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Is It OK to Be a Devout Catholic and Have Nice Things?

Is it OK to be a Devout Catholic and Have Nice Things? More on @ACatholicNewbie

As I enter into my third year as a Catholic, one of the issues I’ve yet to find peace with is my “stuff” and whether I’m truly living the Catholic life as Jesus wanted while sitting in a nice house in a suburban neighborhood with plenty of food to eat, enough money to clothe my family and indulging in Starbucks Frappuccinos more than I should. I think of Mother Teresa and how far away I am…

Today’s Gospel reading (Matthew 19: 16-22) about the young man who asked Jesus how he could gain eternal life drives the point home even further. Jesus told him to sell all his possessions and give them to the poor and the young man went away sad because he had so many “things.” This also turned out to be the discussion last night at my women’s Christ Renews His Parish meeting. Clearly, God has something to say to me — and possibly you since you are reading this post — on this topic ;-).

Over the weekend, while reading our local diocesan newspaper, The Catholic Moment, I had a “light bulb” Catholic moment about “stuff.” They write that Pope Francis said that the problem isn’t the having of money, but rather when money “owns” us and when we place our own desire for money and wealth over the welfare of others.

They went on to give a great metaphor, saying: “We have to surrender the title to all that we have and all that we are. God holds the title, but still allows us to live in the house.” Lightbulb on!

This is precisely what I agreed to do when going through Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary two years ago. I agreed, and still verbalize this daily, to give Mary the right to “all my goods — both spiritual and physical.” I am giving her charge of all my “stuff” and agreeing that I will accept whatever goods she agrees for me and my family to have — whether much, enough or little. And I’m here to tell you that Mary has been very generous, though she has asked us to do without at times, as well.

This also speaks to a past article I wrote asking the question: Are Catholic bishops living too lavishly? 

It seems to me there are several “tests” you could give or questions you could ask yourself to see if indeed money “owns” you, as Pope Francis said, and if it is more of an “idol” to you:

  • Are you able to easily let go of things, even sentimental things, realizing you cannot take these items with you to heaven? A friend from my CRHP group told us last night how when her father was at the end of his life, she and her siblings were shocked at how his “stuff” fit in 1 shoebox. We truly can’t take it with us!
  • Do you help people financially when they come to you in need or you see them in need?
  • Do you contribute something financially to the causes you believe in? Are these line items at the top of your budget to come out first?
  • Do you have just one or two of each thing you truly need or do you have a stockpile of sheets, shoes or purses, for example?
  • Do you mostly buy things out of need or mostly for pleasure?
  • If you had to, could you live the simple life of a monk or nun in one room with only the basics — without being an ogre ;-)? 

The young man in the Gospel did not have the right attitude toward money because he went away sad to lose his “stuff,” rather than being open to what Jesus asked him to do with it.

I think the bottom line here, which was a revelation to me, is that it’s OK to have nice things and to have money. Instead, it’s more about your attitude toward it and truly relinquishing your right to these things and giving them to God for his distribution. If money controls you, you are a slave to it. If God controls it, you are simply doing God’s will.

Thoughts?

 

8 Free Catholic Items to Deepen Your Faith

8 Free Catholic Items to Deepen Your Faith  @ACatholicNewbie

Did you know there’s quite a lot of amazing Catholic books, tools and more that are waiting for you to order them at either no cost or for a very small shipping fee or donation? These are amazing tools that just might be what you need to light the spark in your faith if it’s started to dim or to make it burn even brighter.

I’ve stumbled across many of these over the last few years and here are some of my absolute favorites. Go order them for yourselves right now!

1) Rediscovering Catholicism – Matthew Kelly and his DynamicCatholic.com organization offer tons of free books and resources on their website. But my favorite is his original book on Catholicism, Rediscovering Catholicism. This is what helped me early on understand Catholicism and its relevance in light of our society today. EVERYONE should read this book. It will bring your faith to life for you! Order here + $5.95 shipping & handling.

2) The Rosary and Divine Chaplet on CD – The easiest way to start praying the rosary is to order this CD and stick it in your car. Pray whenever you have quiet drive time. If you don’t yet know how to pray the rosary, this is the easiest way to learn. They pray it for you and you can either just listen to them or repeat back as you begin to learn the prayers. Order it here for just a $1 donation. Here are more ideas for fitting the rosary into your busy day.

3) Total Consecration to Jesus Through Mary materialsRead my blog on Total Consecration (a process I highly recommend) and if you decide you feel called to make this commitment to Mary, order free materials to help you through process from MyConsecration.org. This practice, made popular by St. Louis de Monfort and Pope John Paul II, can be completed in several ways. If you’re interested in the more classic, prayer-filled preparation from St. Louis de Monfort, order those materials free here. If you’re interested in a more modern interpretation and requires less time, order 33 Days to Morning Glory by Fr. Michael Gaitley for free.

4) Flame of Love – Similar to St. Faustina’s visions of Jesus and subsequent diary, Flame of Love written by Elizabeth Kindelmann shares messages she says she received between 1961 and 1982 from both Jesus and Marty. They are similar to those of St. Faustina and other approved Marian messages  around the world. Order your free copy of her book. At the National Congress of The Flame of Love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary movement in Budapest, Hungary, June 6, 2009, Cardinal Peter Erdo, Archbishop President of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary and President, Council of Episcopal Conferences in Europe, gave the text his Imprimatur.

5) Mass Journal – Another great free tool offered by DynamicCatholic.com is a mass journal. Bring this notebook with you to mass and write down any messages from God or thoughts that occur to you during mass, so you don’t forget. Order here + $5.95 shipping & handling.

6) The Conversion of Scott Hahn CD – I recently heard a fellow parishoner, who was a lifelong Protestant, mention this CD as key to her understanding and ultimate conversion to Catholicism. Hahn is a wonderful writer who helps explain the Catholic faith in his many books. He is a former Protestant minister turned Catholic convert. Order for just a $1 donation.

7) St. Therese Novena Prayer Card – Many Catholics have a devotion to the “Little Flower,” St. Therese of Lisieux (my confirmation saint, whom I adore). It is said if you pray her novena for a specific intention, she will send you a sign in the form of a rose. I’ve received my rose (read about my signs from St. Therese)! See if you get yours. Simply order this free St. Therese Novena Prayer Card from the Society of the Little Flower. You can also order prayer cards, even ones touched to a relic, for $.55 or less.

8) Prayer Process Cards – This is a wonderful exercise suggested by Matthew Kelly that you strive to complete daily. It encourages you to prayerfully consider your day from what messages God was speaking to you to what you could have done better to thanking God and praying for others. These cards are a simple reminder of the process to keep by your bedside, on your side table, in your prayer area or wherever. They send 20 at a time with $5.95 shipping & handling, so share with your friends!

A Catholic Approach to Dealing With Difficult People

This is a wonderful post on dealing with difficult people, especially those who have wronged us and may not have apologized. This is from Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene, O.C.D. from MyConsecration.org:

The Charity We are Called To Emulate Especially With Difficult People

If we feel a natural aversion toward someone, or if a certain person has done some wrong to us, we see that person’s defects far more easily than we see his virtues.  It will also be easy for us to attribute to him the wrong intention now and in the future.  This is the moment to be especially prayerful and careful in order to fight against our natural tendency to evil thoughts and to STOP ourselves from speaking badly of that person to others.  We must oppose these thoughts despite the tendency to say I was wronged.  Yes, so was Jesus wronged many times.  This is the time to act as He would, to be especially kind to that person and offer him some service while looking at God in Him…loving God in him despite his fault.  True charity…the charity Jesus demands of us…makes no distinction of persons, but has equal love for all, because we see and love only God in all people.  We love them precisely because God does….and we love them for God and we love God in them.  Yes, it is hard, but by calling on His Grace, He will grant it.  St. Therese demonstrated this:  “when I show charity towards others, I know that is You God who are acting in me.”

The MyConsecration.org site promotes Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary and the Flame of Love apparition.A Free Flame of Love book can be ordered in the US at www.flameoflove.us.

 

Don’t Worry, Just Work

Bible Worry

Are looking for peace in your life? I know that’s what drew me to the Catholic Church. I have the answer: don’t worry, just work!

When you are a follower of Christ, you know that you can give everything to Him, or to his Blessed Mother whom he has designated as the dispenser of all grace and our advocate. Jesus and Mary WANT to take your worry and your stress and your anxiety and your problems and give you peace in return.

I recently finished reading Gary Zimak’s new book “From Fear to Faith: A Worrier’s Guide to Discovering Peace.” Gary is a renowned Catholic speaker on the topic of worry and anxiety, and he outlines this important process in his 5-step plan to let go of worry and find peace. He was recently on one of my favorite Catholic radio shows, Catholic Answers Live, discussing the topic, which you can watch here:

 

For Gary, the first step in letting go of worry and finding peace is: Prepare.

You do this by prayerfully asking God to help you with a given problem and by asking Mary, and any of the saints, to pray for you regarding this problem. Then, you look for signs from God (you WILL see them if you’re paying attention) and do the “work” He is asking you to do. We can’t expect God to take care of the whole problem without us doing our part; however, we need to be sure “our part” is His will and we do so through prayer and careful discernment.

Then, do everything that’s in your power to help solve the problem. If you need a job, polish your resume and look for work. If you’re sick, go to the doctor and follow his or her orders. If you’re having a problem with a family member, speak the words you feel called to say, asking the Holy Spirit to speak through you.

Then… let God do the rest. His will be done! And be at peace.

Gary gives several wonderful examples of this process in the Bible. First is the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. Jesus gives the apostles work to do: ordering the crowd and distributing the food. The apostles did the work and Jesus performed the miracle, creating more than enough food for everyone.

Another example would be the Wedding Feast at Cana where Jesus began his public ministry. After Mary’s statement that the married couple had no more wine, Jesus directs the workers in filling jars with water. Then… HE performs the miracle that solves the problem.

I recently had a similar issue with my mother, who was completely against moving to a new home, which really is a necessity for her financial stability. I had done everything I could to help her with her finances and run out of options. Out of no where, a friend suggested this VERY SAME new place to live and she was suddenly miraculously convinced that it was not just the right thing for her but something she really wanted to do. I did the work I could; God performed the miracle. Thanks be to God!

This has happened to me so many times in the last couple years since becoming Catholic and especially since consecrating myself to Jesus through Mary and praying the rosary daily. If you pay attention and give your live over to God, these things will happen to you. I hope you are able to recognize them as the work of God and remember to give thanks :). Let these miracles uplift you as you encounter the next problem in your life.

Do you see how this works? Can you stop worrying and just work? Totally trust God to do the rest? You will be blessed in abundance if so. Even if His solution is not your solution, you will have peace about it — whatever it may be.

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