"To an Authentic and Renewed Conversion": Vatican II and the Year of Faith

Rediscovering, Knowing, Living our Faith

In his Wednesday audience address of October 10, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI declared: “The Second Vatican Council is a strong appeal to us to rediscover every day the beauty of our faith, to know it deeply for a more intense relationship with the Lord, in order to live our Christian vocation to the full.” How can we Catholics rediscover the beauty of our faith, intensify our relationship with Our Lord, and more fully live out our Christian vocation during this Year of Faith? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Read, study and meditate on the Faith. I would especially recommend Porta Fidei (The Door of Faith), the charter document for this Holy Year; The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which Benedict XVI called “an authentic fruit of the Second Vatican Council”; the documents of Vatican II, particularly the four Constitutions; the papal encyclicals of Popes Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, and especially Pope Francis’ new encyclical on faith; the Bible; the Early Church Fathers; the lives of the Saints; Jesus of Nazareth by Benedict XVI; and The Everlasting Man by G. K. Chesterton.

2. Get the special plenary indulgence for the Year of Faith if you haven’t yet done so. On May 10, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI solemnly decreed that this indulgence will be granted to all the faithful who fulfill certain prescribed conditions in addition to the usual conditions of going to Confession, receiving Holy Communion, and praying for the intentions of the Holy Father. The special conditions for obtaining this particular indulgence may be found on the official Year of Faith website.

3. Receive the Sacraments frequently. The sacraments are channels of grace through which we receive the strength necessary to follow Christ faithfully in our everyday lives. We should especially receive the sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist often to be cleansed of our sins and spiritually nourished for the journey of faith.

4. Spend more time in prayer. Christ says, “‘Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me'” (Jn. 15:4), and “‘without me you can do nothing'” (Jn. 15:5). When Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta was once asked how she was able to accomplish so much, she replied simply, “I pray.” If faith is an encounter with Christ and a loving personal relationship with Him, prayer is the heart and soul of that relationship. The more time we spend in prayer, the more closely united with Christ we will be, the deeper our faith will become, and the more fruit we will bear in the Lord’s vineyard. Scripture says, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thes. 5:17). Simple daily prayers, such as morning and evening prayers and grace before and after meals, are important to nourish our Christian life. The Church also recommends the Liturgy of the Hours and the daily rosary; the latter is an excellent method of drawing closer to Christ through meditation on the mysteries of his life in union with Our Blessed Mother Mary, the perfect follower of Christ and the one through whom all graces come to us. Above all, during this Year of Faith we should enter more deeply into the Sacred Liturgy, “the great prayer of the Church.” Lex orandi, lex credendi: “As we pray, so we believe.”

5. Share the faith with others. The priceless gift of faith we have been given is not meant to be selfishly hoarded within ourselves, but rather to be freely shared with others. “Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give” (Mt. 10:8). We can all find little opportunities in our everyday lives to witness Christ and evangelize others through word and example. The more we take advantage of these opportunities, the more our faith will grow and the stronger it will become. In his Message for the 1992 World Youth Day, Blessed John Paul II declared:

All baptized persons are called by Christ to become his apostles in their own personal situation and in the world: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you” (Jn. 20:21). Through his Church Christ entrusts you with the fundamental mission of sharing with others the gift of salvation. He invites you to participate in building his kingdom. He chooses you, in spite of the personal limitations everyone has, because he loves you and believes in you. This unconditional love of Christ should be the very soul of your apostolic work, in accord with the words of St. Paul, “The love of Christ impels us” (2 Cor. 5:14).

Being disciples of Christ is not a private matter. On the contrary, the gift of faith must be shared with others. For this reason the same apostle writes: “If I preach the Gospel, this is no reason for me to boast, for an obligation has been imposed on me, and woe to me if I do not preach it!” (1 Cor 9:16). Moreover, do not forget that faith is strengthened and grows precisely when it is given to others.

Perhaps no better summary of the Christian life can be found than that contained in Saint Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians: “I, then, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Eph. 4:1-6).

And perhaps no better prayer for this Year of Faith can be said than that of Benedict XVI: “May the Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ and of the whole Church, help us to achieve and to bring to completion what the Council Fathers, motivated by the Holy Spirit, pondered in their hearts: the desire that all might know the Gospel and encounter the Lord Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

Why It Is Better To Use An Organic Hair Color Salon

People love to change the way they look from time to time. New hair color makes a woman feel better about her appearance, and often makes them develop more self-confidence. Billions of dollars are spent each year on hair colors, dyes, peroxides, and chemicals to create new looks with.

The problem with coloring your hair using chemical solutions is that the chemicals can be bad for the environment, and bad for you. Some hair dyes have chemicals that are so harsh they can actually damage the hair follicles and cause premature balding.

When you visit an organic hair color salon you can be assured that the products used on your hair will be free of the harsh chemicals that could cause you to go bald. An organic hair color salon uses hair dyes that are ammonia free so when the coloring is complete your natural hair is still healthy and resilient.

At an organic color beauty salon the preparations to change the hue of your hair will leave no hazardous fumes in the air. People who have breathing difficulties like asthma often have to avoid beauty shops because of these hazardous fumes. In an organic color beauty salon everyone will be able to breathe a little easier.

The dyes that are used in these “greener” shops do not produce the amount of irritation that people are accustomed to experiencing when they have their hair color changed. There is no resulting cuticle damage so the natural hair is left healthy, and intact, and you do not have to fear losing your hair.

Some of the natural dyes are completely free of PPD or PTD. The lighteners are ammonia free so the hair that is lightened is left softer, and more natural looking.

The dyes come in a wide variety of liquids, and creams. The professional hair designers will have a wide selection in products they can use to change your color, without causing any damage. There is also a wide variety of colors available so you will not be stuck with just a few “natural” shades.

In nature every color of the rainbow is represented, and in the natural hair dyes almost every color in nature has been duplicated. You can let your hair be as wild as you would like, or you can maintain a sedate color. The choice is completely yours.

Some people believe that because the natural dyes are the latest creations that they are far more expensive than the old chemical dyes were. The truth is that the newer dyes are not that much more expensive than the old fashioned chemical versions were. The only real monetary difference you will notice using the new dyes is that there will be less supporting products you will need to purchase.

If you are thinking about coloring your hair then you should consider trying one of the new safer color systems. Trying the new methods, and the new products available may open doors to new possibilities that you never knew existed.

Reinforcing Completed or Vintage Bead Flowers

Bead flowers should hold their original shape, whether that shape is vertical, curved, standing out horizontally, or draped artfully downward. Make sure that your bead flower treasures retain their shape for the future by using stem stiffening and reinforcement techniques. These techniques are not only for brand-new pieces; you can easily “retro-fit” a finished or vintage bead flower piece.

If your flower is already assembled or it’s a delicate vintage piece, the great news is that the stemwire can be reinforced to regain or retain the flower’s beauty. This technique works best if your flower has a separate center unit; this will hide the new wire. If done well, the reinforcement will be almost invisible in any flower, and will greatly add to its beauty.

If the flower is a vintage piece, inspect its stem carefully. If the tape is dried out or loose, remove it. If the main stemwire is at all weakened or rusted, remove and discard it. Yes, you want to keep as much of the original piece as possible, but not at the cost of the strength of the restored flower. Keep all petal, center and sepal wires intact.

For smaller flowers: tape a length of 18-gauge stemwire and make a narrow hook two inches from one end. For larger flowers: Fully tape three separate lengths of 18-gauge stemwire. Keeping two to three inches of one length of stemwire extended, tape the three lengths together tightly. If necessary, wrap lacing wire around the three wires first to prevent slipping during taping. Make a hook of the protruding end of the wire. Keep the hook shape within a half-inch of the other two stemwires.

Carefully thread this hook through the bottom of the finished flower between opposite petals and beneath the center unit, if the flower has one.

Straighten the stemwires. “Set” the flower head snugly so it doesn’t slip around by pulling down and pinching the hook with a plier so that the flower head is held steady. Add the flower’s original stemwires to the new one and snugly reinforce with several wraps of green paddle wire or lacing wire. Tape all stemwires together.

For extra security for a large or heavy flower, start with a hook of approximately four inches. Thread it through the flower, wrap the hook around the stem once, then pass the hooked wire through the flower a second time, coming from a different angle between petals.

Breaking News From the World of Entertainment

Want in on the latest gossip from the world of entertainment? Want to know what your favorite stars are up to? Or perhaps you want to find out which silver screen flick is making a big bang in the market? Irrespective of the scoop you are looking for from the entertainment world you can be sure to find all the breaking news from the world of entertainment on the internet.

The internet has become a hub for movie fans and entertainment seekers. Today you will be able to find all the latest entertainment news on various online news blogs that are focused on provide their readers with the latest gossip circulating around the lives of their favorite stars. The entertainment section on the news blogs is one of the most popular niches according to latest statistics. This is because everyone wants to know what their favorite stars are up to and what to watch out for on the television and new film releases.

The entertainment section is well complemented by the fashion section on these news blogs. As it is, the celebrities and starts from the entertainment world are either responsible or used for promoting certain fashion trends. Hence you can always check out the fashion section of these news blogs to see which shades are currently being promoted by your favorite celebrity and what clothes you should be sporting this summer season.

If you are looking for tips and tricks that will help to enhance your lifestyle then you can also read up on the lifestyle section on these news blogs. This section will update you with the latest happenings around the world on things that will help you enhance your life. This includes everything from the latest exercises for your abs to the top rated beauty treatment and interesting interior decoration tips to expert nutrition advice.

The entertainment, fashion and lifestyle sections of online news blogs will fill you up with all the information you need to know about your favorite stars, the fashion they are sporting and a bunch of other valuable tips to improve your lifestyle.  The good thing is that these news blogs do not only deliver the breaking news in the form of text, rather you will also be able to find a variety of images, videos and other interactive media that enriches the user experience on these websites. Last but not least you can easily subscribe to their RSS feed and get the latest breaking news in your email. The leading blogs will also offer you the latest on politics, business, technology and sports making them the ideal one stop source of high quality information on current global news.

Holiday Gift Giving – Getting Behind the True Intention of Why We Give

When it comes to giving gifts, it’s the thought that counts… or does it? We’ve all been on the receiving end, at one time or another, of gifts that have left us scratching our heads wondering what on earth the gift-giver was thinking when they decided to bestow this particular item on us.

For a lot of people, giving gifts, especially during the holidays, is an obligation rather than a sincere act of love, kindness, generosity or gratitude. How else to explain those totally random gifts that have little practical or sentimental value?

Often times we use gift giving as a way to over-compensate for some perceived lack of self-worth or adequacy. When we feel “less than” about ourselves, we tend to spend more on gifts in the hopes of gaining the love and approval we seek from others. How many times have you been shopping at a store during the holidays and found yourself on line behind someone at the register who appears to have gone stark-raving mad? They’ve loaded their carts to the max –as though they were in a shopping spree and their lives depended on grabbing the most items possible in the shortest amount of time. Gift giving when viewed in the context of this prism becomes a futile exercise in self-redemption via crass commercialism –after all, imagine the disappointment of this person’s family and friends if they didn’t show up on the holidays with a boatload of gifts!

Then there are people who feel the need to keep score… are you one of those? You are if you wait to see who gives you a gift first before reciprocating, make decisions about who to gift based on historical performance (i.e. who gave you a gift the previous year), or you aim to maintain parity in your gift giving –meaning you always give gifts of approximately the same or perceived value as the ones you receive.

All this mental score-keeping is time-consuming, exhausting, and distracts us from the true intention of gift-giving –acknowledging those we love and care about. When giving gifts starts to feel like a chore or an obligation, that’s the time to re-evaluate your gift-giving strategy! Why do you give gifts? Is it to fill an ego-based need? Is the real motivation to make yourself feel better or to make someone else happy? What if you let your ego get out of the way and focus on what would make the other person happy based on what they actually need or

A gift is your way of expressing how you feel about another person –your way of showing them gratitude for having them in your life. The best gift you can give is the gift of sharing yourself or your feelings with someone –being present with them in a way that reminds them that they mean something to you. Here’s a quick look at some gift ideas that can support the real intention of giving:

Gifts of Experiences

There’s something deeply satisfying and gratifying about sharing experiences with someone you care about. It builds and strengthens the bond between you. It can be something simple like taking them out for dinner and a movie, going to a concert, play, or sporting event together, or doing something more involved like spending a day hiking or exploring in nature, getting pampered at a Spa, a visit to the local museum, or volunteering for an event. The emphasis should be on togetherness –sharing the experience rather than just handing them a gift certificate or pair of tickets to something.

Gifts from the Heart

Gifts from the heart are the most meaningful and can take on many forms: gifts of time, love or support (baby-sitting, house-sitting, pet-sitting, tech support for the computer-challenged, gardening or decorating advice, cooking lessons, house-cleaning, coffee or a meal together). Think of something your giftee needs, could really use, or you know would make them feel good. Start by asking them ‘What do you need?’ or ‘What can I help you create?’ This way you can help them do or create something that’s important or meaningful to them. You’re building on their idea rather than on an idea of your own which may not be as important to them.

If time is a major challenge, then other heart-centered gifts include contributions to charitable causes that are important to the giftee, or gifts from companies that tithe or support similar causes.

Handmade Gifts

Another great way to show someone you care is by using your talents to make them a gift. Great handmade gifts include food (jellies, jams, infused culinary oils and vinegars, all manner of dessert), bath and body items (soaps, candles, perfumes, lip balms, lotions and creams), clothing (any form of knitwear, silkscreened or hand-dyed clothing), jewelry, accessories, home decor, pet accessories, other craft items (photos, drawings, paintings, scrap books, etc.). If you don’t have the time or skill then consider buying handmade gifts –it’s not as personal as something that’s made by you but it still holds more value than your run-of-the-mill store-bought items.

Here are some resources you can consult for gift ideas:

For gifts to charitable causes, consult the Charity Navigator Holiday Giving Guide to help you evaluate different charities and aid organizations and make the most of your contributions.

For handmade and green gifts that make a difference, shop at the World of Good’s website –a shopping site with a treasure trove of over 20,000 ethically-sourced, fair trade, and eco-friendly gifts and goods from around the world. And don’t forget to consult Etsy –a shopping site of only handmade goods in a variety of product categories.

For gifts to people in need, take a look at Kiva. Championed by former president Bill Clinton, this organization lets you use your money to make micro-loans to entrepreneurs in poor and rural parts of the world with the goal of helping them achieve economic independence and improved quality of life. Another great option in this category is Heifer International.

Copyright 2009 Dropwise Essentials