Coffee: the agony and the ecstasy

The blog has fallen silent over the past week. To explain why, I have to take you back ten years or more.

It all started when my sister bought me a book called Coffee Basics: A Quick and Easy Guide. The transition from hard-core addict to Coffee geek was easy, and I began visiting my local coffee roastery, sipping regional cups with discrimination, and experimenting with every imaginable brewing method at home. Continue reading “Coffee: the agony and the ecstasy”

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Christian Hunters: A Meditation on Psalm 8

WCC students get to take a hunter safety course with our fantastic Game and Fish Commission team.  Recently, the College asked me to give a talk that would tie the hunter education component in with the students’ Catholic faith. Continue reading “Christian Hunters: A Meditation on Psalm 8”

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Amoris Laetitia: Pope Francis on Marriage and Family

By chance, I received a copy of the Pope’s new apostolic exhortation yesterday, about nine hours before it was published.  So of course I started skimming it, if only to enjoy my brief time of being “in the know”:  never forget, all you bloggers and blog readers, that when it comes to Amoris Laetitia I’m nine hours ahead of you.  And I always will be.  😉

On a quick first-skim, I think there are two things to say about the document: Continue reading “Amoris Laetitia: Pope Francis on Marriage and Family”

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The Annunciation and the Death of the Christ

It’s an odd year. Because Good Friday happened to fall on March 25, we end up celebrating the Annunciation in April.

According to the usual account, it’s a strange coincidence. Christians instituted Christmas on December 25 to combat the pagan feast of the sun. If you count back nine months from December 25, you land on March 25 as the date of the Incarnation and of Gabriel’s message. And as luck would have it, sometimes Good Friday falls on that day. But the usual account is wrong.

The Annunciation falling on Good Friday is no coincidence at all. Continue reading “The Annunciation and the Death of the Christ”

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Two habits for happiness

“Oh give thanks to the Lord!” cries the Psalmist repeatedly (Psalm 107:1; 118:1; 136:1; etc.). “All your works shall give you thanks!” (Psalm 145:10). “Give thanks in all circumstances,” Paul commands, “for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1Thess 5:18).

It turns out that giving thanks to God is not only good but good for you: with the success of clinical trials, gratitude exercises and gratitude diaries have become standard in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Books like One Thousand Gifts have popularized the benefits of gratitude.

Why is gratitude so helpful? There are two reasons:

  • The usual explanation is that a habit of gratitude keeps us focused on the good things rather than the bad things. A gratitude diary, for example, keeps us on the lookout each day for the good things happening right in front of us.
  • But another reason gratitude is helpful is that it invests good things with meaning. When you give thanks, you recognize a good thing as a gift, as something from someone to you. Recognizing good things in life is not as powerful as acknowledging gifts.

Now that gratitude has “gone big,” so to speak, it’s time to bring back gratitude’s sister, “offering it up”.  “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake,” Paul says, “and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church” (Col 1:24). What gratitude does for good things, “offering it up” does for bad things.

  • When you offer up your sufferings to God for someone else, you contain the bad things in your life by packaging them as a gift and mentally sending them off. The bad things are delimited, set within a kind of box.
  • Sufferings that you offer up for someone else are invested with purpose. It’s amazing how much bad stuff we can endure for a purpose: soldiers go through war for their country, athletes go through tough training for a prize, a father grinds through work every day for his family. Suffering is truly intolerable when it feels like a waste. But for a Christian, that never needs to happen.

Gratitude for the good things and offering up the bad. With these two habits, you pretty much have life covered.

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