Spiritual act of mercy: Be a good example when instructing

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Receiving ashes in 2010

You might be like me and don’t feel like you have a knack for teaching. I know I have always been afraid of public speaking, so teaching — especially children — frightens me.

I also always thought I wasn’t knowledgeable enough in “Bible stuff” to teach anyone else. Who would want to listen to a wayward Catholic, struggling with her own faith?

Well, a few years ago, I was shocked when a friend of mine asked me to be her sponsor as she joined the Catholic Church. She said I was a good example and she was inspired by my faith.

Wait, what?

At the time, I had been a college student at a Big 10 university known for its drinking habits. I had gone with this friend to many a party, flirted with many guys and did many non-Christian things, in my eyes. I even had a roommate at one point who was super Christian, and my friends and I thought she was acting silly at some points (wouldn’t wear a bathing suit, never kissing a boy or drinking.)

Yet, I still dragged my butt to church weekly, even at the 9 p.m. Sunday Mass in sweatpants. I did, at one point, decide to become a Eucharistic minister, but that was it. I didn’t really read my Bible in front of her or speak in tongues … I acted up like many college students.

Despite all this, I was a good example of the Catholic Church, according to this friend.

So, this is a great way, and many the most important way, we can instruct the ignorant or uneducated. We need to be living examples of Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church.

You don’t need to be perfect; none of us can be as sinners. But if we live humbly and continue to strive to change our ways under God’s guidance, I think we can be great examples.

“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.” 1 Peter 2:21

Read part 1 here.

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Pathways to Mercy: Clothe the naked

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stock.xchng photo by remind

It seems so easy for us to “clothe the naked.” We just need to donate clothes to Salvation Army or any of the number of organizations that gathers used clothes and resells them to the public.

And yes, that will help. Some people just can’t afford to go to the store and buy clothes. But with cheaper clothes in places such as Wal-Mart, there sometimes is no need to go to Salvation Army for those that can’t afford it. Plus, have you gone to Salvation Army lately? There are a lot of dated clothes (I am looking at you, 1980s dresses with shoulder pads!)

So, how can we really help clothe the naked?

First, we need to start giving better clothes to help out the poor. These people do not want to be dressed in rags and don’t deserve to be. They deserve to look their best, as God has created them. I got this idea from Catholic Sistas, and it rang so true to me. I usually give many of my dated or destroyed clothes to charity, not thinking about the other person who needs the clothes.

And as much as I love Salvation Army and its mission, what about those who can’t even afford to buy used clothes? If there are organizations in your area that gives clothes away for free, I would suggest donating to those places, as well. I know during this time of year, there were many drives for winter coats and hats/gloves/scarves. What if you don’t have any of these specific items? Well, go out and buy them! As much as a homeless man will use a pair of used gloves, he will also use a pair of new gloves. He needs to keep warm, and that is all that matters.

And going back to Wal-Mart and cheap clothing: Why not start buying from responsible, fair-wage companies? And reusing and repairing what clothes you have? And also buying from Salvation Army instead? Our Jubilee of Mercy not only exists in our neighborhoods, but extends all over the world. By recognizing the horrors of slave labor and how many companies use sweat shops to make the cheap clothing we enjoy buying, that makes an impact on “clothing the naked” in other countries. These workers are treated like dirt, and that is unacceptable.

Clothing the naked goes beyond handing out gloves on a cold, winter day (though, that helps tremendously!) It also involves where we put our money.

Do you have any other ideas about how you can clothe the naked? 

Pathways to Sunday Prayer: Jan. 31

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Photo from catholicprayercards.org

Today, during this third Sunday of ordinary time, we will pray to St. John Bosco, whose feast day is today.

St. Bosco is also known as Don Bosco, as he was Italian. He had a “gang” of intercity, motherless youth whom he nurtured and cared for. He made it his mission to help disadvantaged youth. He also was known to have many dreams, in which God and Mary spoke to him and showed him things. His family and friends thought he was crazy for it, though. Read more about him here.

Let’s pray for today’s youth with this prayer:

O glorious Saint John Bosco, who in order to lead young people to the feet of the divine Master and to mold them in the light of faith and Christian morality didst heroically sacrifice thyself to the very end of thy life and didst set up a proper religious Institute destined to endure and to bring to the farthest boundaries of the earth thy glorious work, obtain also for us from Our Lord a holy love for young people who are exposed to so many seductions in order that we may generously spend ourselves in supporting them against the snares of the devil, in keeping them safe from the dangers of the world, and in guiding them, pure and holy, in the path that leads to God. Amen.

 

Spiritual act of mercy: Instruct the ignorant

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

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Flickr photo by George Bannister

Instruct the ignorant — That seems like such a harsh statement! The word “ignorant” has negative connotations these days.

Let’s put it in other words: Teach others; Instruct the unaware. Now, that sounds better.

Jesus instructs the apostles in the book of Matthew to go out and teach, making disciples of everyone. So, we are instructed to do the same.

It seems like a huge task, but it can be very simple.

The family

Our obligations are first to our spouses and children. Gone are the days when we ship the kids off to Catholic school and hope the priests and sisters will teach our kids all there is to know about our faith. First, that is a huge task! I know from personal experience that while I learned the basics and the importance of Mass, adoration, etc., I didn’t really learn the history of the church or delve into important topics all that often. Also, many families don’t encourage Catholic practice outside of school hours. Practicing our faith is like doing homework; it needs to be re-enforced by parents. So, live your faith constantly in front of your family, and encourage practicing of the faith.

Another way to help is to teach CCD on Sunday mornings to the church children. We need to be drawing the youth closer to the faith, and encouraging them to learn the practices. If volunteers don’t continue this practice, it might be detrimental to the next generation of followers. Also, get your children involved in youth groups and other church-related activities.

Teaching our children might be tough, though, as many of us might not have a background in theology or have “necessary” training. To that I say: Educate yourself. Before telling your children something, make sure you are correct.

Rely on those who have the training: priests, deacons, bishops, and the pope. They are the proper sources to read from and ask questions to. However, remember that these men are human, as well, and can and will make mistakes.

Most of all, prayer is an important lesson to teach everyone and to put into practice. Teach your family how to pray, and be a good example of this by praying nightly.

But what if …?

I realize that I centered this post a lot around family and children. They are the first and most important part of instruction, as we have an obligation to get our spouses and children into heaven. Plus, in my eyes, it is easy to teach children because they want to learn and it is our obligation to teach them.

But what if you are single/don’t have children/don’t like teaching/etc? I will touch on this topic in my next post, because I hear you! I do not have children, so the idea of “instructing the ignorant” frightens me a bit, too!

Feed the hungry: Carrying care packages during Jubilee of Mercy

IMG_20160121_160116330.jpgWe can feed the hungry in many ways: Giving donations to local food banks, helping out during food drives and even making and baking for area soup kitchens. But during the Jubilee of Mercy, it is also time to think outside the box.

I am going to shine a light on my husband’s good deeds for a moment. When we were dating, we were walking the streets of Ann Arbor on a date. A homeless man was begging for change on one of the corners. He turned to me and said, “I know this might sound weird, but I am going to ask that man if he wants to get a coffee at the shop nearby. Is that OK with you?” I was a bit shocked. And I said yes, that was fine.

The man did take us up on the offer, and we spent an hour with the man. I was immediately humbled and impressed at my then-boyfriend. Wow, he invites homeless men for coffee! I never, ever thought to do that!

Well, we talked about it on the ride home (he told me to never mention it to anyone! Oops!) He told me he doesn’t like to give money. Instead, he will give any leftovers he is carrying, or invite the person for a cup of coffee/a sandwich/etc. I was in awe at the selflessness this man portrayed. It inspired me.

IMG_20160121_155543537However, he warned me to never do that, as I am a woman. Wait, WHAT?! The feminist in me started to grumble ….

He was right. I am a woman, and sometimes I need to protect myself more.
BUT that doesn’t mean I can’t donate my leftovers, or go into a shop and just buy a coffee or sandwich for someone and give it to them. I can do things that make me feel safe, but still give back as much as possible in individual situations.

On the blog Catholic Sistas, I was inspired by preloaded gift cards to give out. And that gave me another idea: Small care packages. I went to Target and got some pantry staples: granola bars, bags of nuts, cracker sandwiches and tissues (everyone needs tissues.) I also put a $5 Subway card in the bag. I have a few care packages without the gift cards, because I still think they are important to give out, when I can’t afford a bunch of Subway cards.

What are some unique ways do you help feed the hungry? Have you tried anything during this Jubilee of Mercy?

Pathways to Sunday prayer: Jan. 10

5373342_origOn January 4, it was the feast day for St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. She is my patron saint, and the location where she did her ministry is near where I live, in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

So, I want to offer a prayer for St. Elizabeth’s intercession.

O Father, the first rule of Our dear Savior’s life was to do Your Will. Let His Will of the present moment be the first rule of our daily life and work, with no other desire but for its most full and complete accomplishment. Help us to follow it faithfully, so that doing what You wish we will be pleasing to You. Amen.

Source

 

Feed the Hungry: Help soup kitchens

wp-PPYR-NoSweatYork-9611-IMAG1272I know this is late, but for December, I tried to focus on “Feed the Hungry” for the Jubilee of Mercy.

My husband and I do help out our local food pantries, when our church asks for food and nonperishable donations about once every other month. I will utilize coupons to gather a nice group of items to give away, and I go through my pantries, as well. The place we help the most is the Catholic Harvest Food Pantry, but there are also York County Food Bank and the Emmanuel Food Pantry, to name a few.

However, I know we can be doing more.

Awhile ago, I saw that my church helps out the Our Daily Bread soup kitchen in York City. Many churches in our county help out the kitchen by donating casseroles to feed the hungry. My church does this the first Friday of every month. I thought this was a good way to get involved with the local community more, by helping those who are less fortunate get a good meal.

I usually make one casserole, but I am thinking about making more, or volunteering my time at the kitchen. The recipe below calls for ground beef, but I am a vegan, so I make it vegetarian.

Taco noodle casserole

Serves 8 or more

Ingredients

  • One pound of elbow macaroni
  • Two packages of vegetarian ground beef crumbles or 2 pounds ground beef
  • One package of dry taco seasoning mix
  • Two 11-ounce cans of Campbell’s cheddar cheese soup
  • One 16-ounce can of stewed or diced tomatoes (or defrosted container of homemade stewed tomatoes)
  • One cup of soymilk

Directions

  1. Boil water and cook macaroni according to directions on the box. Drain and set aside.
  2. Brown vegetarian ground beef or real beef in a skillet.
  3. After 5 minutes, add defrosted tomatoes with juices and cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Add taco seasoning, cheese soup and soymilk.
  5. Stir and then add macaroni. This is an art: I added half the macaroni to the aluminum pan and half the fake ground beef mixture. I stirred this together, and then added the remaining macaroni to the skillet. Stir the skillet contents and then added it to the aluminum pan to fill it out.
  6. Cover with foil.
  7. Cook covered for 30 to 45 minutes at 350 degrees.
  8. It can be frozen and thawed easily for a quick dinner.