Fortitude

Good day students! I hope the world is treating you with Justice. I also hope that you are treating others with Justice. Today we are going to talk about fortitude. Fortitude is a very wonderful virtue. The only downside to fortitude is that you have to go through trials in your life in order for your fortitude to shine.
This morning I got a text from our youngest daughter. She is at the end of her high school career and is taking calculus. Today they did some example problems for the AP exam. She said, “Thank God that God will still love me even though I am going to fail this calculus AP exam.” What does she need to do students? That’s right front row, she needs to summon her fortitude or strength. It’s really hard to do that when you are at the end of something like your high school career. I know inside of her mind she is thinking what the heck? Does this test really matter that much? I also know my daughter. I know she will muster the strength to do her best. And as long as she does that, she will have peace because she knows God will love her anyway. That’s what fortitude is, try your hardest in the face of adversity to take the high road and do your best.
In my little small corner of the world, there have been a lot of life events: births, deaths, cancer, and dealing with the ebb and flow of the each day. Life is tough. Especially when you have to say goodbye to your soulmate and trust that there is another birth with their leaving this Earth. Trust that the love and memories that you have created will sustain you until you take that journey. Seeing the DNA of your family carry on. Wow! Life is a miracle. Watching beloved friends fight cancer and other diseases takes fortitude. Waking up and facing a new day takes fortitude. How can we help when so much is trying to snatch or our joy? Well students, you call on your other virtues to help you build fortitude in others. Help them to be strong and courageous. Pray for them. Take them meals. Mail a funny card or a heartfelt note. Visit them. Share a story about them to their loved ones.
Students, we need to be fortitudious. Be strong for your sisters and brothers on this planet. We are in this together. Believe me when I say there is strength in numbers. And that’s right back row, you do have homework. Here it is. I want you to flex your fortitude muscles. Use all of your lessons we have learned this far andd show your strength. Show the strength of faith that you have as a Christian. Let someone lean on you today. Hold them up with your spiritual strength. It doesn’t matter if you do a good deed or a simple prayer. Just do it.
Sal the Fortitudious Gal
Sarah Anderson Alley
Quotes of the day:
Courage is the most important of all the
virtues because without courage, you
can’t practice any other virtue
consistently.
Maya Angelou
       No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God . . . and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire and which will make us more like our Father and Mother in heaven.
Orson F. Whitney
       True Christian fortitude consists in strength of mind, through grace, exerted in two things; in ruling and suppressing the evil and unruly passions and affections of the mind; and in steadfastly and freely exerting and following good affections and dispositions, without being hindered by sinful fear or the opposition of enemies… Though Christian fortitude appears in withstanding and counteracting the enemies that are without us; yet it much more appears in resisting and suppressing the enemies that are within us; because they are our worst and strongest enemies and have greatest advantage against us. The strength of the good soldier of Jesus Christ appears in nothing more than in steadfastly maintaining the holy calm, meekness, sweetness, and benevolence of his mind, amidst all the storms, injuries, strange behaviour, and surprising acts and events of this evil and unreasonable world.
Jonathan Edwards

Justice

Students do you remember that rhyme: “1,2 skip a few?” I promise that it’s not what’s happening with our 40 days together. It makes me think of a John Lennon quote, “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.” This is exactly what happened to me. Life has been happening. We have been busy researching and visiting places that could be the next chapter for our youngest daughter. But now I am back ready to double up on our journey through our 40 days.
The last day we had class we talked about temperance. Temperance is very important as we live our lives. We need to show restraint with those things that tempt us and threaten to become idols in our lives. I hope you practiced using temperance this past weekend.
We are working on virtues. We are trying to right our ship and have smooth sailing toward our goal. These forty days we are working toward many goals: creating a pure heart, creating moments of kindness toward others, clearing out the clutter of our hearts, making our little corner of the world better, and practicing virtues. Today we will add another virtue. This virtue is called Justice.
When you hear the word justice, you think of fairness, court cases, and being slighted in some way or another. The virtue Justice is something that we as humans need. It is a check on ourselves. How do we use Justice in our lives? Justice is a balance between being selfish and selfless. There is a happy balance in the middle. It is very hard to walk this thin line in our daily lives.
Charity and Justice can be used synonymously. Are you charitable to others when everything is going their way? There are days when we wonder why did I not get what I wanted and the other person did. I told you that I had been busy. One of the things that happened this past week was our daughter did not get into a college that she picked as her top choice. Looking at her transcript and her community involvement it made no sense that she did not get into this college. So we all wanted to scream, “This is not fair!” Eating humble pie is very hard. It is one of the hardest things to do when things do not go your way. Even harder is being happy for those who have made it to a goal that you yearned for and have failed.
What should we do? How can we practice Charity or Justice when these things slap us in the face? First we should be firm with ourselves. We should not fall in the face of adversity but straighten our backbones and persevere. I believe everything happens for the good of all even if we do not get everything we want. This helps us practice humility and patience. We need to remain truthful and upright and be cautious not to slander others who have reached a goal that we so desperately wanted. We need to pray with gratitude the ability to run this race of life. Until you draw your last breath, the race is on. Embrace these times of hardship. These are the times you learn exponentially. They help you become a stronger, more faithful, and a virtuous person.
Think about a time when things didn’t go the way you wished. It may have been a job promotion or position on a sports team that you didn’t get. Did you handle it with Justice and Charity? I know many times in my life I did not. Thanks be to God I am still learning how to be a virtuous person. I hope the next time you and I are faced with a tough situation, we choose to be charitable and act out of Justice. Dry your eyes and blow those noses. Today is a new day and we have living to do!
Sal the Stiff Upper Lip Gal
Sarah Anderson Alley
Quotes of the day:
Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.
MLK Jr
Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.
Fredrick Douglass
Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triump.
Haile Selassie

Prudence

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Welcome students to day fourteen! Our last assignment was to have mercy on people who are hard to deal with. I hope you had some success. If you didn’t, you need to keep trying. In the next lessons we are going to get a tune up on our hearts. In order for us to put good out into the world, we have to have strong hearts.
What makes a strong heart? Or what makes a heart strong? Our hearts drive our actions. We want to have good actions. I know we have cleaned out a lot of clutter in just 14 days but we still have work to do. Are you a virtuous person? I know the back row was asking what is virtuous? Being virtuous, is what being a Christian is all about. It is what God wants us to be. We have to be morally sound. We have to practice our morals and put them into action that is what being virtuous is.
First virtue we are going to work on is Prudence. Back row I know you are scratching your heads because Prudence is an odd word. Prudence is the cornerstone to all the other virtues. If you do not have Prudence it will be hard to practice and put in place the other virtues. Do you have the ability to choose the correct course of action? Everyday we are given choices. Do we choose the best course of action? Do we show patience when we’re dealing with those spiteful people? What about showing wisdom and not being ensnared into an argument? Do we choose the courage to walk away from a bad situation? You see Prudence is very important. It is being able to discern the best course of action.
How do we master this virtue? Just like everything else it takes practice. It takes studying. The best way for me to find answers is through scriptures. Each day read something from the Bible. If you do a daily devotion, that is based on a Bible verse. Look at Philippians 4: 8&9
8 Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.
These verses tell us to fill our minds with things that are good and pure. Have you ever heard of “garbage in garbage out?” If you fill your minds with bad things then your mind will think bad things. It’s a slippery slope. Next you will be acting in bad ways. Back row you know the things I’m talking about: violent video games and pornography. These are two that we need to guard our minds against. It’s very hard to do so in a culture that has become so lax. Remember we need to make a change and this is the way to do it. We need to live moral lives. Today’s homework is to take inventory of your minds. Is there something you should cut out? Are there things you need to protect your children from seeing? What “garbage” is getting through the filter to your mind? What media is unhealthy? For the last 26 days of our adventure, try to fill your mind and senses with positive images, music, and media. Let’s see if you gain Prudence.
Sal the Prudent Gal
Sarah Anderson Alley
Quotes of the day:
Affairs are easier of entrance than of exit; and it is but common prudence to see our way out before we venture in.
Aesop
Prudence does not mean failing to accept responsibilities and postponing decisions; it means being committed to making joint decisions after pondering responsibly the road to be taken.
Pope Benedict XVI
You must rouse into people’s consciousness their own prudence and strength, if you want to raise their character.
Luc de Clapiers

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

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Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! People all over the world celebrate this day. Students do you know where the holiday has its roots? That’s right front row the Roman Catholic faith. Catholics believe in the communion of saints. That is that some people have lived holy lives and are canonized as saints. We believe these people are in heaven. So today is the feast day of Saint Patrick. He is the patron saint of Ireland although he wasn’t Irish. He was Scottish. He was captured and enslaved from ages 16 to 22. He escaped to France and became a Catholic. He vowed to return to Ireland convert it to Catholicism. He was successful. He established many monasteries, churches, and schools. There are many legends surrounding Saint Patrick. My favorite is that he used the shamrock to explain the trinity. He died on March 17, 461. Students this may be an extra credit question on our final exam!
Today our readings were about the covenant of Abraham and the promise of his people outnumbering the stars. This makes me remember using the book by Lois Lowery Number the Stars as an English teacher. The gospel reading was about the transfiguration of Jesus when he went to pray on the mountain. It makes me think of the old Ten Commandments movie. Moses (Charlton Heston) came down from Mt. Sinai looking like he stuck his finger in a light socket. Boy, he was transfigured! This makes chuckle.
First let’s look at the promise to Abraham. Do you realize that even though many of us are not descendents of Hebrew ethnicity, we are a part of God’s holy family through Jesus Christ. If you look at the covenant to Abraham like this it’s easy to see that yes we are also his posterity or future children. The price paid by Jesus was not only for the Jewish people but also the Gentiles and all humans. We are family! All 7.53 billion of us.
Think about transfiguration. When you are transfigured, you are changed. Students, this is exactly what we want to do with our 40 days before Easter. Remember? We wanted to rend our hearts. We wanted to clear the clutter. I think we are on our way to doing so. Every homework assignment we complete, we will transfigure our hearts. This is our second Sunday of Lent. We have four more weeks to go and a lot of transfiguration yet to accomplish. Thank you for walking with me as I roll through these forty days with you. Here are a few reflection questions as we move into our next week together:
Are you finding God?
Are you feeling like your heart is lighter?
Are you happier?
Have a great St. Patrick’s Day!
Sal the Transfiguring Gal
Sarah Anderson Alley
Dedicated to:
Brenda Darby Reed my cousin who was born on St. Patrick’s Day. She’s celebrating in heaven this year.
Quote of the day:
Christ beside me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ within me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me.
Saint Patrick

Grand Time!

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This weekend I’ve been having a grand time! I have enjoyed my family and especially my grandchildren. March is also a busy time for me because I love college basketball. When basketball games are on, we watch as a family. This is one of the reasons students that my blog is late. But have no fear I will catch up.

The readings today filled me with joy. I felt very special. God has chosen us to be his holy people. He has chosen to give us life to the fullest and weekends with my family and grandchildren make me feel that promise has been fulfilled. God really wants us to be happy I know I’ve said this over and over but I want you to believe it. Remember I told you to take a field trip this weekend. I said that field trip could be to church or just spend moments to yourself or with your family. I hope that you plan to do this.

This weekend think about what is keeping you from being happy. What is keeping you from spending precious time with your families? Are you completing your homework? There is a God and he is on your side. Whom shall we fear? I want you to look at these Bible verses from Paul to the Romans:
Scripture Romans 8:35-39
What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? As it is written: / “For your sake we are being slain all the day; / we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered.” / No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord

You see students, we are loved. Nothing can separate us from this great love and the gifts that God wants for us is this life and also after this life. These forty days we are going to unwrap this beautiful gift. Homework? Love your family.

Sal the Trust God Gal
Sarah Anderson Alley

Quotes of the day:
“Love is like the wind oh, you can’t see it but you can feel it.”
Nicholas Sparks

“No matter what has happened to you in the past or what is going on in your life right now, it has no power to keep you from having an amazingly good future if you will walk by faith in God. God loves you! He wants you to live with victory over sin so you can possess His promises for your life today!”
Joyce Meyer

“The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.”
Billy Graham

Are you a Jonah?

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Only 32 more days to go in our adventure! Did you do your homework? Are you still working on it today? If you are that’s totally fine. Don’t forget the other tasks that go with this unit: healthy choices, not judging others, pray for those that you have negative thoughts about, avoiding temptation, and having a forgiving heart. Can you imagine how much good will be put into the world after these 40 days?

Today’s lesson will start with a question. Does the world need a change? Think about this. I have been reading a lot lately. One of the readings suggests that the world has outgrown the need for Christianity or any religious beliefs. It really makes you think.

In my devotional this morning, I read about Jonah and the Ninavites. Students, I’m sure you all remember the story of Jonah. How he was running from God and was swallowed by whale. Remember?He heard God’s voice tell him that he should go and give the warning of repentance to the Ninavites. Jonah said, “No way Yaweh!” You see students, the Ninavites hated the Israelites. Jonah knew if he went that it would be a sure death for him. The Ninavites were partying like it was 1999. They had several gods that they worshipped and were having a fine time doing they whatever they wanted without consequences. Jonah knew if he came in and blew the whistle on this big party that they would rise up and pummel him. After three days in the belly of a big fish, he decided what the heck? I need to just go and face the music. On his way into the village he started his mission by telling those he met on the way to repent their sins and worship the one true God or all of Nineveh would be destroyed. To Jonah’s surprise by the time he reached the city even the king had had a change of heart. God poured his Mercy out for the Ninavites. Jonah was baffled. God reasoned that many of the Ninavites did not know right from wrong and gave them a chance to change their wicked ways. Does this sound familiar? Let’s add a little geography to this lesson. Nineveh is in modern day Iraq. At one time in history it was a very bustling, modern city. The culture there still celebrates Jonah’s three days in the belly of the whale by fasting.

Back to our question, does the world need a change like Nineveh? Think of all the atrocities that we see in our world: child pronography, human trafficking, drug addictions, children abandoned, neglected, exploited, and used, broken families, selfishness and materialistic worship, rampant ignorance, hate of education, governments that do not put the people first but the interest of the elite, corporate giants, prejudice of immigrants, and divisions of communities over issues that should be thought of for the greater good of humanity. I could keep going but I think you get the message. The world definitely needs a change in my opinion. How do we do it? It seems so overwhelming looking at the hurt and pain it our societies and cultures. On my mantle, I have a plaque that says, “If you want to change the world go home and love your family.” (Mother Teresa) ln my kitchen window, I have a small plaque that says do small things with big love. (St. Teresa of Alvia) I also have a plaque that I put out that says isn’t it great that we need not waste one more moment to make the world a better place. (Anne Frank) You may think that I am a little nutty, but I surround myself with reminders of what we need to do to make the world a better place. I feel called to this mission. I can’t peruse the internet or Pinterest without finding myself re-directed to a way to put more good into the world. I saw some light bulbs coming on in the back row. Yes, this blog is one of them. I physically may not be able to teach very long anymore but God has given me a platform. Back row I will forgive you for that comment about Nineveh being just a lotion and what is the big deal. 🙂

I am on a roll. So let’s go a little deeper. What if everyone took care their family? What if we did just one small act of love each day? What if we all wanted a change? I understand many people and their arguments against religion or Christianity in particular. But the very basis of my religion, Catholic Christianity, is so simple. It is a life steeped in loving and caring for others. It’s just a quiet Love of all. That means loving the good, the bad, and the ugly. I never said it was easy. I just say that it’s simple in theory. Being a Christian is a very hard job. Remember Jonah? He ran. I do too sometimes. But eventually I come back to what is the right thing to do in any given situation. That’s right back row, love others as you would love yourselves.

Now the whole argument about is there a God? I have to say yes. I know that many will say bah humbug! Look at the list of atrocities in the world. How could there be a God that allows such horrible things to happen? Well students, He created us for good. He created us to be holy. How holy is the human race acting? Not very. It’s like blaming the teacher that you don’t learn anything when you never listen or do your homework. Students we have homework to do in this world. If we all do our part, we can change the world. I believe this. Do we have to be perfect? No, never. We are human, but we can try to do good things each day to create a better world. Of course we have homework back row, I’m still breathing aren’t I? Here it is. Think of one small the thing you can do to make the world a better place. Now, do it! Don’t be a Jonah and run!

Sal the Change the World Gal
Sarah Anderson Alley

Quotes of the day:

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.
Ghandi

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.
Harriet Tubman

A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.
Margaret Mead

Help young people. Help small guys. Because small guys will be big. Young people will have the seeds you bury in their minds, and when they grow up, they will change the world.
Jack Ma
You are educated. Your certification is in your degree. You may think of it as the ticket to the good life. Let me ask you to think of an alternative. Think of it as your ticket to change the world.
Tom Brokaw

I realized if you can change a classroom, you can change a community, and if you change enough communities you can change the world.
Erin Gruwell

No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.
Robin Williams
Please

Forgive

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Students, welcome to day 7 of our adventure. I hope you are figuring out who you are. I hope you are trying to be the best you you could possibly be. All of our assignments are designed to help us. Yesterday you had to think of five things that you like and five things that you don’t like. Back row I know you think that this is a silly assignment but in order to know who you are you have to know what you like and what you don’t like.
Let’s use me as a guinea pig. I like honesty, loyalty, humility, patience, and understanding. Now if you want to know what I don’t like did just think of the opposites of the five that I just listed. Help me out. What’s the opposite of honesty? What about loyalty? Now just do the same with patience, humility, and understanding. I know the back row is grumbling. Yes, it’s okay to like things like fast cars and fancy houses but I want to make the world a better place. I want to have a clean heart. If I clutter my heart with acquiring materialistic objects then I will not have room for the things that really matter. We’ve all done this. Thinking if I could just have the right clothes or the right car oh, I’ll be so happy.I would like myself because everybody else will like me too. This is where as humans we are tricked in today’s culture. Be careful. Think about it like this do you think more people will like you if you have fancy clothes or if you are just honest and true and dependable? You see where I’m going with this. Yes back row I will give you another chance to make a better list.
Today’s readings contained The Lord’s Prayer. This will teach us a lot about today’s lesson. What are the things that stick out in The Lord’s Prayer? Let’s look at Matthew 6:7-15. Get those highlighters out.
Jesus said to his disciples: “In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
“This is how you are to pray: / Our Father who art in heaven, / hallowed be thy name, / thy Kingdom come, /thy will be done, / on earth as it is in heaven. / Give us this day our daily bread; / and forgive us our trespasses, / as we forgive those who trespass against us; / and lead us not into temptation, / but deliver us from evil.
“If you forgive men their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”
The biggest or most important part of this I believe is that we have to forgive others. When we forgive others we are also forgiven. We are then giving peace and inturn we are receiving peace. What happens if we don’t forgive? Well, then God will not forgive us. Remember the list of things that I like? The opposite of honesty is someone who tells lies. How does it feel when someone lies to you? That’s right you get mad and you are filled with anger. Your feelings are hurt. You start plotting your revenge. After reading the Lord’s prayer, we know we have to forgive. The hurt and anger should lead us to prayer. A prayer for ourselves to be able to deal with the hurt and anger. A prayer for the person that hurt us. That means we cannot hold grudges. We have to learn to forgive despite all of the anger and hurt that we feel. This is so hard. Front row you are so smart. That’s right our homework today is to think of someone that we need to forgive. It could be a parent, a son or daughter, a sibling, or a friend. It may even be yourself. I find forgiving myself is one of the hardest things to do. Probably the hardest thing of all is admitting that you have done something wrong and need to reconcile with that person. Asking for forgiveness is one of the greatest lessons in humility. Your heart will be very glad you did. There’s no better time than now to forgive. So what are you waiting for?
Sal the Forgiving Gal
Sarah Anderson Alley
Quotes of the day:
We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.
Martin Luther King Jr.
Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.
Bruce Lee
The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.
Ghandi