Intentionality Requires Vision

I believe that being intentional is the key to having a thriving domestic church. Creating an authentic atmosphere of faith in our homes or living according to rhythms of the liturgical year don’t happen by accident. We must intend to do such things. But what if we are struggling with a concept of what that looks like in our families? Vision is imperative.

 If we lack vision for our domestic churches, then we will probably struggle to be intentional about building habits and culture in family life.

Scripture gives insight to this phenomenon in Proverbs 29:18:

Without a vision the people lose restraint; but happy is the one who follows instruction.” (NABRE)

The footnote in Bible Gateway reads: “‘Vision’ and ‘instruction’ mean authoritative guidance for the community.” We need authoritative guidance for our domestic churches; we can’t begin being intentional until we know what it is we are going for, what it should look like — both theoretically and practically. Thank goodness we have the Holy Spirit working through Church tradition, the Catechism, and a wealth of encyclicals to inspire vision within us!

But part of constructing a vision involves deconstructing old habits, patterns and norms. And sometimes we need both the Church’s inspirational and prophetic voice to help us in this process. The RSV translation of the above passage reads like this:

“Where there is no prophecy, the people cast off restraint, but happy are those who keep the law.”

We sometimes misunderstand this word “prophecy” to only mean “predicting the future.” While some of the prophets did foretell things in Scripture, that is not the complete purpose of the prophetic. An important role of the prophetic, both in individuals given the gift of prophecy and the Church’s prophetic voice, is to correct us when we lose our way. Continue reading “Intentionality Requires Vision”

St. Maria Goretti: Virtue in Children

Today in the liturgical year we celebrate the life of a young saint who lived in Italy during the turn of the 20th century. This was a hard-working little girl from a poor farming family, whose father died when she was nine, requiring her family to move in with another family. When she was 11, one of the sons of the family they lived with, Alessandro, made sexual advances toward her. When she refused him, he stabbed her 14 times. As she was dying in the hospital she forgave him. He was imprisoned for 27 years, during which time he had a conversion of heart. When he was released, he begged Maria’s mother’s forgiveness — which she granted — and he became a lay brother in a monastery later in life.

Yes, it’s a pretty heavy story, to say the least. But it’s a story with so much grace and inspiration. Every year when her memorial comes around, I cannot help but consider the virtue that had been built up in this little girl over her childhood. Like so many saint stories, we see that there is no such thing as virtue that suddenly appears in a given moment. Grace does for sure! But the virtue in the moment is the result of a life of virtuous habits and living faith. The moment tests that virtue, tests that faith, and we see the real character of the person emerge. Clearly this was a girl who was living her life on earth with her heavenly home in mind every day.

We can read stories like this about child saints who lived 100 years ago during a time and place where everyone took for granted the truth of the Church and faith in God, and we can easily think: Such virtue is not possible for my children today. As I think about young Maria, I can’t help but consider my children’s yelling and hitting each other yesterday over rather minor offenses. I think about their disobedience or talking back to me, and sometimes as parents we can get discouraged. Will they ever rise above these reactions and bad behaviors? Continue reading “St. Maria Goretti: Virtue in Children”

Need a Lenten Study? 3 Options

Ash Wednesday is the day after tomorrow — Lent seems to have snuck up fast this year! I’m sure you would not be alone if you are still deciding what to do for Lent. I have some suggestions that might help you. I’m not going to give you ideas of what to fast from or give up — listen to the Holy Spirit for that. But I do have some ideas for your reading/study material. I have three options that are all pretty different from each other…

Option #1 – Facebook Book Club

For those who enjoy online book clubs (and are not giving up social media for Lent), you may want to join the FB Abiding Together Podcast book study. I’m not a follower of this podcast, but I know a couple of people who listen to it and/or are participating in the study. The group is reading and discussing Henri Nouwen’s Life of the Beloved. I’m definitely going to add this book to my “Want To Read” category — it looks like a good one.

Option #2 – The Seven Penitential Psalms

Meditating on the psalms is a wonderful option for both Bible study and prayer. The psalms themselves make up a significant portion of liturgical prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours. There are Seven Penitential Psalms that are especially good to study and meditate on during penitential seasons/days of the Church: Psalms 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130 and 143. (The link above has some reflections too.) My recommendation would be to take one psalm for each of the six weeks of Lent to study and meditate on in prayer all week. Then tag on the seventh one during Holy Week or on Good Friday.

Option #3 – Read the Book of Exodus

You will see a lot of Exodus readings during Lent, because that’s an important book for this season of the Church. It’s kind of convenient — 40 days of Lent, 40 chapters in Exodus. Read a chapter a day. Start on Ash Wednesday and finish by Easter. (Hint: Sundays are not part of the 40 days of Lent. So you can use those to catch up if you get behind.) I’m actually doing this for Lent with a married couples group at our church. We are using this study with the text, commentary, and study questions by Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch.

Whatever you decide on, remember the point — to detach from the desire to please ourselves and draw closer to the Lord; to be abandoned to Him. Ask Him what will accomplish that goal for you. God bless your Lenten journey!

How about you? Any addition studies out there you want to recommend?

 

Copyright 2018 Jessica Ptomey