Moving right along…

So for my few followers of this blog, (like literally about half a dozen), I went a little nuts and decided to just finally blend my fitness website and THIS blog into just ONE website/blog called The Joyful Celibate.

Catchy name, right? I thought I stole it borrowed it from St. John Paul II but turns out I borrowed it stole it directly from Christopher West. Oops! Please don’t sue me Christopher!

I had quite a few names swirling around my head as to what I would call it but finally just decided to bite the bullet and put it out there. Ever since I read that part of Theology of the Body it struck something in me. Not even just as a clever title or phrase but something that actually resonated with me pretty deeply.

And, selfishly, I think it would be an awesome title for a book if I ever get around to writing one.

It’s been less than 72 hours since I launched the site and I gotta admit – I’m pretty damn joyful right now. 🙂  You can’t see me but I promise I’m smiling right now even as I type this.

I have given myself the overwhelming task of finding a way to write about fitness (or health or diet or just life in general) and somehow blend that with being single, living a chaste life, and serving others. Because that’s what I have always felt singles should be: servants. (not literal servants, you know what I mean).

In the meantime, I’ve asked WordPress what to do about this particular site. I’m hoping that whenever someone types in fittinginfaith.wordpress.com they are automatically re-directed to the new site. I have yet to hear back from them.  So I’ll keep this live for as long as I need to in the hopes that whoever runs across it will just come right to TheJoyfulCelibate.com and find what I’m up to there since I won’t have a need to update this particular site anymore.

So come on over when you can and feel free to write a comment or two on how you think it’s going. I swear I do love feedback. Even if it’s constructive criticism. 🙂

Carry on!

The Truth Does Not Change

I wish I knew where this reflection on this Sunday’s gospel came from in order to give credit to whomever wrote it. I’m going to assume, since I found it in my church’s bulletin, that it came from the USCCB. I felt compelled to share it, particularly because of this line: “Our world is growing more and more hostile to the message of the Gospel.” 

Was it always this hostile or is it just me? Maybe it’s an age thing. Maybe I’m feeling the hostility because I’m interacting with more people? No idea. Perhaps the world was always this angry but because we are all communicating and sharing more than ever, it’s just becoming more and more apparent that the hostility was always there – we just didn’t see it.

For reference, the reading is Luke 4:21-30

“When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury.” Why were these folks furious? Because they didn’t like what Jesus told them. They took offense at his teaching that “no prophet is accepted in his own native place.” Jesus was implying that his fellow Nazarenes in the synagogue were blind to who he really was. And this made them mad. They didn’t like being told that they were wrong. But Jesus told them anyway. He knew that these people needed to hear the truth, even if it mean that he would be unpopular. In fact, he spoke the truth even at risk of his own life. “They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong.”

It can be tempting to confuse Jesus’ kindness and goodness with passivity, mistakenly imagining him as a person who would never ruffle any feathers because he was so concerned about being “nice.” This one-sided image of Jesus can lead us to excuse our own passivity about the falsehood and evil that surrounds us.

We can justify our silence or inaction by convincing ourselves that we shouldn’t upset anyone. But the fact is that Jesus upset people on a regular basis. That wasn’t his goal, of course, but he was willing to deal with resistance for the sake of truth and justice. And we should be willing to do the same.

Our world is growing more and more hostile to the message of the Gospel. When we simply live our faith authentically, it makes some people angry. But we should not recoil from this reality. Jesus’ witness made people furious too. But when they got mad, he didn’t cave in.

Whether people like it or not, the truth does not change.

Too Scared to Speak

In the past 6 months I have shared many articles on social media about pro-life and bioethical issues that are most controversial in our world, especially concerning those about abortion and birth control with the occasional post about homosexuality, gender identity, and so-called “same sex marriage.”

It never seems to fail that each time I post, one of my Christian friends privately messages me and thanks me for speaking up and not being afraid for saying what they wish they could say. At first it was random, but lately it’s been a more frequent occurrence. And the verbiage is usually similar – A common theme of fear.

“I’m not brave enough like you to say anything. ”

“It’s so great that you have so much courage to speak up on such controversial issues.”

“I can’t speak up like you do, I’m a wimp.”

Courageous? Brave? It’s strange that people use these words to describe a simple keystroke. I mean, really, how difficult is it to click the word “share?”  But what is even more strange is the “fear” that people have in their own hearts.

What are we afraid of? If we know this is truth, what is there to fear?

I suppose the biggest fear is fear of losing an argument. Fear of losing friendships maybe. Fear of looking foolish. Fear of what others think of us.

But something I think we need to be more fearful of is Ignorance. If we don’t stay informed of these pressing issues, then this allows misinformation to spread. And let’s keep in mind one of the Spiritual Works of Mercy is to “Instruct the Ignorant.” So that means, in this Jubilee Year of Mercy issued by Pope Francis, that we not only have a duty to seek the truth ourselves, it means we need to share the truth. (The “ignorant” isn’t meant to be an insulting term here; it simply means the “uninformed.”)

For example, the controversial undercover Planned Parenthood videos:

I have met with and conversed with a few people who have never even seen a minute of any of the undercover video footage from the Center of Medical Progress and journalist David Daleiden. Not surprising when you read that none of the major media outlets gave it more than 39 seconds of coverage.

But just today, a grand jury in Houston has found Planned Parenthood not guilty of any wrongdoing and decided to bring charges up against Daleiden himself. Oh and one of the DA’s is on the board of Planned Parenthood. Sigh…

To those of us in the pro-life movement, this would seem like a huge step backwards, especially considering the March for Life in D.C. and the Walk for Life in San Francisco were so successful.

But see, I think of this as a misstep by Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry. I think, rather, I pray, that this will be their undoing. How?

Because now they will be forced to take the stand. Of course, nothing is going to stop liars from lying, even under oath. But I predict one of these doctors will have a major conversion.

If “Jane Roe” could have a conversion, would it not also be possible that one of these abortion doctors could have one as well?

Today in the Catholic Church we recognize the Conversion of St. Paul. St. Paul had the biggest conversion ever. Like, if there was an award for conversions, this dude would receive the award, hands down. The  guy was pretty awful when he was Saul, persecuting followers of Jesus left and right.

Reading about him was one of the catalysts for me when I myself “came back” to the Church after a short departure.

Reflecting on him tonight I can’t help but think, “Wouldn’t it be great if one of these PP docs or workers had a conversion? Wouldn’t it be awesome if they decided to find a way to give life instead of taking it away?”

Do you know what’s stopping them?

Probably the same thing that stops you from sharing or speaking up on controversial topics like abortion: Fear.

They probably have no idea how to leave the industry. Think about it – What would they do if they left? How would they make a living? What would their co-workers think?

Enter the awesome website run by Abby Johnson called And Then There Were None. She seeks to help former abortion workers (yes, even doctors themselves) to leave the industry for good. To date, they have helped approximately 200 workers out of this darkness and on to the path to healing and recovery.

She helps them speak up when they are too afraid.

So let’s set the example and show people we aren’t afraid of a little debate, of a little controversy, of a little action.

We have truth on our side.

  • Looking for ways to help the unborn from the inside out? Consider writing a “Love Letter” to abortion clinic workers in your city/state. Before someone can be converted, they need to know they’ll have support when/if they leave. This means we don’t shout obscenities and awful things to them when we stand outside abortion clinics. This means we love them and pray for them. We hate what they do for a living. But we always love them because they are humans and worthy of respect and dignity.
  • If you’re looking for simple ways you can help the unborn and promote the pro-life message, here’s a short article from Word on Fire.
  • For other helpful websites that speak the truth when it comes to bioethics and the Catholic Church teachings, especially the unborn and human dignity, I recommend the following:

National Catholic Bioethics Center

Life Site News

Live Action

LifeTeen

EWTN

 

 

 

Remaining Silent…When You Really Want to Scream

No one is so good and devout as not to encounter some worries and troubles in life. When you face tribulation and are sorrowful in heart, you are with Jesus on the Cross. And again, when through the grace of the Holy Spirit you enjoy consolation in prayer, you rise, as it were, with Christ from the dead and the tomb, and with a jubilant heart you celebrate Easter with Jesus in the newness of life.

 

When someone directs harsh and unkind words against you, you are given to drink of the chalice of the Lord as medicine for your soul. Remain silent and drink of the cup of salvation without complaint, for the Lord will be your protection in nothing more admirable than to remain silent and patient, for in this way you curb the mouth of him who utters evil against you, and at the same time, you follow the example of Christ, who remained silent before Pilate, though much false testimony had been brought against Him. You are no better than God, who, for your sake, endured scourging, ridicule, and death at the hands of the wicked.

Thomas à Kempis, Bountiful Goodness, pp 36-37

God’s timing is always perfect, isn’t it?  I read this passage a couple days ago, just when I was seeking some answers about a recent encounter with someone who had some harsh words for me. This person said some pretty nasty things to me that aren’t worth repeating, but it was made clear to me, they had no idea just how rude they were being.

My initial response was silence, mainly due to shock that someone would disrespect me so much, but also because I have never felt it beneficial to respond to hate with hate (or in this case, disrespect with disrespect, as her comments weren’t really hateful as much as they were just downright rude and nasty).

Only one thought went thru my mind as she lashed out at me, and that was “Hurt people hurt people.” So I stayed silent, said little, and finished up my work with her. She is no longer in my life (she was a client) and this was her final session with me. My mind was racing after she walked out thinking, “Why would she say such awful things to someone she barely knows? What did I do to deserve such a beating? Where was this anger coming from?”

I even went so far as to reverse the situation and ask myself, “When was I this nasty to someone? When have I lashed out at someone trying to help me?” I was seeking the lesson here, and I admit, I struggled to find it. I am by no means perfect but I don’t recall in recent memory reacting in a similar way this woman did with me.  I got an answer though, and that was: “This isn’t about you. She’s struggling with someone/something that has nothing to do with you.”

Still, I was feeling conflicted and completely out of sorts.

These questions were still on my mind as I went on a retreat for the entire weekend. I felt bad because this woman was still on my mind as I was trying to enjoy myself and get into the “spirit” of the weekend. It’s a retreat, for crying out loud! You’d think of all places this was my best medicine.

In the end, I eventually got the bad taste of this client out of my mouth and my mind. I was inspired by the young ones I spoke to and their fire for the Lord. The answer to my questions maybe didn’t come directly to me that weekend but I did find comfort and a welcome distraction in the many people I encountered. Many of them had some amazing witness stories which definitely put my problems into perspective.

I came home Sunday evening to find this book, Bountiful Goodness, at my doorstep, almost forgetting that I had ordered it.

And this reflection on “Divine Consolation and Tribulations” was one of the first ones I read.

Remain silent and drink of the cup of salvation without complaint…

So for those who have been hurt by the unkind and harsh words of another person, I’m right there with you. As much as we want to react and fight back, sometimes it’s best to just remain silent and let that person go. I think that’s showing mercy, isn’t it? Pope Francis would probably agree in this Jubilee Year of Mercy that this is the right thing to do.

A prayer for them will probably serve them better than our own spiteful remarks and reactions.

And wouldn’t you know it, there’s a prayer for EVERYTHING out there! I found one specifically for our “Enemies” although I don’t consider her a true enemy. She’s probably not a friend though…maybe one day though!

Almighty God, have mercy on N. and on all that bear me evil will and would do me harm, and on their faults and mine together, by such easy, tender, merciful means, as Thine infinite wisdom best can devise; vouchsafe to amend and redress and make us saved souls in heaven together, where we may ever live and love together with thee and they blessed saints. O glorious Trinity, for the bitter passion of our sweet Savior, Christ. Amen.

– St. Thomas More

 

 

Year In Review – A Yearly Examen

Catholic blogger Philip Kosloski wrote a cool little article about making a Yearly Examen. Most people are familiar with the Daily Examen which is a part of Ignatian Spirituality.  I try to make an effort to do a nightly examen but I admit, I fail a lot at this.

But a Yearly Examen – Brilliant and doable. As much as we are inclined to make New Years Resolutions, how often do we actually review the year that was in order to learn how we can improve ourselves for the coming year?

Here’s Kosloski’s adaptation for his Yearly Examen:

  1. First, give thanks to God for all the many blessings received over the past year. Go through each month, dwelling upon the good and thanking God for it.
  2. Second, ask for the grace to know your sins and failings and renounce them. Go through each month and do this. 
  3. Third, review your year again, month-by-month, and recognize your feelings, thoughts and movements of the heart. There will be certain people and events that strike a chord (for good or for ill). Bring those people or events to God and ask Him why they stand out. Ask God for the grace to see His providence in all things. Nothing happens by chance.
  4. Fourth, ask pardon of God for any sins. Also, do not only ask God for forgiveness, but also ask God for the grace to forgive yourself.
  5. Fifth, look forward to the next year and ask God for the grace to amend your life.

While 2015 is still fresh in your mind, you should make a point to do your own yearly examen. It looks a little daunting but it shouldn’t take you too long.  In the meantime, here are my own little thoughts on this exercise:

As for me, personally, Step number 1 is the easiest part. I made a point this past year to try and remain positive and always be grateful for the littlest things. Someone got me a “Grateful Journal”  where you write something every day that you’re thankful for/something good that happened to you. or an answered prayer for someone else. When you read that every day, it’s hard to remain bitter and depressed.

The second step – A little difficult, I mean who wants to face their sins and failings head on like that? But, I understand why it’s a necessary step. We aren’t perfect, as much as we try to be.

The third step – By far my favorite step. Certain events that “struck a chord” for good were plentiful this year. Pretty sure TOB is at the top of the list. But there were a few that still make me feel sick to my stomach every time I think about them (friendships ending, death of loved ones, betrayal of people I trusted).

The most difficult step though, for me, has to be the 4th. The grace to forgive yourself is far more difficult, I think, than asking God for forgiveness.  Pretty sure this has a lot to do with my self-deprecating humor I adopted a few years ago. It’s easier to make fun of yourself and downplay your successes than to actually believe you’re good at something or are a good person. And when that happens you tend to dwell on your faults a lot more than give yourself some credit for your improvements. Sigh…

The fifth step – Hallelujah!  I AM looking forward to a new year, especially since I have thing for even numbers. 2015 always sounded strange to me. Twenty-sixeteen has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? 😉

Rules to Live By

My wonderful Spiritual Director suggested something recently to me that I thought must be shared.

“Make some rules for yourself.”

Rules? I suppose I asked for it. I had said I felt disorganized and scattered in my prayer life (okay so I’m completely scattered in my real life, not just prayer) but I mentioned the need for some “structure.”

He mentioned St. Benedict and his book called “The Rule” which was a set of…rules. Duh.

So, if I wanna be a Saint I suppose I should try and learn from these guys and gals, right?

The task was to come up with 3 rules for myself that could be anything, not necessarily prayer related.

Example: I will answer all my emails within 24 hours.

The thought is that they should be simple and reasonable rules. And I couldn’t help but think, “This could actually be useful in my other life as a personal trainer with my clients as well as myself!”

That part is coming up…but I digress.

So I have this bad habit of purchasing books/checking out books from the library and just starting them without finishing them. I have about half a dozen books sitting on my shelf that I haven’t cracked open. Which led me to come up with Rule #1.

Rule #1: Don’t check out/purchase another book until I have completed the books currently on my shelf. And I will not read more than one book at a time. I have tried, to no avail, to read 3 books at once. Terrible idea. Never works for me. So back to just one at a time.

Rule #2. I won’t attempt to multi-task while listening to commentary/homilies on scripture. I can’t help but have a slight obsession with learning everything I possibly can about my faith and so I think at last count I subscribe to about 6 different pages/accounts that send out reflections/commentary. You’d think this would be fantastic and a great way to learn but turns out it’s awful for someone like me because I cannot seem to pay attention for more than 30 seconds at a time before I’m clicking the next one. Or I get up and start making breakfast thinking “I’ll just have it on in the background, I can still hear it!” It’s a prime example of why multi-tasking is terrible, for EVERYONE.  So my rule is to force me to focus on one message at a time, hence, structure.

Rule #3.  Think of a Rule #3. 🙂  I haven’t thought of one.  Although I’m considering “Don’t go to Adoration with more than one journal.”  I mean. is it my fault that I love to write and I have 3 different journals for 3 different writing formats? 1 is for blog ideas, 1 is for spiritual direction thoughts and 1 is for free thinking. Actually, that’s pretty organized for someone as scattered as me.

As for my “Other Life” as a Personal Trainer – I thought the Rules could be applied to myself and my own clients in their efforts to be healthy and in shape, especially for those who make those lovely “Resolutions.”

  • Skip dessert (or wine or whatever your biggest indulgence is) every other day. For me, I’m not a big dessert person but I do love cheese. And Peanut butter. So one of those has to get reduced.
  • Get up 15 minutes early 3 days a week in order to make breakfast instead of eating “on-the go.”
  • Save the fast food meals for payday only (Limits yourself to just twice a month at the most)
  • Don’t purchase a “treat” for yourself until you reach a certain health goal first (lowered blood pressure, loss of an inch in the waistline, held a plank for a minute, etc)
  • Walk at least a mile before hitting the “Stop” button on the treadmill/quitting to do something else. I find that the times I really don’t want to workout, if I just say “Okay, just 10 minutes of something then I can stop,” usually works.

There’s plenty more out there but these are just a few to get you thinking…In the meantime, I found this on Facebook and thought it was a great little image to share.  (I’m a big fan of anything food AND faith-related.)

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Breath of God

 

I cannot get enough of this Hymn that I came across a couple months ago while praying the Liturgy of the Hours. This was in the Daytime Prayer in my iBreviary app and I just have to share it because it almost makes me cry every time I read it!  Enjoy.

Breathe on me, breath of God,

Fill me with life anew,

That I may love the things you love,

And do what you would do.


 

Breathe on me, breath of God,

Until my heart is pure,

Until with you I have one will,

To live and to endure.


 

Breathe on me, breath of God,

My soul with grace refine,

Until this earthly part of me

Glows with your fire divine.


 

Breathe on me, breath of God,

So I shall never die,

But live with you the perfect life

In your eternity.