Category Archives: Christianity

Sunday Devotional: The power of prayer

Luke 21:25-28, 34-36

Jesus said to his disciples:
“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars,
and on earth nations will be in dismay,
perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves.
People will die of fright
in anticipation of what is coming upon the world,
for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
And then they will see the Son of Man
coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
But when these signs begin to happen,
stand erect and raise your heads
because your redemption is at hand.

“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy
from carousing and drunkenness
and the anxieties of daily life,
and that day catch you by surprise like a trap.
For that day will assault everyone
who lives on the face of the earth.
Be vigilant at all times
and pray that you have the strength
to escape the tribulations that are imminent
and to stand before the Son of Man.”

The word advent is an anglicized version of the Latin word adventus, which means “coming”.

Today is the first Sunday of Advent, a season observed by Christians as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the incarnation and birth of the Second Person of the Triune Godhead, and of His return — His coming — at the end of all things.

In today’s reading from Luke 21, Jesus, once again, warned about the end times, the timing of which, He stated in Mark 13:32, “no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

Since no one knows the precise day or hour of the last days, our Lord instructs us to “Be vigilant at all times and pray“. For that matter, in Luke 18:1, Jesus emphasized “the necessity” for us “to pray always without becoming weary.

Being a loving God, what He counsels us to do turns out to be good for us (see “Neuroscience explains why gratitude is good for our health“).

Did you know these benefits of praying? —

  • Regular prayer and meditation has been shown in numerous scientific studies to be an important factor in living longer, reducing stress, coping better with sickness, and staying healthy. (allnurses)
  • When we pray, our heart rate slows down, blood pressure goes down, and our breath becomes calmer and more regular.
  • A study funded by the National Institutes of Health found that those who attended religious services at least once a week and prayed at least once a day or studied the Bible frequently were 40% less likely to have high blood pressure. (NCBI)
  • Praying helps patients heal, according to a study by Dr. Andrew Newberg of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Philadelphia. (NBC News)
  • Praying helps people have fewer migraine headaches and an increase in pain tolerance, according to a study by Ken Pargement of Bowling Green State University. (US News and World Report)
  • Praying reduces levels of infidelity and alcohol consumption by helping us maintain self-control, resist temptation and enhance emotional stability, according to a 2013 study by German psychologists at Saarland University and the University of Mannheim. (Daily Mail)

Not only are we told to pray for ourselves, we should also pray for others.

Here are the reasons for intercessory prayer — petitioning God on behalf of and for the benefit of another, even those who have hurt us (“Pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” – Matthew 5:44):

  1. Jesus, the Second Person of the Triune Godhead, is the foremost intercessor:
    1. On the cross, “he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12).
    2. Since His return to heaven, He has been continually occupied with His ministry of intercession: “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25); “It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” (Romans 8:34).
  2. When we are baptized, we are gifted with the infusion of the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Triune Godhead, who also intercedes for us! “For we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit [Himself] maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (Romans 8:26).
  3. Studies found that intercessory prayer really works:
    1. In 1988 and 1999, randomized controlled trials of remote intercessory prayer (praying for persons unknown) showed a beneficial effect in patients in intensive coronary care units (Southern Medical Journal, July 1988,81(7):826-9; Archives of  Internal Medicine, Oct. 25, 1999; 159(19):2273-8).
    2. In 2000, a systematic review of randomized, placebo controlled trials of distant healing found that 57% of the randomized, placebo controlled trials of distant healing showed a positive treatment effect (Annals of Internal Medicine, June 6, 2000; 32(11):903-10).
    3. In 2001, a double-blind study of 3393 adults hospitalized with a bloodstream infection found that remote intercessory prayer is associated with a shorter hospital stay and shorter duration of fever in those patients even when the intervention is performed 4-10 years after the infection ( Dec. 22, 2001; 323(7327): 1450–1451).

And remember, always, to tell God you love Him with your whole heart, your whole soul, your whole mind, and with all your strength.

May the peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you!

~E

 

Neuroscience explains why gratitude is good for our health

Today is Thanksgiving, a day that was founded as an explicitly Christian holiday to thank God for the many blessings He’s bestowed on America.

Have you noticed that what God counsels us to do is good for us?

Take gratitude as an example.

Being thankful benefits us in at least seven scientifically-proven ways:

(1) Gratitude is good for our physical healthGrateful people experience fewer aches and pains and they report feeling healthier than other people, according to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences. Grateful people are also more likely to take care of their health — they exercise more often and are more likely to get regular check-ups.

(2) Gratitude is good for our psychological health: Gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, ranging from envy and resentment to frustration and regret. Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., a leading gratitude researcher, found that gratitude increases happiness and reduces depression.

(3) Gratitude reduces stress and makes us more resilient: For years, research has shown gratitude not only reduces stress, but it may also play a major role in overcoming trauma by making us more resilient:

  • A 2006 study published in Behavior Research and Therapy found that Vietnam War veterans with higher levels of gratitude experienced lower rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
  • Recognizing all you have to be thankful for – even during the worst times of your life – also fosters resilience, enabling you to better withstand trauma and stress. A 2003 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that gratitude was a major contributor to resilience following the 9/11 attacks.

(4) Grateful people sleep better: Writing in a gratitude journal improves sleep, according to a 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. Jotting down a few grateful sentiments before bed helps you sleep better and longer.

(5) Gratitude opens the door to friendship: Showing appreciation to other people can help you win new friends, according to a 2014 study published in Emotion. The study found that thanking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to seek an ongoing relationship.

(6) Gratitude improves self-esteem:

  • A 2014 study published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology found that gratitude increased athletes’ self-esteem, which is an essential component to optimal performance.
  • Other studies have shown that gratitude makes us better able to appreciate other people’s accomplishments, and reduces the toxic social comparisons that makes us resentful toward people who seem to have more — money, beauty, better jobs, better health, more friends — than we have.

(7) Gratitude is good for society by enhancing empathy and reducing aggression: Grateful people are more likely to behave in a pro-social manner according to a 2012 study by the University of Kentucky. Study participants who ranked higher on gratitude scales were sensitive and empathic toward other people; less vengeful; and less likely to retaliate against others, even when given negative feedback.

And now, we know how and why being thankful is good for us, from neuroscience.

Glenn Fox writes for Greater Good Magazine that “New research is exploring the brain regions linked to gratitude—and it helps explain gratitude’s many benefits”:

Gratitude is celebrated throughout philosophy and religion; recent scientific studies suggest it carries significant benefits for our mental and physical health. But very little is known about what actually happens in our brain and body when we experience it….

Since I’m a neuroscientist…I thought that understanding what happens in the brain when we feel gratitude could tell us more about the mind-body connection—namely, how feeling positive emotion can improve bodily functions….

[O]ur [research] results revealed that when participants reported those grateful feelings, their brains showed activity in a set of regions located in the medial pre-frontal cortex, an area in the frontal lobes of the brain where the two hemispheres meet. This area of the brain is associated with understanding other people’s perspectives, empathy, and feelings of relief. This is also an area of the brain that is massively connected to the systems in the body and brain that regulate emotion and support the process of stress relief.

The regions associated with gratitude are part of the neural networks that light up when we socialize and experience pleasure. These regions are also heavily connected to the parts of the brain that control basic emotion regulation, such as heart rate and arousal levels, and are associated with stress relief and thus pain reduction.

In other words, our data suggest that because gratitude relies on the brain networks associated with social bonding and stress relief, this may explain in part how grateful feelings lead to health benefits over time. Feeling grateful and recognizing help from others creates a more relaxed body state and allows the subsequent benefits of lowered stress to wash over us. (We recently published a scientific paper elaborating on these ideas.)

Perhaps even more encouraging, researcher Prathik Kini and colleagues at Indiana University performed a subsequent study examining how practicing gratitude can alter brain function in depressed individuals. They found evidence that gratitude may induce structural changes in the very same parts of the brain that we found active in our experiment. Such a result, in complement to our own, tells a story of how the mental practice of gratitude may even be able to change and re-wire the brain. (For more on Kini’s research, read this Greater Good article by his co-authors Joel Wong and Joshua Brown.)

To conclude, neuroscience shows that being thankful is good us by regulating heart rate, lowering stress, reducing pain, and combat depression by altering brain function.

God is good!

1 Thessalonians 5:18

In all circumstances, give thanks,
for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.

~E

 

The true meaning of Thanksgiving: A Christian holiday to thank God

Thanksgiving is one of the most beloved holidays in America.

But in the hands of “progressives,” public schools and the Hate America Media (HAM), Thanksgiving has long become yet another occasion for white guilt.

But did you know that unlike other secular holidays like Labor Day or the Fourth of July, the Thanksgiving that you think is a secular holiday is actually a national holiday that is explicitly religious in nature?

As shown in the quotes below, Thanksgiving was instituted as a day to thank God for the many blessings He had bestowed on America.

George Washington prays at Valley Forge, winter of 1777-1778 (painting by Arnold Friberg)

In 1789, in his first year in office, President George Washington called for a day of Thanksgiving because —

“it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor.”

In 1815, President James Madison issued a proclamation for “a day of thanksgiving and of devout acknowledgments to Almighty God for His great goodness.” After Madison, however, Thanksgiving reverted to a regional celebration in New England for 48 years.

In a proclamation in the midst of the Civil War on October 3, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving an official national holiday. Here is the full text of his proclamation:

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.

Body and Soul takes this occasion to thank our readers for their loyalty in spite of all the malicious efforts to silence us, the latest, a hack.

As the owner of Body and Soul , I also want to take this occasion to thank our writers DCG and Grif, who give so selflessly of their labor, time and talent, without a single penny in remuneration.

But most of all, I thank the magnificent and magnanimous Triune Godhead for the many blessings He’s given America, in spite of our many sins and failings, sheer perversities and ever-rising evil. 2021 has been a trying year — of a president with dementia, rising inflation, and the persistent efforts of government to tyrannize us on the COVID-19 “pandemic” and vaccination. Despite all that, we must take heart as there are still so many good things in America. Keep the faith!

Psalm 100

A Psalm of Thanksgiving

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all you lands;
serve the Lord, with gladness;
come before Him with joyful song.
Know that the Lord, is God,
He made us, we belong to Him,
we are His people, the flock He shepherds.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving,
His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him, bless His name;
good indeed is the Lord,
His mercy endures forever,
His faithfulness lasts through every generation.

On this Thanksgiving Day, what do you thank the Creator for?

God bless you, and may God bless America,

~E

 

Sunday Devotional: King of the Universe

Colossians 1:15-17

He is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn of all creation.
For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth,
the visible and the invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers;
all things were created through him and for him.
He is before all things,
and in him all things hold together.

Today is the feast day of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe!

It was foretold.

Book of Daniel 7:13-14:

As the visions during the night continued, I saw
one like a Son of man coming,
on the clouds of heaven;
when he reached the Ancient One
and was presented before him,
the one like a Son of man received dominion, glory, and kingship;
all peoples, nations, and languages serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
that shall not be taken away,
his kingship shall not be destroyed.

Our Lord Jesus Christ confirmed it.

John 18:33-37:

Pilate said to Jesus,
“Are you the King of the Jews?”
Jesus answered, “Do you say this on your own
or have others told you about me?”
Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I?
Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me.
What have you done?”
Jesus answered, “My kingdom does not belong to this world.
If my kingdom did belong to this world,
my attendants would be fighting
to keep me from being handed over to the Jews.
But as it is, my kingdom is not here.”
So Pilate said to him, “Then you are a king?”
Jesus answered, “You say I am a king.
For this I was born and for this I came into the world,
to testify to the truth.
Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.

And we are told He will come again.

Revelation 1:5-8

Jesus Christ is the faithful witness,
the firstborn of the dead and ruler of the kings of the earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,
who has made us into a kingdom, priests for his God and Father,
to him be glory and power forever and ever. Amen.
Behold, he is coming amid the clouds,
and every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him.
All the peoples of the earth will lament him.
Yes. Amen.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, ” says the Lord God,
“the one who is and who was and who is to come, the almighty.”

Tell the King of the Universe that you love Him with your whole heart, your whole soul, your whole mind, and with all your strength!

And may the joy and peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you,

~E

 

Sunday Devotional: You do not know when the time will come

Daniel 12:1-3

In those days, I Daniel,
heard this word of the Lord:
“At that time there shall arise
Michael, the great prince,
guardian of your people;
it shall be a time unsurpassed in distress
since nations began until that time.
At that time your people shall escape,
everyone who is found written in the book.

“Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake;
some shall live forever,
others shall be an everlasting horror and disgrace.

“But the wise shall shine brightly
like the splendor of the firmament,
and those who lead the many to justice
shall be like the stars forever.”

Mark 13:24-27, 29, 32-33

Jesus said to his disciples:
“In those days after that tribulation
the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
and the stars will be falling from the sky,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
And then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in the clouds’
with great power and glory,
and then he will send out the angels
and gather his elect from the four winds,
from the end of the earth to the end of the sky….
[W]hen you see these things happening,
know that he is near, at the gates….
But of that day or hour, no one knows,
neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
Be watchful! Be alert!
You do not know when the time will come.”

The times we live in being unsettling, there are talks of the end days.

To that I would respond that surely, our times cannot compare to the horrors of the Second World War (1939-1945), which took the lives of 70–85 million people worldwide. Surely, those living in that time had thought they were in the end days. Whatever distresses and travails of our time can hardly compare to theirs.

Jesus Himself said that “But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

So it really is pointless for us to speculate whether or not we are in the end days. What purpose does it serve?

Instead of engaging ourselves in apocalypse porn, think of this in another way — we all will die one day, most likely not in an apocalypse, but in a prosaic manner, whether from an accident, illness, and plain old age. Our death, for all intents and purposes, effectively will be the end days for us.

So we should heed Jesus’ injunction to “Be watchful! Be alert!” and live our lives responsibly and in truth because “You do not know when the time will come”.

May the peace and love of Our Lord Jesus Christ be with you,

~E

 

40% of U.S. adults 18-24 identify as LGBTQ

Study after study by various institutions had told us LGBTs (lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders) account for at most 3% of the U.S. population.

As recently as the 2010 U.S. census, less than one percent (0.773%) of U.S. households were same-sex households. (Los Angeles Times)

But that percentage is increasing as the Left relentlessly advance their civilization-destroying agenda.

Gallup Poll found that between 2012 and 2020, the percentage of Americans identifying themselves as LGBT steadily increased — from 3.5% in 2012 to 5.6% by 2020.

But that is nothing when it comes to America’s youth.

A new study, New Insights into the Generation of Growing Influence: Millennials In America, by George Barna, who leads research at Arizona Christian University’s Cultural Research Center, found that some 30% of millennials, including nearly 40% of adults 18-24, identify as “LGBTQ” — three times the proportion identified among older U.S. adults.

How can this be?

How can our sexual identity and preference be so malleable?

The study also confirms other survey data of the deChristianization of America’s young. While 65% of millennials still identify as Christian, only 50% of millennials see Christianity as at least “a little positive.”

The Barna report describes U.S. millennials as a generation that is troubled and searching for answers to their problems, while “disengaged from spiritual teaching and practice, resulting in a paucity of knowledge, understanding, experience, and growth in this realm.” Barna said:

“The resultant spiritual illiteracy virtually resigns them to a superficial worldview in which they grasp at ideas and practices that provide immediate comfort rather than lasting truth and peace. The moral chaos that characterizes the generation can likewise be traced to a dearth of coherent and pragmatic religious instruction abetted by the absence of mature moral reflection.

The widespread confusion among young adults regarding aspects of their identity — spiritual, sexual, and also related to their sense of purpose in life — are a direct outgrowth of that spiritual wisdom vacuum. It seems that often young adults fill the void by creating a self-image that is built upon self-centeredness, self-reliance, and independence. That may be perceived as arrogance, but as much as anything it may also be a defense mechanism covering up their personal deficits with which they wrestle.

Your worldview is the foundation of your decision-making. Every choice you make emerges from your worldview, which serves as the filter through which you experience, observe, imagine, interpret, and respond to reality. And every one of the thousands of choices you make every day have consequences. That means worldview is at the heart of everything we are considering in relation to the well-being and development of the young adult generation.

Given the centrality of worldview to the human experience, there can be no improvements to the life millennials lead without addressing the fundamental role of worldview. And because worldview is developed and carried out in the competitive marketplace of beliefs and behaviors, think about the pervasive consequences for millennials of rejecting the biblical worldview in favor of other, more popular alternatives.”

~E

 

Sunday Devotional: Beware of scribes who go around in long robes

Mark 12:38-40

In the course of his teaching Jesus said to the crowds,
“Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes
and accept greetings in the marketplaces,
seats of honor in synagogues,
and places of honor at banquets.
They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext
recite lengthy prayers.
They will receive a very severe condemnation.”

The Second Person of the Triune Godhead is the epitome of humility.

He was born not in a palace, but in a lowly manger, surrounded by livestock. He was a manual laborer, a carpenter, by occupation. (Contrast that with our elite class’ disdain for manual labor, for which they employ illegal aliens.) In His three years of public ministry, thousands of people flocked to see and hear Him speak, some trekking for miles on foot.

But Jesus remained humble: He did not garb Himself in fancy robes, nor did He take seats and places of honor in synagogues and banquets. On what Christians now celebrate as Palm Sunday, He entered Jerusalem riding on a mule, before adoring crowds who spread their cloaks on the road, proclaiming Him their king (Luke 19).

Contrast Jesus’ humility with the “scribes” of His time — those of high authority and influence who held important offices in public affairs. Among them were the Pharisees and Levites, with their “long robes” occupying seats of honor.

Contrast Jesus’ humility with the pomp and circumstance of church clergy today.

I am reminded of the trenchant observation by the late psychiatrist, M. Scott Peck, M.D. In his book, People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil, Peck warned that evil people conceal themselves, especially by camouflaging themselves as benevolent people in institutions dedicated to the public good, such as churches, synagogues, temples and, I would add, governments. Dr. Peck wrote (p. 76, footnote):

Since the primary motive of the evil is disguise, one of the places evil people are most likely to be found is within the church. What better way to conceal one’s evil from oneself, as well as from others, than to be a deacon or some other highly visible form of Christian within our culture? by camouflaging themselves as good.

About the video: On Dec. 31, 2019, as reported by Fox News, “A visibly annoyed Pope Francis slapped away a woman’s hand and pulled himself away from her while greeting a crowd in St. Peter’s Square.” You can hear in the video that the woman was begging the pope, “Help me.”

Ryan H. Murphy, a research assistant professor at Southern Methodist University’s School of Business, in Dallas, Texas, would agree with Dr. Peck.

In a study in 2018, “Psychopathy by U.S. State,” Murphy devised a measure to estimate the level of psychopathy for occupations and for each of the contiguous 48 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. Murphy found that the “most disproportionately psychopathic” occupations are CEO, lawyer, media, salesperson, surgeon, journalist, police officer, clergyperson, chef, and civil servant (or politician), and that Washington, D.C., with its concentration of politicians and government workers, was the most psychopathic.

The hypocrites hiding in churches and governments should heed Jesus’ warning to them in Mark 12:40:

“They will receive a very severe condemnation.”

May the peace and love of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you,

~E

 

Sunday Devotional: Love the Lord your God with all your heart

Mark 12:28-30

One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him,
“Which is the first of all the commandments?”
Jesus replied, “The first is this….
The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul,
with all your mind,
and with all your strength.

Truth is, and should be, simple.

Our Lord has a marvelous way of cutting through the dross to the heart of an issue — and He does exactly that in Mark 12 in identifying the Greatest Commandment of All.

Think about it….

For if we truly love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength, it follows that we also are faithful to the Ten Commandments because we would not want to offend or hurt Him.

The ten commandments follow the one greatest commandment, logically and naturally, because loving God with our whole heart, mind and soul, we would not want to offend or disappoint Him by:

  1. Worshiping other so-called gods, including our own selves as gods — which was the first sin of Lucifer and of our first parents in that first garden.
  2. Taking His name in vain — using His holy name as a profanity or as an emotional outburst. (Have you noticed how replete these exclamations are in contemporary movies and TV shows?)
  3. Not keeping holy His day.
  4. Not honoring our earthly parents who chose not to abort us and to whom we owe our very lives.
  5. Killing another in body or spirit.
  6. Disrespecting our marital vows and the institution of marriage by committing adultery.
  7. Stealing or wasting another’s possession, resource or time.
  8. Bearing false witness against or telling lies about another.
  9. Coveting — lusting or longing for — another’s spouse, which is a form of adultery.
  10. Coveting another’s goods — feeling envious, resentful, or entitled to what others have.

So, heed the words of Moses, in Deuteronomy 6:1, 5-7:

“This then is the commandment….
[Y]ou shall love the LORD, your God,
with all your heart,
and with all your soul,
and with all your strength.
Take to heart these words which I enjoin on you today.
Keep repeating them to your children.
Recite them when you are at home and when you are away,
when you lie down and when you get up.

On this Halloween day, when Americans and many peoples across the world go into an orgy celebrating the forces of darkness, it is even more important that we counter the dark with the Light of Christ.

May the light, love and peace of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you!

~E

 

Sunday Devotional: Be joyful, always

Psalm 126:2-3

Then our mouths were filled with laughter;
our tongues sang for joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
“The LORD had done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us;
Oh, how happy we [a]re!

St. Paul counsels us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:

Always be joyful.
Always keep on praying.
No matter what happens, always be thankful,
for this is God’s will for you
who belong to Christ Jesus.

The dictionary defines “joy” as “a state of happiness or felicity.

Joy is different from happiness in that happiness is a fleeting emotion, but joy is a”state” — the condition of a person — of happiness. As someone once said, “Joy is not a season, it’s a way of living.”

Joy consists of at least two components: gratitude and optimism.

While it is sadly true that the political, economic, social and cultural circumstances in America are worsening by the day, we still have much to be grateful for.

Being grateful actually benefits us in at least seven scientifically-proven ways:

(1) Gratitude is good for our physical health:

Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and they report feeling healthier than other people, according to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences. Grateful people are also more likely to take care of their health — they exercise more often and are more likely to get regular check-ups.

(2) Gratitude is good for our psychological health:

Gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, ranging from envy and resentment to frustration and regret. Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., a leading gratitude researcher, found that gratitude increases happiness and reduces depression.

(3) Gratitude reduces stress and makes us more resilient:

For years, research has shown gratitude not only reduces stress, but it may also play a major role in overcoming trauma by making us more resilient:

  • A 2006 study published in Behavior Research and Therapy found that Vietnam War veterans with higher levels of gratitude experienced lower rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
  • Recognizing all you have to be thankful for – even during the worst times of your life – also fosters resilience, enabling you to better withstand trauma and stress. A 2003 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that gratitude was a major contributor to resilience following the 9/11 attacks.

(4) Grateful people sleep better:

Writing in a gratitude journal improves sleep, according to a 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. Jotting down a few grateful sentiments before bed helps you sleep better and longer.

(5) Gratitude opens the door to friendship

Showing appreciation to other people can help you win new friends, according to a 2014 study published in Emotion. The study found that thanking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to seek an ongoing relationship.

(6) Gratitude improves self-esteem:

  • A 2014 study published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology found that gratitude increased athletes’ self-esteem, which is an essential component to optimal performance.
  • Other studies have shown that gratitude makes us better able to appreciate other people’s accomplishments, and reduces the toxic social comparisons that makes us resentful toward people who seem to have more — money, beauty, better jobs, better health, more friends — than we have.

(7) Gratitude is good for society by enhancing empathy and reducing aggression:

Grateful people are more likely to behave in a pro-social manner according to a 2012 study by the University of Kentucky. Study participants who ranked higher on gratitude scales were sensitive and empathic toward other people; less vengeful; and less likely to retaliate against others, even when given negative feedback.

The dictionary defines “optimism” as “a disposition or tendency to look on the more favorable side of events or conditions and to expect the most favorable outcome” and “the belief that good ultimately predominates over evil in the world.”

Like gratitude, there is ample scientific evidence that optimism is good for our health in myriad ways (source: Harvard Medical School):

  1. Heart: Pessimists are more than twice as likely to develop heart disease than optimists, even after taking other risk factors into account. Among those who had undergone cardiac surgery, pessimists were three times more likely than optimists to have heart attacks or require repeat angioplasties or bypass operations.
  2. Blood pressure: Optimists have lower blood pressures than pessimists. On average, the people with the most positive emotions have the lowest blood pressures. Pessimists are three times more likely to develop hypertension than optimists, even after other risk factors are taken into account.
  3. Viral infections: Optimists are less likely to develop viral symptoms than pessimists.
  4. Overall health: Over a 30-year period, optimism was linked to a better outcome on eight measures of physical and mental function and health.
  5. Longevity: Since healthy people live longer than sick people, and since optimism improves health, it should also boost longevity — and according to two studies from the U.S. and two from the Netherlands, it does.

All of which goes to show that God, being a loving God, His injunction to us to be joyful is for our own good!

And may the joy, peace and love of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you!

~E

See also “Religious Americans are only group whose mental health improved during coronavirus pandemic“.

 

Priest surprises by singing Hallelujah at wedding ceremony

St. Augustine said to sing is to pray twice.

What a beautiful voice this priest has.

~E