3 Tips to Fend Off the Winter Woes

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Arctic winds blasted much of the Midwest last week. I saw an article that mentioned many cities faced temperatures lower than even Antarctica this time of year–yes you heard me right Antarctica! Along with the frigid weather, having a newborn in the household limits the amount of places we are able to travel. Cabin fever set in.

Cramped quarters, cold temps, and little to no change in daily routine make the perfect recipe for depression to set in. Every year the months of January, February, and March present this challenge. Sadly, I always seem to be surprised when the winter woes arrive. I yearn for warmer days and hope on the horizon. Below are three simple tips to help you fend off the winter woes.

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1. Nothing Lasts Forever: it is important to recognize that all things in life–good or bad– are temporary. If this winter appears extra long it is helpful to remind yourself that winter will NOT last forever.

2. Reflection: The average American is flooded with technology on a regular basis. It is rare for me to see a person without a smart phone or iPad in tote. Heck, I am actually writing this post on my own iPhone! The constant stream of screens and technology provide only increases during the winter when going outside to enjoy is not feasible.

A habit that I have re-started this winter is to make time for silent reflection. Cardinal Sarah wrote in The Power of Silence,

Without silence, God disappears in the noise. And this noise becomes all the more obsessive because God is absent. Unless the world rediscovers silence, it is lost. The earth then rushes into nothingness” (80).

Reading the Scriptures for a few minutes to begin the day greatly helped shift my mind off the dreariness of the cold toward the hope found in Christ. Silent prayer need not take up half of your day, but perhaps simply start with only five minutes of silent reflection.

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3. Exercise Your Muscles (and Patience): Along with taking perspective that winter will not last forever and taking a small amount of time for prayer, exercise is another key strategy to fight off depression in during the cold and dark months of the year. If your 2019 resolution was to get healthier, today is no better time to remind yourself of that goal! The great American founder and third president of the United States Thomas Jefferson spoke of exercise in this way, “Walking is the best possible exercise. Habituate yourself to walk very far.”  If the cold keep you from walking outside, think of ways you could walk around your home or apartment. Create a circuit between the rooms of your living space. Perhaps, travel to the grocery store and walk up and down the aisles–even the aisles of items not on your list.

In addition to winter being a time to remind yourself to exercise physically, it is equally important to strengthen yourself spiritually. Use the ‘annoyances’ of the season as chances to grow in patience. Allow yourself to pray for patience when bad driving pervades the streets or when your children drive you crazy because of being cramped up indoors. According to the Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy, “The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” Ask for the gift of patience from the Holy Spirit. See how the winter doldrums might be transformed into something beautiful!

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Lost Sheep–Praying for the Conversion of Catholic Politicians Who Allow Abortion

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Words cannot truly describe the evil passage of the New York State bill permitting abortion through the entirety of pregnancy. Pro-lifers and faithful Catholics across the nation call for the bishops to excommunicate Governor Andrew Cuomo–a Catholic!

My initial reaction to passage of this heinous bill was anger. Anger of the fact this bill could even possibly been drafted. Anger at the governor for promptly signing this legislation.

Several days have passed since news broke. As a result, I have had a chance to ponder and reflect on the situation. While I still harbor anger at the bill, the main feeling is that of sadness. I am saddened for the poor souls whose life will be ended before it hardly began. I am saddened by the woman who believe abortion would be their only option. Finally, I am saddened that the officials in government, in particular Governor Cuomo, committed such a heinous offense and thus endangering their souls.

A week ago I would have first and foremost called Andrew Cuomo a laundry list of adjectives: vile, evil, sinister, deplorable, despicable, etc. I even would need to go to a thesaurus as even those would not justly describe his actions. Although I still vehemently denounce his approval of the bill, I now believe a more apt description of Cuomo is that he is ill. No rational and healthy person would allow for third term abortions (really any abortion) to even come into discussion.

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Just as with a physical sickness, the illness of sin causes separation from God which results in a distorted view on goodness, truth, and beauty. Andrew Cuomo signed an objective evil bill into state law. He may appear as a lost cause. But that cannot be further from the truth. According to St. Monica, “Nothing is far from God.” God’s mercy is infinite and mysterious. The parable of the lost sheep applies even in the 21st century. I used to only think of the spiritually lost in terms of people who commit the primary sin directly: prostitutes, murderers, robbers, and terrorists. What if God’s mercy could extend to corrupt politicians as well?! Politicians who may not directly ‘killed the unborn’, but whose ambition for power may have caused them to sell out their moral principles.

We as a pro-life movement need to not only speak out for the unborn and educate about the evils of abortion, but we need to pray just as fervently–perhaps even more, for the conversion of those politicians complicit in allowing abortion legislation to become legal! I will offer up daily sacrifices and increase my prayers for Divine Mercy to bring Andrew Cuomo back to the Catholic Church and realize that all life is sacred.

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True beauty involves realizes the Ultimate Good if God and following the golden rule in our lives. Jesus proclaimed in Luke 15:7, I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.” Pray ardently for Andrew Cuomo that he may realize his errors and ask for pardon and forgiveness. If that occurs it will be a beautiful sight and cause for jubilation!


Pope Benedict XVI’s Prayer for the Unborn

Lord Jesus, 
You who faithfully visit and fulfill with your Presence the Church and the history of men; You who in the miraculous Sacrament of your Body and Blood render us participants in divine Life and allow us a foretaste of the joy of eternal Life; We adore and bless you.

Prostrated before You, source and lover of Life, truly present and alive among us, we beg you.

Reawaken in us respect for every unborn life, make us capable of seeing in the fruit of the maternal womb the miraculous work of the Creator, open our hearts to generously welcoming every child that comes into life.

Bless all families, sanctify the union of spouses, render fruitful their love.

Accompany the choices of legislative assemblies with the light of your Spirit,so that peoples and nations may recognize and respect the sacred nature of life, of every human life.

Guide the work of scientists and doctors, so that all progress contributes to the integral well-being of the person, and no one endures suppression or injustice.

Give creative charity to administrators and economists, so they may realize and promote sufficient conditions so that young families can serenely embrace the birth of new children.

Console the married couples who suffer because they are unable to have children and in Your goodness provide for them.

Teach us all to care for orphaned or abandoned children, so they may experience the warmth of your Charity, the consolation of your divine Heart.

Together with Mary, Your Mother, the great believer, in whose womb you took on our human nature, we wait to receive from You, our Only True Good and Savior, the strength to love and serve life, in anticipation of living forever in You, in communion with the Blessed Trinity. 

3 Thoughts about the Prayer of St. Teresa of Avila

C.S. Lewis wrote, ““There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” There is no better time to put things into perspective than the present–and especially at the beginning of the New Year. Whether you had a good, bad, or simply indifferent 2018 now is time to focus on bettering your life.

While I certainly could come up with a laundry list of New Year’s resolutions the birth of my fourth child could make that challenging. Late night diaper changes and gazing at my beautiful newborn throughout the day take up a lot of time already. If you are pinched for time like me, then I propose an easy, yet profound resolution for 2019–daily pray and reflect upon the Prayer of St. Teresa of Avila.

The Holy Doctor of the Church has held an important role in my life. Her life and writings provide an excellent standard for me to live my life by and now I have a daughter named after St. Teresa! Below is the short prayer I plan on reciting and pondering daily. Additionally, I have included a few thoughts about this brief and mighty prayer.


Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.


1. Fear Not: Fear gets in the way of growth. Being afraid causes one to hesitate and question the blessings in your life. Reading the words of the Spanish saint always provides comfort.

2. Power of Patience: St. Teresa’s assertion that “patience obtains all things” prompts me to pause. Patience is a virtue that seems undervalued compared to courage, justice, and faith. However, all problems in my life could either resolve themselves or lessen greatly if exercised patience more. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 736,  By this power of the Spirit, God’s children can bear much fruit. He who has grafted us onto the true vine will make us bear “the fruit of the Spirit: . . . love, joy, peace, patience,  By this power of the Spirit, God’s children can bear much fruit.

3. Keep Perspective: The Carmelite sister reminds us that worldly things last only temporarily. Only God is eternal. The stresses of 2018, yesterday, and even an hour ago will appear like a blink amid the gaze of the Beatific Vision.

The wisdom of St. Teresa of Avila will be guaranteed to change your life. Already in the short time of reflecting on her words I have been able to better keep things in perspective. Make 2019 your best year (until 2020 and the years that follow!) yet!


Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices

Satan’s Sinister Weapon—Dosage of Despair


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A few years ago, I discovered a “secret weapon” the Devil utilizes to lull Christians into a false security of security—the snooze button (see related links at end of article for more information!). Along with the cloudy weather, and antics of my children, I am confident that a clandestine onslaught against me by the Adversary planted the seeds of spiritual sloth and gluttony. This weekend so a resurgence of another spiritual attack on my soul, this time with arguably the most sinister weapon of all—despair. Ironically, this attack landed on the Third Sunday of Advent—Gaudete Sunday—a time of joy in anticipation for the birth of the Christ-Child.

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What happened? I believed to be on track, spiritually, to grow closer to Jesus. My wife and I made a concerted focus to pray before the Advent wreath and read the Gospel reading for the day. C.S. Lewis wrote, “Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ, and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.” Focusing on myself, shifted the focus away from God. The effects have been quite devastating. Despair compounds quicker than a pay-day lender loan’s interest.

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What is the defense against Satan’s sinister weapon? The answer is as old as time itself, but never more relevant—trust in God always. St. Maria Faustina always provides me uplifting words. In her diary she wrote, “I will not allow myself to be so absorbed in the whirlwind of work as to forget about God.  I will spend all my free moments at the feet of the Master hidden in the Blessed Sacrament.” While, I failed miserably earlier today about lamenting too much and dwelling too much on the failures and stresses of work, the good news is that it is never too late to hit the re-set—so long as it is not the re-set for the snooze button J!].

Together with reading about the saints of Divine Mercy like St. Faustina, the singular best weapon to combat despair is hope. We are led our Hope of Hopes most easily through following the witness of Jesus’ Mother. St. Louis de Montfort declared, “The Rosary is the most powerful weapon to touch the Heart of Jesus, Our Redeemer, who loves His Mother.”

Hope dispels despairs. Hope in Christ hold eternal consequences. Think about the two thieves crucified next to Jesus. Luke 23:39-43 details out an end of life exchange between the two criminals and Jesus. The unrepentant thief ridiculed Jesus. While his fate is ultimately not specifically given, the good thief, or the penitent thief we are told was forgiven and allowed into Heaven.


40 But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving [c]what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come [d]in Your kingdom!” 43 And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”


Although the Adversary utilizes the primary spiritual weapons of the seven deadly sins, a sinister side effect, and weapon in an of itself is despair. Frequenting the sacraments, praying the Rosary daily [or at the very least petitioning the Blessed Virgin for aid], and asking spiritual guidance from the saints will galvanize you in the spiritual battle.

Pope Benedict XVI on hope

 A Prayer for Hope

Heavenly father, I am your humble servant,
I come before you today in need of hope.
There are times when I fell helpless,
There are times when I feel weak.
I pray for hope.
I need hope for a better future.
I need hope for a better life.
I need hope for love and kindness.
Some say that the sky is at it’s
darkest just before the light.
I pray that this is true, for all seems dark.
I need your light, Lord, in every way.
I pray to be filled with your light from
head to toe. To bask in your glory.
To know that all is right in the world,
as you have planned, and as you want
it to be. 
Help me to walk in your light, and live
my life in faith and glory.
In your name I pray, Amen.

Related Links: https://thesimplecatholic.blog/2015/06/09/satans-secret-weapon-the-snooze-button/

Back to Basics

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According to American author Anthony J. D’Angelo, “Don’t reinvent the wheel, just realign it.” The continual focus on progress, change, movement, and improvement dominates 21st century humanity. Continued desire to improve on limiting stress, furthering personal and career goals may be inherently good; however, a person reaches a point when the trajectory of progress cannot ascend any higher. Ernest Hemingway wryly wrote, “Never confuse movement with action.”

Throughout history and literature, quick and unbridled progress poses the danger for a quick fall back to mediocrity and a starting at square one. The Great Depression in the 1930s happened on the heels of an epic economic boom, Greek literature warned of Icarus soaring too close to the sun—and eventually his wax wings melted and he fell to his doom. Personally, I too notice that whenever I experience a successful season in my life I have to be wary of being puffed up too much with pride. I start think too boldly—leading to the error of becoming a braggadocio!

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As a Catholic, my faith plays a strong shaping force in my world outlook and daily life. According to Lumen Gentium the primary goal of all faithful is to grow in holiness, the Council Fathers declared, “Therefore, all the faithful of Christ are invited to strive for the holiness and perfection of their own proper state. Indeed they have an obligation to so strive (no. 42). I never truly pondered it before, but I recently realized that Jesus’ parables and teaching examples often included planting, gardening, and farming references because plant growth takes time—it is slow, but steady. Likewise, our growth in virtue and moral excellence needs to be watered with essential elements. The growth need to be natural, steady and sure for the progress to be permanent. Ascendency towards one’s goals whether that be moral, work, or exercise related poses a threat of a great fall. To avoid any backpedaling, it wise to return to the fundamentals of success. Below are three basic activities that helped me limit stress, decrease my negativity, and improve my relationship with others.

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  1. Prayer: Saints wiser and infinitely holier than myself, always proclaim the importance of prayer. Perhaps no one else discussed the importance of prayer more plainly than St. John Chrysostom, “It is simply impossible to lead, without the aid of prayer, a virtuous life!”

 

Over the past couple of months, my wife and I committed ourselves to a regular, steady prayer routine. Before putting the kids to bed, we pray a decade of the Rosary. According to St. John Paul the Great, “The Rosary is the storehouse of countless blessings.”  His words ring true with crystal clarity—the graces I received have been immeasurable. My manager noticing the changes in my demeanor at work told me, “Matt, you have had a tremendous month. I notice a great calmness within you over the past few months.” I almost was tempted to pull out my scapular—strong Marian devotion—to show my manager that what has changed did not occur on my own power. To cite John Paul II again, “Prayer joined to sacrifice constitutes the most powerful force in human history.”

  1. Exercise: Along with daily prayer, renewing my focus on regular exercise greatly helped sustain the progress I made. Because of the changing of the weather, I have get creative with my workouts. Actually, not truly that creative, I just call upon Shawn-T with his T-25 fitness program that I watch through the Beach Body channel on my Roku. Jabbing, hopping, and twisting my arms, legs, and core in my living room I feel replenished with energy after the under half-hour workout session. Not only does exercise help with the body, it reinvigorates my mental capacity and energy for the rest of the day.

 

  1. Reading Renaissance: Those of you that have followed The Simple Catholic will be aware that one of my strongest passions and loves in this life consists of the written word in the form of books. The only hindrance for me from purchasing and amassing more and more books is because I would either have to buy more bookshelves or take time away from reading to make a bookshelf myself. It is quite the predicament!

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In all seriousness though, reading, and specifically reading good books from good authors, reignites my desire to become a better person. Late American essayist E.P. Whipple wrote this beautiful description for books, “Books are lighthouses erected in the great sea of time.” Reading books, especially the classics, allows the reader access to the thoughts, intellects, curiosities, and inquiries of history’s greatest minds. The foundation for all success is being humble to realize someone else is always smarter and wiser than yourself. After reading Fulton Sheen’s Remade for Happiness and C.S. Lewis’ Surprised by Joy, this fact was reaffirmed.  Surrounding yourself with the wisdom and insights of those men and women before you will only enhance your ability to become the best version of yourself.

Progress is not bad, in fact, it is necessary in an ever changing world. In order to survive and flourish, you need to learn to adapt to changes. If you have found strategies or things that have already proven to help you develop into a healthier, stronger, and more virtuous version of yourself keep doing those things! Go back to the basics as often as needed. My revisiting of my basics—prayer, exercise, and reading— continues to provide me stability for a successful [and hopefully sanctifying] life!

Prayer Before an Election

I urge everyone to humbly pray for wisdom and discernment in voting for the candidates. Voting is a right and a privilege that cannot be taken lightly. Take a moment before entering the ballot box to ask for clarity of selection for the candidates who will best serve office and upholding the dignity of human life at all stages: from womb to tomb and every stage in between!


Lord God, as the election approaches,

we seek to better understand the issues and concerns that confront our city/state/country,

and how the Gospel compels us to respond as faithful citizens in our community.

We ask for eyes that are free from blindness

so that we might see each other as brothers and sisters,

one and equal in dignity,

especially those who are victims of abuse and violence, deceit and poverty.

We ask for ears that will hear the cries of children unborn and those abandoned,

Men and women oppressed because of race or creed, religion or gender.

We ask for minds and hearts that are open to hearing the voice of leaders who will bring us closer to your Kingdom.

We pray for discernment

so that we may choose leaders who hear your Word,

live your love,

and keep in the ways of your truth

as they follow in the steps of Jesus and his Apostles

and guide us to your Kingdom of justice and peace.

We ask this in the name of your Son Jesus Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

Litany of Saints—Pray for Us!

Lord, have mercy on us.

Christ, have mercy on us.

Lord, have mercy on us.

Christ, hear us.

Lord, have mercy on us.

Christ, have mercy on us.

Lord, have mercy on us.

Christ, graciously hear us.

God, the Father of heaven,

God the Son, Redeemer of the world,

God the Holy Spirit,

Holy Trinity, one God,

have mercy on us.

have mercy on us.

have mercy on us.

have mercy on us.

Holy Mary,

Holy Mother of God,

Holy Virgin of virgins,

St. Michael,

St. Gabriel,

St. Raphael,

All you Holy Angels and Archangels,

St. John the Baptist,

St. Joseph,

All you Holy Patriarchs and Prophets,

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

St. Peter,

St. Paul,

St. Andrew,

St. James,

St. John,

St. Thomas,

St. James,

St. Philip,

St. Bartholomew,

St. Matthew,

St. Simon,

St. Jude,

St. Matthias,

St. Barnabas,

St. Luke,

St. Mark,

All you holy Apostles and Evangelists,

All you holy Disciples of the Lord,

All you holy Innocents,

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

St. Stephen,

St. Lawrence,

St. Vincent,

Sts. Fabian and Sebastian,

Sts. John and Paul,

Sts. Cosmas and Damian,

All you holy Martyrs,

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

St. Sylvester,

St. Gregory,

St. Ambrose,

St. Augustine,

St. Jerome,

St. Martin,

St. Nicholas,

All you holy Bishops and Confessors,

All you holy Doctors,

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

St. Anthony,

St. Benedict,

St. Bernard,

St. Dominic,

St. Francis,

All you holy Priests and Levites,

All you holy Monks and Hermits,

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

St. Mary Magdalene,

St. Agatha,

St. Lucy,

St. Agnes,

St. Cecilia,

St. Anastasia,

St. Catherine,

St. Clare,

All you holy Virgins and Widows,

All you holy Saints of God,

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

pray for us.

Lord, be merciful,

From all evil,

From all sin,

From your wrath,

From a sudden and unprovided death,

From the snares of the devil,

From anger, hatred, and all ill-will,

From the spirit of uncleanness,

From lightning and tempest,

From the scourge of earthquake,

From plague, famine, and war,

From everlasting death,

Lord, save your people.

Lord, save your people.

Lord, save your people.

Lord, save your people.

Lord, save your people.

Lord, save your people.

Lord, save your people.

Lord, save your people.

Lord, save your people.

Lord, save your people.

Lord, save your people.

Lord, save your people.

By the mystery of your holy Incarnation,

By your Coming,

By your Birth,

By your Baptism and holy fasting,

By your Cross and Passion,

By your Death and Burial,

By your holy Resurrection,

By your wonderful Ascension,

By the coming of the Holy Spirit,

On the day of judgment,

Lord, save your people.

Lord, save your people.

Lord, save your people.

Lord, save your people.

Lord, save your people.

Lord, save your people.

Lord, save your people.

Lord, save your people.

Lord, save your people.

Lord, save your people.

Be merciful to us sinners,

Lord, hear our prayer.

That you will spare us,

That you will pardon us,

That it may please you to bring us to true

penance,

Guide and protect your holy Church,

Preserve in holy religion the Pope, and all

those in holy Orders,

Humble the enemies of holy Church,

Give peace and unity to the whole Christian

people,

Bring back to the unity of the Church all

those who are straying, and bring all

unbelievers to the light of the Gospel,

Strengthen and preserve us in your holy

service,

Raise our minds to desire the things of

heaven,

Reward all our benefactors with eternal

blessings,

Deliver our souls from eternal damnation,

and the souls of our brethren, relatives,

and benefactors,

Give and preserve the fruits of the earth,

Grant eternal rest to all the faithful departed,

That it may please You to hear and heed

us, Jesus, Son of the Living God,

Lord, hear our prayer.

Lord, hear our prayer.

Lord, hear our prayer.

Lord, hear our prayer.

Lord, hear our prayer.

Lord, hear our prayer.

Lord, hear our prayer.

Lord, hear our prayer.

Lord, hear our prayer.

Lord, hear our prayer.

Lord, hear our prayer.

Lord, hear our prayer.

Lord, hear our prayer.

Lord, hear our prayer.

Lord, hear our prayer.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of

the world,

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of

the world,

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of

the world,

Spare us, O Lord!

Graciously hear us, O Lord!

Have mercy on us.

Christ, hear us,

Lord Jesus, hear our prayer.

Lord, have mercy on us.

Christ, have mercy on us.

Lord, have mercy on us.

Christ, graciously hear us

Lord Jesus, hear our prayer.

Lord, have mercy on us.

Christ, have mercy on us.

Lord, have mercy on