

Peter's Bride

2013-04-10

It Starts with a List

I don't know about you, but I like to make lists. A list for groceries to buy. A list of projects to be done around the home. A list of plants I would like to grow in the garden.

It appears the US army also likes to make lists. The most recent one they have produced concerns religious extremism and Christianity, Catholicism in particular, is on the list.

I guess it was The Bible movie recently shown during the Lenten season that scared the powers that be. After all, Jesus did say, in the movie that is, "We are going to change the world." Perhaps they felt intimidated.

After all, Catholics believe that there is life beyond this one, that we are in this world but not of this world. It means that we are not afraid. It means that we know truth.

How many crimes against humanity began with a list?

Peace be with you,

Peter's Bride

2013-04-02

An Assault on Beauty

What reaction would you have if someone painted over the Mona Lisa? Or the works of Michelangelo, Vermeer, or Monet? Would you be shocked? Appalled? Horrified even? Who knows what great works have been laid victim to the paint brush in countless Catholic churches across the world? Too many, I am certain.

You see, I have now encountered two Roman Catholic churches in two different countries where some brilliant bishops in the 1960's or 1970's, saw fit to paint over the original artwork that occupied the walls of the apse, the nave and/or the transepts of each. No doubt, these paintings depicted the life and times of Jesus Christ, Holy Mother Mary, Saint Joseph, or some other aspect of the early Christianity.

It seems to me that there is something more at stake than a fresh coat of paint. For I believe, it has been an attack on the body of Christ.

In peace,

Peter's Bride

2013-04-01

Easter Gifts

The longer I live to experience the Easter season, the more amazed I am at its transformative power. The Lenten season, if done with any kind of reverence at all, is a time for recognition, reflection, and healing. A kind of new year's eve resolution, if you will, for Christian Catholics. A time to start afresh.

Over the past several weeks, my family and I looked forward to watching the Easter presentation, The Bible, every Sunday evening. A half an hour or so, just before the movie was to start, we sat around the living room and said the rosary together. And then, we'd tune in to the next installment of the series. Even though the movie did not often capture the true story of Jesus' life, as told in the bible itself, it was an opportunity to reflect on the life of Jesus, the perfection of his message, and develop a greater appreciation for the apostles who then took this message to the far reaches of the earth.

For this I am truly grateful. For I am a descendant of those who took the message of God's saving grace to heart upon hearing it from, I assume, a disciple.

It seems Easter Sunday was filled with other gifts, as well. Pope Francis offered another Urbi et Orbi, a plenary indulgence  offered according to Church teachings.

To benefit from this plenary indulgence, within 8 days (before or after) Easter, we must:

  • Avail ourselves of the Sacrament of Confession
  • Pray for Pope Francis' intentions (say an Our Father, a Hail Mary, and a Glory Be):
    • Pray that Pope Francis will have many years as leader of the Roman Catholic Church
    • Pray for peace and unity for the church throughout the world
  • Receive the Holy Eucharist with total detachment from all venial sins

The gift of plenary indulgence results in complete remission of temporal punishment for all our confessed sins. 

Please consider offering your plenary indulgences for the souls in purgatory. Don't worry about losing the benefit of your indulgence because God cannot be outdone in his generosity.


God bless you,

Peter's Bride