Ephesians, Chapter 4, Verse 1-6
1I, then, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, 3striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of PEACE: 4 one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Paul is making a plea for unity in the church. Christians have been fashioned through the Spirit into a single harmonious religious community (one body), belonging to a single Lord (in contrast to the many gods of the pagan world), and by one way of salvation through faith, brought out especially by the significance of baptism. But Christian unity is more than adherence to a common belief. It is manifested in the exalted Christ’s gifts to individuals to serve so as to make the community more Christlike. It is here understood of Christ, ascending above all the heavens, the head of the church; through his redemptive death, resurrection, and ascension he has become the source of the church’s spiritual gifts.
John McCain in his book “Character is Destiny” points out the work of Viktor Frankl as a man who best portrays the virtue of dignity. Viktor before World War II was a prominent Jewish psychiatrist who lost everything during the Nazi takeover of Germany. The Nazis had taken his freedom, his vocation and everyone he loved. They starved him, beaten him, cursed him and worked him almost beyond human endurance. They had set his life upon a precipice from which at any moment they chose, they could push him as they had pushed thousands. Yet as they drove him out one winter morning into the fields like an animal, striking him, his mind rose above his torment and his tormentors, taking leave of the cruelty to contemplate the image of his wife. He did not know if she was alive or dead, but in his heart, he heard the words of the eighth Song of Solomon; Set me like a seal upon thy heart, love is as strong as death. “My mind clung to my wife’s image, imagining it with uncanny acuteness…Real or not, her look was more luminous than the sun which was beginning to rise…Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: the salvation of man is through love and in love,” Frankl relates in Man’s Search for Meaning. Throughout his captivity he held on to his love and with his love he kept from his captors the thing they thought they destroyed, the one thing that no human being can take from another, for it can only be surrendered, but not taken: his dignity.
Here are 12 thought-provoking passages from his book:
1. “Don’t aim at success — the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself, or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.”
2. “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.”
3. “Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life to carry out a concrete assignment which demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus, everyone’s task is as unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it.”
4. “Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now!”
5. “The prisoner who had lost his faith in the future — his future — was doomed. With his loss of belief in the future, he also lost his spiritual hold; he let himself decline and became subject to mental and physical decay.”
6. “I consider it a dangerous misconception of mental hygiene to assume that what man needs in the first place is equilibrium or, as it is called in biology, “homeostasis,” i.e., a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.”
7. “Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.”
8. “Man has suffered another loss in his more recent development inasmuch as the traditions which buttressed his behavior are now rapidly diminishing. No instinct tells him what he has to do, and no tradition tells him what he ought to do; sometimes he does not even know what he wishes to do. Instead, he either wishes to do what other people do (conformism) or he does what other people wish him to do (totalitarianism).”
9. “A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the ‘why’ for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any ‘how.’”
10. “What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general but rather the specific meaning of a person’s life at a given moment. To put the question in general terms would be comparable to the question posed to a chess champion: “Tell me, Master, what is the best move in the world?” There simply is no such thing as the best or even a good move apart from a particular situation in a game and the particular personality of one’s opponent.”
11. “When we are no longer able to change a situation — just think of an incurable disease such as an inoperable cancer — we are challenged to change ourselves.”
12. “Freedom, however, is not the last word. Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth. Freedom is but the negative aspect of the whole phenomenon whose positive aspect is responsibleness. In fact, freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness. That is why I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.”
This day in 1964 was the premier of the movie, “My Fair Lady.” It is one of my daughter Nicole’s favorite movies.
Top 10 Things You Can Do TODAY to Improve Your Health
I love a good “Top Ten” list. It’s probably because I’m an impatient reader (ok, probably an impatient human in general but I’m working on it) and have been known to skip to the last chapter of a novel to see what happens. Who has time for plot development? We’re all rushed and over-busy. We leave little to no time for ourselves to do the things we should be doing: exercising, planning and eating healthy meals, taking time to do things we enjoy – it all gets pushed to the backburner during our crazy busy days. But I embolden you to take a few minutes to read this article… I’ll keep it short and sweet. This is my “Top Ten” list of the things that I feel make the biggest difference in the lives of my patients. True wellness happens when we pay attention to what matters most. To me, these are the things that truly matter.
1. Be a nighttime creature of habit. Getting a good night’s sleep is paramount to improved health and wellbeing. We all know that we don’t feel very good when we don’t sleep well, but more importantly, chronic sleep deprivation can contribute serious health problems such as high blood pressure, increased stress hormones, and irregular heartbeat. To get a better night’s sleep, create nighttime habits that prepare your body and mind for sleep such as drinking herbal tea, taking a warm bath, meditation, and unplugging from all electronics an hour before bed.
2. Drink more water. Think about how your house plants look after you forget to water them and imagine your body organs the same way when you’re dehydrated. The health benefits of water are numerous and include improved kidney function, weight management, and improved bowel function. So how much should you drink? Here’s an easy calculation: body weight x 2/3 = oz of water to consume daily. Increase and adjust for exercise.
3. Practice daily meditation. In a recent article, published in the medical journal JAMA , researchers from John Hopkins University showed that mindfulness meditation can help ease anxiety, depression and pain. The practice of mindfulness meditation is simply sitting quietly and comfortably, focusing on your breathing, and bringing your mind’s attention to the present. Even 5 minutes of meditation per day (optimal is 30 minutes twice per day) can help balance both mind and body.
4. Move your body every day. Yes, EVERY DAY. If I had to choose the single most important thing on this list to improve all aspects of health, exercise would win hands down. The goal should be to exercise 45-60 minutes 4-5 days per week, but it all counts! Park in the furthest parking spot (better yet, just walk!), take the stairs, do some squats while brushing your teeth – it all counts. Our bodies are meant to move and the more sedentary we are, the faster our bodies will break down. Make a commitment to break a sweat once a day.
5. Eat more… (plants that is). With all the fad diets out there, it’s no wonder people are confused. This year has everyone back in hunter gatherer mode eating wild wildebeest cooked on a spit. I say, keep it simple – whole foods, no processed, mostly plants. A plant based diet is where it’s at. I love the quote from Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants”. If you fill your plate with mostly plants and eat sensible portion sizes of food that your great great grandmother would recognize as such, you’re probably doing ok.
6. Take a good multivitamin and an extra D. You never know which vitamin or mineral you might be missing and depletion of only one essential nutrient can set off imbalances in a wide range of metabolic pathways. Poor diet, poor soil quality, and lack of variation in food intake are some of the reasons we find deficiencies. Eating a wide array of local, in season, organic fruits and veggies, taking a good multivitamin and a little extra vitamin D are all good things to do to ensure your body is functioning at its best.
7. Connect with nature. “Go get your mind right” is something my husband tells me when he sees me stressing out or worrying, and this is my cue to go outdoors and clear my head. Nature puts things into perspective, and I can’t help but feel less stressed when I stand next to the ocean or go for a hike. Seeing the vastness and beauty of nature has a way of making problems seem less huge and horrifying. Managing and decreasing stress are vital to good health, so get YOUR mind right and get outdoors.
8. Connect to the people you love. Did you know that loneliness is a risk factor for early death? I almost fell out of my seat when I recently read this in the medical journal, Science. To quote the authors, “Social relationships, or the relative lack thereof, constitute a major risk factor for health – rivaling the effect of well-established health risk factors such as cigarette smoking, blood pressure, blood lipids, obesity and physical activity.” I find it so fascinating and incredibly sad that being lonely can affect our physiology so much that it can increase our risk of early death. So connect with those you love, mend broken relationships, seek social connection, join a club or church group. Better yet, notice those around you who might be facing isolation and loneliness and reach out to them. Invite a neighbor to dinner. Not only will you improve your own health, but you just might increase the lifespan of someone around you. How amazing is that?
9. Boost your health with a daily dose of gratitude. Research studies in mental health show that grateful people tend to be healthier than their not so grateful counterparts. They tend to engage in healthier lifestyle traits such as regular exercise and eating a healthy diet. Those who practice daily gratitude also tend to have better immune function, antioxidant function, and handle stress better which has all sorts of awesome health benefits such as decreasing the risk of heart disease and cancer. So here’s your prescription: Start your day either thinking about or writing down five things that you are grateful for. Dose it daily and you’ll be healthier and happier this year and years to come.
10. Get a checkup. According to a recent study, nearly 50% of Americans have either high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or a combination of the three. All three are major risk factors for heart disease which is the leading cause of death in this country. What’s more, close to 10% of patients with high blood pressure and high cholesterol don’t know they have it; 3% for diabetes. Take care of your ticker – go get a physical and some blood work. Knowledge is power!
Catechism of the Catholic Church
PART THREE: LIFE IN CHRIST
SECTION ONE-MAN'S VOCATION LIFE IN THE SPIRIT
CHAPTER ONE THE DIGNITY OF THE HUMAN PERSON
Article 6 MORAL CONSCIENCE
II. The Formation of Conscience
1783 Conscience must be informed and moral judgment enlightened. A well-formed conscience is upright and truthful. It formulates its judgments according to reason, in conformity with the true good willed by the wisdom of the Creator. the education of conscience is indispensable for human beings who are subjected to negative influences and tempted by sin to prefer their own judgment and to reject authoritative teachings.
1784 The education of the conscience is a lifelong task. From the earliest years, it awakens the child to the knowledge and practice of the interior law recognized by conscience. Prudent education teaches virtue; it prevents or cures fear, selfishness and pride, resentment arising from guilt, and feelings of complacency, born of human weakness and faults. the education of the conscience guarantees freedom and engenders peace of heart.
1785 In the formation of conscience the Word of God is the light for our path, we must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into practice. We must also examine our conscience before the Lord's Cross. We are assisted by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, aided by the witness or advice of others and guided by the authoritative teaching of the Church.
· Litany of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus
· Friday Fish: Ceviche