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Among Women Podcast 199: Beatitude = Being Like Jesus

Among Women Podcast 199: Beatitude = Being Like Jesus

The latest episode of Among Women focuses on the heart of the matter — or more specifically, the heart of Jesus and the face of Jesus we find in the Beatitudes. My guest is Melanie Rigney. Her latest book, in which I was privileged to compose the foreword, is one part a meditation on the Beatitudes and one part a reflection on the lives of the saints… Blessed Are You: Finding 9781616368807_mediumInspiration from Our Sisters in Faith, is the basis for our conversation today on how to live the beatitudes. In other words, it’s how to live like Jesus. Also in this episode, enjoy a profile on the life of St Frances Xavier Cabrini, and encouragement to tune into the Jubilee Year of Mercy coming Dec 8th.

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Related:

My stop on the Blessed Are You blog tour. 

A previous Among Women conversation with Melanie Rigney on her earlier book, Sisterhood of the Saints.

This makes me think… “Let your heart be an altar…”

Paul says: I appeal to you by the mercy of God to present your bodies as a sacrifice, living and holy. The prophet said the same thing: Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but you have prepared a body for me. Each of us is called to be both a sacrifice to God and his priest. Do not forfeit what divine authority confers on you. Put on the garment of holiness, gird yourself with the belt of chastity. Let Christ be your helmet, let the cross on your forehead be your unfailing protection. Your breastplate should be the knowledge of God that he himself has given you. Keep burning continually the sweet smelling incense of prayer. Take up the sword of the Spirit. Let your heart be an altar. Then, with full confidence in God, present your body for sacrifice. God desires not death, but faith; God thirsts not for blood, but for self-surrender; God is appeased not by slaughter, but by the offering of your free will.

From a sermon by Saint Peter Chrysologus, bishop, 5th century.

 

Men of virtue — or thoughts on ‘what is a gentleman?’

Men of virtue — or thoughts on ‘what is a gentleman?’

gentleman |ˈjentlmən|

noun ( pl. gentlemen )
a chivalrous, courteous, or honorable man: he behaved like a perfect gentleman.

-New Oxford American Dictionary-

The other day on the phone my son told me he sent flowers to his girlfriend who having an extremely busy week in the run-up to an international event her firm is hosting. Good move.

The next day I saw Facebook photos of my other son wearing a suit before a college homecoming dance, complete with a purple tie to flatter his girlfriend’s dress. Nice touch.

My husband and I recently went out to a pretty upscale French restaurant to mark our anniversary. And he brought a card, complete with a note inside from him. Words are big on my love-language list. This man never misses on this count. He is big on hand holding and door holding too. He’ll even hold my purse for me when asked.

This is the same man who helps me run a large bible study every week. He leads a discussion group. He helps set up and put away the supplies. He locks up and make sure everything is safe and secure when its over. His generous courtesies actions allow me to take final personal questions and visit with the participants who’d like to spend a little extra time. I’m grateful for it all.

For women, a man being a gentleman is not just about courtesy and gallant gestures… it’s more about the virtues that motivate them. It makes women ask: who is the man within?

In the last week my news feeds keep sending me gentlemanly posts and I thought I’d share a few with you.

In 4 Signs of a True Gentleman, Dale Partridge, now father to a daughter, is in a kind of quest to really be the first gentleman in his daughter’s life. He offers this as numero uno:

1. He Puts All Women Before Himself
Being a gentlemen has no bounds of an intimate relationship. It is a badge a man should carry with him at all times. A true gentlemen treats his mother, sisters, female friends and all feminine acquaintances with admiration and regard. He is in constant search of ways to honor and uphold the value of his female counterpart. Whether through listening, defending or affirming, a true gentlemen is a source of strength to all women, not just the one he desires.

See the other 3 items.  

That’s a pretty tall order. Yet it is another way of saying, love your neighbor. Or extend respect to all women. For respect precedes love. I always told my daughter, back in her dating days… pay attention to how a man treats his mother and his sister. It will tell you much.

Over at CatholicMom.com, Ginny Moyer writes “What it Means to Be a “Gentleman” (And Why a Mom Should Care)“. In it she describes the gift of courtesy, too, and she also talks about a man’s inbred notion of the dignity of the human person — his treatment of the other — as a necessary core value.

A gentleman sees the innate human dignity of others, all others.  Remember in Pride and Prejudice, when Elizabeth goes to Darcy’s home and hears from the housekeeper about how well he treats all the workers on his estate?  Previously, she had accused him of not being a gentleman, but a testimony like that goes a long way towards altering her initial opinion.  You can be fairly certain you’re on a date with a gentleman when he is genuinely and unostentatiously kind to the guy who refills the water glasses.

Read the rest.

I came across a fairly young blog for men called, The Catholic Gentlemen, written by Sam Guzman, the communications director for Pro-Life Wisconsin. He is pretty direct in calling men not only to gentlemanly behavior, but to holiness. He writes that there is a “man crisis” in the Church today and his call to radical faith in the teachings of Christ and his Church. You’ll get a taste of that from this recent post post on “12 Ways to be a Committed Catholic Man. ” Besides calling men to a deep faith in Jesus Christ… his #5 on his list of 12 is all about the Eucharist.

Discover the majestic manliness of the Mass – The Mass is the “source and summit” of the Catholic faith, and yet, the majority of men claim to “be bored by the Mass” and to “not get anything out of the Mass”. This is because they don’t know what is occurring in the Mass: they have little understanding of the manly symbolism of the Mass, a Sacrament that has been devoutly passed down for 2000 years. They don’t realize that during the Mass they are witnesses to the actual Bloody Sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross. If a man doesn’t actively participate in the Mass because of ignorance and boredom, he can’t receive the Graces that flow from the Eucharist. Learn the Mass to such a degree that you can explain it to others with the reverence and devotion that Christ’s Sacrifice deserves.

Read all 12 of Guzman’s list.

BONUS from Guzman: Chesterton’s Rule of Drinking.

The holiness factor — men with virtue — this is what we women are seeking.

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This makes me think… EVERYone is called to be HOLY

The Lord Jesus, the divine Teacher and Model of all perfection, preached holiness of life to each and everyone of His disciples of every condition. He Himself stands as the author and consumator of this holiness of life: “Be you therefore perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect”.(216) Indeed He sent the Holy Spirit upon all men that He might move them inwardly to love God with their whole heart and their whole soul, with all their mind and all their strength(217) and that they might love each other as Christ loves them.(218) The followers of Christ are called by God, not because of their works, but according to His own purpose and grace. They are justified in the Lord Jesus, because in the baptism of faith they truly become sons of God and sharers in the divine nature. In this way they are really made holy. Then too, by God’s gift, they must hold on to and complete in their lives this holiness they have received. They are warned by the Apostle to live “as becomes saints”,(219) and to put on “as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, meekness, patience”,(220) and to possess the fruit of the Spirit in holiness.(221) Since truly we all offend in many things (222) we all need God’s mercies continually and we all must daily pray: “Forgive us our debts”(223)

Thus it is evident to everyone, that all the faithful of Christ of whatever rank or status, are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of charity; by this holiness as such a more human manner of living is promoted in this earthly society. In order that the faithful may reach this perfection, they must use their strength accordingly as they have received it, as a gift from Christ. They must follow in His footsteps and conform themselves to His image seeking the will of the Father in all things. They must devote themselves with all their being to the glory of God and the service of their neighbor. In this way, the holiness of the People of God will grow into an abundant harvest of good, as is admirably shown by the life of so many saints in Church history.

 The classes and duties of life are many, but holiness is one—that sanctity which is cultivated by all who are moved by the Spirit of God, and who obey the voice of the Father and worship God the Father in spirit and in truth. These people follow the poor Christ, the humble and cross-bearing Christ in order to be worthy of being sharers in His glory. Every person must walk unhesitatingly according to his own personal gifts and duties in the path of living faith, which arouses hope and works through charity.

In the first place, the shepherds of Christ’s flock must holily and eagerly, humbly and courageously carry out their ministry, in imitation of the eternal high Priest, the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls. They ought to fulfill this duty in such a way that it will be the principal means also of their own sanctification. Those chosen for the fullness of the priesthood are granted the ability of exercising the perfect duty of pastoral charity by the grace of the sacrament of Orders. This perfect duty of pastoral charity  is exercised in every form of episcopal care and service, prayer, sacrifice and preaching. By this same sacramental grace, they are given the courage necessary to lay down their lives for their sheep, and the ability of promoting greater holiness in the Church by their daily example, having become a pattern for their flock.(224)

Priests, who resemble bishops to a certain degree in their participation of the sacrament of Orders, form the spiritual crown of the bishops. They participate in the grace of their office and they should grow daily in their love of God and their neighbor by the exercise of their office through Christ, the eternal and unique Mediator. They should preserve the bond of priestly communion, and they should abound in every spiritual good and thus present to all men a living witness to God. All this they should do in emulation of those priests who often, down through the course of the centuries, left an outstanding example of the holiness of humble and hidden service. Their praise lives on in the Church of God. By their very office of praying and offering sacrifice for their own people and the entire people of God, they should rise to greater holiness. Keeping in mind what they are doing and imitating what they are handling, these priests, in their apostolic labors, rather than being ensnared by perils and hardships, should rather rise to greater holiness through these perils and hardships. They should ever nourish and strengthen their action from an abundance of contemplation, doing all this for the comfort of the entire Church of God. All priests, and especially those who are called “diocesan priests,” due to the special title of their ordination, should keep continually before their minds the fact that their faithful loyalty toward and their generous cooperation with their bishop is of the greatest value in their growth in holiness.

Ministers of lesser rank are also sharers in the mission and grace of the Supreme Priest. In the first place among these ministers are deacons, who, in as much as they are dispensers of Christ’s mysteries and servants of the Church, should keep themselves free from every vice and stand before men as personifications of goodness and friends of God.(225) Clerics, who are called by the Lord and are set aside as His portion in order to prepare themselves for the various ministerial offices under the watchful eye of spiritual shepherds, are bound to bring their hearts and minds into accord with this special election (which is theirs). They will accomplish this by their constancy in prayer, by their burning love, and by their unremitting recollection of whatever is true, just and of good repute. They will accomplish all this for the glory and honor of God. Besides these already named, there are also laymen, chosen of God and called by the bishop. These laymen spend themselves completely in apostolic labors, working the Lord’s field with much success.

Furthermore, married couples and Christian parents should follow their own proper path (to holiness) by faithful love. They should sustain one another in grace throughout the entire length of their lives. They should embue their offspring, lovingly welcomed as God’s gift, with Christian doctrine and the evangelical virtues. In this manner, they offer all men the example of unwearying and generous love; in this way they build up the brotherhood of charity; in so doing, they stand as the witnesses and cooperators in the fruitfulness of Holy Mother Church; by such lives, they are a sign and a participation in that very love, with which Christ loved His Bride and for which He delivered Himself up for her. A like example, but one given in a different way, is that offered by widows and single people, who are able to make great contributions toward holiness and apostolic endeavor in the Church. Finally, those who engage in labor—and frequently it is of a heavy nature—should better themselves by their human labors. They should be of aid to their fellow citizens. They should raise all of society, and even creation itself, to a better mode of existence. Indeed, they should imitate by their lively charity, in their joyous hope and by their voluntary sharing of each others’ burdens, the very Christ who plied His hands with carpenter’s tools and Who in union with His Father, is continually working for the salvation of all men. In this, then, their daily work they should climb to the heights of holiness and apostolic activity.

May all those who are weighed down with poverty, infirmity and sickness, as well as those who must bear various hardships or who suffer persecution for justice sake—may they all know they are united with the suffering Christ in a special way for the salvation of the world. The Lord called them blessed in His Gospel and they are those whom “the God of all graces, who has called us unto His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will Himself, after we have suffered a little while, perfect, strengthen and establish”.(226)

Finally all Christ’s faithful, whatever be the conditions, duties and circumstances of their lives—and indeed through all these, will daily increase in holiness, if they receive all things with faith from the hand of their heavenly Father and if they cooperate with the divine will. In this temporal service, they will manifest to all men the love with which God loved the world.

 “God is love, and he who abides in love, abides in God and God in Him”.(227) But, God pours out his love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, Who has been given to us;(228) thus the first and most necessary gift is love, by which we love God above all things and our neighbor because of God. Indeed, in order that love, as good seed may grow and bring forth fruit in the soul, each one of the faithful must willingly hear the Word of God and accept His Will, and must complete what God has begun by their own actions with the help of God’s grace. These actions consist in the use of the sacraments and in a special way the Eucharist, frequent participation in the sacred action of the Liturgy, application of oneself to prayer, self-abnegation, lively fraternal service and the constant exercise of all the virtues. For charity, as the bond of perfection and the fullness of the law,(229) rules over all the means of attaining holiness and gives life to these same means. It is charity which guides us to our final end. It is the love of God and the love of one’s neighbor which points out the true disciple of Christ.

Since Jesus, the Son of God, manifested His charity by laying down His life for us, so too no one has greater love than he who lays down his life for Christ and His brothers.(230) From the earliest times, then, some Christians have been called upon—and some will always be called upon—to give the supreme testimony of this love to all men, but especially to persecutors. The Church, then, considers martyrdom as an exceptional gift and as the fullest proof of love. By martyrdom a disciple is transformed into an image of his Master by freely accepting death for the salvation of the world—as well as his conformity to Christ in the shedding of his blood. Though few are presented such an opportunity, nevertheless all must be prepared to confess Christ before men. They must be prepared to make this profession of faith even in the midst of persecutions, which will never be lacking to the Church, in following the way of the cross.

Likewise, the holiness of the Church is fostered in a special way by the observance of the counsels proposed in the Gospel by Our Lord to His disciples. An eminent position among these is held by virginity or the celibate state.(231) This is a precious gift of divine grace given by the Father to certain souls,(232) whereby they may devote themselves to God alone the more easily, due to an undivided heart.  This perfect continency, out of desire for the kingdom of heaven, has always been held in particular honor in the Church. The reason for this was and is that perfect continency for the love of God is an incentive to charity, and is certainly a particular source of spiritual fecundity in the world.

The Church continually keeps before it the warning of the Apostle which moved the faithful to charity, exhorting them to experience personally what Christ Jesus had known within Himself. This was the same Christ Jesus, who “emptied Himself, taking the nature of a slave . . . becoming obedient to death”,(233) and because of us “being rich, he became poor”.(234) Because the disciples must always offer an imitation of and a testimony to the charity and humility of Christ, Mother Church rejoices at finding within her bosom men and women who very closely follow their Saviour who debased Himself to our comprehension. There are some who, in their freedom as sons of God, renounce their own wills and take upon themselves the state of poverty. Still further, some become subject of their own accord to another man, in the matter of perfection for love of God. This is beyond the measure of the commandments, but is done in order to become more fully like the obedient Christ.

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. Let all then have care that they guide aright their own deepest sentiments of soul. Let neither the use of the things of this world nor attachment to riches, which is against the spirit of evangelical poverty, hinder them in their quest for perfect love. Let them heed the admonition of the Apostle to those who use this world; let them not come to terms with this world; for this world, as we see it, is passing away.(235)

-Lumen Gentium, 40, 41, 42-

 

Footnotes:

216 Mt. 5:48.

217 Cf. Mk. 12:30.

218 Cf. Jn. 13.34; 15:12.

219 Eph. 5:3.

220 Col . 3:12.

221 Cf. Gal. 5:22; Rom. 6:22.

222 Cf. Jas. 3:2.

223 1 Mt. 6:12.

224 Cf. 1 Pt. 5:3.

225 Cf. 1 Tim. 3:8-10 and 12-1

226 1 Pt. 5:10.

227 1 Jn. 4:16.

228 Cf. Rom. 5:5.

229 Cf. Col. 3:14; Rom. 13:10.

230 Cf. 1 Jn. 3:16; Jn. 15:13.

231 Cf 1 Cor. 7:32-34.

232 Cf Mt. 19:11; 1 Cor.7:7.

233 Phil. 2:7-8.

234 2 Cor. 8:9.

235 Cf 1. Cor. 7:31ff.