Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!


I want to share a (not so secret) secret with you about how to have a great 2009, and I say this from personal experience:

Knowing, loving and serving God is what will bring peace, love and joy to your life, even through the tough times.

Yes, it's true! That is what you were ultimately created for and that is where your fulfillment can be found.

We each have a unique path to walk, which won't always be smooth, but we all have the same destination—heaven. Seek (as we all do!), put in the effort required, and ye shall find!

For 2009, and always, I truly want everyone to know and experience the freedom and joy that life will bring when you live with God in your heart. That is why I share these articles, quotes and some of my thoughts on this blog.

May you all have a very blessed new year. I will be praying for you!


Here is a fun new year post from Matthew Warner that you should go check out, too.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Placid North Dakota Asks, Recession? What Recession?

Here is a great article from the NY Times about our North Dakota economy.

I love North Dakota and my home town of Bismarck. Even as we are buried under several feet of snow right now, and it doesn't seem to be stopping ... ever! : ) It's a great place to live, it's home.

I like and agree with what the last sentence of the article says:

“North Dakota never gets as good as the rest of the country or as bad as the rest of the country, and that’s fine with us.”

Monday, December 29, 2008

The blessing of children


I really like this blog post by Matthew Warner about how children are a true blessing in life, not a burden as so many people think.

Children are created by God and given to parents as gifts. The best gifts anyone can receive ... natural or adopted.

Everyone should listen to Janet Smith's talk that Matthew quotes from, it's excellent!

Another child returned home this Christmas, alleluia!

Here is a great article from The Curt Jester about an atheist who has found the truth and proclaimed on Dec. 22nd on his blog: "TODAY I DEDICATE THIS SITE AND MY LIFE TO THE WORSHIP AND SERVICE OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST."

His blog name has now changed from "The Raving Atheist" to "The Raving Theist" and this one blog post has generated over 400 comments from outrageous anger and hatred to heartfelt and loving welcomes home.

I am among those that feel great joy for Jeremy coming home to a life lived with peace in Christ. The Christian life is not always easy, but it is always wonderful!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Marriage in the Church

From The Beauty of Marriage Today
By Robert Colquhoun
tob.catholicexchange.com


Tertullian beautifully described the beauty of marriage in the Church. He wrote,

How can I ever express the happiness of the marriage that is joined together by the Church, strengthened by an offering, sealed by a blessing, announced by Angels and ratified by the father… They are both brethren and both fellow servants; there is no separation between them in spirit or flesh. Christ rejoices in them and he sends his peace; where the couple is, there he is also to be found. (Ad Uxorem)


If we are captivated by the beauty and pleasure of God’s way, refusing the counterfeits of this world, we see the goodness and beauty of marriage as fulfilling and creative.

The most essential components of a Catholic marriage are that it is free, faithful, total and fruitful. The rights and duties of marriage bring responsibility and stability to counteract the pragmatism and hedonism of our age. As the family is written into the constitution of most of the world’s countries, it is clear that God put in men and women the vocation, capacity and responsibility of love and communion. Life and freedom are inextricably linked to the freedom to love.


This is an excerpt from this article that I liked. The rest of the article is worth a read as well.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Very Merry and Blessed Christmas to All


Rejoice! Christ is born for us today.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Nothing Is Impossible with God

By Monsignor Dennis Clark, Ph.D.
catholicexchange.com


Three men were pacing nervously outside the delivery room at a hospital when the head nurse cam out beaming. To the first she said, “Congratulations, sir, you are the father of twins.”

“Terrific!” said the man, “I just signed a contract with the Minnesota Twins and this’ll be great press.”

To the second man the nurse said, “Congratulations to you too. You are the father of healthy triplets!”

“Fantastic!” he said. “I’m the vice-president of 3-M Company. This’ll be great P.R.!”

At that point the third man turned ashen and ran for the door. “What’s wrong, sir? Where are you going?” called the nurse.

As he jumped into his car, the man shouted, “I’m dashing to my office to resign. I’m the president of 7-UP!”

+ + +

Run for the hills! This can’t be!

That’s exactly what Mary was feeling as she listened to the angel spell out what God wanted of her: “Virgin birth?! Are you crazy? Who’s going to believe that? I’ll be stoned to death as soon as the neighbors see I’m pregnant! Dear God, what are you asking of me?”

We know the feeling: “Dear God, what are you asking of me? How can I make a life out of this pile of junk you’ve given me? How am I going to survive till the end of the year — till the end of the week? How am I ever going to make a silk purse, when I don’t even have a sow’s ear? It’s impossible, absolutely impossible!”

We’ve felt that and said that often enough. But it isn’t true, as Mary showed us: Her whole being was so profoundly open to the Spirit that God filled her entirely with His own life and Jesus our Savior was conceived in her womb — the impossible happened.

So it can be with us who are daunted by life’s “impossibilities.” The key, as Mary learned, is not trying to do it all by ourselves: Working alone is a recipe for failure. The key to doing the impossible is learning how to let God in and let God lead; learning how to listen to Him and to see the world through his eyes; learning with His help to re-imagine our lives and to sing the words of a new song; learning from Him how to grow our minds and our hearts very large.

With God as our mentor and guide, our wisdom, our courage and our strength, with God as our partner, nothing is impossible. What a tragedy it would be to languish forever in a world of small hearts and tiny visions, a world of impossibilities. The choice is ours! And God is listening for our “Yes,” just as He listened for Mary’s. He is ready a waiting to fill us very, very full!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel



I love this song and always have, though, I didn't know why in the past. Now I know it's because God was talking to me through a song all about his son, Jesus Christ, who is Emmanuel—"God is with us."

I get chills when I hear a good performance of this song.

We have a married couple at my parish who sing together for Mass when it's their turn in the schedule. They sing and harmonize so beautifully that I usually end up with tears in my eyes. I pray that I get to hear them sing this song before the season is over.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Quote of the Day: True Friendship

From Matthew Warner
fallibleblogma.com


“True friendship ought never to conceal what it thinks.” - St. Jerome


It seems there is a lot of truth to this.

I guess a true friendship would be one based on truth. The more we conceal from each other, the less truth the other person knows about us.

And besides, if we can’t trust our true friends to tell us what they really think, then who can we trust to do so?

Anyone else agree or disagree with this quote?



Oh, how timely this blog post and quote have appeared in my life. Hello, Holy Spirit! : )

Sunday, December 14, 2008

He Wants You to Learn to Fly

By Monsignor Dennis Clark, Ph.D.
catholicexchange.com

Is 61:1-11 & Jn 1:6-8, 19-28

There was an expert on Monarch butterflies who’d been observing them for years. Time and again he’d seen them struggle for hours and days to break free from their hard chrysalis so they could stretch their wings and fly. It seemed like such a useless and painful waste of energy, so the expert decided to give one of the new butterflies a little help. With greatest care he cut the chrysalis open so the butterfly could just hop out and fly away. But that didn’t happen. Instead, the little creature just lay there on the ground awhile, fluttered its wings weakly, and then died.

That butterfly never got to fly because its wings had no strength — strength which could only be won in the painful struggle to break free from the cocoon.

None of us is a stranger to struggle and pain or to the darkness that often accompanies them. Our hearts get broken, our bodies betray us, our minds are often tortured. From our first breath to our last, the struggle never ends. All that changes are its shapes.

So what are we to do with this uninvited guest who keeps showing up in our lives? Our first temptation is to run away — a good, quick sprint to the next county, or maybe just a closing of the eyes that denies there’s any problem here. It’s quick and easy, but it doesn’t work.

Neither does that other form of running from hard reality: Bitterness and self-pity, which leave us in misery at life’s starting gate, stealing the growth and joy that always lie hidden beneath our pain.

As any butterfly could tell us, the only real option we have in the face of life’s over-sized challenges, pains and sufferings is to look them in the eye, take their measure, and walk through them — not around them — through them, one step at a time.

For it is precisely in the process of struggling and not running away that we almost accidentally discover what is best in us and then we grow it. We find we’re made to fly. And as our struggles continue, our wings stretch and strengthen without our even noticing it.

Something else happens as we hold to course and refuse to turn away: Just as what is most true in us rises to the surface and grows, what is false and of no use slowly falls away and is part of us no longer.

To each of us God has given different assignments, and for each of us the struggles will be different too. But for all of us, they will be utterly beyond our doing, beyond our enduring unless we hold tightly to God. With him nothing is beyond us, nothing is too terrible to be faced.

So take his hand. Step out of the darkness and into his light. You are going to learn how to fly!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Secret Millionaire

On the internet, I just watched the first episode of the new Fox series called Secret Millionaire.

I saw a preview for this show one night and it made me curious so I wrote myself a note to check it out when I had some time. Since we are having one of our infamous North Dakota blizzards right now (snow, wind, -2 actual temperature with -35 wind chill, brrrrr) what better time to wrap up in a blanket and watch TV...on my computer. : ) It's a reality show, but it actually seems like it could be pretty good. At least this first episode was good, and I will probably watch some more of them.

It's about millionaires that give up all of their comforts and possessions and go undercover as poverty stricken people for one week. They meet and get to know people that are actually living lives of poverty and struggle, experience what their world is like and at the end of the week give away at least $100,000 of their own money to those they feel are most in need.

The first episode follows a multi-millionaire father who owns a law firm and his 22 year old pampered son. They have quite an emotional experience during their week of poverty and help some great people.

My question now is did they allow this experience to change them for good? Did they change the way they are living their lives by continuing to do good for others in need once they got back home to their comfort and security? I hope so! I would like to see them do follow-ups with the millionaires and show if more good has come from these experiences.

Check out the show if you are interested. It takes about 45 mins. to watch an episode online.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Advent Friday Fun

Warning: Advent Virus

Be on the alert for symptoms of inner Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. The hearts of a great many have already been exposed to this virus and its possible that people everywhere could come down with it in epidemic proportions. This could pose a serious threat to what has up to now been a fairly stable condition of conflict in the world.

Some signs and symptoms of the advent virus:

A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than on fears based on past experiences

An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment

A loss of interest in judging other people

A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others

A loss of interest in conflict

A loss of the ability to worry (this is a very serious symptom)

Frequent, overwhelming episodes of appreciation

Contented feelings of connectedness with others and nature

Frequent attacks of smiling

An increasing tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen

An increased susceptibility to the love extended by others as well as the uncontrollable urge to extend it

Please send this warning out to all your friends. This virus can and has affected many systems. Some systems have been completely cleaned out because of it.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What I loved about Christmas was Christ

By Jennifer F.
Conversion Diary blog

When I was an atheist, Christmas was my favorite time of year.

The huge haul of top-of-the-line gifts stuffed under the tree each year (the spoils of being an only child) certainly helped my enjoyment of the season. But that actually wasn't the most important thing to me. There was something else, something that stirred my soul more than any number of boxes wrapped with shiny paper ever could. I could never quite put my finger on what it was, but I sensed it every year when December rolled around.

There was a change that came over my family, my neighborhood, my town, and even my whole country in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Things weren't perfect, but they were better. And better in a certain way.

Kitchens that were normally empty, only waystations for frantic parents to rush home from work in time to pick up the children for private tutoring or soccer practice or violin lessons, were suddenly filled with laughter and the smells of apple cider and baked goods. School was out, lessons and sports were on hiatus, workloads were lighter, and kids leaned on the counter and chatted with their parents as they cooked dinners from the old family recipe book.

Neighborhood folks who usually offered little more than a terse smile and a half wave opened their homes for Christmas parties, showering neighbors with the warm welcomes, relaxed conversation and even some homemade cookies.

Airports were filled with the sounds of high-pitched greetings of loved-ones who hadn't hugged one another in months or years; highways were dotted with cars jammed with luggage and presents, families driving for hours and hours just to be in the same room with the people they loved on Christmas morning.

Workplaces normally filled with politics and stress came together to adopt families in need; miserly curmudgeons uncharacteristically slipped a couple bucks into the Salvation Army bucket; longstanding grudges were more likely to be forgiven; people seemed to spend more time thinking about others than about themselves.

When people would ask why my family loved Christmas even though we weren't Christians, these are the images we'd point to.

We'd explain that the kindness, togetherness and love that permeated the holiday season were what made it magical for us. "You don't have to be burdened by religious superstition to appreciate love, kindness and goodwill toward men," the thinking went. For us, Christmas was a season of love, and that's what we were celebrating.

What we didn't understand, however, is that we weren't as different from the Christians as we thought we were. We atheists celebrated peace, love and goodness; our Christian neighbors celebrated the One who is Peace, Love and Goodness itself.

Later in life I would come to see that the love I sensed back then seemed so palpable, so real, because it was real, and it was bigger than I could have ever imagined; I would come to understand that wherever I sensed love I sensed God, because he is pure, perfect Love; I would come to know the shocking truth that God became a man to walk with us, to suffer with us, to suffer for us, and that his coming into this world was the coming of Love itself.

It was only then that I could see that the warmth and beauty I sensed all around me in those cold December nights was not something, but Someone. Whenever someone feels love, they feel God -- even if, like me for so long, they don't even know he's there. That's why I see now that what I loved about Christmas all along, even when I was an atheist, was Christ.



"Whenever someone feels love, they feel God -- even if, like me for so long, they don't even know he's there."

All I can say is AMEN!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Demographic Winter: The Decline of the Human Family



This looks like it could be a very interesting documentary.

You can get more information or buy the DVD at the website.

If anyone buys the DVD, can I borrow it, please? : )

Come Pray the Rosary


Here is a nice site for praying the Rosary. You can pray individually or join in with others from around the world that are praying at the same time. What a great idea!

Thanks for the link, Fr. Ken.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

40 Days for Life video update


Prayer does work! No hatred, no violence, no anger needed, just peace, love and prayer.

There is also a video about the Fargo 40 Days for Life campaign. It is 39 mins. long but worth the time to watch.

Why Catholic?

Do you have questions about the Catholic Church?

Like, why do Catholics believe the things that they do? What are these "Sacraments" that I hear about? What's with all of the kneeling and standing during Mass? And why is it called a Mass instead of a service? Why is the Blessed Virgin Mary such a big deal to Catholics? Why can't I take part in communion at Mass if I'm not Catholic? Why dip your fingers in water and cross yourself?...

If you have ever had these or any other questions about the Catholic faith now is your chance to get them answered. Fr. Ken Phillips at the Church of Christ the King in Mandan will be holding his Inquiry Classes again, starting in January. This is your opportunity to learn about and better understand the teachings of the Catholic Church and get your questions answered directly by a priest. Whatever you question go ahead and ask, he can take it! That's what he is there for. It is a relaxed and fun way to get insight into some pretty amazing things.

Don't worry, if you aren't from the area or can't make it to the classes, Fr. Ken has recorded them so you can buy a DVD and go through the lessons one by one on your own time. How great is that?

I can't recommend these classes enough since this is how God worked to bring me home to the Catholic Church. You have to believe that I think very highly of the information presented in the lessons! : )

If you feel any kind of inkling inside of you about any of this, that is God talking to you and you need to listen. It's as easy as clicking on the link above and getting signed up for the classes. Go ahead, you have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain!

Why Jesus is Better than Santa


I thought this was a good meditation for kids (and adults) during this Advent season.

Santa lives at the North Pole.

JESUS is everywhere.

Santa rides in a sleigh

JESUS rides on the wind and walks on the water.

Santa comes but once a year

JESUS is an ever-present help.

Santa fills your stockings with goodies

JESUS supplies all your needs.

Santa comes down your chimney

JESUS stands at your door and knocks... and then enters your heart.

You have to stand in line to see Santa

JESUS is as close as the mention of His name.

Santa lets you sit on his lap

JESUS lets you rest in His arms.

Santa doesn't know your name, all he can say is "Hi little boy or girl, what's your name?"

JESUS knew your name before you were born. Not only does He know your name, He knows your history and future. He even knows how many hairs are on your head.

Santa has a belly like a bowl full of jelly

JESUS has a heart full of love.

All Santa can offer is HO HO HO

JESUS offers health, help and hope.

Santa says, "You better not cry"

JESUS says "Cast all your cares on me for I love you."

Santa's little helpers make toys

JESUS makes new life, mends wounded hearts, repairs broken homes and builds mountains.

Santa may make you chuckle but

JESUS gives you joy that is your strength.

While Santa puts gifts under your tree

JESUS became our gift and died on the tree.

It's obvious there is really no comparison.

We need to remember WHO Christmas is all about.

We need to put Christ back in CHRISTmas.

Jesus is still the reason for the season.

Inauguration day Mass intention

Here is a great idea from an email I received. I would like to add that you should pray for this intention in your daily prayers as well.

If you are like me, you have felt somewhat concerned about the results of the election and the future of our country. I am sharing an idea in the hope that others will join me in doing one little thing that could help to change the course of history.

WHO: A few faithful Catholic lay people and priests. (Anyone can do this: stay-at-home moms, singles, retired people, students--anyone--and we can have a huge impact on our country's future.)

WHAT: Have a Mass said on Inauguration Day for our new President. It can be said for his conversion or, "That our new president will work to protect the dignity of each human life." Consider that St. Leonard of Port Maurice said that one Mass offered before death may be more profitable than many after it, and St. Anslem affirmed this.

WHEN: Tuesday, January 20, 2009—Inauguration Day

WHERE: Throughout our country in as many Catholic churches as possible. Share this idea with everyone!

WHY: Because offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for an intention is very powerful. (Please see my story below.)

HOW: Simply call your local parish and ask to reserve January 20th for your intention. If that day is already reserved, ask if the priest would add this intention. If not, you can offer it as your personal intention during Mass. Also consider having Masses offered at local hospitals, nursing homes, monasteries, etc. Consider retired priests who may be offering private Masses. There is no limit to how many Masses you can have offered on any given day.


But now, let me share the story behind this inspiration.

A young friend of ours owns a barbershop. One day a gentleman came in, interested in renting space from her, but he said that, as a Jew, he was offended by the crucifix that she had hanging there. They got into a long discussion/debate and when they parted she said, "You pray for me and I will pray for you." Later she shared this story with her family and her younger, teen-age sister decided to have a Mass offered for the intention of this man's conversion. Six months later the shop-owner was entering the cathedral and a gentleman who was leaving the church said, "Do you remember me? I had wanted to rent space from you. I am becoming a Catholic."

This story of one simple act inspired me and helped me to realize the profound impact of a Mass offered for the conversion of hearts.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Lessons from Geese

I just got this email from a co-worker and liked the lessons.

Fact 1:
As each goose flaps its wings, it creates uplift for the birds that follow. By flying in a "V" formation, the whole flock adds 71 percent greater flying range than if each bird flew alone.


Lesson 1:
People who share a common direction and a sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.


Fact 2:
When a goose fails out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone. It quickly moves back into the formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it.


Lesson 2:
If we have as much sense as a goose, we stay in formation with those headed where we want to go. We are willing to accept their help and give our help to others.


Fact 3:
When the lead goose tires, it rotates back into the formation, and another goose flies to the point position.


Lesson 3:
It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks and sharing leadership. As with geese, people are interdependent on each other's skills, capabilities, and unique arrangements of gifts, talents, or resources.


Fact 4:
The geese in formation honk to encourage those-up front to keep up their speed.


Lesson 4:
We need to make sure our honking is encouraging. In groups where there is encouragement, the production is much greater. The power of encouragement (to stand by one’s heart or core values and encourage the heart and core of others) is the quality of honking we seek.


Fact 5:
When a goose gets sick, wounded, or shot down, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help and protect it. They stay with it until it dies or is able to fly again. Then, they launch out with another formation or catch up with the flock.


Lesson 5:
If we have as much sense as geese, we will stand by each other in difficult times as well as when we are strong.


UPDATE: I just received an email from another co-worker about these lessons that made me laugh so I thought I would share that as well.

Here's a little trivia to go along with the good lessons:
Bicyclists copy the V formation to a T when they want to work together to go faster. In the cycling world (a.k.a. the land of crazy-colored Spandex), the formation is called a peloton. And a cyclist who drafts behind others in the peloton, but never takes their pull at the front is called a wheel-sucker and/or a poser.

Friday Fun (and CUTENESS!)

Here's an adorable email that I got from my mom this week. I added my own commentary to the photos, though. : )


Hey! Something doesn't seem quite right here?


What do you think?


OK, now that I'm free, let's PLAY!


Gotcha!


No, I got YOU!


What? You're done playing already!?


Alright, but I WIN!


*Smoooooch* Well, I guess I kinda like you...friend. *blush*

Sunday, November 30, 2008

As the Father loves me, so I have loved you

Divine Significance
By Kevin Whelan
catholicexchange.com

What attracts me most to the study of Theology of the Body is the sense that I am involved in something larger than myself. It catapults me far beyond “being good,” and makes me a key agent in Christ’s work of redeeming the world.

I start to see this everywhere in my life. The other day I was reading John 15: 9 “As the Father loves me, so I have loved you,” and I started wondering, “What if this were said about me?”

I’m not trying to redefine the meaning of this verse. The Church is the sole teacher of scripture and, so far, they’ve done a good job without my help. Nevertheless, there is within this passage a meditation on my fatherhood. From the Church, we know that this verse teaches us the Fatherhood of God, but the Catechism teaches that “The divine fatherhood is the source of human fatherhood.” (CCC 2214) Since my fatherhood comes from God, what happens when I apply this verse to me?

Just think about it. What happens (sometime in the future) when my sons and daughters say to their friends, colleagues, wives, parishes or children, “As my father loves me, so I love you?” Am I satisfied with that standard? Have I set the bar high enough? Do I approve of myself as a role model to teach them ‘how to love’ ?

Right here is where my body comes face-to-face with its Divine Significance. The combination of my physical presence and my divinely sourced fatherhood make me a physical presence of God to my children. I am His “incarnation” (e.g. making into flesh) to them. I make that which is invisible (e.g. God’s love) visible to them.

Before I get too far ahead of myself, I acknowledge that Jesus does these things perfectly and I don’t. That is a huge understatement. Nevertheless, through His redemption, I am able to reflect some aspects of His perfection. My vocation as father is one key way that I follow Jesus’ command to be Christ to others and to take up my cross. I can do this only because I have been redeemed in Christ.

A Father in the Flesh
My vocation is to make into flesh the Divine authority my fatherly office gives me. This is a God given responsibility. We still hear too often of fathers who want to be their children’s best friends. My children can get other people to be their friends; I am uniquely placed in their lives to be father. I am called to correct, teach, discipline, coach, encourage, motivate and praise. The proper exercise of my authority makes visible His invisible love.

I am not placed in my house as a divine-right despot. Mine is the authority of a servant. The Church teaches that authority is granted for service. We need only observe Jesus, our greatest Authority; He washed the feet of His Apostles. Just as our priests repeat this act in Church every Holy Thursday, I repeat it in my house (my domestic church). I wash the feet of every person in my house and no one washes mine, because there is no lower servant than me.

As I Love Them, So Will My Wife and Children Love
This whole concept shouts to us of the Divine Significance of our bodies. My body is made for action. Fatherhood is less about what I say and more about what I do. I have heard that the word love has only been considered an emotion in the last 100 years. Prior to that love was considered a verb, that is, an action. I’m not sufficiently literary to verify the truth of this concept, but it sure makes my decisions easier. I don’t have to ponder the depth of my emotions if I don’t “feel like” loving my children. All I need do is love them…that is to say, take action.

The Bible does not say, “Hear how these Christians love one another.” It doesn’t say, “Think about how these Christians love one another.” I can’t find where it says, “Feel how these Christians love one another.” Although the body is capable of these things, scripture only says, “See, how these Christians love one another.” I have to take an action for someone to see it. Of course, we need look no further than the cross when we look for an example of love as an action.

Because of the enormity of this Divine Significance, I take no more important action every day than to pray. Misuse of my fatherly office, because it comes from God, will have dramatic consequences both for me and those I serve. The key for me is to return to the source of the authority. I go to God daily, many times a day, asking that He grant me the grace to properly exercise this awesome authority. By relying on God to help me to love well I might someday enjoy hearing my children say, “As my father loves me, so I love you.”

The Way, the Truth, the Life!

By Mark Shea
catholicexchange.com

John 14:6

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.

One thing that puzzles many people about the Catholic faith is that the Church teaches, on the one hand, “Outside the Church, no salvation” while on the other hand holding out hope that any person of good will, visibly Christian or not, may well get to Heaven. How do we reconcile this apparent contradiction? Basically, we do it by remembering an old saying: “We know where the Church is, we do not know where it is not.” That is, we understand that the Church in union with the successors of the apostles and of Peter is the sacrament of salvation that Jesus has given the world. But we do not for a moment pretend that Jesus himself is somehow constrained to operate only through the visible Catholic Church. We are bound by the sacraments. God is not. Thus, God can be at work in the heart of any person who is attempting to act in truth and love. And as they do so, they are (through the Spirit of Christ) acting in a way that is in union (however imperfectly) with the Church. And so, any person, from any culture, religious background, or era, who gets to Heaven will get there for only one reason: because Jesus saved them even if they had no idea that it was Jesus who was doing it until they met him face-to-face on Judgment Day. But when they do recognize it, they will recognize as well that whatever label they applied to themselves here on earth, the deepest truth about them was that they were members of Jesus Christ and of his body, the Catholic Church. Knowing that Jesus is “The Way” should help us in pointing people to the answer to their problems.

Advent begins!


Thanks to The Curt Jester for the use of his Advent wreath!

Today is the start of the new liturgical year—(toot) HAPPY NEW YEAR! (toot)—and as Fr. Guthrie said in his homily, "it's a new beginning." We get to start fresh, begin anew.

Fr. Guthrie also pointed out how we (the Catholic Church) are "counter-cultural" because for us this time of year is Advent, not yet Christmas. We are preparing ourselves for the coming of Christ by cleansing and purifying our souls through the sacraments and spending quiet time in reflection and prayer. Yes, I said QUIET time. How much more counter-cultural can we get when the rest of the world is running around like crazed animals shopping, decorating, hosting and attending parties and going non-stop all day, every day?

It makes sense to me to take this time to slow down, prepare and focus on what's really important and then AFTER the birth of Christ we celebrate Christmas.

I challenge you to keep this season as simple, peaceful and joyful as you can. Don't go in debt to buy expensive presents that will be forgotten or unused in a couple of weeks time. Buy or make simple, inexpensive gifts from the heart and give as much help to your favorite charity(s) as you can. Those gifts will go further and do more for those you help than you will ever know and it will bring peace to your soul as well.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Friday Funny

Alaskan position open

Position:  Surveyor
Salary:  $200 per hour (tax-free)
Qualification:  Must be fast on your feet







Isn't it comforting to know that when you are about to become a bear's breakfast your buddy is standing there taking photos? 

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Eucharist!


Eucharist is the Greek word for thanksgiving.

Since the Mass is all about the Eucharist I thought I would share this Mass kit for kids that is coming out. It's so cute and could help foster some young vocations to the priesthood.

Click here for more information.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

Cool!

Check it out! My sister sent me the link to God's Yellow Pages. : )

This is actually a great resource when you are in need of a quick spiritual boost for whatever reason. Thank you to the person who designed this site.

We Can't Have the Hours Back, So Use them Well

Below is another great post from Jennifer's blog which is actually a guest post. A moving story that I felt compelled to share.



I originally "met" Jenny Reosti through an email shortly after her seven-year-old son died unexpectedly in 2007 of a condition called SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death in Epileptic Patients). Over the past year we have corresponded regularly, and I have been so touched and inspired by her faith in the face of tragedy that I asked her to do a guest post to share a bit of her wisdom and her son's story with all of you.


We Can't Have the Hours Back, So Use them Well
by Jenny Reosti

I feel that I owe it to my son to make some positive changes in my own life after his tragic death. I have spent a lot of time thinking about what God wants me to do and the message I have received is to spread the word. Tell others not only his story but let them know how precious each day is. There is a prayer I say with my children at the start of the day that has really hammered God's message in my head:

Lord, thank You for another day
within this life of mine.
Give me the strength to live it well,
whatever I may find.

Bestow from Your abundance
whatever I may lack.
To use the hours wisely,
for I cannot have them back.

Lord, thank You for another day,
in which to make amends
for little slights or petty words,
inflicted on my friends.

For sometimes losing patience
with problems that I find.
For seeing faults in other lives,
but not the ones in mine.

Lord, thank You for another chance,
in which to try to be
a little more deserving
of the gifts You've given me.

For yesterday is over,
and tomorrow's far away,
and I remain committed
to the good I do today!


Ben definitely lived his life to the fullest. He did all things whole-heartedly, whether going to Mass, playing with friends, or just pretending in his imaginary world. So many times each day, I will catch myself not appreciating all that God has bestowed upon me. I am working on enjoying the moment rather than planning for that perfect moment that may never happen.

The day Ben died was an ordinary Saturday, with the exception that the piano tuner was coming by to fix our piano. I remember wanting to have the house looking clean for when he came. I am forever grateful that I took the 15-20 minutes to watch Ben and his 7-month-old brother play together in my room, rather than try to run downstairs and clean. Jack had just started sitting well, yet Ben was watchful for any signs that Jack might fall. They were playing so sweetly and I just watched and thought about all the great times these two would have together. I could never have imagined that in 2 short hours, all these dreams would never come true.

Ben came into this world screaming and didn't stop complaining for a year. Then, like a switch being turned off, he stopped crying. He was suddenly happy, funny, and loving. It was such a joy to see all the sorrow gone and this zest for life developing. Then, when he was 14 months old, he had a seizure while he was sick with a fever. The doctors reassured us that this was a common thing to happen with a fever. But over the next days, he continued to have seizures even though the fever was gone. After many tests and a hospital stay, the doctors put Ben on seizure medication and sent us home. By the age of 3, he was diagnosed with epilepsy but the seizures were almost completely controlled by his medication and he lived the life of a normal kid.

Saturday morning. Ben came to me a little later and said his head hurt. The other kids had recently had head colds and so I figured he was the next one to get the cold. I gave him some medicine for the headache. He wanted to lie down so he went to his room. I went downstairs at that time and finally did a fast clean-up before the tuner arrived. He stayed about 90 minutes. It was getting close to lunch by the time the tuner left. I called for Ben but he did not answer me. I went upstairs but I had this horrible feeling that something was wrong. I found Ben in his bed, dead.

We now know that he died of SUDEP, which stands for Sudden Unexpected Death in Epileptic Patients. We had never been told that this was even a possibility. Our little world as we knew it was shattered. Over the next days and months, I had so many thoughts and feelings. They were mainly things that usually seem so small. I didn't tell him good-bye. I didn't get to say "I love you" or hold him as he left us.

Life is so precious. It is easy to get caught up in the day to day tasks and forget what is most important. Ben was a very affectionate child. He did not hold back on the hugs, kisses, and smiles. I truly feel that Ben wants me to let others know that those little things you do each day are so important. We can't have the hours back, so use them well.

I believe that God is also asking me to raise awareness of SUDEP and to provide a support group for those who are grieving because of SUDEP. This is a huge undertaking for me. I will take it one step a time and pray for God's guidance. At this time, I have a blog page set up in remembrance of Ben that I am slowly transforming into a site to provide support and information about SUDEP. Please stop by at reosti.blogspot.com.

Ahhh, cute!

This is an email I had waiting for me from my mom when I got to work this morning. It's a good way to start a Monday morning. : )

An older, tired-looking dog wandered into my yard; I could tell
from his collar and well-fed belly that he had a home and was
well taken care of.

He calmly came over to me, I gave him a few pats on his head;
he then followed me into my house, slowly walked down the
hall, curled up in the corner and fell asleep.


An hour later, he went to the door, and I let him out.

The next day he was back, greeted me in my yard, walked inside and resumed his spot in the hall and again slept for about an hour.

This continued off and on for several weeks.

Curious I pinned a note to his collar:

'I would like to find out who the owner of this wonderful sweet dog is and ask
if you are aware that almost every afternoon your dog comes to my house for a nap.'

The next day he arrived for his nap, with a different note pinned to his collar:

'He lives in a home with 6 children, 2 under the age of 3 -
he's trying to catch up on his sleep. Can I come with him tomorrow?'

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Bringing Home our “Used-To-Be Catholic” Brothers and Sisters

By Anne Costa
catholicexchange.com

In the course of my everyday travels over the past few months I’ve run into more than a few “Used-to-Be Catholics”. Many of them offer this self-descriptive title on their own; some with a hint of nostalgia in their voice, others with a not so hidden hint of anger. Some of them now belong to other churches, but most of them do not belong to any church at all, preferring to “go it alone” in the religion department.

How sad.

I know because I used to be one of those “Used-to-Be Catholics” and it’s brutal out there. Trying to navigate through all of the cultural clutter and stay balanced along the slippery slope of relativism is a mind numbing, spirit crushing experience, to say the least. While tip-toeing through the minefields of muddled truths and dodging the ruins of collapsing morals and dilapidated social institutions, one can lose one’s soul without even knowing it. That’s why when I meet those used-to-be Catholics, I immediately begin to pray for their safe return home.

It’s no coincidence that I am using metaphors of war as I write this article for we are truly in a battle for Catholic souls. It isn’t enough for those of us who, by God’s mercy and grace, found our way back to Holy Mother Church or for those of us who never left, to turn our heads and hearts from those who are still searching or wandering lost in the desert lands of the New Age of some other distraction. We must take spiritual and physical action to bring those souls back home.

It’s no secret that many who have left have good reasons for doing so. Some have been betrayed, hurt, or led astray by the very ones entrusted with their faith formation. Others have left out of sheer neglect, genuine confusion, or simple ignorance of what they were walking away from. But no matter how good the reason, no real good can come from it because whatever they encounter out there will be second- rate at best and more likely soul stealing in the end.

So what about you? Do you have a sense of urgency in your heart for your “fallen-away” brethren? Do you wonder what you can do to bring them back to the fullness of the Truth that is the Catholic faith? Your greatest evangelism “weapon” in this war is to live a fully-engaged Catholic life. By that I mean not to cut corners or apologize for the “rigidity” of the Church, but to delight in and celebrate the clarity and perfection of the wisdom and Truth set forth by the teachings of the Catholic Church. It means not to live out a lukewarm faith or to try to “pass” in the secular culture so as not to threaten or alienate anybody, but to wear your Catholic heart proudly on your sleeve and boldly carry the Bread of life into the mainstream of your own life to feed the spiritually starved and the perpetually thirsty ones who have lost their way.

In this jubilee year of St. Paul, we have before us an open invitation and a timely challenge: to do what St. Paul did; that is preach Christ, not so much by what we say, but by what we do and who we are. Pope Benedict put it this way – that in the example of St. Paul, we are called to “place Jesus Christ at the center of our lives, so that our identity is marked essentially by the encounter, by communion with Christ and with his Word” (The Apostles, Pope Benedict XVI).

Remembering what it was like to be a “Used-to-Be Catholic” is a mighty motivator. Remembering that there are people out there who have never really met or known Jesus in the Eucharist or who have forgotten or experienced a crisis of faith that led them to leave Him might be the motivation that you need to bring them home. Let this year of St. Paul be a year of welcoming back our brothers and sisters so that they may be “anxious about nothing” and experience the “peace of God, which transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:6,7). With our prayers and our hearts, let us welcome them back with open arms!

Hate the Sin but Not the Sinner!

This is such a difficult line to walk. I like the way this article explains it.


catholicexchange.com

As Jesus showed us by His own life, true love takes many shapes. But we are blind to too many of them. We feel comfortable with the Jesus Who cured the lepers, gave sight to the blind, healed the crippled, and brought the dead back to life. We feel at ease with the Jesus Who gathered the little children around Him and blessed them, and we are comforted by the Jesus Who forgave the most notorious sinners over and over again. We like the kindness that Jesus shows to His mother in changing the water into wine at the wedding feast, just because she asked. And we’re touched by His tenderness to her as He hung upon the Cross.

But there is another side of Jesus that makes us want to avert our eyes, because we don’t exactly know what to do with it. And that is the angry Jesus, as we see Him in today’s Gospel, casting the chiseling moneychangers out of the temple, or denouncing the hypocrisy of the religious leaders who were no leaders at all, or reprimanding Peter who wants Him to take the easy way out and run away.

We have learned to be afraid of all anger and to make no distinction between its good and bad varieties. Jesus made that distinction clear for us. Bad anger contains hate and wishes another person harm. Good anger is always aimed at behaviors, not persons. It hates the sin but not the sinner. Indeed, good anger can be for the good of those who are in the wrong, because it can wake them up — if they’re willing to listen.

Anger is a powerful tool and it can be misused so easily, but so can our inclinations toward passivity even in the face of great evils. Hate the sin, but love the sinner, and you’ll never go awry.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Funny

This is on the Catholic Fire blog.


Dear fellow employees:

As the CEO of this business that employees 140 people, I have resigned myself to the fact that Barrack Obama will be our next President and that our taxes and government fees will increase in a BIG way.

To compensate for these increases I figure that the clients will have to see an increase in our fees to them of about 8% but since we cannot increase our fees right now due to the dismal state of our economy, we will have to lay off six of our employees instead. This has really been eating at me for a while, as we believe we are family here and I didn’t know how to choose who will have to go.

So, this is what I did. I strolled through our parking lot and found 6 Obama bumper stickers on our employees’ cars and have decided these folks will be the first to be laid off. I can’t think of a more fair way to approach this problem. These folks wanted change; I gave it to them.


Oh, come on, I have to get at least 1 Obama jab in now that the election is over. : )

Another great quote I came across

"I was angry at God and scared to death. Why was he allowing these terrible things to happen to me? What else was going to happen?

One of the few things that kept me from telling God where to stick it was the beauty of Catholic devotions such as the Rosary."


We all have those days when we are tired, frustrated and feel like we can't take it any more. We want to tell God to just stick it. And we can! As long as we also persevere, pray and let it go when we feel stronger. God will love us even more than he already did, which is immense. How great is our God?!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Confession



I like this little video about confession. It's a quick, powerful reminder of why confession is so good. And, yes, it's TOUGH to go confess your weaknesses and sins! I still get very nervous, and probably always will. But that feeling of release and being right with God after confession makes it all worth it.

Your heart will tell you when it's time to go to confession, listen to it and GO!

Meditation of the day

The Word Among Us
Thursday, Nov. 20, 2008


According to St. Irenaeus, “The glory of God is a human being fully alive, for our true life is the vision of God.” We catch that “vision of God” in the gospels, where we see in Christ an example of a man who truly was “fully alive.”

The gospel stories show us, for example, that it simply isn’t true that the holier we get, the more stoical and emotionless we become. Look at today’s story about Jesus weeping over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41). Here is the holiest man alive, and we see him filled with sadness and grief! Or think about the anger he showed when he drove the merchants out of the temple (John 2:13-17). So why do we sometimes fear our emotions or try to hide them?

When God made us in his image, he declared everything about us good. Yet the wound of original sin gave rise to selfishness, inordinate desires, and hostile aggression. Because of human sin, we’ve all been hurt in our search for love, and we’ve all experienced how destructive emotions can be. And so, to protect ourselves, we often build strongholds and defenses.

The problem with this strategy is that our fortresses can also keep us from the natural expression of true feelings. Kept bottled up for so long, these feelings sometimes jump out in defensive counter-attack and leave us feeling even more guilty. All the while, unhealed hurts and unmet needs remain locked up in our hearts. In the final analysis, our fortresses can leave us feeling cold, lonely, and only partially alive.

God wants to make us fully alive so that we can show the world what a healthy, balanced Christian life is like. He wants to free us to rejoice and mourn, to become angry at injustice, and to show our love for everything that is true and right and beautiful in this world. The next time you encounter a situation that provokes you to an emotional response, don’t deny your feelings or condemn yourself for not being holy enough. Instead, bring your reactions to the Lord. Ask him to purify them, and let him make you fully alive!

Monday, November 17, 2008

My album cover



Greg and Jennifer had a fun post on their blog with an internet "game" to play. I joined the fun, the above is my result. You will have to go read their blog in order to make any sense of this. : ) You really should join the fun, too, and let us know if you do!

Band name: Acanthomintha

Acanthomintha is a genus of the Lamiaceae, or mint family. The Acanthomintha genus is commonly referred to as Thornmint. There are a number of species within this genus, including the endangered species Acanthomintha duttonii. All four thornmints are native to the California Floristic Province. The origin of the genus name is from the identical Greek word meaning thornmint.

Album title: choice is makin' you

"Everything you do in life, every choice you make, has a consequence. When you do things without thinkin', then you ain't makin' the choice. The choice is makin' you." Mark Steven Johnson, Ghostrider, 2007

Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday funny—How to get the printer to work



My co-worker sent this to me. Maybe I'm just tired since it's the end of the week but this made me laugh really hard. I hope you get a good Friday laugh out of it as well. Have a great weekend! : )

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A letter from Jesus

Why are you confused and shaken by life's problems?  Leave to Me the care of your affairs and all will go well.  When you abandon yourself to Me, everything will be resolved calmly according to My designs.  Do not despair, don't pray to me excitedly as though you would want to require that I fulfill your desires.  Close the eyes of your soul and tell me calmly: JESUS, I TRUST IN YOU.
 
Avoid anxiety and thoughts about what may happen later.  Don't spoil My plans, wanting to impose your ideas on Me.  Let Me be God and act freely.  Abandon yourself confidently on Me, rest on Me and leave your future in My hands.  Tell Me frequently: JESUS, I TRUST IN YOU.
 
What hurts you the most is your reasoning and your own ideas and your desire to do things your way.  When you tell me, Jesus, I trust in You, don't be like the patient that asks the doctor to cure him but then suggests to him how to do it.  Let Me carry you in My arms, don't be afraid—I LOVE YOU.
 
If you think things are worsening or are becoming complicated in spite of your prayer, continue to trust.  Close the eyes of your soul and trust.  Tell Me continuously, at all times: JESUS, I TRUST IN YOU.
 
I need to have free hands in order to act.  Do not tie Me to your useless worry.  Satan wants just that: to agitate and disturb you, deprive you of peace.  Trust in Me alone, rest in Me, abandon yourself to Me.  I perform miracles in proportion to the abandon and trust that you have in Me.  So, do not worry: let Me have all your anguish and sleep calmly.
 
Tell Me always: JESUS, I TRUST IN YOU and you will see great miracles.
 
I promise this to you on My love.

Jesus

Monday, November 10, 2008

Let's turn to St. Michael


Recently, I've been feeling very drawn to the St. Michael prayer and wasn't sure why until I came across the following information on the Human Life International website. Thanks, God!


Dear Friends,

Catholic pro-lifers naturally turn to Saint Michael, the prince of the heavenly host, in our struggle against the principalities and powers of the culture of death. Pope Leo XIII composed a magnificent prayer to Saint Michael and ordered it to be recited after the celebration of the Mass. Pope Pius XI asked the faithful to pray it for the restoration of religious freedom in Russia, and it was popularly tied to the Fatima prayer intention of the conversion of Russia whose "errors" were spreading throughout the world. Since the Soviet Union was the first country to legalize abortion, we can rightly see in the modern abortion industry an extension of the "errors" of atheistic communism.

Although no longer obligatory, since 1965, an increasing number of parishes and individuals are going back to praying to Saint Michael after Mass. Pope John Paul II himself urged the faithful in 1994 "...to recite it to obtain help in the battle against the forces of darkness and against the spirit of this world."

Human Life International is convinced that invoking Saint Michael's protection is necessary in the Church's victory over the satanic attacks against innocent human life that characterize our modern world. Please join us in reciting the Saint Michael Prayer with the intention of respect for human life from conception to natural death and the conversion of abortionists. We are distributing free prayer cards which can be ordered in English, Spanish, French, Italian or Portuguese. (Click here)

We also ask you to sign our petition to re-establish the universal practice of saying the Saint Michael Prayer after Mass. (Click here) It would be most appropriate for the Holy Father to ask Catholics everywhere to unite in a powerful prayer to cast out the greatest evil of our times, the slaughter of almost two billion innocent children whose blood cries out to heaven.

Saint Michael, guardian and defender of the Church of Jesus Christ, Pray for us!

Yours in Christ,

Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer
President, Human Life International

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Interesting...

This website shows a summary of what laws are allowed/denied in each state and the pro-life ranking. FOCA (see post below) would obliterate ALL of those laws that each state has voted for. That's just not right no matter how you look at it!

FOCA petition

Dear Friends,

I'm writing to let you know about a terrible piece of legislation called "The Freedom of Choice Act" (FOCA).

FOCA would establish the right to abortion as a fundamental right (like the right to free speech) and wipe away every restriction on abortion nationwide.

It will eradicate state and federal abortion laws that the majority of Americans support and prevent states from enacting similar protective measures in the future.

Please read the expert analysis by Americans United for Life (AUL) and sign the Fight FOCA petition at: http://www.FightFOCA.com

Please share this with everyone and have them sign the petition as well.

Thank you!

Friday, November 07, 2008

There is water here


Another great post (and pictures) from Jenn at the Conversion Diary blog, this time about adoration. One of the best gifts of the Catholic Church.

I am grateful to Jen for using her God given talent of writing to post articles like this that so beautifully explain the Catholic faith. And what it's like to come home to this amazing world of belief, hope and truth as an adult convert.

Since I wasn't granted the talent of writing, I love that I can link to posts like this and, hopefully, spread the word to more people.

Modern technology can be wonderful, when used properly!

Friday funny

An email forward to lighten your Friday. Who comes up with these things?

Investment tips

With all the turmoil in the market today and the collapse of Lehman Bros. and Acquisition of Merrill Lynch by Bank of America this might be some good advice. For all of you with any money left, be aware of the next expected mergers so that you can get in on the ground floor and make some BIG bucks.

Watch for these consolidations later on this year:

1. Hale Business Systems, Mary Kay Cosmetics, Fuller Brush, and W R. Grace Co. Will merge and become: Hale, Mary, Fuller, Grace. (This could be a successful merger! :)

2. Polygram Records, Warner Bros., and Zesta Crackers join forces and become: Poly Warner Cracker.

3. 3M will merge with Goodyear and become: MMMGood.

4. Zippo Manufacturing, Audi Motors, Dofasco, and Dakota Mining will merge ,and become: ZipAudiDoDa .

5. FedEx is expected to join its competitor, UPS, and become: FedUP.

6. Fairchild Electronics and Honeywell Computers will become: Fairwell Honeychild.

7. Grey Poupon and Docker Pants are expected to become: PouponPants.

8. Knotts Berry Farm and the National Organization of Women will become: Knott NOW!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

It's not over

I got this email from my friend, Will Gardner, and wanted to share it because I thought it was great and expressed some of my thoughts today. Thanks, Will!


It's not over.

Well let me first say what is. This election is history. And yes, the hope for ending abortion in this country by all intents and purposes may have been set back another decade or two.

The future aborted children didn't lose this election because God willed it, they lost it because people have free will and God has rarely ever taken that most important right of all away. If God didn't give every man free will, we wouldn't ever have needed to vote in this election..

10 plagues hit the Egyptians who enslaved the Israelites before they got a clue, and it wasn't that God screwed up on the first nine. Again, it was because God gave them free choice. But everyone will answer to God for their own Obama vote. However, let's not dwell on others, let's improve ourselves.

As long as we have lungs to breathe our duty to save unborn children is not over.

We need to make the best use of the next few years. We need to first relax, take a deep breath and pray. We need to forgive those who do not understand what an Obama presidency really will mean. We need to look at our mistakes we have made, yet not be too harsh on ourselves so we don't lose our morale. We need to learn to communicate God's will better to others. Then, after all of this, we to need fix our mistakes and work much, much harder.

Dear relatives and friends, today it feels like ground zero in my heart. But trust me, as long as we are on the side of God and the truth, it's not over.

A great quote I came across today...

...sitting here reminding myself that the Lord knows I can be stupid but loves me anyway.

Yep, I can relate! Love it!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

It's time to face the reality!

Snippets from Do you truly know what you are supporting?
By Matthew Warner
fallibleblogma.com


When this whole “war on terror” began we were faced with a very harsh reality on 9/11/2001. Over 3000 Americans were murdered in a single day by terrorists. It was no longer possible to ignore these threats anymore. Our entire world and lives changed due to this event. And spurred on by our compassion and spirit, we confronted them. And now we have not had another attack on our soil since.

Everyday in this country over 3000 babies are killed, but yet we don’t react the same way? Why not? I would suggest that it is because we have not been forced to face this reality. We have enjoyed our freedom to ignore it for too long

Well I’m asking you (not forcing, of course) to face this reality now - if you can. Whether you are pro-choice or pro-life, we should all be able to face the reality of what we are voting for. We each have a moral culpability for the consequences of the votes we make - whether we choose to be informed or not.

And maybe our human brains aren’t supposed to see these harsh realities. We just weren’t made for it. I agree. But, unfortunately, that’s not because we aren’t supposed to face them. It’s because stuff like that isn’t supposed to happen to humans, period.

Eduardo Verastegui, a famous actor, has released a new video. It is entitled “Dura Realidad” - Hard Reality. He talks about the issue of abortion in it. But the most stirring part is a section in the middle that shows a glimpse of the reality of abortion. What is shown very graphically here is exactly what you are voting for, or against, in this election. It is real.

I know there are other issues. I know many of these issues have hard realities of their own. But nobody can watch this video (and then multiply it by 3000 times every single day) and then say that any other issue compares. If they can, then I don’t believe they are living in reality.

(One more warning: This video has extremely graphic images. Please do not watch if you can not handle it.)

I was hesitant to even link to this video because I will no doubt be accused of trying to only shock people or scare people with it. But if the truth shocks us, it probably means that we needed to be shocked. So here is the truth: Hard Reality

P.S. I also realize that watching a video does not make abortion as much of a reality as it is for those that actually face and perform abortions. But I think it gets us a lot closer. Please continue to pray for mothers who are considering or have faced abortions and for the doctors and all of those who support abortions.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Bleeding Love



I heard this song a couple of times on the radio at the gym and found that I had the refrain stuck in my head for hours afterward. And the first thing I would think each time I heard the phrase "I keep bleeding love" is "this must be Jesus' theme song." So, after hearing it again today, and deciding that I really liked the song, I had to look up the rest of the lyrics and see what else it had to say.

Through my Catholic ears, I hear a love song between us and God, even though I'm sure that's not how it was intended to be written. : )

Future plans

I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare, not for woe! plans to give you a future full of hope. (Jer 29:11)


BAM!

This passage hit me right between the eyes this morning as I was reading my Magnificat morning prayers before Mass. I don't know if I haven't read this particular passage before or if I just wasn't in a state of mind to really comprehend it if I had. But, wow, this morning I was sure ready to hear it!

Putting your trust completely in the Lord when things are not quite as "smoooooth" as you would prefer them to be is NOT easy. (And let's be honest, life is never going to be smooth!) But if you keep asking for God's grace to see that every day, every situation, and yes, even every sorrow/heartache/pain/suffering has a purpose and is given to us by God through his love, then you can start accepting these things with peace and patience. I struggle to maintain this mindset so much of the time which is why this passage really hit me this morning and I wanted to share it with everyone.

You can trust that God is looking out for you and your future (if you let him!), and you can look forward to that future with hope. Don't try to live in the future, though, that will never lead to peace. Live in the present moment (see below) with peace and look toward the future with hope!

In God's will is our peace.


Sacrament of the
Present Moment


If I did not simply live
from one moment to the next,
it would be impossible for me
to keep my patience.
I can see only the present,
I forget the past and I take good care
not to think about the future.
We get discouraged and feel despair
because we brood about the past and the future.
It is such folly to pass one’s time fretting,
instead of resting quietly on the heart of Jesus.

St. Therese of Lisieux

Thursday, October 30, 2008

"Popular vote"

Here is a very nicely done blog by Matthew Warner about the upcoming election. Please take a couple of minutes to read the article and be sure to listen to the video clip. Wow! I openly admit that's more in the realm of how I would have been a couple of years ago. Hopefully, not quite that bad...

God, please forgive me!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Loopholes anyone?



You gotta go check out the funny that Greg and Jennifer from The Catholics Next Door posted.

The disclaimer is the best part.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Then there is the mystery of the bride herself, particularly her body.

Wedding Gowns Exposing the Body
By Anthony Buono
tob.catholicexchange.com

At a Catholic wedding I attended last week, the bride had a backless, strapless, sleeveless gown on. More and more brides are doing this. Besides the indecency, the principles of modesty are not considered. A modest wedding gown may be getting harder to find, but I don’t think couples consider the bride’s gown as an “essential” part of the ceremony. Some feel that people get too distracted with non-essentials and should focus on the Sacrament. I couldn’t agree more! But the bride’s wedding gown is a critical component. Granted, saying it is “essential” would not be the right word, but it has high importance, primarily in what it represents.

Sacraments have to do with “outward signs” that indicate an inner mystery. “Sign” and “mystery” are the key words. The Sacrament of Marriage is a tremendous mystery. The mystery of two becoming one; the mystery of sacramental grace uniquely given to the two persons; the mystery of Christ entering the marriage union; the mystery of the bride and groom being a living sign of the mystery of Christ’s marriage to His Bride, the Church.

Then there is the mystery of the bride herself, particularly her body.

It’s a shame that so many marriages take place between two people who have already exposed much of their bodies to each other, but especially a woman exposing her body to the man. A wedding night is supposed to be an unveiling of the mystery of the woman that has been kept hidden from the man during their time together before marriage. The wedding ceremony is an exchange of rights to each other’s body. The wedding night (the time of consummation of the marriage) is meant to be an incredibly profound and unique moment for the two — it is when they unveil their bodies to each other to experience that which is reserved only for two people who have publicly given “rights” to each other’s body for those purposes unique to marriage and conjugal love.

We clothe our bodies because we have that sense deep down that we should, and that certain parts are especially sacred and meant for sacred purposes. The continued public display of more and more flesh is an indication that people have lost the sense of shame that Adam and Eve displayed in the Garden of Eden after the fall, which shows how connected sin and clothing the body are. Therefore, the sense of sin is in direct proportion to exposure of the body.

It seems that society has become “desensitized” to sin. But more than this, people have lost the sense of purpose for their bodies, thus, a loss of the sense of mystery. It has become a focus in many ways. I am amazed that many people (even good Catholics) believe that exposing the body does not (or should not) have an effect on the way people behave, and is not something to be overly concerned about. Thus, modesty is a “relative” thing, if anything at all.

This downplaying of the purpose of the body and the disconnection between the body and mystery has, with no surprise, contributed to sexual promiscuity, and that includes Catholics. Virginity and chastity are not held up as the ideals they should be and pre-marital sex becomes a norm and (sorry to say) even an expectation.

But in fact, THE BODY IS A GREAT MYSTERY! A man and a woman should expose as little as possible of their bodies to one another except when appropriate in marriage (certainly, at the very least, never exposing those areas meant for genital sexual expression). Why? Because the body IS sacred! Without the body, we cannot know anything about God. Without the body, we cannot get to heaven. Without the body, we cannot properly worship God. Without the body, we cannot co-create human life and propagate the human race. Without the body, we cannot LOVE!!!

The body has a purpose. Its purpose is so sacred; it is a mystery. Every person should preserve the mystery of love, which is fundamentally a preserving of the mystery of our bodies. Exposing our bodies before marriage is to prematurely “reveal” the mystery, thus ending the mystery that was meant for the wedding night.

There are also the “signs” in a wedding ceremony. The woman’s body, being the great mystery that it is, absolutely should be veiled. And to be covered in a white garment makes sense, too. The color “white” is a symbol of purity, primarily purity of intention to give her whole person to this man. A bride traditionally looks so adorned because she is a priceless mystery that is about to be given. The groom is about to accept this mystery with love and noble intentions, and he will accept her gift of her body, giving him the sole and unique “right” to her body for the purposes of love. The bride will have her veil pulled back and her face will be revealed. The groom will later have the awesome privilege of unveiling her entire body and then, as Scripture so beautifully puts it, will “know her”. In other words, he will accept the right to her body ONLY for the purposes of having that right; namely, the conjugal act that is meant to make her a mother (thus, the definition of the word “matrimony”).

The Body of Christ, the Church, is that tremendous mystery in which Christ brings about new life through the womb of His Bride, the baptismal font, in the sacrament of Baptism. The womb of the woman has as its primary purpose the receiving of the husband’s gift and the conception and development of new life. The mystery of a woman is a visible sign of the mystery of the Church, the Body of Christ. The children born are the incarnation of the great mystery of love between a man and woman. The birth of a person into eternal life through the baptismal font of the Church, Christ’s bride, is the great mystery of love between Christ and man. The Incarnation of the Son of God become man is the great mystery of God’s love for the human race; that His Son would take a human body and use that body to consummate His marriage to His Church by dying on the Cross.

The marriage of a man and a woman is a profound invitation to share in the redemption of the world and participation in the Cross. True love, therefore, is sacrificial and a total self-donation to the other.

When you consider the deep mystery of love and marriage, you naturally come to the conclusion that a bride (and women in the wedding party, for that matter) with an exposed body is inappropriate, perhaps even scandalous. But being fully dressed in clothing that lacks the sacramental symbolism is also inappropriate. A marriage ceremony must be given the dignity it deserves. It is right to invest in it and externally represent the sacramental reality. Of course, if finances or some other practical reality prevent making this possible, focus only on the essentials. But don’t underestimate the importance of the gown and the bride’s body being covered. At least wrap something nice around what is still exposed from the gown.

I pray that this will be your life, too!

On being tired
By Jennifer F.
Conversion Diary blog

It occurred to me recently that I spend a large percentage of my time being tired -- often really, really tired. These past few months have been worse than usual, this pregnancy bringing with it a crushing exhaustion that I haven't been able to shake. Even before this pregnancy, though, long stretches of feeling well rested have been few and far between ever since my first child was born. A certain amount of weariness just comes with the territory of building a family.

The other day I had one of those all-too-frequent moments of wondering how I would get through the rest of the day. I leaned against the wall before I headed upstairs to get my two littlest ones up from nap, pausing to take a deep breath and look at all those stairs that loomed in front of me. If I'd had any other options, it would have been easy to tell myself that I "couldn't" do it. It seemed impossible that I could muster up the energy to haul myself up those stairs and then lift a wiggly 24-pound baby and a wigglier 28-pound toddler out of their cribs, change diapers, listen to the inevitable post-nap whining and crying, help my other toddler with whatever he needs, and be on-call for two more hours until my husband got home.

As I leaned against the wall, I thought it was interesting that this is the life I want for my children.

I thought about how counterintuitive it is to say, "Hey, kids, I'm really freaking tired all the time because of the duties of my vocation, and I pray that in twenty or so years this will be your life, too!" I can see why so many of the Baby Boomers and their parents adopted the mentality that the best life you could give your kids is one of physical ease and personal freedom to do whatever you feel like doing -- after all, that's a whole lot more comfortable. Surely a "good" life would involve more relaxation than work, more pleasure than sacrifice, more amusement than perseverance.

Yet it only takes a glance through the Self-Help section of any bookstore to see that there is a silent undercurrent of angst raging through our society; that the "good life" isn't as good as it seemed it would be; that something is missing in the lives of many people, and it's something big.

When people start searching for the meaning of life, they often picture that once they find it it will involve sitting in the lotus position on a Tibetan mountaintop, or sipping Chianti in a Tuscan villa, or perhaps posing in a photo shoot for the cover of a major magazine. Those visions of discovering the meaning of life and reaching the pinnacle of the human experience almost never involve images of sitting in a foul-smelling nursing home room holding the hand of an abandoned Alzheimer's patient, or kneeling in prayer in a nondescript church, or running to the grocery store to buy an economy-sized jug of generic brand detergent to get through yet another mountain of laundry.

That's why it's so easy to miss the truth when you hear it. It was for me, anyway.

When I heard the Catholic notion that each of us has a vocation, and that it's not about what you'll do but whom you'll serve, it sounded outrageous. Insane, even. In this worldview, living for yourself is not a valid option -- regularly taking time for yourself, yes; but structuring your life around selfish pursuits, no. It went against everything I believed. It seemed to even go against common sense.

But, as I've also said many times before, when I tried it, the proof was in the pudding. The way years of underlying angst melted away, how all areas of my life suddenly had so much more order and clarity, that feeling of peace I'd always yearned for but had never experienced (and wasn't even sure it was possible to experience) -- there was no doubt in my mind that Christianity had a lock on the answer to the meaning of life. Through a life centered around agape, self-giving love, I found He who is Agape itself; I found what every human who's ever lived desires most, whether they know it or not: God.

So as I leaned there against the wall, my eyes drowsy as I mustered up my last few ounces of energy to get to the top of the stairs, I thought of how very much I want this life for my children. Not necessarily my exact circumstances -- some of them may be called to the priesthood, religious life, or another vocation other than married life -- but whatever it is it will revolve around living for God and others. It won't be the easiest or most comfortable life, it will come with many challenges, and they probably won't get as much sleep as they'd like. They will have their own moments of leaning against the wall, weary from the service of others. But they will have the peace of Christ, an invaluable peace found only in the practice of agape that I missed out on for 27 years while I was trapped in a self-focused prison.

What I will tell them is what I would tell myself if I could travel back in time and deliver a message to the younger me. I imagine walking up to a twenty-year-old girl who's a little too thin and wears a little too much black eyeliner, catching her in mid-daydream about discovering life's secrets through mountaintop meditations or strolls down sunset-soaked beaches, and leaning over to whisper in her ear, "Pssst. When you discover the meaning of life, it just might involve being a little tired."