When my pastor first arrived at our parish nearly 4 years ago, one of the first things he did was to announce that he was facilitating a Great Adventure Bible Study on Revelations. As soon as he announced that, I just knew that I was supposed to be there. It left me hungry for more, and since then we have completed a 24 week Bible Timeline Journey and 24 week study on Matthew. Right now we are finishing up a 10 week study on the Letter of James. Ten weeks is a long time to study something that takes up only 5 pages!
The premise of this study is that James is full of "pearls for wise living". It's a quick read...check it out. And the Bible Study itself has been full of "pearls".
One week was about acquiring wisdom [not to be confused with information]. We spend a lot of time making sure that our children are educated and infused with information. But wisdom....not so much. There was mention of where we might acquire wisdom - Holy Scripture, the Catechism, papal encyclicals and church documents, the lives and writings of the Saints, elderly people who have lived a life on a good moral foundation, etc. A suggestion was also made to keep a journal of practical wisdom that we might someday pass on to our children. It could be a nice leather bound volume. For the time being, I bought something that was light and small (and cheap) that I could slip into my purse. I have bits from scripture, bits from Bible studies, things I've heard in homilies, [generic] advice I've gotten in confession.
Another week was about wisdom in speech. Be quick to listen and slow to talk! Just because it pops into your head, you do not have to say it. And don't send emails after 11 pm. Those are the ones you live to regret. Control of the tongue. A life-long project in some of our cases. Enough said.
Wisdom in relationships....trouble begins in the heart...on the inside. We want what we want. We quarrel and fuss because we put created things ahead of the One who created them. Pride keeps us from God's grace; it is a disordered view of yourself. God gives grace to the humble. Humility is a great gift from God.
A how-to of restoring lost relationships - with God and with others:
- submit to God...spend time in prayer...close the mouth and open the ears...
- resist negative influences in the culture...resist the devil...we CAN stop fighting, we can control our own will
- draw near to God...prayer and meditation
- cleanse your hands and purify your hearts... clean up your act...you can't be away from God, but near him at the same time...that's why the Eucharist and Reconciliation go hand in hand.
- turn laughter into mourning...repentance and penance..turning towards God's will...whole-hearted contrition
- humble yourself before the Lord...the opposite of pride...repent...when we humble ourselves, God lifts us up