Thursday, November 10, 2011

Devotion for today: gluttony: I want more...

 We are getting close to the end of our examination of the seven deadly sins, but first we must take a look at gluttony: never being satisfied (or complete)

Scripture for meditation: Romans 13: 11-12, 14
Besides, you know the time has come: you must wake up now: our salvation is even nearer than it was when we were converted. The night is almost over, it will be daylight soon...Let your armor be the Lord Jesus Christ; forget about satisfying your bodies with all their cravings.

Christ tells us: Luke 16:19-26
"There was a rich man who used to dress in purple and fine linen and feast magnificently every day. And at his gate there lay a poor man called Lazarus covered with sores, who longed to fill himself with the scraps that fell from the rich man's table. Dogs even came and licked his sores. Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In his torment in Hades he looked up and saw Abraham a long way off with Lazarus in his bosom. So he cried out, "Father Abraham, pity me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in agony in these flames.' 'My son,' Abraham replied, 'remember that during your life good things came your way, just as bad things came the way of Lazarus. Now he is being comforted here while you are in agony.'"

St. Thomas More instructs us, in The Last Four Things:
Now we need to consider how this part of our medicine, that is, the remembrance of death, can be applied to the treatment and cure of gluttony....Since it is a fact that this old scourge of gluttony... joined with pride... was the vice and sin by which our first parents, in eating the forbidden fruit, fell from the felicity of paradise and from their immortality into death and into the misery of this wretched world, we well ought to hate and abhor it even if no further harm came of it every day...To the soul, no one doubts how deadly it is. For since the body is always rebelling against the spirit, what can be more venomous and fatal to the soul than potbelllied gluttony, which so pampers the body that the soul can have no rule of it...And yet gluttony is not as pernicious and poisonous to the soul for the harm it itself does, as it is for the harm and destruction done by the other vices that commonly come with it. For no one doubts that sloth and lust are true daughters of gluttony. It must, then, be a deadly enemy to the soul, since it brings forth two such daughters, either of which can kill the soul eternally.

Prayer: Calm and Divine
Abide in me: o'ershadow by Thy love,
each half-formed purpose and dark thought of sin;
Quench, ere it rise, each selfish, low desire,
And keep my soul as Thine, calm and divine.
Harriet Beecher Stowe, The Book of Uncommon Prayer

My thoughts:  I can only tell you that reading St. Thomas More's full description of the sin of gluttony will make you never, ever over-eat again. I have tried to condense it here, but he makes it perfectly clear that this is a deadly sin, obviously to the body, but even more so to the soul. If we cannot tame our desires, we cannot even notice the Lazarus at our door. If we choose to forget that death awaits us all, and is closer every day, then earthly pleasures will cost us heavenly delight. We should learn to fast, mortify our senses, and free ourselves from anything which causes us to "overdo" it. What are we trying to fill, if not the soul's longing for God? If we meet our daily needs, and no more, we will have plenty to share with others. Then we, too, can be comforted at the bosom of Abraham. The alternative is too hot for my taste.

Your prayer: Harriet Beech Stowe asks God to keep her soul calm and divine. Let us ask God for the gift of temperence, to moderately approach the things of this earth, and to hunger only for Him.

Devotion for Saturday/ Sunday: The House by the Side of the Road

The House by the Side of the Road
 Sam Walter Foss (1858-1911)

There are hermit souls that live withdrawn
In the peace of their self-content;
There are souls, like stars, that swell apart,
In a fellowless firmament;
There are pioneer souls that blaze their paths
Where highways never ran;
But let me live by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

Let me live in a house by the side of the road,
Where the race of men go by -
The men who are good and the men who are bad,
As good and as bad as I.
I would not sit in the scorner's seat,
Or hurl the cynic's ban;
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

I see from my house by the side of the road,
By the side of the highway of life,
The men who press with the ardor of hope,
The men who are faint with the strife.
But I turn not away from their smiles not their tears - Both parts of an infinite plan;
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

Let me live in my house by the side of the road
Where the race of men go by -
They are good, they are bad, they are weak,
they are strong.
Wise, foolish - so am I.
Then why should I sit in the scorner's seat
Or hurl the cynic's ban?
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

This is my mother's favorite poem! I dedicate this page to you, Mum! xxoo

Devotion for today: greed- but I don't want to share

Ascending the mountain of capital or deadly sins, we move today into the sins of too much love, beginning with greed.

Scripture passage for meditation: Exodus 16: 15-16; 19-21
When they saw this, the sons of Israel said to one another, "What is that?" not knowing what it was.  "That," said Moses to them, "is the bread Yahweh gives you to eat. This is Yahweh's command: everyone must gather enough of it for his needs....No one must keep any of it for tomorrow." But some would not listen to Moses and kept part of it for the following day, and it bred maggots and smelled foul: and Moses was angry with them.

Christ tells us: Matthew 19:23-26  "The danger of riches"
Then Jesus said to His disciples, "I tell you solemnly, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Yes, I tell you again, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven." When the disciples heard this they were astonished. "Who can be saved, then?" they said. Jesus gazed at them. "For men," He told them, "this is impossible; for God everything is possible."

St. Francis de Sales warns us in An Introduction to the Devout Life:
He is rich in spirit whose heart is in his riches, and whose riches fill his heart. He is poor is spirit who has not riches in his heart, nor his heart in riches....Your heart should be open only to heaven and impenetrable to riches and earthly things; if you possess them preserve your heart from loving them; let it rise above them, and be poor in the midst of wealth, and master of its riches....It is a great happiness for a Christian to be actually rich but poor in spirit, for thus he can use wealth and its advantages in this world and yet have the merit of poverty as regards the next.

Prayer: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven"
These are Your words, my Jesus. You spoke them long ago, but they are still true. How few have bothered to understand them, much less practice them! We claim to be wise, yet how often we fail to place You first in our daily life. We admit in word that You are our greatest treasure, and yet we seldom think of limiting our earthly interests in order to give You more attention and better service. I am tired of living this illogical life of mine. I want to begin this day trying to have fewer things in my daily life, so that I may have less to draw my attention away from You. Fill my thoughts with You. Direct my intentions to Yourself, so that I may begin at last to live for Your praise, honor, and glory. Amen.
Anthony J. Paone, SJ, My Daily Bread, Confraternity of the Precious Blood, 1954.

My thoughts: There are many kinds of greed in the world. Some of us are greedy for power: we want to control everyone and everything, take credit for all successes and no responsibility for failures. Others are greedy for fear of want: they never have enough of anything, including money, food and clothes, for fear a day will come when they won't have enough. Then there is the greed of acquisition: if it is out there, I must have it. The best cure for any type of greed is to turn to the word of God. "For Thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory;" "Perfect Love casts out fear." "You can't take a U-Haul to the grave with you." Okay, the last one is not in the Bible, but you get my point. If your treasure is not God, your camel is not going to be able to fit into the passage, and all your excess will be like the excess Manna taken by the Israelites. Do as St. Francis de Sales tells us, and make the world a better place.  Praise others for successes, keep only what you need, and pass up the desire for more things. The world will be better and you will be lighter!

Your prayer to God:  The words in the above prayer are so beautiful. Let us repeat over and over again as we begin to give away our desire for power, our fear of the future, and our obsession for earthly toys: "Fill  my thoughts with that I may begin at last to live for Your praise, honor and glory."

For a really good explanation of the material I presented under My Thoughts, go to the website That is where I learned  those wonderful ideas!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Devotion for today: sloth, the sin of not enough love

If you are familiar with Dante's Purgatorio, you will see that we have finished our meditations on the sins of "evil love": pride, envy, wrath (anger) and are headed toward the sins of "too much love": avarice (greed), gluttony and lust. Today we address the middle sin, sloth, know also as acedia, which is insufficient commitment and determination.

Scripture for meditation: Proverbs 25:30-34
I passed by the field of the sluggard, by the vineyard of the man without sense; And behold! It was all overgrown with thistles; its surface was coverd with nettles, and its stone wall broken down. And as I gazed at it, I reflected; I saw and learned the lesson: A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the arms to rest - Then will poverty come upon you like a highwayman, and want like an armed man.

Christ reminds us: Matthew 25: 19-30
"The man who had five thousand came forward bringing the additional five thousand. "My lord," he said, "you let me have five thousand. See, I have made five thousand more." His master said to him, "Well done! You are an industrious and reliable servant....Come! Share your master's joy! Finally, the man who had received the thousand stepped forward. 'My lord," he said, 'I knew you were a hard man. You reap where you do not sow and gather where you do not scatter, so out of fear I went off and buried your thousand silver pieces in the ground. Here is your money back.' His master exclaimed, 'You worthless, lazy lout! You know I reap where I did not sow and gather where I did not scatter. All the more reason to deposit my money with the bankers so that on my return I could have had it back with interest. You, there! Take the thousand away from him and give it to the man with the ten thousand. Those who have, will get more until they grow rich, while those who have not, will lose even the little they have. Throw this worthless servant into the darkness outside where he can wail and grind his teeth."

St. Thomas More tells us in The Four Last Things:
The...sin of sloth, people see as a small matter. Because sloth is so common a sin, and because no notable act comes of it that is accounted heinous and abominable in the estimation of the world - for instance, theft, manslaughter...with which eveyone would hate to be one is ashamed of sloth. Rather, we take it as a laughing matter, something to joke about. But surely, since it is indeed a big, capital sin, the less attention we pay to it, the more dangerous it is, because the less we will go about amending it. Now, to the intent that we will not fatally deceive ourselves, it is necessary that we consider well the seriousness of it. If we do, we will find it far greater than we would have thought before. There are, as you well know, two requisites for salvation; namely, the declining of or going away from evil, and the doing of good. Now, whereas in the the first one, there are all the other six capital sins to be eschewed (pride, envy, anger, gluttony, covetousness and lust), the other part - in other words, an entire half of our way to heaven -  just sloth alone is able to destroy.

Prayer: Lay Apostle's Prayer
Perhaps it would be much easier, O Lord, to accept a well defined task, precisely outlined; it would be easier to advance guided and sustained by specific instructions; it would be easier, my God, simply to obey someone who would ponder and consider everything for us. But this is not, O Lord, what You desire of us. Your wish today, Lord, is that we be mingled with the masses. You desire us to plunge intrepidly into the world which has wandered far from the truth.... In complete forgetfulness of ourselves, may we become meeting places between You and our brothers, and may You be for them no longer a distant and unknown God but a Father close at hand.   Bishop Dupanloup of Orleans (1802-1878). The Prayer Book, Catholic Press, 1957.

My Thoughts:
The Pocket Catholic Catechism defines sloth as "the desire for ease, even at the expense of doing the known will of God." My own definition has always been "laziness" or "not enough love" and I can see the signs of it when I don't feel like getting up early to attend daily Mass, would rather take a nap than say a Rosary, or hesitate to answer the door when a lonely neighbor comes once again to visit. St. Thomas More reminds us that sloth can keep us from heaven simply by what we do not do. Although it is a harder task in life to remain very active in and vigilant about the vineyard of our souls, it will keep our "stone wall" from breaking down and allowing very evil and destructive forces to enter. Let us choose to work hard, use our talents "in complete forgetfulness of ourselves" and become the vibrant and joyful picture of Christ to those seeking to find Him. "Well done, my good and faithful servant! Now come and share my joy!" That is what I want to hear when I face God at the end of my days! How about you?

Your prayer to God: This is the day to begin again, with vim, vigor and vitality! We have all been given a task to perform, whether it is staying at home and praying, or going out into the world and bringing Christ to those who long to see His face. Make a list of three ways you have become negligent of the vineyard of your soul through laziness, and list three very doable ways to repair the damage that has occured. Pray, "Dear God, fire me up!" and begin the adventure of a lifetime!

How do you like this blog? What would you like me to include or change? Suggestions and criticisms, as well as compliments are always welcomed. Remember, I choose not to be offended! Send to

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Devotion for today: deadly sin number three=anger

Another daughter of pride awaits our examination today: anger

Scripture: Sirach 28: 3-9:
Should a man nourish anger against his fellows, and expect healing from the Lord? Should a man refuse mercy to his fellows, yet seek pardon for his own sins? If he who is but flesh cherishes wrath, who will forgive his sins? Remember your last days, set enmity aside; remember death and decay, and cease from sin! Think of the commandments, hate not your neighbor; of the the Most High's covenant, and overlook faults. Avoid strife and your sins will be fewer, for a quarrelsome man kindles disputes, commits the sin of disrupting friendship, and sows discord among those at peace.

Christ reminds us: Matthew 5:21-23:
"You have heard the commandment imposed on your forefathers, 'You shall not commit murder; every murderer shall be liable to judgment.' What I say to you is: everyone who grows angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; any man who uses abusive language toward his brother shall be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and if he holds him in contempt he risks the fires of Gehenna."

Dr. Andrew Thomas Kania, discussing the homily of St. Basil the Great on anger, tells us:
 St. Basil qualifies that we must always temper our righteous anger with compassion; "Redirect your temper onto the murderer of human beings, the father of lies, the worker of sin; but sympathize also with this brother, because if he continues in sin, with the devil he will be delivered up to eternal fire (St. Basil.) This being said, St. Basil's teaching on anger requires each one of us to search to the very depths of our spirits.... This investigation can be quite painful, for perhaps, after searching deeply for the cause of our anger, we may find that we hate others because of the inadequacies we perceive in ourselves, and not for anything they may have done to us....Above all, St. Basil's homily...provides the reader with the notion that we all must seek greater self-discipline in controlling our anger so as to avoid the risk of doing evil. If we do not seek such self-control, human nature being as it is, we will pass anger, like runners in a baton relay, from one person to the next - through our families, across members of a society, and from societies to nations. We must realize what in life is worthy of our anger, and what can be easily deflected by a mature and healthy spirit. "When you are stirred by the temptation to abuse... give your thoughts the opportunity to choose the good portion....for what could become more painful to your enemy than to see his enemy as above insults? Do not overturn your own purpose, and do not appear to be easily accessible to those who insult you....The person reproaching one unaffected by abuse is unable to find relief for his passion....What sort of things will each of you be called? He is abusive, but you are magnanimous; he is prone to anger and hard to bear, but you are long suffering and meek. He will change his mind about things he said, but you will never repent of your virtue. (St. Basil the Great).

Prayer: For the Grace of God
O  plentiful source of every good and perfect gift! Bestow abroad the consoling light of your seven-fold grace over our hearts! Yea, spirit of love and gentleness: most humbly we implore your assistance!
You know our faults, our failings, our necessities, the dullness of our understanding, the waywardness of our affections, the perverseness of our will. When, therefore, we neglect to practice what we know, visit us, we beseech you, with your grace; enlighten, God, our minds, rectify our desires, correct our wanderings, and pardon our omissions, so that, by your guidance, we may be preserved from making shipwreck of faith, and keep a good conscience, and so, at length, we may be landed in the safe haven of eternal peace. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. St. Anselm of Canterbury

My thoughts:  I don't know anyone who hasn't been the victim of an angry person, one who has adopted the prideful attitude that he has the right to avenge perceived contradictions and insults by verbal abusive or by retaliation. Our job is to be sure we never turn into this kind of person, who thinks too much of himself and not enough about God. Both Sirach and Jesus tell us that there is not much mercy for a person who shows no mercy himself. St. Basil has the answer for us: choose not to be offended. If you answer a wrong with anger, and seek revenge, you will receive the like from God. If you walk away and remain in control, God will reward you. Pray with St. Anselm that we may sail safely into the harbor of heaven, and not allow an angry person to shipwreck our faith.

Your prayer:  Anger can only be tamed in us if we pull out its root, which is pride. We deserve nothing and are entitled to nothing. All we are and all we have is God's. As much as we can't believe it, God loves everyone of us and wants all of us, even the person whose anger has harmed you, in heaven with Him. Pray tonight that God harnesses your own anger, and gives you the grace to forgive the person who has harmed you by his.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Devotion for today: envy=number two deadly sin

We continue our look at the seven deadly sins by focusing on the daughter of pride, which is envy.

Scripture for meditation: 1 John 2:10-11
The man who continues in the light is the one who loves his brother; there is nothing in him to cause a fall. But the man who hates his brother is in darkness. He walks in shadows, not knowing where he is going, since the dark has blinded his eyes.

Christ tells us: Luke 15:21-31
"Meanwhile the elder son was out on the land. As he neared the house on his way home, he heard the sound of music and dancing. He called one of the servants and asked him the reason for the dancing and the music. The servant answered, 'Your brother is home, and your father has killed the fatted calf because he has him back in good health.' The son grew angry at this and would not go in; but his father came out and began to plead with him. He said to his father in reply, 'For years now I have slaved for you. I never disobeyed one of your orders, yet you never gave me so much as a kid goat to celebrate with my friends. Then, when this son of yours returns after having gone through your property with loose women, you kill the fatted calf for him.'"

Fr. Barron tells us in his DVD series, The Seven Deadly Sins and the Seven Lively Virtues:
Thomas Aquinas said, 'Envy is sorrow at another person's good.' Somebody once said, 'When a friend of mine succeeds, something in me dies'....Envy lays hold of me because I don't trust that God has loved me into being and that I've been given a mission and that God wants to live an adventure through me. And so, honors and glory and praise have to come to me. When other people get them, it makes me sad.... What often follows from envy? Scapegoating. What do we do with someone with whom we are envious? We try to undermine them. We blame them, we isolate them...we want to bring them down a peg or two....What's the antidote to envy? What's the lively virtue? Admiration. All of us are here because of a gracious God...period! All the gifts we have, come from God...period! Therefore, why play the game of comparison? Look around and admire what you see in others and, yes, in yourself. What is the practical advice to deal with envy? Go out of your way to praise someone, especially someone of whom you are envious. God has made a world that is radically unequal....Why? Because we all have different missions.... Concentrate on your unique role and don't fuss about others.
(found on the website

Prayer: Give Me, Good Lord
Glorious God, give me grace to amend my life, and to have an eye to my end without begrudging death, which, to those who die in you, good Lord, is the gate of a wealthy life.

And give me, good Lord, a humble, lowly, quiet, peaceable, patient, charitable, kind, tender and pitiful mind, in all my works and all my words and all my thoughts, to have a taste of your holy, blessed Spirit.

Give me, good Lord, a full faith, a firm hope, and a fervent charity, a love of you incomparable above the love of myself.

Give me, good Lord, a longing to be with you, not to avoid the calamities of this world, nor so much to attain the joys of heaven, as simply for love of you,

And give me, good Lord, your love and favour, which my love of you, however great it might be, could not deserve were it not for your great goodness.

These things, good Lord, that I pray for, give me your grace to labour for. St. Thomas More, written a week before his execution. The Uncommon Book of Prayer

My thoughts:  When we actually think about it, envy really is deadly. We are so filled with animosity toward another person that we dream of their failure, or their loss. Much worse than jealousy, which is obsession with what we own (think of the jealous husband who doesn't want anyone looking at his wife, whom he already has), envy causes us to burn in our own hearts over someone's success and robs us of our joy. We do not want to be like the older son in the Gospel story. Instead of rejoicing in the reconciliation which occurs between his brother and father, he is envious of the love his father shows his brother. Fr. Barron would have us fight this fight with our eyes on the beautiful dream God had for us when He formed us in our mother's womb. Not a great singer?  Don't envy someone who is. You were not meant to be one, and he was. Admire his gift, praise him for it, and then spend the rest of your life developing the gifts God gave you. It beats walking in shadows!

Your prayer to God: St. Thomas More prayed that his heart would be filled with peace, charity and tenderness. Search your heart for the one person who causes you to "fume". Place that person in your prayers tonight, and ask God to soften your heart toward him, to extract the envy from your soul, and to place in its stead a thankfulness for who you are. Then ask God to help you see the dream He has for you, and begin to concentrate on the gifts you were given to achieve it.