Today is Good Friday. I am re-posting last years Good Friday post which includes pictures that I took in the Holy Land of places surrounding the Good Friday events. Check it out by clicking here Good Friday
There is so much emphasis today on taking care of the body. I just read a statistic from STATISTIC BRAIN that says Americans spend about 24 BILLION dollars on annual gym and health club memberships each year. That is a lot of money! People go to health food stores and shop for healthy products. This is quite commendable. The body is a very special gift that God has given to us and we should take good care of it. What I find disturbing is that people are often very concerned with the physical body and forget about the true wholeness of who we are. We, as a person, consist of so much more than just the physical body. We have a mind that needs to be taken care of, and a spiritual side that needs to also be cared for. Unless we properly feed and exercise all three parts of our person, we will suffer. I would like to take a look at the body, mind and the spirit and how we can help them to grow healthy. I see three main things to consider: Intake, Avoidance and Exercise. I will look at all of these in relation to the body, the mind and the spirit.
BODY – The body is a wonderful creation. It gives us mobility, sight, hearing, touch, sex and reproduction and the ability to experience so much in God’s creation. Anyone who studies the body quickly realizes that it is a complex mechanism. God knew what He was doing when He created our body. It is up to us to keep the body what it is meant to be. In order to do that, we need to consider three main things:
1 – Intake: The foods and drinks that we take in should be healthy for us. We really should be eating whole grain foods, and lots of fruits and vegetables and nuts. There is a lot to be said for true organic foods as well as healthy meats. Our body also needs a great deal of water. Water not only replenishes the body but also helps to remove toxins.
2 – Avoidance: Fast foods, processed foods, “recreational” drugs, soda. Red meats should be kept at a minimum and only healthy oils such as Olive and Canola oils should be used. It is also good to keep alcoholic beverage to low or moderate use.
3 – Exercise: Walking, running, swimming and aerobic exercises are very important. Weight lifting is also a positive thing to do.
MIND – There is a saying that “the mind is a terrible thing to waste”. This slogan was adopted by the United Negro College Fund in 1972. It was actually one of the most successful campaigns in television history. The saying is so true. Our mind needs to be educated and stimulated. There is no doubt that the mind/brain is very complex. It, like the body, needs sustenance, avoidance and exercise.
1 – Intake: The brain/mind is made to take in as much information as possible. For me that means reading good books and studying various subjects. I take many various courses, both online and in person. I also read many different types of books and I love researching things on the internet.
2 – Avoidance: Pornography is a very serious assault on what the mind is meant to do. Spending time mesmerized in front of the television is also counterproductive.
3 – Exercise: When you are reading you are definitely exercising the brain. When you study for courses you are exercising the brain. When you just take time to think, you are exercising the brain. Things like cross word puzzles are great too.
SPIRIT – The “thing” that gives us our personhood is the Spirit or Soul. This is the most precious gift of all. With that we are like God in that we will live forever. The Spirit is ultimately what is in charge of the body and the mind. It works along with the mind to bring us thoughts and reason. It lifts us up to far above the ordinary. This Spirit needs Intake, Avoidance and Exercise too.
1 – Intake: There is no doubt that graces are given to our Spirit by the sacraments of the Church. Baptism starts the journey and the Holy Eucharist is food for the Spirit. Confirmation strengthens the work of the Spirit within us and gives us many gifts. The Sacrament of Reconciliation can lift the Spirit out of the difficulties that sin causes us. Holy Orders and Matrimony empower our Spirit to work in the vocation that God calls us to. Even the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick heals the Spirit as it heals the body. For me, the reception of the Eucharist each day is my daily bread that enlivens my Spirit. The sacrifice of the mass, and participating in it, again lifts our Spirit. The pondering of God’s Word in the Bible feeds the Spirit.
2 – Avoidance: We must stay away from the occult, even things such as Ouija boards. We must stay away from all the temptations of the Devil.
3 – Exercise: We should make ourselves available to all of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We should read and pray the bible. We should spend a considerable amount of time each day in prayer. Specialized prayers such as the rosary and divine mercy chaplet are great forms of spiritual exercise. The Church’s Liturgy of the Hours is a fantastic way to pray. I always recommend that people find a Spiritual Director.
In conclusion, we must remember that the Body, Mind and Spirit are all so interconnected that failure to take care of any one of them may harm the whole person that we are. Because of this interconnection, some things that I mentioned in one subject will actually help not only in that subject but in others as well. We are one unbelievable miracle and creation of God. We must take care of who we are.
Romans 12: 1-2
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
On June 10th of this year (2016), Pope Francis issued a decree elevating the June 22nd Memorial of St. Mary Magdalene to a Feast Day in the Roman Calendar. Feast Days are reserved for Saints of particular significance, such as the Apostles. In doing this elevation Pope Francis stated that because St. Mary Magdalene was the first witness to Jesus’ resurrection and then told the Apostles, she was a “true and authentic evangelist”. He entitled his decree and the article about it “Apostle of the Apostles”. The Congregation of Divine Worship’s Secretary, Archbishop Arthur Roche, wrote that in celebrating “an evangelist who proclaims the central joyous message of Easter,” St. Mary Magdalene’s feast day is a call for all Christians to “reflect more deeply on the dignity of women, the new evangelization and the greatness of the mystery of divine mercy.” He further stated, “Pope Francis has taken this decision precisely in the context of the Jubilee of Mercy to highlight the relevance of this woman who showed great love for Christ and was much loved by Christ.” Archbishop Roche added that St. Mary Magdalene, who “proclaimed life from the tomb, a place of death,” is a lesson for all Christians to trust in Christ who is “alive and risen.” “It is right that the liturgical celebration of this woman has the same level of feast given to the celebration of the apostles in the general Roman calendar and highlights the special mission of this woman who is an example and model for every woman in the church.”
St. Mary Magdalene has often been seen as the unnamed sinner woman who anointed the feet of Jesus. However, most scripture scholars indicate that this is not indicated in scripture. She is the woman from whom Jesus cast out seven demons. Father Wilfrid J. Harrington, O.P., writing in the New Catholic Commentary, says that “seven demons” “does not mean that Mary had lived an immoral life—a conclusion reached only by means of a mistaken identification with the anonymous woman of Luke 7:36.” Father Edward Mally, S.J., writing in the Jerome Biblical Commentary, agrees that she “is not…the same as the sinner of Luke 7:37, despite the later Western romantic tradition about her.” There is no doubt that she has been slandered for many years. We do know that she was a follower of Jesus and loved by Jesus and even helped to support His ministry. She stood by the cross of Jesus with the Blessed Virgin Mary. Her most glorious story is of her visiting the tomb of Jesus while it was still dark.
The Gospel tells us that she peaked in to the tomb and saw two angels there. She then sees Jesus but does not recognize Him until He speaks her name. Pope Francis said that her tears at Christ’s empty tomb are a reminder that “sometimes in our lives, tears are the lenses we need to see Jesus”.
Even though St. Mary Magdalene has been slandered for many years, she would probably say that it didn’t matter. She saw herself as a sinner in need of God’s MERCY. So should we. As we celebrate Her feast, let us remember that we too are called to love Jesus with all that we are and to tell others about the God who died for us and rose again so we might have LIFE.
Maria Goretti was born on October 16th, 1890 in Italy. She came from a very poor family that struggled to make ends meet. Her father died when Maria was nine years old leaving her mother and siblings to tend the farm so that they could live. Maria stayed home and watched the youngest child as the others worked. Even though it was a difficult life for all of them, they were faith filled people.
A young man, Alessandro Serenelli, was a neighbor and he began make sexual advances towards young Maria. She kept putting him off telling him that it would be a mortal sin and that she would have nothing to do with his sexual advances. Finally, after several months of this, he attacked her forcibly trying to rape her. This little eleven year old girl fought off this 20 year old large boy. He finally told her that he would kill her if she didn’t give him what he wanted. She told him that she would rather die than commit this terrible sin. Alessandro tried strangling her and she fought him and he then stabbed her eleven times. When she then tried to make it to the door, he stabbed her another three times. The youngest child in the house began screaming and Alessandro ran away.
When Maria’s siblings and mother got to her, she was still alive. They immediately took her to the hospital, but the damage was so severe that they were not able to help her. The doctor working on her said to her, “Maria, think of me in paradise”. She responded, “I will think of you gladly.” The next day, Maria told her mother that she forgave Alessandro and wanted to see him in heaven with her. Shortly after, Maria died while holding a crucifix and staring at an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Alessandro was arrested shortly after the incident. He not only admitted the attempted rape and murder, but also said that he had been trying to seduce her for quite some time. Because of his age he was sentenced to thirty years in prison, instead of life imprisonment. A priest came to visit him in prison and Alessandro went in to a rage and began howling and lunging for the priest. After that, Alessandro hardly ate and was nervous and filled with despair. It was then that Maria appeared to him in a vision and told him that she forgave him. She was surrounded by lilies, the flower symbolic of purity. From that moment on, Alessandro was a changed man. Real peace entered his heart and he was an ideal prisoner. After serving his thirty year sentence, Alessandro went to a Franciscan Monastery and they accepted him as a lay brother. He went to visit Maria’s mother to ask her forgiveness. Marie’s mother said that if her daughter could forgive him, she would also. They actually attended Christmas mass together in the local parish church and Alessandro spoke before the people acknowledging his sin and asking for God’s forgiveness and the pardon of the community.
Forty years later, on June 24, 1950, Maria was canonized in St. Peter’s basilica in Rome. Alessandro, now firmly converted to the Lord, attended the canonization. He died on May 6, 1970 in the Capuchin convent of Macerata. A few years before that, Alessandro wrote that Maria was sent to him to guide and save him. He said that her words of both rebuke and forgiveness were etched in his heart. He called Maria his light, and his protectress and he anxiously awaited seeing her and her mother in heaven.
Maria is considered a virgin and a martyr because she gave up her life to keep God’s commandments. I think that her outpouring of mercy and deep care for the one who offended her show us a glimpse of the Divine Mercy that God pours out on us. For an eleven year old, she accomplished so much. God’s Divine Mercy triumphs in His Saints.
When I was growing up, there was a game show on television called Let’s Make a Deal. The host, Monty Hall, would give members of the studio audience the opportunity to swap one prize for a different, unknown prize inside a box or behind a curtain. Sometimes the recipient got a better deal by making the trade. Sometimes not.
Of course, if you could see beforehand what was in the box or behind the curtain, you would know whether or not making the trade was a good idea.
I was reminded of this when considering something St. Faustina said in her Diary. She describes being led by an angel into Hell itself. The images she paints of the torments there are staggering. (Diary, 741)
I was more shocked, though, by what she said at the end of it all.
She said she would rather undergo incredible agonies and the greatest sufferings until the end of the world than offend God by the least sin.
So let me get this straight. You have two doors, and you have to choose one of them. Behind Door A is incredible pain and suffering until the Second Coming. Behind Door B is stealing a cookie.
And she’s saying she would choose Door A. Because, apparently, that’s the better deal.
What’s difficult to accept is that she’s right.
We all have a tendency to downplay sin, especially venial sin. Well, yeah, I told a lie, but it’s not like it was a big lie. Not like lying on the witness stand or something. It was just fudging a bit on my taxes. It was just claiming the light was green instead of red when I entered the intersection. No big deal, right? Sheesh, it’s not like I’m Hitler or something!
When we start comparing ourselves to Hitler instead of the Person we should be comparing ourselves to (namely, Jesus), we’ve lost sight of just how diabolical sin is. God is infinitely greater than the universe, and I, little mote of dust that I am, sinned against That? Against Utter Perfection? Against Grace?
That’s exactly what I’ve done. And that’s exactly what Jesus went to the Cross for.
See how much my sins cost? How can sins paid for by such a great price be considered “little”?
That’s why, despite what I’ve heard out of the mouths of a couple of priests, there’s no such thing as a “little sin.” Yes, some are incredibly bigger than others, so big, in fact, that they destroy God’s grace in our souls. But none of them are small.
And that’s also why God wiping them out is such an incredible act of mercy.
Visit author, A.J. Avila at her blog at https://reflections911.wordpress.com/