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5 Ways You Can Give Yourself A Mini-Vacation Right Now

Today I’m going to reach into the goodie-bag of wisdom, appropriately named The Catechism of the Catholic Church.

If you’ve never picked up this gem, you ought to. The Catechism is basically the Catholic understanding, interpretation, and sermon on the Bible.

Okay enough on the catechism. Now let’s use it!

How Sensual!

I want to hone in on one of the seven virtues: temperance. I often talk about temperance on this blog, but in sneaky ways. If you’ve been around for awhile, you know I often talk about the importance of building silence into our lives is. The primary way I recommend people to do this is to identify the noise – be it unnecessary audio noise in the background, unnecessary visual stimuli, or silencing your phone – in order to literally allow for more silence in daily life.

A quick look at the paragraph in the Catechism about the virtue of temperance teaches us three important lessons:

1809 Temperance is the moral virtue that moderates the attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of created goods. It ensures the will’s mastery over instincts and keeps desires within the limits of what is honorable. The temperate person directs the sensitive appetites toward what is good and maintains a healthy discretion: “Do not follow your inclination and strength, walking according to the desires of your heart.”  Temperance is often praised in the Old Testament: “Do not follow your base desires, but restrain your appetites.” In the New Testament it is called “moderation” or “sobriety.” We ought “to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world.”

  1. Practicing temperance moderates our attraction to good things – without moderation we indulge, which is the definition of addiction
  2. Practicing temperance provides balance – who doesn’t want to be balanced?!
  3. Practicing temperance allows us to direct ourselves toward what is good 

Basically, one who practices temperance well is the person who is most free, because he or she has total control.

Why Practice Temperance

Lucky for us the very next paragraph after the paragraph on Temperance touches on why we should care about it at all:

1810 Human virtues acquired by education, by deliberate acts and by a perseverance ever-renewed in repeated efforts are purified and elevated by divine grace. With God’s help, they forge character and give facility in the practice of the good. The virtuous man is happy to practice them.

5 Easy Ways to Practice Temperance

Since temperance is the deliberate practice of moderating stimuli of the flesh, the Teacher in me decided to break this down into a series of “yeses” instead of a series of ‘no’s’. I simply took each of the five senses and applied the phrase, “how to give ______ a break.”

The key to making any of these points useful, practical, and even possible is to, ironically, do it in moderation. You can’t build all of these tips into your life every single day. It probably won’t happen. But do it slowly, moderately, and reasonably.

  1. Give your eyes a break. One way to give your eyes a break is to get away from anything ‘screen’ related. Put down the burning light of your iPad, iPhone, computer, and TV at night. Maybe one night a week, or two, have a tech-free evening after 7:30pm. Only books, games with people you live with, bike rides, prayers, going for a walk (and saying a Rosary on the walk). 
  2. Give your ears a break. I’m a huge advocate and promoter of eliminating background noise. Turn off the TV if you’re not watching it. If you immediately say, “No, I have to have something on in the background”, shut up and turn off the TV and calm yourself down. You sound like an idiot when you say that. Cultivating silence will increase your mental energy and peace throughout your day. You will find that time goes slowly and you become more productive without it. Your brain unconsciously takes note of the alerts, the advertisements, and the noise, which takes up a bunch of energy, even if you don’t think it is.
  3. Give your mouth a break. One part of temperance is to eat simple, delicious, clean and light food. Eat salads – refresh your palette with natural ingredients  and lay off the Doritos and insane amounts of sugars. Back to nature, people.
  4. Give your nose a break. Have you ever woke up in the morning and went outside, took a giant deep breath and savored the fresh morning smell of dew? It’s amazing. Or stopped in the middle of the day when you’re walking outside, closed your eyes, and just inhaled a deep breath, taking note of the fresh, warm air? It’s an incredible way to experience the present moment, and appreciate what’s right in front of you.
  5. Give your body a break. Your body as a whole can benefit from you practicing temperance. Everything sexuality can fall into this ‘body’ category, but so can physical exercise and being wise enough to know how much sleep you need every night to function at your best. There are several ways for you to give your body a ‘break.’  In what ways are you being tough on your body physically or sexually? Maybe take a chill pill once in a while! Are you working out too hard to the point that you’re sore? Maybe you drink too much too often, feeling like you have just been hit again by another semi. Or maybe 6 hours of sleep just isn’t cutting it for you anymore, and you need a 7th. What can you do to build that reality into your schedule? Practicing temperance with your body should leave your entire being refreshed, healthy, and performing at your best, in more ways than one! ;)

Temperance. Not such a kill-joy after all, is it?

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Video: Why Nuns Don’t Have Midlife Crisis

From TedXTalks.tedx.com:

JE Sigler is a graduate student and instructor of public speaking in the Communication Department at Virginia Tech. Her research practically applies the philosophies of JL Austin and Nicholas Wolterstorff to pin down the concrete ways in which God communicates to individuals, particularly how He communicates His call to religious vocations. In her personal life, Sigler has herself struggled with the agonizing difficulty of discerning her true path, zigzagging through over 3.5 religious conversions, two broken engagements, and multiple career changes. As a teacher, she is particularly concerned to help students discern their vocations, something she believes very few of us these days know how (or bother) to do. AboutTEDx, x = independently organized event In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)

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Lies, Satan, and Hell: A Story of Casting Out Fear by Tori Harris

tori

In the business, leadership, and self-help world we often read and hear stories about people ‘facing their fears’ and getting over their strange fear of success. While I definitely enjoy those lessons and have learned from them, they’re always a little cliche.

Last week, I met singer/songwriter Tori Harris. She’s out of Nashville and has given her musical talents back to the Lord for the building up of the Church.

You know, that thing we’re all supposed to do in the New Evangelization? She’s doing that.

As she and I were speaking last week, this topic about fear came up, as it usually does with entrepreneur-types. This time, though, the discussion was a little bit different.

This time, we talked about personal insecurities in context of fear, and the topic of holiness. Throw in redemptive suffering, purification, and vocation, and you’re ready for an explosive Catholic party.

I asked Tori to share a story with you that she shared with me, about these very topics. What follows is an arpeggio that syncs harmoniously into a masterpiece of joy.

[click to continue…]

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We need talented people, with better values, making worthwhile and entertaining art.

The EntreCatholic #quoteoftheweek goes to R.J. Moeller who wrote a piece for Acton.org this week:

The truth is, of course, that Tinsel Town has always been a magnet for such people. The problem of Hollywood being so far to the Left on almost every discernible socio-political issue is not going to be “solved” simply by reminding some producer you meet at a party in the Hollywood Hills that he or she is, in fact, an entrepreneur and should care more about the current fiscal and political environment that is growing increasingly hostile toward job-creators and innovators.

We need people on the inside. We need talented actors, musicians, editors, and screenplay writers who can stake a claim for a differing worldview than that of HBO, David Geffen and whoever wrote Milk. We don’t need all of these trailblazers to be gun-toting, flag-waving Republicans with life-size cardboard cutouts of Ronald Reagan in their rooms. (I’ve got those departments covered already.) And we don’t need hacks churning out more sub-par films and slapping “Christian” or “Conservative” on them because they know Christian moms will buy a bunch of copies of the DVD.

We need talented people, with better values, making worthwhile and entertaining art.

Read the entire article here: Young, Entrepreneurial, and Pursuing Good Art in Hollywood

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Live Tonight: Fr. John Riccardo on Evangelization

Tonight, Fr. John Riccardo from Our Lady of Good Counsel in Plymouth, Michigan is speaking to a large gathering of young adults in Ann Arbor about Evangelization.

The talk begins at 7:45pm EDT and can be seen here.

Fr. John is my pastor and is a phenomenal preacher. Enjoy!

Live stream videos at Ustream

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Building Your Own Career

As the Church commemorates St. Joseph the Worker, I am struck by my approach to career and work in this time of my life.

That is because, as some may know, I quit my job a few weeks ago.

Granted, I’m technically still working there until we find a suitable replacement; my intention is not to screw over the office by bailing too quickly.

Now, as a freelancer and contractor, I see work and career in a different light. Ironically, sort of like a carpenter.

For me, work is something I build. It’s a product of my vocation, which is to teach and to communicate. If I can’t find work that’s already out there for me to do, I build it.

Kind of like this blog.

Quick-‘N-Dirty Tips to Building Your Career

1. Figure out what it is you were made to do

2. Find opportunities where you can do that.

3. If opportunities don’t exist, make your own!

      • Find people already doing it and ask them how
      • Identify a skill you have and market it
      • Connect with people, go to chamber events, free events
      • Email friends and tell them you’re looking for opportunities if they have or hear of any

 

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Michigan Apostolate Helps Women Who Leave Convent

One of the fruits of the Council and the New Evangelization as a whole is the lay apostolate: lay men and women discerning and identifying ways to use their gifts and vocations to serve the Church.

That is why I’m featuring a new apostolate that launches TODAY right here in my home state. It’s an apostolate that has been formed out of a great need.

The mission is basically this: help women who have left the convent.

Excitement. Happiness. Joy. When we hear of women who have decided to enter the convent, we are eager to be a part of their journey. I mean, how many people know a Sister? It’s always so exciting!

But we often don’t think or talk about what happens to men and women who try out the seminary or the convent but then, after serious prayer and discernment, decide to leave. With the growing numbers of men and women discerning consecrated vocations in earnest, there is also a growing number of men and women who discern that it is not their vocation.

Women who are eager to become aspirants and postulants in a religious community are likely to be required to give up, sell, and give away their worldly possessions before entering the community, even as an aspirant. While this is a great practice born out of the wisdom and tradition of the Church, the reality is that for many women, discerning out of the convent during those initial formation stages have left many without any help, resources, or support.

Not every Catholic woman who goes to the convent has a support system back home.

Enter Leonie’s Longing, a new Michigan-based initiative aimed at the simple task of being a support system for women who have discerned out of the convent. (Check them out on Facebook!)

From LeoniesLonging.org:

Leaving the convent is another stage in the journey of a young woman’s life.  It can be confusing and exciting.  The noise of life in the secular world is in sharp contrast to the quiet horarium lived in the convent.  We aim to help women make this transition.

It is our goal to connect the laity, dioceses, religious communities and women who have left the convent.  We aim to encourage prayer and support between these groups and in this way foster all vocations.  But our ultimate goal is HEAVEN.

Who are we?  A team of varied individuals which God, in His providence, has brought together.  Please pray for young women who have left the convent and for the people trying to help them.  If you feel called to help in other ways, please contact us!

If you have experienced religious life, please take our short, 7 question survey by clicking here.

We will use the information to help identify your needs.  Thank you in advance!

If you know a woman who has left the convent and needs physical, spiritual, or emotional support, please contact Leonie’s Longing.

If you have ties to a religious community, please pass this information along to them, so that they can provide Leonie’s Longing as a resource to any woman who discerns out of the convent.

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Does Your Blog Matter? Tracking Your Influence

In the coming months I’m definitely going to diving deep into the topic of influence; be that influence online, in person, or in business. The fact of the matter is that you are either an influencer, or you are being influenced. Hopefully there is some balance between the two.

But if you’re trying to influence people, and you’re not, you might be doing more harm than good. This is true professionally, personally, and communally.

Today’s post is an introduction to all of this. It’s written by someone I introduced you to last week, Amanda Lindley. After our discussion last week about ways to increase blog traffic, she offered to write a guest post about influence. I couldn’t refuse!

So without further ado, enter Amanda Lindley…

Amanda L. is the Web Content Manager for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Follow her here.

I can’t tell you how many times each week I find myself trying to convince people that they need to be active on social media. Among these people are some of the best evangelizers and catechizers I know… but are they as influential as we, as a Church, need them to be?

Have you ever sat in your pew at Mass and thought, “wow, I wish I had a recording of this homily?” Or have you ever gone to an incredible spiritual conference or had a great conversation with your spiritual director and thought “I need to share this person’s Christ-filled message with all of my friends?”  I know I have.

While there are so many incredible homilists, spiritual thinkers, and overall great evangelizers from the Catholic Church already engaged on social media, imagine how powerful we, the Church, would be if all of our best preachers and communicators were online for the entire world to experience. We could help change so many hearts!

The problem with this idea is that so many of these powerful evangelizers don’t see the value in online evangelization through social media. Okay, so most of these people probably don’t come out and say that exactly. Their reasons for not being online usually have more to do with time constraints than anything. But what if your pastor really did see the value online influence can add to their vocation as a shepherd? Do you think he would take that hour each day to upload his homily online or share a few spiritual tweets or Facebook posts? Maybe.

Good news is the metrics for measuring online influence are readily available for everyone and if you care about sharing the Gospel message online, it’s probably good for you to know what sort of impact you are actually having.

There are a number of different ways to measure your reach online. For starters, if you have a blog or website you probably use, or should use, Google Analytics to see how many people are visiting site. The cool thing about these analytics is that you can really see how people are coming to your site and can help you understand the importance of your social media efforts to drive traffic to your blog or website and your SEO, or search engine optimization efforts. (Here is a great guide to understanding SEO).

But other than measuring the traffic that social media can help drive to your site, how can you measure your online social influence? My favorite tool to use is Klout (but you can also use Sprout Social or Facebook Insights to gain “analytics”) I joke that pretty soon employers will be asking for Klout scores on job appl.ications and everyone will have their score on their resumes. Though, I’m not the only one who kind of thinks that is the case… Checkout this old post from Forbes.com.

The way that Klout works is it takes your social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, etc.) and you’re evaluated each day based on your influence. Klout measures your score based on things like “mentions” on Facebook, “re-tweets” on Twitter, or “comments” on Google+.

Measuring your influence online isn’t to show how popular you are or how many people think you’re clever. It’s about making sure that you are doing everything you can to help get the Good News out to everyone. You might find that a few changes in your online presentation (your blog titles, your blog content, your Tweet content) can help you increase your online influence. And who knows… if that happens maybe your influence, along with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, can help save a few souls.

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Video: 8 Ways To Increase Blog Traffic

A few days ago, I reached out to Amanda Lindley, Web Content Manager at the Archdiocese of St. Louis, MO. I wanted to pick her brain about a few things.

One of the topics that recently came up in the Google+ group for Catholic Bloggers that I manage (see link at top of page) was the topic of increasing blog traffic.

So without further ado, Amanda! (Follow her at @ALindleySTL)

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Choose Joy and Change The World

Last night I was listening to EWTN Radio’s Mother Angelica. She was telling a story that I had to share:

Mother was discussing how her parents met. One warm spring day in the early 1920’s, she recounted, her mother was washing dishes. And singing.

“I’ve never sung doing the dishes.” Audience laughs.

Anyway the front window to the kitchen where her mother was doing dishes was open.

At that exact time a young man was walking by the house. Upon hearing the beautiful singing, he walked up to the window, peeked in and asked, “Who is singing so beautifully?”

“Why, I am,” recounted the woman.

And that is how Mother Angelica came to be. Because a few months later that young woman married that young man.

All because she was singing.

Choosing Joy

As we go about our daily routines, we have mundane activities to carry out. Dishes. Cleaning. Paperwork.

But choosing joy in the midst of those things – choosing to sing despite the task at hand, for example – can literally bring unexpected things to any given situation.

In Mother Angelica’s case, it was her mother’s own choice to choose joy in doing the dishes,  a mundane task for many, that eventually gave birth to life.

And not to just any life. The life of a saint in the making – Mother Angelica.

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