Three truth bombs for today’s Christians

What is the result when Christians stay passive in a society full of sin, confusion and disorder? Well, Father Mariano has some thoughts. 

 Jesus said: If you make my word your home you will indeed be my disciples; you will come to know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:31-32

 Before my flight today, Sunday, my husband and I worshipped at the early Mass where we had one of the most brutally honest and motivating homilies in a good while. We attended Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Kissimmee, Florida.

(Side note: Catholics don’t go to Mass for preaching or music or entertainment, we go for veneration of Jesus’ Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist. Therefore, I don’t “rate” sermons, but today’s homily spoke profoundly to my soul – more so than usual.)

Father was dropping truth bombs like the mailman delivering gifts during Christmas. 

Here are the pointed phrases that landed on my conscience. (I paraphrase for him in quotations.)

1. The ease of going along with the popular ways of the world is dangerous. “The road to salvation is narrow, steep, and difficult; and the road to damnation is smooth and wide – much easier to take. More people are on the easy road.” This means that while we may have a prideful desire to go along with the times, our faith is calling us to be counter-cultural. We must speak out against the tough but pervasive social issues of our time including abortion, contraception, divorce, and same-sex “marriage.” Staying quiet or neutral is not optional. In fact, the faithful always endure ostracizing, humiliation, pain, and sometimes execution. It’s our call to suffering.


2. Being passive. “Some people would never offend their neighbor so instead they choose to offend God.” Our society is wrapped up in the need to make everyone feel good all the time. This behavior is so prevalent that most people mistake affirmation for love! Instead of agreeing with sinful behavior, we should be charitably pointing it out and calling sin the evil that it is.


3. Noticing the sign you’re on the incorrect path. “If circumstances start to seem easier, you’re probably going downhill.” Father is saying when we avoid suffering from our inconveniences, grief, or personal sins/sins of others, our life may seem “happier” or smooth for our time on Earth. But the easy path is not The Way of Eternal Life! We are called to humbly accept suffering as Christ accepted the sins of the world. Reminder: He did so willing, lovingly, humbly, and selflessly. 
Respect our important call as Christians. As Father says, when you take away “Christ-” you’re left with “-ian”. 


I-Am-Nothing without Christ. 



Go in peace, with faith and courage, to the challenging road of salvation.

Complaining is holding you back.

Complaining will be your ruin. It’s self-defeating, and I know, because I’ve been there.

I have complained about everything: my head hurts, a family member annoyed me, it’s too hot outside, it’s raining outside, working-out made me sore, church dragged on an extra fifteen minutes…the list goes on.

 

If this sounds familiar, keep reading…

 

I have never observed successful people griping about the weather, or a meeting they begrudge, or the fact that it’s a Monday.

Because they suck it up.

Complaining is different from grief or strife; complaining is a focus on yourself and your own pity. And it usually brings others down.

Why do we do it? Some complainers want to turn all of the focus onto themselves while others are trying to fill the silence with empty chatting, or “making conversation”. Maybe everyone else is complaining, too, so we find out it comes naturally.

If you are a repeat offender, stop now. 

The following are the main reasons why complaining is self-defeating:

  1. Gratitude ceases. Nothing will ever satisfy you if you can find a flaw in even the most gracious gestures and gifts. Life will never be perfect or comfortable enough to quench your needs.
  2. You will think of yourself as life’s central victim. You play the central role in your own drama and are victimized by your circumstances and those around you. This is defeating because the circumstances might not even be personal. Also,  your life isn’t really even about you, it’s about what God is going to do through you. It’s about completing God’s plan, and complaining hinders that.
  3. It isolates you from the suffering of others. We are called to acknowledge and alleviate the suffering of others. Self-pity and self-focus is quite the opposite.
  4. You aren’t resolving the issue. Do you find yourself wishing conditions were better but not working towards their betterment? It’s time to turn your energy elsewhere.
  5. You may even begin to feel entitled and self-important. Um, not attractive.

So, how do we stop complaining?

Cut off the conversation or initiate a change in subject when complaining begins (this strategy is also effective with trying to end gossiping).

Remember that your suffering is minimal to what others are enduring across the globe. You might complain about your job, but you are earning a living. You might complain about a family member, but that family member is alive and you get to love them. You might complain about where you live, but you have a home. Somewhere, someone else is suffering far more gravely than you.

While we are special to God, our suffering is not unique to us. Everything you are experiencing or have experienced, someone else has, too…perhaps without complaining in the least.

Lastly, meditate on the fact that our suffering can bring souls to heaven through redemptive suffering.

Pray.

Dear Jesus, please be with me through my day. Allow me to focus on the positives in my life and help me avoid thinking only of my own suffering and inconveniences. Allow me to be grateful for what I have and to recognize that every good gift comes from You. Help me to recognize the suffering of other people – especially those closest to me. Amen.

Are Catholics called to evangelize?

Evangelize– to preach the Christian Gospel; to convert or seek to convert others.

Are Catholics called to evangelize? Absolutely. Do Catholics usually leave it up to the Protestants? Yup. 

But evangelizing is essential to the Church.

Bishop Robert Barron explains:

“Vatican II couldn’t be clearer on this score, seeing the Church itself as nothing but a vehicle for evangelization. According to Vatican II, it’s not so much the case that the Church has a mission, but rather that a mission has the Church. Bringing people to Christ is not one work among many; rather it is the central work of the Church, that around which everything else that we do revolves.”
…Around which everything else that we do revolves. 

Did you hear that?
To never evangelize is to get the Church all wrong.

Jesus himself calls us to evangelize. 
Just look at today’s Gospel in His words: 

And preach as you go, saying, `The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying, give without pay. Take no gold, nor silver, nor copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor a staff; for the laborer deserves his food. And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it, and stay with him until you depart. As you enter the house, salute it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And if any one will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly, I say to you, it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town. 

Matthew 10 : 7 – 15

Clearly, Jesus is instructing his first disciples to go out and bring others to communion with Him. 

In fact, the apostles were sent out as simple witnesses. They were not perfect people. They were not the smartest or the richest or the most talented. Yet, they were sent to form the Church in a world that opposed them in every way. 

They did so because God appointed them, as He appoints you and I. 

So how should Catholics go about evangelizing? 


Well, we shouldn’t leave it up to the Protestants and atheists (yes, I said atheists, but let’s save explaining “evangelical atheist” for another post). 

Pray for guidance and courage. 

Pray for non-believers. 

Ask God to use you for His purpose. 

Follow through.


Let the following words comfort you, from Father Mitch Pacwa:

“We very much have to evangelize *this* culture – where we live. God created each one of our souls so that we would be in this place, at this time, in this culture; you were not made for the Renaissance; you were not created for the Middle Ages; or the Roman Empire, or any other time in history. Now is the time when we exist. And God calls us *now* like he called the apostles, to this task of proclaiming. The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” 

A follow-up post will be for a book review of “Search and Rescue” by Patrick Madrid, which details steps every Catholic apologist and evangelist should take in bringing others to the Church. 

Go out, good Catholic, and spread the Good News!

Should wives cook for their husbands?

Should wives cook for their husbands?

I am a millennial and I prepare nearly every meal for my husband. We both work full-time jobs.

Before you gasp (it’s shocking, I know), allow me to explain my “old fashioned” ways.

I began cooking for my husband February 2017 because of Lent. Lent is a Christian preparation for Easter and is the practice of abstinence and fasting. During this time, we are called to humility and reflection while we mourn our sins because our sins put Jesus to death on the cross. With the help of the Holy Spirit, I set out to spend the forty days focusing on my husband. I contemplated the ways I could make the marriage less about myself and more about him.

In His infinite wisdom, God enabled me to express my love for my husband more fully through cooking. Our marital bond strengthened. We became more intentional and gentle with each other.

I learned to enjoy and take delight in serving my husband this way. My husband learned (sometimes still learning) to express his appreciation.

I continue to serve my husband after Easter. Here is why:

1. We are called to love our spouse the way Christ loves His Church. Christ loves His Church so much that even though she rejected Him, He laid down his life for her, so they could spend eternity together forever. Are you willing to die to your spouse?

“Jesus has not placed on spouses a burden impossible to bear, or too heavy – heavier than the Law of Moses. By coming to restore the original order of creation disturbed by sin, he himself gives the strength and grace to live marriage in the new dimension of the Reign of God. It is by following Christ, renouncing themselves, and taking up their crosses that spouses will be able to “receive” the original meaning of marriage and live it with the help of Christ. This grace of Christian marriage is a fruit of Christ’s cross, the source of all Christian life.” (Catholic Catechism, 1615)

2. My dad admires that my mom cooks for him. About a year ago I recall him reflecting with great joy the daily meals my mother had prepared for him. His sincere expression of appreciation for her hard work and act of love was an inspiration for me to become a better wife. I want my husband, after thirty years of marriage, to look back and say, “I was blessed with a faithful wife who loved me more than she loved herself.”

3. Acts of service is one of his love languages. [Discover your love language.] Cooking for my husband is an avenue to warming his heart, in the same way that I desire a hug through my primary love language – affection. If a wife refuses to speak her husband’s love language, her husband will be left feeling rejected. It “goes both ways” – husbands should strive to meet the wife’s needs. Both can positively contribute to marriage without blaming or creating expectations for their counterpart. The general message is that marriage is not about you or your happiness – marriage is about actively loving your spouse, even if it means dying to them.

4. He doesn’t criticize my food. My husband is easygoing and sweet, and I have yet to hear a single complaint despite late dinners and burnt chicken. I have full freedom to experiment as many Pinterest recipes at my whim, and he delights in each. Serving a genial person is smooth and peaceful.

5. I get to post sweet Facebook and Instagram pictures. Who doesn’t like getting the love and encouragement (and recipe sharing) from your network? I’ve been opened to others who share this hobby. We exchange ideas and create community.

If you are nervous or overwhelmed to cook for your husband, do not fret. Have patience with yourself. Start with a small goal of one or two meals a week. Begin your own Pinterest board and start exploring – or follow mine.

Not all husbands have the same needs or love language. Not all husbands take great delight in being loved through food (although I have yet to meet one to complain). If your husband has expressed another desire, appropriate avenue of love, I highly recommend you take great measures to meet his expressed and unmet need.

Still have doubts?

Answer this question for yourself.

Do you want your spouse to feel less than loved and cared for?

Not me. Not today. Not ever.



Happy Father’s Day!

My imperfect dad is an instrument of God who teaches love, respect and appreciation. Father’s Day is the perfect time to recall the actionable ways my dad practices fatherhood.

  1. He stays. In staying, he protects and provides for the family. Less than 57% of children can make this claim of their father [US Census]. A father who fails to remain in the home exposes his children to a higher risk of becoming incarcerated, quitting school, committing suicide, and suffering from child abuse. More statistics were compiled here.
  2. Loyal to my mom. He lovingly sacrifices himself for his children through his unwavering commitment to our mother. He is dutiful and honorable; he loathes dishonesty and facade. Their marriage paves the way to a secure childhood.

    “The most extraordinary thing in the world is an ordinary man and an ordinary woman and their ordinary children.”
    G.K. Chesterton

  3. Ushered me out of victimhood. My dad has a saying, “Are you a Schwietert, or a wimp?!” I heard it as a youth when I took a fastball to the chin or was playfully teased. My adult brain recites it during moments of defeat. I am not a helpless victim. I am capable, and my father tells me so. Rather, he asks me. The choice is mine. So cheers to firm confidence, no whining allowed.
  4. Open to changing himself for the better. He’s a fine wine who just gets sweeter with time! (You’re welcome, Pops.) Two years ago he suddenly decided to become Catholic. I assure you, this is nothing short of a miracle from the man who preferred Sunday football over worship. While he missed opportunities to teach me about God, I witnessed such grace the year of his conversion that will sustain for years to come. Total peace.

You might be thinking that your dad is none of these things, and that is ok. Forgive him. Pray for him. Recall his positive attributes and praise him. Keep in mind that no one has a perfect dad. 

For those raised without a father, forgive the absent man. Get to know St. Joseph and never forget that you matter to God the Father.

If you are a father who is lacking qualities listed, have hope. As Christians we are repeatedly called to repentance to our Heavenly Father. The timing is perfect to enact #4. Today, forgive yourself and apologize to your child(ren). Do better starting now.

As Catholics, we honor all fathers today: natural fathers, adoptive fathers, our priests, and our Father in Heaven. If your father is deceased, offer a novena to St. Joseph (patron saint of fathers) in his honor and tell someone about your dad this Father’s Day.

Thank you, dads! And cheers to you, Jeff Schwietert!

Additions to the list are welcome, so drop a comment!  I would love to hear from you!