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In the past year, one phrase has been on my lips, “Lord, Give me strength.” The problems has been adding up. Fear, doubt, worry, anxieties all have been something that has plagued my mind. When I think I’m free of that, then comes a restlessness of my soul that I never anticipated before.
From the outside, my lot is not that bad at all. I am able to homeschool, which has it’s own challenges, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. I am able to stay home with my children. As well as show success to my family other than it being monetary.
No. The problem lies within the mind. While I’m not in a bad situation, rather loving one, my enemy at the moment has been my mind. Doubt has crept in my mind which has affected my ability to write my words on paper. Express myself completely and honestly. Doubt had me questioning my decisions that I have made in the past that led me to my current role. Doubt, overall has been the shovel that has unsettled my mind.
Because of this overwhelming doubt, I have been filled with anxiety. Questions regarding decisions that I am making in life, even when not conventional, has me spiraling into that dark sea of the abyss whose main goal is to swallow me up whole.
Giving Up Freedom & Being Obedient
After all of this, I realize that I have to give up the one thing that I am holding onto with an iron fist–the idea of being in control. Afraid that once when I take that plunge I’ll be a leaf in the wind, blown around in a breeze. But that is what I am already.
I am already a leaf that is being blown about by my emotions that I notice is one positive one moment and full of anxiety the other. That is not a way to live; that is not a way to go about our day.
Lately, I have decided that I have to just be obedient. Listen to what it is I’m supposed to do, and put off to the side what I am not. In the stillness of my mind I have noticed is that the fear and anxiety is not because I want to be in control it’s because of my lack of obedience.
Working against God’s Will
So, that brings me to this point. The past year I have been trying to function against what I’m told I need to do. The fight alone has caused problems, but most of all, it has caused me to become battle weary.
When we fight against what we’re supposed to do, much fear, and anxiety arrises. Our voices are stifled. We feel as if we are a victim and some outside force is causing these problems. Not so. We are causing our own misery. We are doing what we’re not supposed to do, and wondering why we’re not happy with these decisions. So we may feel going deeper in the rabbit hole is going to make things better–that we’ll feel better, but in the long run we just make ourselves worse.
Submitting & Taking the Leap of Faith
When we work with the will of God, we then become free. The anxiety becomes a distant memory, and the dark clouds of fear leaves like an overcast day. This is freedom, and this is happiness.
The first moment you realize this, and you take that leap, everything starts to make sense.
Some may need to make that leap when it comes down to their spiritual life, others professional. Wherever you fall in life, understand, that if you always try to do what you want, and not what God wants, you’ll never find happiness.
Not everyone was meant to be well known and famous–some of us are meant to be obscure and unimportant past our lives. Whatever we are mean to be, we know that we just have the moment now to be what we are supposed to be, even if its not what we want to be.
Lent is one of my favorite times of the year. Yes, it’s a time to purge ourselves and get closer to Christ, renounce our sins, and most of all, await Easter Sunday after experiencing Good Friday. There is nothing more positive that shows a great beginning to a troubling journey. But did you know that the absence of meat on Friday’s is not only during Lent?
But I’ll be honest about something, I’m still learning the rich and deep aspects of our Faith everyday. Also, while learning some traditions that may have been lost or forgotten, I am stumbling on them and find that they enrich my week, months, and years.
One of the traditions that I have come across not too long ago was the fasting from meat on Fridays. One would think that this was common knowledge, but no where was this discussed or even talked about. Far as I knew, we had to fast on Fridays during Lent only.
Well according to Code of Canon Law:
Days of Penance
Can. 1249 The divine law binds all the Christian faithful to do penance each in his or her own way. In order for all to be united among themselves by some common observance of penance, however, penitential days are prescribed on which the Christian faithful devote themselves in a special way to prayer, perform works of piety and charity, and deny themselves by fulfilling their own obligations more faithfully and especially by observing fast and abstinence, according to the norm of the following canons.
Can. 1250 The penitential days and times in the universal Church are every Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent.
Can. 1251 Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
Can. 1252 The law of abstinence binds those who have completed their fourteenth year. The law of fasting binds those who have attained their majority, until the beginning of their sixtieth year. Pastors of souls and parents are to ensure that even those who by reason of their age are not bound by the law of fasting and abstinence, are taught the true meaning of penance.
Can. 1253 The conference of bishops can determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence as well as substitute other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety, in whole or in part, for abstinence and fast.
Of course we all sit down with a cup of tea and read cannon law right before bed…right? (Well….At least I don’t). I’m guessing that this is not well known because it is widely believed that the fast requirement was removed. This would explain why I never heard of it growing up, and those whom I talked to didn’t know of it.
So what if you’re not a big meat eater and you’re a vegetarian?
Well, then it wouldn’t be that much of a hardship to fast from meat on Friday for you. There has to be another way for you to offer up penance. That is where I believe the confusion began. We can abstain from meat on Fridays or we can offer up a suitable penance. This, I believe has been interpreted that we don’t have to fast from meat (or do a form of penance) and the Bishops has removed that requirement from us.
That is simply not the case. Every Friday is a like a little good Friday for us, and every Sunday is like a little Easter.
Knowledge changes us, and this has changed me and my family throughout the year. We are more aware and mindful of our Friday fast from meat. Now I will admit that in the beginning this was a huge challenge, because there are times where I’m just craving a burger and it happens to be a Friday, but I’ve been okay with that sacrifice.
Also, know that I know this, there is no going back to our old ways of doing things.
One of the most overlooked wrongs in this time is the sin of calumny. This is also known as backbiting, talking behind someone’s back, gossiping, and telling stories (even if they are true) to ruin the reputation of their neighbor. I think this has to be one of the most easiest sin to commit, and yet one of the hardest sins to break. A person can be free of all other vices, but still manage to suffer from this one. So, let’s get into what this is, and how it can be damaging.
All of this is an offense the 8th Commandment: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”What is Calumny?
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
Detractor and calumny destroy the reputation and honor of one’s neighbor. Honor is the social witness given to human dignity, and everyone enjoys a natural right to honor of his name and reputation and to respect. Thus detraction and calumny offends against the virtues of justice and charity. (2479).
Meaning, that anything that we say about another person reputation, even if it is the truth, will be harming their honor and good name. We destroy that person’s reputation by sharing information about that person that the other party was not made aware of.How does this behavior causes us to lose respect for our neighbor?
- Rash judgment — When we draw conclusions about a person’s motives and assume them as true, without all the information necessary to draw that conclusion.
- Detractions — without a valid reason, disclose another person’s fault and failings to another person who did not know them.
- Calumny — remarks that are not true that harms the reputation of others, and could lead to false judgments regarding them.
There are times when we are going to want to vent about a problem, of course when we speak out in anger, we are opening ourselves up to near occasions of sin–and calumny would be no different.
What starts off as letting some steam off about a situation, turns into a tirade about how the person involved did them wrong. Then it turns into how they did everything wrong, and then to make sure that the person whom we’re talking to agrees with us, we start to disclose something that they did, or said to someone who had no knowledge of it.
We know when we crossed the line when our anger dissipates, but the person whom we talked to now has a negative view about the other person. Their view of them has been tainted, and due to our actions, we harmed the name of a person who didn’t have the opportunity to defend themselves.
I have seen this happen to those that I love countless times. Something goes wrong, and then venting and anger discussions begins. How they “never” did anything for the person who is “injured” and how the person being talked about is, “ungrateful” and “selfish.” Whomever this person talks to, spreads this poison to anyone who listens.
Sadly, the person whom they were talking to is not out of harms way, because the minute they don’t do what this detractor wants, they too are thrown under the bus, and their reputation is dragged in the mud. The cycle continues until everyone knows something negative about each other.How does this harm ourselves and others?
The harm affects us and others immediately. We are deeply affected because even if we didn’t actively engage in talking behind someone’s back, we could also be guilty of not stopping it. By not stopping it, we too are engaging in the behavior (by condoning it), and the words that the detractor says becomes part of our memory. How then we we treat the person with the respect they deserve if in the back of our minds we know all the “hidden secrets” about them?
The other person who has been defamed is affected because almost immediately, they are going to notice something wrong in our reception of them. They may not know what is wrong, but they will detect a coldness that would be hard to hide. In the long run, calumny will cause wedges in relationships, distrust among loved ones grows and relationships die.
Many times we don’t know the full implications our words have on one another especially their perception that our neighbor has. One word, said out of anger or an exaggerated lie will have far more repercussions than we can ever imagine. Once we cross that line, we have to work extra to restore their reputation.
I’ll leave you with this:
Trying to undo the harm that our words caused is difficult as trying to find all the feathers of a pillow that has been blown away by the wind.
If you are anything like me, it’s hard to keep a prayer life with children. However, I know that it’s not only good for our children to see us pray, but it wonderful way to stop the clock in our day and focus on prayer. Sometimes, it’s just what the doctor ordered!
My kids however, are surrounded by me making prayers throughout the day, many times randomly, other many times asking God for help. We schedule time in our day for prayers as a family, but I also know how important it is for me to have prayer time for myself.
Prayer time is a time for me to recharge and refresh and a way for me to gather strength for the day to handle every thing that is going to come my way. I know that the day appears be more difficult and trying when I sense I’m lapsing in my prayers.Here are 4 ways to keep a prayer life with Children
1. Family Rosary.
I like to say a daily rosary. Sometimes to have Mercy on us, sometimes for Life. To get this going, I like to get the kids involved. I can either have them say the mystery or lead us on prayer (a decade a turn) or have them color a rosary themed page or book, while I say the rosary. The great thing about this is that everyone is calm for the next 20 minutes or so, and we get to say a rosary! Now there are times where I can only do a decade with the kids–when this happens, we reserve the rest of the rosary for the week.
2. Pray the Liturgy of the Hours out loud.
I really love praying the Liturgy of the Hours in a nice quiet spot. I “discovered” the prayer over a year ago, and I have never looked back. It is such a peaceful way to sanctity the day. I have an App that I can connect to my speakers that does the whole thing. Our kids, while they are into doing the Liturgy of the Hours, sometimes I do find my kids going a lot with it. When I sing the prayers out loud or playing the App, I notice paying attention the prayers. Many times after the Office reading, there are questions about the reading! An excellent way to discuss the Bible with the little ones.
3. Read the Bible Together.
Of course, nothing can beat sitting down and digesting the Holy Scriptures by myself. There are days that the only time I can do this is when I read the Bible to the kids. I love this way because they not only see the Scripture stories connect to one another, but we can talk about what it means to us, and what lessons it has for us. For the extremely young one, they are able to see a pictures of the story while the older ones can think about what it means.
4. Keep Prayerful Music.
There mission states:
While the gift of music education is invaluable, the gift of music combined with prayer is immeasurable.
While we don’t have this on all time time, it has music for young kids with the Liturgical Year in mind. I find that my youngest is singing a long with the songs, and my oldest love the music and how we change it up depending on the year.
Of course, these are just some thing we can do to keep a prayer life. Since my kids are young, I try to involve them in what I’m doing, and I find that they sometimes do things on they own. One of the greatest gifts we can share with kids is our personal relationship with God, and encourage them to develop a relationship too.
How do you keep your prayer life going with kids?
Who is building your home? It seems like a simple question at first. Of course we’ll say that God built it, however, when we look deeper, we can see that we put ourselves in the master foreman position instead of God.
How many times can I remember that I listed everything that “I” want to do. Everything that “I” am planning for, and all the changes that “I” want to make. There was a lot of I’s my sentences and honestly in my way of thinking. There is nothing wrong with having plans and doing things that we enjoy, but it’s taken a while to realize that not all the things that I have planned, and all the things I want to do, are things that I should do.
We have such big plans, year after year, and day after day, that it sometimes we don’t realize when God is calling us to something greater. There are times when we are Paul and have to be knocked down from our horse. Many times we need a huge wake-up call to get us focus on the right thing.
The things that can bring us the greatest joy in our lives, are things that give glory to God.
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For me, it has been reading spiritual books. There is so much information and so much knowledge that the Saints can teach us. So much scripture to meditate on, oh so much! But it’s not just reading the spiritual books, its applying them. So many books (like the Rules of Saint Benedict) are not just books to read, but books to apply to your life. By doing so, I’ve seen myself grow spiritually and my family has been changed. I can see, and feel God building and shaping me into whom he wants me to be.
So these days, I’m starting to become more mindful and aware of who is building my city and who is watching guard. If doing God’s will is not the forefront of my desires, then it is not God’s will that I’m doing, but my own. If I’m trying to put all my trust into my own facilities, then it’s not God who is watching over, but me foolishly thinking I can do it all on my own.
These things take time, and it forces us to be aware of what’s going on in our lives, and how we live. Everyday I ask God to show me how he wants me to live. What it is He wants me to do. I want God to be the master foreman, he should be building my house.
I understand that there is no happiness doing things contrary to His will. There is no joy doing things my way–it only brings sorrow.
And yes, His ways are not easy. It does require a denial of self (a lot of denial of self). However, to accept a “no” when we receive it, and try to understand that it’s for our own good is very humbling .
But there is also so much joy in listening to Him. Growing in faith and knowledge, and finally being able to understand things that wasn’t understandable before. Those are the moments that bring joy, at least to my heart.
Who builds your house? Do you try to do things for the greater glory of God and not self?