Cultivating the Fruit of Meekness

Does meekness equate to being a Christian doormat? Absolutely, not. Instead Christ exhibits meekness as strength with a tender touch. This word has been misconstrued and turned into a negative in our modern era, because we don’t understand what we reject.

Meekness (1)What are the fruits of the Holy Spirit? Where does the idea come from?

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness (meekness) and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23

The Greek language is much more precise than the English language. Words capture a deeper and specific meaning than English words. For example, in English love means a wide variety of types and conditions of love defined by one word. In Greek, four- six different words capture different types and conditions of love: storge, philia, eros, and agape. The same principal applies to the term “meekness” (gentleness).

The apostle Paul uses praotes or prautes— and “meekness” is the closest translation from the Greek. What does meekness mean? To be meek means yielded, teachable, responsive, humble, gentle, patient under suffering, and respectful in our relationships with God and with others. Basically. meekness is an orientation towards God and others and not on ourselves. Meekness is quiet strength- a spiritual force to be reckoned with.

Jesus Christ himself on the Sermon on the Mount outlined, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5) and “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.” (Matthew 11:29) Meekness is an attribute of Christ- an attribute of Christian behavior. The meek and humble of heart will find rest. Not a peace of this world but an divine and eternal peace. Meekness is apart of the Christian mission.

How do we cultivate meekness? Most importantly by turning towards Christ in all aspects of our lives and not inwards towards ourselves. Here are some spiritual suggestions:

  1. Ask for the Guidance & Inspiration of the Holy Spirit! Come, Holy Spirit, Come. Awaken in me the Fire of your Love . . .
  2. Read the Bible- Start w/ the Gospels and take notice of Jesus’ behavior and other apostles and disciple.
  3. Reflect on the Beatitudes (Matthew 5)- read and reflect on each individual beatitude and then resolve to practice that Beatitude in your daily life.
  4. Reflect on the Fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:23)- read and reflect on each individual fruit and then resolve to practice that Beatitude in your daily life.
  5. Ask for the Guidance & Inspiration of the Our Lady! She is a perfect example of meekness and wants to teach you.
  6. Ask for the Guidance & Inspiration of other Saints and holy persons! Fill your mind and heart with heroic examples of virtue.

Great spiritual ideas, Hannah, but what about some practical suggestions too? Sure. The following suggestions highlight the practice of meekness in daily life.

  1. Practice Gentleness: in thoughts, words, deeds, and actions. If it ain’t gentle ton’t entertain the thought, don’t speak the words, and don’t commit action.
  2. Be respectful: Start by Being respectful with the individuals you take for granted the most (family, spouse, loved ones, friends, coworkers, etc.) Usually, this is your family and/or significant other. Use kind and respectful words especially when you don’t want to. Try saying please, thank you, you’re welcome, and excuse me instead of mhmm, hmmm, or other non-verbal grunting.
  3. Suffer with a smile. When commuting to work and another driver does something irritating, pray for that person. Forgo the largest portion at dinnertime. Restrain yourself from fidgeting in Church. Unite your suffering with Christ’s suffering for the sake of the Church. Speak less and listen more.
  4. Learn about your faith. Dust off the books collecting dust in a stack  by your bed (like mine) and commit to reading at least one chapter per day.Inquire into whether your parish has FORMED or not. Find faith based resources to help you grown and develop your understanding of the Faith.
  5. Integrate a morning and evening prayer routine into your daily schedule. Leave time for silence. God speaks in the silence.
  6. Cultivate gratitude! Make sure you thank God for the many blessing in your life and ask Him to help you recognize more fully those blessing. If it helps, make a list daily of 5 things you are grateful for.
  7. Abstain from having the final say or the first stay in a conversation. Abstain from mean or hateful words. Abstain from cussing, sacrilegious, and indecent words. Abstain from using the Lord’s name in vain or other holy words.

May God bless you and keep you now and always!

Preparing Your Garden

I wanted to share some Lenten Inspiration. My theme for Lent this Year is preparing Your Garden for the Lord- weeding out vice and planting seeds of virtue. May your Lent be transformative and informative!

White Rose
Photo Credit: Isaiah Eyre Photography

In the cool of the day
You come and meet me
All the blue fades away
The stars are winking

Your love’s so strong
I can’t recall
What was this thing
They called the fall?

And You walk with me
You never leave
You’re making my heart a garden

Oh, why would I hide
Away from Your face
When the light of Your love
Illuminates?

Your hand in mine
A steady line
Drawn on my heart
And deep in my mind

And You walk with me
You never leave
You’re making my heart a garden

Alms . . . What? Almsgiving.

This Lent I decided to move my serious almsgiving deliberation into deliberate action. Though I still have student loans incurred at a Catholic Institution and an active member in my parish, I’m not a child anymore. My faith needed to grow in a practical manner.

According to the USCCB (United States Catholic Conference of Catholic Bishops),

The foundational call of Christians to charity is a frequent theme of the Gospels.  During Lent, we are asked to focus more intently on “almsgiving,” which means donating money or goods to the poor and performing other acts of charity.  As one of the three pillars of Lenten practice, almsgiving is “a witness to fraternal charity” and  “a work of justice pleasing to God.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2462).

This may be an unpopular statement for my non- Catholic Christian brethren, i.e. sola fide. Are we saved by good works? Yes and No. Do we earn our salvation? No. But our good works flow from our relationship with Christ- our inner disposition makes us act out based upon our faith. Christ performed acts of charity and good works while on earth. And thus, we as Christians are called to perform good works and acts of charity too. Our faith is alive in our works, actions, thoughts, and deeds. Our faith needs to be salt and light to the world or it’s dead.

Want to learn more about faith and works? Click here. 

During Lent, three pillars support Lenten practice: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. This year I made a deliberate attempt to practice almsgiving. I’m unable to contribute in grand ways, but that isn’t the point. In Mark 12:44, the widow gave all she had. She has a whole bible heading named after her: “The Widow’s Offering.” During the time of Jesus, widows were considered the poorest of the poor including other woman and children. Society did not look after widows. It is no coincidence that Jesus used the widow’s offering as an example of almsgiving.

This Lent I decided to curb superfluous online shopping and practice almsgiving instead. The practice of almsgiving is designed to help me became a more generous person, a more grateful person, and a more Christ-like person.

Please, Holy Spirit, help me to be a more generous person.

Amen.

What Did You Give Up For Lent?

“What Did you Give Up for Lent?”

My friend asked me at choir rehearsal last night. I hesitated because I wasn’t sure. In the past few years, I opted for adding virtuous practices and moved away from the usual rubric of “giving up” or abstaining from things. Yes, the scandal of it all. I still consume chocolate during Lent.

My trend of opting in versing opting out started in college five years ago. I added rituals, prayers, or reflections to my daily life during the Lenten 40 Days. I figured that whole premise about developing or breaking habits with 30 days included spiritual habits too. Lent provides not 30 but 40 days to develop a new habit.

There isn’t anything wrong with giving up or abstaining for Lent. Giving up or abstaining develops perseverance and wisdom. With certain health problems abstaining from certain things like caloric intake really isn’t a healthy option. Regardless, I have a whole load of spiritual, mental, and emotional things to work on.

Five years ago I created a list . . . a list of gratitude. How often to we thank God for our many blessings or even ponder the blessing ourselves? That Lent I wrote 40 things, people, feelings, emotions, gifts, crosses, etc. I was grateful for and thanked God. Did I loose five pounds or run five miles daily? No. But I honed a deeper sense of gratitude. That deeper sense of gratitude had lasting affects on my daily life, health, wellness, hope, and Trust in God.

So every year since that first list I opt in and develop a behavior during Lent amid abstaining too. Last year, my beloved and I prayed Compline each night and still pray Compline whenever we are between novenas and special prayers. That was a lasting, positive change in our spiritual life.

This year we’re adding another spiritual practice: praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. As an individual, I decided practice deliberate almsgiving. Today I’m discerning how best to approach almsgiving this Lent, and asking the guidance of the Holy Spirit to Trust God more and mammon less.

St. Andrew Christmas Novena

Happy Feast Day of St. Andrew!

The St. Andrew Christmas Novena or the Christmas Anticipation Novena begins TODAY, November 30th and goes until Christmas Eve, December 24th. The novena prayer is prayed 15 x’s per day. This novena is a medieval novena with a legacy. Stories and legends surround this novena. Tradition states that woman through the ages petitioned Our Lord the Christ Child for assistance in finding a husband. But the novena can be prayed for many reasons.

st-andrew-christmas-novena

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