The body serves as the temple of the Holy Spirit, so we do well to care for the temple. Eating nutritious food is one way to honor our spirit within our body. The George Mateljan Foundation, a nonprofit organization with no commercial influence, provides a free, informative website dedicated to nutrition: www.whfoods.org.
Also of interest is the documentary film “Food, Inc.” This shocking film explains many problems with our food system. Hungry for
change? The website — www.foodincmovie.com — includes a list of 10 steps you can take toward a healthier food system, a healthier planet and a healthier you.
Bible Gateway (www.biblegateway.com) is a tool for reading and researching Scripture online -- all in the language or translation of your choice! It provides advanced searching capabilities, allowing rreaders to find and compare passages in Scripture based on key words, phrases or Scripture reference. You can view a complete list of available Bible versions and translations. To access some of the Bible Gateway's other features, click on 'additional resources' in the navigation menu on the left on its home page.
In August, as summer wanes and many schools resume classes, time seems to disappear as schedules intensify. St. Ignatius of Loyola developed a simple method of meditation known as the Daily Examen. This form of prayer encourages us to review each day and to recognize God as active in our daily lives. Follow these steps:
Set aside 10-15 minutes.
From the April 2009 issue
If you’re short on cash for almsgiving this Lent, consider giving time, instead. Volunteering can result in making
others feel good and simultaneously making yourself feel not only good, but also well. Volunteers tend to live longer,according to a Self magazine study. The study also indicates that volunteering even 40 hours per year results in people reporting less stress, reduced pain, fewer sick days and more self-worth. Dogooders feel well because of an increase in spirit-lifting endorphins, along with diminished isolation and loneliness, according to Allan Luks, author of “The Healing Power of Doing Good” (iUniverse).
TRY THIS: Your parish offers many volunteer opportunities. Consider what you enjoy. If you like to teach, volunteer as a catechist. If you enjoy solitude, sign on to stuff envelopes or help with other office tasks. If you’re an extrovert, sign up as an usher or as a person to visit sick or shut-in parishioners. Find a fit. And if your talents and interests lie in an area not yet covered, connect with your parish to see if you might help establish a new ministry or service.
From the March 2009 issue
Giving circles are growing in popularity as a way to gather family and friends and advance charitable causes. Akin to investment clubs, giving circles consist of small groups meeting regularly to enjoy social contact and to pool resources. In the past four years, giving circles donated $100 million to charitable organizations.
TRY THIS: Invite a group to a potluck to dicuss forming a giving circle. Establish annual dues and meeting frequency. Agree upon a mission and which causes to support. Visit: www.givingforum.org or www.givingcircles.org.
From the January 2009 issue
Planning to send Valentine flowers? Have a heart for the workers and the environment, too, by opting for eco-friendly, fair-trade flowers that support "green" farming.
At www.flowerbud.com or www.organicbouquet.com, you'll find competitively priced Veriflora-certified blooms. Veriflora works within the flower industry to ensure ecologically sustainable and socially responsible growing practices. Veriflora's certification indicates that growers comply with standards that address issues including fair wages for workers, reduced pesticide use and safe, responsible farming. Log on to www.veriflora.com to learn more.
From the November 2008 issue
Pope Benedict XVI takes a strong stand on the global food crisis, calling the growing emergency a moral issue of justice.
“Hunger and malnutrition are unacceptable in a world that, in reality, possesses production levels, resources and sufficient knowledge to put an end to these dramas and their consequences,” the Pontiff said to world leaders last summer. “[Food is] intrinsically linked to the safeguarding and defense of human life.” The Pope emphasized that the crisis involves everyone — from food producers to consumers — not just governments.
TRY THIS: As American consumers, one sacrifice we can make to help ease the food crisis is simply to eat less — and eating less upholds our ancient Catholic traditions of fasting and abstinence.
From the October 2008 issue
Instead of a yard sale, try this: Invite 5-10 friends to clean out their closets of clothes and accessories they no longer wear. Organize items into piles: pants, sweaters, purses, jewelry, etc. Set up a couple of full-length mirrors and allow every to try on everything they're interested in. On scraps of paper, write a number for as many people present. Put the numbers in a bowl or hat. The person who draws No. 1 claims his or h er first choice item. The person who drew No. 2 then can pick his or her first choice item. When everyone has chosen one item, put the numbers back in the bowl and repeat the process. After three or four rounds, or until the preferred items are claimed, declare a free-for-all.
Afterward, gather up the remainders and donate them to a charitable organization. This kind of swap can include books, movies, household items, or other stuff. It's a great way to save money, recycle things you don't use or wear, keep usable goods out of landfills, make a donation and eliminate clutter. And it's a great way to spend time with friends.
Take Five: On-the-Job Meditations with St. Ignatius
Written by Mike Aquilina and Father Kris Stubna. Literally designed to be used in short breaks from work, there are three prompts following each meditation to help you apply St. Ignatius's teaching to interpersonal issues, stress, office politics, goal setting, moral issues, and more. This 176-page paperback book is just $9.95 plus S&H. More info in our online catalog
Raise your spirits
Want to add more meaning to Easter his year? Plan to attend the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, or the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday at your parish. Or make a pilgrimage to your cathedral for the Chrism Mass during Holy Week and witness the priests’ renewal of vow and the bishop’s blessing upon the sacramental oils for the year. The beauty and grace of these liturgies, which build toward the pinnacle of the Catholic calendar, will help resurrect your spirit.
Thou shalt honor thy mother
This May, honor Mary in some visible way. You might add a Marian statue or a fleur-de-lis or other symbol of Mary to your garden, or plant marigolds or lilies — Marian flowers — in a flower bed that already has a statue of the Blessed Mother. You might bring a bouquet or flowering plant to a Marian shrine at your parish.
If you’re giving a Mother’s Day gift, consider gifts that advances women’s economics status. The U.N. Expert Group on Women & Finance reported that women comprise one-third of the official labor force, yet do two-thirds of the world's work, earn only one-tenth of its income and own one-hundredth of its property. Assisi Garments, a nonprofit company run by Franciscan Sisters in India, sells organic clothing made by disabled or economically disadvantaged people in a rehabilitation center. Global Girlfriend, a fair-trade outlet, helps disadvantaged artisans in developing countries by selling their handmade gifts and goods. Some mainstream retailers such as Anthropologie, Barneys and Kate spade also sell items crafted by women in need. Using profits, these organizations help empower women by providing medical care, job training and small loans for small businesses that help them escape the grind of poverty. Visit www.assisiorganics.com or www.globalgirlfriend.com to shop or request a catalog.
Challenge your charity“The superfluities of the rich are the necessities of the poor.” — St. Augustine
Most of us can always find somebody richer or poorer than we are. Most of us receive many requests to give to charitable causes that assist people in need in one way or another. And most of us do respond to at least some of the appeals.
Next time you give to a charity, try this: Dare to be more generous. Make a leap of faith and give a little more. Challenge your charity.
If, for example, you normally give $50 to a cause, give $55 or $60, even $100. Notice how it feels to expand your charitable impulses. Most of us have more to give, more room for self-sacrifice and magnanimity.
And as with anything in life, the more we give, the more we get. Besides which, as any steward knows, virtue is its own reward.
Summer reading for spirit
Looking for some summer reading that goes far beyond a beach book? Crack the cover on a Bible. Try these verses for various times.
Gift wrap a goatYour gift to Heifer International provides livestock such as chickens, cows, sheep and goats, even honeybees to people in need around the world. Families receive training in animal management and sustainable agriculture. $60 can provide three flocks of chickens to a struggling family. $120 can provide a goat, which can provide four quarts of milk a day, and the goats often give birth to twins or triplets. $500 can provide a heifer to a hungry family, and the cow can produce up to four gallons of milk a day and a calf every year. $1000 can provide a heifer, two goats and a water buffalo for an entire village. A Heifer International gift for a person who has practically everything can change the lives of those who have next to nothing. Gifts are tax deductible.
In the bag
The Natural Resources Defense Council suggest that producing the plastic bags used in the United States each year requires 12 million barrels of oil. Made from polyethylene, a petroleum product, plastic bags may take as long as 1,000 years to degrade. Americans toss 100 million plastic bags a year and recycle less than 1 percent of them, according to Worldwatch Institute. Plastic bags litter trees, water, land; clog storm drains; and kill birds, turtles and sea mammals that sometimes ingest them or get tangled in them. Paper bags exact an environmental toll, too. Each year, 14 million trees are felled to manufacture paper bags used in the United States.
The simple act of carrying a reusable tote bag for shopping is a more moral and ethical choice -- one that does not demand much, but bags have many benefits. Try this: To establish the habit, keep tote bags in your vehicle, or click your shopping list to it so you won't forget to bring it into the store with you. At the very least, recycle your plastic or paper bags.
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