Top 5 Resolutions You Can Make With Your Spouse

Top 5 Resolutions You Can Make With Your Spouse

As stores sweep away the last scraps of holiday decor and the general public becomes befuddled as to when they should stop wishing themselves a Merry Christmas, most of the earth has been busying itself with resolutions for the New Year. Ah yes, the end of 2012 – a year the Mayans had supposed total annihilation and Republicans wished them right. What more virtuous way to enter January 1, 2013 (aka, the second week of Christmas) than to resolve to change oneself for the better? Why, changing one’s spouse for the better, too! Below are the top 5 resolutions you can make with your spouse. Be Encouraging – Anyone can see the big-picture efforts and accomplishments and give reassurance, but you have the uncanny ability to assess and encourage your spouse in their day-to-day efforts. Truly encouraging someone means letting go of self-motivations (“That was a near-professional job mopping the floor. I just know you’ll do better next time!”) and helping someone see the good truth about themselves. Develop Honesty and Sacrifice – Like a one-two punch, these resolutions can either set you up to be the righteous martyr or boost the confidence of the household chef on both the culinary and spiritual levels: “I love your eggplant casserole because of all the souls released from purgatory!” Really, though, honesty and sacrifice often are spiritual companions, since much of the tough honesty that is required because of charity also requires a person to die to themselves while speaking it. Spouses need feedback for their own spiritual development and sometimes it’s as tough to give as it is to hear....
Not New Movie Review: The Seventh Seal

Not New Movie Review: The Seventh Seal

Why did I like Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal? I knew its basic premise beforehand: a knight returns from the Crusades, questioning God’s existence, and engages in a chess match with Death. I knew that its conclusion wasn’t exactly sympathetic to faith. I knew that it starred a young Max von Sydow, who in the DVD extras for my favorite movie stated plainly that he thought religion was fairy tales. After watching it, I chuckle at how religion is portrayed at its worst and secular humanitarianism at its best. Not much for a faithful Catholic to enjoy. The knight (Antonius Block) and his squire (Jöns) return home to Sweden after ten years with a Crusade just as the Black Plague is sweeping across Europe, leaving thousands dead. A shell-shocked Block is torn between the faith that prompted his departure a decade ago and doubts about God’s existence/goodness given what he’s seen of war and disease. His foil is his squire who, having witnessed the same events, uses his unbelief to cushion the blow. On their return, they befriend a husband and wife acting troupe; the husband is given to spiritual visions of which his wife gently teases him though she is unable to shake his childlike faith. Steven Greydanus at Decent Films has a good summary of the rest of the plot. I found myself disagreeing somewhat with Steven’s criticism though. [I]t’s very telling that, though Block spends the whole film longing to hear from God, we never see him actually doing much of anything by way of seeking him. At least not on screen, to be sure, though I can’t...
How Holy Is the Holy Family?

How Holy Is the Holy Family?

While away from my home for my Christmas vacation on Sunday, my wife and I heard a homily that left us concerned for the understanding of our fellow Massgoers.  The homilist attempted to emphasize the Holy Family’s approachability, but it ended in several errors and misunderstandings.  As I sat in my pew, struggling to move on with the Mass after the homily, I resolved to blog a response to the opinions expressed in that homily in order to lay them aside for that moment.  I present those errors (in paraphrase) below with corrections: “When I was young, I used to think that the Holy Family was perfect, but that’s not true.  Only Jesus was perfect; Mary and Joseph were human like us.  Mary was not a perfect person.”  There are two concerns with this statement.  First, Mary and Joseph were indeed human like us, but so was Jesus.  This is such a fundamental error that I believe the homilist simply didn’t articulate well what he intended to say, namely, that Mary and Joseph were not God.  However, it’s important to note that this truth doesn’t imply  that Jesus was any less human, nor any less knowledgeable or understanding of human nature.  Jesus is God.  He knows and understands humanity through and through.  That Mary and Joseph were not God doesn’t make Jesus any less human. Second, Mary was indeed a perfect person – a morally perfect human person.*  Just the fact that she was not God does not keep her from being perfect.  Remember: she was full of grace, as we say in the Hail Mary.  This phrase translates...
Socratic thoughts on death after Christmas

Socratic thoughts on death after Christmas

I finished Peter Kreeft’s Philosophy 101 by Socrates while on vacation and was struck by some of Socrates’ views on death, having been alive before the Christian era. The book discusses the nature of philosophy by reviewing Plato’s Apology, the account of Socrates’ defense of himself at his trial. He was found guilty of not believing in the gods of the state and was sentenced to death. Hopefully you won’t think it a downer to contemplate death during the Christmas season, but Socrates’ opinion of it may show the connection: For to fear death, gentleman, is only to think you are wise when you are not; for it is to think you know what you don’t know. No one knows whether death is really the greatest blessing a man can have, but they fear it is the greatest curse, as if they knew well. Surely this is the objectionable kind of ignorance, to think one knows what one does not know? (Kreeft, p.53) Two of the most important aspects of Christianity summed up by the first philosopher: humility and hope. Socrates also helps us get our priorities in order: No, gentlemen, the difficult thing is not to escape death, I think, but to escape wickedness–that is much more difficult, for that runs faster than death. And now I, being slow and old, have been caught by the slower one; but my accusers, being clever and quick, have been caught by the swifter, badness. And now I and they depart, I, condemned by you to death, but these, condemned by truth to depravity and injustice. I abide by my penalty,...
5 Cold Weather Meals Every Cook Should Try

5 Cold Weather Meals Every Cook Should Try

While I know that the majority of our readership is in Louisiana, the snow here in upstate New York has made me hanker for warm, hearty, put-ya-to-sleep meals at the end of the day. I would say, in fact, that eating warm things is essential to enjoying this cold, dark, part of the year. Wondering what recipes have to do with spirituality? Well, the truth is that human beings have to eat to survive. We are called to be frugal so we have money left over to tithe and be charitable. We also are called to treat our bodies like temples of the Holy Spirit, making it imperative to respect our bodies by eating food that makes us strong, healthy and sustained.  The following recipes are all budget-friendly and respectful of your temple! 1. Crockpot Chicken Tacos: Toss four to six chicken breasts in a crockpot, cover them with a jar of salsa and cook on low for six hours. Voila, you have yummy chicken, a delicious smelling kitchen and a lean protein source! Add tortillas, sliced green peppers (antioxidants), avocados (basically packed with vitamins) and onions and you’ve got my favorite night of the week: TACO NIGHT!! Bonus, there’s usually lots of chicken left over, which my husband likes to put in his omelets in the morning or in sandwiches for lunch. 2. Salmon, Brown Rice, and Asparagus: We all know that salmon is ridiculously good for you. So, cook it on top of slices of lemon and the amount of butter you think your arteries can work with and cook at 350 degrees for twenty minutes or so. Brown rice is better for you...