Monday, December 30, 2013

Blind Faith, My Spiritual Journey

By M. J. Joachim

In many ways, I have struggled with my faith in the passing days of 2013. It has been a positive journey by all accounts, one that has left me open to the power of God’s love through life, death and prayer. For this reason, you will see this blog transform, opening up and (hopefully) blossoming, with engaging insights into the power of God’s love, unconfined by constraints and boundaries, which serve only to raise people in the sight of God, diminishing the glory that should be reserved for God alone.

Life is a gift to this world – a gift God Himself gives to all of us. Each person is to be cherished and loved, respected, accepted and valued, made in His image, embraced by His miracles and held up in His honor. Every animal, plant, intangible that He shares with us – a gentle reminder that we are not forsaken, to be lovingly respected, seen in simplicity, complexity and all its grandeur. The boundaries of man cannot and will not lessen any worth the gifts God gave to all.

I am Catholic, a faith I will not deny. I am also a spiritual being who has witnessed the miracle of the season this past Christmas. God is truly in the hearts of all who seek Him, many who no longer or never have identified with the Catholic Church. God is bigger than that – He is more embracing than church walls, more encompassing than restrictions intended to tell us how to live.

God is love. (I devoured this little book when I was a child, fully captured by its simple message, a message permanently engraved in the depths of my heart to this day.) I searched. It must be out of print. It was a simple, small yellow, picture book, a book with few words and a message to be received with open arms and heart.

This blog will continue to explore my Catholic faith. I fully intend to continue research on Church History, Biographies of Catholic Popes and Bible Study posts. However, I also plan to implement spiritual blog hops, inviting you to post and share your own spiritual journey with participants, encouraging others to understand and embrace the infinite love of God as you see it. For if God is truly in each one of us, how can we not invite His gifts of love to this world, to share their love of Him with others? I am open to the community and bonds this will create between us. I am eager to learn and grow in faith through you, as fellow Christians seeking to rest in God for all eternity.

The words stop flowing now. Happy New Year, kind followers. I’ll see you in 2014.

M. J.

©2013 All Rights Reserved

Photo credit: Gluillo Clovio (1498 – 1578), Louvre Museum, The Three Theological Virtues (faith, hope and charity), PD-US

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas 2013 Reflection

By M. J. Joachim




As Christmas rapidly approaches, I need to reflect on the year that will quickly soon pass. It’s been a tough year for me, filled with so many uncertainties. My brother’s illness last March was nearly fatal. By the grace of God he survived, though his life and habits will be forever changed. My sister too, last May, faced health’s wrath and continues to be very sickly even today. Then my mother passed in June – I think about her everyday.

My own health had its ups and downs – kidney stones, stress and the realization that I am indeed gluten intolerant. Uncertainty, change and a gut wrenching desire to cling to hope and stay positive in a world that could easily turn upside down on a moment’s notice.

Yet nothing could be more certain than my trust in God and the utmost knowledge that He loves me more than anything. How do I know this, you might ask. It is a quiet inner peace, deep within my soul. We are so much more than flesh and bones. How else could we laugh when we want to cry, discover beauty when life appears to look so ugly, conquer fear when it could kill us and look to the heavens in search of more?

I’ve kept myself busy – sometimes with thoughtful writing, other times with mindless busy work. Busy work has a solid purpose in life. It is a distraction that helps us refocus our energy when we aren’t sure how. It is productive, allowing us to feel good about our accomplishments. It is time away, until we are able to sort out the tug of wars taking place in our hearts.

Time is of the essence. The essence takes time to understand. We are of God – made in His image, an image incarnate – The Word made flesh, born in a manger, determined to save us all…

If only we will let Him.

Merry Christmas, dear people! May God bless you richly in 2014!

M. J.

©2013 All Rights Reserved

Photo credit: Lokilech, Saardom Dillingen Krippe, GNU Free Documentation License


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Advent Poetry Companion + Bible Study: Genesis 3 Answers

By M. J. Joachim

I found this really neat Advent Poetry Companion online today, and wanted to share it with you. It’s an excellent way to take some time and slow the pace of the holiday rush, as we prepare for the coming of our Lord. 

The Advent PoetryCompanion

Also, here are the answers to Genesis 3 Bible Study.

Just the Facts


What was the craftiest creature God ever made? Answer: the serpent


Did the serpent lie when it said, “By no means will you die a death.” Answer: No, but it was deceptive.


How did Adam feel when God called him in Paradise? Answer: ashamed and guilty


What punishment did God give to Adam, woman and the serpent, for their roles in eating from the tree in the middle of Paradise? Answer: Man will labor and work hard for his survival all his life. There will be enmity between man, woman and all mankind. Woman will also work hard and childbearing will be laborious and painful.


Why did Adam call his wife Eve? Answer: because she is the mother of all living things.

True/False


Adam and his wife realized they were naked after they ate from the forbidden tree. Answer: True


Man became cursed among all living things. Answer: False, the serpent did.


Woman will crush the serpent’s head, while it lies in wait for her heel. Answer: True


God clothed Adam and Eve, even though they disobeyed Him. Answer: True


Cherubim guarded the tree of life, after man was cast out from the garden. Answer: True


Thank you for visiting Being Catholic. I wish you all a blessed and very happy Advent and Christmas season!

M. J.

©2013 All Rights Reserved 

Photo credit: Advent wreath, SolLuna, Creative Commons Attribution

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Bible Study: Genesis 3

by M. J. Joachim

Reflection


Snakes, slithering sneakily, hissing and gliding…this is the image spawned by the opening verses in Genesis 3. Subtle word plays, something people do all the time – to manipulate, influence and control others. A certain craftiness is involved, an ability to tempt without warning.


Clarification soon follows. “You mean?” or “No, the reality is this.” To no avail, because clever conversation has the ability to entice and diminish fear in its response.


Humanity, the true business of being human and the human experience begins to play out in Genesis 3. Blame, awareness, shame and fault are all woven through the details, along with some amazing symbolic references.


The tree of good and evil is in the middle of the garden. God is at the center of our lives. When everything remains balanced, there is nothing to fear or worry about. But when God is misplaced, put aside or forgotten, anything can happen.


Oh, it might well appear to be good things that happen. The fruit of the tree was delicious, which is probably one of the reasons Adam ate some too. Look what happened when he did though. Suddenly, it was important to cover one’s own nakedness. Temptation is like that. It looks wonderful, lures us in smoothly and snatches away our innocence in a flash.


Once trapped in the throes of temptation, and the acts that follow it, undoing our ill deeds is next to impossible. Ask anyone who’s racked up mounds of credit card debt, broken their marriage vows or become so heavy that they simply can’t function anymore. These are extreme examples. Genesis 3 shows us how a little temptation, regardless of how minor and harmless it seems, can be the ultimate path to personal ruin, destruction and death.

Holy Bible

{3:1} However, the serpent was more crafty than any of the creatures of the earth that the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Why has God instructed you, that you should not eat from every tree of Paradise?”

{3:2} The woman responded to him: “From the fruit of the trees which are in Paradise, we eat. {3:3} Yet truly, from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of Paradise, God has instructed us that we should not eat, and that we should not touch it, lest perhaps we may die.”

{3:4} Then the serpent said to the woman: “By no means will you die a death. {3:5} For God knows that, on whatever day you will eat from it, your eyes will be opened; and you will be like gods, knowing good and evil.”

{3:6} And so the woman saw that the tree was good to eat, and beautiful to the eyes, and delightful to consider. And she took from its fruit, and she ate. And she gave to her husband, who ate. {3:7} And the eyes of them both were opened. And when they realized themselves to be naked, they joined together fig leaves and made coverings for themselves.

{3:8} And when they had heard the voice of the Lord God taking a walk in Paradise in the afternoon breeze, Adam and his wife hid themselves from the face of the Lord God in the midst of the trees of Paradise. {3:9} And the Lord God called Adam and said to him: “Where are you?” {3:10} And he said, “I heard your voice in Paradise, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and so I hid myself.”

{3:11} He said to him, “Then who told you that you were naked, if you have not eaten of the tree from which I instructed you that you should not eat?” {3:12} And Adam said, “The woman, whom you gave to me as a companion, gave to me from the tree, and I ate.” {3:13} And the Lord God said to the woman, “Why have you done this?” And she responded, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

{3:14} And the Lord God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, you are cursed among all living things, even the wild beasts of the earth. Upon your breast shall you travel, and the ground shall you eat, all the days of your life. {3:15} I will put enmities between you and the woman, between your offspring and her offspring. She will crush your head, and you will lie in wait for her heel.”

{3:16} To the woman, he also said: “I will multiply your labors and your conceptions. In pain shall you give birth to sons, and you shall be under your husband’s power, and he shall have dominion over you.” 

{3:17} Yet truly, to Adam, he said: “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree, from which I instructed you that you should not eat, cursed is the land that you work. In hardship shall you eat from it, all the days of your life. {3:18} Thorns and thistles shall it produce for you, and you shall eat the plants of the earth. {3:19} By the sweat of your face shall you eat bread, until you return to the earth from which you were taken. For dust you are, and unto dust you shall return.”

{3:20} And Adam called the name of his wife, ‘Eve,’ because she was the mother of all the living. {3:21} The Lord God also made for Adam and his wife garments from skins, and he clothed them. {3:22} And he said: “Behold, Adam has become like one of us, knowing good and evil. Therefore, now perhaps he may put forth his hand and also take from the tree of life, and eat, and live in eternity.”

{3:23} And so the Lord God sent him away from the Paradise of enjoyment, in order to work the earth from which he was taken. {3:24} And he cast out Adam. And in front of the Paradise of enjoyment, he placed the Cherubim with a flaming sword, turning together, to guard the way to the tree of life.

Just the Facts


What was the craftiest creature God ever made?


Did the serpent lie when it said, “By no means will you die a death.”


How did Adam feel when God called him in Paradise?


What punishment did God give to Adam, woman and the serpent, for their roles in eating from the tree in the middle of Paradise?


Why did Adam call his wife Eve?

True/False


Adam and his wife realized they were naked after they ate from the forbidden tree.


Man became cursed among all living things.


Woman will crush the serpent’s head, while it lies in wait for her heel.


God clothed Adam and Eve, even though they disobeyed Him.


Cherubim guarded the tree of life, after man was cast out from the garden.


Soul Searching

Life is full of temptations these days – so much so that we often don’t realize we’re engaging in them. Take time to notice those little times in your life, times when you automatically do things that are less than thrilling for those around you. Keep a small notepad with you, and tally those times, or write them down if you must. However, this is not meant to be an exercise in being our own worst critic and beating ourselves up. Rather, this is an opportunity to exercise self-awareness and personal inspiration.


It is said that recognition of something is the first step. It can be a step toward change, or a step of understanding and getting to know oneself better. In time, you will be able to transform your negative tallies into positive acts, simply because you have tuned into your automatic responses, to the world around you.


Active Response


God was merciful with Adam and Eve. Even though they had completely disobeyed him, to the point of being cast from the Garden of Eden, God was merciful. He still loved them and showed it to them in various ways.


The next time you’re mad at someone, take the time to be extra merciful with that person. Consequences for actions can still come into play. It’s how you will establish those consequences that matter. Step back and take the time to be very constructive with your choices here. It’s okay to be angry, but your goal is to avoid letting your anger rule your response.


Thank you so much for visiting Being Catholic today. I wish you every blessing throughout the week.

M. J. 

©2013 All Rights Reserved

Photo credits: Wikipedia, Public Domain - Jan Brueghel the Elder (1568 – 1625), Das Paradies; Titian (1490 – 1576), Sündenfall
Links to this post are greatly appreciated, but please don’t copy the content here. 


Answers to questions will be posted in my next post.


Biblical text credit: Holy Bible – Catholic Public Domain Version