Christ Our Life

Catechizing Your Children

Christ Our LifeThis summer I’ve been catechizing my 6th, 8th, and 9th grade children by using the Christ Our Life series by Loyola Press.  This series is my favorite for catechesis.  Knowing it inside and out from using it so much as a full-time 6th-8th grade catechist from 2002-2012, I no longer need the books.  I simply use the links provided below, which I believe are sufficient for most, to be honest.  There are study guides and games to help teach your children the faith, without all the silly stories about “Johnny and Susie” that bore kids by pointing out the obvious.

Christ Our Life – 6th Grade

The 6th grade curriculum starts with creation and ends with John the Baptist.  This means it covers the entire Old Testament.  It begins with the Pentateuch and the stories of the patriarchs.  Next, it covers the period of judges and kings.  Then it moves on to stories and teachings of the prophets.  Finally, it comes to a close with the last and greatest prophet, John the Baptist, the one who ushers in the coming of the Messiah.  Interwoven throughout are teachings on the Ten Commandments, morals and principles of decision-making, and more.  I love the opportunity to introduce kids to Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, pointing out situations that prefigure the coming of Jesus.

Focused Thought

On the need to avoid distractions in order to be your best self

Focused ThoughtOne thing I find myself constantly fighting is distraction.  Lest the reader think I mean the normal distractions of daily life as a spouse and parent, let me explain.  When I say distraction, I mean the interior variety.  What I really need is focused thought.  I imagine you can relate in one way or another.

In order to be healthy, we need to take care of the spiritual, physical, mental, vocational, and recreational aspects of who we are.  In my case, this summer of dreams is about revitalizing all of them.  To that end, this summer has been incredibly productive and edifying.  It comes with an unexpected cost, however.  A renewed commitment to prayer, exercise, learning, producing content and building a platform, and balancing it all with appropriate rest and relaxation leaves me constantly… invigorated.  Invigorated?  Doesn’t sound like a problem, right?  It’s a good problem to have, for sure, but it is a challenge!  You see, I feel so good that my level of creativity is at an all-time high… and I don’t have time to accomplish everything that comes to mind.  More than ever, I need focused thought, or nothing at all gets done.  That part should sound familiar to just about everyone.

Focused thought is possible even amidst distraction of the interior kind.  I offer the following suggestions…

Forget Courtship…

...They don't even know how to date anymore!

CourtshipI’m old-fashioned.  I like the idea of courtship, even with a modern twist or two, but something happened recently that made me think, “Forget courtship.  Young people don’t even know how to date anymore!”

So what was it?

A teenage girl I know very well received a text from a boy the same age.  It was the first time the boy ever contacted her.  He asked her to be his girlfriend.  Let’s break that down a bit…

  • It was the first contact.
  • He asked her to be his girlfriend.
  • He did it via text.  Let me repeat that one.  He did it via text.

Lest you think I am too hard on the boy, I assure you I’m not.  He gets a pass for two reasons.  First, he’s a young man and likely prone to boneheaded decisions.  Second, his actions are a function of the culture around him and how they do things today.  That said, it caused me to reflect on how I can prepare my children appropriately.

Petitioning God

What My Nightly Petitions Look Like

Petitioning God in MarriageToday is my 16th wedding anniversary.  As such, I find myself reflecting with gratitude on the blessings God has bestowed on me.  They are too many to count, but I think the ones that matter most are found in how I am petitioning God on a daily basis.  It occurred to me that these petitions might be useful to others, either as a reminder to consider your own blessings or as a framework upon which to construct/re-construct your own petitions.  Without further ado, what follows is how I end prayer each night with the family… for all to hear.

I ask God to bless our family with the grace to get to Heaven and to bless our Church with truth and reverence.  I also ask that He would call at least one of our children to the priesthood and/or religious life.  I ask that He would bless any future spouses of our children, that He would bless our families, our friends, and their families.  Amen. 

Allow me to break it down for you…

3 Steps Toward Becoming a Friendlier Person

The Fleshing Out Carnegie Series - Part 1

Dale Carnegie - FriendlierIn this post, I offer you 3 steps toward becoming a friendlier person.  It is just part 1 of my “Fleshing Out Carnegie Series,” which is based on the major themes of Dale Carnegie’s writings as delineated in Dale Carnegie’s Golden Book.  To learn more about Dale Carnegie, who was perhaps only distantly related to steel mogul Andrew Carnegie, you can read his bio here.  Though there is no mention of his faith in the bio, he was a devout Christian and often referred to Jesus in his writings.

What This Series Is

This series contains my own personal reflections on how Carnegie’s major themes might be useful today.  In particular, I offer a Catholic spin on them whenever and wherever it seems appropriate.

And the title… Fleshing Out Carnegie?  It’s a play on words.  Carn = Latin for flesh.  Sorry, I’m a geek for that kind of stuff.

What This Series Is Not

This series is not a summary or analysis of Carnegie’s own understanding of each of his major themes.  Interested in learning more about those?  Simply go to the first link above and read his books.  By all accounts, they are classics and very worthwhile.

As promised, what follows are three steps toward becoming a friendlier person.

Why Tolerance?

There's Something So Much Better

Tolerance or Love?In layman’s terms, tolerance is putting up with something undesirable.  Now consider that tolerance might conceivably be current society’s most highly-esteemed value.  Think about that.  People of sound reason should ask, “Why tolerance?”

The meaning of tolerance today is not what it always was.  Today, it has more of a connotation of appreciation and embrace.  What does it appreciate?  Anything.  What does it embrace?  Everything.  People of faith know that’s not entirely accurate, though.  Those who most strongly espouse the modern notion of tolerance are prone to be quite intolerant of those who hold to the original meaning of the term.

Take their attitude toward Christians, for instance.  Christians work hard to eradicate social evils such as abortion, euthanasia, and so-called gay marriage, while simultaneously admitting that as long as this fallen world exists, evil of every kind will continue.  When certain evils are out of one’s personal control, a Christian tolerates them, but never accepts or embraces them.  They neither could nor should.  This position, held by the vast majority of people who ever lived, is found intolerable by so many today.  Modern “tolerators” even go so far as to call people like the Christians described above as ignorant, backward bigots.  Ironic.  Christians may be intolerant of actions, but those who espouse modern tolerance are actually intolerant of  and attack persons.

So what can you and I do in the face of what can only be described as something sinister?  I have a suggestion.

4 Sources For Making A Change in Your Life

And It Ultimately Comes Down To You

Time For ChangeAs creatures in time, change is no stranger to us.  Time, after all, is a measurement of change.  Yet for all that, change can be one of the most railed against and dreaded things in our lives.  The reasons are complex, but one of them is surely because some changes are huge… life-altering even.  In this post, a result of my own prayers and introspection today, I offer four sources that seem, to me anyway, necessary for making lasting change in one’s life.

God

This one seems obvious, but many overlook God today.  God is the One Who constantly holds existence in the proverbial palm of His hand.  He sustains creation from moment to moment and providentially provides for all our needs.  He is the primary source and inspiration for any changes we could ever hope to make.

In order to make a change that lasts, we must begin with gratitude.  Gratitude, in turn, leads to a desire to please God with a sacrificial offering of one’s life.  We can even get specific here, and offer a particular aspect of life that needs change.  God will see our changes through to the end, provided we turn to Him regularly in prayer.  Finally, we come to Him full circle with grateful hearts for the change He works in us.

3 Keys to a (Mostly) Happy Marriage

Prayer, Sacrifice, and Dropping Your Drawers

Wedding Picture in IrelandJust as no person is perfect, no marriage is perfect either.  That doesn’t mean that a marriage can’t be a happy one, at least most of the time!

Here are three keys that I’ve found helpful in my own marriage, in hopes that they might bring some happiness to yours.

Pray Together – Stay Together

We don’t necessarily have a hand-holding, off-the-cuff daily routine of praying together.  We have prayed that way before, though, and it’s commendable.  Rather, my wife and I say our mealtime prayers together, our nightly prayers together, and we go to Mass together every Sunday.  From time to time, we’ve had a habit of praying an Our Father together in the mornings before work, offering it for a daily intention that each of us has.  Likewise, we invite each other to go to Confession when our hectic Saturday schedules allow us to go together.  On special occasions, we go to devotional prayer services offered at local parishes, praise and worship gatherings, and concerts of our favorite Christian artists and bands.  All of this speaks of a life immersed in prayer, and we are not alone.

I am blessed to know many couples who share similar habits.  While none of our relationships are without challenges, I firmly believe that prayerful communion with God is the ultimate tie that binds a married couple.

3 Simple Steps to Meaningful Prayer With Your Kids

... and they might be useful for you too!

child prayingPerhaps you’re a new mother.

Maybe you’ve already got kids who are several years old or older.

Chances are you’ve wondered, “What’s the best way to teach children to pray?”

Let’s face it, we all have our own struggles with prayer.  Some of us are fortunate enough to have discovered the best way or ways for ourselves to commune with God.  The rest of us are still searching.  There’s just so much to choose from with regard to prayer forms, it can leave us wondering where to begin, both for ourselves and for our kids.

In this post, I’m going to share what works for our family of seven, why I believe it’s a good and sustainable practice in general, and therefore, why it can be worth your while too.