Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Running the race that lies before us

The first race for the Catholic Middle School Athletic Association this year was run on Yom Kippur at Sunken Meadow State Park. It was a marathon day for me; I choreographed the schedule the night before, including planning for a “meal” in the car.

I had to leave my house in the early afternoon to get to the school, pick up all the girls on the team, and drive them to Sunken Meadow State Park. After the race, we ate pepperoni, crackers, snap peas, and fruit on our way to softball practice. Near the field we stopped at McDonald’s for a 20-pack of chicken nuggets. I treated myself to a chocolate shake.

I remember the first year we started with organized sports. My eldest was 4 years old and we had started our official homeschooling for kindergarten. Soccer practice was the only place we had to be, twice a week; games were on Sundays. There was a family there with several foster children, who were all enrolled in teams in our local sports association.

“When do you eat?” I asked the mother incredulously.

“Sometimes we have to eat in the car,” she answered.

I was shocked. I would never let my family get so busy that we couldn’t sit down for a meal.

Eight years later, the joke is on me, and I remembered thinking that during the drive from cross country to softball. NEVER judge another parent until you have been in their shoes! As any professional runner will tell you, part of “running the race that lies before us” is never looking back to see what the other runners are doing.

You can see my eldest daughter (in the far right of this picture) as she breaks away from the pack and takes the lead in the first leg of this race. She is looking back, something one of her coaches noticed and pointed out to her. She finished up sixth in the race. My second daughter finished around number 20 and kept her focus straight ahead. Who did better? The motto of every runner is: “Do your personal best.”

This point is also made clear in one of the books in the C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia, “The Horse and His Boy”. The young girl asks Aslan what happened to a boy who had disobeyed and the answer is: “That is his story, not yours.”

According to The Catechism of the Catholic Church, the “great cloud of witnesses” includes all the saints from the beginning to the end of time. Saints are any people that are, or will be, accepted into Heaven; only the Lamb of God knows who these are for sure, but the Church will occasionally canonize those who have lived such a holy life that they are virtually certain they must be in Heaven.

These witnesses are all cheering us on, as we strive to achieve God’s plan for us. Going to Confession helps us to unburden the sins that are bogging us down. We are to keep our eyes on Jesus, not the people around us, during our race. That means not being too bothered by what others think of us, and not losing our focus by dwelling on what others are doing.

Hebrews 12: 1-2(NAB)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us
while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Weight loss and fitness just for Moms!

By popular demand, I have written an article for my Examiner column about fitness for moms. A few of my writing friends contributed their success stories, and then I interviewed Michael Carroza, a fitness instructor who runs a boot camp for moms who want to lose weight or just get back into shape. Although he doesn't know what it's like to be a mom, he works with them very closely to help them achieve their fitness goals, and I think he has given very realistic and encouraging advice that includes nutritional guidelines. Read the article here!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

My First Day Teaching Confirmation Class

“So God is a stalker?” a boy commented after our reading of Psalm 139, “That’s kind of creepy.”

This was just one of many thought-provoking comments in the stimulating discussions that took place during the hour I had charge of my eighth grade Confirmation students. I tried to explain that God was there in a loving and protective way; but he stubbornly refused to understand and I had to move on by telling him he would have to wrap his head around the concept on his own.

I had to work outside the book today because I had been given the wrong book over the summer, and not enough time to prepare based on the new book that was given to me two days ago. I was upset at first but decided that we had a great deal to talk about to introduce the year anyway. So my plan was to have them introduce themselves, tell me why they want to be confirmed in the Catholic Church, and tell me one thing they really like to do. From there we would talk about Community Service and help them come up with ideas about what they could do that utilized their individual passions.

I played “Make My Life a Prayer to You” sung by Melodie Green (2nd Chapter of Acts, Mansion Builder) while inquiring in the office about getting Bibles for some of the kids. When I got back and asked why they thought I had played that selection, the answer I got back was, “To torture us?” which led on to a discussion of torture, warn, and injustice in the world. A boy mentioned his uncle was in prison for something he didn’t do. I talked about the injustices done to Joseph and Job, and the rewards they reaped in the end for remaining faithful to God.

We returned to the question of life as a prayer. I told them that “praying without ceasing” didn’t mean saying Hail Mary’s out loud all day. If you’re good at softball, I said, doing your best and going for those homeruns is giving glory to God by making the best use of your talents. Psalm 139 was read to start the discussion of how God had a plan for each of us before we were even born. That led to the stalker comment.

“What if I don’t want to go along with God’s plan?” asked one boy. Which made me happy that I had read the part of the Catechism that talks about free will. I talked about what happened to Jonah when he tried to thwart God’s plan for him. “You can be difficult with God,” I said, “but it will make your own life more difficult and He will find a way to use you for His purpose in the long run.”

The two girls in my class kept exchanging looks as the boys kept coming up with these “weird” questions. Actually, they were quite good ones, and I’m happy they were intellectually involved in talking about scripture and theology.

I was happy to hear that each of them did have something they were excited about doing, whether it was a sport or a hobby. (“No, hunting and skinning squirrels probably would not make a good community service project,” I had to explain to one boy.) Why they wanted to be confirmed varied.

“So I don’t have to go to religion class anymore.”

“Because it is important to me.”

“Because I believe in my faith.”

“Because my whole family is Catholic.”

“Because my dad couldn’t get married in the Catholic church because he wasn’t confirmed, and he never went to college, and I want to be able to do all the things my parents never got to do.”

And the last one, who never spoke a word, was spoken for by his cousin, “He doesn’t care about Confirmation and wants to go back to Brooklyn.”

So you can see I have quite the assortment of students to deal with here. There are more to come, as a third of the parish’s children have yet to register.

“But Mom, they’re going to hate you!” my daughter had exclaimed when I told her on the way over that I was going to assign homework. But no one seemed to have a problem when I told them to (1) buy a notebook; (2) write up a community service idea); and (3) thumb through the Bible and find a scripture they like.

I think I am going to enjoy this class, with all the challenges it brings.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fitness Articles at my Online Column

I have been hard at work on some youth running articles for my column. Here is the link for an article on how to start your kids running cross country.

My next article is going to be about weight loss after baby. None of us look like Angelina Jolie, who looks fantastic when she comes out of the hospital! For you real moms out there, if you were successful losing the weight and are willing to be quoted, please email me at ekgeroldmiller@gmail.com and tell me: HOW DID YOU DO IT?

Author's addendum: This article is now completed and will be published shortly.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

2009 Fall Kickoff of 40 Days for Life

Blow the trumpet in Zion! Proclaim a fast, call an
assembly. Gather the people, notify the congregation.
Assemble the elders; gather the children and the
infants at the breast... Let the priests, the
ministers of the Lord, weep and say, "Spare, O Lord,
your people."

-- Joel 2:15-17

Today is day 1 of 40 Days for Life, an intensified effort of prayer, fasting, and action toward the end of abortion in America. Go to www.daysforlife.com to find out about events in your area or to receive a daily update and devotional.

My fast is to give up the computer from 12-2 each day. This will be hard for me to do, but is reasonable because that is the time I am least likely to receive crucial emails. If you catch me with a green light on my email address or on Facebook during that time, please scold me!

Engraving: Prophesy of Joel, Mattheus Merian the Elder 1625-30

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pure Manhood by Jason Evert

“When you decide firmly to lead a clean life, chastity will not be a burden on you: It will be a crown of triumph.” – St. Josemaria Escriva.

In this 52-page booklet, Jason Evert draws from his own experience to address the questions adolescent boys might have about why they should stay pure. He confesses that, although he kept his virginity for his wife, he gave in to temptation in many other ways that were harmful to him spiritually. He challenges boys to think of their sexuality in a very different way from how the world teaches.

Evert asks: Why do we feel protective of our sisters, daughters, and future wives, but take all that we can get from our girlfriends? Would we want our future wives to be doing what we are doing with our girlfriends right now? He brings up points that are too rarely brought up in chastity talks. If you love someone, you want what is best for them. You are not just staying pure to protect yourself. You are doing it to protect the physical and spiritual well-being of your future wife and whomever you might be dating right now.

Evert brings up points that ideally would be a part of the continual conversation between fathers and their sons in the years leading up to and through the onset of dating. Guys need to know why they should wait, and tools they can use to help them to remain pure. They need to know that girls value purity in a man and are actually more attracted to gentlemen who treat them like ladies. And they need to know that birth control does not offer complete protection from sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancy.

For the young man who has not received the message that his body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, this little book might be the eye opener that helps to saves him from the heartache that comes with empty sexual experiences and the possible consequences thereof. I would recommend putting this book out among teenage youth groups, in conjunction with the availability of a counselor who could talk to the boys about the questions they might have.

For teenage boys who have received all this information from their parents already, this could be used as an added reinforcement. For pre-teen boys who have not yet been exposed to the dating world, I would recommend previewing the book to decide if the material is appropriate.

You may also enjoy my review of Pure Womanhood by Crystalina Evert.

This review was written as part of the Catholic Company reviewer program. For ordering information please visit their website.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Just Call Me Jonah

Last year I wrote several posts putting down volunteerism in general. After being very involved for several years volunteering in different arenas, I decided to take a firm stand and do absolutely no volunteering while I had a newborn at home. I really felt comfortable and free, and it became easier and easier for me to say no.

Somewhere along the line I started to get my energy back, and to feel I could take on more challenges. I guess it was around the time we started actually sleeping through the whole night. My youngest was about 18 months old then. It took about 6 months to catch up on all the sleep I had missed, and by the time she was 2 I felt ready to take on the whole world again.

I signed up to teach my daughter’s 8th grade Catechism class, and have been reading The Catechism of the Catholic Church over the summer, in addition to the regular textbook. I picked the earliest Saturday morning slot because I didn’t want it to interfere with softball or cross country after school, or softball games later on Saturdays. I was lounging in the pool or on the beach for half the summer, and the whole task of getting ready for this seemed pretty daunting to me, when I got a request to do something else in addition to this.

Back when we were homeschooling, I helped to teach a Little Flowers group for two years. Little Flowers is meant to be a cooperative effort, with all the mothers taking turns teaching about the saints that little girls should emulate, and the coordinating virtues they should acquire. It is a well-organized program with lots of room for games and friendship time.

My friend was very interested in this program and, know I was experienced with it, asked me if I would consider heading up a group at the church. I told her I didn’t know if I could take on something else right now. I kept hedging all summer, but never really said no. While in Tennessee I decided I would come back and say I just couldn’t do it right now.

The day after I came back, my friend called and asked if I had proposed the program to the church yet. “Umm, no, I thought we were going to talk about it first,” I said, and before I knew it I was in the office of the new Director of Religious Education selling a program that I loved, all the time actually hoping he would say no. “God’s will be done,” I thought, “If He really wants me to do this, it will be approved.”

I was so mad at myself for being so persuasive. Within a day the program was approved by the DRE and pastor, with a room reserved for me through March. (That I made perfectly clear: I am busy with baseball after March.)

I was telling all this to a friend over lunch yesterday and she said to me, “What, are you waiting for a whale to swallow you up? You sound like Jonah!”

Then she gave me several ideas on how to make this a cooperative effort, which is exactly what Little Flowers is meant to be. “You don’t have to be a one-woman show,” she said. I admitted I really don’t enjoy doing crafty things with 12 little girls who need help with gluing or threading needles. The actual teaching and organizational stuff is what I love.

I don’t want to be like Jonah, sitting under a withering gourd in the desert sun, cursing God for the task he was sent to do. I think the lesson of Jonah is more about attitude than anything else. He obeyed God but didn’t enjoy it. We are called to “be cheerful in all that you do”.

By the way, I don’t know why everyone got it into their heads that Jonah was swallowed by a whale. (They also think Adam and Eve ate an apple, when the Bible just says it was a piece of fruit; perhaps it was a pomegranate.) The Bible says he was swallowed by a “big fish”. Whales are mammals, not fish; perhaps it was a great shark.

Chapter 2 (NAB)
But the LORD sent a large fish, that swallowed Jonah; and he remained in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
From the belly of the fish Jonah said this prayer to the LORD, his God:
Out of my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me; From the midst of the nether world I cried for help, and you heard my voice.
For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the sea, and the flood enveloped me; All your breakers and your billows passed over me.
Then I said, "I am banished from your sight! yet would I again look upon your holy temple."
The waters swirled about me, threatening my life; the abyss enveloped me; seaweed clung about my head.
Down I went to the roots of the mountains; the bars of the nether world were closing behind me forever, But you brought my life up from the pit, O LORD, my God.
When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the LORD; My prayer reached you in your holy temple.
Those who worship vain idols forsake their source of mercy.
But I, with resounding praise, will sacrifice to you; What I have vowed I will pay: deliverance is from the LORD.
Then the LORD commanded the fish to spew Jonah upon the shore.

Painting by Buarnarotti Michelangelo. "Jonah", 1511.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Kitchen Madonna by Rumer Godden

This little gem is a great story to read out loud with the whole family. Only 89 pages and not separated into chapters, the book can easily be read in an hour silently, or two hours aloud.

The character who sets the story in motion is Marta, the Ukrainian housekeeper brought into a London home. She tells the children of the house that she is sad that the kitchen has no “good place”. She describes to them how her kitchen in her native home had a special place for a shrine with a beautiful picture of Our Lady and the Holy Child. The Madonna had to be a specially adorned picture in a beautiful frame. She was to be crusted with gold and stones of many colors.

Gregory, a quiet and artistic boy, recruits his sister Janet to help him with his mission to create a “good place” for Marta’s Madonna. First they go shopping, thinking they can purchase an icon, but they are too expensive and they lose what little money they have. Then he finds a picture in the newspaper that he can use as an outline. He goes to a material shop and, after describing his project to the owner, is given lovely materials to work with.

Finally he produces his handmade Madonna, in a beautiful picture frame, and sets it in a special spot in the kitchen, set about with little red votive candles. Marta and his entire family are blessed by his creation, and he vows to produce many more of its kind.

This story is so simple and touching. It shows that there can be meaning in physical things. It delves into the artistic process of creation. It explores the innocent motives of a child wanting to please a loved one in his life. Finally, it describes the blessings of the vision of the Madonna and Child, in the many forms they may take.

Published by Viking Press in 1967. Out of print but available used from online sellers such as Amazon.com
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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Pure Womanhood

“Do not arouse, do not stir up love before its own time.”
Song of Songs 3:5, NAB

In the 44-page booklet "Pure Womanhood", Crystalina Evert draws from her own experience to address the questions adolescent girls might have about why they should wait. From the first page, she lets the readers know she was no angel, but that she regretted having given up the precious gift of her virginity before marriage. Coming from this perspective allows her to get her points across without sounding overly preachy.

Evert brings up points that ideally would be a part of the continual conversation between mothers and their daughters in the years leading up to and through the onset of dating. Girls need to know why they should wait, and tools they can use to help them to remain pure. They need to know that guys actually respect and value a young woman who respects and values her own body and mind. And they need to know the scary, well-documented stuff that is brought up at the end of the book about how birth control does not protect from sexually transmitted diseases and has some nasty side effects.

For the young woman who has not received the message that her body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, this little book might be the eye opener that helps to save her from the heartache that comes with empty sexual experiences. I would recommend putting this book out among teenage youth groups, in conjunction with the availability of a counselor who could talk to the girls about the questions they might have.

For teenage girls who have received all this information from their parents already, this could be used as an added reinforcement. For pre-teen girls who have not yet been exposed to the dating world, I would recommend previewing the book to decide if the material is appropriate.

Crystalina Evert is a chastity speaker and is a co-author of Theology of the Body for Teens. "Pure Womanhood" is published by Pure Love Club.

You might enjoy my review of "Pure Manhood" by Jason Evert.

This review was written as part of the Catholic book Reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Pure Womanhood.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Article on breakfasts kids can prepare for themselves

I woke up early this morning and made pancakes for the kids. At 5:45 AM, the crescent moon was still bright and the sky was a pretty dark blue. I went for a run, which was a great start to my week. I hope I can make this my new routine. I am sorry my blogging has been sparce of late. I am trying to keep up on my minimum of three articles for the Examiner. If I can wake up early like this every morning I will be able to do both. I just posted a new article on my Examiner column that includes 12 ideas on breakfast meals kids can prepare for themselves.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I Remember

The day the Twin Towers fell, I was outside weeding. My husband was watching the morning news with our three children, who were then ages 4, 3, and 6 months. He called me in to see the television. I didn’t understand what I was seeing. I went back outside in a daze wondering if it was the end of the world.

The birds in the protected land adjacent to our property went crazy, like a large bird of prey was after them. The locusts in the trees were deafening for days.

My eldest daughter at age 4 saw the news and was obsessed with the images of those towers . For months she would not stop building them from legos and drawing them. We told her they were bad men and she wanted to know why they were bad. We didn’t have a good answer for her.

My dad lost his friend John Griffin. Together they used to work overseeing the installation of air conditioning units, elevator cabs, and other major items that go into skyscrapers. I remember spending a weekend at the Griffins’ weekend getaway. They had kids my age. My dad used to have lunch with John at Windows on the World and would still have been going to the World Trade Center every day if he did not have to go on disability with multiple sclerosis. He held onto hope for weeks that John would be found alive under the rubble. “He knew those buildings like the back of his hand”, he said, “He will find his way around down there.” He was never found.

What loss, what horror we all experienced that day. And still it goes on. As the years pass by, the death toll rises. As the cleanup and rebuilding continues, construction men have been injured, emergency workers have been sickened, and firemen were killed by a crumbling building that was damaged that day.

I also remember the uplifting sight of American flags that were flown from people’s homes in the immediate aftermath. People went around with kinder, gentler looks on their faces. They remembered their manners in public places and greeted strangers with courtesy.

People remembered to kiss their loved ones goodbye in the morning because you just never know.

Please keep the remembrances going because we can’t ever forget.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Sweet Birthday

When I found out my birthday fell on a Sunday, I must confess my first thought was that this might be the perfect opportunity to spend some quality time by myself, something I don’t get too often. I thought of going for a golf lesson, getting my nails done, and getting my hair trimmed. The news of a hurricane storming through this weekend caused me to put a hold on any plans. So that morning found me waking up to a beautiful day and nothing to do.

Wonderful! I actually love it when the day is open to anything I set my heart upon doing. We kind of flowed from one thing to another, like freestyle choreography. We went to church, had lunch at home, went to play miniature golf, swam in the pool, and went for a bike ride.

Miniature golf was a real riot. We had to split up into two groups because of the rules that each group be a maximum of four persons. My husband took the two middle children. I took our oldest and youngest two daughters.

My three-year-old found her own way to “cheat” and we let her because (1) it was too cute and (2) doing so would keep us from going 10 over par and making the group behind us impatient. She would drive it from the start and then, once it landed on the green, pick it up, move it two inches from the hole, and put it in. Therefore I got beat even by my three-year-old.

The only thing I ask for is that I don’t have to make dinner or bake my own cake. So Kevin went out to pick up Chinese shrimp and chicken, and a Carvel cake.

My two older girls picked me some sweet baby carrots that we had planted in the spring, all tied up in pretty ribbon.

Finally, I got a little time to myself. I pondered the words of Psalm 139, which I revisit for every birthday.

Psalms Chapter 139 (NAB)


For the leader. A psalm of David. O LORD, you have probed me, you know me:


you know when I sit and stand; you understand my thoughts from afar.


My travels and my rest you mark; with all my ways you are familiar.


Even before a word is on my tongue, LORD, you know it all.


Behind and before you encircle me and rest your hand upon me.


Such knowledge is beyond me, far too lofty for me to reach.


Where can I hide from your spirit? From your presence, where can I flee?


If I ascend to the heavens, you are there; if I lie down in Sheol, you are there too.


If I fly with the wings of dawn and alight beyond the sea,


Even there your hand will guide me, your right hand hold me fast.


If I say, "Surely darkness shall hide me, and night shall be my light" --


Darkness is not dark for you, and night shines as the day. Darkness and light are but one.


You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother's womb.


I praise you, so wonderfully you made me; wonderful are your works! My very self you knew;


my bones were not hidden from you, When I was being made in secret, fashioned as in the depths of the earth.


Your eyes foresaw my actions; in your book all are written down; my days were shaped, before one came to be.


How precious to me are your designs, O God; how vast the sum of them!


Were I to count, they would outnumber the sands; to finish, I would need eternity.


If only you would destroy the wicked, O God, and the bloodthirsty would depart from me!


Deceitfully they invoke your name; your foes swear faithless oaths.


Do I not hate, LORD, those who hate you? Those who rise against you, do I not loathe?


With fierce hatred I hate them, enemies I count as my own.


Probe me, God, know my heart; try me, know my concerns.


See if my way is crooked, then lead me in the ancient paths.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Without Blemish

This is the last in a week-long series of brief devotionals to go along with the daily readings. Please come back next week to see how we're doing with going back to school.

“… He has now reconciled in his fleshly body through his death, to present you holy, without blemish, and irreproachable before Him…”

Colossians 1:22

Saul was a persecutor of Christians and upon his conversion was granted a new identity as Paul. Whatever sins might be in your past, if you have repented and are now living in Christ, He has wiped your slate clean. This does not mean that we are perfect. Even St. Paul continually groans about his inability to keep from sinning. We all commit venial sins from time to time. Christ’s blood continually washes away those sins, as long as we keep our faith in Him. If we stumble and commit mortal sin, we must confess so that we can be made clean again. If we do not waver from our belief, we can know that we will be presented without fault when our time comes.

Prayer: Father, thank you for sacrificing your Son that I might live.

Caravaggio, Michelangelo Merisi da
The Conversion of Saint Paul
Cerasi Chapel, Santa Maria del Popolo, Rome

Friday, September 4, 2009

Feasting or Fasting?

“Jesus answered them, "Can you make the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?” ”
- Luke 5:34

Jesus’ disciples were being criticized for partaking in food and drink, while other religious groups were publicly fasting and praying. Jesus responded by comparing His presence with the disciples, to a groom celebrating with his groomsmen. There is a time for prayer and fasting, and a time for feasting and celebration. When we fellowship with others, we are supposed to participate fully in each other. If we are making a personal fast, it is okay to temporarily suspend that in order to share a meal with our neighbor, in whom Jesus dwells. On the other hand, if your neighbor feels it is important to keep his fast, you must respect that, rather than acting as a stumbling block for his faith. The commandment to love one another trumps all other rules we make for ourselves.

Prayer: Please help me to remember to put love above adherence to rules.

You might enjoy a personal story I wrote in which a friend and I shared an Apple Crisp during 40 Days for Life.

Read about the upcoming fast for the end of abortion at 40 Days for Life

The Miraculous Drought of Fishes by Joachim Beuckelaer
Netherlandish, Antwerp, 1563
Oil on panel

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Wind in the Window

“Therefore, from the day we heard this, we do not cease praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” Colossians 1:9

As spiritual as we try to be, most of us still have to earn a living so we can eat. When we have worldly ambitions, sometimes it seems like all the doors are slamming in our faces. Sometimes it is just our pride that is hurt. Other times, it is much more: death, illness, a lost job. When we feel discouraged, a good friend will remind us to pray. Then we remember to ask God, “What is your will for me right now?” We have to be really quiet, and then maybe we will feel a gentle breeze coming through a previously unknown window. We wish we had thought to ask earlier. “Oh, so that is what you have for me. Why didn’t I see it before?”

Prayer: “What is your will for me right now?”

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Olive Tree

“But I, like an olive tree in the house of God, trust in God's faithful love forever.” Psalms 52:10

Olive trees, ‘Olea europaea,’ are the oldest fruit trees and among the most important fruit trees in history. Most olive trees will live to be at least 500 years of age, and some are believed to be over a thousand years old. In ancient times, seedling olive trees required eight or more years of care before producing their firstfruits. They needed a peaceful environment in which to prosper. Once fully grown, they would be capable of withstanding droughts and high winds. Because of God’s presence, the sacred precincts of the temple become a source of life and fertility; in it, the trees had a peaceful and safe environment in which to bear fruit. Like those trees, the just can bask in God’s presence and grow in faith so that fruit may be born.

Prayer: “Be present to me so that I may be more fruitful.”

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Day of the Lord

This week I am featuring a series of brief devotionals to go along with the daily mass readings.

“But you, brothers, are not in darkness, for that day to overtake you like a thief.”

I Thessalonians 5:4

During a recession, people suddenly become more aware of the insecurity of their worldly positions. Jobs are lost, stock values plummet, and even the surety of a roof over one’s head is no longer a given. Those who are still on dry ground become more wise in their spending, saving for a “rainy day”. Spiritually, we must make sure we are always ready for the day of the Lord’s return. We must save up His words in our hearts for when they are needed. Those who care not about living the Gospel are living in the darkness and are in danger of being unprepared for His coming. If we keep to our faith and do our best to follow His word, we are living in the light and need not fear.

Prayer: Lord, help me to live your Word, that I may always be prepared.

FRANCKEN, Hieronymus, II
Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins
c. 1616
Oil on canvas, 111 x 172 cm
The Hermitage, St. Petersburg