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Tread Softly, Pray Fiercely

Tread Softly Pray Fiercely

The past several months of this year have been exceptionally hard to watch, as friends and family seem to quickly and easily tear each other apart. Assassinations of character, name-calling, ad hominum attacks, and vitriol seem to be spewed with nary a thought of a backward glance. All across social media, the push to speak first, think after seems to be prevalent, and the share buttons seem to promote use of simply sharing what best suits our own narrative, rather than considering the point of view of friends who may not hold that same viewpoint.

We all seem to be in a rush to drown out the other person, without taking the time to not just hear the words of the other person, but to slow down and identify the true intent behind that person’s beliefs. Social media, of late, is simply a tool being used to air grievances, ills, snarkiness, and ugliness.

There used to be an unspoken social norm that said, whenever engaging in public discourse with someone outside your home, “Never discuss money, politics, sex, or religion.” Yet, in today’s world, it seems as though we have all waded into a hotbed of discussion, with no preparation in understanding the best way forward in a debate is to listen to the opponent’s argument – both spoken, and unspoken.

And, our relationships are suffering because of our inability to listen… to truly hear each other.

Left and right we are witnessing our friends and family on social media tout their message, while lambasting those who do not agree.

This lack of voice has left many feeling downtrodden, depressed, and silenced.

This is precisely where the devil wants us.

Matthew 7:19-20 reminds us, “Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So by their fruits you will know them.”

The uncomfortable question to ask ourselves is not where we stand on any given issue; rather, the question to ask is are our actions – spoken and unspoken, in real life or on social media – bearing good fruit?

What are these fruits? The list of bad fruit, or “works of the flesh,” is found in Galatians 5:19-21 and include, “… hatreds… jealously… outbursts of fury… dissensions, factions..” and more.

Yet, the good fruits, or the fruit of the Holy Spirit, are, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).

There is a time and a place to correct someone for their sins. After all, we are given the task as Catholics to perform Spiritual Works of Mercy, in addition to the Corporal Works of Mercy, which include admonishing sinners and instructing the ignorant.

However, many of us have forgotten the other Catholic Spiritual Works of Mercy: Bear patiently those who wrong us, forgive offences, and comfort the afflicted.

In an effort to prove our way is the best and most correct, we find ourselves speaking over, and forgetting the patience, the forgiveness, and the comfort to which we are called to share.

As faithful Christians, we are reminded blatantly in 1 Corinthians 13:1, “If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.”

Going back to the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and the Spiritual Works of Mercy, the guidance in 1 Corinthians is sound, but is also sometimes a hard pill to swallow.

How do we extend love to others, when we are interested in getting our own viewpoint heard, or even convince others of our approach to situations?

Quite simply:

We tread softly, gently and silently.

We assess the situation.

We determine which battle we want to choose to fight and champion.

We remember the adage that God gave us one mouth to speak, and two ears to listen, and we employ that saying as we approach the situation.

We employ the cardinal virtue of prudence, which challenges us to, “discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it…” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1806).

We recognize the bad fruit trying to sway our country toward further division, hatred, and violence. Satan operates under darkness, and in secrecy, to create division.

We call out the prince of darkness, not by casting blame at each other and hurling accusations at them, but by recognizing his sleight of hand in the strife.

We call to mind one of the last words of Christ, as He hung on the Cross, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

Finally, we pray… fiercely.

We ask God for prudence, but we also ask Him for the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and for the ability to speak less and listen more.

We ask God for both the willingness to hear the spoken word of our opponent, and the grace to see beyond the spoken word to understand the unspoken, and perhaps even subconscious, motivation behind the words.

We pray, not just for the other person, but for humility to acknowledge when our own viewpoint may be both difficult to hear, and also at times, completely incorrect.

Simply put, as we continue to wade the waters of instant gratification on social media, and swim these waters of division in this world, we tread softly, but pray fiercely.

– AnnAliese Harry

We listen to the words spoken but listen harder to the underlying motivations and experiences of the other person.

We speak firmly, but with patience.

We love each other.

We pray unceasingly (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

As we continue to move forward, let each of us visit, and re-visit, the uncomfortable question at hand – are our actions, both in real life and on social media, bearing good fruit?

Are we living with our collective and individual sight set on our eternal home?

Are we ready to squirm a little by taking accountability of our own actions, in an effort to live in a manner which is ultimately pleasing to God?

Are we being agents of love?

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Domestic Church Erika D Homeschool Homeschool Raising Saints Reviews

Virtues Program Review & Giveaway for the {Catholic} Home & School

Rosary QuiltThis is not your normal homeschooling article as this program can be used by any Catholic parent, a Catholic Virtues Program integrating the beautiful Holy Rosary into it!

About a month ago I noticed my children ages 4, 6, 8, 9, and 16 were bickering more than usual!  It was a little upsetting to see them act this ugly way towards one another as we do all the “right things” as a Catholic family.  We pray the Rosary daily right after lunch, we read about the lives of the saints, we use a Catholic Curriculum which incorporates the Faith across the board (OLVS), and we go to Mass every Sunday as well as often as possible during the week!  We even recently participated in a Rosary Procession in the streets near downtown Scranton, PA and this coming Sunday will participate in a Eucharisti Procession!  All these thoughts raced in my brain as I saw them calling each other names I cannot print here and which are NOT allowed to be uttered in my home.  No longer did they want to help each other with chores and the constant bickering was driving me insane!  For goodness sake, we even go to the High Mass of the Latin Mass, aren’t all Latin Mass children supposed to just *know* how to behave in a virtuous manner?  I guessed not.

This brought me to the realization that I needed to be more proactive in my integrating the virtues into our daily routine.  I went Googling for virtues, Christian virtues, and  even Catholic virtues and found a plethora of information on virtues. The CCC tells us, “Human virtues are firm attitudes, stable dispositions, habitual perfections of intellect and will that govern our actions, order our passions, and guide our conduct according to reason and faith. They make possible ease, self-mastery, and joy in leading a morally good life. The virtuous man is he who freely practices the good. The moral virtues are acquired by human effort. They are the fruit and seed of morally good acts; they dispose all the powers of the human being for communion with divine love.”

virtutesWhile reading through the virtues (cardinal and theological) according the Ancient Christian teachings (on morals [CCC #1749-#1802] and virtues [CCC #1803-#1845], these are under Part III, Section 1, Chapter 1, Articles 4 to 7 of the CCC), there are four cardinal (from “hinge”) virtues:

  • Prudence: discern the good in circumstance and the means to attain the same
  • Justice: constant and firm will to give what is due to God and neighbor
  • Fortitude: firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of good
  • Temperance: moderates the attraction of pleasure (natural elements of created goods) and balance in the utility of created goods

Further, there are three theological virtues. Their highest object is God.

  1. Faith: belief in God and his promises
  2. Hope: desire of God’s presence and trust in his Ways
  3. Charity: preference of God above all things, others and self being second, and things third

All this was wonderful information but HOW was I going to easily incorporate it into my already busy homeschooling day?  Then I remembered a book I received from Catholic author, Cassandra Poppe!  When you first look at the cover of this great books, you would not suspect that it is jam packed with so many practical ideas on how to incorporate and teach virtues using the Holy Rosary.  As I thumbed through her book entitled, The Rosary Quilt Manual, I realized I had the answer to my prayers right in my own home!  A virtues program that is Catholic and incorporates our beloved Rosary (my children love praying the Rosary, they can do it in English, Spanish and Latin but their favorite is to chant the Rosary – it’s really adorable and I know brings joy to Our Blessed Mother’s heart!)  It was such an answered prayer when I discovered this gem which sat collecting dust on my bookshelf for months!  So quickly I put the books into action and found that explicit teaching of the virtues was definitely something that I needed to do, implicitly by reading the lives of the saints and living out our Catholic faith was not enough!

books

So I contact the author Cassandra Poppe and she agreed for me to do a review of this beautiful program AND she would also give us a FREE PDF of the whole program to one of our readers!  Simple fill out as much as you can of this following form for your chance to win this amazing Catholic virtues program, The Rosary Quilt Manual comprised of  ONE digital file which will contain the books, poster and directions on how to make your own Rosary quilt.

In the meantime if you would like to visit Cassandra or check out this beautiful curriculum, you can like her page, see the product at her Etsy Store, Intercessories Family Ministry, LLC OR enjoy reading her amazing blog, Flectamus Genua where she shares her journey as a Catholic mother, homeschooler, and author.  Cassandra has started another great venture Christian Crafts for Children, join her group on Facebook for some really neat kits.

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