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Thursday, May 4, 2017

A Begining-at least

The House just passed a potentially socio-economic altering piece of legislation.

-Ends tax penalties, under the original Affordable Care Act, for individuals who don’t buy insurance coverage and larger employers who don’t offer coverage. Instead, insurers would apply a 30 percent surcharge to customers who've let coverage lapse for more than 63 days in the past year.
-Ends tax increases on higher-earning people and a range of industry groups including insurers, drug makers and medical device manufacturers.
-Cuts the Medicaid program for low-income people and lets states impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients. Forbids states that haven't already expanded Medicaid to do so. Changes Medicaid from an open-ended program that covers beneficiaries' costs to one that gives states fixed amounts of money annually.
-Overhauls insurance subsidy system from one based largely on incomes and premium costs to a system of tax credits. The credits would rise with customers’ ages and, like the subsidies, could be used toward premium costs.
-Lets states get federal waivers allowing insurers to charge older customers higher premiums than younger ones by as much as they'd like. Obama's law limits the difference to a 3-1 ratio. States also can get waivers exempting insurers from providing consumers with required coverage of specified health services, and from Obama's prohibition against insurers charging higher premiums to people with pre-existing health problems, but only if the person has had a gap in insurance coverage.
-States could only get the latter waivers if they have mechanisms like high-risk pools that are supposed to help cover people with serious, expensive-to-treat diseases. A newly added provision would give another $8 billion over five years to help states finance their high-risk pools. Despite criticism that the waivers strip protections, House Speaker Paul Ryan’s office maintains that since states that take the waivers would have to set up the high-risk pools, “insurance companies cannot deny you coverage based on pre-existing conditions.”
-Blocks federal payments to Planned Parenthood for a year.
-Retains requirement that family policies cover grown children to age 26.


It is to be expected that special interest groups like Planned Parenthood and others will voice their own discontent. This legislation is step in the right direction to be sure! Next stop? It'll go to the Senate. We can do this!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

7 Benefits of Hiking

Image result for hikingHiking is an enjoyable sport that almost anyone can participate in. The only thing different between hiking and walking is that hiking is usually considered being out in nature or in natural surroundings. It can be done solo or with others, though personally, solo is better.



The 7 benefits of hiking:

1. Exercises and strengthens the body

2. Reduces and manages stress, clears the mind

3. Strengthens the mind

4. Builds confidence and assurance

5. Being outside in nature is therapeutic

6. Meet interesting people and see beautiful things

7. Discover things about yourself you really never knew

 You are ready to let yourself go
To find yourself
Wandering willfully while wanting
Wandering, wandering

Over hills, across rocks, under stars
Beneath the noonday and midnight sun
Up mountains, along streams
Trekking soulfully along unfamiliar ground
Wandering, wandering

Feathered and flightless friends await
Dauntless peaks are resolute
Strap on your boots, grab your bag
For those who wander are not lost.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Soul of the Apostolate: A Reflection Essay

November Supermoon.
Reflective Essay on The Soul of the Apostolate authored by Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard

I first heard of this book during the Seminar (2016) from one of Fr. McFarland’s conferences. The impression I got was that it was a recommended book to read. After reading it, not only is it strongly recommended but it is a necessary publication that should be required reading for all.

Dom Chautard exhorts the reader to understand that God desires good works from us, hence paving the way to zealous actions with the principal or basis of all our works revolving around Christ. There is no conflict between the Interior Life and the salvation of souls; in fact, the two go hand in hand. To reject the truth or to ignore it in one’s actions, always constitutes an intellectual disorder in doctrine or in practice.” Therefore those who are involved in some apostolic work, whether they are priests or religious, single or married, younger or older, regardless, all have a duty to become closer to Christ through the cultivation of their Interior Life and the realization that all their works should be Divinely anchored for a fruitful and successful apostolate, “transmitting this divine life to souls, ought to consider themselves mere channels...

Jesus imparts to those who are unobstructed and pure, something of Himself, and in the long run they become more like Him in their thoughts, actions, demeanor, speech, etc... The lack of the Interior Life can be and is a source of many faults, trials, tribulations, dryness, trepidation, etc… A balance in the Interior Life in proportion to the world is like maintaining one’s own health: If I eat too much candy and unhealthy things, it makes me invariably weak and sick, therefore making me weaker, and my daily living will not be productive or even enjoyable. If I balance myself physically by eating less junk food and more vegetables and exercising often, if not daily, I will stay healthy and become strong, making my life more productive and very enjoyable. So in this case, the candy and unhealthy things would be relishing worldly desires; a weak prayer and sacramental life coupled with lack-lustered virtues would make me spiritually weak and sick -- just to name some afflictions. The healthy living would be a Rule of Life, receiving the Sacraments often and with fervor, strengthening virtues, spiritual reading, meditation, perseverance, and custody of the senses -- just to name some -- and these would make me spiritually strong.

He mentions some of the ways that we acquire the presence of God: meritorious acts (acceptance of pains and humiliations, self-denial, prayer, Mass, etc…), offering of my daily activities/sacrifices/ joys to Him, and frequent use of the Sacraments. This acquisition will help me in my progress in the Interior Life. One excellent way is custody of the heart or of the senses. A surefire way is maintaining the observance of my spiritual duties with promptness and perseverance, thus cultivating discipline. Furthermore, custody of the senses comes with vigilance, and vigilance itself must be strengthened. As St. Pius X says “we will never have strength to persevere in sustaining all the difficulties....Only a patient virtue, unshakably based upon the good, and at the same time smooth and tactful, is able to move these difficulties to one side and diminish their power.”

St. Alphonsus Liguori (Aug 1or2) -- consider this quote as you remember that saints' feast days are normally on the day they died (their birth into eternity) - trust: This custody is accompanied by a certain peacefulness of spirit as well as an “unexcited anxiety”, which is based on a childlike confidence in God, though it demands a certain amount of recollection and discipline. When that custody is violently assaulted due to temptations or some other malady, “they can do no harm as long as my will resists them.”
Meditations have a way of ensuring this certain custody by the recollection of spirit and mind to the thought of God, reminding me of my good works and ways to become a better Catholic and perhaps a Saint. When I give myself to Christ in all things -- if all things are equal I find that He is able to dwell within myself and then, only then, am I able to share the love of Christ with others. “Not until we have formed Christ within ourselves will we find it easy to give Him to families and to societies.”

I cannot give what I do not have. The Interior Life compels me to regard Christ in all my undertakings, offering every piece of the patchwork quilt of my life up to Him.
All that Jesus wants is my desire as well as my heart in order for Him to work in me, but before that simple action in myself I have to maintain that desire, persevering in furthering my abandonment to God. With the help of Our Lady it will be so, for she is ever powerful and intercedes on my behalf.
This offering up everything to God is a way of practicing simplicity: “Do not wish to be anything but what you are, and try to be that perfectly”- St. Francis de Sales. If I can recognize my joys and sorrows, my qualities and faults, my difficult or happy situations, I can place them all as they are in God’s hands, trusting that He’ll magnify the good and root out the bad, as well as simply seeing and knowing me as I am, without adding or subtracting anything from my identity. God will do what He does with me; at least I can give Him my desire.

Humility is pivotal in gaining ground in the Interior Life. “Humility, true humility has a special charm that comes directly from Christ.” If one is humble, that person radiates firmness and gentleness, kindness, Charity, mortification, Faith, Hope, etc. … essentially mirroring Christ.

Furthermore, the best way to gain ground in the Interior Life is through the Liturgical Life of the Church. The Liturgy is important because it helps the soul to be steeped in the virtue of religion. Everything in the Liturgy speaks to me of God, of His perfections, of His mercies, of His Love and graces. Everything takes me back to Him. The Liturgy is like a constant interchange with Him where, in union with the priest, I can participate in the Mass in some small way, either through Liturgical prayer in common, or through the physical actions at Mass.

.Lastly, there is the soul’s outward disposition or comportment. Demeanor should be a natural response to the movements in the Interior Life of the soul, in the light of God’s grace. The behavior of those who love and revere God may be shown in one's conduct as one progresses in the Interior Life, and this ordinarily flows through the person to an external manifestation. A person's spiritual state commonly manifests itself on the outside because of the joining of the spiritual and the temporal realms in the body-soul combination of a human being, in which each side always affects the other, either positively or negatively. One’s fervor may be shown in how one makes the Sign of the Cross, a genuflection, etc…. If a person is lax in his spirituality, then that laxness will generally manifest in his actions. Demeanor is not the goal of the Interior Life, but it is an effect of the invisible inner workings of the soul trying to correspond with God in the advancement to union with Him.

In short, I really enjoyed this recommendation and I hope by this reflective essay  that others will be inspired to read it. This book was originally written for religious with particular emphasis on the spirituality of priests and the work of spiritual direction.
For the layperson who reads this book, it develops the Interior Life for a solid foundation of their particular apostolate -- which is to primarily to live the Faith in which they profess belief -- and its instructions can easily be adapted to one’s state of life under the guidance of a confessor or spiritual director.


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Most Special of Names

Names, what are they actually? Names are titles or labels given to people, objects, places, things, et cetera to denote what they are. For instance, my name is Heidi. The name Heidi is either French or German and it means “nobility”, or of “noble kind”, though its bearer tries to live up to that meaning. :) 
Owners usually have names for their pets and some are unusual.  Our family once had a canary that was named “Jose” who sang along with the canary song tapes; a pet rabbit that was called “Thumper” who just liked to be ornery; as well as a Collie by the name of “Burne” that barked and herded us around outside when we were kids; an observant green chameleon named “Mr. Spock”; a gigantic Koi fish named “Golde” with whom you could hand feed; and a currently-living Black Labrador named Penny who is the best dog I have ever had. It’s unclear why people name their pets the way they do, but oddly enough the pets seem to match their names in the long run, just like people, which leads me to my next point. 

Saints have names too, like St. Gregory the Great, St. Augustine, St. Philomena, St. Erasmus, St. Lawrence, St. John Bosco, St. Raphael Arnaiz Baron, Ven. Fulton J. Sheen, the list is endless. Even in the Bible, there existed plenty of names for all sorts of things. Names are not given by half-chance or without a mere thought because a person can define their God-given name. Names usually describe a person, but a person can define their own name.

Image result for Quotes About Names in the Namesake and IdentityOur Lady’s name is Mary, but she can go by different titles too such as Star of the Sea, Mystical Rose, Blessed Virgin, The Madonna, Our Lady, etc.  What sets her name apart from the mundane names in the world is how she lived her life. She herself was (is) very holy in the way of being simple, pure, docile and humble, ever willing to obey the will of God out of love for Him.
Her name, when reverently and truly spoken by a soul, chases away demons. After the most Holy Name of Jesus, her name is also holy. She defined her God-given name whilst on Earth, the Saints and martyrs defined theirs through their holy lives, we must define ours in like manner so we can hopefully be counted among the ranks in Heaven and be recognized by the name which we humbly bear out of love for the holiest of names, Jesus.