Tag Archives: Spiritual Tools

Self-Knowledge: What We Should Know

Hello everyone! I sincerely apologize for my absence. I’ve had an extremely hectic past year. I was engaged in a book project with a good friend and mentor of mine through the end of last year. I also took a new job working in a completely new industry. So there has been a lot of adjusting.

Anyways, I just wanted to share with all of you an exert from the book project. Currently, the title of book is Catholic You! Where Self-Knowledge and Fellowship Meet. The following is taken from the Introduction. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Enjoy!


“To know the truth of what I am – the truth of why my body and soul are in conflict – the truth of how they can be reconciled – the truth of how to find Divine Strength to overcome sorrow and sin and Divine Knowledge to overcome my mistakes – would mean I could be free to live.”  – Venerable Fulton Sheen

Who are we? Self-knowledge involves taking an honest look at ourselves – our worldview, our temperament, our predominate sin, our inclinations to the Seven Deadly Sins – and how we relate to reality.

We are in the fight of our lives. Seriously. Not only are we in a fight, with unimaginable happiness or misery at stake, but we are also being soundly thrashed. Believe it or not, we are. We willingly side with our enemy every day. Don’t think so?

    Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. It wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1849).

How could an enemy be so powerful and clever as to dupe us into siding against ourselves? Pretty easy really; he seduced our first parents into committing that Original Sin.

Because our first parents failed to live the deeper love of obedience, our human capacity to love has been genetically changed. We became users instead of lovers. We inherited selfishness and self-centeredness, much like we inherited our genetic characteristics, from our parents, grandparents…first parents.

Original Sin explains why we do what we do.

Our bodies, despite their continual demands and desire for fleshy satisfaction, are really the more inferior side of who we are. Through Original Sin the body suffers and dies. Yet the deeper wound caused by Original Sin is to the soul (the more God-like side of us). Our intellects and wills have been seriously damaged. The truth is that without God’s help we would have been hopeless.

Yet we have this great hope – God loves us and sent His only Son to save us from our sins. He offers us His grace, that “free and undeserved gift that God gives us to respond to our vocation to become his adopted children” (ibid. pg 881).

Catholic You! Where Self-Knowledge & Fellowship Meet, through 7 steps, leads us deeper into ourselves and prepares us to become better channels of God’s grace.

I’ll be posting more exerts over the next couple months. I’m also working on making the book available in a downloadable format soon.

May God bless and keep each and every one of you.

St. Jude Novena @ PrayMoreNovenas.com

Pray the St. Jude NovenaJoin me and over 5,000 other Catholics in praying the St. Jude Novena beginning on October 19th. Sign up at PrayMoreNovenas.com – St. Jude Novena.

Saint Jude is the patron of Hopeless Causes and Desperate Situations.

“Pray these novena prayers to Saint Jude with confidence. Catholics have relied on his intercession in times of extreme need for centuries.

This Apostle and Martyr has helped countless souls through his epistle in the New Testament and his intercessions on behalf of those who seek his aid in times of trial.

Pray this novena for your intentions asking St. Jude to intercede to God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit on your behalf.”

PrayMoreNovenas.com is worth checking out. I think this is a fantastic way to bring Catholics together in prayer.

St. Jude pray for us!

Why Fathers Need Prayer @ LovingTheChurch.com

Blessed John Paul II with his fatherThis week at LovingTheChurch.com, I discuss why, as a father, I need to pray – Why Fathers Need Prayer.

Christ said “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28). Life comes at me every day, prayer helps me to live life on life’s terms; to live in the present moment; to place my trust in God.

John Thavis, the Rome Bureau Chief for Catholic News Service, once wrote the following about Blessed John Paul II and his father:

“The future Pope would sometimes wake in the middle of the night and find his father praying on his knees. At his death, friends say Karol knelt for twelve hours in prayer at his father’s bedside.”

At the end of the post I include a prayer – A Father’s Prayer for Guidance. It is an excellent prayer and worth passing on to any fathers in your life.

May God bless you and keep you.

What’s Your Worldview? @ CatholicHappiness.com

The beliefs that form our knowledge, that shape the way we understand everything.There’s a new Joe in town! Each week I’ll be posting links to articles by Joe Gill – friend, co-worker, and Sr. life coach at Catholic Happiness.

Joe has over 30 years experience in the coaching/counseling field. He has been extremely helpful to me personally and I highly value his insights and knowledge. I hope you’ll find his postings useful too!

This week Joe talks about WHAT’S YOUR WORLDVIEW?

You can also visit Joe’s blog at Catholic HappinessJOE KNOWS BLOG

May God bless you and keep you.

Spiritual Toolbox: Spiritual Reading

The Importance of Spiritual ReadingAs a child, whenever I was craving sweets or junk food, my mother would say to me – You are what you eat. The implication of course was that if I filled my body with “junk” then I’d become, or rather feel like junk.

The same can be said for my mind.

If I am constantly filling my mind with popular literature, news feeds, and tabloid gossip it is extremely hard for it to be elevated to the things of God. This is personal experience talking…I used to easily fall into the mental pursuit of all things worldly.

Over the past year, I have had to stop filling my head with the latest. This wasn’t easy. But, it all started with a honest, simple question…

Is any of this leading me closer to God?

I had hit a bottom and knew that something in my life had to change.

For me, it came down to an age-old choice:

I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice, and cleaving to him; for that means life to you and length of days… – Deut 30:19-20

I knew that, for me, there was no standing still in the midst of the flowing river of life. I was either growing in my relationship with God or I was drifting away.

God, in His Goodness, placed in my heart a desire to try. Today, by His Grace, I make time for prayer and spiritual reading.

Why do I need spiritual reading?

Many of the Early Church Fathers and Saints of the Catholic Church have recommended, or rather insisted, upon the habit of spiritual reading, beginning with Sacred Scripture. For me though, the real motivation was an increasing desire to grow in knowledge of God and those things pertaining to spiritual growth.

Fr. Anthony Paone, S.J., in his “summary of the spiritual life” My Daily Bread wrote the following reflection on spiritual reading:

Reading brings me many thoughts. It helps me to understand better what I already believe. It keeps my outlook on life fresh and unconfused. It also keeps my enthusiasm alive. One who does not read, is like a man who tries to live on the smallest possible amount of food and sunshine. His spiritual life will eventually shrivel up and become anemic. It may even die when a strong temptation comes along. I can read safely only when I follow the guidance of Christ’s Church. He has given Her power and authority to direct me in all matters of faith and morals. I want to read, reflect, and pray a little each day so that I may follow Our Lord more intelligently in my daily activities. – pg 242-243

How true this has been in my own life. When I’m spending, even just a little time, in spiritual reading each day I find that I have a greater awareness of God in my life and my need for His love and mercy.

What then is spiritual reading?

Thomas Dubay, S.M. in his awesome work, Seeking Spiritual Direction provides three elements which distinguish spiritual reading from other types of religious reading.

  1. It nourishes a person with God’s word, even when the content is not expressly biblical (Deut 32:1-3)…it aids us in growing in faith, hope, and love and in all the concrete details of living our new life in Christ.
  2. It enlightens the reader with divine truth – a light that enables one to love, praise, delight, and live in the new way that St. Paul calls a spiritual revolution (Ps 19:7-8; Eph 4:23)
  3. It is a prayer experience, a dialogue with the indwelling Lord living within His Church and in each member as His temple.

What then should I read?

Fr. Dubay recommends, and I personally find most useful, the reading of Sacred Scripture as well as the writings of the Saints.

Fr. Dubay, while pointing out “the weaknesses and disadvantages of long lists of books” and the need for knowledge of the individual person, names a few classics he believes shouId be read “somewhere early in one’s serious pursuit of God”:

That list can be a bit daunting. When I first began reading I was so disconnected that I had to start small and easy.

I came across a little book, by Archbishop Fulton Sheen, The Way to Happiness. It contained short topical essays that were perfect for where I was. Archbishop Sheen spoke to me with such joy and certitude that I had a real desire to prayerfully meditate on what he was saying. He led me closer to God, and in doing so, Archbishop Sheen became my mentor and I am better for it. I would also add Sheen’s Lift Up Your Heart as another must read.

So how do I go about spiritual reading?

Fr. Dubay, again, provides some direction here:

…read for spiritual profit, not for mere curiosity or to ‘get through with it’ or to be delighted with the wit or brillance of the author. We choose a suitable time and a quiet place, so that the message may more readily settle in. We read slowly, mingling prayer and pondering into the reading itself…We avoid craving it, a spiritual gluttony that dissipates rather than deepens our inner life. Better to read a few books prayerfully than many superficially.

I remember when I first started making time for spiritual reading, I felt a real sense of being overwhelmed. I hadn’t been doing any spiritual reading. It seemed rather hard, focusing took work. I started asking myself questions like – Will I have the “time” to keep this up? Do I really need to be reading this frequently? Maybe it would be better if I waited until a more opportune time?

The answer to each of my “roadblock” questions came to me in the words of our Lord Jesus to Martha:

Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her. – Lk 10:41

Christ offers me the good portion too. For my part, I have to set aside the many things. I knew Jesus was calling me to the one needful thing, in a word, Himself.

Spiritual reading, for me, has become a necessary and joyful part of my relationship with God, Whom I am to love with all my mind (Matt 22:37).

May God bless you and keep you.

A Husband and Father Comes Home @ LovingTheChurch.com

Being The Best Husband and Father I Can BeHere’s my latest article at LovingTheChurch.com – A Husband and Father Comes Home.

I share some practical advice a good friend of mine gave me on making the transition from the workplace to the home.

May God bless you and keep you.

Spiritual Toolbox: Prayer

Prayer is a Powerful ToolI have tools today. In fact, I have a spiritual toolbox.

As a Catholic, I have been given many wonderful spiritual tools to deal with just about anything life might throw at me.

The whole business of tools can be tricky though. I have discovered that the “world” offers me tools as well.

So for me, how my day goes depends upon what tools I pick up.

It’s something I have to be conscious of every day. What tools do I have to use on a consistent, day-to-day basis? What tools do I need to make use of weekly, monthly, or just in certain situations?

Today, I’m just going to share about one tool, one really important tool.


I’m not going to go into the theology of prayer (CCC 2558-2865). I just want to talk about prayer from a practical perspective.

I have to pray.

In my life, when I’ve abandoned my prayer life I’ve wandered far from God. I get pounded by sin, selfishness, and worldliness. That is a fact.

I’m a stubborn soul. The pain has to get pretty bad. In retrospect, I’m extremely grateful for that. Pain has served a valuable purpose in my life. It got me right where I needed to be…on my knees.

Now I’m no master of prayer, I’m just an average guy trying to do God’s will. That’s my disclaimer. Some of you are certainly more qualified to talk about prayer than me. Yet, as the Psalmist proclaimed, “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will tell of all thy wonderful deeds” (Ps 9:1). So I feel compelled to share how prayer works for me.


My day has to begin with prayer. I have certain prayers I say each morning. I try to combine the basic forms of prayer – Blessing, Petition, Intercession, Thanksgiving, and Praise. I also try to listen. Prayer is a conversation with God.

Then I use a couple tools that combine prayer and spiritual reading. First, I pray the Daily Meditation offered by Regnum Christi. This is by far the best daily meditation on the day’s Gospel reading that I have found. It doesn’t take much time, and it combines thoughts and questions for meditation with specific prayers. I highly recommend it. Another wonderful tool is the Liturgy of the Hours (this link takes you to a great site for becoming familiar with this prayer of the whole People of God).


During the day, I have incorporated the practice of aspirational prayer. Here are a few of my favorites:

The Jesus Prayer
Lord Jesus Christ,
Son of God,
have mercy on me,
a sinner. Amen.

The Serenity Prayer
God grant me the serenity,
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

The Divine Mercy Prayer, also the prayer John Paul II recommended for times of difficulty
Jesus, I trust in You. Amen.

Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane
Not my will, but Thy Will be done. Amen.

These are just a few I make use of during the day. I also spontaneously pray to God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit individually and as the Most Holy Trinity. I ask Mary and the saints, especially St. Joseph, for their intercession and thank them for watching over our family and for prayers answered.


Before going to bed I do a brief Examination of Conscience, make an Act of Contrition, and say a few prayers of Thanksgiving for the day and all that God has given me.


My wife and I foster an environment of prayer in our home. The kids have morning prayers they say. We also say “grace” before meals, night prayers with the children, and the family rosary.

That’s a day in the prayer life of this average “Catholic” Joe.

When I “plan” my day around prayer, I have a better day. I’m able to understand situations that used to baffle me; I am better able to hold my tongue (not perfectly by any stretch); I tend to be more focused on where I’m heading and not what I want in this world; I try harder to be more like Christ.

Again, I’m still a work in progress. For me, it’s all about progress not perfection. I know that God is not finished with me yet.

I hope that this sharing will encourage each of you to continue in your own daily prayer life.

I’ll close with this reflection from St. Isidore, from his Book of Maxims:

Prayer purifies us, reading instructs us. Both are good when both are possible. Otherwise, prayer is better than reading.

If a man wants to be always in God’s company, he must pray regularly and read regularly. When we pray, we talk to God; when we read, God talks to us.

Next up, I hope to share about spiritual reading.

May God bless you and keep you.