Gigi Taylor will sign this wonderful book which is amazing for helping you learn the rosary. Perfect for children for Easter or First communion
Gigi Taylor will sign this wonderful book which is amazing for helping you learn the rosary. Perfect for children for Easter or First communion
I started gardening around twelve years ago, and now spend most of my free time weeding, planting, pruning and tending my many gardens. I am a huge environmentalist and constantly pester my husband to quit using weed killer on the weeds ruining the beauty of his lawn. The weed killer flows into the creek and enters our water supply. Many scientists link weed killer and pesticides to cancer, parkinsons disease, and other disease, and believe it to be part of the reason bees and frogs are disappearing.
Usually when I find weeds I can easily dig them up. But wild onions and dandelions are a different matter altogether. When I see the long tail of the onions waving in the wind, or the pretty yellow flower blooming from the dandelion, I grab my shovel and start digging. Those two plants embed deep into the soil, and don’t come up easily.
Last week while laboriously digging up the tough roots and bulbs of these noxious weeds, I started thinking about my sin. You know, those deeply rooted bad habits that we just can’t seem to break. For some it is the compulsion to turn to tasty treats for comfort when stressed; hot buttered popcorn and root beer is my absolute favorite! For you it may be jalapeno chips, or strawberry ice cream, or maybe your downfall is chocolate chip cookies.
Perhaps your sin is feeling resentful and complaining a lot because your life didn’t turn out the way you planned. Maybe you are controlling or judgmental, greedy or jealous. It could be you have a serious addiction to pornography or alcohol, or severe anger management issues. Usually deep seated sin has its bitter roots in our past. You may have grown up feeling unloved or unwanted, or that you didn’t matter, especially if your parents had their own demons of addiction. Perhaps your father ranted or raged, and you take after him.
The bible warns about the “bitter roots” in Hebrews 12:15 “See to it that no one be deprived of the grace of God, that no bitter root spring up and cause trouble, through which many may become defiled…”. Stubborn weeds like wild onions can’t simply be pulled up; if you try pulling them from their stems, the bulbs break off and remain in the ground, and the onions grow back again in a few weeks.
Getting rid of annoying, tenacious weeds takes preparation. The best time is just after it rains, when the soil is softer. You have a to have the right tools; my favorite is a funny shaped one that has a fork on the end, and an arch on the side to give it leverage. You have to be careful to get all the bulbs, since if you miss one, the obnoxious weed will grow right back.
Similarly, areas of deeply rooted sin such as gossip, bursts of rage and envy will take time and lots of patience to dislodge. You need to be equipped with your tools of fasting and confession, daily mass, lots of prayer and spiritual direction. (If your trauma is severe, you will probably need counseling as well). Fasting from your favorite food, or perhaps the computer, helps you to learn discipline and self-control. Confession and daily mass give you a greater abundance of God’s supernatural grace, and all the gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, knowledge, understanding, counsel, piety, fortitude and fear of the Lord.
Time spent in prayer softens the heart and allows God to pull out the sin from the root. The Examen Prayer from St. far away from Him? Make a resolve for the next day to work on being more patient, loving and kind and thoughtful. Look at your prayer time; were you faithful, or did you slack off? Do you need to be more disciplined and not stay up so late surfing the web?
Daily self examination gives you greater awareness of your faults, giving you the ability to zero in and make the proper adjustments. Some bad habits can be deadly, ruining relationships and hurting yourselves and others. Some people turn to alcohol to drown out their pain, which can be just as destructive for our world, as weed killer is for the environment. Working to improve yourself helps you to grow in holiness and draw closer to God. So get out your tools today and get to work!
Mary’s Garden Gifts and Books
Saturday, April 12
From 12 – 2 pm
Come meet author Polly Harper and get a signed copy of her new book, Lifestyle Networthing, an inspirational new take on ‘networking’. This book is perfect for graduation, birthdays, Father’s Day or any other special occasion.
“This book leave you inspired and uplifted. In it you learn how Polly has used her strengths to build meaningful relationships, solid business growth and a joy-filled life. She shares real-life examples that demonstrate the power of taking time to invest in others, in giving without an expectation of immediate return and in trusting in Divine Guidance, even in the rough and tumble world of business. LifeStyle NetWorthing can help you find ways to gain joy on the job and mold a legacy of hope for living.”
Last Saturday I had the privilege to attend a day retreat for women lead by Fr. Michael Silloway and Gayle Ohrenberger, Campus Minister at St. Piux X High School. In his first talk, Fr. Silloway quoted Pope John Paul II “both man and woman are human beings to an equal degree, both are created in God’s image”. He went on to explain that even though men and women are equal in dignity, they are different physically and emotionally.
Through much of history women have been dominated and oppressed, creating a legacy for some women today who fiercely defend their role in society as ‘equal’ to men. They forget that women are NOT the same as men; women have their own unique set of gifts endowed by God that are different from men. As Fr. Silloway explains “the world tells us to be one thing, but God is calling us to be something else.” I have two women friends who are amazingly talented and have both participated in the Warrior Dash; part of the race is to leap over a raging, intense fire. Shannon Pable, pictured on the left racing to the finish, is a master arborist with her own landscaping company, and is also a magnificent artist and interior designer. But she is one of the most feminine women you would ever meet. She excels for the sake of excelling, not because she has to ‘prove’ anything. If you are a woman and love to participate in the Ironman Triathlon or the Warrior Dash, do it because you enjoy it, not because you have to prove you are equal to men.
Women are so important to God that He used a woman at every significant moment of salvation history. In the Book of Judith, we learn about Judith, the courageous woman of faith who virtually single-handedly saves the entire city of Bethulia. King Nebuchadnezzar sent an army to conquer Israel, which was ready to pounce on Bethulia. All of the inhabitants, including the cowardly city’s elders, were petrified and thought it was futile to resist. Ready to surrender to the enemy, Judith berated the townspeople “for their lack of faith as she professes her complete trust in the salvation that comes from the Lord.” (From Women’s Indispensable Role in Salvation History below)
Judith was a widow whose husband had died three years before. Though she was described as “beautiful in appearance and very lovely to behold“(Judith 8:7), she wore “sackcloth and widow’s clothing”, and fasted most days, living in a tent. This humble woman, whose faith never wavered, prepared to confront the enemy by imploring God for strength, reminding him of the pride and arrogance of the Assyrians, in contrast to God’s omnipotence and power. She begged him to defeat the enemy through the hands of a weak woman, just as He delivered His people in the past by unusual means. She cried out “Make every nation and every tribe know clearly that you are God, the God of all power and might, and that there is no other who shields the people of Israel but you alone.” (Judith 9:14)
Setting aside her sackcloth, Judith washed and perfumed her body, and dressed in festive robes and costly bracelets, rings and earrings. With her maid she proceeded to the enemy camp and was presented before the depraved leader, Holofernes. Entranced by her beauty, Holofernes was determined to seduce her and invited her to a banquet. “Holofernes, charmed by her, drank a great quantity of wine, more than he had ever drunk on any days since he was born.” (Judith 12) After being left alone with the lascivious, inebriated leader, Judith prayed “Give me strength this day, O Lord God of Israel!” (Judith 13:7). Then taking his own sword, she cut off his head and delivered it to the elders of her town.
Queen Esther is another woman dauntless in faith who played an important role in our history of salvation. Esther was a humble Jewish maiden chosen by King Ahasuerus to be his new queen. Upon learning of the scheme of Haman, an official of the King, to kill the entire population of Jews, her uncle, Mordecai, asked for Esther to plead for mercy from her husband, the King. He reminded her that God had blessed her and said “who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14). Knowing she could face death if she approached the King without an invitation, she proclaimed a fast for three days of mourning for all the Jewish people in preparation. Then dressed in all her finery, she courageously visited Ahasuerus and was warmly welcomed. Mesmerized by her glowing beauty, the King was horrified by Haman’s vile plans, and ordered him to be hanged on the very gallows Haman had prepared for the Jews.
The bravery of these heroic women saved an entire people! Statistically men tend to be bigger and stronger physically than women, but don’t be fooled into thinking women are the ‘weaker’ sex. Both Judith and Esther used their very beauty as women to manifest God’s power. Women shouldn’t need to ‘prove’ that they are physically as strong as men; after all, David defeated Goliath with cunning, not power. Certain qualities belong to men, and some to women; they are complimentary. Women tend to be more nurturing and compassionate, as well as more sensitive and intuitive. Men tend to be more decisive and have an innate need to provide for their families; they also tend to be ‘fixers’ and problem solvers.
Pope John Paul II tells us to rejoice in our femininity and the unique gifts that make us women. As Fr. Michael reminded us “Too often we find our identity in what we do, not from who we are.” In his Letter On the Dignity and Vocation of Women, Pope John Paul II tell us “The personal resources of femininity are certainly no less than the resources of masculinity; they are merely different. Hence, a woman, as well as a man, must understand her ”fulfillment” as a person, her dignity and vocation, on the basis of these resources, according to the richness of the femininity which she received on the day of creation and which she inherits as an expression of the ”image and likeness of God” that is specifically hers.”
Wherever God has placed you today, whether as a teacher, CEO of a Fortune 500 company, a doctor, lawyer, or cleaning lady, he plans to use you in a mighty way. Whether you are the Secretary of State, or a stay-at-home mom, you are extremely valuable to God and to His plans. Christianity is being attacked from all sides; our world is full of broken, hurting people. But you are exactly where you are for “such a time as this”. Take time today to ponder God’s plan for you, for your unique role in salvation. Maybe God is calling you to have another child, who may grow up to be the scientist who finds a cure for AIDS; maybe He is calling you to join a prayer group and become a more powerful prayer warrior. Perhaps he is calling you to become a spiritual director and walk with others on their spiritual journey.
Just as Mary pondered Jesus’ words, try to increase your prayer time and spend a few minutes each day immersed in His Word. My favorite devotional is The Word Among Us; some prefer the Magnificat. Whatever means you choose, be disciplined and consistent.
“Let the Word of God dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God”. Colossians 3:16
Women’s Indispensable Role in Salvation History http://www.ewtn.com/library/papaldoc/jp2bvm15.htm
I recently visited Nashville and had a great time in this raucous, bustling town. Back in the 1800′s it was a booming city on the frontier, with saloons filled with gamblers and whiskey. In 1885 Captain Thomas Ryman owned 35 riverboats and many saloons, providing him with an ample income. A thorn in his side and a threat to his wealth was a preacher by the name of Reverend Sam Jones. On May 10, Captain Ryman went with some friends to one of Rev. Jones’ tent revivals to stir up trouble. But instead of disrupting the revival, Ryman was deeply touched by Jones’ preaching. The Captain experienced an earth shattering conversion and had a miraculous change of heart. Afterward, filled with religious zeal, he refused to lease any more bar space for the purpose of selling liquor on his riverboats.
With his new religious fervor, Ryman vowed to build a meeting hall with the capacity to hold the enormous crowds thronging to hear Sam Jones and others preach. He wanted to make sure the crowds had access to a structure sturdier than a revival tent. The new facility cost around $100,000 and took seven years to complete; it was called the Union Gospel Tabernacle. On June 1, 1892 Rev. Jones preached for the first time in the meeting place built in his honor.
After Captain Ryman died in 1904, Rev. Jones urged the name of the hall to be changed to Ryman Auditorium, in honor of its founder. The auditorium eventually became known for hosting the “Grand Ole Opry” radio show from 1943 until 1974, when the new Grand Ole Opry auditorium and recording studio was built in a different part of town.
I love the story of Captain Ryman because it reflects the power of the gospel, as well as the importance of communicating this message to sinners. Currently there is a huge controversy brewing with several lawsuits against Christians who refused to provide service to homosexuals because of their religious convictions. A photographer refused to photograph the wedding of a gay couple, and a baker refused to bake a wedding cake for two men’s wedding. The baker, Jack Phillips, did offer to make brownies or anything else the couple wanted, as the judge residing over the lawsuit noted “Phillips believes that if he uses his artistic talents to participate in same-sex weddings by creating a wedding cake, he will be displeasing God and acting contrary to the teachings of the Bible.”
The judge went on to say this “fails to take into account the cost to society and the hurt caused to persons who are denied service simply because of who they are”, and ordered Phillips to bake wedding cakes for any future same-sex couples. According to the judge, Phillips’ religious rights aren’t applicable when it comes to refusing to embrace gay marriage. Since the baker still refuses to bake wedding cakes for same-sex couples, he could possibly be thrown in jail.
Many Americans are equating this case to the discrimination faced by blacks under the Jim Crow laws. I fail to see the correlation, since the discrimination from the Jim Crow laws was by whites refusing to serve another race, while this ‘discrimination’ involves a man refusing to ‘participate’ in the sexual act of two other men. A black man, or Jew, or Asian or Hispanic is unable to change their race, and should never be discriminated against or refused service based on the color of their skin or race.
In contrast, the baker didn’t simply refuse service – his deeply held religious convictions prevented him from participating in a sexual union. Restaurants and retail stores are not refusing to serve gay men or women, gays aren’t forbidden to ride buses or purchase homes. As Erick Erickson explained in his article Yes, Jesus Would Bake a Cake “The disagreement comes on one issue only — should a Christian provide goods and services to a gay wedding. That’s it. We’re not talking about serving a meal at a restaurant. We’re not talking about baking a cake for a birthday party. We’re talking about a wedding, which millions of Christians view as a sacrament of the faith and other, mostly Protestant Christians, view as a relationship ordained by God to reflect a holy relationship.” It is truly frightening that in a country based on religious freedom, a man could go to jail for making a stand for his Christian faith. I firmly support anyone’s religious freedom, and feel it is absolutely wrong to coerce someone to violate those convictions.
Phillips’ lead attorney, Nicolle Martin, with the Alliance Defending Freedom, explains “American citizens should not have to live in fear of a prison sentence merely for disagreeing with the government’s opinion. All Americans should remain free to honor God in our lives and in our work. The government has no business threatening Americans with jail time for simply exercising their constitutionally-protected freedoms of religion and speech. Every American, whatever you think about this issue, should fear a government that ignores the First Amendment in order to exercise this kind of power over its citizens.”
Even though I support the rights of these Christians, I do wonder if a different approach might be more beneficial. What if Phillips had agreed to bake the wedding cake, and then used that opportunity to share his evangelical faith with the other two men. Perhaps he could explain that God created man and woman to become one flesh, and that to be a sacramental marriage, the union must be procreative, capable of producing children. Possibly he could have shared the story of the women caught in adultery and explain that even though God loves all his children, black, white, gay, straight, alcoholic, adulterer, etc., he asks for a certain purity from them. Phillips could have shared Jesus’ words to the adulteress “go and sin no more”.
The evangelical could have explained that God only wants to protect his children, and a homosexual lifestyle is destructive, both physically and emotionally. Sadly, homosexuals suffer from depression and other emotional disorders at a disproportionate rate compared to straight individuals, with a resulting higher ratio of suicides. Those in the LGBT community claim discrimination and bullying is the reason for such widespread unhappiness, and these actions may contribute to the high numbers, but in and of itself that explanation fails to tell the entire story.
The statistics in the gay culture are far grimmer than the rosy picture portrayed by the movie industry. As Hollywood pushes their ‘gay agenda’ to normalize homosexual behavior, it has become more acceptable in our culture than it ever has before (at least since the times of the Roman Empire), yet the suicide rates continue to rise in the LGBT community. Physical abuse and addictions are additional issues which plague homosexuals at higher rates.
Promiscuity rates are far higher among gays, resulting in AIDs infections of gay men almost three times the incidences of heterosexual men. Violence among same-sex partners is on the rise as well. According to the Community Programs Coordinator at The Network/La Red, a Boston-based domestic violence support group specifically for LGBTQ people, same sex domestic violence is the new silent epidemic.
Pope Francis emphasized the importance of a compassionate heart stating “sterile priests do not help the Church,” and referred to the Church as a “field hospital” where injuries are treated. Theories abound about the origins of homosexuality – some experts claim trauma, such as sexual or physical abuse, can trigger gender confusion. Others claim those with same-sex attraction are simply born that way, which doesn’t quite gel when you survey identical twins and discover one is gay, and the other is not.
Our world is filled with hurting, trouble people in need of the gospel of Christ. Whatever the origin, those with same-sex attractions need healing; they need us to share God’s abundant love and tenderness. Just as Rev. Jones’s words pierced the avarice in Captain Ryman’s heart, our words can set others free from anger, depression, unforgiveness, loneliness and insecurity. Only through much prayer and discernment can you make the difficult decision to reach out to gay couples with love and compassion and be a ‘part’ of their wedding, or to stand up for your faith and refuse to participate in a union that cannot be blessed with God. Whatever your decision, share it with kindness and charity, without contempt or condescension.
History of Ryman Auditorium http://ryman.com/history/captain-tom-ryman
Healing from Homosexuality http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/resources/life-and-family/homosexuality/healing-of-homosexual-attractions/
“Yes, Jesus Would Bake a Cake For a Gay Person” http://www.redstate.com/2014/02/21/yes-jesus-would-bake-a-cake-for-a-gay-person/
Saturday, March 8
1:00 – 3:00
Kimberly Gray Hanks
“LESSONS FROM THE FIRE”
In “Lessons from the Fire”, Hanks exposes her most private struggles, from her eating disorder, through years of severe anxiety and bouts of depression, to her lifelong battle with ever-changing fears. Hanks delves deep in an attempt to reveal the power of the spirit-mind battles that we all face. From the perspective of one who clung fiercely to her faith in Christ during fiery trials and darkest nights, Hanks shares the lessons learned from a God who never leaves or forsakes His own.
Come join us on March 8 and meet this amazingly, courageous woman!
MARY’S GARDEN GIFTS AND BOOKS
7706 Spalding Dr.
Norcross, GA 30092
Weak, lustful, headstrong, selfish, petty, jealous and murderous King David was especially beloved by God in spite of his many weaknesses. In fact, God himself gave him the name “a man after my own heart” ( Acts. 13:22). The daily mass readings for the last several weeks have concentrated on Second Samuel and the story of King David and his son, King Solomon. A common theme throughout these events concerns the sinfulness and disobedience of both King David and King Solomon, who was a man so wise that God himself declared in 1st Kings 3:12 “I give you a heart so wise and understanding that there has never been anyone like you.”
David was just a boy when he courageously slew the wicked giant by outwitting him and overcoming Goliath’s massive strength with a tiny pebble and measly slingshot. Then he chased the Philistines out of Jerusalem and conquered the city. Next he united the fractured twelve tribes of Israel, continuing the covenant between God and the chosen people. He was a great soldier and leader, and wisely ruled over Judea. An enthralling writer, he collected the Book of Psalms, composing much of the beautiful poetry himself.
He was so important that one title of Jesus we hear throughout the bible is “Son of David.” After dispassionately murdering Uriah, husband of Bathsheba, so that David could possess Uriah’s luscious wife, Nathan the prophet soundly condemned David’s sin and revealed the depth of his depravity. Morose and contrite, David repented with the haunting and tender words of of the ‘Miserere’, Psalm 51, imploring God to “wash away his guilt” and “blot out his offense”. He begged God to create a new heart for him, and to restore the joy that he had carelessly thrown away.
Even with his many flaws, David loved God with all his might, and proclaimed in Psalm 16 “I say to the Lord, you are my Lord, you are my only good”. He rejected all other false gods, knowing his happiness rested in God alone. Standing before the Ark of the Covenant, David adored and worshiped the Lord, dancing with joy and abandonment. Yet with all this compelling knowledge, David still allowed his desire for gorgeous Bathsheba to cause him to commit adultery and murder.
King Solomon was known for his wisdom, especially when two women came to him with a baby, both claiming to be the child’s mother. His famous words in 1st King 3 to “Cut the baby in half! That way each of you can have part of him“, revealed the true mother, as a mother puts the needs of her child first, while the false mother was ready to kill the innocent baby. “Please don’t kill my son,” the baby’s mother screamed. “Your Majesty, I love him very much, but give him to her. Just don’t kill him.” The other woman shouted, “Go ahead and cut him in half. Then neither of us will have the baby.” Solomon said, “Don’t kill the baby.” Then he pointed to the first woman, “She is his real mother. Give the baby to her.”
His people were astounded at his sage wisdom and astute ability to judge. But following in his father’s lascivious footsteps, Solomon craved women and had one thousand wives, including women from other nations who followed false gods. As scripture explains:
“As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been. He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites. So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely, as David his father had done.” (1 Kings 11:4-6).
Despite being the wisest man in the history of mankind, Solomon gave in to his passion and in the process destroyed Israel. As punishment for turning away from God, “the Lord said to Solomon: Since this is what you want and you have not kept my covenant and my statues which I enjoined on you, I will deprive you of the kingdom and give it to your servant. I will not do this during your lifetime, however, for the sake of your father David; it is your son whom I will deprive.“ 1st Kings 11. Indeed, upon Solomon’s death, his son Rehoboam became king and foolishly mistreated the Israelites, causing them to rebel, splitting Israel in half, never to reunite.
Recognizing the frailty and humanity of two powerful, holy men dearly beloved by the Lord has helped me to be more understanding and compassionate of the sins of others. Having a family history of addiction, I have little patience with those who simply cannot break free from the quagmire of their enslavement to drugs or alcohol. After all, St. Paul has strong words of warning for those who indulge in the flesh “immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like”, that those “will not inherit the kingdom of God” Gal. 5. In Romans 8 St. Paul warns again that “if you live according to the flesh you will die“.
We are told in Romans 12 to “not look for revenge, but to leave room for the wrath of God” and in Matthew 18:6 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” Whoa! Those are some really harsh warnings! But where does the ‘wrath of God” leave off, and the compassionate heart of Christ take over? Ahhhh! The mystery of the universe! I would certainly hesitate to allow God’s lenience with David and Solomon’s disobedience cause my attitude about sin in my own life to become relaxed or casual, and instead would ponder St. Paul’s words in Phil 2:12 to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling”.
But we should take to heart the shortcomings of the wisest man in history, King Solomon, and of the most heroic and beloved “man after God’s own heart”, King David. Before we condemn those who are not living sacramental lives, whether they are in a homosexual or promiscuous lifestyle, or struggling with an addiction, we should pray for patience and empathy. Instead of judging and condemning, reach out with kindness and sympathy, bringing the light of Christ into their darkness. Ask for insight into their pain, and ask God for wisdom to help the eyes of their heart to open and reveal the dead and barren areas, so they too can sing the “miserere”, King David’s song of repentance and lament. We don’t condone sin, and sometimes we must distance ourselves from those with addictions in order to protect ourselves or our children, but we can certainly continue to pray for their deliverance, and for God to heal our wounded hearts, asking for the grace of forgiveness.
Cultural Apologetics for the New Evangelization
The onliest life of solo
We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord. Psalm 78:4
The only life worth living is a life worth dying for.
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The former things have passed away... Behold, I make all things new (Rev. 21:4-5)
Extraordinary lessons in ordinary moments
All will be well and all will be well
The Rt. Rev. Dr. Mark S. Camp, Th.D., retired - Convert to the Catholic Church
Looking at the Contemplatives and Mystics
Mary's Garden Gifts and Books Store is a Catholic store located in the Sandy Springs/ Norcross area in Georgia. We have a wide selection of gifts for all the sacraments and for any occasion. Come by or give us a call! Through our blog, we bring you thoughts about prayer, faith, scripture, church doctrine and anything else related to the Catholic faith.