Sunday, March 27, 2011

Pray it Off 03/24/11 Clear the Clutter to Lose Weight

A Clutter Too Deep for Mere Bins and Shelves


After the holidays, many shoppers load up their carts with storage bins, shelving systems and color-coded containers, all in a resolute quest to get organized for the new year.

Getting organized is unquestionably good for both mind and body — reducing risks for falls, helping eliminate germs and making it easier to find things like medicine and exercise gear.

“If you can’t find your sneakers, you aren’t taking a walk,” said Dr. Pamela Peeke, assistant clinical professor of medicine at the University of Maryland and the author of “Fit to Live” (Rodale, 2007), which devotes a section to the link between health and organization. “How are you going to shoot a couple of hoops with your son if you can’t even find the basketball?”

But experts say the problem with all this is that many people are going about it in the wrong way.
Too often they approach clutter and disorganization as a space problem that can be solved by acquiring bins and organizers.

Measures like these “are based on the concept that this is a house problem,” said David F. Tolin, director of the anxiety disorders center at the Institute of Living in Hartford and an adjunct associate professor of psychiatry at Yale.

“It isn’t a house problem,” he went on. “It’s a person problem. The person needs to fundamentally change their behavior.”

Excessive clutter and disorganization are often symptoms of a bigger health problem. People who have suffered an emotional trauma or a brain injury often find housecleaning an insurmountable task. Attention deficit disorder, depression, chronic pain and grief can prevent people from getting organized or lead to a buildup of clutter. At its most extreme, chronic disorganization is called hoarding, a condition many experts believe is a mental illness in its own right, although psychiatrists have yet to formally recognize it.

Compulsive hoarding is defined, in part, by clutter that so overtakes living, dining and sleeping spaces that it harms the person’s quality of life. A compulsive hoarder finds it impossible, even painful, to part with possessions. It’s not clear how many people suffer from compulsive hoarding, but estimates start at about 1.5 million Americans.

Dr. Tolin recently studied compulsive hoarders using brain-scan technology. While in the scanner, hoarders looked at various possessions and made decisions about whether to keep them or throw them away. The items were shredded in front of them, so they knew the decision was irreversible. When a hoarder was making decisions about throwing away items, the researchers saw increased activity in the orbitofrontal cortex, a part of the brain involved in decision-making and planning.

“That part of the brain seemed to be stressed to the max,” Dr. Tolin said. By comparison, people who didn’t hoard showed no extra brain activity.

While hoarders are a minority, many psychologists and organization experts say the rest of us can learn from them. The spectrum from cleanliness to messiness includes large numbers of people who are chronically disorganized and suffering either emotionally, physically or socially. Cognitive behavioral therapy may help: a recent study of hoarders showed that six months’ therapy resulted in a marked decline in clutter in the patient’s living space.

Although chronic disorganization is not a medical diagnosis, therapists and doctors sometimes call on professional organizers to help patients. One of them is Lynne Johnson, a professional organizer from Quincy, Mass., who is president of the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization.

Ms. Johnson explains that some people look at a shelf stacked with coffee mugs and see only mugs. But people with serious disorganization problems might see each one as a unique item — a souvenir from Yellowstone or a treasured gift from Grandma.

Many clients have already accumulated numerous storage bins and other such items in a futile attempt to get organized. Usually the home space is adequate, she says, but the challenge is in teaching them how to group, sort, set priorities and discard.

Ms. Johnson says she often sees a link between her client’s efforts to get organized and weight loss. “I think someone decides, ‘I’m not going to live like this anymore. I’m not going to hold onto my stuff, I’m not going to hold onto my weight,’” she said. “I don’t know that one comes before the other. It’s part of that same life-change decision.”

On its Web site,, the group offers a scale to help people gauge the seriousness of their clutter problem. It also includes a referral tool for finding a professional organizer. But since the hourly fees can range from $60 to $100 or more, it may be worth consulting a new book by Dr. Tolin, Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee, “Buried in Treasures” (Oxford, 2007), which offers self-assessments and advice for people with hoarding tendencies.

Dr. Peeke says she often instructs patients trying to lose weight to at least create one clean and uncluttered place in their home. She also suggests keeping a gym bag with workout clothes and sneakers in an uncluttered area to make it easier to exercise. She recalls one patient whose garage was “a solid cube of clutter.” The woman cleaned up her home and also lost about 50 pounds.

“It wasn’t, at the end of the day, about her weight,” Dr. Peeke said. “It was about uncluttering at multiple levels of her life.”

Clear the Clutter to Lose Weight

There’s a connection between straightening up our surroundings and losing weight. And it just might turn you into a neat freak.

By: Carole Carson AARP

I start every day by cleaning the kitchen sink. It’s my ritual. After I clean the debris away, I certainly think better, and I’m more organized and confident. I am ready to start the day.

The rest of my house may not be spotless but I try to keep it clean and, importantly, I have far less stuff today than I did before I lost weight.

Each month during my weight-loss period, I called a local charity for a pickup of extraneous stuff. And although it was sometimes difficult to put old-time “friends” in the bags, once those things were gone I never missed them.

Interestingly enough, participants in my fitness and weight-loss classes report a similar impulse to clean the clutter out of their lives. And it’s no mere coincidence.

A article in The New York Times, “A Clutter Too Deep for Mere Bins and Shelves,” quotes Lynne Johnson, president of the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization, who says, “I think someone decides, ‘I’m not going to live my life like this anymore. I’m not going to hold onto my stuff, I’m not going to hold onto my weight.’”

She adds, “I don’t know that one comes before the other. It’s part of that same life-change decision.” One of Lynne’s clients, for example, cleaned out her home and lost 50 pounds.

People believe that clutter is the result of inadequate organization.
But the real problem is not inadequate storage or organization.

Rather, the problem resides in the way people view their material possessions. Each item is as valuable as the next one, so nothing can be discarded. Until the thinking process is changed, no matter how many systems are adopted or storage bins added the clutter problem won’t go away.

To me, clinging to possessions and struggling with one’s weight are closely linked. If you can clean out even one room in your home, you start to regain control and you see that your actions (exercising your right to part with your possessions) yield positive change — i.e., a cleaner, brighter, easier-to-manage space. You realize you have a choice about how you live, and that is empowering.

The exact same philosophies apply to your health, your body, your diet and your exercise regimens. If you’re ready to clear out the clutter in your life, you may discover that you are also ready to discard some of your extra weight. Or, like the students in my fitness class, you will begin by losing weight, and, as a by-product, you will start clearing out the surplus stuff that is holding you back. The decisions are all yours.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Pray It Off 3/17/11 Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace – Sung by The Irish Tenors

Written by: John Newton (1725-1807)

Amazing grace how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fear relieved;
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believed!

Thro’ many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.

Pray it Off 03/17/11 Walking a Marathon, Haddock with Spinach and Amazing Grace

Walk a Marathon in a Month*

This walking plan will blast fat and burn serious calories, and it's as easy as putting one foot in front of the other. You'll start gradually with steady power walking in week one, add distance and intensity in week two, begin logging serious miles in week three and walk the equivalent of a full-fledged marathon by the end of week four.

"Striding the equivalent of a marathon -- 26.2 miles -- is actually easier than you think in a month if you make it consistent," said fitness expert and author of "Nordic Walking,"
Malin Svensson, who helped design our plan. Walking is the ultimate simple, low-impact, affordable and convenient mode of exercise for blasting body fat, toning up and building exercise confidence.


You can judge proper walking pace three easy ways: steps per minute using a pedometer, how long it takes you to complete a mile, or (if you're on a treadmill) miles per hour. Use our guide below to help you keep the right pace.

85-95 steps per minute, 25- to 30-minute mile, 2.5-2.9 mph
Brisk Pace
100-125 steps per minute, 16:30- to 20-minute mile, 3-3.5 mph

Moderate Pace
130-135 steps per minute, 15- to 16-minute mile, 3.6-4 mph

Fast Pace
140-145 steps per minute, 13- to 14-minute mile, 4.3-4.6 mph


Warming up for five minutes by walking slower helps circulate blood and prepare your muscles for striding.

"At the start of each five-minute warm-up, begin strolling at a slower pace and gradually pick up your speed," said Svensson. You should start each of your walks over the next four weeks with a warm-up.

To sidestep injuries, not only is it important to warm up, but it's also necessary to cool down at the end of your workout with slower walking and stretches. "Cooling down and stretching soothes your muscles; returns blood pressure and heart rate to normal; and makes it easier to walk faster, farther and stronger the next time," said Svensson.


How to Start: Depending on your present fitness level, plan on walking three to four days for 15 to 25 minutes in your first week. "If you already walk more than that amount, keep it up," said Svensson. Walk in supportive shoes on flat, giving surfaces (a track, treadmill, local streets, even mall walkways) this week to get your body accustomed to the new muscular demands.

Frequency: Three to four walks at 15 to 20 minutes each. If you have not been active for weeks or months, set yourself up for victory by starting the first week off slowly or asking a buddy to join you so you don't give up!

Pace: Walk at a brisk pace or faster. "Your intensity or effort level correlates to the speed of your walk, and the faster you go, the more intense your cardio workout becomes and the more calories you'll burn," said walking coach Therese Iknoian, author of "Walking Fast."


Frequency: Add an extra day of walking (four to five days per week) and tack 10 minutes onto each walk, maintaining the smart practice of warming up before (and cooling down afterward). "If you ended the first week walking 20 minutes or so, pump that up to 30 minutes minimum," said Svensson.

Pace: While this is the perfect time to add duration onto a walking regimen, you should also increase to a moderate pace. "This affects each walker differently, but if you averaged a steady 3 mph last week, it's safe to increase intensity by 5 to 10 percent or so," she said. "If this proves too challenging, alternate by adding distance onto one walk on Monday and adding intensity onto another walk on Tuesday."

Tip: If lack of time becomes an issue, try to accumulate your miles in two separate 20-minute walks per day.


Frequency: While the amount of sessions you walk this week doesn't change much (four to five days), how you walk and how fast you move changes dramatically to bolster your strength and muscular endurance.

Pace: This week, try alternating one-minute intervals of fast pace walking with every minute at your moderate pace. "Interval walking blitzes calories, tones your lower half, challenges endurance, and also strengthens your heart and lungs," said Svensson.

Twenty-Minute Interval Walk:

0:00 – 5:00 Warm-Up
5:00 – 6:00 Moderate Pace
6:00 – 7:00 Fast Pace
7:00 – 8:00 Moderate Pace
8:00 – 9:00 Fast Pace
9:00 – 10:00 Moderate
10:00 – 11:00 Fast Pace
11:00 – 12:00 Moderate Pace
12:00 – 13:00 Fast Pace
13:00 – 14:00 Moderate Pace
14:00 – 15:00 Fast Pace
15:00 – 20:00 Gradually Slow to Cooldown Walk

Tip: For more variety, challenge your muscles and increase your heart rate and endurance by adding hill training and/or Nordic walking with two poles. "Using poles and adding hills to walking training engages more muscle groups, blasts double the calories [compared to] a regular walk, and increases balance and strength," said Svensson. Remember: You may slice each big walk into two separate sessions per day. "I like to do a 20-minute interval walk in the morning and then add a 20-minute Nordic walk with poles each evening," suggested Malin.


Frequency: You'll increase to five to six days of walking this week (everyone needs at least one day off per week to allow muscles to recover) and sustain about two interval walks and several cross-training walks per week. Another great way to cross-train is to walk off-road on hiking trails, steep hills, and soft sand or packed dirt -- anything that shakes up your walking routine to create faster results.

Pace: Aim for 50 to 60 minutes of walking at a moderate to fast pace most days of the week. Warming up, cooling down and stretching are more important than ever when you're covering nearly five miles or so per walk! "Don't be afraid to stride really fast or break into an occasional run if you feel the urge," said Svensson. Get moving: Every single step counts!

Tip: Add rewards! You're almost at the end of your marathon walking challenge. Treat yourself to a new pair of walking shoes or even a sports massage to sustain exercise motivation -- you've earned it! Follow this week-by-week plan and you'll drop pounds, lose inches, feel fitter and walk the equivalent of a marathon in only one month.

Baked Haddock with Spinach

By Diana Rattray, Guide Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes Ingredients:

• 3 cups frozen chopped spinach, about 2 packages (10 ounces each)
• 2 teaspoons salt
• 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
• 1 cup sliced onion
• 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated if possible
• 1 1/2 pounds haddock fillets
• 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
• 1/2 teaspoon dried leaf thyme
• 1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon leaves
• 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
• 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
• 1 teaspoon cornstarch

Preparation: Cook frozen spinach in a small amount of boiling water with 1 teaspoon salt, for about 5 minutes. Drain well, squeezing out excess water. In a medium skillet, melt butter or margarine over medium low heat. Add onions and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until onions are tender. Add spinach and nutmeg; cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. In a shallow, lightly buttered 2-quart casserole, arrange fish fillets in a single layer. Place a spoonfuls of spinach between haddock fillets.

Drain tomatoes; reserve juice, adding a little water, if necessary, to measure 1 cup. Place tomatoes around haddock fillets; sprinkle with herbs and remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Bake, uncovered, at 375° for 20 to 25 minutes. Fish should flake easily with a fork when done.

In a small saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon butter or margarine; saute 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion until tender. Add 3/4 cup reserved tomato juice and bring to the boil. Stir cornstarch into remaining 1/4 cup tomato juice; stir into boiling mixture. Continue cooking and stirring until mixture returns to a boil. Pour sauce over haddock fillets. Baked haddock recipe serves 4 to 6.

Amazing Grace:

The Story of John Newton by Al Rogers*

John Newton 1725-1807

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound...” So begins one of the most beloved hymns of all times, a staple in the hymnals of many denominations. The author of the words was John Newton, the self-proclaimed wretch who once was lost but then was found, saved by amazing grace.

Newton was born in London July 24, 1725, the son of a commander of a merchant ship which sailed the Mediterranean.
When John was eleven, he went to sea with his father and made six voyages with him before the elder Newton retired. In 1744 John was impressed into service on a man-of-war, the H. M. S. Harwich. Finding conditions on board intolerable, he deserted but was soon recaptured and publicly flogged and demoted from midshipman to common seaman.

Finally at his own request he was exchanged into service on a slave ship, which took him to the coast of Sierra Leone. He then became the servant of a slave trader and was brutally abused. Early in 1748 he was rescued by a sea captain who had known John's father. John Newton ultimately became captain of his own ship, one which plied the slave trade.

Although he had had some early religious instruction from his mother, who had died when he was a child, he had long since given up any religious convictions. However, on a homeward voyage, while he was attempting to steer the ship through a violent storm, he experienced what he was to refer to later as his “great deliverance.” He recorded in his journal that when all seemed lost and the ship would surely sink, he exclaimed, “Lord, have mercy upon us.” Later in his cabin he reflected on what he had said and began to believe that God had addressed him through the storm and that grace had begun to work for him.

For the rest of his life he observed the anniversary of May 10, 1748 as the day of his conversion, a day of humiliation in which he subjected his will to a higher power. “Thro’ many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; ’tis grace has bro’t me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.” He continued in the slave trade for a time after his conversion; however, he saw to it that the slaves under his care were treated humanely.

In 1750 he married Mary Catlett, with whom he had been in love for many years. By 1755, after a serious illness, he had given up seafaring forever. During his days as a sailor he had begun to educate himself, teaching himself Latin, among other subjects. From 1755 to 1760 Newton was surveyor of tides at Liverpool, where he came to know George Whitefield, deacon in the Church of England, evangelistic preacher, and leader of the Calvinistic Methodist Church. Newton became Whitefield’s enthusiastic disciple. During this period Newton also met and came to admire John Wesley, founder of Methodism. Newton’s self-education continued and he learned Greek and Hebrew.

He decided to become a minister and applied to the Archbishop of York for ordination. The Archbishop refused his request, but Newton persisted in his goal, and he was subsequently ordained by the Bishop of Lincoln and accepted the curacy of Olney, Buckinghamshire. Newton’s church became so crowded during services that it had to be enlarged. He preached not only in Olney but in other parts of the country. In 1767 the poet William Cowper settled at Olney, and he and Newton became friends.

Cowper helped Newton with his religious services and on his tours to other places. They held not only a regular weekly church service but also began a series of weekly prayer meetings, for which their goal was to write a new hymn for each one. They collaborated on several editions of Olney Hymns, which achieved lasting popularity.

The origin of the melody is unknown. Most hymnals attribute it to an early American folk melody. The Bill Moyers special on “Amazing Grace” speculated that it may have originated as the tune of a song the slaves sang.

Newton was not only a prolific hymn writer but also kept extensive journals and wrote many letters. Historians accredit his journals and letters for much of what is known today about the eighteenth century slave trade. In Cardiphonia, or the Utterance of the Heart, a series of devotional letters, he aligned himself with the Evangelical revival, reflecting the sentiments of his friend John Wesley and Methodism.

In 1780 Newton left Olney to become rector of St. Mary Woolnoth, St. Mary Woolchurch, in London. There he drew large congregations and influenced many, among them William Wilberforce, who would one day become a leader in the campaign for the abolition of slavery. Newton continued to preach until the last year of life, although he was blind by that time. He died in London December 21, 1807. Infidel and libertine turned minister in the Church of England, he was secure in his faith that amazing grace would lead him home.


PHOTOS:, Ed Whipple,

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Pray it Off 3/17/11 Actual Grace - Just Ask For It!

ACTUAL GRACE* By Father Paul A. Duffner, O.P.

One teaching of our Catholic faith that helps us to understand our complete dependence on God in living the Christian life, is the Church’s teaching on actual grace.
Catholic theology tells us that “all creatures are dependent on God, not only for their creation and for their conservation in being . . . but also for their every action, their very operation and motion and movement. Divine assistance, divine movement is absolutely necessary if the creature (man or angel) is to do anything, to inaugurate any action and carry it through to a successful conclusion.” (The Christian Life, F.L. Cunningham, O. P. p. 258).

Statements like the above we may find hard to comprehend, because we know so little about man and even less about God. Yet the above statement is true both in the natural order and the order of grace. In the natural order we do not give life to ourselves; that life comes from the divine source of all life—who creates the soul at the moment of conception. So too, in the supernatural order, the divine life of grace is infused into the soul by the Holy Spirit.

What about our activities? In the natural order we get things done, we work, we study, we walk, we think, etc. But we do not do any of these actions alone. They are our actions; but we are only the secondary causes of those actions. Their primary cause is the Supreme Being who gave us existence, conserves us in being, gives us the capacity for action, and activates that capacity. SANCTIFYING GRACE gives us supernatural life, and the infused virtues and gifts of the Holy Spirit give us the capacity for supernatural action; but ACTUAL GRACE is necessary to bring that capacity into action. This is, actual grace is necessary for each and every act of any Christian virtue.

The Church herself assures us of this important fact: “Concerning the assistance of God: It is a divine gift when we both think aright and restrain our steps from falsity and injustice; for as often as we do good, God works in us and with us, in order that we may act.” (Council of Orange, Can. 9).


Some of the above statements may seem to involve a problem, even a contradiction. How can man be free in his actions, and be responsible for them, if God is the primary cause of those actions? We have to state clearly that we are dealing with a mystery that never in this life will we fully comprehend, for we are dealing with the action of an infinite God. Yet, God has created the human will such that He, and only He, can move the will from within without destroying its freedom. Theologians speak of our dependence on God in this matter in this way:

“In the supernatural order the divine motion preparing us for action, moving us to action, producing the action within us, is called actual grace. This divine movement which is actual grace
is not to be understood in terms of extrinsic assistance, like an extra oarsman furnishing just enough more power to give the boat headway, or an extra horse whose help makes possible the pulling of a load too heavy for one alone. It is more far-reaching than that. It is an intrinsic movement in the order of first cause which, in its own order, is the cause of the action yet leaves our causality intact, indeed produces or makes possible our causality.”
(Walter Farrell, O.P. - Comp. to Summa, II, 425)

In a word, God not only enlightens the intellect and strengthens the will; it is God who sets these two faculties within us into activity without taking away our freedom. Yet, as we will see, man can resist or ignore those divine helps.

In every meritorious act God enters by His grace in moving the will towards good and enables man to do the good act whatever it may be. This is simply a transient influence, a divine impulse, that leaves the will perfectly free to act or not act. God never compels action, nor interferes with freedom of choice. But the fact that our free deliberate acts are “co-produced” by the grace of God and our free will, is clear from the Council of Trent which speaks of the repentant sinner returning to God “by freely assenting to and cooperating with grace.” (Denz. 797) And St. Paul, writing to the Philippians, reminds them of this dependence, “for it is God who of His good pleasure works in you both the will and the performance.” (2:13)


A. To prepare the way for the first infusion of sanctifying grace (for those with the use of reason), and to restore the state of grace when lost through mortal sin.

One who is a non-believer and without sanctifying grace, can do nothing of himself to receive that divine gift. Of his own natural powers alone he can do nothing to prepare his soul for grace. God must take the initiative by means of actual grace which precedes the act of the will on the part of man. “No one can come to Me,” said our Divine Savior, “unless the Father . . . draw him.” (Jn. 6:44) With the help of that initial grace, however, man can prepare himself to receive sanctifying grace. As Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange explains, that initial grace “first enlightens the intellect, then touches the will and causes a sudden desire for the object proposed through the representation of the intellect, and this is the inspiration that ‘opens the heart’ as the heart of Lydia was opened to attend to the things said by St. Paul.” (Acts 16:14)

For the sinner who has lost sanctifying grace through mortal sin, a similar situation exists. By his own natural powers alone he can do nothing to bridge the infinite gap between the natural and the supernatural. He cannot even turn to God in prayer unless he first is moved by actual grace to recognize his sorry state of existence, and to desire to return to friendship with God. “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except in the Holy Spirit.” (1 Cor. 12:3) But here again God takes the initiative and prepares the way with actual grace. “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.“ (Lk. 5:32) Even the hardened sinner will not be denied the necessary actual graces to return to God. Whether or not he cooperates with those graces is another matter.

The return of the sinner can involve a series of actual graces — which can be accepted or rejected. For example, God enlightens the mind of the sinner so that he sees the evil of what he has done. That first grace is a free gift of God. The sinner did not seek it. He can accept that first grace or reject it. He can admit to himself that he has done wrong, or he can justify his conduct and ignore the grace received. In this series of actual graces, one begets another. If he accepts the first grace, further graces will not be wanting . . . graces strengthening the will . . . moving to repentance, etc. Each step of the way back is preceded by and aided by an actual grace.

B. To bring about the increase of sanctifying grace by activating the infused virtues and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

One who possesses the gift of sanctifying grace with the infused virtues and gifts of the Holy Spirit has the basic capacity of meriting an increase of that grace, but he needs further help from God in the form of actual graces
to perform virtuous acts that bring that increase. (For a detailed account of the increase of grace, see “Light & Life” Vol. 40, n. 4). Each time any of the Christian virtues or gifts of the Holy Spirit are activated, God enters in by His grace enlightening the mind as to what is good and true, and moving the will to seek that good by performing the good act in question.

A household example might help here. An electric light bulb has the capacity of giving light, but it will not give light until the electric current is turned on. Similarly, while the soul in the state of grace has the capacity of supernatural virtuous acts, it will not activate that capacity without an added help from God. That is, every supernatural act on the part of man, be it a thought of the mind, or a decision of the will, must be set in motion by a previous actual grace on the part of God, leaving man free to cooperate with that grace or reject it. “God is at work in you, both to will and to act.” (Phil. 2:13) Fr. Antonio Royo, O.P. speaks of this in his “Theology of Christian Perfection:”

“Every act of an infused virtue and every operation of the Holy Spirit presupposes a previous actual grace which has set that virtue or gift in motion, although not every actual grace produces an act of virtue (for at times a sinner rejects that grace.) The actual grace is nothing other than the divine influence which has moved the infused habit to its operation.” (p. 42)

As we have seen, by means of divine grace, God shares with us His own divine life and His own divine activity. By means of actual grace God acts in us and with us. While he is the primary cause of the good we do, he requires (of all who have the use of reason) that we cooperate with His action. “God does not act in us,“ says St. Augustine, “as if we were lifeless stone or irrational creatures without free will.”

Because of our human freedom, we can resist that grace, we can turn away from the light, we can let the desires of the flesh and of the ego overshadow that light —causing us to choose our will rather than God’s . . . our plan rather than His. Yet, God so values human freedom that he will never take it away, even when man uses it to his own destruction. Because of this human weakness St. Paul warned: "We entreat you not to accept the grace of God in vain.”Cor. 6:1 )

Our own indifference, or sloth, or resistance we can fail to cooperate with, or not remain open to, the operation of God’s grace in the soul. We do not mean that God cannot overcome our resistance if He so wills. For at times our human will is carried along by His grace in such a way that unfailingly we do what He wills, and yet we do it freely. Theologians refer to such actual graces as efficacious graces. When that actual grace is resisted or ignored, it is called sufficient grace. It was sufficient to dispose one to perform a meritorious act, but since that actual grace was resisted, that meritorious act did not follow.

We can see from all this the importance of cooperating with God’s grace, and of praying for the grace always to be open to God’s action in the soul. When we say that every person that comes into this world receives sufficient grace for salvation, it is sufficient in the above sense. Each person is given sufficient interior divine lights and impulses to judge what is right and to do what is good, sufficient to bring him to the proximate disposition for action, i.e. to the point where action is immediately possible to us . . . awaiting only the cooperation of the will. So if it is rejected, we have only ourselves to blame.

We have said that God is the primary cause of our good acts. What about our sinful acts? Is God the cause of those too? As we pointed out, God so values man’s free will that He allows man to choose his own destiny—even if that means his own eternal damnation. (What a frightening thought in today’s “pro-choice” society!) When man rejects grace and chooses something sinful, God—the Creator—preserves him in being, and even moves him according to his own choice . . . enabling the sinner to carry out the sinful action. But God in no way is the cause of the sinful choice — which is the sin. In fact, God gave him sufficient grace to choose otherwise. In every sin that man commits he rejects an actual grace offered by God to draw him to, and enable him to choose, the good. Sin is the one and only thing of which sinful man is the total cause. After repeated rejections of God’s grace, the sinner’s heart can become hardened, and his mind blinded to the lights and inspirations received. Then only a special gift of God’s mercy will penetrate that blind resistance. “But with God all things are possible.” (Mt. 19:26)

C. To preserve the gift of grace received at baptism lest it be lost through grave sin.

We need actual grace not only to recover sanctifying grace lost by grave sin, and to activate the infused virtues (as we have seen), but also to resist temptation. It is common Catholic teaching that one in the state of grace —with the help of actual grace—can avoid all mortal sins; but that no man—without a special privilege from God such as was given to the Blessed Mother—can avoid all venial sin. This was defined by the Council of Trent (Sess. Vl on Justification, Can. 18). It is also common teaching that one who loses the state of grace through grave sin, and deliberately remains in that state, cannot remain long without committing additional grave sins, for as St. Gregory the Great says, “a sin not at once taken away by repentance, by its weight drags us down to other sins.” (Cf. St. Thomas: I II, 109,8) “Consequently, due to the weakness of our nature — our weakened will and clouded understanding, along with the rebellion of our lower nature against reason—no man, relying on his natural strength alone, can observe the commandments of God for any length of time and avoid all serious sin.” (ibid. a. 4)

Once one receives the gift of sanctifying grace, he needs (because of the weakness of human nature, and the many sources of temptation) the frequent help of actual grace to remain in the state of grace and persevere in the practice of virtue. And a very special gift of God is needed—over and above sanctifying grace—for the grace of final perseverance. The reason for this is that sanctifying grace does not do away with the weakness of the will. “However just and however perfect a man may be,” says Fr. Antonio Royo, O.P., “he is a/ways able to sin, and for that reason needs, over and above the infused virtue of perseverance, the special grace of final perseverance which the Council of Trent calls ‘that great grace.”’ (ibid. 472)


When we face God on the day of judgment, one of our big surprises will be to discover how much God’s grace was the cause of the good we did and the evil we avoided . . . how much was accomplished by God’s helping hand. We will be amazed at how continually and completely God’s enlightening and strengthening graces have surrounded and accompanied us all through life. At times, no doubt, we were aware of some special help from God; but we will discover on judgment day that for every time we recognized God’s help, there were countless hundreds of times it remained hidden and unrecognized.

For this reason, we are tempted at times to take the credit ourselves for jobs well done, for patience in trials, for fidelity to duty, etc. On the day of judgment we will see how much God’s grace was the motivating and strengthening force behind it all . . . graces which we did not resist or reject. Every person who comes into this world receives not only sufficient grace for salvation, but sufficient grace for sanctity. “This is the will of God, your sanctification.” (1 Thes. 4:3) “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt. 5:48) God is continually, through actual graces, seeking to provide means for our spiritual growth; but so many of His invitations go unheeded. So many times our pride, our selfishness, our sensuality get in the way. If we had accepted with faith and resignation that trial, that disappointment, that set-back which God permitted for the purpose of providing us with the opportunity of practicing virtue, we would have made real progress. But by giving way to anger or resentment, by protesting and complaining, we failed to cooperate with the graces that accompanied that trial.

The more we understand the Church’s teaching on divine grace, the more we see how completely dependent we are on God, both for what WE ARE, and for what WE DO. God’s gift of SANCTIFYING GRACE is responsible for all that we are—that is pleasing to Him, and his countless gifts of ACTUAL GRACES are the principal cause for all that we do that is pleasing to him. Would that we could say with St. Paul:

“By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace in me has not been fruitless.” (1 Cor. 15:10)



Monday, March 21, 2011

Pray It Off 3/17/11 God's Gift of GRACE and Weight Loss

The “Types” of Grace


• There is sanctifying grace (the state of being in friendship with Christ, of being an adopted child of God, of having been redeemed from original sin). This is introduced into our lives at baptism, and it is increased, or deepened, through prayer, fidelity to God’s will, and the other sacraments.

• There is also sacramental grace, a specific strengthening or benefit unique to each sacrament. For example, the sacramental grace of confession is the forgiveness of personal sins and the strengthening of our will towards future fidelity. The sacramental grace of marriage is the marriage bond which helps both spouses grow in communion with God through living their communion with each other, etc.

• Then there is what is commonly referred to as actual grace. This is a boost of supernatural help that comes to assist us in a specific situation. When we talk about “graces,” this is usually what we mean – a light from the Holy Spirit, an added dose of patience when I really needed it… These actual graces are distinct from sanctifying grace.
So, when non-baptized persons, who probably don’t have sanctifying grace, ask for help from the Holy Spirit, they are asking for this kind of grace, actual grace. And God is always ready to give actual graces, even when we don’t ask, to draw us closer to him.

These distinctions may seem persnickety. But let’s not lose sight of the forest for the trees. Reflecting on the many ways in which God reaches out to us and stays involved in our lives reminds of the most important thing: that he is our Father, passionately interested in the smallest details of our little, limited world.

A soul in the state of grace is very beautiful in the sight of God. Then we are friends and children of God and heirs of heaven; then we are like the very angels. We must always try to avoid sin. But when the soul has lost the grace of God by mortal sin, nothing on earth can be uglier in God's sight. If we are so careful about our personal appearance before mortals, how much more should we be careful about the appearance of our immortal soul, that God may be pleased with us.

Sanctifying Grace*

What is grace? --Grace is a supernatural gift of God bestowed on us through the merits of Jesus Christ for our salvation.

1. Grace is a favor, a free gift, granted to us though we have no claim to it. God grants us graces because He is good, not because we deserve them. God grants,us graces for the sake of His Son, Who died on the cross to earn for us these graces; we men can never merit these graces.

"All have sinned and have need of the glory of God. They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption which is in Christ" (Rom. 3:23-24).

2. The Holy Ghost dispenses the graces of God merited by Our Lord Jesus Christ; He bestows and perfects what is already earned, and acts as the channel of grace.

In a similar manner the sun does not make the plants, but develops what is already planted; without the sun plants would die and be useless to man.

3. The supernatural is that which is beyond natural Powers. It is of two kinds:
a. When the fact is beyond natural powers in the manner of occurence: as when a blind man instantly can see; and
b. When the fact fundamentally and entirely surpasses all powers of the natural order: as when God imparts a part of His life to man through the gift of sanctifying grace.

4. The assistance of the Holy Ghost is necessary. Without the help of the graces that He dispenses, with merely natural powers, we cannot do the least work to merit salvation. Without God, we are nothing.

In order to reach heaven, we need God's grace; so we say with the Apostle: "Not that
we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything, as from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God" (2 Cor. 3:5) ; "By the grace of God I am what I am. . . . I have laboured more than any of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me" (1 Cor. 15:10).

5. There are two kinds of grace: sanctifying grace and actual grace.

What is sanctifying grace? --Sanctifying grace is that grace which confers on our souls a new life, that is, a sharing in the life of God Himself.

1. By sanctifying grace, our souls are made holy and pleasing to God. It is an abiding or permanent grace, which we gain by baptism, and lose only by mortal sin.

By Adam's sin all mankind lost the friendship of God; that is, we are born in original sin, without sanctifying grace. Our Lord's death won back sanctifying grace for us; it is granted freely at Baptism.

2. A soul to whom God grants sanctifying grace receives not merely a gift from God, but God Himself. The Holy Ghost lives in him and becomes united with him, so that he receives a new life, a new nature.

St. Paul refers to this acquisition of sanctifying grace as the putting off of the old man and the putting on of the new. It is as if an old and worn man were suddenly to become a handsome young man full of the vigor of life. The beauty of a soul in the state of sanctifying grace is too great for human eyes to bear. As a child said, when asked how his soul would look immediately after his confirmation, if it could be photographed, "Why, it would look like God!"

What are the chief effects of sanctifying grace? --The chief effects of sanctifying grace are:

First, it makes us holy and pleasing to God.-When we are in possession of sanctifying grace, we are free from mortal sin; the two cannot dwell together. The fire of the Holy Ghost sears away all that God abhors, so that we acquire God's friendship.

However, although free from mortal sin, we do not: with sanctifying grace, become free from the remains of sin. So even saints feel the human inclination to sin, against which the struggle is lifelong, and from which we should gain merit. This human frailty is imbedded in our flesh, and is present in our souls as a result of original sin.

Sanctifying grace, however, although it does not cure us of the weakness of the flesh, strengthens our will, so that for us the war against sin becomes easier. The charity accompanying sanctifying grace makes us more prone to good works, more attracted to God, with minds illumined as to the folly of sin.

Second, it makes us adopted children of God. - With sanctifying grace, the Holy Ghost enters our soul; we are led by His Spirit, and are therefore His children: "For whoever are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God" (Rom. 8:14).

"Now you have not received a spirit of bondage so as to be again in fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons, by virtue of which we cry, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit himself gives testimony to our spirit that we are sons of God" (Rom. 8:15-16).

Third, it makes us temples of the Holy Ghost.-Sanctifying grace brings the Holy Ghost to dwell in us as in a temple. St. Paul says, "For you are the temple of the Living God" (2 Cor. 6: 16).

"Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys the temple of God, him will God destroy; for holy is the temple of God and this temple you are" (1 Cor. 3: 16,17)

Fourth, it gives us the right to heaven.When we are in sanctifying grace, we are inspired to do good works. The Holy Ghost does not sleep within us, but expands our heart with His grace, and urges our will to do good. And as we are adopted children of God, such actions become meritorious for heaven.

If we are children of God, we are at the same time heirs, and therefore have a right to His Kingdom. "We are the sons of God. But if we are sons, we are heirs also; heirs indeed of God, and joint heirs with Christ" (Rom. 8:16-17)

Why is sanctifying grace necessary for salvation? --Sanctifying grace is necessary for salvation because it is the supernatural life, which alone enables us to attain the supernatural happiness of heaven.

The presence of God in the soul gives it life. When the Holy Ghost is dwelling in the soul, it is enabled to know and love God, to do supernatural works. Speaking of the "gift of God", Our Lord said it "shall become in him a fountain of water, springing up unto life everlasting" (John 4:14). Without sanctifying grace, the soul is without God; and without God, the soul becomes the devil's.

One cannot gain any merit for heaven as long as he is not in sanctifying grace, what is termed "in the state of grace". For without sanctifying grace one is an enemy of God, and cannot enter His kingdom.

Mortal sin makes the soul displeasing to God, and thus deprives it of sanctifying grace.



Saturday, March 19, 2011

In Me By Casting Crowns

Pray it Off 03/11/2011 - Eating for More Than One, Eating Right AND Exercise, Veggie Stir-Fry

Weight Loss Alert - You Are Eating for More than One

By Daniel Wychor

Most people are more motivated to achieve success when the cause is greater than them. Be it caring for loved ones, work, or a group/cause you are part of, success often means appreciation by others for a job well done and that brings great satisfaction to you.

One of the keys to achieving lasting weight loss is realizing losing weight isn't just about you. Your ability to achieve lasting weight loss can have a domino effect not only on your immediate family, but also on
thousands of people you don't even know and thousands (or more) not yet born.

Let me explain.

Whether you realize it or not, you have people that look up to you for a specific reason(s). Maybe it's your intelligence, looks, personality, ability to do something, kindness, etc. Some of these people are relatives, many are not. These people include people you know and complete strangers.

Who could these people be?

Some are your friends, neighbors or their kids. Others could be a store clerk you regularly see, fellow church member, coworker, etc. The list goes on and on, the point is you have a positive effect on more people than you realize. Don't believe me? Let's do a little exercise.

Think back to when you were a child. Remember a time when you saw someone do something that you admired them for, but didn't let them know. They had no idea the impact they had on you, but it was real. The same has happened to you, someone admires you for something you do, and you have no idea.

The second group is those not yet born, say what? How many times have you heard someone say, (maybe even yourself), "I'm just like my _______,"(Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt, Uncle etc.) Studies have show not only physical traits but also character traits and habits, be they good or bad, are past down to future generations. When people study family lines they tend to find successful people tend to have successful ancestors and those that struggle in life often have ancestors that did the same.

So what does all this have to do with lasting weight loss? Weight loss is not just about you, that is a fact. No matter what age you are, you have a chance to have a big impact on those around you and future generations. I'm not just talking about your descendents; I'm also talking about the descendents of others who may be inspired by your success.

Now that you understand the impact you have, are you starting to feel more motivated to lose weight and keep it off? Does that extra piece of pie or second helping sound as good knowing you are eating for thousands? What if you approach every meal or snack thinking about how your eating habits will affect countless others? If your family has a history of obesity, what impact could you have on the health of future generations by making a change?

The choice is yours.

God bless.

Christian Weight Loss - You Cannot Out Run Overeating

By: Daniel Wychor

The media is constantly telling you that you need to exercise to lose weight. Join this health club, buy this exercise equipment, workout program etc. Exercise is good for you (I enjoy doing it regularly) but unless you get a handle on your eating habits, any weight loss you experience will likely be short lived.

Recent studies have shown weight loss is 80% eating right and 20% exercise.
I know this to be true from personal experience. I used to do intense workouts, some days cardio, other days weight training (lasting on averaging one hour to one and one half hours per day) a minimum of 4 days per week, usually 5 or 6 days a week. While I was gaining some muscle it was also obvious I was gaining fat. Why? I could not control my overeating and binging on junk food. That's why I like to say "You cannot out run overeating." There is no way you can workout enough to compensate for overeating. You can only experience the benefits of exercise when it comes to weight loss if you get your eating under control.

Think eat right first – exercise second

Since weight loss is 80% eating right, you must get it into your head that the key to weight loss is eating right. The only way to eat right is to eliminate the problem of overeating. The only way to eliminate overeating is to master the art of resisting temptation.

Master the art of resisting temptation. The only way to lose weight and keep it off is to master the art of resisting temptation. Without being able to resist temptation on a consistent basis any weight loss is short term.

So how do you master the art of resisting temptation? I have found only one way, by becoming aware of the everyday presence of God. The only way to do that is to make God a part of your everyday life. You do that by spending a few minutes focused on God at key points in your day. Once you have done this for a while you'll find yourself automatically thinking about him more and more throughout your day. Your ability to resist temptation will begin grow, and because you are not eating as much your weight will begin to go down.

How do I know this works? It worked for me. I did not diet; I ate the same foods (including junk food) and lost over 20 pounds of fat. I even exercised less. By focusing on God a few minutes a day, I eliminated my problem of overeating and binging on junk food. Let me say that again, by focusing on God a few minutes a day, I eliminated my problem of overeating. The feeling that brings is indescribable.

So think eat right first and let God into your everyday life. When you do that you can master the art of resisting temptation and give yourself a chance at lasting weight loss.

Then you'll really get to see the benefits of exercise.

Copyright 2009 by Daniel Wychor All World Wide Rights Reserved

About the Author

Since 2007, Daniel Wychor has been helping thousands of Christians worldwide achieve greater success at resisting temptation through his book "Stop the Devil from Laughing When You Diet", journal, articles and videos. More information can be found at

Vegetable Stir Fry with Lemon Butter Sauce


Vegetables: 1 cup(s)

Calories: 100
Nutrition Info: Each serving
1 pkg (16 oz) Food You Feel Good About Cleaned & Cut Stir-Fry Vegetables
1 medium sweet red pepper, cored, seeded, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp Wegmans Vegetable Oil
1/4 cup Wegmans Lemon Butter Sauce (Prepared Foods)
1 tsp JFC White Roasted Sesame Seeds (International Foods)


1. Blanch stir-fry veggies and peppers 20 seconds in large pot of boiling salted water; drain and set aside.

2. Drizzle oil around sides of large skillet or stir-fry pan; tilt pan to distribute evenly. Heat oil in pan on HIGH until oil faintly smokes. (If oil smokes too much, pan is too hot.)

3. Add vegetables; stir fry 2-3 min. Add lemon butter sauce; stir fry until heated through, about 1 min. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Easy Ten-Minute Exercises*

Whether on the go or in slow-mo, try these quick calorie burners

Although most experts recommend that we get thirty minutes of exercise most days of the week, many people have difficulty finding a half an hour of time for physical activity. Fortunately, three 10-minute sessions of physical activity are just as effective as one 30-minute session. So it's easy for busy folks with tight schedules to get the same, healthy benefits from exercise.

So what kinds of exercises can you do in ten minutes? Try one of these:

Walking/jogging: Strap on your sneakers and head outside. Power walk or jog for five minutes in one direction, then turn around and return home. You'll have just completed a ten-minute cardio blast!

"Boot camp": Got ten minutes during your lunch hour? Close your office door and turn those ten minutes into a "boot camp" session with basic exercises like pushups, crunches, squat thrusts and lunges.

Jumping rope: A jump rope is an inexpensive and portable device that you can take anywhere!
And it's a great cardiovascular activity that will improve your level of fitness. Carry one with you in your handbag or briefcase so you're always prepared.

Exercise DVDs: Some exercise DVDs are designed with short 10-minute segments. If you don't have time to do the entire workout, try completing just one of the shorter segments.

Dancing: It may feel silly, but fast dancing is a fun cardio workout--so crank up the music and shake your booty! You'll burn calories, increase your aerobic capacity, and build stamina, too.



Friday, March 18, 2011

Pray It Off 03/10/11 Prudence and the Patience to Lose Weight

Finding Patience and Prudence*

Being patient, better yet...having patience and prudence...what a great combo.

All the stuff that goes on in life today usually happens so quickly, you hardly get a chance to see it go by. In fact, you often get the feeling that if you aren't making decisions quickly, that somehow you will "miss the boat."

It's no wonder God is very specific in His Word about patience and prudence.

Proverbs 22:3 (New Living Translation), "A prudent person foresees the danger ahead and takes precautions; the simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences."

Prudence isn't exactly one of those common, everyday words so just in case you're not clear, the definition of prudence is:

1. caution with regard to practical matters; discretion. 2. regard for one's own interests. 3. provident care in the management of resources; economy; frugality.

That's not to say you are to be miserly with your resources or only be concerned about your own welfare. Rather, it relates to making decisions AFTER you've taken the time to gather all the facts, NOT before. And of course, this entire process requires patience.

Patience is something you develop as you find yourself in the middle of a situation that requires it. UGH. That means the only time you can
practice patience is when you HAVE to because of your current circumstances. So just a warning, if you ask God to give you more patience, you can bet you'll find yourself in a situation where you're going to need it!

But that's not a reason for depression and anxiety. It is actually an opportunity to get good at a quality that will always be needed.

And remember, being both patient and prudent doesn't mean things are going to magically fall into place. If it isn't God's timing, things aren't going to move any faster. But the wait will be a lot more pleasant if you're not all stressed out.

Whenever a situation arises that requires patience and prudence, it is almost always an opportunity to grow in some area. God always uses these times to bring something out of you that needs to come out and stay out.

But, if you fail the test, and are impatient, God will put you right back in another situation to see if you've learned anything. I guess you might as well use the patience and prudence God gave you, pass the test, and get on with life. Otherwise, you'll be taking yet another trip around the same mountain. What a concept...

Here are some scriptures from the amplified Bible that specifically deal with patience and prudence:

Ecclesiastes 7:8: Better is the end thing than the beginning of it, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.

Galatians 6:9: And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint.

I Thessalonians 5:14-15: And we earnestly beseech you, brethren, admonish (warn and seriously advise) those who are out of line (the loafers, the disorderly, and the unruly); encourage the timid and fainthearted, help and give your support to the weak souls, and be very patient with everybody (always keeping your temper).

See that none of you repays another with evil for evil, but always aim to show kindness and seek to do good to one another and to everybody.

In Proverbs 22:3 (New Living Translation), it says "A prudent person foresees the danger ahead and takes precautions; the simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences."


I Don't Have the Patience to Lose Weight!*

Do you feel that you lack sufficient patience
to lose weight? I mean, does the idea of losing a maximum of 2 pounds of fat, per week, drive you crazy with impatience? If so, you are suffering from "Now-Now-Now Syndrome".

Now-Now-Now Syndrome

Background Story

A few years ago in Brazil, a man in a restaurant was asked to wait an extra five minutes for his T-bone steak. He responded by shooting the waiter in the foot and when his own wife objected, he stabbed her in the eye with a sausage and knocked her unconscious with a dinner-plate. Result? He went to prison for eighteen months. Hmm. See how dangerous impatience can be?

Impatience and Weight Loss

Of all the obstacles to losing weight, impatience is the worst.

We get on the scales and discover we're 10 pounds heavier! OR...
We go shopping and discover we're a size bigger than we thought! OR...
We catch sight of a new bulge in our stomach.

How do we react?

Do we calmly assess the situation?
Do we carefully consider our options?
Do we soberly make plans to solve the problem?

No. We don't do any of these things.


Stage 1.

We get hysterical.
We throw a tantrum.
We feel disgusted with ourselves.
We despair.

Stage 2.

We try to purge the problem.
We search for instant Now-Now-Now solutions.

We don't want real answers. Because real answers take time. And we don't have time, right? We need Now-Now-Now answers that will solve everything, RIGHT NOW!

So we stop eating, or take pills, or laxatives. Hang the cost. Never mind that none of these miracle-products work. We don't care.

Because we're frothing! We're in a Now-Now-Now frenzy.

We say things like:

I'm NEVER going to eat ANYTHING bad EVER again!
Because from now on we are going to be PERFECT.

Ho Hum.

Stop! Stop shooting the waiter in the foot.

Okay, you've put on weight. Okay, your stomach may be too fat. Okay, none of your clothes may fit you. Okay, you REALLY want to lose weight.

But don't shoot the waiter. Because this is going to make everything worse.
Instead, be cool.

Be Cool

Being cool means fixing the problem, instead of frothing about it.

It means:

Changing Your Bad Eating Habits

- Avoid junk.
- Eat more 'natural' foods.
- Go easy on the butter and mayo.
- Boil or grill, instead of frying.
- Stop eating packet snacks: eat more fruit.
- Eat little and often.

None of These Things Are "Difficult" !!!

"Difficult" is looking for a size 24 bikini.
"Difficult" is understanding a menu when you can't read.
"Difficult" is carrying an extra 60 pounds around on your body, each day

Asking for a sandwich without butter and mayo is "easy".
Not eating toffee popcorn is "easy".
Eating fruit for snacks is "very easy".

Taking Exercise

Taking exercise is real easy. You put one foot in front of the other and off you go!

Exercise Tips:

• If you're still at school and play regular sports, you DON'T have to take extra exercise
• If you're a housewife with a 24/7 schedule you DO have to. Because running around after 6 kids, 2 dogs and a husband is not the same as 'taking exercise'. Why not? Because proper exercise is INVIGORATING and GIVES you energy. But looking after a family simply drains you. So find 20-30 minutes a day from somewhere and MOVE YOUR BODY!
• If you're 40+, you need even MORE exercise. 20-30 minutes a day may not be enough. Aim for 60 minutes.
• If you are a busy executive with 6 kids, 2 dogs, 1 husband and a cute admirer in the office, you've got serious problems. In order to cope, you need as much health and energy as possible. So make certain you take a minimum of 30 minutes exercise a day.


• Being cool means FIXING the problem, instead of frothing about it.
• Getting impatient, venting about how overweight you are and then trying to lose weight FAST is the exact opposite.
• But I'm sure that in your heart-of-hearts, you know this already.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Pray it Off 3/10/11 Prudence and Justice and How These Cardinal Virtues Can Help You Lose Weight!


Prudence is correct knowledge of things to be done or avoided. Prudence resides in the intellect and is natural, that is, acquired by our own acts but also supernatural, infused with sanctifying grace.
As an act of virtue, prudence requires three mental actions: taking counsel carefully with ourself and others, judging correctly from the evidence at hand, and directing the rest of our activity based on the norms we have established.

Prudence is one of the four cardinal virtues; the others are justice, temperance, and fortitude. Prudence is first among the cardinal virtues and guides the others by setting rule and measure, applying moral principles to particular cases.

Prudence is also one of the five intellectual virtues.


Our constant and permanent determination to give everyone his or her rightful due. Justice is a habitual inclination of the will.
The rights due to others are whatever belongs to a person as an individual as distinct from ourself.

A sin against justice requires reparation. We are to compensate for the harm we have inflicted.

The distinction between justice and charity is that justice distinguishes between the person practicing it and his neighbor. Charity treats our neighbor as our brother.

Justice is one of the four cardinal virtues; the others are prudence, temperance, and fortitude.

Prudence: A Cardinal Virtue
By Scott P. Richert

One of the Four Cardinal Virtues:
Prudence is one of the four cardinal virtues. Like the other three, it is a virtue that can be practiced by anyone; unlike the theological virtues, the cardinal virtues are not, in themselves, the gifts of God through grace but the outgrowth of habit. However, Christians can grow in the cardinal virtues through sanctifying grace, and thus prudence can take on a supernatural dimension as well as a natural one.

What Prudence Is Not:

Many Catholics think prudence simply refers to the practical application of moral principles. They speak, for instance, of the decision to go to war as a "prudential judgment," suggesting that reasonable people can disagree on the application of moral principles and, therefore, such judgments can be questioned but never absolutely declared wrong. This is a fundamental misunderstanding of prudence, which, as Fr. John A. Hardon notes in his Modern Catholic Dictionary, is "Correct knowledge about things to be done or, more broadly, the knowledge of things that ought to be done and of thing that ought to be avoided."

"Right Reason Applied to Practice":

Aristotle was closer to the truth. As the Catholic Encyclopedia notes, he defined prudence as recta ratio agibilium, "right reason applied to practice." The emphasis on "right" is important. We cannot simply make a decision and then describe it as a "prudential judgment." Prudence requires us to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong. Thus, as Father Hardon writes, "It is the intellectual virtue whereby a human being recognizes in any matter at hand what is good and what is evil." If we mistake the evil for the good, we are not exercising prudence—in fact, we are showing our lack of it.

Prudence in Everyday Life:

So how do we know when we're exercising prudence and when we're simply giving in to our own desires? Father Hardon notes three stages of an act of prudence: "to take counsel carefully with oneself and from others"; "to judge correctly on the basis of the evidence at hand"; "to direct the rest of one's activity according to the norms determined after a prudent judgment has been made."
Disregarding the advice or warnings of others whose judgment does not coincide with ours is a sign of imprudence. It is possible that we are right and others wrong; but the opposite may be true, especially if we are in the minority.

Some Final Thoughts on Prudence:

Since prudence can take on a supernatural dimension through the gift of grace, we should carefully evaluate the counsel we receive from others with that in mind. When, for instance, the popes express their judgment on the justice of a particular war, we should value that more highly than the advice of someone who stands to profit monetarily from the war.

And we must always keep in mind that the definition of prudence requires us to judge correctly. If our judgment is proved after the fact to have been incorrect, then we did not make a "prudential judgment" but an imprudent one, for which we may need to make amends.

Justice: A Cardinal Virtue
By Scott P. Richert

One of the Four Cardinal Virtues:

Justice is one of the four cardinal virtues. As such, it is a virtue that can be practiced by anyone, unlike the theological virtues, which are the gifts of God through grace. The cardinal virtues are developed and perfected through habit. While Christians can grow in the cardinal virtues through sanctifying grace, justice, as practiced by humans, can never be supernatural but is always bound by our natural rights and obligations to one another.

The Second of the Cardinal Virtues:

St. Thomas Aquinas ranked justice as the second of the cardinal virtues, behind prudence, but before fortitude and temperance. Prudence is the perfection of the intellect ("right reason applied to practice"), while justice, as Fr. John A. Hardon notes in his Modern Catholic Dictionary, is an "habitual inclination of the will." It is "the constant and permanent determination to give everyone his or her rightful due." While the theological virtue of charity emphasizes our duty to our fellow man because he is our fellow, justice is concerned with what we owe someone else precisely because he is not us.

What Justice Is Not:

Thus charity may rise above justice, to give someone more than he is rightfully due. But justice always requires perfect precision in rendering to each person what he is due. While justice is often used in a negative sense today—"justice was served"; "he was brought to justice"—the focus of the virtue is positive. While lawful authorities may justly punish evildoers, our concern as individuals is with respecting the rights of others, particularly when we owe them a debt or when our actions might restrict their exercise of their rights.

The Relationship Between Justice and Rights:

Justice, then, respects the rights of others, whether those rights are natural (the right to life and limb, the rights that arise because of our natural obligations to family and kin, the most fundamental property rights, the right to worship God and to do what is necessary to save our souls) or legal (contract rights, constitutional rights, civil rights). Should legal rights ever come into conflict with natural rights, however, the latter take precedence, and justice demands that they be respected. Thus, law cannot take away the right of parents to educate their children in the way that is best for the children. Nor can justice allow the granting of legal rights to one person (such as the "right to an abortion") at the expense of the natural rights of another (in that case, the right to life and limb). To do so is to fail "to give everyone his or her rightful due."


Monday, March 14, 2011

The Rock by Clay Crosse

The Rock by Clay Crosse

I've got trials and tribulations
Troubles all around
My desires and expectations
Have me lost more than I'm found
And Lord knows I often falter
In the smallness of my pride
But when I kneel down at His altar
I am lifted up inside

CHORUS: 'Til I stand upon that mountain
'Til I sit beside the throne
'Til the waters of love's fountain carry me home
'Til I rise up from this mortal clay
Of blood and bone
Let the rock that was rolled away
Be my cornerstone

Help me face every tomorrow
Give me strength to bear the load
Give me signs that I can follow
Set my feet upon the road
And may He who walked on water
Give me courage where I tread
And when I kneel down at His altar
Let my hungry soul be fed


Let this faith be my foundation
This hope my liberation
'Til I fly away
On that glorious, glorious day

Let the rock that was rolled away (oh yeah) Repeat

Pray it Off 3/3/11 Pope Benedict's Message for Lent 2011 and Swiss Chard

Pope Benedict XVI’s Message for Lent 2011

“You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him.”

Dear Brothers and Sisters, The Lenten period, which leads us to the celebration of Holy Easter, is for the Church a most valuable and important liturgical time, in view of which I am pleased to offer a specific word in order that it may be lived with due diligence. As she awaits the definitive encounter
with her Spouse in the eternal Easter, the Church community, assiduous in prayer and charitable works, intensifies her journey in purifying the spirit, so as to draw more abundantly from the Mystery of Redemption the new life in Christ the Lord (cf. Preface I of Lent).

1. This very life was already bestowed upon us on the day of our Baptism, when we “become sharers in Christ’s death and Resurrection”, and there began for us “the joyful and exulting adventure of his disciples” (Homily on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, 10 January, 2010). In his Letters, St. Paul repeatedly insists on the singular communion with the Son of God that this washing brings about. The fact that, in most cases, Baptism is received in infancy highlights how it is a gift of God: no one earns eternal life through their own efforts. The mercy of God, which cancels sin and, at the same time, allows us to experience in our lives “the mind of Christ Jesus” (Phil 2: 5), is given to men and women freely. The Apostle to the Gentiles, in the Letter to the Philippians, expresses the meaning of the transformation that takes place through participation in the death and resurrection of Christ, pointing to its goal: that “I may come to know him and the power of his resurrection, and partake of his sufferings by being molded to the pattern of his death, striving towards the goal of resurrection from the dead” (Phil 3: 10-11). Hence, Baptism is not a rite from the past, but the encounter with Christ, which informs the entire existence of the baptized, imparting divine life and calling for sincere conversion; initiated and supported by Grace, it permits the baptized to reach the adult stature of Christ.

A particular connection binds Baptism to Lent as the favorable time to experience this saving Grace. The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council exhorted all of the Church’s Pastors to make greater use “of the baptismal features proper to the Lenten liturgy” (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum concilium, n. 109). In fact, the Church has always associated the Easter Vigil with the celebration of Baptism: this Sacrament realizes the great mystery in which man dies to sin, is made a sharer in the new life of the Risen Christ and receives the same Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead (cf. Rm 8: 11). This free gift must always be rekindled in each one of us, and Lent offers us a path like that of the catechumenate, which, for the Christians of the early Church, just as for catechumens today, is an irreplaceable school of faith and Christian life. Truly, they live their Baptism as an act that shapes their entire existence.

2. In order to undertake more seriously our journey towards Easter and prepare ourselves to celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord – the most joyous and solemn feast of the entire liturgical year – what could be more appropriate than allowing ourselves to be guided by the Word of God? For this reason, the Church, in the Gospel texts of the Sundays of Lent, leads us to a particularly intense encounter with the Lord, calling us to retrace the steps of Christian initiation: for catechumens, in preparation for receiving the Sacrament of rebirth; for the baptized, in light of the new and decisive steps to be taken in the sequela Christi and a fuller giving of oneself to him.

The First Sunday of the Lenten journey reveals our condition as human beings here on earth. The victorious battle against temptation, the starting point of Jesus’ mission, is an invitation to become aware of our own fragility in order to accept the Grace that frees from sin and infuses new strength in Christ – the way, the truth and the life (cf. Ordo Initiationis Christianae Adultorum, n. 25). It is a powerful reminder that Christian faith implies, following the example of Jesus and in union with him, a battle “against the ruling forces who are masters of the darkness in this world” (Eph 6: 12), in which the devil is at work and never tires – even today – of tempting whoever wishes to draw close to the Lord: Christ emerges victorious to open also our hearts to hope and guide us in overcoming the seductions of evil.

The Gospel of the Transfiguration of the Lord puts before our eyes the glory of Christ, which anticipates the resurrection and announces the divinization of man. The Christian community becomes aware that Jesus leads it, like the Apostles Peter, James and John “up a high mountain by themselves” (Mt 17: 1), to receive once again in Christ, as sons and daughters in the Son, the gift of the Grace of God: “This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favor. Listen to him” (Mt 17: 5). It is the invitation to take a distance from the noisiness of everyday life in order to immerse oneself in God’s presence. He desires to hand down to us, each day, a Word that penetrates the depths of our spirit, where we discern good from evil (cf. Heb 4:12), reinforcing our will to follow the Lord.

The question that Jesus puts to the Samaritan woman: “Give me a drink” (Jn 4: 7), is presented to us in the liturgy of the third Sunday; it expresses the passion of God for every man and woman, and wishes to awaken in our hearts the desire for the gift of “a spring of water within, welling up for eternal life” (Jn 4: 14): this is the gift of the Holy Spirit, who transforms Christians into “true worshipers,” capable of praying to the Father “in spirit and truth” (Jn 4: 23). Only this water can extinguish our thirst for goodness, truth and beauty! Only this water, given to us by the Son, can irrigate the deserts of our restless and unsatisfied soul, until it “finds rest in God”, as per the famous words of St. Augustine.

The Sunday of the man born blind presents Christ as the light of the world. The Gospel confronts each one of us with the question: “Do you believe in the Son of man?” “Lord, I believe!” (Jn 9: 35. 38), the man born blind joyfully exclaims, giving voice to all believers. The miracle of this healing is a sign that Christ wants not only to give us sight, but also open our interior vision, so that our faith may become ever deeper and we may recognize him as our only Savior. He illuminates all that is dark in life and leads men and women to live as “children of the light”.

On the fifth Sunday, when the resurrection of Lazarus is proclaimed, we are faced with the ultimate mystery of our existence: “I am the resurrection and the life… Do you believe this?” (Jn 11: 25-26). For the Christian community, it is the moment to place with sincerity – together with Martha – all of our hopes in Jesus of Nazareth: “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world” (Jn 11: 27). Communion with Christ in this life prepares us to overcome the barrier of death, so that we may live eternally with him. Faith in the resurrection of the dead and hope in eternal life open our eyes to the ultimate meaning of our existence: God created men and women for resurrection and life, and this truth gives an authentic and definitive meaning to human history, to the personal and social lives of men and women, to culture, politics and the economy. Without the light of faith, the entire universe finishes shut within a tomb devoid of any future, any hope.

The Lenten journey finds its fulfillment in the Paschal Triduum, especially in the Great Vigil of the Holy Night: renewing our baptismal promises, we reaffirm that Christ is the Lord of our life, that life which God bestowed upon us when we were reborn of “water and Holy Spirit”, and we profess again our firm commitment to respond to the action of the Grace in order to be his disciples.

3. By immersing ourselves into the death and resurrection of Christ through the Sacrament of Baptism, we are moved to free our hearts every day from the burden of material things, from a self-centered relationship with the “world” that impoverishes us and prevents us from being available and open to God and our neighbor. In Christ, God revealed himself as Love (cf. 1Jn 4: 7-10). The Cross of Christ, the “word of the Cross”, manifests God’s saving power (cf. 1Cor 1: 18), that is given to raise men and women anew and bring them salvation: it is love in its most extreme form (cf. Encyclical Deus caritas est, n. 12). Through the traditional practices of fasting, almsgiving and prayer, which are an expression of our commitment to conversion, Lent teaches us how to live the love of Christ in an ever more radical way. Fasting, which can have various motivations, takes on a profoundly religious significance for the Christian: by rendering our table poorer, we learn to overcome selfishness in order to live in the logic of gift and love; by bearing some form of deprivation – and not just what is in excess – we learn to look away from our “ego”, to discover Someone close to us and to recognize God in the face of so many brothers and sisters. For Christians, fasting, far from being depressing, opens us ever more to God and to the needs of others, thus allowing love of God to become also love of our neighbor (cf. Mk 12: 31).

In our journey, we are often faced with the temptation of accumulating and love of money that undermine God’s primacy in our lives. The greed of possession leads to violence, exploitation and death; for this, the Church, especially during the Lenten period, reminds us to practice almsgiving – which is the capacity to share. The idolatry of goods, on the other hand, not only causes us to drift away from others, but divests man, making him unhappy, deceiving him, deluding him without fulfilling its promises, since it puts materialistic goods in the place of God, the only source of life. How can we understand God’s paternal goodness, if our heart is full of egoism and our own projects, deceiving us that our future is guaranteed? The temptation is to think, just like the rich man in the parable: “My soul, you have plenty of good things laid by for many years to come…”. We are all aware of the Lord’s judgment: “Fool! This very night the demand will be made for your soul…” (Lk 12: 19-20). The practice of almsgiving is a reminder of God’s primacy and turns our attention towards others, so that we may rediscover how good our Father is, and receive his mercy.

During the entire Lenten period, the Church offers us God’s Word with particular abundance. By meditating and internalizing the Word in order to live it every day, we learn a precious and irreplaceable form of prayer; by attentively listening to God, who continues to speak to our hearts, we nourish the itinerary of faith initiated on the day of our Baptism. Prayer also allows us to gain a new concept of time: without the perspective of eternity and transcendence, in fact, time simply directs our steps towards a horizon without a future. Instead, when we pray, we find time for God, to understand that his “words will not pass away” (cf. Mk 13: 31), to enter into that intimate communion with Him “that no one shall take from you” (Jn 16: 22), opening us to the hope that does not disappoint, eternal life.

In synthesis, the Lenten journey, in which we are invited to contemplate the Mystery of the Cross, is meant to reproduce within us “the pattern of his death” (Ph 3: 10), so as to effect a deep conversion in our lives; that we may be transformed by the action of the Holy Spirit, like St. Paul on the road to Damascus; that we may firmly orient our existence according to the will of God; that we may be freed of our egoism, overcoming the instinct to dominate others and opening us to the love of Christ. The Lenten period is a favorable time to recognize our weakness and to accept, through a sincere inventory of our life, the renewing Grace of the Sacrament of Penance, and walk resolutely towards Christ.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, through the personal encounter with our Redeemer and through fasting, almsgiving and prayer, the journey of conversion towards Easter leads us to rediscover our Baptism. This Lent, let us renew our acceptance of the Grace that God bestowed upon us at that moment, so that it may illuminate and guide all of our actions. What the Sacrament signifies and realizes, we are called to experience every day by following Christ in an ever more generous and authentic manner. In this our itinerary, let us entrust ourselves to the Virgin Mary, who generated the Word of God in faith and in the flesh, so that we may immerse ourselves – just as she did – in the death and resurrection of her Son Jesus, and possess eternal life.


"I never liked Swiss chard, until several years ago I had some that had been freshly picked from a friend's garden. It was so sweet and buttery I couldn't believe it was actually Swiss chard. It was then I learned that freshness was the key determinant to whether chard was delectable or detestable. Last night we had
Swiss chard that we had picked up from Whole Foods. It was good, quite good. But not nearly as fantastic as the chard we had a week ago that we had bought from the farmer's market. So here's a hint. If the thought of Swiss chard leaves you uninspired, get some from a farmer's market that has been freshly picked. It is sort of like the difference between white corn picked that day, or the same corn two days later. The tastes don't even compare.

• 1 large bunch of fresh Swiss chard
• 1 small clove garlic, sliced
• 2 Tbsp olive oil, 2 Tbsp water
• Pinch of dried crushed red pepper
• 1 teaspoon butter, Salt

1 Rinse out the Swiss chard leaves thoroughly. Remove the toughest third of the stalk, discard or save for another recipe (such as this Swiss chard ribs with cream and pasta). Roughly chop the leaves into inch-wide strips.

2 Heat a saucepan on a medium heat setting, add olive oil, a few small slices of garlic and the crushed red pepper. Sauté for about a minute. Add the chopped Swiss chard leaves. Cover. Check after about 5 minutes. If it looks dry, add a couple tablespoons of water. Flip the leaves over in the pan, so that what was on the bottom, is now on the top. Cover again. Check for doneness after another 5 minutes (remove a piece and taste it). Add salt to taste, and a small amount of butter. Remove the swiss chard to a serving dish."