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Alessandra Ink Slingers

September 11th, Finding Hope

911How to find hope after September 11th?

In Genesis, chapter 9, verses 11 through 17, Our Lord tells us:

“I will establish my covenant with you, and all flesh shall be no more destroyed with the waters of a flood, neither shall there be from henceforth a flood to waste the earth. And God said: This is the sign of the covenant which I will give between me and you, and to every living soul that is with you, for perpetual generations. I will set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be the sign of a covenant between me, and between the earth. And when I shall cover the sky with clouds, my bow shall appear in the clouds: And I will remember my covenant with you, and with every living soul that beareth flesh: and there shall no more be waters of a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the clouds, and I shall see it, and shall remember the everlasting covenant, that was made between God and every living soul of all flesh which is upon the earth. And God said to Noe: This shall be the sign of the covenant which I have established between me and all flesh upon the earth.”

Though in 2015, the world has turned this bow, this rainbow, into another symbol, we must stay focused as to what God promised us so long ago. We must stay focused, we must stay close to the Sacraments and keeping our souls in a state of grace. Battles have been won before, even on September 11th, if we look back at history we learn that on September 11th, 1683, we won a battle against the Turks in Vienna.  September 11th, 2001, did change our lives for ever, but lets take this as a wake up call for our souls and our lives.  Like those who fought in Vienna, 1683, with a Rosary in hand, lets also battle this war which is a war of powers and principalities with our Rosaries in hand and our knees bent in prayer to God almighty.  He has won this war, after all, as He has conquered death!

“Behold the Cross of the Lord: Flee, enemy bands!” ~ Mark of Aviano, a Capuchin friar, in 1683
“Behold the Cross of the Lord: Flee, enemy bands!” ~ Mark of Aviano, a Capuchin friar, in 1683

 

Yesterday, many people witnessed this beautiful rainbow over the World Trade Center, God is sending us a sing of hope.  Let us trust in Him.

rainbow 911

 

Here is a beautiful video which was narrated by  Tom Hanks the epic story of the 9/11 boatlift that evacuated half a million people from the stricken piers and seawalls of Lower Manhattan.

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Alessandra Confession Ink Slingers Parenting Sacraments Testimonials You Did It To Me

You Did it to Me: Forgive All Injuries

Welcome to the series “YOU DID IT TO ME” where we will be discussing the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy. This will be a twice a month series from March to September 2015. We hope you enjoy!

11200601_10206780705976508_134343866477417407_nTo Forgive All Injuries is the Third Spiritual Work of Mercy. Forgiveness.  Forgiveness is not easy, it is something that has to be authentic, come from the heart, and we have to make up our minds about it.  It is something that allows us to move on and it offers us freedom from past transgressions.  It is fair to say that all Christians should be forgiving people, though we know from time and experience, this is not always the case. Why should forgiveness be a “Christian thing?,” simple enough that through Our Lord’s three short years of Ministry, He practiced forgiveness time and time again.  Even at His last moments, He begged God the Father to forgive us, “for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)

Forgiveness has many faces, it is not a simple task.  Though it really can be.  There could be forgiveness that you do but that is not reciprocated from the other person who erred you, they might be stuck in thinking they were right and not offer the same charity back towards you.  Many times the weak human soul just gets upset at this and goes back into being upset and then truly does not forgive the other person.  But it must be clear that forgiveness does require the two people to talk calmly and offer each other those words, “I forgive you.”  When my children hurt each other either through words or hands, they are required to apologize for their transgressions and ask at the end, “do you accept my apology?” In other words, “do you forgive me.” It is important, as parents that we teach our children from very young to realize that we need to cool down, talk things through and then ask for forgiveness.  Accepting that apology is always the hardest point, we are hurt, upset, and do not even feel like talking to the person.  Time heals this at times, in other times it just causes a bigger wedge between two people.

As Catholics, as Christians, we are required to follow in the footsteps of Our Lord Jesus Christ and forgive all those who injure us.  I know, I know….this is not an easy task but we know that being Catholic is not an easy task but it is task worth doing.  The main point of a Catholic’s life should always be to strive to be in a state of grace, a heart who is heavy with anger, pride, or revenge cannot have a soul that is clear of sin.  So forgiveness not only helps relationships, helps others, but also helps your own soul.  How many times in our lives have we forgiven someone but that person never asked for forgiveness?  Many.

In my life this has been more of a frequent pattern than not.  The stepfather who abused me as a child is one prime example, you can read my testimony about this in this article entitled, “Broken Childhood, Healed by Christ.”  He never asked for forgiveness from me.  I never saw him again after telling the courts what he had done to me, he fled the country.  But my anger built up against him was not good for MY soul.  Did he hurt me? OF COURSE!  More than he will ever know, deep seeded scars that will remain with me forever. Scars that attached themselves to me and affect my marriage, my children, my interaction with other adults and my children around them, it left me in constant fear, and doubt about others.  But I came to a crossroad in my life where I realized that I was going about upset and angry about what had happened to me as a child.  It was not my fault though at times I blamed myself, so why did I continue to carry this anger with me? Until the point that I realized that this anger and resentment was holding me back from being a happy person, a Christian person, I was not FREE.  My forgiving a man who hurt me so bad was something I needed to do for my soul, my salvation.  This was the moment when I realized also, that God was with me the whole time this was happening, He had not abandoned me.  God sent the right people in my life at different moments to help my healing process from this horrible situation this sick man put me through. So, if God allowed me to heal, if He wanted me to move on with life and be free, how could I continue to store up hate for someone, anyone?  It was time. Since that moment that I nailed my cross to Our Lord’s, the healing process began.  Many hours in the Confessional and many hours with a therapist brought me out of the slavery of a being a victim of child abuse to being a free Christian woman!  It was liberating!  Forgiving him did not excuse his behavior, not at all.  Forgiveness prevented his horrid behavior from further destroying my heart. Forgiveness made me stronger.

Many times saying, “forgive all injuries” is a difficult request, I know, Our Lord knew this too. He does not expect us to walk this path to forgiveness alone.  He wants to lead us by the hand and help us learn how to forgive all injuries as He did.  Forgiveness requires charity, it requires mercy, it also requires justice.  When Our Lord said, “forgive your enemies” He was asking us something so difficult that alone we cannot do it, it is not even possible!  Only with His help, His words, His counsel, His Church, His Sacraments, can we do this.  Only through our staying in a state of grace, receiving the sacraments and staying close to them can we really life FREE Christian lives.  Pride, anger, and vengeance are sins that hold back our souls, they enslave us and keep us from that beautiful grace which will allow us an inch closer to Heaven. As Alexander Pope once said, “To err is human; to forgive is divine.”

Do you have anyone that has hurt you that you need to forgive? Make a list, write a letter, pick up the phone, and start that healing process. You have the power to take away someone’s happiness by holding on to anger.  That person is you!

forgive

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Alessandra Charla Feast Days Ink Slingers Martina Mary S.

Merry Christmas from Catholic Sistas

Rejoice greatly, born today 

For whom the world was yearning.

In the arms of Mary the being is from Heaven,

A divine baby in the lap of a virgin.

Simple shepherd, come closer,

Look on your God with great joy.

 He does not rest in bright light,

Does not have velvet pillows.

Only straw, fit for beggars,

His only heat is the breath of beasts.

 Simple shepherd, stay on your knees,

Because this is the king of Heaven and Earth! 

Have a Blessed and Merry Christmas!

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Alessandra Domestic Church Fatherhood Ink Slingers Marriage Motherhood Parenting Proverbs 31 Catholic Woman Resources Series Vocations

Ode to Feminine Genius: The Proverbs 31 Catholic Woman Introduction

This is the first installment in the series of Ode to Feminine Genius: Proverbs 31 Catholic Woman.

Today will cover the series introduction.

Teaser

Achieving perfection that is pleasing to God by imitating the Blessed Virgin Mary is the goal of this new series entitled Ode to Feminine Genius: The Proverbs 31 Catholic Woman.  In our quest for doing God’s will, intentional homemaking, and becoming a woman of inner beauty by focusing our study in this series of Proverbs 31: 10-31, which tells us:

“Who shall find a valiant woman? far and from the uttermost coasts is the price of her. The heart of her husband trusteth in her, and he shall have no need of spoils.  She will render him good, and not evil, all the days of her life.  She hath sought wool and flax, and hath wrought by the counsel of her hands.  She is like the merchant’s ship, she bringeth her bread from afar.  And she hath risen in the night, and given a prey to her household, and victuals to her maidens. She hath considered a field, and bought it: with the fruit of her hands she hath planted a vineyard.  She hath girded her loins with strength, and hath strengthened her arm. She hath tasted and seen that her traffic is good: her lamp shall not be put out in the night.  She hath put out her hand to strong things, and her fingers have taken hold of the spindle.  She hath opened her hand to the needy, and stretched out her hands to the poor. She shall not fear for her house in the cold of snow: for all her domestics are clothed with double garments. She hath made for herself clothing of tapestry: fine linen, and purple is her covering. Her husband is honourable in the gates, when he sitteth among the senators of the land.  She made fine linen, and sold it, and delivered a girdle to the Canaanite.  Strength and beauty are her clothing, and she shall laugh in the latter day. The Canaanite: The merchant, for Canaanite, in Hebrew, signifies a merchant. She hath opened her mouth to wisdom, and the law of clemency is on her tongue. She hath looked well to the paths of her house, and hath not eaten her bread idle. Her children rose up, and called her blessed: her husband, and he praised her. Many daughters have gathered together riches: thou hast surpassed them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: the woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands: and let her works praise her in the gates.”

Since this chapter of the Bible is jammed with so much goodness, we have pulled nine (9) categories to write about.  These will be presented in any order and by various contributors coming from different walks of life.  It is our hope to make this a perpetual series within the website and that it will bring you closer to God and help you discipline the self so that we can help one another in living the Proverbs 31 Catholic Woman life.  Here are the topics:

1. A Frugal Woman: A Valiant Woman spends money wisely, in consultation with her husband, regarding the needs of their family, making wise purchases that demonstrate prudence and ultimate trust that God will always provide. Proverbs 31: 13-14, “She seeketh wool and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar.”

We should ask ourselves questions like: Do I spend our family money wisely?  Do I consult with my husband for large purchases? Am I being prudent with our money?  Do I trust that God will always provide?

2. A Strong Woman: A Valiant Woman cares for herself in body and soul. She is concerned about keeping a strong prayer life, eating right, and getting enough rest, to set a healthy example of strong balance for her family.  Proverbs 31: 16-17, “She hath considered a field, and bought it: with the fruit of her hands she hath planted a vineyard. She hath girded her loins with strength, and hath strengthened her arm.”

We should ask ourselves questions like: Do I care for my body by exercising and staying in shape?  Do I worry about the state of my soul? Do I keep a strong prayers life?  Do I eat well?  Do I get enough rest every day?  Am I setting an example of strong balance for my family?

3. A Diligent Woman: A Valiant Woman uses her time wisely. She works diligently to complete her daily tasks. She does not spend time dwelling on those things that do not please the Lord. She looks for ways to be organized and finds solutions to homekeeping. Proverbs 31: 19, “She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.”

We should ask ourselves questions like: Do I spend my time wisely?  Do I work diligently to complete my daily tasks?  Do I spend time dwelling on those things that do not please the Lord?  Do I look for ways to be more organized?  Do I find solutions to homekeeping?

4. A Merciful Woman: A Valiant Woman serves her husband, her family, her friends, and her neighbors with a gentle and loving spirit. She practices the works of mercy and influences her will to have compassion for, and, if possible, to alleviate another’s misfortune. Proverbs 31: 20, “She hath opened her hand to the needy, and stretched out her hands to the poor.”

We should ask ourselves questions like:  Do I serve my husband and family?  Do I serve my friends and neighbors with a gentle and loving spirit? Do I practice the works of mercy and influence my will to have compassion for and, if possible, to alleviate another’s misfortune?

5. A Hospitable Woman: A Valiant Woman creates an inviting atmosphere of warmth and love for her family and guests by being a good homemaker She uses hospitality to show Christ to those around her. She is friendly and courteous to those who visit and makes them feel welcomed. Proverbs 31: 21, “She is not afraid of the snow for her household, for all her household are clothed with scarlet.”

We should ask ourselves questions like: Do I create an inviting atmosphere of warmth and love for my family and guests?  Am I a good homemaker?  Do I use hospitality to show Christ to those around me? Am I friendly and courteous to those who visit? Do I make them feel welcomed?

6. An Industrious Woman: A Valiant Woman works willingly with her hands. She keeps her home as her first and foremost focus. She looks well to the ways of her household and embraces the life God has blessed her with. She is diligent and self-disciplined in all she does. Proverbs 31: 27, “She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.” 

We should ask ourselves questions like:  Do I work willingly with my hands? Do I keep my home as my first and foremost focus? Do I organize my housework and keep up with it?  Do I embrace the life God has blessed me with?  Am I diligent in my housework? Am I self-disciplined in all I do?

7. A Family Woman: A Valiant Woman respects her husband and does good by him always. She loves and respects him as the head of the home. She teaches her children the ways of God and nurtures them with love, and disciplines them with care and wisdom. She trains them in the Roman Catholic Faith.  Proverbs 31: 28, “Her children rose up, and called her blessed: her husband, and he praised her.”

We should ask ourselves questions like:  Do I respect my husband?  Do I do good by him always? Do I love and respect my husband as the head of our home?  Do I teach my children the ways of God?  Do I nurture my children with love?  Do I discipline my children with care and wisdom? Do I train my children in the Catholic Faith?

8. A Faithful Woman: A Valiant Woman serves God with all of her heart, mind, and soul. She turns to God and His Blessed Mother seeking God’s Holy Will for her life. She fears the Lord and follows His ways. She turns to the things of God always and turns away that of the world that takes her away from Him. Proverbs 31: 29-30, “Many daughters have gathered together riches: thou hast surpassed them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: the woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.”

We should ask ourselves questions like:  Do I serve God with all of my heart, mind, and soul?  Do I turn to God and His Blessed Mother seek God’s Holy Will for my life? Do I fear the Lord and follow in His ways? Do I turn to the things of God always?  Do I turn away the things of the world that take me away from God?

9. A Beautiful Woman: A Valiant Woman is a woman of worth and beauty. She has the inner beauty that only comes from Christ. She uses her creativity and sense of style to create beauty in her life and the lives of her loved ones.  Proverbs 31: 30, “Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain; but a woman who feareth the Lord, she shall be praised!”

We should ask ourselves questions like: Do I keep my focus on being beautiful from within?  Do I focus on the ways of our Lord Jesus Christ?  Am I creative? Do I try to use my sense of style to create beauty in my life?  Do I create beauty in the lives of my loved ones? Do I make my home beautiful within our means?

Is there a topic that stands out to you?  Are there some you are already working on? Do you like the questions created above?  We liked them so much that we created an Ode to Feminine Genius Examination of Conscience.  Enjoy!

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Alessandra Current Events Faith Formation Fruits of the Holy Spirit Ink Slingers Spiritual Growth Year of Faith

Come, Holy Spirit, Give Us Modesty

This is the tenth of a 12-part, once-a-month series on the Fruits of the Holy Spirit. This month’s fruit is MODESTY. Be sure to see previous posts beginning with CHARITY and check back next month as another contributor explores the fruit of CONTINENCE or SELF-CONTROL.

Modesty is one of the twelve Fruits of the Holy Spirit, along with charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, long-suffering, mildness, faith, continency, and chastity (Galatians 5: 22-23).  When preparing for this article, I had a really difficult time deciding which route to go mainly because it is a topic that ruffles many feathers and also one that has a vast amount to write about. The Venerable Pope Pius XII states it perfectly, this topic is both, “delicate and complex.”  For the purpose of space and time, I will focus on the general aspect of this beautiful fruit of the Spirit. If we take a moment and look at the dictionary definition of modesty we find this:

modesty def

So if modesty is the quality or state of being unassuming or moderate in the estimation of one’s abilities, then each person’s estimation of modesty is different.  Bearing in mind that when we speak of modesty as a fruit of the Holy Spirit, we are referring to Christian Modesty.

modestyFor the purpose of this article, let us examine modesty as a general umbrella term referring to the quality or state of being within one’s ability to dress, speak, act, and behave.  Modesty has to do with all those things and is not simply the way we dress.   So let’s look at modesty as moderation in how we dress, speak, act, and behave. We shall examine what the Lord tells us in Scripture, through the greatest Saints of all times, Church documents, and even most recently through the guidance of one of our popes.  As we address this topic of Modesty as a gift of the Holy Spirit.

 Saint Thomas Aquinas defines modesty as the virtue in which exterior actions, either in deed or in words, are observe.  Modesty is the virtue which refrains our exterior gestures and in this sense it is a broader virtue than the term modesty referring to the Sixth and Ninth Commandments.  But the way we dress does affect all of our exterior actions and motions.  This is why random and irrational and foolish behavior goes against the virtue of modesty.  Modesty also requires humility, as in being content in what you have, what you are able to attend and to moderate our exterior goods.  So Modesty has to do with not too much or too little.  You can be immodest not just in what you wear but also in what you say and the way you behave, and even what you buy and how much of it.  So, in short, moderation is the key to modesty.

virtue
Modesty is a moral virtue, so it is one that affects all those relationships around us including ourselves.   Excess (too much) or defect (too little) is what matters in all areas of our lives when it comes to modesty.  Our dress should suit our state in life.  We do not have to dress above our station in life or below it.  The person with the gift of modesty knows and acts in ways in which his actions suit the place and time, in order.  Our actions are proportionate and directed to a truly good end.  A person who is modest in speech will not say something in which they should not, nor when they should not.  Moderation is key in modesty.  We should never say anything or do anything that out of place or is against our station in life.  The end of modesty is fear of the Lord, Saint Thomas observed and said that we should turn away from earthly things an turn towards God.  We want to have enough fear of God in which we would never want to offend Him by our disordered passions, appetites and emotions.  Modesty, Saint Thomas says, will help us in having due maturity, not just in physical growth but in the certain stage of the interior life.  This stage is set aside by self-denial and striving for excellence in life, not just exteriors but also interior aspects.  Modesty is one of the first virtues lost when we lack in the interior life, it is also one of the last perfected.

So what does the Church say about Modesty?
 Well, in 1957, in a letter entitled “Moral Problems in Fashion Design,” the Venerable Pope Pius XII tells us, “…the very word “modesty” (which) comes from modus, a measure or limit – probably better expresses the function of governing and dominating the passions, especially sensual passions. It is the natural bulwark of chastity. It is its effective rampart, because it moderates acts closely connected with the very object of chastity…”  In the Catechism of the Catholic Church it states that, “Purity requires modesty, an integral part of temperance. Modesty protects the intimate center of the person. It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden. It is ordered to chastity to whose sensitivity it bears witness. It guides how one looks at others and behaves toward them in conformity with the dignity of persons and their solidarity.” (CCC 2521).    One of the most amazing saints the Church has had, Saint Anselm (Bishop, Confessor, and Doctor of the Church) said this:  “If you want to be certain of being in the number of the Elect, strive to be one of the few, not one of the many.  And if you would be quite sure of your salvation, strive to be among the fewest of the few; that is to say:  do not follow the great majority of mankind, but follow those who enter upon the narrow way, who renounce the world, who give themselves to prayer, and who never relax their efforts by day or night, so that they may attain everlasting blessedness.”
From all of these, the “refusal to unveil that which should remain hidden” is the one line that really stuck with me.  All that is sacred is hidden, all that is beautiful, the most beautiful of all things on this Earth created by our Lord, is hard to get to, hidden.  A couple weeks ago, this quote was floating around on the internet and I found it appropriate for this article:

What particularly stuck with me were the first and last lines, “Everything that God made valuable in the world is covered and hard to get to.  Your body is sacred, You are far more precious than diamonds and pearls and you should be covered too.”  So the next question in my mind was, “why?  Why is my body sacred?”  Two passages from Sacred Scripture came to mind answering my question.  The first was when the Lord tells us in Genesis 1:27 that we are made in His image and likeness, “And God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him: male and female he created them.”  The second verse comes from 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “Or know you not, that your members are the temple of the Holy Ghost, who is in you, whom you have from God; and you are not your own? For you are bought with a great price. Glorify and bear God in your body.”  Not only are we taught that we are Temples of the Holy Ghost but also that He is in us but most importantly, that we are “bought with a great price.”  THAT, dear sisters gave me chills!  Our Lord Jesus Christ paid a great price for us to have eternal life with Him in Heaven.  Now the question is what are we doing with the body He has given us?

I end with a poem and a challenge.
 This beautiful poem is written by the Lord Byron but perfectly and poetically describes what a woman of Faith should be or look like; her exterior should be a representation of her interior life.  Lastly, I leave you with a challenge…the modesty challenge, one which I promise I too will take on.  Look at your interior life, the way you dress, speak, act, etc., and ask yourself, if you were to stand before our Lord would you be ashamed or proud of what you have done with the temple He has given you?  The challenge is, if your answer is a resonant, “no” or like me, a doubtful, “I am not so sure” take the next six months to examine some of the documents provided below in the Resources and analyze and examine your interior as well as your exterior life.  Just like our homes, our domestic church, should display that a Catholic Christian family lives there…so should your own body display what a Catholic woman looks like.

She Walks in beauty

Resources for Further Reading on Modesty:
Dressing with Dignity by Colleen Hammond (Tan Books)
The Catholic Girl’s Guide by Father Lasance
The Young Man’s Guide by Father Lasance
Catechism of the Catholic Church, Article 9, The Ninth Commandment
“Moral Problems in Fashion Design” by Venerable Pope Pius XII
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