Monday, March 19, 2007

"For God all things are possible"

Happy Birthday, Madison!! Madison Mehlferber is a fourth grader in our school who has had two major surgeries in the past two weeks. This incredibly courageous and extraordinary girl is doing better now, thanks be to God. Madison turns 10 today! Please leave a comment, wishing her a happy birthday.
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Today is the Solemnity of St. Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We take a timeout from our Lenten fast to celebrate the life of Jesus’ earthly father. St. Joseph is a model of so many virtues – chastity being one of the main ones - for all men, especially husbands and fathers. In the Divine Praises, we pray, “Blessed be St. Joseph, her (Mary’s) most chaste spouse. It is fitting, then, to review a question from an anonymous blogger, “Are some people just incapable of chastity?”

Kat responded: “NO. Chastity is attainable for everyone, for some it is just harder to grasp than others because well, if you have lived in a situation where chastity isn't promoted growing up or you fall into habits or sinful actions with others. It is hard to go from living unchastely and being used to doing things with yourself/with others then moving towards chastity and living a chaste life. For some, not all, it starts off with realizing self worth and value of the person you are then expecting other people to treat you with respect and worth. If someone grows up not believing that they have worth it is easy to let others treat them that way and using them. Sometimes to get on that road it takes someone treating you differently then anyone else has ever... treating you with respect and showing you that you have value then slowly the light starts to come on in your head. Well that is my personal experience so far anyway for what it is worth. Also the key is not beating yourself up when you fall back into old patterns.”

“All the baptized are called to chastity. The Christian has ‘put on Christ’ (Gal 3:27), the model for all chastity” (CCC, # 2348). To suggest that some people are incapable of answering the call to chastity is to suggest that God’s power is limited. “For God all things are possible” (Mt 19:26). Now, it does take a person’s openness to and cooperation with God’s Grace to live chastity or any of the virtues. But, even that openness and cooperation is a result of Grace (cf. CCC, #2022). The more that we allow God to mold us and shape us, the more we will live the virtues.

We can look at some great examples of saints to know that everyone is capable of chastity. St. Augustine is one of the best examples – read his “Confessions”, if you haven’t already. The famous quote of this former playboy: “Lord, grant me chastity…but not right now!”

St. Joseph is an extraordinary example of not only chastity, but heroic chastity. What a calling God gave Joseph! He called him to be faithfully married to Mary who a) had become pregnant from someone else (the Holy Spirit)… and b) would remain a virgin. Talk about a calling you wouldn’t think someone could live!. Joseph, a man of deep faith and goodness, “did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him” (Mt 1:24). May each of us imitate the example of St. Joseph by doing what God commands in living the virtues, especially chastity.

20 Comments:

At 10:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Favorite Quote: Wah, wah, wah, Cry me a river, build me a bridge and get over it.

 
At 11:00 AM, Anonymous tom said...

The thing is, the opposite of chastity isn't sex -- even married people are called to chastity. The opposite of chastity is dissipation.

A life of dissipation can't produce any lasting good. In this world, lasting good takes effort, and the ability to sustain effort is corroded by unchastity.

The world thinks chastity leads to barrenness, but in fact chastity always bears good fruit. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph are the prime examples.

 
At 11:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kat's comments are very insightful. I think chastity is harder to live for some due to upbringing, abuse, and lack of indoctrination into the faith.

Tom, yes - even married people are called to chastity. Without chastity, husband and/or wife are at great risk of breaking or damaging the marital bond. The marital bond must be protected and held as sacred by both partners. This requires sustained effort and cooperating with God's grace. A Christ centered marriage is truly a beautiful vocation.

 
At 12:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kat,
Do you know if both Fr. Mike and Fr. Greg hear confessions on Wednesday night?

 
At 1:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom: Jesus, Mary, and Joseph had a lot of help. Jesus is God, and Mary and Joseph had direct intervention from the Holy Spirit. The rest of us are on our own and us moderns live with anti-chastity messages bombarding us all our waking hours. Not that we should give up, but the fact that Jesus, Mary and Joseph pulled it off 2,000 years ago does not speak to me.

 
At 1:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jesus, Mary & Joseph had a lot of help! yes, true enough. Tom commented that chastity always bears good fruit. That statement has not changed in over 2000 years. I choose to remain anonymous, but I will attest to the fruits of chastity. They are divine, beautiful, a glimpse of heaven. Keep your heart and mind focused on Jesus. Also if this is a major area of temptation, remove as much of it as you can(t.v. shows, movies, books, magazines.....anything that tempts you).
Confess, confess, receive the Eucharist. Dress in a way that promotes modesty. Watch your eyes!
The more you get to know Jesus, the more you will develop this virtue.
A priest once told me to practice the opposite of a certain sin (the virtue). It turned my life around.

Last anon, the rest of us are certainly not our own. I rely on the Holy Spirit every day. If we are on our own, then, a life lived chastely is not possible.

 
At 2:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had a funny conversation with one of my younger children about the fact that we are all called to respect the dignity of each human being. It started out as a conversation about ruining a sibling's artwork, but progressed from there. I found that conversation reminiscent of another I had with my eldest child when he began dating. Both conversations were about basic respect and control over ouselves and with others. We, in both conversations talked about ignoring what each thought was cool, popular and/or fun in the moment, and using control to do what they each knew was the right thing. I realize that dealing with our sexuality is only one part of living a chaste life. Though our sexuality is a huge gift, living a chaste life is about living what we a taught through our faith to be right rather than convenient. Who would have thought one could talk chastity with a four year old?

Another tidbit-
I did have a course in chastity in middle school- it was taught by a blunt, and naively funny nun. My friends and I still chuckle about some of the info. I thought I share a few her guidelines (mind you, she was teaching 12 yr old girls):

1. Always bring a magazine or newspaper on a date with you. You might need it in case the car is crowded and you have to sit on a boy's lap. There should always be a buffer zone, and no bare skin below the waist should come into direct contact.

2. If a boy puts his arm around you, it should go no lower than mid-back. If a boys tries to place his hand lower than mid back, tell him, "Sir. my body is a temple of God and you will not violate the temple."

3. After a date a boy may kiss you on the cheek. After several dates, he may kiss you on the lips, but you must always keep your mouth closed.

These are the few that stick out in my mind, but there were many, as the course covered a sememster. I look back now and greatly appreciate her desire for us to stay innocent. She really was a great nun!

 
At 2:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

On another note:


This was written by a Metro Denver physician: "I just had one of the
most amazing experiences of my life, and wanted to share it with my family and dearest friends:

"I was driving home from a meeting this evening about 5, stuck in
traffic
on Colorado Blvd., and the car started to choke and splutter and die -
I
barely managed to coast, cursing, into a gas station, glad only that I would not be blocking traffic and would have a somewhat warm spot to wait for the tow truck. It wouldn't even turn over. Before I could make the call, I saw a woman walking out of the "quickie mart" building, and it looked like she slipped on some ice and fell into a gas pump, so I got out to see if she was okay.

"When I got there, it looked more like she had been overcome by sobs
than that she had fallen; she was a young woman who looked really haggard with dark circles under her eyes. She dropped something as I helped her up, and I picked it up to give it to her. It was a nickel. "At that moment, everything came into focus for me: the crying woman, the ancient
Suburban crammed full of stuff with 3 kids in the back (1 in a car seat), and the gas pump reading $4.95.

"I asked her if she was okay and if she needed help, and she just kept saying "I don't want my kids to see me crying," so we stood on the other side of the pump from her car. She said she was driving to California and
that things were very hard for her right now. So I asked, "And you
were praying?" That made her back away from me a little, but I assured her I
was not a crazy person and said, "He heard you, and He sent me."

"I took out my card and swiped it through the card reader on the
pump so she could fill up her car completely, and while it was fuelling, walked to the next door McDonald's and bought 2 big bags of food, some gift certificates for more, and a big cup of coffee. She gave the food to the kids in the car, who attacked it like wolves, and we stood by the pump eating fries and talking a little. "She told me her name, and that she lived in Kansas City. Her boyfriend left 2 months ago and she had not been able to make ends meet. She knew she wouldn't have money to pay rent Jan 1, and finally in desperation had called her parents, with whom she had not spoken in about 5 years. They
lived in California and said she could come live with them and try to get on her feet there.

"So she packed up everything she owned in the car. She told the kids they were going to California for Christmas, but not that they were going to live there.

"I gave her my gloves, a little hug and said a quick prayer with her for safety on the road. As I was walking over to my car, she said, "So, are you like an angel or something?" "This definitely made me cry. I said, "Sweetie, at this time of year angels are really busy, so sometimes God uses regular people."

"It was so incredible to be a part of someone else's miracle. And of
course, you guessed it, when I got in my car it started right away and got me home with no problem. I'll put it in the shop tomorrow to check, but I suspect the mechanic won't find anything wrong.

 
At 3:46 PM, Anonymous tom said...

The rest of us are on our own and us moderns live with anti-chastity messages bombarding us all our waking hours.

Don't think for a moment that God has left us on our own!

The Gospel of Matthew ends with these words of Jesus: "And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age."

St. Paul assures the Corinthians, "God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it."

Yes, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph had a lot of help. But think of the help we have! The Sacraments, the Church, the Bible, the prayers of the saints (including Mary and Joseph), and more. The Catechism teaches us, "The Holy Spirit enables one whom the water of Baptism has regenerated to imitate the purity of Christ."

Those aren't just empty words; they are a truth of our faith.

We don't need facts of history to speak to us; Jesus Himself speaks to us in our hearts, because He is with us. (In a somewhat different way, Mary and Joseph are with us, too, and they too speak to us.)

 
At 4:26 PM, Blogger fran said...

There have been many references to "being open" on this blogsite. Mary and Joseph are a beautiful illustration of this. They could have said no, but because they were "open" to the Holy Spirit, they received God's grace, enabling them to do what was asked of them.
We are not alone. We too have the Holy Spirit with us, each and every day, ready to fill us with God's grace and enable us to live the lives desired of us, if we remain open. How do we do this? Receive the sacraments, pray, pray some more, and listen......He is there.


Additional "tidbits" for living a chaste life, from the chaperones at my Catholic high school dances:
"I want to see daylight between the couples."
"Leave enough room for the Holy Spirit!"

 
At 4:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't mean to sound combative or inconsolable, and I guess I come on to his blog site because I have some hope, but it is a tortuous mystery to me why so many people do not experience what you (i.e., Tom and Fran) describe. We're out here in large numbers. Some people can't bring themselves to pray because they have absolutely no sense that there is anyone to pray to. I know that there are no real answers to this - I say it here because this is not something one can talk to people about in regular social situations.

 
At 9:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last anon,

The very fact that you are experiencing a feeling that something is missing or not there is evidence that the Holy Spirit has begun a work in you. Discouragment is Satan's greatest tool. If you are openly reading Father Greg's commentaries and the bloggers' comments, then, you are on your way. You are in my prayers.

 
At 10:03 PM, Anonymous Mass goer said...

"Discouragment is Satan's greatest tool."


Something always to keep in mind.
Satan just doesn't take a coffee break does he? Always up to no good.

 
At 10:17 PM, Anonymous Kat said...

4:35 anon;

Reading your post is like looking back in time at my own situation. and the other Anon is right... it is proof that the Holy Spirit is working on you and that God is drawing you to himself. Some of my first prayers before I came back to the church were, ok well they wern't the most respectufl lets put it that way... they usualy started with "hey you, ya know this is how you messed up my day/week whats up with that? If you can pull that why do you get to be God...???" Like I said... not the best way to pray but it was prayer and God has a habit of using what he is given and then smacking us upside the head with grace and we end up with several Homer Simpson 'doh!' moments. Going from doubt to faith is hard work. Start praying if you arn't already, even if it seems pointless to you right now. God can and will use that even if you don't "feel" anything right away.

You can ask Fr. Greg there are still moments where he tells me stuff like he is proud of me or he respects me for how far I have come or how high a bar I have set for myself and I still give him wide eyed "you are nuts because I haven't come that far" or the "its time to find you a mental hospital 'cuz you have lost it" looks.

Prayer works, it may not be obvious right away because well as human beings we are rather dense creatures but it works. As long as we breath there is hope.

 
At 10:20 PM, Anonymous Kat said...

Anon;

I think on Wed. it is just Fr. Mike. But I know Fr. Greg is "open 24 hours" for confession... heck I bet you could call him at 3am if ya needed to.


(one of these days I am sure Fr. Greg is going to chuck a bananna peel at my head)

 
At 6:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cool. Father Greg will hear confessions at 3 am. Thanks for the schedule Kat. The bars close at 2.......LOL. JK.

 
At 9:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kat,
Thanks for the info!

 
At 10:51 AM, Blogger fran said...

Also for Anon 4:35p.m.-
Today's gospel reading (John 5:1-16)was about a man, Jesus cured, who had been sick for 38 years. Fr. Mellone said, in his homily, that those 38 years were not lived in vain. Instead they were lived in preparation for what was to come in the man's life.
The hope that you have, is the beginning of what God has prepared for you.

 
At 8:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

THIS IS AN EXCERPT FROM AN ARTICLE I RECENTLY READ:

Jesus taught us by His death and resurrection: True love always comes by way of the cross.

Being chaste until and within marriage, committing day in and day out to the self-giving and self-denial that life-long marriage and childrearing require of us, being open to God's gift of new life in a generous and responsible way, and in this day and age, even carrying to term an unexpected child — these are difficult tasks, and our fallen nature rebels against them. The world recognizes this natural rebellion, our desire to express human love in sexual intimacy, to seek pleasure and run from pain, to fulfill our own needs and desires while giving ill-attention to the needs and desires of others — in a word, to live our lives for ourselves. Mistaking these desires for human nature — rather than fallen human nature — the world's response is to laugh at Church teaching, to make a mockery of the Church and her seemingly archaic rules on sex and marriage, because they are so difficult, because they require so much of us.

Yet those who seek to follow the way of Our Lord understand that much is required of us. This is precisely the point. God calls us out of our fallenness, out of our self-centeredness and pleasure-seeking, to follow the way of perfection, to live in a way that is, by natural means, difficult — at times, even impossible. Many complain that Church teachings on sex and marriage are unrealistic, that the Church is out of touch. If we were meant to live by human means alone, to follow these teachings on our own strength, I would say the world's complaints were absolutely right. Indeed, by my own strength, I failed at almost every one of them.

But God demands perfection of us — perfect chastity, perfect purity, and perfect love — not only because it is the way of life that will fulfill our deepest desires, but just as importantly, because when we fail at living this perfection (and we will fail) our heavenly and merciful Father wants us to fall to our knees, to realize our own human bankruptcy, and rely on Him and His grace to live and to love.


I THOUGHT IT WAS WELL WRITTEN AND MADE QUITE A BIT OF SENSE

 
At 8:28 AM, Anonymous mindy said...

Several years ago, I believe it was the National Institute of Child Health & Development who conducted a study about the sexual behavior of 12th grades in different places in America. The purpose of the study was to determine whether or not kids were more sexually active in urban or suburban areas, and their findings were really disturbing. (This was about 2 years ago, so my numbers may not be exact, but I'm confident they are close- it made a big impression!):

45% of suburban kids and 40% of urban kids have sex, defined as actual intercourse, outside of any romantic relationship. The study didn't even consider any stats on the teenage practices of "hooking-up", and I can only imagine what those numbers would be.

If our youth, almost HALF, are acting with such disconnect between body and heart, we are miserably failing our kids. One generation may have starting the sexual revolution, but look who is paying the price for it. I welcome more talks on chastity. I saw that was a recent youth group topic- good for you, FG.

 

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