Monday, August 31, 2009

Day Five - Novena to Blessed Dina Bélanger

Day Five - Novena to Blessed Dina Bélanger (September 4)

Father of everlasting goodness,
You put into the heart of Blessed Dina Bélanger the burning desire to offer you on behalf of all mankind, the infinite riches of the Heart of Jesus present in the Eucharist, and, to live, like Mary, closely united to Him whom she loved with an undivided heart.

May we, like her, find our joy in faithfully doing your Will, and since you revealed to her your great desire to pour out upon the world the abundance of your graces, hear the prayer which we make for your greater glory, and which we entrust to her intercession.

Dear Dina, thank you for your joy and your desire to follow God's Will in all things. Thank you for your intercession for every heart - suffering hearts, desperate and sad hearts, and for those who desire greatly to be loved by someone. Thank you for helping us to find Jesus and Mary in every moment , every place in our daily life and help us to smile, no matter the circumstances because we believe God is Joy, God is Light, God is Mercy.

Original Novena,
click here

Great Column from Roxanne King, Editor Archdiocese of Denver

Click on the link to read these beautiful stories.


Community of Episcopal Nuns and Chaplain Coming Home

BALTIMORE, Md. (Catholic Review) - After seven years of prayer and discernment, a community of Episcopal nuns and their chaplain will be received into the Roman Catholic Church during a Sept. 3 Mass celebrated by Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien.


Prayer For The Catholic Writer, Speaker, Actor, Servant

Litany of Humility

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, hear me.

From the desire of being esteemed, deliver me, O Jesus.

From the desire of being loved, deliver me, O Jesus.

From the desire of being extolled, deliver me, O Jesus.

From the desire of being honored, deliver me, O Jesus.

From the desire of being praised, deliver me, O Jesus.

From the desire of being preferred to others, deliver me, O Jesus.

From the desire of being consulted, deliver me, O Jesus.

From the desire of being approved, deliver me, O Jesus.

From the fear of being humiliated, deliver me, O Jesus.

From the fear of being despised, deliver me, O Jesus.

From the fear of suffering rebukes, deliver me, O Jesus.

From the fear of being calumniated, deliver me, O Jesus.

From the fear of being forgotten, deliver me, O Jesus.

From the fear of being ridiculed, deliver me, O Jesus.

From the fear of being wronged, deliver me, O Jesus.

From the fear of being suspected, deliver me, O Jesus.

That others may be esteemed more than I,Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease,Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be chosen and I set aside,Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be preferred to me in everything,Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may become holier than I, provided that I become as holy as I should,Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

-Cardinal Raphael Merry Del Val

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Day Four - Novena to Blessed Dina Bélanger

Day Four - Novena to Blessed Dina Bélanger (September 4)

Father of everlasting goodness,
You put into the heart of Blessed Dina Bélanger the burning desire to offer you on behalf of all mankind, the infinite riches of the Heart of Jesus present in the Eucharist, and, to live, like Mary, closely united to Him whom she loved with an undivided heart.

May we, like her, find our joy in faithfully doing your Will, and since you revealed to her your great desire to pour out upon the world the abundance of your graces, hear the prayer which we make for your greater glory, and which we entrust to her intercession.

Dear Dina, thank you for your joy and your desire to follow God's Will in all things. Thank you for your intercession for every heart - suffering hearts, desperate and sad hearts, and for those who desire greatly to be loved by someone. Thank you for helping us to find Jesus and Mary in every moment , every place in our daily life and help us to smile, no matter the circumstances because we believe God is Joy, God is Light, God is Mercy.

Original Novena,
click here

When "you've-got-to-be-kidding-me" Moments Happen

There are times in life when words run out. Even during prayer time.

When the need is greatest, when prayer is most necessary, our words fail us.

Last night was one of those times. My husband was on a mercy mission, driving all through the night to rescue our prodigal daughter. He left at 8:30 at night. Returned home at 8:30 this morning.

And he still managed to make it to Mass this morning.

Alas, the daughter still hasn't made the real journey home. In many ways, she is still the prodigal daughter. But, at least, she isn't stranded on the side of the road in Clarksville, Tennessee anymore. With all her earthly possessions in the broken down jeep. Sitting outside a Walgreens with her boyfriend (and father of her unborn baby). Borrowing a cell phone from any good samaritan she could find. Nibbling on candy that their last twenty dollars could buy.

Yes, there are times when words simply won't come - and yet, we are on our knees in prayer.

Last night, as yesterday slipped away and today took its place, I discovered the peace that comes with praying all four parts of the Rosary. Our Lady walked me through Our Lord's life, death and resurrection. And I realized that there are words to match my need.

There is something very holy about praying with Our Lady - all four Mysteries in succession. It is a soothing balm. A haven. sweet hour of prayer. And then, sleep came. A dreamless, deep sleep - and the sense that there were enough words and enough grace and enough mercy for even today.
Dear Saint Monica, intercede for my grown child - my child of many tears.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Day Three - Novena to Blessed Dina Bélanger

Day Three - Novena to Blessed Dina Bélanger (September 4)

Father of everlasting goodness,

You put into the heart of Blessed Dina Bélanger the burning desire to offer you on behalf of all mankind, the infinite riches of the Heart of Jesus present in the Eucharist, and, to live, like Mary, closely united to Him whom she loved with an undivided heart.

May we, like her, find our joy in faithfully doing your Will, and since you revealed to her your great desire to pour out upon the world the abundance of your graces, hear the prayer which we make for your greater glory, and which we entrust to her intercession.


Dear Dina, thank you for your joy and your desire to follow God's Will in all things. Thank you for your intercession for every heart - suffering hearts, desperate and sad hearts, and for those who desire greatly to be loved by someone. Thank you for helping us to find Jesus and Mary in every moment , every place in our daily life and help us to smile, no matter the circumstances because we believe God is Joy, God is Light, God is Mercy.


Original Novena, click here

The Feast (liturgical memorial) of the Beheading of John the Baptist

A prophet from before his birth, leaping in the womb to announce the coming of the incarnate God, the task of John the Baptist was to proclaim the fulfillment of all prophecies – and thus his own obsolescence. And he did it: with unequalled courage he spread the news that he, the greatest of all men, was the least in the kingdom of heaven. His disciples, and the devil, would have preferred him to fight, to build his sect, to defeat this upstart whom he himself had baptized, to seize his place in history. But he did not – and so, rightly, he has his place, and he has glory in heaven.

Matthew 11:11 I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist.

Friday, August 28, 2009

I've Been to Calvary - I've Seen the Lord

It is a peculiar feeling when you stumble upon an image from the past. Every once in awhile, I'll put something in a Google search box, and a memory will surface as I scan the results.

Tonight, I found a picture of my dad's first church. I was probably about three when we moved to Hoover, Iowa. The church is different from the way I remember it. Today, the entrance is located at the rear of the church. When I was a little girl, this was the back of the church. Mentally remove the entryway and imagine a little door in its place. That was the back door. The door to the sunday school rooms in the rear (where an older boy in the congregation once took me when everyone else was eating in the preacher's house - and forced me to do things I couldn't imagine doing - and then made me promise not to tell - the one memory I'd love to forget permanently).

If you walked around the church on the right side, you would pass a cemetery - oh so many snakes in that cemetery.

Mom would chase them down with the push mower and shred them into stringy red and green pieces that wiggled in the grass before going still.

If you kept on walking with the cemetery on the right and the church on the left, you'd come to the front of the church - or at least what used to be the front, in the late 1960s.

It smelled like old wood when you stepped inside, and little field mice would sometimes get caught in the false ceiling and run through the light fixtures above us. I liked it when they ran through the lit-up rectangles overhead - it brought a whole new kind of entertainment to the long, boring prayer services.

In the summer, overweight elderly ladies with big updo hairstyles would lay claim to personal handheld fans which they picked up from a little table just inside the front door. I remember thinking that the handles looked like a doctor's tongue depressor. Old-timey pictures of Jesus-and-sheep decorated the front side. I couldn't read the words yet, but I loved the pictures that told a story all by themselves. So much better than Sally, Dick and Jane books.

Mom played the piano, so my sister and I had to sit in the front row on the piano-side of the church. Close enough that Mom could poke us if we were too squirmy. Sometimes, I would get to sing in front of everyone - even with the microphone. I remember the smiling faces. I don't remember being scared at all. I thought I was like those people on TV who would hold a microphone and sing on the stage of some enormous church - out in television world.

I sang Elvis Presley's song Somebody Bigger Than You and I.

And there was the song I've Been to Calvary. That was probably my favorite. I could imagine the song in my mind as I sang. Up Calvary Mountain, there my savior to see. . . I've been to Calvary, I can say I've seen the Lord.

But, I hadn't been to Calvary. Not really. Only in my mind. I'd been there in my imagination. In the same way I put myself in the pictures on those old fashioned fans. As though the scene had come to life for me - like the mice that ran in the light fixtures or the snakes that lived and moved in the cemetery just beyond the windows.

That little country church, that's where I first learned to love Jesus. Where He became real to me. And I realized that He knew me, too.

But I hadn't really been to Calvary. I hadn't stood at the cross. Not yet. I hadn't held Him in my hand. I hadn't taken Him inside me, not really. I was only four or five. I would have to wait nearly thirty-five more years to truly know what it is like to travel up Calvary Mountain, there my savior to see.

I would have to travel a very long way to get to Calvary. To have it made present for me. To truly have Jesus come to me. A very long journey, just to get home. I still have tears when I encounter Him in the Mass. And I suppose there are some who look at the tears and don't understand. They don't realize that finally - finally - it isn't just a song or an image in my mind. For I have taken the journey of journeys for me . . . up Calvary Mountain, there my savior to see. I've been to Calvary, I can say I've seen the Lord.

. . . what a thrill of love divine, just to know that the Savior is mine.


Day Two - Novena to Blessed Dina Bélanger

Day Two - Novena to Blessed Dina Bélanger (September 4)

Father of everlasting goodness,
You put into the heart of Blessed Dina Bélanger the burning desire to offer you on behalf of all mankind, the infinite riches of the Heart of Jesus present in the Eucharist, and, to live, like Mary, closely united to Him whom she loved with an undivided heart.

May we, like her, find our joy in faithfully doing your Will, and since you revealed to her your great desire to pour out upon the world the abundance of your graces, hear the prayer which we make for your greater glory, and which we entrust to her intercession.

Dear Dina, thank you for your joy and your desire to follow God's Will in all things. Thank you for your intercession for every heart - suffering hearts, desperate and sad hearts, and for those who desire greatly to be loved by someone. Thank you for helping us to find Jesus and Mary in every moment , every place in our daily life and help us to smile, no matter the circumstances because we believe God is Joy, God is Light, God is Mercy.

Original Novena,
click here

Books That Change Lives - for eternity

In January 2004, my mom had an enormous task. Before she had even had sufficient time to adjust to my father's death, she was faced with the job of sorting through his clothes and books and papers. She gave some of the books to my cousins - like my dad, their husbands were ministers. But the boxes of books that did not interest them became mine.

It's a little crazy how important those books were to me back then - like having a piece of my father. I scanned the titles, looking for any insights he might have penned in the margins, hoping for some bit of wisdom from beyond the grave.

In the bottom of one box, I found an old paperback book. It had the look of something dad picked up at a used book sale. It had an old smell about it, and further investigation proved that the book was almost a relic - published in 1963.

It was the kind of book I never would have read, left to my own inclination. But it was among those precious books which came out of my father's personal library. So, when I reached into that box (as I had so many others) and I held the book in my hands, I didn't snub it. I opened the front cover and began scanning the first few pages.

I had never read a book by a saint. Probably couldn't even name any of them, save the names of the original Apostles. Who was St. Augustine anyway? And why did Dad care about him? The title smacked of things Catholic. The Confessions of St. Augustine. And the illustration on the cover certainly underscored the Catholicity of the book. A bishop. Staff in hand. The Tree from the Garden of Eden, encircled by the Great Serpent.

No, this was not a book I would have picked up, if it had not been connected to my father. I didn't know that St. Augustine was a favorite of Protestant ministers. I didn't know enough about seminary to know that Protestant theologians liked to hand pick sections of this saint's works - to support sola fide. I didn't know that they also disregarded anything that smacked of overt Catholicism, or that this saint believed in Church Authority, the Magisterium, the Real Presence, or Apostolic Succession.

In fact, I didn't know anything about St. Augustine - not even how to pronounce his name, which I said AW-gus-teen rather than Uh-GUS-tin.

But that's just the kind of thing God uses. He seems to delight in taking us down unfamiliar roads and showing us unfamiliar things.

And that is how this book became the first of many, many books to grace my nightstand - all written by Catholic saints with names as unfamiliar to me as the teachings of their Church.

That is how I stumbled upon Mother Church. I picked up a book by St. Augustine and was so amazed by the Truth I discovered - that I began to seek out books by saints, deliberately.

And six months later, I walked through the door of a Catholic Church and began to say yes to a journey that God had already begun . . . the journey home.

Quotes by St. Augustine on his Feast Day

Let truth, the light of my heart, speak to me in the dark, and not my own darkness! I fell away and I was in the dark, but even from there, even from there I loved you. I went astray and I remembered you. I heard your voice behind me, calling me back, and I could scarcely hear it for all the noise made by those without your peace. And now, look, I return thirsty and panting to your fountain.

For when I seek you, my God, I am seeking the happy life.

And this is the happy life - to rejoice in you and to you and because of you. This is the happy life, there is no other.
. . . for my thoughts are on the price of my redemption; I eat it and drink it and give it to others to eat and drink. . .

Come, Lord, act upon us and rouse us up and call us back! Fire us, clutch us, let your sweet fragrance grow upon us! Let us love, let us run!


Thursday, August 27, 2009

New Novena to Blessed Dina Bélanger - at request of reader in the Philippines

Please join us in praying a Novena in preparation for September 4 - Blessed Dina Bélanger.

Day One - Novena to Blessed Dina Bélanger

Day One - Novena to Blessed Dina Bélanger (September 4)

Father of everlasting goodness,
You put into the heart of Blessed Dina Bélanger the burning desire to offer you on behalf of all mankind, the infinite riches of the Heart of Jesus present in the Eucharist, and, to live, like Mary, closely united to Him whom she loved with an undivided heart.

May we, like her, find our joy in faithfully doing your Will, and since you revealed to her your great desire to pour out upon the world the abundance of your graces, hear the prayer which we make for your greater glory, and which we entrust to her intercession.

Dear Dina, thank you for your joy and your desire to follow God's Will in all things. Thank you for your intercession for every heart - suffering hearts, desperate and sad hearts, and for those who desire greatly to be loved by someone. Thank you for helping us to find Jesus and Mary in every moment , every place in our daily life and help us to smile, no matter the circumstances because we believe God is Joy, God is Light, God is Mercy.

Original Novena, click here


Feast of St. Monica Slips Away - Feast of St. Augustine Takes Its Place

(From Confessions by St. Augustine)

The day was now approaching when my mother Monica would depart from this life; you know that day, Lord, though we did not. She and I happened to be standing by ourselves at a window that overlooked the garden in the courtyard of the house. At the time we were in Ostia on the Tiber. And so the two of us, all alone, were enjoying a very pleasant conversation, "forgetting the past and pushing on to what is ahead.." We were asking one another in the presence of the Truth - for you are the Truth - what it would be like to share the eternal life enjoyed by the saints, which "eye has not seen, nor ear heard, which has not even entered into the heart of man." We desired with all our hearts to drink from the streams of your heavenly fountain, the fountain of life. That was the substance of our talk, though not the exact words.

But you know, O Lord, that in the course of our conversation that day, the world and its pleasures lost all their attraction for us. My mother said, "Son, as far as I am concerned, nothing in this life now gives me any pleasure. I do not know why I am still here, since I have no further hopes in this world. I did have one reason for wanting to live a little longer: to see you become a Catholic Christian before I died. God has lavished his gifts on me in that respect, for I know that you have even renounced earthly happiness to be his servant."

*Just days after this conversation with her son, St. Monica passed into eternity.

Blessed Feast of St. Monica

St. Monica of Hippo (A.D. 332–387) was the mother of Augustine, who wrote extensively of her virtues and his life with her in his Confessions. Monica was born in the North African city of Tagaste. As a mother, she sent Augustine to a bishop to be convinced of his errors. The bishop, however, was unable to prevail, and he advised Monica simply to continue to pray for her son, telling her "It is impossible that the son of so many tears should perish." At the age of 28, great graces were poured into the life of Augustine, according to his Confessions. He was received into the Catholic Church and became a great theologian. Monica's son is now known as St. Augustine.

Lord, help us to have St. Monica's tenacity when we pray for the conversion of our dear one. And through the intercession of St. Monica and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we beg of you to hear our prayers this day for (insert name here). Amen.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The First Clarinet -The First Communion

Yesterday, I sat in the car at the end of my driveway and waited for my daugther to get off the bus. She had an orthodontic appointment, and we had to hustle or we wouldn't make it.

While I waited for her to hop in the car, I noticed Alexis, the sixth grader who lives next door. She was walking down her own drive, waiting for her brother to get off the bus. Alexis strolled down her driveway, playing a clarinet. I could tell that she was really hoping that the little kids on the elementary bus would take notice. She was not only in middle school now - she had an instrument!

I watched the little scene with a note of pessimism. Yeah, she loves the clarinet now, but how will she feel about it in six months? Will she still be eager to play it when it's practice time and nobody is listening?

I realized, with shame, that I was doing the same thing an editor did when I wrote an article about my daughter's First Communion. I wrote about my great joy. That, finally, I had someone from my family joining me at the Altar to receive Our Eucharistic Lord. No longer alone, I had someone to walk the aisle with me. Someone dear to me to talk to about how wonderful it was to be Catholic. My joy could not be contained.

Yes, but how will you feel if she falls away from the Sacraments? Many parents have to deal with that. Do you have any fears that she won't stay Catholic?

Uh! You have got to be kidding me! I wanted to shoot back a very indignant response.

But really, isn't that exactly how I responded to Alexis' joy at playing the clarinet in her driveway on a warm August afternoon?

It is a joyfilled moment. We should drink in these moments. Praise God for days like today.

And maybe let the pessimistic thoughts fly away.

Life is a gift. Today is filled with good things. And sometimes we have to protect our hearts from letting our own thoughts steal it all away.


Catholic Blogging - reaching non-Catholics

No doubt about it, blogging is in. It's fun. It's a great way to hone your writing skills. And it is a cutting edge tool for communicating with the masses.

It is also an excellent way to evangelize.

There is one tip that seems to be a no-brainer to me. If you want to reach potential converts (and not merely those who already love Mother Church), you need to give special thought to the labels you attach to your posting. For that matter, your title is hugely important as well.

For example, my recent postings have included the following labels: D.L. Moody, Emmaus Retreat, United Methodist, preacher's daughter. These labels are not likely to gain Catholic readers. They are likely to pull in evangelical Protestants who are googling words/people which are familiar to them.

If your number one goal (as a Catholic blogger) is to evangelize for Mother Church, whenever possible, you should link up your posting to labels and titles that serve as a calling card for non-Catholics.

What is your unique history? I'm a former evangelical Protestant preacher's daughter. There is an entire register of words that I can use to pull in evangelical Protestant googlers.

What are your specific hobbies? What roles do you play? Where do you live? These hobbies, roles and geographic locations could be used to pull in non-Catholic readers who share these things in common with you.

Sure, blogging is fun. And you are likely to have lots and lots of Catholic readers if you have an overtly Catholic blog. But if your goal is to evangelize a little bit in the process, make sure your titles and labels don't merely "preach to the choir" - be sure they reach out and grab the googler that isn't Catholic yet. Your blog posting may reach them in their teachable moment. Your posting might actually become a moment of grace.

Never underestimate the power of a google when grace is working in tandem with it.


Emmaus Retreat Prayer

I attended the North Georgia Women's Walk to Emmaus, where I sat at the Table of Deborah.

If you've been on this retreat, you recognize the pattern. You have your own Emmaus identifier. Your own version of the secret handshake. In the early 1990s, when I attended my retreat, I was married to an associate United Methodist minister. The "on fire" Methodists in our parish were drafted one-by-one to go to the Emmaus Retreat. For many, it was a turning point, a springboard for deep conversion.

At the retreat, we learned a new prayer, and it became our theme. We claimed it as our great petition. We recited it together when we met in small reunion groups.

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful and kindle in them the fire of Your love. Send forth Your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth. O, God Who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy Your consolations. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Little did we know. . . this prayer came from a book we didn't even recognize as part of the canon of Sacred Scripture. When we memorized the Books of the Bible (as children in Sunday School classes), this one wasn't among the titles.
We simply did not realize that this prayer - this beautiful Emmaus prayer - was spoken by Judith. We didn't know that it was lifted from the pages of a book we had never read. We had no idea what we were missing. Oh, Judith, your story is such a treasure! Oh, that more and more people would come to know this story . . . and learn of your great courage and unwavering devotion!

Judith 16
Make music to my God with drums,
sing to my Lord with cymbals.
Begin a new song to him,
extol and call upon his name.
You are the God who crushes battle-lines,
you set up your camp among your people,
you save me from the grip of my persecutors.
I will sing a new song to God:
Lord, you are great and glorious,
wonderful in your unconquerable power.
Let all your creatures serve you,
for you spoke and they were made,
you sent forth your spirit, and they were created:
there is no-one who can resist your command.
For the mountains will be shaken to their roots,
the seas will be stirred up,
at your sight the rocks will melt like wax –
but to those who fear you,
you will show your loving kindness.

*This passage was reprinted from the Universalis website.
**To read more from the Book of Judith, click here.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Big Days Ahead

The CBG blog has had heavy traffic the last few days with significant numbers of hits on the Novena to St. Monica. It is a good time to remind all of you that St. Monica and St. Augustine's feast days are around the corner. It is a wonderful time to ask for their intercession for more conversions. St. Monica's prayers ushered in St. Augustine's conversion (mother praying for son), and I'm sure their joint prayers for more conversions will be very efficacious.

After you have sought their intercessions, consider inviting your dear one to try RCIA class this year.

Many blessings,

Denise Bossert, Catholic by Grace


Archbishop Chaput quote (from "Health Care and The Common Good")

No system that allows or helps fund ... the killing of unborn children, or discrimination against the elderly and persons with special needs, can bill itself as 'common ground.'
-Archbishop Chaput

Read more. . .

Guidelines for Catholic Speaking and Writing

I am convinced that Catholic speakers and writers should not seek to garner attention, nor should they seek to gain excessive financial reward. Whenever possible, Catholic speaking and writing should be given freely, in the same manner that the Truth came to us freely as converts and cradle Catholics. For those who bear the weight of providing for a family, adequate compensation is not only necessary; it is just. The worker is worthy of his wages/hire. That is scriptural. And certainly, travel expenses should be covered. But, as it says in today's New Testament Reading:

From 1 Thessalonians 2
We have not taken to preaching because we are deluded, or immoral, or trying to deceive anyone; it was God who decided that we were fit to be entrusted with the Good News, and when we are speaking, we are not trying to please men but God, who can read our inmost thoughts. You know very well, and we can swear it before God, that never at any time have our speeches been simply flattery, or a cover for trying to get money; nor have we ever looked for any special honour from men, either from you or anybody else, when we could have imposed ourselves on you with full weight, as apostles of Christ.
Instead, we were unassuming.


Recipe For Happiness

From Today's Morning Prayer (Lauds)

Happy the nation whose lord is God,
the people he has chosen as his inheritance.

This morning's prayers brought back a memory to me from 2004. My father had died just weeks earlier, and that February night, I had a dream. I captured the memory in my spiritual journal (and it is posted below). In time, I realized that Dad was talking to me about the journey I was beginning - though I didn't know it yet. But I latched on to the word "happy" - and when I picked up a book by St. Augustine - Confessions - I ran across the definition of happiness (happy is the one who loves and serves God alone). It was an important moment in my journey home.

A year later, I was in RCIA class and eager to enter Mother Church. I asked God for a sign - a signal to show me that Dad was safely in the arms of God. I had written a poem about that dream, and I prayed for it to be published one day, and when I saw it in print, I would know that all was well with my father.

It was unprecidented. I had never published any piece of poetry - and I had never published anything in a magazine. But after my conversion, Canticle magazine did take that poem and publish it. And in that same issue, Father Ed Silvia had an article on Purgatory and what happens when we pray for someone who has already passed into the beatific vision. I knew I had my answer.

February 2004 -
I had a dream last night. It was not a metaphorical dream. It was real. Like being more awake than when I am awake. Dad sat in front of me along a shore. Tufts of grass dotted the peaceful seaside. Nothing disturbed the moment, not even the tide. There were no birds in the sky, no heavy breeze. Dad’s face was shining, full of love, his countenance radiant. He said “I love you.” And the love I felt for him was so great, so full, that I spontaneously responded, “I love you too, Dad.” Then, Dad became full of energy, bubbling over with things he wanted to say, and he began to speak fast and furious about something of great importance. None of the words made any sense. He was speaking in a language I could not understand. I tried to stop him, but he continued. I said, with some degree of irritation, “Dad, I can’t understand a word of what you are saying.” He stopped abruptly and looked off to his right—beyond my periphery—and paused. It was like he could see and hear someone that remained hidden from me. Then he looked at me again and said softly, lovingly, “I just want you to be happy.” In that moment, I had no memory of his death. I had no memory of anything that had happened in the previous two months. And so I said, almost laughing, “But I am happy!”

And then I remembered, Dad is dead.

And the thought came to me, how can I ever be happy again? I woke up crying. I knew that it had not been a dream. I had been with Dad. I had been permitted to hear him say I love you and to say it to him in return. I had not been permitted to know the wonderful truths that he had so wanted me to know, but I knew (and still know) that I will one day understand it all.

And maybe I’ll even be happy again.

*I now know that the words I could not understand - they were words of Truth, which God would translate for me through the power of conversion. In short, I would discover that One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. And, I would be happy. . .

Monday, August 24, 2009

I Love It When That Happens!

I was cleaning out my email inbox earlier today. (I'm ashamed to say that my backlog of emails goes all the way back to 2006.) I decided I had to sort and delete-or-save as many emails as possible. My inbox was getting ridiculously cluttered with old news. I came across one email and decided it needed an action outside of delete-or-save.

It required a follow-up.

I wrote an I'm-thinking-of-you-today reply to Mary (even though I was certain that she would be shocked to hear from me since she wrote me LAST JANUARY). I was wondering how things had turned out for Mary. Last January, when I sent her two books that helped me on my journey back home, she was in a "stuck" place, not sure if she was going to keep going all the way to Easter Vigil. She sent me a note of thanks for the two books, and that was our last communication.

Today's email let her know I still care. No matter what she decided to do.

Mary wrote back to say that she entered the Church at Easter Vigil 2009 and it has brought great joy. As so often happens, her journey has impacted those around her. With grace and time, perhaps many more lives will be changed. Her note brought tears to my eyes.

I have a special place in my heart for Mary. She is a preacher's daughter - like me. And I know from experience that the journey home for preacher's kids is a very complicated one. But, His grace is sufficient. . .

Thank you, Lord, for taking care of Mary. One more sojourner - now Catholic by Grace.


Feast of Saint Bartholomew, Apostle

St. Bartholomew was born at Cana and brought by the Apostle Philip to meet Jesus. Nothing further is known for certain. Eusebius speaks of him in India, but the Roman Martyrology has him martyred in Armenia, skinned alive according to the Persian custom. Because his relics were enshrined on the island in the Tiber that is principally used as a hospital, he has become a patron saint of the sick.
(from the Universalis website)
For more information on this feast day and others, go to:


So Many Ways to Say: One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church

So Many Ways to Say: One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church - rejoice that you belong to this Household of Faith!

From Today's Morning Prayer (Lauds)
Ephesians 2:19-22
You are no longer aliens or foreign visitors: you are citizens like all the saints, and part of God’s household. You are part of a building that has the apostles and prophets for its foundations, and Christ Jesus himself for its main cornerstone. As every structure is aligned on him, all grow into one holy temple in the Lord; and you too, in him, are being built into a house where God lives, in the Spirit.

From Today's New Testament Mass Reading
Apocalypse 21:9-14
The angel came to speak to me, and said, ‘Come here and I will show you the bride that the Lamb has married.’ In the spirit, he took me to the top of an enormous high mountain and showed me Jerusalem, the holy city, coming down from God out of heaven. It had all the radiant glory of God and glittered like some precious jewel of crystal-clear diamond. The walls of it were of a great height, and had twelve gates; at each of the twelve gates there was an angel, and over the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel; on the east there were three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. The city walls stood on twelve foundation stones, each one of which bore the name of one of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Walking Backwards

I can't remember the last time I walked backwards. Can you?

This morning, I gave my 10 year old some clothes to put in her chest of drawers. I happened to be walking past the hallway just in time to catch her walking backwards down the full length of the hallway until she reached her room.

She was smiling as she carefully held her folded clothes and tried to keep from bumping into walls.

She had taken a daily chore and turned it into an adventure. She had turned the mundane into a moment of joy.

We can take lessons from "little ones such as these". Our daily chores can wear us out. Sometimes, we need to look at the task and find some joy in it. Turn it into something else. See it as an opportunity.

And when we take our litany of chores and make it into a litany of offerings to God, something beautiful happens.

The mundane things in life have new purpose. Washing the floor becomes an opportunity for prayer. Straightening a room becomes an intercessory prayer for a rightly ordered soul. A car repair becomes a reminder of how long it has been since we went to Confession.

Life is a lesson. Chores are crosses. Everything gets recycled into something bigger and better. Something for God.

And we smile as we work, because we have found new meaning. And maybe, just maybe, someone we love will catch us in the act of "walking backwards" and it will bring a smile to them as well.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

His Grace is Sufficient

In case you were wondering, the room is painted, and we came through it without a hitch. Take my word for it: Deliberately going to the well of sacramental-marital grace is definitely worth it. The room looks great, and we're still smiling.

Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ!


Happy Mother's Day

Night is upon us, and I haven't yet paused to mention that it is Our Lady's day. I have thought of it many times today, stopped what I was doing for a moment or two, and thanked the Blessed Mother - Our Queen Mother - for all the graces she has deposited in my life.

I know she is our advocate, that she goes to her Son, the King of Kings, on our behalf.

This Woman is only human and not divine, and yet. . .

She goes to her Son, like King Solomon's mother did, and tells Him what we need - as she did so long ago at the Wedding in Cana. My Son, they have no wine. My son, they need a special touch, more grace, mercies beyond measure, faith, hope, love. Whatever we lack, she gently speaks of our needs to her Son.

Queen of saints.
Queen of apostles.
Queen of angels.
Queen of heaven and earth.

And Mother of all who call upon her to intercede.


Dipping Into Marital Grace

I tried to find a picture of a couple painting a room together - because that is on our agenda for the day. I had a number of problems. All the pictures I found were of young couples - not couples who had been married more than a decade. And most of the couples appeared to be in that wonderful honeymoon period.

Nobody looked grumpy about the task at hand.

Nobody wanted to put down the brush and just walk off to calm down and cool off.

We are not young - and we are definitely not in the honeymoon phase. And, we have never painted together. Oh, we each have painted rooms - on our own. But we realized that our age has made teamwork necessary. I can do the trim all around the baseboard, and only have to get up and down once.

John can do the trim at the ceiling (he's great at cutting in), because he can move up and down the ladder better than doing floor work.

Oh, we'll both be sore tomorrow. No doubt about that. But the most important thing is that we don't let the frustration of the task get to us. Sometimes, that means you have to ask in order to receive. So, I'm asking for that sacramental grace we are promised, the grace that is ours as a husband and wife because we are married sacramentally. Grace that is more powerful than any silly emotion. Grace that can take a couple from the honeymoon period into the vastness of all the rest of life. The days when the car breaks down and you can't afford a new one. The days when a child is sick or an older daughter is pregnant and unmarried. The days when a couple must join forces to paint a bedroom.

Every sacrament is sacred and holy. Every sacrament is a source of grace.

And today, we need marital grace.


Friday, August 21, 2009

How Did The Early Church View Mother Church?

To Imitate the Early Church . . . one must be Catholic

St Clement of Alexandria (c. 150 - 216 A.D.) Calling her children about her, she [the Church] nourishes them with holy milk, that is, with the Infant Word...The Word is everything to a child: both Father and Mother, both Instructor and Nurse. "Eat my Flesh," He says, "and drink my Blood." The Lord supplies us with these intimate nutriments. He delivers over His Flesh, and pours out His Blood; and nothing is lacking for the growth of His children. O incredible mystery! (Instructor of Children 1:6:42,1,3)


Not the Kool-Aid Mom

I'm not the Kool-Aid mom. My children's friends never descended on our house. I had to be sweet talked into sleepovers and play dates. It just wasn't on my to-do list.

And it still isn't, even though I'm coming down the home stretch with the youngest child. She's begged for weeks to have her best friend visit or for me to take them to a movie. She reminded me that Brit's mom has taken her to the movies twice. So, when they called to take my daughter to the movies this weekend, I felt guilty. I found myself saying the words, "Oh, it's our turn, you've taken her twice. How about this. . . how about letting me take the girls."

I don't think I will ever be the Kool-Aid mom. I like quiet. Kool-Aid moms don't mind a cacophony of voices. I like things to be calm. Kool-Aid moms don't mind chaos.

And yet, I must try. I must be willing to open my heart and home to the ones that are dear to my children.

Our Lady does this so well. She is the ultimate Kool-Aid mom. When her children come to her and beg her to let a friend come for a visit, she always has open arms. She throws her mantle over any child that comes to the doors of Mother Church and knocks. She greets them with the warmest smile and says come on in. Everybody's in the family room - and they'll be so glad to see you."

Blessed Mother, give me the grace to be more like you. Teach me what true hospitality really means.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Progressive Perspective or Pernicious Pride?

The far Left has a new label. A self-coined title. They now refer to themselves as Progressives. One of their pet projects is to ensure that women's reproductive health care is available to all women. The two fundamental components to reproductive healthcare - according to Progressives - are contraception (including abortifacient drugs) and abortion, even though there is nothing about abortion that promotes health or health care. Furthermore, they plan to add forty million people to the system, at the expense of health care for senior citizens. Let's face it, if we are to keep health care costs down while adding forty million more people into the system, there will be rationing. The only place where the rationing might come close to covering the tab of 40 million new insured patients is if we cut back significantly on the services/care for the elderly. Twenty-somethings, as a whole, don't rack up high health care bills. Nor do thirty-somethings. Occasionally, forty- and fifty-somethings require expensive procedures and treatment. But after sixty, the cost goes way up. And it keeps going up and up from there. Sure, doing a nip and tuck on elderly care is sure to yield tremendous savings. But that's not progress. Not for babies and not for seniors.

Michael D. O'Brien summed up the problem when he crafted a dialogue in his book Father Elijah, attributing these words to his character bearing the same name:

Pride blinds us to our own blindness,” he said, “and there is no pride sweeter to the taste, and so enslaving, as the illusion of superior knowledge. This is especially true when one has a great deal invested emotionally in one’s own theory. --Father Elijah
Let's help the uninsured so that they have access to medical care, but not if the tab must be paid at the expense of the unborn and the aged. Redirect the stimulus money to the uninsured, raise taxes if you must, but protect the sanctity of life from conception to natural death.


I've Been Ping'd

Faithful Citizen pinged me. Here's a link to the Faithful Citizen blog.

Here's a teaser from the blog posting at FC:

The title (”Why August Matters“) seemed to refer to the August recess that legislators have, and the need to talk with them about health care legislation before they reconvene on September 8th. I was pleasantly surprised by the topic . . .

For people of faith, August is an important month no matter how you slice it. . .


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

For These Gifts, Lord, Make Us Truly Thankful

(Paintshop drawing of a Sunset - thanks to my 10 year old daughter)

It was a good day today - the kind of day that makes for a pleasant evening review. I woke up early to catch the first half of the Son Rise Morning Show. I had my first radio interview. I have the great joy of writing for Catholic papers. Gone are the days of producing works that end up in a cedar chest or the trashcan. My youngest is in her last year of elementary school. Tonight, the Parish School of Religion kicked off the year's program. The theme is reverence. Such a good theme. I came home and my husband had made apple crisp - still warm enough that the ice cream melted deliciously into the crumb topping. My oldest turned 26 today. She has turned into such a lovely woman.

And by the end of 2009, God willing, I will hold my first grandchild in my arms.

A very good day.

A Commercial to Make You Smile


Quote by St. John Eudes on His Feast Day

Finally, you are one with Jesus as the body is one with the head. You must, then, have one breath with him, one soul, one life, one will, one mind, one heart. And he must be your breath, heart, love, life, your all.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Radio Interview in the Morning

Dear Friends,

I will be interviewed Wednesday morning on EWTN Radio in Cincinnati - The Son Rise Morning Show. 8:20 AM - Eastern Time.

Your prayers are greatly appreciated.

God Bless You,

Denise Bossert


Bring Your Petition To The Eucharist When You Receive

(From the Afternoon reading (None)
Isaiah 55:10-11
Thus says the Lord: ‘As the rain and the snow come down from the heavens and do not return without watering the earth, making it yield and giving growth to provide seed for the sower and bread for the eating, so the word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do.
You receive not because you ask not.


Give Me a Sign

Do you ever feel weak and unimportant?

In today's Mass Reading, Gideon felt like this. The Angel of the Lord came to Gideon and told him that he, Gideon, would deliver the people from the tyranny of Midian.

But Lord, I am from the weakest family in Israel. And I am the least in this very weak family, Gideon says.

The Angel assures Gideon that the Lord will be with him and that he, Gideon, will crush the enemy. But Gideon still isn't sure that this is a message from God, nor does he trust the prophecy. He asks for a sign.

First, Gideon prepares a meal.

Second, Gideon brings the meal to the Angel of the Lord, almost like an offering.

Third, Gideon waits and watches.

And the Angel speaks again to Gideon:

"Take the meat and unleavened cakes, put them on this rock and pour the broth over them." Then the angel of the Lord reached out the tip of the staff in his hand and touched the meat and unleavened cakes. Fire sprang from the rock and consumed the meat and unleavened cakes, and the angel of the Lord vanished before his eyes. Then Gideon knew this was the angel of the Lord, and he said, "Alas, my Lord! I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!" the Lord answered him, "Peace be with you; have no fear; you will not die." Gideon built an altar there to the Lord and called it The-Lord-is-Peace.

Sounds a little like Mass. Our offering is given. It is placed on the Altar. And we wait and watch. Then, the Lord comes to us. We are witnesses to the power of God. And the encounter with God brings peace and confidence.

Like Gideon, I feel inadequate. I don't feel like I am up to the task placed before me. I long to help my family members. My heart desires to see them reconciled to Mother Church. But I cannot imagine that I am the best choice for the mission.

It is a practically impossible task.

My family is Protestant. We have been Protestant for as long as anyone can remember. Perhaps even back as far as the 1500s.

And I am the least likely to lead any family member to Christ's Church. The members of my family do not consider me a spokesperson for God, an ambassador for Christ, or a venue for grace.

I am the weakest among them.

But I put that aside. When I go to Mass, I place everything on the Altar. I wait and watch. For I know that God is mighty. I know that He frequently chooses the weakest to enlighten the strongest. The fool to confound the world's wise.

And the Lord comes to me. I kneel and intercede for my people. And I receive God's power and peace - like Gideon did.

What are you being called to do? Do you have self-doubt? Do you worry that you are not gifted enough for the task He has placed before you?

Oh, but you are. Gideon encountered the Angel of the Lord, but we have encountered the Lord Himself - not merely in an external way - for He has come inside of us. And that encounter has set us on fire, consuming fear of failure. As it is written, "Fire sprang from the rock." And our rock is the Rock of Peter.

God equips the called. He rarely calls the equipped.


Monday, August 17, 2009


A couple of years ago, a local parish school was in a tight spot. Their 7th and 8th grade language arts teacher had a broken foot and an injured back. “Would you consider subbing for about four, maybe five weeks,” the principal asked. I agreed to help out temporarily, but when health issues prohibited the teacher from returning, the principal said the position was mine if I wanted it.

Just weeks earlier, I had decided I liked being a stay-at-home mom and occasional freelance writer. Indeed, I was quite happy with my little life. A contemplative by nature, I spent my days reading and writing and well, contemplating. I did not want to return to the classroom after eight years’ hiatus from teaching, and I certainly didn’t want to take on middle school students in a K-8 setting (my previous experience was in secondary and tertiary instruction).

But by the time I realized the classroom teacher wasn’t coming back, I had become attached to the students. Somewhere along the way, they had become my students. I cared too much to subject them to another transition. So, I signed contract and finished the year at Immaculate Conception School.

Almost immediately, I noticed that many of the students routinely jotted the initials JMJ at the tops of their papers. I had read Story of a Soul. Although a new convert, I knew that St. Therese had written JMJ on every page of her diary as a physical reminder that she dedicated every page of her life to the Holy Family.

I thought it was awesome that my students were doing this small thing for God, too. Dedicate every little thing to Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Yes, even a page of notes on characterization and story maps could and should be given back as an offering of love.

What I found really offensive, though, was the occasional incident in which a student cheated, and my eyes always went to the JMJ at the top of the student’s page. The cheating seemed to stink like rotten meat when it was done on a page dedicated to Jesus, Mary and Joseph. What does JMJ mean to them anyway? Does it really make a difference in how they live their lives? Is the dedicatory heading so routine that it has become a mechanical scrawl at the top of the page, along with their name, the date, and the class title? Shouldn’t it affect how they live their lives? At the very least, shouldn’t it deter them from cheating on the very page that boasts the Holy Family’s initials?

Sometimes, I would talk to my students and ask them these questions. I never singled out the offender du Jour. I suspected they all could benefit from a moment of self-reflection. So, I occasionally brought it up for general reflection and made a few comments about the importance of matching our words (both written and spoken) with our actions.

What about me? As the year came to a close, I realized that I had offended Our Lord more than any one of those students who carelessly jotted JMJ at the top of the page and moments later let their eyes roam to a neighbor’s paper or slipped a cheat-sheet from their desks. I had told myself that this year was for them. I was here for them. I loved them so much that I wanted to stay with them for the year and save them from another transition. In truth, I routinely went home and complained to my husband about how much our lives had changed by my going back into teaching. I told God He could have this year, but next year - well, next year would be different. No more mornings that began at five. No more falling into bed by nine in the evening. No more stacks of essays. No more cheating students. I wanted my life back.


With only a handful of weeks left in the school year, I paused for reflection - and I reflected on my life’s page. JMJ was clearly scrawled across the top of my life, but I was not living out my promise to the Holy Family. My life was not completely dedicated to God. I realized with great shame that my life was dedicated to me.

Give me the grace, Blessed Mother, to live my life for your Son and not for myself. JMJ - every minute of every day.

No kidding. No compromises. No self-deception.

It is so like God to use children to teach us an important spiritual lesson. Strange, isn’t it? And for seven months, I thought I was there to teach them.


The Last Beatitude

I received an email this morning from someone asking me how many beatitudes are in the official list. I went to my Essential Catholic Handbook, and there were nine listed. I quickly recopied them and sent them to her in an email, but when I got to the last one, I realized that God was trying to speak to me through this little request.

I had been mulling over an exchange I had with the previous editor at the St. Louis Review - about 18 months ago. The memory is a heartache for me, because the Review is the paper that published me first (as a Catholic writer). It is my home paper, and I enjoy reading it very much.

I had received numerous positive emails from the former editor during the years I wrote for the Viewpoints page. The editor (at that time) was a great encourager on a number of occasions. But then something happened. Out of the blue, he wrote to say that he was troubled by my writing. Specifically, he felt I had unresolved issues concerning my father's death, and this theme seemed to pop up too often in my column.

I didn't know how to respond to this, except to remind him that he knows me only through my writing, but I wanted to point out that my father's death had been the catalyst for my conversion. Dad's suffering was the downpayment on my journey home to Mother Church. Of course, this experience would come up now and then in my articles.

But not because I was still struggling with the loss. But because God, in His mysterious plan, used even this to bring me my greatest joy.

This morning, as I thought about the exchange of emails a year and a half ago, I felt sad about how things ended. And God used the last beatitude to calm my spirit.

Blessed are those who are wrongly accused as they seek to work for the Kingdom. Blessed are those who experience heartache and misunderstanding on account of their service to Jesus Christ.

I still wish there would be closure here. I am confident that all will be worked out, if not in this life, on the other side.

Rosalind Moss wrote me an email once and reminded me that God knows everything, and he is working all things for our good, even when things seem tangled. Even when others misunderstand. Even when a door is shut - hard.

It's all grace.

And you know what? The net result of all of this is that, while I continue to have articles published in other diocesan papers and Catholic venues, because I am not popping up in my own paper, my life remains little and hidden. And I prefer that.

It is good. I wouldn't be surprised if that is the reason God permitted this misunderstanding in the first place. He wants me to have a quiet life in my home diocese. He wants me to have plenty of room to grow in grace.


Sunday, August 16, 2009


John and Jen are at the Cardinals baseball game in St. Louis. I stayed home. In the back of my head I thought that I might get some writing done. Specifically, I planned to work on my monthly Catholic by Grace article.

I don't think I've ever had a month come along without some inspiration rising up from the mundane events of life to give me a little direction.

It's not the end of the month yet, so all is not lost. There's still time for something to break through the fog.

In college, we called it the Muse - that something that comes along and grabs the writer's attention.

I don't believe in it. I also don't believe what they used to say, about how the Muse comes to you and if you don't latch on to the inspiration "he" offers, he'll fly away and give the gem to someone else. He'll offer his gift to another more receptive writer.

No, I don't believe in the Muse.

I believe it has more to do with listening to life. Listening to my own life. A kind of know thyself inventory, where you become the student of your own life.

And if you are a person of faith, you get the added help of grace. You have the advantage of considering life events through the prism of grace.

And that makes everything fodder.

So, I'm waiting. Expectantly, waiting. For something to pierce through my foggy head and replace today's um with that wonderful sense of ah.

That's how it feels when grace shows up.

Cardinal Newman, pray for conversions!

Pope approves Beatification of Cardinal Newman! -according to an article at

(background information from the article)

"Newman was born in the City of London in 1801. He became a Church of England vicar and led the Oxford movement in the 1830s to draw Anglicans back to their Catholic roots. He converted to the Catholic faith at the age of 44 after a succession of clashes with Anglican bishops made him a virtual outcast from the Church of England."

Cardinal Newman is well known for his infamous quote: To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant.

For many converts, Cardinal Newman is a beacon, one who leads and lights the way home to the Catholic Church.

Do you like the quote? You can get it on a t-shirt by placing an order here. (I don't make anything off these promotions. I just like the quotation.)


The Messengers

Today, Father Ron celebrated the Mass at my parish in New Melle, Missouri. A few weeks ago, Father Chris celebrated the Mass here. And about a year ago, Father Athanasius celebrated the Mass with us.

There's nothing strange about that. We have visiting priests all the time.

What is interesting to me - as a convert from evangelical Protestantism - is where these priests come from.

Father Ron is from India. Father Chris works in South America - Peru, I think. And Father Athanasius is from Uganda. I remember him well. He said, "I am Father Athanasius from u-GHAN-dah. Not Father Euthanasia. Father Athanasius."

It is interesting to me - this trend toward having priests from other countries visit the United States - because I grew up in faith communities that sent workers to other countries. I sat through my share of mission presentations, where white Americans from our denomination shared about their travels to far-off countries. And they returned, with hours and hours of slide shows to help us see what their efforsts and our financial sacrifices had accomplished. Without realizing it, I began to have an image in my mind of the Christian Church. It was white, anglo-saxon, and Protestant. And we went into the world to preach the Good News.

It is a skewed view of the Christian faith. In reality, these visiting priests tell the real story. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not a message told to the world by white North Americans (like many of us from the United States). The Gospel Message is the story of Jesus Christ. The message comes to us, from the lips of many nations, because the Bride of Christ is made up of the faithful from every country.

We do not own this message. And it is not primarily entrusted to white Americans.

It is a message for all people.

Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ, for you have sent workers to all nations, including my own, to preach the Gospel of Christ.

I am the little one from some remote village, who hears the message from a traveler. God's messengers have come to me, to bring me Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.
And to remind me that the Catholic Church is indeed universal.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Assumed Into Heaven - it just makes sense

I had a terrible time with the Immaculate Conception when I was studying the Catholic faith - what a year it was, that year before entering the Church. But the Assumption of Our Lady was easy in comparison.

It just made sense to me.

Once I accepted that Mary was conceived without sin, full of every grace from the moment of her conception, the Assumption seemed obvious.

She would not - could not - suffer from sins' final destructive force. Of course, the Lord would want to reach down and lift His mother out of the world.

Of course, He would want to bring her to Himself. There is no way on God's green earth that He would let His mother's perfect body remain here until the end of time.

If we believe that Christ will return one day and receive the faithful, that He will raise the faithful from the earth and give them new, glorified bodies, then why in heaven's name wouldn't we believe that He would first do it for His own mother?

A perfect son (who also happens to be the Word of God Incarnate) would most definitely break through the veil that separates this world from the eternal world and call His mother to His side.

Certainly, He would not wait for the end of time. Not a chance.

And this is the final clue that the Catholic Church got this one right. It doesn't take a rocket scientest to realize that the Church has gone to great lengths to preserve and venerate the remains of every saint they possibly can. If the Blessed Mother's body had not been assumed into heaven, every Catholic would know where her remains were buried.

Why do we not have the remains of Our Lord's body? Evangelicals respond immediately by saying, "Because He is not here. He has ascended, and He will come again."

Ah, yes. They are right. But why do we not have the remains of Our Lady's body? It is not a coverup. It is not a clever game. It is really very simple and altogether lovely. Our Lord loved His mother so much that He broke through the great divide and said, "Come."

And the entire Church, the Bride of Christ, looks to this event as a sign of hope. One day, He will come for us as well. One day, the heavens will open and the Lord will say to us, "Come."

It is not too difficult to understand. Not too difficult at all.


Now I Can Go Into The Holy of Holies

I always thought that these were wonderful songs. As an evangelical, I played them and replayed them.

But what was the Holy of Holies? And if I can enter that place now, because I am on this side of the resurrection, what would that "holiest place" look like? What would be in this most holy place?

Here's a wonderful article at that answers this question beautifully.

And if you have found that place, where the New Ark of the Covenant is found, where the High Priest can enter, where one can kneel, where one can receive the Blood that cleanses . . . then listen with joyfilled hearts:

Songs by Petra and Truth
Admittance to the Holy of Holies by the Rock of Peter and the Most Holy Trinity

Quote from St. Maximilian Kolbe on his Feast Day

If angels could be jealous of men, they would be so for one reason: Holy Communion.
- St. Maximilian Kolbe

*An appropriate quote on the day I celebrate the anniversary of my First Communion and entry into Holy Mother Church. All for You, my Lord and my King - with great thanksgiving.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Quotes by D.L. Moody

Dwight L. Moody. Now there's an evangelical icon for you. I did my first research paper at the college level on him.

It's tough to find a more zealous and sincere evangelist. Some of his best quotes are still stuck in my head. And I wrote that paper about 25 years ago.
Consider some quotes by D.L. Moody:

Character is what you are in the dark. (St. John of the Cross would like this one)

The world does not understand theology or dogma, but it understands love and sympathy. (Blessed Mother Teresa would love this one)

There are many of us that are willing to do great things for the Lord, but few of us are willing to do little things. (St. Therese would love this one)

I have had more trouble with myself than with any other man I have ever met! (St. Augustine would like this one)

The world has yet to see what God can do with one man who is fully committed to Him.

To this, the saints would say, "Ah, but you are mistaken, Mr. Moody. The world has seen what God can do with one man who is wholly committed to him. His name is Jesus Christ. And He is fully God and fully man. And furthermore, anyone who wants to be counted in that great communion of saints must pick up his own cross and follow. For you see, all of God's saints have learned this one thing: to become a saint one must die to self completely, so that Christ can live in him.

So, the truth of the matter is that Christ set the standard. And many have followed in His steps. Try looking at the Lives of the Saints, and you will realize that the world has seen what God can do with those who are wholly committed to him.

Go and do likewise.


Who Needs Mary and the Priests?

Why do we need the Blessed Virgin Mary and why do we need priests in the Christian faith today? It seems like most faith communities get along quite fine without them.

Until you think of Mary in terms of the Ark of the Covenant (if you still don't see how the Ark of the Covenant prefigured Mary, click here). Until you read about the Old Testament priests. Until you consider Joshua and how the Israelites entered the Promised Land.
Then, you begin to see . . . you begin to understand.

If we are to enter the Land God has promised us, we must do as Joshua did when they crossed the Jordan.

We must follow behind the Ark of the Covenant and the priests of God. When they did this, the waters parted. And they passed through, into the Land, on dry ground. (I know, it sounds like a replay of Moses and the Sea. That prefigured baptism. This crossing prefigures the final crossing, into eternity and discovering the place He has prepared for us.)

Consider today's Old Testament Reading, and ask yourself, How will I get to the Land He has promised to me?

The answer is this: Follow the leading of Our Lady and God's holy priests. God will be in your midst. And He will draw back the waters. And you will pass through the Jordan safely and claim the Promised Land.

Who needs Mary and the Priests?

I do.

Joshua 3:7-11,13-17
The Lord said to Joshua, ‘This very day I will begin to make you a great man in the eyes of all Israel, to let them be sure that I am going to be with you even as I was with Moses. As for you, give this order to the priests carrying the ark of the covenant: “When you have reached the brink of the waters of the Jordan, you are to stand still in the Jordan itself” .’ Then Joshua said to the Israelites, ‘Come closer and hear the words of the Lord your God.’ Joshua said, ‘By this you shall know that a living God is with you and without a doubt will expel the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Hivite, the Perizzite, the Girgashite, the Amorite and the Jebusite. Look, the ark of the Lord,’ the Lord of the whole earth, is about to cross the Jordan at your head. As soon as the priests with the ark of the Lord, the Lord of the whole earth, have set their feet in the waters of the Jordan, the upper waters of the Jordan flowing down will be stopped in their course and stand still in one mass.’
Accordingly, when the people struck camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carried the ark of the covenant in front of the people. As soon as the bearers of the ark reached the Jordan and the feet of the priests who carried it touched the waters (the Jordan overflows the whole length of its banks throughout the harvest season) the upper waters stood still and made one heap over a wide space – from Adam to the fortress of Zarethan – while those flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah, that is, the Salt Sea, stopped running altogether. The people crossed opposite Jericho. The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood still on dry ground in mid-Jordan, and all Israel continued to cross dry-shod till the whole nation had finished its crossing of the river.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Barb and the Beanstalk

Do you have any favorites among your extended family? I do. I'm not one for naming names. Too many people get hurt feelings if they aren't in the top five. But, I'll let you in on my secret. I like Barb. She is sweetness and goodness and kindness - all those things I want to be. But it all comes so easily for her - or at least, she makes it look like it does.

A few months back, we celebrated her oldest son's First Communion. In the middle of all the planning and running and fixing and cleaning, she found time to set aside a little gift for us.

My husband John is the godfather. He got a garden stone with little glass marbles that form a rosary.

I got a few seeds. Purple Hyacinth Ornamental Beans. Just a handful - and a note.

Soak these until they sprout.
Plant these until they peek out of the soil.
Replant these outside.
And wait.

I followed her instructions. And I enjoy looking at these beautiful climbing plants with their purple flowers.

Barb's seeds. Seeds that came from last year's plants. Carefully harvested seeds. Given with love. Grown with patience.

And if you follow my blog, you know where I'm going with this.

It's all about the journey of faith. Our journeys overlap. The goodness of God gets passed back and forth by the faithful, to others in the Family, to others outside the Family. And the love of God becomes seeds that fall. Many seeds. Scattered far and wide. And some take root. And some grow strong. And some make it all the way to harvest time, and provide the seeds for next year.

Seeds. Given freely. A handful here, a handful there.
I received Barb's seeds. Next year, if I follow Barb's lead, I will give seeds to someone else. Denise's seeds. And on and on.

Like the saints, whose lives bore fruit, and we are the harvest. You and I - we are the seeds.

Let your faith take root and yield a beautiful harvest - and give the faith to another.


St. Jane Frances de Chantal, the Mom

A quote by today's saint - St. Jane Frances de Chantal giving advice to one of her daughters:

Should you fall even fifty times a day, never on any account should that surprise or worry you. Instead, ever so gently set your heart back in the right direction and practice the opposite virtue, all the time speaking words of love and trust to our Lord after you have committed a thousand faults, as much as if you had committed only one. Once we have humbled ourselves for the faults God allows us to become aware of in ourselves, we must forget them and go forward.

For more on this saint, click here.


Remember The Red Shirt?

Do you remember the red t-shirt my husband ordered for me from KU Catholic Center? Well, he also ordered one for our daughter. Because the shirts don't come in children's sizes, he ordered a size he knew would be too large - but one she could wear as a night shirt.

The other night, when I tucked our daughter into bed, I realized that's how most Catholics wear their faith.
The faith is dear to them, but they only "wear" it in private. They don't put it out there for others to see.

While it is appropriate for children to "wear their faith" in more private ways (because they are growing into the faith, only beginning to fit into the faith and discover ways to share the faith), it is not appropriate for the adults to wear the faith only in private.
The laity must share the faith. We cannot expect our religious to do it alone. First, non-Catholics are likely to dismiss religious, thinking of course they like their Church and want to defend her teachings - one would expect that.

What they do not expect, however, is that the regular guy or gal in the pew can share the faith or defend her teachings. That is not expected.
And that's why it carries far more weight in the eyes of non-Catholics.

That's why it grabs their attention.

So, whether or not you have the red shirt, be a Catholic willing to share the faith. Don't merely "wear it as a night shirt".


Recipe for Disaster or Source of Reconciliation?

It's our Gospel Reading for today. It contains a system for resolving differences.

The mission of reconciliation can only be successful if the Church is fully united. As a former Protestant (now Catholic), I read the passage below and say to myself I know which church Our Lord is referring to here. In order for this passage to ring true, there can only be one Source. But there are enough denominations out there, with so many different views, that a disgruntled party can find some faith community that will side with them regardless of the position. Likewise, the "opponent" can go to another faith community that will side with them. That's the problem with the passage. It cannot work, unless there is one Source. One well of wisdom.

Consider today's Reading and ask yourself this question: If God didn't intend for the Church to have one deposit of faith (rather than many denominations with differing viewpoints) how can this passage ring true? Either the Bible is pie-in-the-sky wrong about this, or there is one Church with one voice in order to provide a source of reconciliation for all couples, all businesses, every parent and child, every brother or sister, for everyone.

As it is, with 33,000 denominations in the United States alone, you can find some faith community to support almost anything. Look hard enough, and you'll find some faith leader more than happy to side with you.

So, which church is it?

Matthew 18:15-20 (New American Standard Bible)
If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.

Here's the American version:
If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, great. If he does not listen to you, gossip about him to all your friends. If he still doesn't listen to you, well, good luck with that. Try taking him to court.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

God's Poetry

(The following CBG article ran in diocesan papers in 2006-2007. That year, I taught in a 7th/8th grade English classroom after the teacher became ill just three weeks into the school year. That same 8th grade class lost a student to suicide in October - when a family friend posed as an admirer of the 8th grade girl and sent messages that devastated Megan Meier to the point of despair. You have probably heard of Megan's story. It has been covered by national news and prompted a change in Missouri State Law regarding online harassment. I began teaching at Megan's school just weeks before the tragedy and remained with those classes until the end of the school year. It was not part of my plan. I wanted to continue writing full time. But I felt that God wanted me there - for a little while - for the sake of the students who mourned the death of their classmate. This article came out of that year's experiences. With prayers and intercession for Megan, her family, and all the lives she touched. Lord, hear our prayer.)

“So much depends upon a red wheelbarrow, glazed with rainwater, beside the white chickens.” American poet William Carlos Williams wrote the poem. I happen to like it, but my husband just laughs and says, “That’s not a poem; it’s a sentence.” John is right, of course; it is a sentence. I am right, too; it is definitely poetry. I guess I just like the simplicity. In my mind, I can see the wheelbarrow as it rests against the chicken coop and the rain bathes the wheelbarrow like an agrarian version of blessed holy water.

To me, it is the ideal of poetry, which should contemplate life, human interaction, and the complexities of our existence, like a pale imitation of faith and the spiritual journey. If that is the purpose of poetry, then “The Red Wheelbarrow” is indeed a poem and not merely a flowery sentence.

As a Christian, I am that red wheelbarrow, overused at times, underused at times, and sometimes used for fun and frolic. Many times, I feel like I am overworked by the Master. I want to cry out, “Can’t I just go back over there by the chicken coop and rest a bit? Lord, aren’t you driving me a bit too hard?”

Then, I sometimes feel abandoned. Like the wheelbarrow, I am propped up beside a chicken coop and left to wait and wait, as the rainwater drizzles down and the chickens peck at the ground. The dog days of summer stretch out before me, and I long for Jesus to take me for a joyride, letting some small child climb aboard, feet dangling as she throws back her head in laughter and the Master takes us both for a spin around the farm. I am happy to be used in this way. And the opportunities seem all too rare.

That is how it has been for me these last two years since my conversion. At times I am at rest – so much time to sit and reflect, time to contemplate God, my faith, and my purpose. But in those moments, I’ve often felt forgotten and even wondered if I would ever be used again for His service.

Other times, like now, I enter seasons in which I feel overworked – rushed about and pushed to the brink of my ability. I look back to the seasons of quiet contemplation, and I remember those days of rest with longing.

When I am most exhausted by seasons of active labor or feel forgotten in seasons of quiet contemplation, I am surprised and delighted when the Master decides that work and rest can wait. I can almost see the Master as He gently calls to me and says let’s do something else for awhile. Let’s have a little fun. I smile as He lifts a small child up and places her in my care, and we go for a joyride.

I hear the child’s laughter, and I am glad that so much depends upon a red wheelbarrow. So much depends on letting God use me in His way and in the timing of His great design. And that is the poetry of belonging to Him and submitting to His perfect will. That is the way my little life is transformed into God’s poetry.