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Current Events Faith Formation Fruits of the Holy Spirit Ink Slingers Kerri Series Year of Faith

Come Holy Spirit … Wrap Up

Fruits of the Spirit seriesStarting last December a variety of our Catholic Sistas Ink Slingers started a series of posts to reflect on the 12 Fruits of the Holy Spirit. We wrapped up the series last month. We hope you were able to catch all 12 posts and learn something along the way.

Our Catholic faith is full of so much richness. We enjoyed exploring this one small aspect of our faith. We hope to do more multi-part blog posts on a topic as we move forward. There is already something in the works for 2014. Stick around to see what we are up to next.

If you missed any of the posts in the Fruits of the Holy Spirit series, here is a wrap up of all the posts.Galatians

Charity by Misty

Joy by Michelle

Peace by Shiela

Patience by Martina

Kindness by Shiela

Goodness by Hannah

Forbearance by Misty

Humility by Kerri

Fidelity by Mindy

Modesty by Alessandra

Self-control by Allison H.

Chastity by Colleen

I want to personally thank everyone who participated in this series. It was a big undertaking for us to take on a monthly post for 12 months and leave it up to each person to post when it best worked for them. When I proposed this I wasn’t sure how it would go. The wonderful ladies here at Catholic Sistas were awesome! They wrote beautiful, reflective posts and I’m so proud of the series that resulted. I couldn’t have imagined the results of this idea! Thanks, ladies, for your awesome contributions to this series!

I’m looking forward to continuing to work with the amazing ladies here on future series topics and I hope you, our readers, are looking forward to seeing what we come up with next.

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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
::COMMENTING – Due to the potentially controversial nature of this topic, we invite readers to visit our comment guidelines. When responding to the author or each other in the comboxes, please strive for charity and assume charity in others.::
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Faith Formation Fruits of the Holy Spirit Ink Slingers Mindy Series Spiritual Growth Year of Faith

Come Holy Spirit, Give Us Fidelity

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

Gifts of the Holy Spirit: Fidelity

 

The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to him, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

So to them He addressed this parable.

“What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it?

And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, “Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.”

I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.

Or what woman having ten coins and losing one would not light a lamp and sweep the house, searching carefully until she finds it?

And when she does find it, she calls together her friends and neighbors and says to them, “Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.”

In just the same way, I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Luke 15:1-10, New American Translation

Occasionally, the parables Jesus use fall a little flat to our modern ears. Of course, that does not render them irrelevant, but sheds light on our own shortcomings.

When discussing the faithfulness of God, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states in paragraph 211:

The divine name, “I Am” or “He Is”, expresses God’s faithfulness: despite the faithlessness of men’s sin and the punishment it deserves, he keeps “steadfast love for thousands“. By going so far as to give up his own Son for us, God reveals that he is “rich in mercy”. By giving his life to free us from sin, Jesus reveals that he himself bears the divine name: “When you have lifted up the Son of man, then you will realize that ‘I AM’.” (emphasis mine)

I had to finally admit to myself that I would not probably care that much about one sheep out of a hundred who ends up straying from the group and getting lost. Would I leave the sheep and go off into the wilderness in search of that missing one? With most of the group intact and numbers practically the same, it’s hard for me to imagine going out of my way for one sheep.

Probably there are loads of cultural considerations of which I do not have any grasp. My livelihood does not depend on sheep. Likewise, when I think about the coins of this one woman, I probably would sweep my house looking for a coin if it were valuable to me (it’s hard to imagine that in this day and age; I suppose I should liken it to a large paper bill) but would I call my friends and rejoice with them? Nah. (Okay, maybe a Facebook status update.)

Rejoicing now in my own inability to completely relate to these two parables, I am left with a stark and heightened awareness of the difference between my fidelity and Jesus’ fidelity.

I should be on my knees thanking God that His attitude toward me is not like my own toward that one stray sheep. Jesus would go find me. He would pick me up and sling me over His shoulders.

Not only that, He rejoices with His friends in heaven, the saints. The parables are a beautiful illustration of His fidelity, or faithfulness, this very gift He seeks to impart to us as one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

What are the ways in which we overlook our lost brothers and sisters, the ones who have fallen away from the faith, or who have never found Him to begin with? How about the ones who are struggling in the midst of challenges, existential crises, emotional turmoil leading to a tepidity of faith, or distrust in God? Jesus is looking for them. Are we? Are we so faithful that we will drop what we are doing to go tend to that one sheep, look for that lost coin? Do we sincerely rejoice when our brothers and sisters get found, find solace, healing, renewed faith?

Equally as important, do we maintain hope and continue to lift up our suffering brothers and sisters in prayer? It is easy to throw up our arms and assume the sheep is lost—the wolves have eaten him. What’s the point? we think. Why risk our own lives, our own comfort, our own security?

Let us pray for fidelity during this Year of Faith.

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Faith Formation Fruits of the Holy Spirit Ink Slingers Kerri Year of Faith

Come Holy Spirit, Give us Humility

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

It is rare in this world for humility to be sought after and praised. Our world, particularly our Western society, looks more highly on pride and accomplishments. Selfishness is more common than selflessness. And yet, as Christians, we must live a life of humility otherwise the gate of Heaven will be closed to us.

“The gate of Heaven is very low; only the humble can enter it.” –St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.

What is true humility?

Humility is physically kneeling in prayer.

Humility is thinking of others before thinking of yourself.

“Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but [also] everyone for those of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)

Humility is gentleness and meekness.

Humility is being poor in spirit.

“Gentleness is followed by peace and tranquility, and animates the soul to love God.” –St. Gerard Majella

Humility means not desiring recognition for your good deeds.

Humility is desiring to be overlooked in favor of others.

“For by the grace given to me I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than one ought to think, but to think soberly, each according to the measure of faith that God apportioned.” (Romans 12:3)

Humility is not looking for approval, praise, or honor in the things we do.

Humility means being okay with being forgotten.

“If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are.” –Bl. Teresa of Calcutta

Humility is living with only what you need and not what you want.

Humility means admitting your mistakes and seeking forgiveness from God.

“It constantly happens that the Lord permits a soul to fall so that it may grow humbler. When it is honest, and realizes what it has done, and returns, it makes ever-increasing progress in our Lord’s service.” –St. Theresa of Avila.

Humility is wanting more for others and less for yourself.

Humility is doing things without complaint, especially when it was someone else’s task and not your own.

“What will be the crown of those who, humble within and humiliated without, have experienced the humility of our Savior in all its fullness.” –St. Bernadette Soubirous

Humility is accepting that you will experience persecution for your faith.

Humility means not being fearful of those who despise you for your beliefs.

“Great graces cannot be obtained without great humility. When you yourself experience humiliation, you should take it as a sure sign that some great grace is in store.” –St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Our Blessed Mother was humble, admitting her own “lowliness.” (Luke 1:48)

St. John the Baptist was humble, admitting that he was not “worthy to loosen the thongs on [the] sandals” of the one who was to come after him. (Luke 3:16)

“Likewise, you younger members, be subject to the presbyters. And all of you, clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for:

‘God opposes the proud

but bestows favor on the humble.’

So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:5-7)

Humility is Jesus being born of a woman and living among His people.

Humility is dying a gruesome death on a cross for the sins of others.

“Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8)

Humility is knowing that we do not deserve what Jesus did for us.

“Not that of ourselves we are qualified to take credit for anything as coming from us; rather, our qualification comes from God.” (2 Corinthians 3:5)

Come Holy Spirit. Teach us to be humble of heart, gentle toward our fellow man, mild in the face of persecution, and meek in attitude. Bring us humility that we may be deserving of Heaven.

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Come Holy Spirit, Give Us Goodness

This is the sixth of a 12-part, once-a-month series on the Fruits of the Holy Spirit. This month’s fruit is Goodness. Be sure to see previous posts beginning with CHARITY and check back next month as another contributor explores the fruit of LONG-SUFFERING.

When tragedy strikes, people often ask the question “Where is God?” While God does not cause tragedy – He is after all, all good – He does permit it to happen. I believe He does this that we might see His Goodness.

A tornado touched down in Moore, OK last week and left lasting devastation. At least 24 people died, including 9 children. As with any tragic event, the beauty – the goodness – of God comes through in the aftermath. People will do good things; they will provide clothing and shelter, they will comfort the grieving, and they will care for the sick and wounded. All of these things give us a glimmer of the goodness of God.

Goodness is a fruit of the Holy Spirit and it seems like it should be a hard one to pin down. In a world rife with disease, violence and apathy it can be difficult to see goodness, especially goodness of a supernatural sort. Mother Theresa is probably the most widely known figure who embodied this fruit. She cared for the lowest of the low, the sick, weak, and dying. In reality, every EMT, Nurse, Doctor, First Responder and volunteer on-site in Moore is ripe with goodness. Something as simple as bringing a meal to a grieving family is a way to feed the hungry.

Goodness, as a fruit of the Spirit can be seen in the Corporal Acts of Mercy:

To feed the hungry.

To give drink to the thirsty.

To clothe the naked.

To shelter the homeless.

To visit the sick.

To visit the imprisoned (formerly known as “to ransom the captive”)

To bury the dead.

The works of mercy come from Matthew 25:31-40

And when the Son of man shall come in his majesty, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit upon the seat of his majesty. And all nations shall be gathered together before him, and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left.

Then shall the king say to them that shall be on his right hand: Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in: Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, and fed thee; thirsty, and gave thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and covered thee? Or when did we see thee sick or in prison, and came to thee? And the king answering, shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.

It is easier than we think to share the fruit of goodness. I know that the Acts of Mercy my family received in the days, months and years following our infant daughter’s death were – and are! – glimmering beacons of God’s love for me in a time where my life seemed covered in darkness. While not all of us are able to perform Corporal Acts of Mercy for the suffering in Moore, we can find people in our everyday lives who are in need of goodness and we can always remember the suffering in our prayers as we perform the seventh Spiritual Act of Mercy: Pray for the living and the dead.