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Friday, August 23, 2019


Ester, Chapter 4D, Verse 13

We fear the rich and the powerful, yet we often have no fear of God and continue in our inability to rise above our weaknesses. It is when we like Ester rise above our fears that we can live up to our potential.

The Law of the Sacrifice[1]


·         Ester is willing to give her life for the people.
·         A leader must be willing to give up to go up.
·         Leaders only do this when their cause becomes more important than their life.
·         Likewise, Jesus a descendent of Ester, called on his staff to deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him.
·         Christ stated that those who wished to save their lives would lose them and those who gave up their lives would save them.
True leadership places the cause of the people above the instinct for self-preservation.

20.08.2018 Holy Father Francis to the People of God[2]

“If one member suffers, all suffer together with it”. These words of Saint Paul forcefully echo in my heart as I acknowledge once more the suffering endured by many minors due to sexual abuse, the abuse of power and the abuse of conscience perpetrated by a significant number of clerics and consecrated persons. Crimes that inflict deep wounds of pain and powerlessness, primarily among the victims, but also in their family members and in the larger community of believers and nonbelievers alike. Looking back to the past, no effort to beg pardon and to seek to repair the harm done will ever be sufficient. Looking ahead to the future, no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated. The pain of the victims and their families is also our pain, and so it is urgent that we once more reaffirm our commitment to ensure the protection of minors and of vulnerable adults.

1. If one member suffers…

In recent days, a report was made public which detailed the experiences of at least a thousand survivors, victims of sexual abuse, the abuse of power and of conscience at the hands of priests over a period of approximately seventy years. Even though it can be said that most of these cases belong to the past, nonetheless as time goes on we have come to know the pain of many of the victims. We have realized that these wounds never disappear and that they require us forcefully to condemn these atrocities and join forces in uprooting this culture of death; these wounds never go away. The heart-wrenching pain of these victims, which cries out to heaven, was long ignored, kept quiet or silenced. But their outcry was more powerful than all the measures meant to silence it or sought even to resolve it by decisions that increased its gravity by falling into complicity. The Lord heard that cry and once again showed us on which side He stands. Mary’s song is not mistaken and continues quietly to echo throughout history. For the Lord remembers the promise He made to our fathers: “He has scattered the proud in their conceit; He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and lifted up the lowly; He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty” (Lk 1:51-53). We feel shame when we realize that our style of life has denied, and continues to deny, the words we recite. With shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives. We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them. I make my own the words of the then Cardinal Ratzinger when, during the Way of the Cross composed for Good Friday 2005, he identified with the cry of pain of so many victims and exclaimed: “How much filth there is in the Church, and even among those who, in the priesthood, ought to belong entirely to [Christ]! How much pride, how much self-complacency! Christ’s betrayal by His disciples, their unworthy reception of His body and blood, is certainly the greatest suffering endured by the Redeemer; it pierces His heart. We can only call to Him from the depths of our hearts: Kyrie eleison – Lord, save us! (cf. Mt 8:25)” (Ninth Station).

2. all suffer together with it

The extent and the gravity of all that has happened requires coming to grips with this reality in a comprehensive and communal way. While it is important and necessary on every journey of conversion to acknowledge the truth of what has happened, in itself this is not enough. Today we are challenged as the People of God to take on the pain of our brothers and sisters wounded in their flesh and in their spirit. If, in the past, the response was one of omission, today we want solidarity, in the deepest and most challenging sense, to become our way of forging present and future history. And this in an environment where conflicts, tensions and above all the victims of every type of abuse can encounter an outstretched hand to protect them and rescue them from their pain (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 228). Such solidarity demands that we in turn condemn whatever endangers the integrity of any person. A solidarity that summons us to fight all forms of corruption, especially spiritual corruption. The latter is “a comfortable and self-satisfied form of blindness. Everything then appears acceptable: deception, slander, egotism and other subtle forms of self-centeredness, for “even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light”” (Gaudete et Exsultate, 165. Saint Paul’s exhortation to suffer with those who suffer is the best antidote against all our attempts to repeat the words of Cain: “Am I my brother's keeper?”. I am conscious of the effort and work being carried out in various parts of the world to come up with the necessary means to ensure the safety and protection of the integrity of children and of vulnerable adults, as well as implementing zero tolerance and ways of making all those who perpetrate or cover up these crimes accountable. We have delayed in applying these actions and sanctions that are so necessary, yet I am confident that they will help to guarantee a greater culture of care in the present and future. Together with those efforts, every one of the baptized should feel involved in the ecclesial and social change that we so greatly need. This change calls for a personal and communal conversion that makes us see things as the Lord does. For as Saint John Paul II liked to say: “If we have truly started out anew from the contemplation of Christ, we must learn to see him especially in the faces of those with whom he wished to be identified” (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 49). To see things as the Lord does, to be where the Lord wants us to be, to experience a conversion of heart in his presence. To do so, prayer and penance will help. I invite the entire holy faithful People of God to a penitential exercise of prayer and fasting, following the Lord’s command.  This can awaken our conscience and arouse our solidarity and commitment to a culture of care that says “never again” to every form of abuse. It is impossible to think of a conversion of our activity as a Church that does not include the active participation of all the members of God’s People. Indeed, whenever we have tried to replace, or silence, or ignore, or reduce the People of God to small elites, we end up creating communities, projects, theological approaches, spiritualities and structures without roots, without memory, without faces, without bodies and ultimately, without lives. This is clearly seen in a peculiar way of understanding the Church’s authority, one common in many communities where sexual abuse and the abuse of power and conscience have occurred. Such is the case with clericalism, an approach that “not only nullifies the character of Christians, but also tends to diminish and undervalue the baptismal grace that the Holy Spirit has placed in the heart of our people”. Clericalism, whether fostered by priests themselves or by lay persons, leads to an excision in the ecclesial body that supports and helps to perpetuate many of the evils that we are condemning today. To say “no” to abuse is to say an emphatic “no” to all forms of clericalism. It is always helpful to remember that “in salvation history, the Lord saved one people. We are never completely ourselves unless we belong to a people. That is why no one is saved alone, as an isolated individual. Rather, God draws us to Himself, taking into account the complex fabric of interpersonal relationships presents in the human community. God wanted to enter into the life and history of a people” (Gaudete et Exsultate, 6). Consequently, the only way that we have to respond to this evil that has darkened so many lives is to experience it as a task regarding all of us as the People of God. This awareness of being part of a people and a shared history will enable us to acknowledge our past sins and mistakes with a penitential openness that can allow us to be renewed from within. Without the active participation of all the Church’s members, everything being done to uproot the culture of abuse in our communities will not be successful in generating the necessary dynamics for sound and realistic change. The penitential dimension of fasting and prayer will help us as God’s People to come before the Lord and our wounded brothers and sisters as sinners imploring forgiveness and the grace of shame and conversion. In this way, we will come up with actions that can generate resources attuned to the Gospel. For “whenever we make the effort to return to the source and to recover the original freshness of the Gospel, new avenues arise, new paths of creativity open up, with different forms of expression, more eloquent signs and words with new meaning for today’s world” (Evangelii Gaudium, 11).

It is essential that we, as a Church, be able to acknowledge and condemn, with sorrow and shame, the atrocities perpetrated by consecrated persons, clerics, and all those entrusted with the mission of watching over and caring for those most vulnerable. Let us beg forgiveness for our own sins and the sins of others. An awareness of sin helps us to acknowledge the errors, the crimes and the wounds caused in the past and allows us, in the present, to be more open and committed along a journey of renewed conversion. Likewise, penance and prayer will help us to open our eyes and our hearts to other people’s sufferings and to overcome the thirst for power and possessions that are so often the root of those evils. May fasting and prayer open our ears to the hushed pain felt by children, young people and the disabled.  A fasting that can make us hunger and thirst for justice and impel us to walk in the truth, supporting all the judicial measures that may be necessary. A fasting that shakes us up and leads us to be committed in truth and charity with all men and women of good will, and with society in general, to combating all forms of the abuse of power, sexual abuse and the abuse of conscience. In this way, we can show clearly our calling to be “a sign and instrument of communion with God and of the unity of the entire human race” (Lumen Gentium, 1).

“If one member suffers, all suffer together with it”, said Saint Paul. By an attitude of prayer and penance, we will become attuned as individuals and as a community to this exhortation, so that we may grow in the gift of compassion, in justice, prevention and reparation. Mary chose to stand at the foot of her Son’s cross. She did so unhesitatingly, standing firmly by Jesus’ side. In this way, she reveals the way she lived her entire life. When we experience the desolation caused by these ecclesial wounds, we will do well, with Mary, “to insist more upon prayer”, seeking to grow all the more in love and fidelity to the Church (SAINT IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA, Spiritual Exercises, 319). She, the first of the disciples, teaches all of us as disciples how we are to halt before the sufferings of the innocent, without excuses or cowardice. To look to Mary is to discover the model of a true follower of Christ. May the Holy Spirit grant us the grace of conversion and the interior anointing needed to express before these crimes of abuse our compunction and our resolve courageously to combat them.


Fitness Friday[3]

Enhancing one’s fitness goes a long way to improving one’s self image and raising one to the challenge of God’s mission for them.

Help! I’m Poor but Want to Eat Healthy!

Unhealthy food is indeed often more accessible and cheaper than healthy alternatives.  Unfortunately, it’s these very foods that make us unhealthy and overweight, causing all sorts of INCREDIBLY expensive medical problems down the road. Healthy eating on a budget IS possible; it just takes a game plan and a little creativity. Today we’re going to talk about specific foods that are a great bang for your buck. Whether you’re simply trying losing weight and getting in shape or build some muscle and put on weight without looking like Jabba the Hut, making the right dietary choices will always be 80-90% of your success. And because diet is going to make up THAT BIG of your chance for success, we want you to slowly shift to the most effective choices you can – and for that we recommend the Paleo diet. Over the last few decades we’ve been eating and drinking more and more, and we developed the idea that a “good deal” means a lot of food. In other words, we tend to associate a deal by looking at the price per calorie. “I got SOO many fries, what a great deal!” Sure, you could buy pasta and ramen and live on mere dollars a day, but we want a game plan that doesn’t skip out on practically every macro and micronutrient – this is a strategy that builds Superheroes. The aim will be to reshape the way you evaluate ‘good deals.’ Instead of price per calorie, we’ll be looking at the price per nutrient. We want the most nutrients for the least amount of money. The choices below will:

·         Target nutrient dense foods, but understand that we’re looking for the most economical choices. If food A costs $10 and has 50 of nutrient x, we’ll pick food B instead, which only provides 45 of x but costs just $2.
·         Limit our draw to ‘good caloric deals, avoiding nutrient deficient options such as white bread or ramen.
·         Identify foods with high caloric AND nutritional value, for those currently trying to gain weight through strength training.

Lets do this!

Vegetables

While vegetables can often be expensive, when we looked at some of the best choices, veggies are pretty awesome. One study showed:

that although fruits and vegetables are an expensive source of dietary energy (calories), they provide key nutrients at a reasonable cost.

·         For starters, dont be afraid to buy frozen vegetables in the freezer section of your local grocery store (or even canned vegetables).  Sure, I love fresh veggies, but since frozen veggies are picked and then frozen at peak ripeness (and thus most nutritionally dense), they are often a better value while being edible for months longer.
·         Kale and leafy greens (such as mustard or collard): If there is one super cheap superfood, kale and leafy greens are it! Practically nature’s multivitamin, kale is packed full of protein, vitamin K, C, and A, dietary fiber, calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, and more (a whole lot more). The catch is that kale and leafy greens can be bitter raw, so they need to be cooked. But don’t worry, there are tons of quick and easy ways to make kale delicious. You do NOT want to miss out on one of the most economical superfoods. To get you started, check out Kale Chips or this try this kale and bacon recipe.
·         Cabbage: A sister food to kale and leafy greens, from antioxidant to fiber to vitamin C, cabbage is both affordable and nutritionally dense. Cabbage is extremely versatile (soup, salad, stir fry, or sandwiches), and looks like it may have some superfood cancer fighting qualities as well.
·         Broccoli: I didn’t understand why everyone else hated Broccoli. Whether fresh or frozen, broccoli provides an excellent price per nutrient value.
·         Spinach: Rich in minerals and vitamins, fiber and protein, spinach should be your go-to choose for salads over cheaper but nutritionally deficient greens like iceberg lettuce. The difference between spinach and lettuce is so large, this comparison is a great example to demonstrate why we should be making choices based on price per nutrient, rather than price per calorie.
·         Carrots: Carrots are one of my favorite nutritionally dense snacks. Crazy amounts of vitamin A, good carbs, and a little bit of everything else; carrots are a solid choice to supplement a salad or soup.

Be sure to check out your local farmers market, as you may find some great deals on fruits and veggies depending on the season and where you live.

Proteins

Consider the Paleo Diet, today were going to explore all cheap protein sources, Paleo or non Paleo. Meats (chicken/turkey/beef): When we looked at prices across the U.S., chicken and turkey consistently offered better values. However, don’t count beef out; there is almost ALWAYS a specific cut of beef on sale, and by targeting cheaper (and fattier) cuts, you can usually leave the meat section with a killer deal. We aren’t targeting these cuts simply because they’re cheaper.
·         Eggs: There’s a reason eggs are usually a staple among those seriously strength training: eggs are a simple yet nutritionally dense source of protein. Toss hard boiled eggs in a salad, scramble eggs in a stir fry, or prepare a regular breakfast staple, eggs are usually too cheap to pass up.
·         Canned Tuna:  One can of Albacore Tuna contains approximately 120 calories, 28g of protein, and can cost $1 or less. This makes canned tuna a superb value and an awesomely lean protein source. Check out other canned fish, such as salmon, for some variety. And be sure to rotate canned tuna in and out of your diet to reduce risks associated with mercury. 
·         LegumesBeans, chickpeas, lentils, oh my! Legumes (especially when purchased in bags), are one of the best prices per nutrient values out there. Legumes such as beans work great in a salad, soups, or even dips. Providing copious amounts of both protein and carbs, legumes offer a great value and easily satisfy macronutrient requirements. Be wary though, nutritional value will vary depending on your specific legume of choice!
·         Protein Powder: If the above recommendations don’t work for you and you’re still a little short on protein, try a huge tub of protein powder online. Make yourself a quick protein shake breakfast or post workout meal.
·         Other `cheap protein options that may be a great deal include quinoa, greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and one of the many types of nut butter.

Fruits

Fruits provide one of the biggest challenges, especially in the United States, because they are so expensive relative to other food groups. Fruits can also be tricky. Grapes, which seem to be a moderate value, end up being one of the worst price per nutrient options out there. This may lead to the completely understandable reaction that I had, “SCREW IT! I love grapes, and I’m buying them!” But don’t worry, there are still some excellent cost efficient options for fruits:

·         Watermelon: I know, I know. My first thought too was, “isn’t it mostly water?” Well, yes. But as it turns out, since watermelon is so darn cheap, it is an incredible value per nutrient. Packed with lycopene (antioxidant), vitamins A and C, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus, watermelon is a wonderful and easy to eat nutritional deal.
·         Bananas: If you’re following the Paleo Diet and avoiding most grains, bananas are a great source of carbs. Bananas are super cheap and provide you with tons of potassium. They can be added to oatmeal, eaten as a snack, or my favorite, as a desert (frozen bananas).
·         Plums: Packed full great micronutrients like vitamin A, K, and C, plums are an excellent source of fiber and carbs.
·         Pears: Although pears possess a good amount of natural sugars, they are another great source of fiber and vitamin C…and usually even cheaper than plums.
·         Other fruits that may be great nutritional deals in your area: cantaloupe, apricots, kiwis, and nectarines.

Don’t forget about dried fruit – although high in sugar, bulk dried fruit can be an incredible nutrient value.

If you are training like crazy or are working hard to get bigger by packing on muscle and size, then chances are you’ll require more and more food (read: fuel) to reach your goals.  If you’re strength training and not getting bigger, then you’re not eating enough – it’s that simple. Calories become more important, fats and oils, beans and legumes, and dairy products become more cost effective than vegetables and fruits (however, don’t neglect vegetables to make sure your…um…” plumbing” can handle the extra calories!).

·         Oats: Oats are incredibly cheap, provide ridiculous amounts of both carbohydrates and protein, and fulfill other micronutrient and mineral requirements such as thiamin, folate, magnesium, and phosphorus. Oats are simple to make, can be prepared a variety of ways (sweet or savory), and can be bought and stored easily in bulk!
·         Whole Milk: Although milk isn’t Paleo, its low cost combined with high amounts of protein, calcium, and vitamin D makes it an attractive option when trying to meet high calorie requirements (if your body can handle the lactose).
·         Avocados: Avocados are perhaps the densest food listed in this entire article, both calorically and nutritiously. Although they may appear costly, avocados can be an incredible price per nutrient value.  Put them in salads, on sandwiches, or eat them plain with a little bit of salt! When your local grocery store puts avocados on sale, be sure to stock up!
·         Sweet Potato: A better nutritional value than normal potatoes (plus a lower glycemic load), sweet potatoes are a great source of carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and incredible amounts of vitamin A. Sweet potatoes sliced, covered in olive oil, and thrown in the oven at 375 for 12 minutes each side.  So simple, even a nerd could cook it.
·         Olive Oil: One of the best ways to add good fat without cholesterol or sodium is olive oil. Add extra olive oil to salads, meats, and legumes.
·         Almonds/Walnuts/Almond butter: Raw almonds are a versatile option that can serve as a great supplementary source of protein and fat. While almonds can be a great value, be sure to buy them in bulk to optimize your price per nutrient deal. And if you haven’t tried almond butter and apple slices, you’re missing out.

Eat Smart

No matter what value foods you plan to buy, be sure approach eating healthy on a budget with a plan of attack. You will find that if you take advantage of healthy foods on sale (especially buy one get one free deals), many foods that aren’t listed here will suddenly become a great value! Remember: If your goal is weight loss, the majority of your calories should come from fat and protein, NOT carbohydrates/grains!  This is the whole premise of the Paleo Diet that we’re so fond of. Concerned about pesticides and have a bit more money to spend? Here are nine foods you should try to buy organic, and seven organic options you can pass up.  As long as you’re no longer thinking “more is better,” but instead searching for value healthy foods, you’ll be on your way to becoming a Superhero.


Daily Devotions
·         Drops of Christ’s Blood
·         Battle for the Soul of America-Day 9
·         Operation Purity



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