Have you ever asked someone for help, and the person you asked assuredly replied, “Sure, I’ll help.” As the days pass, that person never gets around to helping. You are afraid to ask again, because you do not want to be so pushy, especially towards someone who agreed to do you a favor. After waiting for even longer, you realize that the person is never going to help, or perhaps, he or she never did plan on helping in the first place, but simply said, “Sure. I’ll help,” not to disappoint you. The truth is, such a strategy is actually more disappointing than saying, “Sorry. I don’t have time, but maybe you could try asking so-and-so.” This is a far better approach than leaving someone hanging in the dark. Honesty is the best policy. Be direct. In the long run, it is better for both sides. I believe God also wants this, to be honest, especially to those who come to us for something. Keep it in mind, because it is bound to happen any time soon.
God wants us to be free. He not only wants us to be free from sin, but also free to do the right thing and make the right choice. Freedom is a beautiful thing and has traditionally be valued greatly by many different peoples from around the world. There is something more immediately threatening to our freedom, however, than any dictator, and that is our own addictions. Addictions to drinking and smoking are the most obvious, but perhaps more prevalent ones in our modern society include addictions to always thinking one is right, lying to look good in front of others, littering in the streets, worrying, yelling, talking rather than listening, being negative, shopping, video games, surfing the internet, pornography, looking at oneself in the mirror each time a mirror is available, and numerous others. Believe it or not, these addictions harm our relationships with our family and friends, they harm our physical and mental health, and they prevent us from having a more intimate relationship with God. When we are free from addictions and free to make the right choices, we are more able to help those around us, including our family. friends, neighbors, community, environment, and coworkers. We are not focused simply on what we feel like doing, but doing what is right, even if it hurts and makes us look silly in front of others; and better yet, we have the control and power to follow God’s will, make virtuous sacrifices, and rise to the level of Sainthood if we weed out these addictions from our life.
I think the best way to start becoming free is to do a self-examination. Sit down and pray. Ask God to show you what areas of your life need improvement. Perhaps there are bad tendencies that you are addicted to that you do not even realize, such as talking about negative topics all the time or gossiping. It is most important to remove the worst addiction as soon as possible. Such include smoking, drugs, drinking, adultery, masturbation, stealing, and murder. Realize that if you have been addicted to such things for many years, it may take that many years to overcome them, and overcoming them is definitely possible, as human beings have free will. Pray. Fight. Don’t quit. You may lose battles, but with the help us Jesus, you will win the war.
After conquering those extremely serious addictions, start to work on the apparently smaller ones, such as worrying or not listening to what others are saying. Actively seek to remove these addictions by doing your part, such as reading about them, talking to family members about them, praying, going to Mass, going to Confession, exercising, eating healthy, and don’t forget, giving God time and allowing Him to work. His work is actually greater than anything you could possibly do, though he does ask for your participation.
Seek to remove addictions from your life in order to exercise that God-given free will bestowed upon you to do great things.
Chinese Valentine’s Day called “Qixi” (pronounced “Chee Shee”) just passed a day ago. It always strikes me how so many people believe that there is something downright wrong with being single. Being single is one of the most important times in the life of any person who is trying to dedicate his or her life for God. Now that I am married, I look at my single life playing a crucial role in setting the foundations for how I would conduct my married life. While I was single, I had a lot of free time and was able to do a lot of things that helped shape who I am today. I played a lot of sports and games. I prayed a lot and read a lot of spiritual material. I traveled to 8 countries outside the United States. Through these experiences, I acquired a vast wealth of knowledge and wisdom which I am now using to protect and nurture my family to be a strong, loving unit. I am thankful for the time I had to be single, because it gave me the opportunity to prepare well to live my vocation to the married life to the fullest. No one starts working without learning a few things about the job first. No one starts playing a sport without practicing the fundamentals and learning the rules. Everything requires preparation in order to do it well. For those called to be married, the single life is not the time to do whatever you feel like. It is a blessing from God and deserves to be treated as such. The single life is your time to learn, grow, and become stronger physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. Do this, and after you get married, you will be grateful.
 Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one — I am talking like a madman — with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death.
 Five times I have received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one.
 Three times I have been beaten with rods; once I was stoned. Three times I have been shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been adrift at sea;
 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brethren;
 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.
 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure upon me of my anxiety for all the churches.
 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?
If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.
 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed for ever, knows that I do not lie.
 At Damascus, the governor under King Ar’etas guarded the city of Damascus in order to seize me,
 but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped his hands.
but dismay to evildoers.