THE HEART OF GIVING
Part I. WHAT THIS IS NOT ABOUT
♥ NOT about the WHAT, the HOW MUCH, & the FROM WHOM of the Gift.
1. This is not about the Widow’s example of giving “all she had, her whole livelihood.” The widow, giving her last penny, is not our model of giving.
Why? She was being plundered by the religious leaders of her time! Jesus described these leaders when he said “they devour the houses of the widows.” Jesus’ intention is to criticize the scribes who make use of the legal provisions of their religion to exploit the widows. No, the exploited widow, who is a victim of religious abuse, is not our model.
2. This is not about the amounts of the gift given. This is not about the large sums given by the wealthy versus the two small coins or the “two cents worth” of donation given by the widow. God is not concerned about the amounts given.
This is not about the issue of where the gifts come from, that is, from the surplus of the rich versus the gifts from the poor. God is not concerned whether the gifts come from those who have or from those who have not or those who have little.
Part II. WHAT THIS IS ABOUT
1. It is about The WHY and the WHEN of the giving.
♥On WHY or the intention of the giving, we should note that the gospel episode is a condemnation of the givers, who believe they can give lengthy prayers or material donations to God, to please Him even if they devour the houses of “the widows,” that is, even if they continue to do evil. It is a subtle yet pointed attack, on the hypocrisy of worshipping God, despite evil and unjust behavior.
♥As to the WHEN of the giving, note that the woman gave at a time in her life when she was a widow – that is, at a time when she was of great want. And having lost her husband, this was not just material want, it was also social, emotional and spiritual in nature.
2. It is also ABOUT OUR LIVING & GIVING.
Having said these, who among us is not in need? Who among us have not gone through our personal “widowing time”? Who among us has not experienced the loss of a loved one, the need for material means to live from day to day for our family, the need for social justice, and the need for God’s love and blessings.
♥ Indeed, we all go through what we may call the widow’s time. Man or woman, boy or girl, we all share this widow’s time, so to speak. And it is in this widowing time of our lives when our giving can truly glorify God.
Part III. HEART OF GIVING:
STEPS TO GLORIFY GOD BY GIVING
1. GIVE GROUND to God. Yield to God’s power. Let God be God in your life. A saying goes, “Keep things in your hands and lose them all. Surrender them to God’s hands and possess all.”
2. GIVE OVER your sins to God. Entrust yourself to God’s loving mercy. Let go of selfishness & pride. Do you reconcile with God through the Sacrament of Confession? Please do. Do this giving frequently.
3. GIVE UP old attitudes and habits that give opportunities to evil. Remember, God judges what we give by what we keep. We can’t give to God and keep our sinful ways at the same time.
4. GIVE IN to inclinations to do good. Recognize, listen and amplify your good promptings. There’s a heroic giver inside you, yes, even though you are going through your widowing phase in life.
FORGIVE. Let go of stumbling blocks to healing & joy.
6. GIVE OF YOURSELF to the service of God and others. Devote your time, talents & treasures to bettering your relations with God through a life of service. Mother Teresa of Calcutta reminds us. If you give what you do not need, it isn’t giving at all.
7. GIVE A GOOD ACCOUNT of yourself. Behave creditably as a Christian Catholic. Witness to your noble identity.
8. GIVE BACK your blessings to God. Be a responsible steward.
9. GIVE THANKS. Be the Eucharist to the world. Be thankful. Be a cause of thanksgiving to God for others.
Remember, when you glorify God by giving, a miracle happens.
God bless you! ♥
5 LEVELS OF LISTENING
1. Ignoring Level. Often a problem because of lack of concentration, attention, compounded by the presence of real or imagined distractions. Usually, the eye movements give this away with the listener glancing somewhere else not because one is listening but because one is not paying attention. A funny t-shirt print says it loudly: I am not deaf. I am ignoring you!
2. Pretending to Listen Level. In this instance, we are giving eye contact. Our non-verbal signals say we are listening, but we’re really not. Often, we blame our “failing memory” as the culprit. True, sometimes. But also, it may be good to check whether we’re listening or simply pretending to listen.
3. Selective Listening Level. In this level, you pick out only what is pleasant or what you agree with, or the opposite, depending on what you need, and therefore what you pay attention to. In the context of working relationships, for example, you may receive affirmations and corrections from your caring boss. While the affirmations are spoken, you are very attentive. But the moment the “corrections” come up, that’s when you do your selective listening. So you are not nearly as attentive and you are not nearly as attuned to what your boss is saying. Such that in the end of the meeting, all that matters to you are the “corrections.” You see examples of this in many of those who did not make it in the American idol auditions. Usual reactions of those turned down highlight the “criticisms” they received and not the “affirmations.”
4. Attentive Listening. It’s giving the person our attention. It’s trying to catch what they say.
5. Empathic/ Active Listening. This means that you go beyond the words that are spoken. We try to get the feelings. Peter Drucker said, “Real communication is when we learn to find the meaning between the words. This is the toughest form of listening, because it demands a lot of discipline.
√ Where are you in this scale of listening? We are invited by God to move towards empathic listening, because this is the first condition of genuine loving.
EMPATHIC / ACTIVE LISTENING
√ This is the Chinese symbol for ‘to listen’. The left side of the symbol represents an ear. The right side represents the eyes and undivided attention and underneath this there is the heart. The Chinese believe that you need to use your eyes, ears and heart, and give undivided attention to really listen to what is being said to you.
√ This symbol tells us that to listen we must use both ears, watch and maintain eye contact, give undivided attention, and finally be empathetic. In other words we must engage in active listening!
√ Active listening is a skill taught to teachers and police officers, counselors, ministers, rabbis and priests. It is a skill we would all do better having learned, practiced. To begin being an active listener we must first understand the four rules of active listening.
√ Dan Wilkins, a person with disability and a disabilities advocate explains the Chinese kanji, termed as Ting. He says,
“What does it mean to listen? In our fast-paced ‘drive-thru’ cost-cutting downsizing gameboy world, the Chinese kanji, ‘Ting’, representing the verb ‘to listen’, is significant in that it explains the difference between simply hearing and truly listening. By integrating representations of not only our ears but of our eyes, our heart, and the selfless act of undivided attention, the Chinese have truly captured the essence of listening.”
THE FOUR RULES OF ACTIVE LISTENING
♥ 1. SEEK TO UNDERSTAND BEFORE SEEKING TO BE UNDERSTOOD.
√ When we seek to understand rather than be understood, our modus operandi will be to listen. Often, when we enter into conversation, our goal is to be better understood.
√ We can be better understood, if first we better understand.
√ We have to listen to the other from the frame of reference of the other – not our own. BUT we need to be emotionally strongto do this.
♥ 2. BE NON JUDGMENTAL.
√ Empathetic listening demonstrates a high degree of emotional intelligence. There is a reason kids do not usually speak with adults about drugs, sex, and rock and roll. The kids already know what the adults have to say. Once a child knows your judgment, there is little reason to ask the question unless the intention is to argue.
√ If we would speak to anyone about issues important to them, we need to avoid sharing our judgment until we have learned their judgment. This empathetic behavior is an indicator of emotional intelligence.
♥ 3. GIVE YOUR UNDIVIDED ATTENTION TO THE SPEAKER.
√ Remember how Jesus gave undivided attention to Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10); Jesus listened to him, causing Him to stop in front of him; Jesus looked up at him and invited Himself into Zacchaeus’ home!
√ Remember, too, that the minimum of Love is Justice. Justice is giving rightly what is one’s due. We determine what all persons are basically due by their simply being persons by looking into the nature of the term person: per + sonare, i.e., “to sound through” – to communicate.
√ Giving undivided attention to a person is allowing the person to realize his / her personhood. That is somehow the sense of what we say: “The first responsibility of love is to listen.”
♥ 4. USE SILENCE EFFECTIVELY.
√ The final rule for active or empathic listening is to effectively use silence. Too often a truly revealing moment is never brought to fruition because of an untimely interruption. Some of the finest police interrogators, counselors, teachers, confessors and parents learn more by maintaining silence than by asking questions.
√ As an active or empathic listener, silence is a very valuable tool. DO NOT interrupt unless absolutely necessary. Silence is indeed golden especially when used to gather information as a listener.
√ Of course, this rule of empathic listening is foundational in our Life of Prayer! Huwag makalimot manalangin, magnilay at tumahimik.
“God speaks in the silence of the heart. Listening is the beginning of prayer.”
– Mother Teresa
Healing of the Blind Bartimaeus (Mk 10:46-52)
Answered Prayer: Dispositions of the Heart
Anthony “Tony” Campolo is an American sociologist, pastor, author, public speaker and former spiritual advisor to U.S. President Bill Clinton. When he was in a church in Oregon, he prayed for a man who had cancer. In the middle of the week, he received a telephone call from the man’s wife. She said, “You prayed for my husband. He had cancer.” I said, “Had?” Whoa, he thought, it’s happened.
She said, “He died.” Campolo felt terrible.
“Don’t feel bad,” the woman said. “When he came into church that Sunday, he was filled with anger. He knew he was going to be dead in a short period of time, and he hated God. He was fifty-eight years old, and he wanted to see his children and grandchildren grow up.
“He was angry that this all-powerful God didn’t take away his sickness and heal him. He would lie in bed and curse God. The more his anger grew toward God, the more miserable he was to everybody around him. It was an awful thing to be in his presence.
“After you prayed for him, a peace came over him and a joy came into him. The last three days have been the best days of our lives. We’ve sung. We’ve laughed. We’ve read Scripture. We’ve prayed. Oh, they’ve been wonderful days. And I called to thank you for laying your hands on him and praying for healing.”
Then she said something incredibly profound: “He wasn’t cured, but he was healed.” (Tony Campolo, “Year of Jubilee,”
Preaching Today Audio, no. 212)
- Persistence. Bartimaeus was makulit. His need was to come face to face with Jesus. More than a sentimental wish, we should have a desperate desire for an encounter with Jesus. This desperate desire is what gets things done.
- Response: immediate and eager. Bartimaeus ”threw aside his cloak, sprang up and came to Jesus.” He came like a shot at Jesus’ call. No excuses, no dilly-dallying. Certain chances happen only once. The key: acting on His call on the moment.
- Knowing what you want. Bartimaeus knew precisely what he wanted – his sight. Indeed, our persistence may come only from a vague attraction to and admiration of Jesus & his wonders. Preparing for this encounter demands self-examination/ knowledge. Going to Jesus as persistent and desperate with a definite need as Bartimaeus, miracles are bound to happen!
- Consistent Faith. Bartimaeus’ address of Jesus as Son of David speaks of his inadequate conception of Jesus. Despite this inadequacy, he had faith, which made up a hundredfold for the inadequacy of his theology. The demand is not that we fully understand Jesus. We can never do that. But the demand is for faith, “that can move mountains.”
- Loving & Grateful heart. Pero, “if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing” (1 Cor 13:2), says St. Paul. Bartimaeus may have been a beggar by the wayside but he was a man of gratitude, for he followed Jesus. He did not selfishly go on his way when his need was met. Similarly, the mother-in-law of Peter, after her cure, started to serve her guests.
Remember how Bartimaeus began with a 1) need, went on to 2) gratitude, and finished with 3) loyalty – indeed, a perfect summary of the stages of discipleship.
May God bless your life with miracles!♥
Prayer for Physical Healing
Jesus, You are the wounded healer, heal me through Your wounds. You are the God, the Ultimate, who alone can heal me. You are Divine Medicine. O Lord! Just say one word, and I shall be healed. Jesus, forgive all my sins and iniquities through Your shed blood. Have mercy on all my ancestors. O Jesus! Send Your Holy Spirit upon me and liberate me from all bondage. Jesus, my only Savior, deliver me from all my sins and sickness. Mother Mary, Mother of Good Health, I cry out to You for Your prayers for the mercy of Your Son to heal me right now! Thank you Mother Mary. Thank you Jesus, Thank you Abba, Father, and Thank You Holy Spirit.
Lord, almighty, merciful, and omnipotent God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, drive out from (name) all inﬂuence of evil spirits. Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, I plead you to break any chain that the Devil has on him (her).
Pour upon (name) the most Precious Blood of your Son. May his immaculate and redeeming Blood break all bonds of his (her) body or mind. I ask you this through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Archangel St. Michael, intercede and come to his (her) help. In the Name of Jesus, I command all demons that could have any inﬂuence over (name) to leave him (her) forever. By his scourging, his crown of thorns, his cross, by his blood and resurrection, I command all evil spirits to leave him (her).
By the true God, by the Holy God, by God who can do all, in the Name of Jesus my Savior and Lord, leave him (her). Amen.♥
THE ART OF LIVING IN CONTENTMENT
In today’s gospel (Mark 10:35-45), the disciples of Jesus, James and John, were not content with what they were. They said to Jesus, “See to it that we sit, one at your right and the other at your left, when you come into your glory.” Oddly, for the apostles James and John, contentment meant sitting on the right and the on the left of Jesus. Contentment was a position near the throne of political power. So, what is Christian Contentment? How do you live a life of contentment?
WHAT CONTENTMENT IS NOT
√ is not something that comes naturally.
√ is not about possessions or circumstances.
√ is not being stoic, numb to suffering.
√ is not necessarily liking our present circumstances.
√ is not being complacent, settling for things that are less than they should be.
WHAT CONTENTMENT IS
1. Contentment is a learned state. So often we pursue so many things in this world that cause unnecessary discontentment in our lives. We must learn to be content. This will not happen immediately.
2. Contentment is an attitude. It is not obtaining something from outside us that will bring us contentment; rather it is a removal of something within us. Namely, the removal of a false and negative way of thinking.
Contentment is an attitude of defeating negativism. St. Paul is more direct in his letter to the Philippians, “Think about whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, gracious, excellent, worthy of praise.” (Phil 4:8). Contentment, hence, is a way of seeing things.
For, indeed, DISCONTENTMENT
♥ blinds us to others’ true needs. We do not see what they don’t have.
♥ blinds us to our own blessings. We do not see what we already have.
♥ And discontentment blinds us to the great riches of being united to Jesus Christ and his inheritance which is to be received by all those who love him.
3. Contentment is knowing you have ALL you need for your circumstances because Christ gives sufficient strength to handle what you face. (cf. 1 Timothy 6:6; 2 Corinthians 9:8) .
4. Contentment comes through the resources that God provides through union with Christ (Phil. 4:13), through prayer (Phil. 4:6-7), through thought control (Phil. 4:8), through a supportive fellowship (Phil. 4:10,14). Contentment is, therefore, found in the Grace and Providence of God. That is, if we truly realize the value of grace in our lives, then we find contentment. If we truly realize that God is in charge, that He is the provider, the Good Shepherd and the Sower, then we find contentment.
5. Contentment is found in the Promises of God, namely,
♥ that there is a place in Heaven he is preparing for us. This world is not all there is.
♥ that He will never leave us or forsake us, we never have to face a battle alone.
♥ that He will provide for our needs. We are never without the resources we need.
♥ that He will guide us into the truth. When we need guidance we know that God will lead the way.
♥ that He will do in our life exceeding abundantly beyond all we ask or imagine.
♥ that He will protect, defend, guide, strengthen everyone who is willing to follow Him.
In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need. I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me. (Phil 4: 12-13)
THE ABC’S OF LIVING IN CONTENTMENT
A. Affirm. Affirm your Blessings and Thank God in Prayer.
B. Believe. Believe in Jesus Christ and His Promises. Let His Loving Promises Lift you up!
C. Carpe diem. Seize the Day! Seize the Moment! Live the Present Moment with God! Enjoy every bit of blessing that God gives you, in good times and bad times!
D. Discard. Discard your Emotional Cancers, that is, the 4 Big C’s of in your heart, namely,
√ your COMPLAINING,
√ your CRITICIZING attitude,
√and your COMPETING behavior.
E. Embrace. Embrace Abundance Mentality. Have a KAYA-NATIN-‘TO-LORD mindset.
ST. TERESA’S BOOKMARK
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing dismay you.
All things are passing:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
The one who has God
God alone suffices.
Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want, but the realization of how much you already have.
And the greatest gift we all already have,
is the Gift of God’s Love through Jesus, His Son and our Savior .♥
THE DISCIPLE’S HEALTH
Disciple. “Disciple” and “Discipline” are words formed from the Latin, “dicere”, that is, to learn. Obviously, true discipleship is marked by discipline.
Discipline is doing what you really don’t want to do, so that you can do what you really want to do. Discipline is paying the price in the little things, so that you can buy the bigger thing. Discipline is being faithful to the little things in order to be given far greater things. It is detaching from small things to prepare for attachment to greater things that matter the most.
Health. Health is the state of being sound in body or mind. Health is from the Old English word hal, meaning ”whole”. Interestingly, the word “holy” is also rooted in the same Old English word haul. Thus, health and holiness, in reality, refer to wholeness.
In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus stresses the importance of keeping ourselves healthy, that is, free from any form of enslavement. Jesus also emphasizes God’s generosity toward those who make Him their highest value. Because God, the Most Holy, is the key to a disciple’s wholeness or holiness. The gospel narrates a man who wanted to follow Jesus but who went away sad for “he had many possessions”. Notice how Jesus “looked at him with love”. Why? Because, like many of us, this man was in need of healing, in need of wholeness. More than just observing the commandments, he needed to put God first in his life so he may be restored to health.
Three Areas of a Disciple’s Health
1. A Disciplined Head.
- Keeping your mind active and regularly taking on mental challenges will help you develop the kind of disciplined thinking that will help you with life’s endeavors.
- Don’t stop reading. Don’t stop learning.
- Have your personal bible. You may already have a personal cell phone but not a personal bible.
- Read the Bible. Start with a few verses every day. Then dedicate time, say, 5 minutes during pryaer time to read and reflect on the word of God.
- It is good enough if you have your own bible diary where the readings for the day’s mass are printed.
- Read our lecturettes.
- Be interested in the new words you encounter in your readings or conversations. Having a handy dictionary in Filipino and English is highly recommended.
- Keep on discovering and re-discovering your faith through the right sources. Should you start to have doubts about certain doctrines of the Catholic church, please question first your scholarship. Doubt first about whether you know fully well what is being taught. Do your faith homework.
- Beware. Do not just swallow the words of tele-evangelists who attack the Catholic faith with the Bible alone principle.
- Desire to share what you know. Keep on teaching. Don’t ever say that you are too old, too busy or lacking in intelligence to learn new things or re-learn new ways of relating, speaking and thinking. Holiness is only possible through contact with the Holy One through prayer.
- Prayer is the language of a Disciplined mind, a disciple’s mind. Give importance and time to your daily prayer with the same or even greater time and importance than you give in meals, chatting with friends, exercising your body or recreating.
- St. Paul reminds us in his letter to the Romans (12:2): “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.”
- Wholeness can be achieved with a balanced prioritiy of values in your mind.
2. A Disciplined Heart.
- You have two choices when it comes to your emotions. You can master them or be mastered by them. It is unfortunate to see people enslaved by their emotions into their old age. You should not let your feelings prevent you from doing what you should do, nor drive you to do things you should not.
- Remember, being too emotional makes you a number one candidate for the devil’s deception.
- Be proactive. Be responsible for your own feelings. Don’t allow the weaknesses of others become your weaknesses too. You have enough of your own weaknesses. Don’t add more, unnecessarily.
- You don’t feel guilty for feeling hungry when your stomach is really empty. So, don’t feel guilty for being angry at something or someone that provokes anger. Remember, that feelings do not have morality in themselves. Morality is in what and how you respond to your emotions. so, don’t be scrupulous.
- That is not healthy; that is not holy.
- Also, don’t control your emotions. It’s useless doing that. Rather, control your reactions to your emotions. That is discipline.
3. Disciplined Hands.
Sharpening your mind and controlling your reactions to your emotions are important, but discipleship does not stop there! The rich young man went away sad on account of it.
Action is what separates the winners from the losers. Your actions always reflect the degree of discipline and discipleship you possess.
The final command of Jesus to a real disciple is to “give to the poor”! Remember, the measure of discipleship is to love without measure.
Epilogue: Your Spiritual Check-up
The author of the letter to the Hebrews reminds us: “No creature is concealed from God, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must render an account.” (Heb 4: 13)
The weaknesses of our heads, hearts and hands, like the rich young man, may have caused us to go away from God with sadness. But Jesus continues to look at each of us with love, awaiting our restoration to health, to wholeness, to spiritual healing and holiness. When was you last general spiritual check-up. When was your last Confession? You say that priests are also human beings and are sinners, and therefore, you should only confess directly to God. Think again.
✠Jesus had himself baptized by John, a mere human being. Indeed, a recognition that God uses human beings to prove our humility in front of the loving Father.
✠To prove the urgency of humble service, Jesus washed the feet of his apostles.
✠To affirm humanity’s need for humility as a pre-requisite of healing and forgiveness, Jesus allowed the woman to wash and anoint His feet.
✠Even priests go to confessions. Remember, the door to all spiritual well-being is the door of humility. Please be mindful of the spiritual health of your soul. It’s the only one you’ve got.
God bless you!♥
BRIDGES: KEEPING, BURNING & BUILDING
To pass through the bridge of commitment, a mature Christian should be ready to burn some “bridges” whose very existence only allure us to self-destruction. What are these bridges worth burning down? Mahatma Gandhi mentioned some, like the bridges of politics without principle; of pleasure without conscience, of wealth without work, of knowledge without character, of business without morality, of science without humanity, and worship without sacrifice. These bridges, since the beginning of time, have destroyed individuals, families, nations and the world. If we do not burn these “bridges” we shall all be tempted to cross through them, in good times and in bad. But Jesus hints at the most important bridge to burn. The bridge of love without commitment.
Relationships 101: Bridges to Keep
♥ The Bridge of Prayer to God. The Russians have a saying: “Before going to war, pray once. Before going to sea, pray twice. And before going to get married, pray three times.” This is basic to all relationships: relationship with God. The first Bridge we need to keep is our direct personal connection with God. All important relationships, like Marital relationship, only find their meaning and life in this primary relationship with God.
♥ The Authority of God in Marriage. This means that neither the man nor the woman is the authority here. It is God who is head of the home. Is God the head of your home? Does God rule your relationships? The gospel today emphasizes the importance and authority of God in the marital relationship. “Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” (Mark 10:9)
Please, don’t run away from those who give you strength. Don’t ever cut bridges that connect you to Godly values and principles. These Bridges are definitely worth keeping.
Relationships 102: Bridges to Burn
This second section is relationships 102. This means that in this section, we would like to offer something beyond the basics of relationships. Here, we will discuss Burning Bridges of Abusive Relationships.
Part 1. Steps to Burning Abusive Bridges
If you are in an abusive relationship, here are some steps you can take to free yourself from victimhood.
1. Get professional counseling support, with or without your partner.
2. Start setting limits by firmly letting him know what kind of behavior you will not accept from him.
3. Call his attention immediately every time he is being abusive towards you.
4. Stay in the present, calling his attention only to what he has just done and asking him to stop it immediately.
5. Ask for the changes that you want in the relationship. But before you do, be sure that you will have the determination and the means to leave the relationship and the situation if he is not to change.
6. Be aware that you can leave any abusive situation, even when you are married in Church. Please consult with your pastor in person in the soonest possible time. You are a free person and should have control over your own life.
The above steps may be very difficult to do because:
♥ You may feel you are betraying him.
♥ You may feel that he treats you this way because of your own shortcomings.
♥ Other people may not believe you and refuse to help you.
♥ You yourself may be in denial, unable to accept the fact that you are being abused.
Part 2. Preventing Abusive Relationships
- How to spot the potential abuser and victim:
Are you a potential victim?
- Do you have low self-esteem?
- Do you believe in traditional, stereotypical, man-as-the-head of-the-house roles?
- Do you easily accept responsibility for starting arguments?
- Do you believe that jealousy is proof of love?
Is your boyfriend a potential abuser?
- Does he discourage you from talking with/confiding in your family/friends?
- Does he always insist on going everywhere with you?
- Do you have to tell him your schedule for the day, the people you will be with, and why you will be with them? Does he have problems with your success?
- Does he react negatively to people in positions of authority?
- Does he believe that the man should be the unquestioned head of the house?
- Does he belittle you or your accomplishments?
- Does he blame you if things turn out badly?
- Does he negate or belittle your opinions?
- Does he call you names?
- Does he lose control when he is angry?
- Does he become violent when he does not get his way or when he drinks?
- Does he come from an abusive home or a dysfunctional family?
Part 3. How To Avoid Getting Into A Verbally-Abusive relationship:
questions to ask yourself before you commit to a relationship
♥ Does he have a sense of joy in life?
♥ Do you enjoy his ideas and do you feel a rapport with him?
♥ Do you feel a real connection, laughing together and catching meanings in the same way?
♥ Is there a best-friend quality in your relationship?
♥ Do you feel relaxed with him?
♥ Can you be yourself without being criticized by him?
♥ Does he share his interests with you and express an interest in yours?
♥ Does he speak openly and honestly about himself?
♥ Is he warm and understanding towards you?
♥ Can he make jokes without making you uncomfortable, without sounding bitter, intimidating, or critical of others?
♥ Does he listen from the heart, like you do, too to him? That is, does he ever consider your point when you are right and affirms you honestly? Does he openly admit it when he is wrong?
♥ If you are looking at marriage, do you sense his willingness to burn the bridges of past attitudes, past lifestyles and ideas that only threaten the noble ideals of marriage, true Christian Catholic faith and morals?
Remember, it is better to call off a marriage by mistake than to enter into it by mistake.
Thus, before crossing the bridge of commitment discern with Christ which bridges to keep and which ones need to be burned.
The many storms we are going through as a Filipino nation, the many trials and difficulties we still may face in the near future, the loss of property, of loved ones, the loss of the cherished possessions we have worked for, these communal experience of suffering and pain, invite each one of us to ever be ready to burn our many unnecessary bridges of self-centeredness, of indifference, of materialism and of lack of commitment. Only then can we ourselves become true Bridges of Love.
SUSTAINABILITY & CHRISTIAN T. A. C. T.
Nm 11:25-29; Ps 19; Jas 5:1-6; Mk 9:38-43.45.47-48
Tact – acute sensitivity to what is proper and appropriate in dealing with others, including the ability to speak or act without offending. We already talked about Christian correction.
Connected with it is the virtue of Christian Tact. Farmer’s Almanac gives a description of tact as “rubbing out another’s mistake instead of rubbing it in”. In a funny way, someone said that tact is the ability to tell a man he has an open mind when he has a hole in his head! In today’s Gospel (Mk 9:38-43.45.47-48) Jesus taught his disciples to be broad-minded and generous, responsible and wise in their choices, for no good will be left unrewarded, no evil will be left unpunished. The Gospel pericope thus gives us a teaching on tact, Christian tact. And this virtue has four marks.
FOUR MARKS OF CHRISTIAN TACT
Tolerance of those with whom we may disagree. Tolerance is the capacity for or the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs or practices of others.
“Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me.”(Mk 9:39)
¨ Each one has a right to his/ her own thoughts. Respect this right. Truth is bigger than anyone’s grasp of it.
¨ Tolerance is not a lazy acceptance of anything; is not a feeling that there can’t be assurance anywhere.
¨ Tolerance is reverence for all the possibilities of truth.
¨ It is charity greater than faith and hope. Intolerance is a sign of arrogance and ignorance: believing that there is no truth beyond the truth one sees.
¨ Any doctrine or belief must finally be judged by the kind of people it produces. Life proves doctrine or belief. No man can entirely condemn beliefs that make a man good. However, tolerance is not relativism: a theory that conceptions of truth and moral values are not absolute but are relative to the persons or groups holding them.
Acceptance of those who do good. “For whoever is not against us is for us.” Acceptance here deals with positive welcome of persons due the simple reason that they are persons and thus are God’s “children” .
¨ Be accepting of those who do God’s work. Doing good to them will not go unnoticed, unknown and unrewarded by God. Of course those we disagree with may have unacceptable positions, ideas or views. Let that be!
¨Agree to disagree agreeably. But these disagreements do not excuse you to be rude and not be accepting of their person. Remember, acceptance of all persons unconditionally is the least measure of God’s commandment to “love as you love yourself.”
¨Each one has a right to speak his/ her own thoughts. Freedom of speech is a basic democratic right. Personhood is defined by “sounding through.” But there are limits: doctrines that destroy morality and remove the foundations of civilized and Christian society must be combated without acceptance. Voltaire once said, “I hate what you say, but I would die for your right to say it.”
¨We may hate a man’s beliefs, but we must never hate the man. We may wish to eliminate what he teaches, especially those which destroy absolute visions and values, but we must never wish to eliminate him.
Compassion on those in need – deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it. ”Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.”
¨The blessings we receive in this life are not meant for our selfish enjoyment, but to enable us to do good to those in need.
¨Failure to do so, as St. James reminds us in the second reading (Jas 5:1-6), is the sign of a hardened heart which will be judged very severely by God.
¨A reminder regarding being rewarded in this life for the compassion we show to those in need is in order though. In this life, in the temporal order of things, a bit of sacrifice may be demanded of us.
Christian tenacity is the quality of tending to hold persistently to Christian teaching and moral principles.
“If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off.”
¨What comes to mind here is St. Paul’s metaphor of the Church as a body. It would be good to examine our relationships in general, and even our church relationships in particular.
¨Should there be relationships that oppress us, that leads us away from becoming a better person and a better Christian, or that causes us to “mortally” sin against God, the Gospel prescription is to tactfully sever from these relationships. Why tenacity? Because when you hold on dearly to your Christian teachings and moral principles, that is, to your faith and morals, you’d be demanded to let go of your hold on or “be cut off from” the mundane concerns that only serve to lead you away from God.
Tenacity to Christian Principles is the foundation of Christian Sustainability. Without these faith principles, we are only as good as a pagan diplomat.♥
HUMILITY BREEDING & HUMBLY CARING FOR THE EARTH
Wis 2:12.17-20; Ps 54; Jas 3:16-4:3; Mk 9:30-37
It All Begins With Humility
“Many people ask me who my mentors are. One thing in common that they all have is humility. They, knowing that we’re all in the same boat; everyone has challenges; everyone has different gifts; and we’re in this together.
I have learned that if I ever become a person who feels like I’m better than someone else, is when I start putting barriers up, when I stop becoming less transparent, when I’m not as compassionate, when I’m not as loving and giving.
You know, more than the goal that I achieve or the success that I have, is who I affect along the way. And to love and impart encouragement to people around me – that always begins with humility.
To care for someone means you’re not thinking about yourself, you’re thinking about them. The greatest thing to start with when you’re planning for success is to be humble!” – Nick Vujicic
Just what is humility? What does it mean to be humble? Does it mean to put ourselves down? Does it mean to think little of ourselves? Does it mean to deny our true worth, or to belittle it?
Not at all! Humility is something far more profound and far more beautiful than that.
Humility isn’t thinking little of ourselves. It’s not thinking of ourselves at all.
In its most profound and most beautiful sense humility means to be like Jesus, who said, “Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.” Matthew 11:29
It means to be like Jesus, who said, “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve.” Mark 10:45
Humility means to live as Jesus lived—not for ourselves, but for others. It means to use our talents as Jesus used his—not for ourselves and our own glory, but for others and their needs.
Let me illustrate with an example: Charlie Brown
Charles Schulz made the Peanuts character Charlie Brown a household word. Few people know, however, that Charlie Brown is based on a real person. The real Charlie Brown worked with Schulz in the Bureau of Engraving in Minneapolis.
Eventually both men quit the Bureau. Schulz became a cartoonist. Charlie Brown became a counsellor for convicted juvenile delinquents, often housing them in his own home. Charlie died of cancer in December 1983. After his death a coworker wrote:
“Charlie was my boss for three years at the Detention Centre…. After the kids were in bed, we passed the remaining hours of the evening shift in long conversations.
“Charlie was a devout Roman Catholic…. He saw his own life . .. as the doing of daily works of charity in imitation of Christ and the saints.”
The coworker went on to say that often the doorbell and the phone at the Detention Centre rang late at night. It was usually some boy asking, “Is Charlie Brown there?”
The coworker also said that during his stay at the Detention Centre not one young man who lived with Charlie ever returned to prison. And this was one of the reasons why Charlie was frequently asked to give workshops for professions and to lecture on penology and social work at the University of Minnesota.
Charlie Brown and Charles Schulz remained close friends to the end. Schulz occasionally offered Charlie a share in the profits from some Charlie Brown spin-off, like T-shirts or toys. But Charlie never accepted a dollar. Nor did Charlie ever volunteer to anyone that he was the real Charlie Brown.
And so to this day, many of the kids who rang the doorbell of the Detention Centre late at night, asking “Is Charlie Brown there?” had no idea whom they were asking for.
That story is a living example of what Jesus means when he says, “Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.”
It is a living example of what Jesus means when he says, “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve.”
It is a living example of the power and the beauty of the virtue of humility when lived out courageously in a truly Christian life.
It is a living example of Jesus’ teaching on humble service of the lost, the last and the least, like serving a little child.
Our Earth-saving Mission Reminds us of Humble Service
√ In Amazonia, researchers have discovered 2,000 year old yet extremely fertile earth. It takes hundreds of years to create the thin fertile layer of earth that sustains us all. Now, this is all at stake. Hidden away in the life beneath our feet is the last chance for our climate. We need to understand the life inside if we are to rescue life outside.
√ Humus generation is becoming a race against time. Will we grasp humus generation as our climate’s last chance? “And it has been demonstrated that it is really is possible for over 10-15 years to raise carbon levels significantly.” (Dr. Klaus-Kurt Hulsbergen. Technical Univ. of Munich)
√ “And the entire excess will be outside and our climate problem will be solved.” (Dr. August Raggam, Ecologist)
√ “Negotiations are going on for the post-2012 period. It would be great if soil management, grassland and cropland management was included.” (David Neil Bird, Researcher)
EPILOGUE: POPE FRANCIS’ LAUDATO SI LETTER
Pope Francis has written a letter addressed to every person on this planet, asking us all to protect our common home… The Earth.
In the letter he says: “The earth is God’s gift to us,
full of beauty and wonder. And it belongs to everyone.”
But what we see today is that our common home has never been so hurt and mistreated.
We have developed at a greater speed than we could have ever imagined and have treated the earth like it has an unlimited supply of resources.
We have taken more than our fair share from most people on the planet, as well as future generations.
We have cut down the earth’s natural forests, polluted the earth’s waters, its land and its air.
The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.
We are using more and more polluting fossil fuels which is contributing to climate change.
Climate change one of the biggest challenges we face today. Climate change will affect us all, but it will be the poorest communities who will suffer the most.
And despite these problems, we are not slowing down on how much we consume and throw away; leaving a trail of waste and destruction.
We cannot continue like this.
We can change, and we can make a new start.
The whole human family needs to work together to care for our planet earth so that we sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.
So let’s put love for the world and love for our neighbours, into action, by living together in harmony, and caring for nature.
Can you take simple everyday eco-actions to care for the earth, like turning off lights, reducing water waste and recycling?
And will you live more simply, reducing the amount of things we buy and throw away, so that we don’t take more than our fair share?
The world can’t wait! So let’s make that start today.
Play your part to protect our common home.
Laudato Si’ – A letter from Pope Francis on Care for our Common Home
 Larry Rasmussen, “The Real Charlie Brown”, The Christian Century (March 21-28, 1984).