Friday, December 11, 2015

Works of Mercy Bouquet: Resources for Spiritual Works

I have been wanting to wrap up this series in time for Christmas, but haven't known what to really write about the Spiritual Works to make them practical.  I realized that the greatest practical advice I had was to know your Catechism and Scripture.  Knowledge really is power, and it is difficult to admonish the sinner, instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful, and comfort the afflicted without a lot of superpower--God's super power!  These works are all duties we are called to, but it is the spirit working through us that brings glory to the Kingdom.  The more I tried to hash out how to complete each one, the more I felt like I would just be a broken record.  (Even now, I am rambling, trying to explain how I didn't want to ramble on and on....)

So, here are recommendations for how to arm yourself with the power of understanding, so that you can spread truth and light to all around #7QT!


Have you heard of Flocknote?  They have some great resources.  I just got a sneak peak at their new offerings for 2016 and what do you think I found?  In addition to the Catechism in a Year, which delivers bite sized pieces of Catechism to your email--invaluable resource.  Be honest, are you really going to read the Catechism every day?  Probably not, with Flocknote you will!

Anyway, back to my point, in 2016, Flocknote is offering...drum roll, please.... Daily Works of Mercy texts or email!!!!!  Can you believe it?  How perfect is that?  Each day you will receive a short message of how you can live the Year of Mercy.  I guess that means no one will be reading these posts any longer--another reason to finish up by Christmas!


I know that I have mentioned this before, but Bishop Barron's Word on Fire Youtube videos are not only informative, but easy to digest.  Presented in short videos on timely topics, these videos will not only teach you your faith, but how to live in the 21st Century as a Catholic.  Just a video a day will have you well on the way to deepening your faith and living with conviction.

Our parish recently started carrying Word Among Us.  I have read the daily readings in the past either online or in booklets, but I really like how Word Among Us features not just the readings but all of the prayers of the Mass.  We often don't realize just how beautiful the prayers of the Mass truly are until we read them.  In addition, the are "homilies" for each day.  So, while it isn't the same as daily Mass, it is the closest I can get in my PJ's on hectic mornings--which isn't that every morning.  The reflective homilies are so well written and timely.  It has truly enriched my home study time--which I admit is not every day as I hope it will be at some point--but at least when I have time, Word Among Us is there!

I cannot say enough about how our parish has really tried over the past few years to catechize the parishioners.  There are always new and interesting opportunities for prayer and study.  I do wish that we would begin reaching out to the thousands of families that are register with the parish but don't come to Sunday Mass, but that's another story--and a good motivation to live the Spiritual Works of Mercy myself.  However, back to how we have been gifted with knowledge.  Every Christmas and Easter, each family receives a CD, video, or book to experience and share.  All are Catholic and all have been spectacular!  This year, as a gift, the parish joined Formed.  If you have not heard of this website, I urge you to click over and look.  There are Catholic movies, audio programs, study programs, and e-books.  An amazing resource of entertainment, Catechism, teaching, and apologetics all at your fingertips.  If you are not a member of a parish which belongs to the Formed website, it costs $9.99 a month.  Let's be honest, though, $10 is about 3 coffees out and about, or one lunch for one person from a deli or fast food.  If you are looking for the greatest arsenal of spiritual growth tools, it is worth the small sacrifice each month to join.

Reading the Bible every day is a blessing.  I am still working on getting back into that habit, and alternate between a personal study and the Word Among Us. However, reading the WHOLE Bible is a great feat.  When we listen to the readings at Mass, we don't always know the sequence of background information of the passage.  Reading the entire thing is a great way to get to know our faith and our LORD better.  The problem is that most Bible plans are not based on Catholic Bibles, and so you still aren't reading the entire Bible.  If you are looking for a plan to start in the new year, check out Catholic Bible in a Year.
As you grow in faith and grace through your study, bearing wrongs patiently and forgiving all transgressions will get easier because the abiding peace of Christ will rest on you.  Will it ever be effortless?  Probably not.  We are fallen people living in a fallen world.  The only people not sinning ever are those already in Heaven.  However, I find that when I am taking the time to pray and study regularly, the craziness of the world and the mistakes of others are much easier to bear.  It will always be a sacrifice, that's why it is a work of mercy. 
For a long time I would wake up in the middle of the night with situations or conversations from a decade or more ago, replaying in my mind.  The anger and hurt would bubble up and my soul would mourn that time of darkness all over again.  I found it so hard to move past the slights, bullying, and unchristian behavior of others.  However, by reliving it over and over again, and renewing my anger over it, I wasn't being Christian either.  Forgiving ALL transgressions is the key.  We all sin, and sin is dark and ugly no matter how big or small.  We must forgive them all, because through Christ we are released from all of our debts of sin, we simply need to prayerfully ask forgiveness in Confession. In this Year of Mercy, let us see Christ in all we encounter and pray often, "Forgive them Father, they know not what they do!"
Praying for the living and dead should be self explanatory, but again it doesn't always come easy.  First, you must pray for everyone, most especially those who are difficult and you are not intent on remembering.  Second, pray for all the dead, those you believe were faithful and those we feel have no chance at redemption.  God is the only judge, and He is the Beginning and the End, there is no time in the LORD, our prayers could save a poor soul that we think had no chance of being saved.  Lastly, please, please pray for our enemies.  This is a command so commonly forgotten in modern life.  Pray for them, for their conversion, for their families, for their hearts and redemption.  Pray that they are not lost, that they will fall to their knees and accept Our Sovereign LORD.  Pray that the darkness will flee from around them, that their world may be flooded with light and compassion.  I feel so strongly about this, and believe it is our greatest weapon in the war of terrorism raging across our globe.

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