Tag Archives: advice

10 ways Good Pope John still is guiding

May 4, 2015

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Just for Today cover“Just for Today” meshes the words of the late Pope John XXIII with the imaginative artistry of illustrator Bimba Landmann in a children’s book that will stir the soul and energize people of faith of any age.

Graphically displayed in type meant for young readers on 34 pages across Landmann’s creative scenes, Good Pope John’s 10 ideas for living a better, holier life can become a meaningful morning prayer for young people, especially, for example, first communicants.

As a seven-year-old making his first communion, Angelo Roncalli declared, “I want always to be good to everyone.” When he went on to become pope, the 10 thoughts for daily living that he wrote became well known, valued as much for the humility inherent in them as for the down-to-earth advice they offered.

The daily decalogue of now St. Pope John XXIII is worth finding on the Internet and taping to your bathroom mirror to start your day in a saintly way.

Here is just one example:

“Just for today, I will do at least one thing I do not enjoy, and if my feelings are hurt, I will make sure no one notices.”

It’s another fine edition from the Eerdmans Book for Young Readers collection.

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Advice for life

November 29, 2011

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In a letter to the people of Canada just before dying of cancer, Jack Layton, the leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party, offered these words (I cribbed them from a column by Father Ron Rolheiser):

Love is better than anger.

Hope is better than fear.

Optimism is better than despair.

So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic.

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12 Slices of Advice for Good Catholic Leaders — and Those Who Want to Be

October 14, 2011

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Andreas Widmer observed Pope John Paul II closely during the two years he served as a Swiss Guard. He writes in “The Pope & The CEO” that the lessons he learned watching the late Holy Father offer great suggestions for business. (Read a review.)

Here are a dozen slices of that advice pried from that Emmaus Road paperback:

1. Encourage employees by making them feel they matter and are valued.

2. Realize that it is the person, every specific human person, who counts in business. Business exists for the person, not the person for the business.

3. Know that your vocation is what God made you to do, it’s what you do for God, and it gives meaning to your life.

4. Be aware that work can be a holy thing. All work, not only that of priests and religious, can be holy when done as an act of love, service and sacrifice.

5. Understand that God made each person to do something unique, something that nobody else before or after us was made to do and that nobody else can do quite as well.

6. Pray because it is at the heart of everything you do. It shapes you, guides you and gives you the strength to lead and to inspire others.

7. Learn from God as you pray, hear God’s voice leading you, and be prepared to change and become the person God made you to be.

8. See prayer as a tool for justice and mercy that helps you to treat others with both.

9. Acknowledge your dependence on God and in doing so appreciate humility as a virtue.

10. Value business as life-giving when a group of individuals participate in God’s creative power, when people work together to pursue a common good by giving life to an idea, a product or a service.

11. Be fully present to anyone to whom you are with, keenly aware of what is going on in the heart and mind of that person, and far more interested in what that person has to say to you than what you have to say to them.

12. Help people understand that you want the truth, even when the truth is hard. Foster an atmosphere or culture where honesty is rewarded. Train yourself to discern fact from fiction.

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Catholic grandparents will want to follow Tom McQueen’s lead in passing their values to grandchildren

December 10, 2010

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Sacrifice.

Integrity.

Respect.

Friendship.

Happiness.

Forgiveness

These are just a smattering of the topics author Tom McQueen waxes eloquently about in “Letters to Ethan: A Grandfather’s Legacy of Life & Love.”

McQueen, a marriage and family therapist for more than 25 years, writes about things many of us have wished we’d have said to our own children or grandchildren.

They’re personal stories, intimate thoughts.

They’re original, they’re borrowed, they’re recycled from the Internet.

But combined into 150 some pages in a Seraphina Press paperback ($14.95), they serve to remind us that we who have live much have much to tell and comment on, much to add to the knowledge base of the younger generations and maybe, maybe help them enjoy what we have enjoyed as well as spare them from some of the grief that we’ve caused ourselves.

This is a book full of quotes to savor:

  • “You can read all of the books and study all of the principles of religion and behavioral science and become very smart scholars . . . but none of that really matters . . . because the single most important purpose for living is to know people, to engage people, and to uplift people.”
  • “All true heroes have one thing in common. They all want to do the right thing. Heroes value the sacredness of humanity and will sacrifice their lives to preserve the life, dignity and freedom of their brothers and sisters.”
  • “One of the shocking realities in this world that will take you by surprise when you least expect it is just how quickly your life passes. One day you’ll be sitting in math class looking at your watch and wondering when it’s going to end and in the blink of an eye you’re taking your vitamin supplement to help with that arthritis that’s been bothering you lately.”

There are great lessons McQueen hopes to teach his grandson through these letters, lessons about taking risks, about choosing a life’s vocation (as opposed to a job or a career), about faith and about prayer.

Each and every one is worth your time to read. Each and every one is worth sharing — maybe with your own progeny. — bz

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Peter Kreeft passes pearls of wisdom to next generation

October 16, 2008

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“before i go,”
by Peter Kreeft

Oft-quoted in Catholic circles, Boston College prof Peter Kreeft has compiled 162 — what, statements? pearls of wisdom? life’s lessons? — in a tiny-yet-thick Sheed & Ward book subtitled, “Letters to Our Children about What Really Matters.”

I can say there area 162 of them — whatever you want to call them — because each is numbered.

Few are longer than one page. Most are just a paragraph or three or four.

And the book’s concept is excellent. How many of us have had that thought that we’d like to get down on paper things we’d like our children to know?

Not 162 great thoughts

I usually love this kind of work, because I can pick it up and read for just the bit of time I might have at that moment and grab a great thought to wrestle with. There are a number of those great thoughts in “before i go,” but there aren’t 162.
And, after hitting a few too many trite ideas among those numbers, I came close to crossing out a few and doing a recount.

I mean, “Stop and smell the roses?” Bet that didn’t take too long to come up with.

“Each day is a gift from God?” I think Sister Jude covered that pretty well in the first grade in 1957.

Tossing out the banal bunch and eliminating some of the really dumb statements would make Kreeft’s work very valuable for personal reflection. The man has a knack for putting ideas in concise, memorable sentences. It’s a real gift. Here are just a few examples:

“It’s better to be happy than to be right.”

“Be good, but be you.”

“All life is liturgy. All words are creeds. All times are Sabbaths. All places are churches.”

Advice worth sharing

And there is great advice, too.

Instead of complaining about how busy you are, simplify reasons for doing anything to three things: because it’s morally good, because its a practical necessity, or because it makes you happy.

Take seven minutes each day to thank God for seven specific things.

“Forgive everyone. Forgive everything. Forgive always. Forgive everywhere.”

Kreeft gives readers a really good explanation of grace, has a great message on how to respond when we fail — and we all do and will — and this wonderful take on the Beatitudes:

“If the poor are blessed, then let’s stop envying the rich.”

However…

The world isn’t black and white

At times I found Kreeft to be polarizing and divisive. My world just isn’t as black and white as Kreeft’s, and I sure don’t have all the answers, as Kreeft’s writing implies he does.

Although he writes the self-righteous prose of an expert, he takes a cheap shot by demonizing “experts,” for example. And in some of his thoughts he comes off as a prig, making unproven generalizations such as, “they don’t teach the lives of the saints in religion classes anymore.”

That’s pure B.S., and just the kind of false statements that get repeated and repeated until zealots believe them to be true. That’s one statement Kreeft should be ashamed of making.

I like the technique of making lists, to a point, but the list thing gets old after a while. Sometimes, too, others did it better years ago. Take his 10 points of “What is ‘A Good Person?'” The Boy Scouts nailed that concept in their 12-point creed — trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent– a list that sounds suspiciously like Kreeft’s 10 thoughts.

It boils down, though, to you gotta take the bad with the good.

You go from No. 105 where the bad Kreeft is saying something as dumb as God is a comedian because he invented dog farts, to the very next page where he suggests we practice everyday what you do and don’t want so say and do on the last day of your life.

Dog farts? I expect better than that. But I forgive him. — bz

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