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

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.

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

“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.

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!


No, I got YOU!

What? You're done playing already!?

Alright, but I WIN!

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