Monthly Archives: June 2013

One thing I wanted to mention

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My @Home Work

St. James “struck” again.  Last Thursday, my DSL modem gave up the ghost after 4 years of faithful service.  While I waited for my new modem to arrive, I realized that I spend way too much time on Facebook; so I will not be doing that anymore.  I’m taking my online time to what it takes me to post the bible study on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and what it takes me to read my important emails.  No internet usage on Saturday now, too as well as on Sunday like it has been for years.  I will still be working on Tuesdays and Thursdays so I will be online a little more.  Thinking back over the last 7 days, St. James has done me a really big favor.  Thank you, sir.

Memory Verse

James 1: 22  “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”

Sometimes God, through His word, commands us to act in some area of our lives and we do not.  When that happens, says James, we are like someone who “observes himself (in a mirror) and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. (James 1: 24)  Oftentimes, Christians will lament that “God isn’t speaking to me anymore” only to discover that the real problem is we did not act on the last thing God told us to do, so He is waiting to speak until we obey the last thing He told us to do.  What is the last practical thing the Holy Spirit told you to do?

I would have answered this quite differently last Thursday.  Now, I know that the Holy Spirit is directing me to get off the computer and be available for all kinds of other things.  We will be going to exercise more at the YMCA.  I need to take better care of my health and get more exercise.  Charlie and I will be joining the Senior center together to befriend other seniors who might not have others in their lives and we will be going to TOPS (taking off pounds sensibly) together, too.  I will begin my prayer shawl ministry soon.  Yes, these are practical things that the Holy Spirit has laid on my heart during these last 7 days and I am completely certain of it!

Next time:  Points to Ponder

@Home work:  Please read the CCC:  Nos. 2259, 2011, 143, 2208.

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Valuable Pastoral Wisdom from St. James

Memory Verse

James 1:22  “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”

Introduction

St. James begins to offer some valuable pastoral wisdom right after we have focused on dealing with trials and tribulations.

“Know this, my beloved brethren.  Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God.” (James 1: 19-20)  When I think about it, the pressures and stress of trials usually make me very slow to listen and faster to speak.  There used to be a psychologist friend of mine who said that anger is always the end emotion of something much deeper going on in our mind.  Sometimes it can just be a fear of losing someone or as explained by St. James, it can be the result of a trial we are going through.  These can be financial, health-related, relationship-related, work-related, family- related—the list of stressors can be unlimited in this earthly existence.

During times of trial (tension), we tend not to listen well because we are formulating in our head what we want to say while our conversation partner is trying to be heard.  Many communication problems can be traced to tension which can lead to anger, also.  St. James teaches us that as a Christian, we should be meek with a disposition that is receptive to learning as opposed to anger.  Anger  can carry with it an attitude that is demanding.

In addition, James tells us to do two things:

  1.  Put away filth and evil from your life and
  2. Welcome the word that has been planted in you.

He further warns us (just like a good pastor, does) that we must not fall into the deadly pattern of deception which is hearing the word of God but not doing it.  When we hear the word but don’t do it, we are deceiving ourselves and treating the Word as if it were powerless.  “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”  (Hebrew 4: 12)

St. James

St. James

 

Next time:  Points to Ponder

 

 

 

 

@Home Work: 

  1. When it comes to anger, in what areas are you typically vulnerable?
  2. When talking to an acquaintance, can you tell if he/she is really listening to you?  How do you feel when you know he/she is not?
  3. Is there an area of your life that you find yourself repeatedly saying, “I really need to do something about that?”  What do you think is keeping you from doing it?
  4. How does society foster the idea that anger will achieve the desired goal in one’s life?
  5. Why are we particularly susceptible to anger when faced with trials?

 

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Putting the Word into Practice: James 1: 19-27

Memory Verse

James 1: 22  “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”

Notes on Content

1: 19-25:  Two kinds of hearing are distinguished.  In conversation, listening is more important than speaking.  In responding to the Gospel, obeying is more important than merely listening.

1:20  the anger of men:  When one reads the Wisdom literature it is apparent that anger is vented by the foolish.  Meekness is the virtue of gentleness and the inner strength to restrain anger.

1:21 implanted word:  The Gospel is likened to a seed planted in the soul that sprouts for the salvation of our soul.  This may be an allusion to the parable of the Sower and the Seed in Matthew 13: 1-9; 23.

1:23 a mirror:  If one hears the word only, she is like someone who glances at her reflection in the mirror and soon forgets what she has seen.  On the other hand, one who hears and obeys the Gospel is one who gazes into the law of Jesus and sees there the path to blessing and the life she desires to live.

1:26 bridle his tongue:  This is a warning that will be treated in detail in 3: 1-12.

1:27 Religion:  The Greek term is thresheia which generally denotes religious acts of worship.  For James, proper service to God is not reduced to a set of beliefs or liturgical rites.  It also includes prudent speech as well as practical service to others: visit orphans and widows.

CCC 2208:  “The family should live in such a way that its members learn to care and take responsibility for the young, the old, the sick, the handicapped, and the poor.  There are many families who are at times incapable of providing this help.  It devolves then on other persons, other families, and in a subsidiary way, society to provide for their needs: ‘Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world.'”

Sermon on the Mount References

1.  Hearing and Doing  Matthew 7:24-27

2.  Anger and Wrath  Matthew 5: 22

3.  The Perfect Law of Freedom  Matthew 5: 17-19

4.  Religious deception  Matthew 7: 21-23

St. James

St. James

Next time:  Pastoral Wisdom from St. James

@Home Work:  Have you ever:

  • been so angry that you said something you instantly wanted to take back?
  • struck by a point in a homily only to go home and forget it?
  • found yourself laughing at an inappropriate joke and afterward feeling badly inside?

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Answers From My Heart

Memory Verse

James 1: 2-4  “Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Let’s Talk About It

1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful and He will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”  What does this text say about God’s knowledge of you?

God must know me pretty well.  I always feel that even during my “Job” or “Jeremiah” moments that He has His arms wrapped around me and that as long as I cling to Him, things will be all right.  He knows my strengths and weaknesses way beyond my resume and I have come through some things that looking back seemed insurmountable challenges.  Now, I just KNOW that there is nothing that Jesus has not given me the strength to overcome–no trial or temptation is too big.

James describes sin as having a sort of gestation and maturation period.  He writes, “each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.  Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown brings forth death.”  everybody has “nursed” sin at some point in their lives.  How do we cut off that process of gestation, birth and maturity for sin in our lives?

The easy answer to this is to avoid the occasions of sin whatever they are.  Focus on the positive aspects of being a Catholic–the Mass, the Eucharist and especially the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Keeps the venial from becoming the mortal.

James tell us if we lack wisdom, “ask God, who gives to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given him.”  What resources has God freely handed us by which we can gain wisdom?  How might we make those resources a part of our lives?  What obstacles stand in the way of gaining that wisdom?  How might they be overcome?

(See the last answer.)  Also, He has given us His Word to read and study to get to know Him.  Time is one of my biggest obstacles.  Someone asked a question last week on FB.  Do we spend more time on the computer than with God?  If we do then our priorities are really messed up.  That is one of the reasons I have been trying to limit my social media time to an hour each day. 

James tells us, “Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”  However, our lives are in continual states of change.  How do we take the “heavenly perspective” and see our constantly changing lives through the eyes of Him Who does not change?

It seems that my perspective has become more “heavenly” the older that I have gotten.  I judge everything now by will it get me to heaven or not.  This can drive some people crazy; especially those in my life who do not have the same outlook.  This question, though, can make decisions very easy to make.

When Israel conquered Canaan under the leadership of Joshua, Canaanites still remained in the land.  God said in Judges 2: 21-23 that He did not drive out all the Canaanites but left some in the land that He might test Israel, whether they would walk in the ways of the Lord.  With this in mind, and in light of your current trials, what might God be trying to do in your life in terms of walking in His ways?

I think I am tested a lot because of my Catholicism.  I work with all Protestants and find myself (not defending) but explaining things to people in a way that I hope will be “salt and light” to them.  Also, many of my children have fallen away from the Church that they were baptized in and while some of them continue to go to a church, it is not the same.  This and my granddaughter wanting to get involved with occult practices like crystal reading are my two main trials right now.  I am trying to live an authentic Catholic life as an example; however it is hard to do that when they live so far away from us.   I’m not sure what God is trying to do in my life over this; but I’m determined to walk in His ways to holiness.

So, now, what about you?  Do you have any comments?  I’d love to hear from you.

St. James

St. James

Next Time:  James–Study Two

@HomeWork:  During our study of James 1: 1-8 what did you learn that you have to “sweep” out of your life” (Spring Cleaning)  What do you think you should add? (New Additions)

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Let’s Talk About James 1: 1-8 & other stuff

Today I am going to put out a few questions based upon what we have been studying so far in the hope that you will consider them.  I would love it if you would write some comments about some of the questions.  I will answer one or two on Friday and then we will be ready to start Study 2 (James 1: 19-27) on Monday.  Notice that we are not studying these verses in the order written.

Memory Verse

James 1: 2-4  “Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Let’s Talk About It

1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful and He will not let you be twmpted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”  What does this text say about God’s knowledge of you?

James describes sin as having a sort of gestation and maturation period.  He writes, “each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.  Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown brings forth death.”  everybody has “nursed” sin at some point in their lives.  How do we cut off that process of gestation, birth and maturity for sin in our lives?

James tell us if we lack wisdom, “ask God, who gives to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given him.”  What resources has God freely handed us by which we can gain wisdom?  How might we make those resources a part of our lives?  What obstacles stand in the way of gaining that wisdom?  How might they be overcome?

James tells us, “Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom thee is no variation or shadow due to change.”  However, our lives are in continual states of change.  How do we take the “heavenly perspective” and see our constantly changing lives through the eyes of Him Who does not change?

When Israel conquered Canaan under the leadership of Joshua, Canaanites still remained in the land.  God said in Judges 2: 21-23 that He did not drive out all the Canaanites but left some in the land that He might test Israel, whether they would walk in the ways of the Lord.  With this in mind, and in light of your current trials, what might God be trying to do in your life in terms of walking in His ways?

St. James

St. James

Next Time:  Spring Cleaning and New Additions.

@HomeWork:  Please try to answer at least one of the questions for yourself.  & share if you are so moved!

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Failing to “Count It All Joy”

On Wednesday of last week, we faced a “trial” in our house and I failed St. James miserably.  When we were gone from the house for an hour, the tank on the toilet overflowed and we came home to two inches of water on the bathroom floor that had also seeped under the door of our bedroom soaking about a 7 square foot area of our wall to wall carpeting.  We had to rent a wet-vac and an industrial fan to clean and dry up the mess.

I couldn’t bring myself to “count it all joy.”  In fact, I’m sure that some choice words left my mouth. (Pardon my French, as my daughter would say.)  And, even while I was posting Points to Ponder, I didn’t see the irony of my feelings of upset and disgust and what I was writing.  When I went to work the next day, my friends told me that studying the Epistle of James was a surefire way to bring “trial and temptation” into my life.  Sort of like, asking God for patience and He sends opportunities to practice it.  Well, I failed the first test; but now I’m on the lookout as we continue.  Have any of you any similar stories in the past week or two to share?

Memory Verse

James 1: 2-4  “Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Rome to Home

“The Gospel of suffering is being written unceasingly, and it speaks unceasingly with the words of this strange paradox:  the springs of divine power gust forth precisely in the midst of human weakness.  Those who share in the suffering of Christ preserve in their own sufferings a very special particle of the infinite treasure of the world’s Redemption, and can share this treasure with others.  ” (Salvifici doloris, 27). Pope John Paul II

Catechism Connection

CCC 2846-2849  “And Lead Us Not Into Temptation”  The Holy Spirit makes us discern between trials which are necessary for the growth of the inner man, and temptation, which leads to sin and death.   The Holy Spirit constantly awakens us to keep watch.  (read some more of this on your own.  These are my two favorite nuggets.

CCC 45  Man is made to live in communion with God in whom he finds happiness.  “When I am completely united to you, there will be no more sorrow or trials; entirely full of you, my life will be complete.”  (St. Augustine, Conf. 10,28,39 PL 32, 795)

CCC 769  The Church and through her the world, will not be perfected in glory without great trials.  (read all of this on your own.)

CCC 1742  Freedom and grace  “.  . . the more docile we are to the promptings of grace, the more we grow in inner freedom and confidence during trials. . .”

Family Devotions

The best prayer of all when facing trials and temptations is the Rosary.  No matter where we are in life, we can find ourselves in the Holy Mysteries of the Rosary as they follow the life of Christ and His Blessed Mother.  During trials, walk with Jesus and draw on the strength of your Mother interceding for you.  What ever we are going through, remember, the Rosary “beats the rhythm of human life.”

St. James

St. James

 

Next time:  Let’s talk about it.

@Home Work:  The word dokimion is used in 1:3 for the process of “testing.”  This same word is used for sterling coins that are “genuine” or “without alloy.”  The aim of a trial is to purge us of all impurities so that we become Christlike.  Looking at Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26: 36-46), and using Him as our example, what can we learn from Jesus about our wills in the midst of a trial?

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