Evangelical Virtues of Mary: Prudence

Virtue

Virtue (Photo credit: Leonard John Matthews)

This is my article that ran on CatholicMom.com this week. I like to post them here, too. To view it over there, click on this link and voila!  Happy Holy Saturday!

According to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, with God’s help, the evangelical virtues forge character.

The ten evangelical virtues are derived from a combination of the human, moral, cardinal and theological virtues, described to us in the Catechism. They are actual qualities of Mary, the Mother of God who by her example is the epitome of evangelization: chastity, prudence, humility, faith, devotion, obedience, poverty, patience, mercy and sorrow.

In this year of faith, efforts to increase in virtue are a worthy exercise. We are called to evangelize with virtue in a variety of vocations, as a mother, a daughter, a sister, an employee, a wife. Modeling our behavior on the Blessed Virgin is an excellent way to bring others to Christ.  Who more than Mary has brought more of us to her son?

The second Evangelical Virtue of Mary is Prudence.                                           

But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart. Luke 2:19

And he descended with them and went to Nazareth. And he was subordinate to them. And his mother kept all these words in her heart. Luke 2:51

Mary “ponders” these things in her heart. She discerns. She doesn’t react, debate or take any action right away. She simply ponders things first.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us (1806), “Prudence is the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it.”

The prudent woman looks where she is going. Prudence is “right reason in action,” writes St. Thomas Aquinas. The prudent woman determines and directs her conduct in accordance with this judgment. With the help of this virtue we apply moral principles without error and overcome doubts about good and evil in our everyday circumstances.

Prudence is also one of the four cardinal virtues, which means it can be practiced by anyone. The cardinal virtues are not, in themselves, the gifts of God through grace but the outgrowth of habit.

Prudence, as explained by Fr. John A. Hardon in his Modern Catholic Dictionary, is “Correct knowledge about things to be done or, more broadly, the knowledge of things that ought to be done and of thing that ought to be avoided.”

So how do we know when we’re exercising prudence and when we’re simply giving in to our own desires?

How do we know if we are acting prudently or not?  As an act of virtue, prudence involves three stages of mental operation: to take counsel carefully with oneself and from others; to judge correctly on the basis of the evidence at hand; and to direct my actions accordingly.

When faced with a dilemma, we first pray, ask God to direct our thinking.  Next we ask for advice from someone of good character, someone we can trust, of good moral character. We look at all the evidence at hand, the facts in front of us. We never rush. We ask God for his will for us. Then, finally we make a decision and act upon it.

And we must always keep in mind that the definition of prudence requires us to judge correctly. If our judgment is proved after the fact to have been incorrect, then we did not make a “prudential judgment” but an imprudent one, for which we may need to make amends.

One way to integrate these virtues into your life is by praying the Chaplet to the Ten Evangelical Virtues of Mary.

The Cloud of the Unknowing, Cafeteria Catholics and Pope Francis

Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene--OlsenOne of my favorite spiritual works–I haven’t read it in its entirety but as I do with most of my God books I read bits and pieces and skip around—is The Cloud of the Unknowing.

The Cloud of Unknowing is an anonymous work of Christian mysticism written in Middle English in the 14th century. It is a spiritual guide on Catholic contemplative prayer. It proposes the only way to truly “know” God is to abandon all preconceived notions and beliefs or “knowledge” about God and be courageous enough to surrender your mind and ego to the realm of “unknowingness,” at which point, you begin to glimpse the true nature of God.

With the election of Pope Francis it seems a new era has swarmed into the Church. I am careful not to say a “better” era. I felt Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was a brilliant pope who left us beautiful epistles, wonderful homilies and made great strides in uniting certain facets of Christians with the Church.  Also, he held fast to supporting the Church’s moral truths which are under attack in the secular world, therefore our very Catholic selves are under attack.  I loved him, looked at him as a true shepherd of our Church, guided by God to shepherd the whole Church.

What I mean by this new era is how Pope Francis is able to appeal to the other Catholics, ex-Catholics and the ones who might be more cafeteria-style in their Catholic morality but who nonetheless want to know, love and serve God. Unable to grasp the importance of God’s moral truths in following Him, they still want to follow Him.

And Francis opens that door, without compromising on the Church’s moral truths. By his humility, his meekness, his imperative and primary call to serve the poor, these Catholics fall silent–in a good way, silent. They stop attacking temporarily. They perceive a pope they might actually be able to relate to. This is the God they know and love, the God who serves the poor and the God who loves all of us, even those of us who can’t—-by nature of our ignorance and pride, which we all have to some extent in different capacities—come to accept moral truths.

I’ve listened to the commentary and have been impressed with comments like “breath of fresh air in the Church,” and “guarded hopefulness.”  As for me, it’s funny because the Church has ALWAYS been about social justice–at least in my lifetime. Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI were tremendous champions of the poor and the vulnerable.  So why couldn’t these other Catholics see it? And why do they see Pope Francis as a breath of fresh air?

I can only guess it’s because these types of Catholics abhor authority, hierarchy, pomp, Catholic morality?  I don’t have a problem with authority, hierarchy, pomp (beauty!) and theological morality. So, I saw the Church’s grand social justice network as part of a whole, not a separate thing.

Anyways, for those cafeteria and ex-Catholics who might entertain coming back to the fold because of Pope Francis, welcome! And yay! You don’t have to have a perfect understanding (I say “understanding” because if these Catholics truly understood Catholic morality they would embrace it) of morality in order to be welcomed in the Church.  Just come back. Your understanding of the necessity of her moral teachings will come more readily once you’re here for a while.  So come back and let the Church and the Holy Spirit transform you.

The most important moral teaching, the foundation of it all, is the Church teaching on the dignity of the human person. Thank God for her stubborn insistence on condemning abortion. Pro-life in all circumstances, it is my prayer that Catholics who support a “woman’s right to choose abortion” will come to understand the love behind the Church’s teaching on this.

I’ve been thinking about the things that appeal to more liberal Catholics–and in addition to social justice, to me they seem to be more existential in nature. I’m making a big generalization here but it’s also an invitation.

where-only-love-can-go-30-days-with-john-kirvan-paperback-cover-artCheck out the Cloud of the Unknowing. A contemplative myself, this is a great entry point for those looking for the softer side of the Faith. Softer as in—it’s all about “love”— and not morality.  But this spiritual classic is not for beginners who wish to dabble in spirituality and new ageness. This spirituality is deeply rooted in Jesus, in forgetting everything about the world and getting to know God without distraction.

The Cloud of the Unknowing is written in middle English and for me is very difficult to read. I have to read every sentence three times to get it. So books like the one by John Kirvan, “Where Only Love Can Go,” are excellent tools for me to embrace this spiritual classic.  Where Only Love Can Go is a thirty day trip through The Cloud of the Unknowing, in modern language.  Here is an excerpt:

My dear friend in the Spirit, up until now you have lived a good but ordinary Christian life, not very different from your friends. But apparently God is calling you to something more. Because of the love in his heart, which he has had for you from the moment of your creation, he is not going to leave you alone, not about to let you off so easily. You are beginning to experience in  a special way God’s everlasting love, which you were brought out of nothingness and redeemed at the price of his blood. You can no longer be content to live at a distance from God. In his great grace he has kindled a desire in your heart to be more closely united to him.”

Kirwan notes that the anonymous author of The Cloud of the Unknowing instructs its reader that this is a book and a journey, which requires serious attention. He goes on to say, “The Cloud of the Unknowing is not for those who are tempted to “dip into” spirituality, to play around the edges of contemplation, presuming that the journey to God is a trip into warm fuzziness and uninterrupted serenity.”

So, in conclusion here I’m excited that ex-Catholics and “cafeteria” Catholics are looking at Pope Francis fondly and therefore looking more fondly at our Church. If only they would stop criticizing her for a minute and simply experience her in all her beauty and complexity, they will come to love her as I do. The Cloud of the Unknowing, a very Catholic spiritual work, might be a good place to start. And eventually, their understanding of God’s moral truths will come—and they will see the moral truths are there not to punish or condemn us but to free us and perfect us to closer union with our Creator.

In Search of Hope and Transformation

butterflyI’ve been an annoying re-blogger the past few days.  I spent three intense days on a marketing proposal I had to present Tuesday, and in good old obsessive fashion I thought of nothing else until it was complete and behind me.  Then yesterday I was in recovery mode from this and spent my time reading other people’s work and re-blogging good stuff.

Now that I’ve recovered from my marketing obsession, I have so many ideas that I want to write about. The problem is determining which one to dive into first. And then I saw a simple post over at Tired of Thinking About Drinking that inspired me to write my own similar post listing the “search terms” people use to find my blog.  This at least has gotten me going and I expect I’ll have two or three posts to follow before the day is over. I hope y’all (yes, I’m from Georgia) don’t get tired of me today!

Search terms used to find my blog:

  • mother son intimacy
  • aa logo
  • catholic and alcoholism
  • catholic alcoholic
  • adopt a cardinal
  • sobriety blogs
  • different kinds of saints
  • is aa ok for catholic
  • lectio divina
  • blog catholic alcoholism
  • 4th step prayer
  • catholic coping mechanisms
  • catholic alcohol addiction
  • prayer book for catholic addicts
  • mother teresa
  • catholic healing for alcoholic parent
  • catholic alcoholics anonymous women
  • catholics and alcohol
  • catholic and being alcoholic
  • gods will regarding alcoholism catholic
  • bruce willis alcoholic
  • mindy mccready suicide
  • 12 steps for catholic priests book
  • hope
  • mary magdalen and the egg
  • pilgrimage florida
  • catholics love alcohol
  • catholic beer
  • calix
  • heather king magnificat
  • “celebrate recovery” catholic
  • king paw jaguar
  • catholic alcohol recovery
  • catholic help with alcoholism
  • pope benedict commentary
  • catechism views on alcoholics anonymous
  • cloud of witnesses

Pretty interesting–at least to me!  So there are people out there searching for the kind of experiences I write about. Dear God, please direct my thinking and my writing so that if ever someone comes across my blog they are left with Your hope. As your dear servant Pope Emeritus Benedict said,

“To be effective the proclamation of faith must begin with a heart that believes, hopes, loves; and a heart that loves Christ also believes in the transformative power of the Holy Spirit!”

So if it be Your will, God, let me be an example of this transformative power of the Holy Spirit.

Sunday Snippets: A Catholic Carnival

In Western art, vanity was often symbolized by a peacock,

In Western art, vanity was often symbolized by a peacock,

Hello, and welcome to Sunday Snippets–A Catholic Carnival. We are a group of Catholic bloggers who gather weekly to share our best posts with each other.  For this third Sunday of Lent, we’re linking up with RAnn of This, That and The Other Thing. My offerings this week:

Have you had “The Talk” with your middle-schooler where I wrote about having the alcohol talk with my kids is actually more important to me than having the sex talk.

In Thank you, Papa I say thank you and happy trails to Pope Emeritus Benedict.

In my 7-Quick Takes, I wrote about the 7 Things I like About Alcoholics Anonymous.

And in Dear God, I write a thank you letter to God for the blessings in my life.

So that’s it!  Head on over to the Catholic Carnival and add your own link to participate.  Be sure to check out the other posts as they’re always filled with such hope and inspiration!

Thank You, Papa!

full moon vatican feb 27 2013Just 24 hours left in the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI and I am more in love with my Church and my faith than ever before. I’ve been pouring over blog posts from so many of you and eating up all the history and catechism refreshers.

I truly admire and love this Pope. I pray the conclave does God’s will and I hope God’s will is to bring a new springtime in.  What BXVI started in this year of faith really has created a mission heart in me and so many others–I don’t have to go to Africa or India to be a witness for my faith. I can do it right here in my little world, here in Alpharetta, Georgia and also here in my little place in the blogosphere.

Thank you Pope Benedict for your life of service to the Church. I am so happy you will be able to live out your days in prayer and comfortable brown shoes from Leon, Mexico.  XOXO, Number 9

***

“The upcoming Year of Faith is a “summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the One Savior of the world” (Porta Fidei 6). In other words, the Year of Faith is an opportunity for Catholics to experience a conversion – to turn back to Jesus and enter into a deeper relationship with him. The “door of faith” is opened at one’s baptism, but during this year Catholics are called to open it again, walk through it and rediscover and renew their relationship with Christ and his Church.”

Catholic Digest Commemorative Issue on Pope Benedict XVI

PopeBenedict_CE_cover_lowrez-page-001-231x300I found this over at Danielle Bean’s blog. Danielle is now Editor-in-chief for Catholic Digest.

From DB’s blog:

Catholic Digest’s commemorative edition, Benedict XVI: Faithful Servant, Courageous Pope, is a stunning, 8″x11″ – 56-page, special tribute that includes vivid photography, celebrated moments from the life of Pope Benedict XVI, and reflections about our beloved Papa, including farewell letters and drawings from children! This commemorative edition is a gorgeous and inspiring keepsake.

At only $4.95 this booklet is a bargain and it would make a great Easter gift for yourself or anyone you love. Order your copy today.

Love the Psalms…

Living Sober through the Psalms

Sober Thought for Day
It’s been said in meetings that if you think you had a high bottom, you may have a low bottom in your future. AA Grapevine

What does it mean to hit rock bottom? When it comes to alcohol and drug addiction, “hitting rock bottom” means that the user comes to a place where he decides he does not wish to continue living the way he is living, and hopefully, is now ready to make changes. Addiction is the only illness where the patient remains oblivious to the fact she needs medical attention. Dr David Karol Gore

If we think we have a pretty “high” bottom, in the back of our minds we might still be thinking, “Maybe it wasn’t that bad, afterall.”  So, we may rationalize after a period of time in sobriety that we can make another attempt at controlled drinking.  The problem is, and this…

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