Tag Archives: catholicism

10 Tips for Living a Better Life, One Day at a Time–from Pope John XXIII.

An excerpt from The Happiness Project website by Gretchen Rubin:

One of the most important strategies of my Happiness Project has been keeping my Resolutions Chart. It provides accountability, it prompts me to review all my resolutions once a day, it gives me the gold stars I crave — when I manage to follow my resolutions…

I love reading other people’s resolutions and their personal commandments, and I was very interested to read the daily decalogue of Pope John XXIII…

One aspect of the list that’s worth noting is the emphasis on taking each day as it comes. This mindset is hugely helpful to me. Instead of allowing myself to become overwhelmed and discouraged by imagining how hard it would be to keep my resolutions for the rest of my life, I just take it day by day… Alcoholics Anonymous follows this same approach – emphasizing “one day at a time” to keep a difficult change manageable.

So here are ten tips from Pope John XXIII about how to live a better life, day to day:

1. Only for today, I will seek to live the livelong day positively without wishing to solve the problems of my life all at once.

2. Only for today, I will take the greatest care of my appearance: I will dress modestly; I will not raise my voice; I will be courteous in my behavior; I will not criticize anyone; I will not claim to improve or to discipline anyone except myself.

3. Only for today, I will be happy in the certainty that I was created to be happy, not only in the other world but also in this one.

4. Only for today, I will adapt to circumstances, without requiring all circumstances to be adapted to my own wishes.

5. Only for today, I will devote 10 minutes of my time to some good reading, remembering that just as food is necessary to the life of the body, so good reading is necessary to the life of the soul.

6. Only for today, I will do one good deed and not tell anyone about it.

7. Only for today, I will do at least one thing I do not like doing; and if my feelings are hurt, I will make sure that no one notices.

8. Only for today, I will make a plan for myself: I may not follow it to the letter, but I will make it. And I will be on guard against two evils: hastiness and indecision.

9. Only for today, I will firmly believe, despite appearances, that the good Providence of God cares for me as no one else who exists in this world.

10. Only for today, I will have no fears. In particular, I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful and to believe in goodness. Indeed, for 12 hours I can certainly do what might cause me consternation were I to believe I had to do it all my life.

Which of the ten rang most true for you?

I love Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project. I bought her book, and did a couple of months of “projects” and hope to pick it up again in the fall.

In all my “catholic” reading, I’ve somehow missed this daily decalogue of Pope John XXIII. I’m printing it to paste on my fridge and in my journal.

Book Review: The Gargoyle Code


Fr. Dwight Longenecker’s The Gargoyle Code is a twenty-first century homage to C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters.  A set of missives from a Master Demon to his trainee (with adjustments at the end for some plot twists), this slim volume is a sharp look at sin in this decade.  The master (Slubgrip) writes to his devil-disciple Dogwart with advice in handling “patients”, the earthly beings they are charged with tempting.  The former’s patient is an elderly male conservative Catholic who has cancer, the latter’s a lazy,TV-watching Catholic High School graduate who is getting involved with a young woman.  In the course of the book, we learn about both parties, their successes and failures, as well as Slubgrip’s views on various types of sin, the ways to induce them in patients, and the human acts that stymie them.

Longenecker is very insightful in his take on spiritual warfare, in how easily we can slip into various types of sin, and the acts of our faith that can serve as a sort of immunization against temptation.  From staying up late on Saturday night and missing mass the next day, to the self-righteousness that is sometimes associated with traditional Catholics, Longenecker doesn’t leave many stones unturned.  Most everyone will see themselves portrayed somewhere in this book, and in his opening “Letter to the Reader”, he asks us to read this story as if we were looking in a mirror.

The set of letters are written over the period of Lent, with a letter or other communication for each day in that period, which makes it ideal reading for this time of year.  But it’s a worthwhile read at any time, and is quite convicting.  He makes a strong case for self-reflection, for holding on to some traditional faith practices that keep us close to God, and asks us to consider where our weaknesses are, that is, where we may be prone to temptation and sin.

At the same time, and entertaining and thought-provoking read.  Highly recommended!  

Random musings on the single life.

Not mine.  I haven’t been in that state for 26+ years.

But singleness, the vocation to the single life, and where singles “fit” have been in my mind recently.

This morning, I listened to a podcast from the BBC’s Thinking Allowed program.  It was the December 9th edition, and discussed the increase in the number of people living alone in the UK.  For women, there was a sense that singleness was somehow a “lesser” state.  One of the discussants, Dr. Jan Macvarish (University of Kent, Canterbury) did a qualitative study of a small sample of single women (What is “the problem” of singleness?Sociological Research Online, Volume 11, Issue 3 ).  From paragraph 1.32:

One [study subject], who had been married for a short period more than two decades earlier, while in her early twenties, confessed that she sometimes used ‘divorced’ rather than ‘single’ to describe herself, to convey a ‘sense that she had a history’. This seemed to be motivated by concerns of self-presentation. However, she was also dissatisfied with being single and recounted how, in other circumstances, she would describe herself as ‘single at the moment’ because she does ‘not like to think of her singleness as a permanent thing’.

In the abstract to another paper (Intimacy in the 21st Century:  The Negotiation of Divergent Rationalities), Macvarish writes

In the context of weakened shared meanings of love, commitment, partnership and children, the affirmation of the identity of the ‘successful single’ and the endorsement of the individual who protects the self before risking the vagaries of intimate interactions with others, are relatively strengthened. In rationalising their singleness, the interviewees were able to draw upon many culturally affirmed claims, such as the inadequacy of men, the unpredictability of relationships and the burden of children. Such claims seemed to be both culturally prevalent and powerful relative to more nebulous, individualised and partial desires for relationships. The interviews revealed that singleness may rarely be experienced as a choice and that there are limits to the capacity of the ‘single lifestyle’ to provide a valued and fulfilling sense of self and social identity.

Nowhere in the discussion was there any allusion to the concept of singleness by choice:  of a vocation to the single life.  That people who live the single life simply “give up hope”.

The second place where this came up was at an executive meeting of the women’s group in our parish.  There had been some feedback given to the President that an event to which we had invited members of the organization and their families was excluding single members.  Apparently, a few (one or two?) ladies did not have any family and so could not bring anyone.   This event was a pot luck lunch after a brief ceremony for the membership, which was held after a Sunday mass.  The lunch was arranged to accommodate those who would be coming to mass with their families, and it was our last meeting before Christmas.  It was a wonderful event, with people of all ages, with lots of fellowship.

So, now we find ourselves stepping lightly around our planned Valentine’s Day blessing and wine and cheese  event for couples after a Saturday mass next month.  In the meeting, I stated that our organization has, in it’s statement of objectives, the mission to “exemplify the Christian ideal in home and family life” and that we are called to support marriage and family in any way we can.  We are organizing other events that will be for ladies of all ages (a High Tea) and people of all vocations over age 19 (a pub/karaoke night).

Have we become such a politically correct society that we cannot address the needs of one group without alienating others?


Finally, on a happier note, Catholic writer (and blogger) Dorothy Cummings’ book Seraphic Singles: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Single Life  is due out March 1, 2010.   It’s a humorous look at the single life, sort of The Rules with a Catholic bent. Even though I’m not in the target audience, I’ll be picking up a copy!  I enjoy both her blogs.  She’s a devout Catholic with a terrific sense of humour.  We’re not that rare!

One week in to 2010.

Today was kinda my new years day.  My mother-in-law left yesterday and it was very emotional.  Z had been sick with what seemed to be the flu for three days and so I ended up helping her get ready to leave and taking her to the airport.  She had been here for a month, and it was a lovely visit, though somewhat tiring for this introvert who needs a lot of quiet time.

She has had some mysterious illness for the past seven months.  She’s lost over 40 pounds, is weak, and has, let’s call them, digestive issues. She has no desire to eat, and everything goes straight through her. She has been through the gamut of tests, but strangely, not assessed for gluten intolerance.  My guess is that that is what she has.  We got her off wheat for the last few days she was here and she said that a lot of her abdominal pain lessened.  But she also trialed Immodium before her flight so that could have helped as well.  Anyway, despite her illness, she cooked like a fiend while she was here, and kept me busy helping her in the kitchen, getting her Turkish soaps on the computer for her, and shopping for more food to cook!  It was a great month, and while she is feeling her mortality, I hope to see her again soon.

When I got home last night, I kind of collapsed on the sofa for a couple of hours and had Alex drive Michael to his tuba lesson.  I dragged myself into bed and continued my reading of The Experimental Man


by David Ewing Duncan (more about that in a future post.)  I spent most of this morning reading the papers, cleaning the kitchen, and booking our trip to Rome over Easter!


Yes, it’s booked and paid for, and  I am so excited I could shout.  Z has been to Rome a number of times;  his uncle was an Archbishop representing his (Syrian Catholic) church at the Vatican in his later years, and Z spent time with him there.  We are going for eight days, over Easter, and will be staying in a hotel halfway between the Vatican and the Piazza del Popolo (left).   Z knows a retired Cardinal who lives at the Vatican and we’re hoping to get to see him while we’re there.

My resolutions are going pretty well.  I’ll post more about them tomorrow, but let’s just say I’m on track, even with the newly added hypertension-related ones (although it’s only been two days of one cup of coffee and no booze!)

A secular Jew attends the Christmas Vigil Mass.

Robin of Berkeley, a self-professed “wandering Jew”, discovers the beauty of the Catholic Church.  On her first visit to a Berkeley church.  On Christmas Eve.

And in a heartbeat, I understood why leaders from Marx to Mao try to keep people away from God, and why they will always fail. I flashed to an image of those mothers who somehow find the superhuman strength to lift up a car and free their children.

Go read the whole piece.