Saturday, October 31, 2009

A New Attitude

I'm not much of a fan of Halloween. As a child, I liked dressing up and getting candy, but once I became an adult, Halloween lost its appeal. In fact, I began to dislike it.

For me, all that remained was the decorations - carving pumpkins and putting up ghoulish characters. Too much work and too much concentration on things from the dark side. I put up with Halloween. And that's about it.

One of the first changes after my conversion was the realization that, as Catholics, we begin a celebration of a holy day on the evening before. Take, for example, Saturday vigil or anticipatory Masses for Holy Days of Obligation.

The practice (of beginning an observance on the evening before) comes straight out of our Jewish roots.

The Sabbath begins at sundown on Friday and lasts until sundown on Saturday.

So, I have rethought the whole Halloween thing. I still don't care for the decorations (which are completely secular and do a good job of usurping the real meaning of All Hallows' Eve).

But it is an evening of great anticipation. It is a time to thank the Saints for all of their intercession.

It is a time to recommit ourselves to this journey toward our own sanctification.

And so, I reclaim this evening. I give out candy and thank God for each little scarecrow or tiny lion that rings my doorbell.

This night is wholly Catholic. Truly sacred.

It is a night worthy of our deepest devotion.

Take time this evening to pray - and to thank your saint for remembering you before the Throne of Grace.


October Catholic By Grace Article

A Sleepover to Remember

Recently, my daughter spent the night at a friend’s house. She has only done this one other time; I used to do it on a regular basis when I was growing up. Some sleepovers are more memorable than others. Like the night I got homesick and had to wake my friend’s parents in the middle of the night and beg them to take me home. Or the night many years later when we had a huge slumber party on the evening of the high school dance. Five girls in one bedroom, all putting on make-up and comparing outfits for the big event.

Somewhere in between these two slumber parties, I spent the night at Lori’s house – I was in middle school. It was a Saturday night and her family was Catholic – Catholic enough that they went to Mass every weekend – not Catholic enough to explain to me that Holy Communion was not open to Protestant preacher’s kids who stayed over for the weekend. In my preacher’s-kid-mind, I believed I was entitled to participate in every faith event. I considered myself to be one born into a spiritual lap of luxury. No holds barred.

In the middle of the Mass, my friend Lori leaned over and asked me if I knew about Communion. “Yeah, we have it at my church.” I said.

She nodded her head as if to say, that’s cool. I watched and waited for the moment the ushers would pass the bread and grape juice around. Instead, everyone started standing up and walking forward. I had the terrifying realization that I was going to be standing in front of the priest very soon, and I had no idea how to pass myself off as one who knows what’s going on.

I turned to my friend and whispered, “Wait! We don’t do it like this! What do I do?”
Lori gave me the quickest catechesis in the history of humankind. “You hold your hands like this.” She put one upturned hand in the other. “You bow, say amen, and put the Eucharist in your mouth with the bottom hand.”

And that was it.

I felt the heat of embarrassment going up my neck and into my face. Suddenly, my self-assured spiritual pride was gone. I wasn’t even familiar with the terms Lori used. Eucharist? What was that?

Half-way down the aisle, I thought of my parents, and I wondered if I really should be doing this. I probably should have stayed back in the pew and waited. Too late now, I thought.

And then it was my turn. I don’t remember if I followed proper protocol. But somehow, I made it back to the pew and knelt beside Lori. I stayed there for a moment and wondered what I had done. What was that whirlwind of Communion all about?
The priest took Lori’s parents aside after Mass and asked about me (so I must have drawn attention to myself after all). He told them that non-Catholics were NOT to receive Holy Communion. What were they thinking? They felt duly chastised, and I was left with a completely confusing memory.

Years later, when my journey of grace led me into the Catholic Church, I was properly catechized. I discovered that the Jesus I had loved from childhood was waiting for me in the Most Blessed Sacrament, the Eucharist - this Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord.

It wasn’t a symbol. It didn’t remind us of something that happened 2000 years earlier. It was my Jesus, truly present.

Do you know what that discovery was like for me? Absolutely beautiful. But there was that childhood memory, and that memory still haunts me. When I thought back to that Mass, I realized what I had missed.

A little over year ago, I shared my conversion story with a parish in Oklahoma. When I came to this part of the story, a seemingly insignificant moment in my childhood, I wept. To have come so close all those years ago – if only I had known!

I encourage you to invite a guest to come to Mass with you. If you do this, please take a moment and explain to your friend what you are receiving – who you are receiving. And that only those who are in communion with Our Eucharistic Lord Jesus Christ can receive this Sacrament. To receive communion, you must be in union. . .

And make sure they know one thing above all other things. The Eucharist is Jesus.


Friday, October 30, 2009

Code of Conduct for Catholic Bloggers? #1 on the list is to write "Truth with Charity"

VATICAN CITY (CNS) By Cindy Wooden

As president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Archbishop Celli presided over a four-day meeting of cardinals, bishops and Catholic media professionals to discuss -- mainly in small groups -- new pastoral guidelines for church communications.

A recurring theme during the meeting Oct. 26-29 was what constitutes Catholic communications and what, if anything, can be done about those who use the word Catholic to describe themselves while using all sorts of nasty adjectives to describe anyone who doesn't agree with them.

Archbishop Celli said he didn't think a Catholic bloggers' "code of conduct" would accomplish much, especially when what is really needed is a reflection on what it means to communicate.

Upright, ethical communication is a natural result of a sincere desire to share the truth about God, about faith and about the dignity of the human person, he said.The archbishop said that what Pope Benedict XVI has said about solidarity and development aid goes for communications as well: "Charity needs truth and truth needs charity."


Thursday, October 29, 2009

FYI Catholic Writers, Bloggers, Podcasters, Website Creators, Emailers, Radio Personalities, YouTube Movie Makers, TV Producers, Script Writers . . .

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- New media are not just instruments for communicating, but they are having a huge impact on culture -- on the way people interact and think, Pope Benedict XVI said.

"This constitutes a challenge for the church, called to proclaim the Gospel to people of the third millennium," the pope said Oct. 29 during a meeting with members of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

The content of the Gospel message remains unchanged, he said, but the church must learn how to transmit that message to new generations and must do so by taking advantage of the new technology and new attitudes toward communications.

Pope Benedict said one of the marks of the new media culture is its multimedia and interactive structure.

New technology is not leading to developments only in television or radio or the Internet, but is "gradually generating a kind of global communications system" in which media are used together and the audience participates in generating content, he said.

"I want to take this occasion to ask those in the church who work in the sphere of communications and have responsibility for pastoral guidance to take up the challenges these new technologies pose for evangelization," the pope said.

To read the full article, Click Here.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

St. Jude, Patron Saint of Lost Causes, Help Me, I'm a Frazzled Woman

The day started with my daughter missing the bus. I drove her to school. Then I cleaned the dog's kennel, because the dog threw up in it. The kennel still smelled, so I put it outside. I was on a roll, so I decided to shampoo the carpet, too. But the carpet cleaner wouldn't work. So I took it apart (with a screwdriver and everything) and cleaned it. Put it back together. Finally, the machine worked. (Evidently, I put it together correctly.) I cleaned the carpet. Set up fans and opened the window to dry the carpet. Did the laundry. Got my daughter off the bus. Discovered that she'd worn her good shoes to school and got them dirty. I had a little fit. It wasn't pretty. Then, I took a deep breath and pan fried the pork chops and fed the family. Did the dishes. Headed off to 8th grade Confirmation class. The other helper couldn't make it. So I assisted the Deacon with the first half of class. He had to leave so he could teach the Safe Touch program to the younger grades. So I filled in. The 8th graders were terrific. Class ended. I picked up my daughter from her class. Drove home. . .

. . . and my husband had apple crumble baking just for me!

Thank God for husbands who love their busy - and sometimes grouchy - wives!
St. Jude, pray for me, because it's been one of those days.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

St. Frumentius: Strange Name, Great Story

When I saw the name of today's saint, I said to myself, "What a strange name - never heard of the man."

For those who like stories of danger and slim chances for survival, the story of St. Frumentius is for you. Somehow, the tragic turn of events in the life of young Frumentius (and his brother) opened the door for Faith to enter Ethiopia. To read the full story, click here.

Short on time? Just take a moment to pray:

Pray for us, dear Frumentius, that we may also “bloom where we are planted.” You were just a young boy in a strange and pagan land, but you made the best of the situation and brought truth and life to that desolate land and lost people. We pray for your intercession that we may bring the light of Christ with us wherever we go in the hope of inspiring others to follow Him. In His name we pray. Amen.


Monday, October 26, 2009

The Hope Diamond and the Bradford Toy House

We visited the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. when I was about thirteen. I remember very little about the collections we saw. The train room frightened me a little. The three-story pendulum clock was fascinating.

But the two things that I remember the most were the Hope Diamond and the Bradford Toy House.
I wanted to take these two things back with me to our Iowa home. I wanted to own the Hope Diamond. I wanted to play with the little people in the Bradford Toy House.

I think I fell in love with the Hope Diamond and the Bradford Toy House for the same reasons I'm fascinated by the lives of the saints.

Their lives are shining examples of what it means to be holy and righteous. Their witness shines brighter than the Hope Diamond.
And yet, they lived lives of no great notoriety. To be great, they had to become small.

They had to wash floors, give what they had to the poor, take care of the dying even if it meant they would catch the illness and die as well. They had to live in obscurity, like Mary and Joseph who shared their lives and home with the Lord of all creation. But nobody gave them a second glance. They weren't on the nightly news. Nobody interviewed them. They didn't live in a palace. They rode on a donkey, not in a BMW. They worked for a living. Hardly the life one would expect for the greatest Mother and Father of all time.

They had to shine like diamonds on the inside, but live like the littlest of God's creatures on the outside.
It is a paradox. Like putting the Hope Diamond in one hand a miniature Bradford figure in the other. They don't go together at all . . . and somehow they fit together perfectly.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Mixing Metaphors

She teaches piano. Music is her second language. . .

We greeted each other in the narthex at church today. As it so often does, our conversation turned to the Faith.

Margaret told me she had never thought of faith as a kind of journey - until she met me. Her life as a cradle Catholic was steady. Unquestioned. Loved. Still, it simply was. More like a state of being rather than a journey.

But she said it's different now. She senses that her faith has always been a journey, even though that journey has been taking place on a level just below her consciousness.

And then we touched on music - another metaphor for this life of grace. Margaret's song - her life - has been a lovely piece of music, soft and beautiful, mostly pianissimo, with steady 4/4 time.

My journey started out as a simple song. Like Twinkle, Twinkle. As for substance, mostly just the bare minimum theology which the Protestant Reformation retained from its Catholic roots.

But then, a dissonance interrupted everything, and all I wanted was some resolution. I wanted desperately to stop those notes that didn't seem to go together. I wanted my simple Twinkle, Twinkle once again. Instead, the music was loud and demanded my attention and cried out for chords that worked together.

And then it came. The understanding and knowledge. Those beautiful gifts of the Holy Spirit. Right judgment. Awe. Reverence.

A complicated arrangement replaced the cacophony, and - for the first time - I experienced advanced dynamics that pulled at the soul and carried her higher. The music of faith transitioned into a movement of exquisite sweetness, made all the sweeter because it followed the dark dissonance.

The Resolution. The Climax. The moment when grace sings the melody and all instruments highlight her voice.

Faith is a journey. Grace is a song.

Whether we realize it or not.


Friday, October 23, 2009

The Good News Keeps On Coming!

Bulgarian Orthodox Leader Affirms Desire for Unity

VATICAN CITY ( - At the end of Wednesday's general audience, Bishop Tichon, head of the diocese for Central and Western Europe of the Patriarchate of Bulgaria, stated to the Pope, "We must find unity as soon as possible and finally celebrate together," L'Osservatore Romano reported. "People don't understand our divisions and our discussions," the bishop stated. He affirmed that he will "not spare any efforts" to work for the quick restoration of "communion between Catholics and Orthodox."
Full article at


Amen, and again I say Amen!

You have to read this article! If you pray for Church unity, if you long to see fallen away Catholics come Home, if you have friends and family members who were raised in other faith traditions and that grieves you. . . you have to read this article!

Here's a teaser:

Pope Benedict’s ‘Impelling Duty’ is to rebuild the full and visible unity of this Church. It will be forged through orthodoxy (right teaching) and orthopraxy (right practice) but it will be lived within a legitimate diversity of expression within the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. What happened last week is just the beginning.

Full article by Deacon Keith Fournier on 10/24/09 found at


Is Cardinal John Henry Newman Interceding?

"To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant."

Commentators have linked the announcement [of a new Apostolic Constitution, which will provide a way for Anglican groups to be admitted to full communion with the Catholic Church] to the forthcoming beatification of John Henry Newman, who converted to Catholicism in 1845 after years of reflection on the nature and mission of the Christian Church. A number of reporters have suggested that Newman himself could be the patron of new ‘Ordinariates’ – the name to be given to these Anglican groups after their reception into the Church.

Full article at

Original article: "Pope and Anglicans: Cardinal John Henry Newman's Role?"
10/23/2009 (


Kind of Like Giving Birth

Last night, while spending some time in prayer, I found myself delighting in the prayer of contemplation. Words cannot describe what it is like to be raised into this prayer world. St. Teresa of Avila is the best source on it.

But as I walked through this Garden of Prayer, I kept coming back to one thought:

Praying for conversions is very much like a barren woman who finally conceives and eventually gives birth.

A couple of years ago, I read Daughter Zion. In this book Pope Benedict XVI (writing as Cardinal Ratzinger) takes a look at the barren women of Salvation History and explores the significance of Old Testament women. Often, he explains, "the infertile one, the powerless one becomes the savior because it is there that the locus for the revelation of God's power is found" (20). There is so much to contemplate when it comes to these women . . . who are virgin, then barren wife, and finally one who is blessed with motherhood (23).

Even as we move from the Old Covenant, into the New Covenant, we see this story unfold - in St. Elizabeth, and the Blessed Mother.

I thought about the Church, how She is like this as well. How She intercedes for Her lost sons and daughters to come Home. How She grieves like a barren woman. How She rejoices, when they return, like a woman who no longer wears the garment of barren one. Her prayers have been heard and answered, like Hannah of old. Like Elizabeth.

The Church, praying for conversions, is like one who is barren. When conversion begins (in the life of one or in entire communities of people) it is as though She has conceived. With great love and nurturing, and after much labor, Mother Church holds her son or daughter. She knows the joy that comes after the labor.

No longer barren. No longer desolate. She looks at the sea of sons and daughters who have come back into Her arms, and She rejoices at the gift God has given. She delights in the gift of spiritual fertility.

Women of faith, we are called to walk this same path. To be a microcosm of what we see in Mother Church. We look at our lost sons and daughters and we pray for conversion. We almost wonder if it is possible. At times, like Hannah, we cry before God, thinking it may never happen.

As time goes by, with no hope in sight, we read the signs of "infertility" and we begin to wear the label of barren one. Like Hannah, we feel like our prayers aren't heard. We still pray, but we don't really believe it will ever happen. We are Sarai (before she is called Sarah). We are Elizabeth. We are sure that the one we pray for will never come back to Mother Church.

Then, we become frustrated, aware that we are not in charge. We cannot will this miracle into existence.

And this is when we must not give in to despair. We must embrace our own helplessness and offer it back to God.

Begin to pray as the barren women of Faith. Begin to watch for signs of the impossible, but without an agenda of our own. We begin to walk, not in our own ability to conceive, but in God's ability to create and convert. We begin to see signs of the impossible.

The quickening of new life is felt deep in our souls. And eventually, God willing, we will see our sons and daughters again in the arms of Mother Church. Like newborn babes.

And we know that God has done it all. No longer spiritually barren, we have been blessed to labor for awhile and then to behold Life.

Every little thing must be given up to Him, to the One who brings conversion. Every irritation. Every chore. Every thought. Every Mass. Every moment of Adoration. Every loss. Everything must be given up to the Cross of Christ. . .

for the conversion of souls.

Let us learn from St. Therese. Virgin. Mother of none. Yet, she has become mother of untold thousands.

Let us learn from St. Elizabeth. Barren wife. Mother of none. And then, when hope had passed, she was called to become the mother of the greatest Prophet of all time.

Let us learn from the Blessed Mother. Virgin. Mother of none. Then, Mother of the One.

Savior and Lord. Author of Life.


St. Therese, thank you for interceding for the Church!

(From The Catholic Key Blog)

Father Davis, who leads St. Therese Little Flower parish in Kansas City which hosts an Anglican Use community, wrote of the news from the Vatican:

Anglicans and Catholics flocked to visit the relics of Saint Therese of Lisieux as they made a very recent pilgrimage to England. Her relics rested on her 2009 feast day at York Minster, the Cathedral of the Anglican Archbishop of York. When I read about that, I told the people here at St. Therese Little Flower that she was working on something big. In other words, preparations for this Apostolic Constitution have been in process for 170 years, and some of the preparations have been made at levels that are higher than popes.

The Traditional Anglican Communion Bishop of Canada saw the claim and sent an email today to Father Davis with remarkable details of St. Therese’ intercession. Here’s the email:

Dear Father Davis,
Your story about the Anglican Ordinariate and St Therese (which came to me via England this morning) is very interesting. And I can tell you another connexion with her.
I am the Anglican Catholic Bishop of Canada in the TAC. I was present at the Synod of TAC Bishops in Portsmouth England in October 2007 which voted unanimously to ask for full communion, and signed the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The first full day of the Synod was October 1st, the 'new' date of St Therese's feast, and the actual vote to ask for full communion was taken on October 3rd 'old' date of her feast.
I also accompanied the Primate and Bishop Robert Mercer CR to deliver the Letter to the CDF where we had been directed by the Holy Father. My friend Mother Teresa of the Carmel in Edmonton had given me some holy cards with a piece of cloth touched to her relics. Each of us carried one of these cards, and we asked St Therese's prayers on our venture. We also had similar cards from Poland of the Servant of God John Paul II.
I have continued 'to bother her' about a favourable response to our request, and now thanks to the generosity and love of the Holy Father who has taken a personal interest in us for many years, and the prayers of St Therese, something wonderful has come about.
God bless you,
+Peter Wilkinson, OSG Bishop Ordinary Anglican Catholic Church of Canada TAC

Father Davis has posted the letter at his blog
(For more on this story, go to The Catholic Key Blog)


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI on Music

"Music, great music . . . almost naturally invites us to raise our minds and hearts to God."

"Music forms part of all cultures and, we could say, accompanies all human experiences, from suffering to pleasure, from hatred to love, from sadness to joy, from death to life."

". . . over the centuries and the millennia music has always been used to give form to what cannot be expressed with words. . ."

*Read full article by clicking here, then go put on some good music and lift your heart to the Lord.

Con Oraciones Para Honduras (Prayers for Honduras)

COPAN RUINAS, Honduras (CNS) -- Oscar Garcia used to sell 100 pounds of tomatoes every day in the municipal market of this colonial town near the Guatemalan border. Since the June 28 ouster of President Manuel Zeyala, Garcia sells just 40 pounds of tomatoes and has to moonlight as a hotel security guard to support his family."I'm working day and night and it's barely enough," said Garcia, the father of four. "There are people here starving to death because of the political crisis."

(Honduras is shown in white on the map)


Cherie and 40 Days for Life

Milwaukee (CHN Online) - Cherie Clements recalls standing on the sidewalk outside Affiliated Medical Services in Milwaukee escorting women seeking abortions inside the clinic. Cherie was in her late teens and early 20s and thought she was advancing women’s rights by helping the pregnant women pass the gauntlet of pro-life supporters so they could obtain an abortion.

Last week, some 15 years later, Cherie stood on the same sidewalk in front of the same clinic, this time accompanied by her 10-year-old son, Lorenzo, dressed as a “gift from God” with a sign on his back that read, ‘Smile, your mom chose life.” They were part of the 40 Days For Life vigil praying for an end to abortion.

Click here to read full article by Maryangela Layman Román
Catholic Herald


My Facebook Friend

Her Facebook posts make me smile. It isn't a big surprise that Rebecca's* daily FB status is a ray of sunshine. When I had her as a student a few years ago, she was a kid I could count on. Kind. A hard worker. The ideal Catholic middle school student.

But something has happened to Rebecca. Somewhere between 8th grade and 11th grade, her Catholic faith ignited.

She proves something that I've thought for a long time. Our young people do not need to go to other denominations in order to fall in love with Jesus Christ. In fact, the best place for radical conversion is right here, where we encounter the Eucharist.

Over the years, I've seen my share of fired-up young Christians. Most of them were in Evangelical denominations.
Rebecca makes me smile. When I read her FB updates, I realize that she has caught the fire of the Holy Spirit. She is a testament to good Catholic catechesis by fantastic, dynamic Catholic youth leaders. I think God must have something truly amazing for her. My prayer is that she will be a light, not only to the young people within the Church, but also to those who have experienced the joy of Christ in other denominations. I pray that she will shine a light so that those outside the Church will find their way Home.
*name changed


My Thorn in the Flesh - one among many

My family moved from northern Iowa to the southwest corner of the state during the summer before my senior year of high school.

I was angry with my parents for most of the 1981-82 school year. And that wasn't the only attitude problem I had that year.

I was one of three new students at Manning High School. The other two were two foreign exchange students from Kenya and Germany (as I recall).

Manning had a tradition. Foreign exchange students were featured in the school paper, encouraged to join every extracurricular activity, and they were automatically on the Homecoming Queen/King Court.

Students who moved to the Manning school district from another Iowa school district didn't receive the same treatment.

And I was green with envy.

I tried out for the flag team and made it. I auditioned for the school play and made it. But nothing could appease my jealousy. I was angry that I had to work for new friendships - not an easy task when one enters a new school as a senior. Friendships take time. Effort. But the student body laid down the welcoming mat for exchange students. Everyone wanted to be their friend.

It was a classic case of jealousy.

There are moments when I still wrestle with this emotion. Oh, I'm not as immature about it. I recognize the attitude when it comes along, and I offer my weakness up. I get on my knees and let the Holy Spirit get me rightly ordered before I have a chance to mess up the good thing He has going in me.

What is it that tempts me? Who are the foreign exchange students in my adult world? And what's the name of the school I've transferred to?

The school is the Catholic faith. The foreign exchange students are the former Protestant clergy and their wives who are featured on Catholic radio and television. The red carpet of Catholic publishing spreads out before them. As Catholic speakers, they are in high demand.

Protestant preachers' daughters and ex-wives of Protestant ministers . . . not so much.

I am ashamed of myself when these emotions enter my spiritual journey like a virus. I remind myself that it is not the temptation that is sinful . . . it is what I choose to do with it. It can be a moment of grace. Or it can be a sin against grace.

With God's help, I let it be an opportunity to identify with the little ones who live the Catholic faith with quiet, hidden tenacity and a heart for those who are even smaller and weaker and poorer. My heart finds this longing sweet with no bitter aftertaste.
That's when I realize that God has given me precisely the right amount of exposure. Just enough to use my talents. And no more, lest I forget the author of the journey and lose all that He has done.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

When Errands Intersect With God's Plan

My daughter had an orthodontic appointment today. She finished earlier than I expected; so we decided to run an errand which I should have completed months ago. I need new glasses. I have reading glasses (that are absolutely necessary), but when I wear them, I cannot see anything at a distance.

Take Mass, for example. If I want to read the Mass Readings along with the lector, I must bring my reading glasses. Then, if I want to see Father (or anything besides the book in front of me), I have to take off the glasses.

The problem was most obvious when I gave my conversion story awhile back. I needed glasses to see my notes, but if I wore my reading glasses, I couldn't see the faces of the people gathered to hear my story. I compromised and printed my notes in a ridiculously-sized font.

A few months back, I had my eyes checked. I needed new glasses, but on the day of my check-up, I was told that it was too early for insurance to pay on the purchase. I have really good insurance. It was worth the wait.

Only one problem. I procrastinate - a lot. The anniversary date for insurance to pay out came and went.

Finally, I found myself in town and at the end of my "must do" list. I decided to drag my fifth grader along to the Clarkson Eye Store and pick out some frames.

Do you ever get wrapped up in your own life and your own needs and your own errands that you almost fail to see God's handiwork?

Well, I went in to the store and I wasn't sure if I wanted to spend the money. Walmart would probably give me a better deal . . . I was almost sure that I would pick up my prescription and take it somewhere less expensive.

After all, there's a recession going on.

But something made me decide to take a look at the glasses on the wall. Just see what they had. Get information for comparison shopping. And then come back if I felt like it.

And then I met Kevin*. He asked me what I do . . . what I would be using my glasses for . . .

I told him that I like to follow the readings at Mass, but when I look up at Father, I can't see anything clearly.

He asked a few questions that had me divulging my "job" - I write. I'm a Catholic writer. I read a lot, work at the computer a lot.

Almost immediately, he said his mother was raised Baptist. And then, after many years, she converted to the Catholic Church. Evidently, Kevin has a sister-in-law who is Catholic and one thing led to another.

He went on to say that he had studied the Faith for awhile, even attended RCIA. And then he met his wife, and they visited another church/denomination and that was the end of that.

But he still had a Daily Missal which his sponsor gave him. And a Catechism. And he still thought of that sponsor from time to time. He still remembered her witness, and how it had drawn him in the first place . . .

I could see it clearly then. I wasn't there for my eyes, not really. The reason I was there was in his eyes.

There are times when the Spirit of the Living God stops me in my tracks and says walk a bit slower, Denise, because I'm at work right now. You will miss the whole thing if you don't tiptoe right now. Shhh. I'm doing something special and if you are very quiet, you will be able to hear.

This man's saint is praying. Can't you hear him?

This man's guardian angel cleared a way for the two of you to meet today.

In fact, today's conversation is like a seed. And it must be sown with care. Look at his eyes, Denise. God is working here.

And if you listen, and if you say what I give you to say, something really wonderful might happen.

*name changed

Quotes By St. Paul of the Cross - on his feast day

When you feel the assaults of passion and anger, then is the time to be silent as Jesus was silent in the midst of His ignominies and sufferings.

Entrust yourself entirely to God. He is a Father, and a most loving Father at that, who would rather let heaven and earth collapse than abandon anyone who trusted in him.

It is very good and holy to consider the passion of our Lord, and to meditate on it, for by this sacred path we reach union with God. In this most holy school we learn true wisdom, for it was there that all the saints learned it.

Therefore, be constant in practicing every virtue, and especially in imitating the patience of our dear Jesus, for this is the summit of pure love. Live in such a way that all may know that you bear outwardly as well as inwardly the image of Christ crucified, the model of all gentleness and mercy. For if a man is united inwardly with the Son of the living God, he also bears his likeness outwardly by his continual practice of heroic goodness, and especially through a patience reinforced by courage, which does not complain either secretly or in public. Conceal yourselves in Jesus crucified, and hope for nothing except that all men be thoroughly converted to his will.

I want to set myself on fire with love...I want to be entirely on fire with love...and I want to know how to sing in the fire of love.

Look upon the face of the Crucified, who invites you to follow Him. He will be a Father, Mother--everything to you.

I hope that God will save me through the merits of the Passion of Jesus. The more difficulties in life, the more I hope in God. By God's grace I will not lose my soul, but I hope in His mercy.

Christ Crucified is a work of love. The miracle of miracles of love. The most stupendous work of the love of God. The bottomless sea of the love of God, where virtues are found, where one can lose oneself in love and sorrow. A sea and a fire or a sea of fire. The most beneficial means of abandoning sin and growing in virtue, and so in holiness.

At holy Communion I had much sweetness. My dear God gave me infused knowledge of the joy which the soul will have when we see him face to face, when we will be united with Him in holy love. Then I felt sorrow to see Him offended and I told Him that I would willingly be torn to pieces for a single soul. Indeed, I felt that I would die when I saw the loss of so many souls who do not experience the fruit of the Passion of Jesus.

Oh my good God, how gentle You are! How sweet You are! Oh dear cross, I embrace you and press you to my heart!

May the mercy of God grant you still more time in life so that you can become completely crucified with the Divine Spouse by means of mystical death, death to everything that is not God, with a continual detachment from all created things, wholly concealed in the divine bosom of the celestial Father in true inner solitude. Do not live any longer in yourself, but let Jesus Christ live in you in such a way that the virtue of this Divine Savior may be resplendent in all your actions, in order that all may see in you a true portrait of the Crucified and sense the sweetest fragrance of the holy virtues of the Lord, in interior and exterior modesty, in patience, in gentleness, suffering, charity, humility, and in all others that follow.

For more on the life of this saint, click here.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Car Magnets: John 3:16 and John 6:53

We've all seen it. Someone holds a sign at a nationally televised sports event - hoping that all the world will see him. The sign reads John 3:16.

It is one of my favorites. Probably yours as well. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him will not perish, but may have eternal life.

Yes, it is a wonderful verse. But on its own, it's a bit misleading. Is believing in God and His Son all there is to it? Some would think so. But Sacred Scripture tells us that even Satan believes that Jesus is the Son of God . . . and he trembles at the thought. So, the sign is true . . . just not complete. We have to believe . . . but what must we believe? We have to believe . . . but we also have to do.

So, yesterday, we were driving through Chesterfield, Missouri, and I saw an SUV pass us. On the back bumper of his car, the driver had one of those car magnets. It was a simple oval shape, and inside the oval it said John 6:53. It made me smile.

Now, that's a great verse to round out the John 3:16 verse. Now, we're getting somewhere.

Don't know what that verse says? Well, you probably do . . . if you're Catholic. Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.

It's nice to see that Catholics are doing their part to spread the fullness of the faith. At least I assume the driver was Catholic. I don't know many Evangelicals who are too quick to quote John 6:53.

But there is so much to this Faith. And John 3:16, the Evangelical battlecry, just doesn't cover it all.

Yes, we must believe that Jesus is the Son of God.

And that we are saved by water and the Spirit.

And that faith without works is dead.

And that we must eat the Flesh of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and we must drink the Cup of His Blood -- or there can be no life within us.

And there's more. True religion that is pure and undefiled before God is to care for widows and orphans in their distress.

Whatsoever you do to the least of these, you do for me.

I say, forgive 70 times 7 times.

Go and sin no more.

You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

I am not worthy to touch the sandals of His feet.

Lo, I am with you, even to the end of the Age.

Woman, behold your son.

There is so much. So many verses. Thank you, whoever you are, for putting the verse that highlights the "Source and Summit of our Faith" on your car. I have to wonder if the Evangelicals (who see your car magnet) find their Bibles and look up that verse. While they have John 3:16 committed to memory, I rather doubt they have John 6:53 memorized.

It's up to us to get the Word out.


God Will Answer Yes To These Prayers . . .

The list came from a book which Priests for Life recommended. The title of the book is Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To by Anthony Destefano. Here's the list:

Prayers God Always Answers

God, show me that You exist.

God, make me an instrument.

God, outdo me in generosity.

God, get me through this suffering.

God, forgive me.

God, give me peace.

God, give me courage.

God, give me wisdom.

God, bring good out of this bad situation.

God, lead me to my destiny.


Quotes by St. Isaac Jogues on his Feast Day

"My confidence is placed in God who does not need our help for accomplishing his designs. Our single endeavor should be to give ourselves to the work and to be faithful to him, and not to spoil his work by our shortcomings."

"We begged God to accept our lives and our blood and unite them to His life and His blood for the salvation of these tribes."


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Peace Out - where did the phrase come from?

Do your teens and twenty-something children like this slang term? Well, my older children do. I got to wondering - how did it get started?

It's a friendly way of saying "goodbye" or "see you later, friends."

For example: "Peace out, guys. I'm going home."

The etymology of the word is kind of interesting. According to the English Daily website,
"'Peace' started being used as a greeting in the 1960s." (Although those of us who are Catholics know that the exchange of peace goes way back.) "'Out' comes from a standard way of finishing a conversation on a two-way radio. (Okay, that makes sense.)

Next time they lay that on you, why don't you have a come back that's even cooler?

"Peace out," they say.

Your reply: "Peace of Christ to you."


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Blessed Feast of St Ignatius of Antioch (- 107)

(Universalis) Ignatius of Antioch was the second bishop of Antioch after St Peter . . . . He was arrested . . . condemned to death, and transported to Rome to be thrown to the wild beasts in the arena. . . .

In the course of his journey he wrote seven letters to various churches, in which he dealt wisely and deeply with Christ, the organization of the Church, and the Christian life. They are important documents for the early history of the Church, and they also reveal a deeply holy man who accepts his fate and begs the Christians in Rome not to try to deprive him of the crown of martyrdom.

He was martyred in 107 and his feast was already being celebrated on this day in fourth-century Antioch.

(From one of those letters)

It is fitting, therefore, that you should be in agreement with the mind of the bishop as in fact you are. Your excellent presbyters, who are a credit to God, are as suited to the bishop as strings to a harp. So in your harmony of mind and heart the song you sing is Jesus Christ. Every one of you should form a choir, so that, in harmony of sound through harmony of hearts, and in unity taking the note from God, you may sing with one voice through Jesus Christ to the Father. If you do this, he will listen to you and see from your good works that you are members of his Son. It is then an advantage to you to live in perfect unity, so that at all times you may share in God.

If in a short space of time I have become so close a friend of your bishop - in a friendship not based on nature but on spiritual grounds - how much more blessed do I judge you to be, for you are as united with him as the Church is to Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ to the Father, so that all things are in harmony through unity. Let no one make any mistake: unless a person is within the sanctuary, he is deprived of God’s bread. For if the prayer of one or two has such power, how much more has the prayer of the bishop and the whole Church.

This excerpt from St. Ignatius' Letter to the Ephesians (nn. 2, 2-5, 2: Funk 1, 175-177) was written around 110 AD.

For more information on St. Ignatius and his seven Letters, Click here. The passage above was taken from the Crossroads Initiative website.


Friday, October 16, 2009

How are Plumbers like Bishops and Priests?

I suppose celebrities like Oprah get used to their mansions with service people coming in and out daily to work. Personally, I like my privacy. I'd prefer to have only family and friends cross my threshold. When the plumber came today and had free reign of the house for two hours, I maintained composure on the outside, but inside . . . I was counting the minutes. When he left one bathroom, I would sneak down the hall to see if that room was done. Good . . . only one more water closet to get water tight.

And then, the capper. Four hundred dollars. Yep, that's right. We paid $400 to have a plumber cramp our style for a few hours just so he could fix two toilets that weren't installed properly when we built the house. All that inconvenience just to get the house into order. Not a repair. A correction. We didn't do anything wrong. The general contractor did.

I just read a few comments on Facebook that a reader posted under the Catholic News Service article on marriage. One person went totally off the deep end about how the Bishops need to mind their own business and quit sticking their noses into marriages. He/she wrote quite a bit. Six or seven entries. (I say he or she because I'm not sure if Sky is a boy or a girl.) Anyway, his main beef with the Church was that family planning is not Church business. It's the most sacred sacrament (according to Sky), but the Church shouldn't have anything to do with it (also according to Sky).

Many years ago, I met a Catholic woman who was as vocal against Church teaching on artificial contraception as Sky. She ranted whenever the topic came up. But there were always a few Catholics around who quietly, gently voiced their love for Catholic teaching. Sometimes pregnant, sometimes already far into the parenting scene, these faithful Catholics fully supported Mother Church - always with a smile and a sigh, and an understanding of just what a joy it is to be a parent, to have children, and to experience the grace of being a Catholic family.

I realized, somewhere along the way, that the ones who are so angry with Mother Church are really a lot like I am when workers come in to fix things in my home. I don't want them meddling in my private life. I resent that they are there. I can't simply tell myself that the issues are not their fault. The brokenness predates their little visit. In fact, they are there to set things right.

We are broken. They know what to do to fix things. If we are willing to submit to the uncomfortable process of getting things rightly ordered, all will be well. Peace will come again. The home will work precisely as it is meant to work.

And so, it is in our best interest to open the door of marriage to Church Authority.

That is, if we truly wish to have a marriage that works as God planned for it to work.

Marriage is a beautiful Sacrament - and like all Sacraments, this Sacrament comes from the Heart of Mother Church. And She knows what will bring true and lasting happiness. So really, it's like my little plumber metaphor, with only one modification: imagine how wrong it would be for me to resent the plumber who GAVE THE HOUSE TO ME in the first place.


Marriage and the Divine Plan

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Hoping to reverse what they call "a disturbing trend" toward viewing marriage as "a mostly private matter" with personal satisfaction as its only goal, the U.S. Catholic bishops will debate and vote on a 57-page pastoral letter on marriage at their Nov. 16-19 meeting in Baltimore.

Read full story by Nancy Frazier O'Brien:


31st Anniversary of the Election of JPII

Inside the Vatican reminds us: Today is the 31st anniversary of the election of Pope John Paul II to the papal throne, on October 16, 1978.

Welcoming Our 31st Diocesan Paper

Welcome aboard, Catholic News & Herald in Charlotte, NC. You are the 31st diocesan paper to run an article from the Catholic by Grace diocesan column!

Blessed Feast of St. Gerard Majella

"Who except God can give you peace? Has the world ever been able to satisfy the heart?" -- St. Gerard Majella

O Great Saint Gerard*, beloved servant of Jesus Christ, perfect imitator of your meek and humble Savior, and devoted Child of the Mother of God: enkindle within my heart one spark of that heavenly fire of charity which glowed in your heart and made you a servant of love. O glorious Saint Gerard, because when falsely accused of crime, you did bear, like your Divine Master, without murmur or complaint, the calumnies of wicked men, you have been raised up by God as the Patron and Protector of expectant mothers. Preserve me from danger and from the excessive pains accompanying childbirth, and shield the child which I now carry, that it may see the light of day and receive the lustral waters of baptism through Jesus Christ our Lord.

St. Gerard, pray for us.


*This great saint is invoked as a patron of expectant mothers as a result of a miracle effected through his prayers for a woman in labor.

Information on this saint and many others found at:


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Novena to St. Teresa of Avila – Day Nine

Day Nine Novena to St. Teresa of Avila by St. Alphonsus of Liguori

Lastly, O dearest Lord Jesus Christ! we thank Thee for the gift of the precious death which Thou didst grant to Thy beloved Teresa, making her sweetly to die of love; we pray Thee, by Thy merits, and by those of Thy most affectionate spouse, to grant us a good death; and if we do not die of love, yet, that we may at least die burning of love for Thee, that so dying, we may be able to go and love Thee for evermore with a more perfect love in heaven.

Say one Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be.

V. St. Teresa, pray for us:

R. That we may become worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.

Let us pray: Graciously hear us, O God of our salvation! that as we rejoice in the commemoration of the blessed virgin Teresa, so we may be nourished by her heavenly doctrine, and draw from thence the fervor of a tender devotion; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen

Novena found at:


Blessed Feast of St. Teresa of Avila - my saint

For those of you who are new to this blog, St. Teresa of Avila led me home to the Catholic Church. I stumbled upon her book The Interior Castle and began to feel a tug deep within me - to discover the Church she loved and the Truth she held dear and sacred. It was an unlikely journey for me, as I am both a pastor's daughter and former wife of a pastor. The Catholic Church was the last place I envisioned for myself. Our Lord and St. Teresa thought otherwise . . . thanks be to God!


St. Teresa of Avila - favorite quotes

I derived great comfort from those saints who have sinned and yet whom the Lord has drawn to Himself. I thought that I could obtain help from them, and that as the Lord had pardoned them he might pardon me. (The Life of St. Teresa of Avila 69)

Remember: if you want to make progress on the path and ascend to the places you have longed for, the important thing is not to think much but to love much, and so to do whatever best awakens you to love. (The Interior Castle 91)

I delighted in being well thoughtof, and was particular about all that I did; and all this seemed to me a virtue, though that will not serve me for an excuse, for I knew how to get my own pleasure out of everything, and so my wrongdoing cannot be excused by ignorance . . . (The Life of St. Teresa 39)

Let us set our eyes on Christ, our good, and on his saints. This is where we will learn true humility. (The Interior Castle 48)

[Our Lord] understands our weaknesses; the soul knows by a strong inward surmise whether it truly loves Him. (The Life of St. Teresa 184)

I think too that His Majesty goes about trying to prove who loves Him . . . O Lord of my soul, if only one had the words to explain what You give to those who trust in You . . . (The Life of St. Teresa 160-162)

The soul sees clearly that if there is anything good in her, it is on loan from God . . . (The Interior Castle 158)

It is a wonderful thing for the soul to connect with others who walk [the holy] way she is walking. (The Interior Castle 59)

If parents were to ask me for advice, I would tell them to take great care what people their children consort with at [impressionable ages]. (The Life of St. Teresa 27)

Let the crux of the matter be this: strive to move forward on the spiritual path. . . it simply is not possible that a soul who has come this far would stop growing. Love is never idle. . . (The Interior Life 149-150)

She becomes brutally aware of her insignificance and realizes how little we would be able to do to help ourselves if the Beloved ever decided to abandon us. (The Interior Castle163)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Novena to St. Teresa of Avila – Day Eight

Day Eight Novena to St. Teresa of Avila by St. Alphonsus of Liguori

O most beloved Lord Jesus Christ! we thank Thee for the eminent gift of the desire for death which Thou didst grant to Thy beloved Teresa; we pray Thee, by Thy merits, and by those of Thy most constant spouse, to grant us the grace of desiring death, in order to go and possess Thee eternally in the country of the blessed.

Say one Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be.

V. St. Teresa, pray for us:

R. That we may become worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.

Let us pray: Graciously hear us, O God of our salvation! that as we rejoice in the commemoration of the blessed virgin Teresa, so we may be nourished by her heavenly doctrine, and draw from thence the fervor of a tender devotion; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

Novena found at:


Pope St. Callistus I ( -222)

What an incredible story of how God used a poor man of the lowest status (that of a slave), a sinner, and a man with the frailest physical constitution. And yet, Pope St. Callistus was the man God needed for a very special mission in His Church. If you have never read this story, click on the link.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

There are days when I simply must write . . . and there are days when I know if I write, it will amount to a string of meaningless words (here's why)

Awesome passage from Manifesting God by Thomas Keating:

As love increases, one feels at times that one is an instrument of God. Maybe it is too personal an experience to generalize, but I have seen it happen in a number of people. If they have certain spiritual gifts, it feels as if someone else is supplying them with the inspiration and energy they need to exercise them. Such a person might be compared to a pencil that is picked up at the appropriate time. If that person is inspired to write or speak, he or she knows that the divine Spirit is working through him or her. It is not the same kind of inspiration that we attribute to the authors of Scripture, of course. But these people know that the energy they have is not coming from themselves. When the divine Mover puts down the pencil, their source of energy goes too, and they feel to the full their normal inability to do anything useful for the Kingdom of God . . . until this dynamic presence picks them up again.


Novena to St. Teresa of Avila – Day Seven

Day Seven Novena to St. Teresa of Avila by St. Alphonsus of Liguori

O most loving Lord Jesus Christ! we thank Thee for the wonderful gift of the wound in the heart which Thou didst grant to Thy beloved Teresa; we pray Thee, by Thy merits, and by those of Thy seraphic spouse, to grant us also a like wound of love, that, henceforth, we may love Thee and give our mind to the love of nothing but Thee.

Say one Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be.

V. St. Teresa, pray for us:

R. That we may become worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.

Let us pray: Graciously hear us, O God of our salvation! that as we rejoice in the commemoration of the blessed virgin Teresa, so we may be nourished by her heavenly doctrine, and draw from thence the fervor of a tender devotion; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

Novena found at:


Monday, October 12, 2009

Where Even the Shadow of Death Cannot Shake Us

On Sunday, during the parish dinner, a man choked on a piece of food. His wife stood up and put her arms around her husband and attempted to save him. In a matter of a few seconds, those of us working the floor of the hall noticed their crisis and called to a few large men to spring into action. One man made it to their table and took over. Almost immediately, the victim's air passage was cleared, and he could breathe again.

I know what it is like to choke on food. It can be absolutely terrifying. In those critical seconds, you wonder if this is it. You know that, unless something happens to change the situation, you simply aren't going to make it.

Oxygen is that important.

As I watched from a short distance away, I found myself immediately in prayer. But the only thing I could say was Jesus. Oh Jesus.

I've only prayed that short prayer once before. It was on the day I choked. In fact, it was while I was choking. In both cases, the name of Jesus became a plea for help - for help from the only one who really could help. Jesus.

It saddens me deeply when people use Our Lord's name so casually. In exasperation. In anger. In surprise.

This one who has died for us and who gives us His own Flesh and Blood so that we might live - this name we misuse. This name we defile.

We are told in Sacred Scripture that at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

By this name, we are saved.

And even as I invoked the Holy Name of Jesus Christ in my one word prayer, Jesus, the man's air passage cleared and he began taking in deep breaths.

I have seen this man before. He comes to Mass every week, pushing a walker, making his way to the front to receive the Eucharist. Oh, he could stay home and nobody would think twice about it. God would even understand. Someone could bring the Eucharist to him. I don't know the name of his illness, but I do know that he can't be older than I am. Probably in his forties. But something has gone very wrong. He is frail. I've seen him collapse as he walked forward to receive the Eucharist. I have watched as ushers ran to help him back to his seat. I have watched as Father walked directly to him to bring Our Lord's Body to this one who suffers so greatly.

On Sunday, my husband was an usher at Mass. He greeted this husband and wife as they entered the narthex. John asked the man how he was. The husband didn't complain, though he was hunched over the walker and barely able to shuffle his feet along the floor and into the sanctuary.

The man replied that he was doing well. It was a good day.

And even though he struggles to walk, he comes to Mass.

Even though he risks falling in front of everyone, it doesn't seem to deter him. He still keeps making his way toward the Eucharist.

Even though he has a tendency to choke, probably due to the illness, he still comes to the parish dinner. He still breaks bread with all of us.

At Mass.

At the parish dinner.

In moments like these, I witness a portion of grace far greater than I have personally witnessed ever before. That kind of strength comes from God. No amount of personal determination and grit could account for the strength I see in this ailing and failing man.

And after I ponder this, I take a look at his wife. She is right there, by his side, as he enters the church, as he receives Our Lord. She is there behind him, using all of the strength her small frame can muster to wrap her arms around him and perform the manuever to rescue him from the brink of death. She is there with the napkin to wipe his mouth after the food and saliva run down his chin. She is always right there.

My friends, this is Catholic faith. It is richer and deeper and holier and more faithful and self-effacing than any faith I have ever seen.

It is the kind of faith that makes saints.

And I hunger for more of it. More and more of it. Until even the shadow of the valley of death cannot shake me.


Novena to St. Teresa of Avila – Day Six

Day Six Novena to St. Teresa of Avila by St. Alphonsus of Liguori

O most bountiful Lord Jesus Christ! we thank Thee for the gift of devotion towards Thy sweet mother, Mary and her holy spouse, Joseph, which Thou didst grant to Thy beloved Teresa; we pray Thee, by Thy merits, and by those of Thy most dear spouse, to give us the grace of a special and tender devotion towards Thy most holy mother, Mary, and towards Thy beloved foster-father, Joseph.

Say one Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be.

V. St. Teresa, pray for us:

R. That we may become worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.

Let us pray: Graciously hear us, O God of our salvation! that as we rejoice in the commemoration of the blessed virgin Teresa, so we may be nourished by her heavenly doctrine, and draw from thence the fervor of a tender devotion; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

Novena found at:


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Novena to St. Teresa of Avila – Day Five

Day Five Novena to St. Teresa of Avila by St. Alphonsus of Liguori

O most kind Lord Jesus Christ! we thank Thee for the great gift of humility which Thou didst grant to Thy beloved Teresa; we pray Thee, by Thy merits, and by those of Thy most humble spouse, to grant us the grace of a true humility, which may make us ever find our joy in humiliation, and prefer contempt before every honour.

Say one Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be.

V. St. Teresa, pray for us:

R. That we may become worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.

Let us pray: Graciously hear us, O God of our salvation! that as we rejoice in the commemoration of the blessed virgin Teresa, so we may be nourished by her heavenly doctrine, and draw from thence the fervor of a tender devotion; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

Novena found at:


Saturday, October 10, 2009

St. Anne and Me - Rough Draft Done

Robert Frost once said, "No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader."

If he was right, then December's article will have you weeping. I just captured the rough draft of December's Catholic by Grace diocesan article, and I was wiping away tears. Good tears. Happy tears.

The kind of tears that are appropriate during Advent.

So, coming to a diocesan newspaper near you . . . "St. Anne and Me"
(Artwork by Leonardo Da Vinci)


Pray for Victims of Philippine Landslide

MANILA (AP) -- Rescuers dug out six survivors and more bodies buried under landslides that killed at least 225 people in the storm-soaked northern Philippines, as workers rushed Saturday to clear mountain roads to aid relief efforts.

Novena to St. Teresa of Avila – Day Four

Day Four Novena to St. Teresa of Avila by St. Alphonsus of Liguori

O most sweet Lord Jesus Christ! we thank Thee for the gift of great desire and resolution which Thou didst grant to Thy beloved Teresa, that she might love Thee perfectly; we pray Thee, by Thy merits, and by those of Thy most generous spouse, to give us a true desire, and a true resolution of pleasing Thee the utmost of our power.

Say one Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be.

V. St. Teresa, pray for us:

R. That we may become worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.

Let us pray: Graciously hear us, O God of our salvation! that as we rejoice in the commemoration of the blessed virgin Teresa, so we may be nourished by her heavenly doctrine, and draw from thence the fervor of a tender devotion; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

Novena found at:


Friday, October 9, 2009

Novena to St. Teresa of Avila – Day Three

Day Three Novena to St. Teresa of Avila by St. Alphonsus of Liguori

O most loving Lord Jesus Christ! We thank Thee for the great gift of love which Thou didst grant to Thy beloved Teresa; we pray Thee, by Thy merits, and by those of Thy most loving spouse, to give us the great, the crowning gift of Thy perfect love.

Say one Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be.

V. St. Teresa, pray for us:

R. That we may become worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.

Let us pray: Graciously hear us, O God of our salvation! That as we rejoice in the commemoration of the blessed virgin Teresa, so we may be nourished by her heavenly doctrine, and draw from it the fervor of a tender devotion; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

Novena found at:


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Battle Scars and Boo-Boos

. . . so we're having our parish dinner this weekend. The letter that went out to parish families was about the same as they always send out - with one exception. Instead of baking two loaves of bread and a couple of cakes OR pies, the letter just said bread and pie.

Now, I've made pies before, but never for anyone that cared whether the crust was nice and flaky rather than tough and over-processed. Usually though, I just buy refrigerator pie crust and make do with that.

But not for the parish dinner. We're known for doing it from scratch. All homemade. Nothing but the best for our parish and community.

So, I decided to do a trial-run. Make a practice pie.

The pie was great. The crust perfect. I'm ready for the real deal.

And I have a burn on my arm to prove it. My husband says it'll scar for sure. It doesn't hurt. Just looks like an angry two-inch line on the under-side of my right arm.

I used to think that the only persecutions and sacrifices and hardships that had any eternal merit were those that came from a direct witness of the Good News of the Gospel. In short, the only suffering and sacrifice that mattered were those things that missionaries endured in places where the Gospel Message got you killed.

Certainly, a little scar on the arm while baking a pie for a parish dinner did not qualify. It was just an unfortunate boo-boo.

But, I'm learning - as St. Therese says - that all is grace. Everything. Nothing is wasted. Not even a little burn on the tender flesh on the inside of an arm. I have a battle scar.

Okay, so I wasn't wounded while sharing the faith in a foreign country. Maybe I can work up to that.

I simply burned my arm while making a pie.

The pie turned out great, by the way. And I think I'm ready for the real deal. I pray that our parish will be a witness through good old fashioned hospitality this weekend. And if you are in the St. Louis area, maybe you'll journey beyond West County and Chesterfield . . . past highway 94 to highway D, through Busch Wildlife . . . until you reach the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

And try the apple pie. It's homemade - with lots of love


Novena to St. Teresa of Avila – Day Two

Day Two Novena to St. Teresa of Avila by St. Alphonsus of Liguori

O most merciful Lord Jesus Christ! we thank Thee for the great gift of hope which Thou didst grant to Thy beloved Teresa; we pray Thee, by Thy merits, and by those of Thy holy spouse, to give us a great confidence in Thy goodness, by reason of Thy Precious Blood, which Thou hast shed to its last drop for our salvation.

Say one Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be.

V. St. Teresa, pray for us:

R. That we may become worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.

Let us pray: Graciously hear us, O God of our salvation! that as we rejoice in the commemoration of the blessed virgin Teresa, so we may be nourished by her heavenly doctrine, and draw from thence the fervor of a tender devotion; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

Novena found at:


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Novena to St. Teresa of Avila – Day One

Day One Novena to St. Teresa of Avila by St. Alphonsus of Liguori

O most amiable Lord Jesus Christ! We thank Thee for the great gift of faith and of devotion to the Holy Sacrament, which Thou didst grant to Thy beloved Teresa; we pray Thee, by Thy merits and by those of Thy faithful spouse, to grant us the gift of a lively faith, and of a fervent devotion toward the most Holy Sacrament of the altar; where Thou, O infinite Majesty! hast obliged Thyself to abide with us even to the end of the world, and wherein Thou didst so lovingly give Thy whole Self to us.

Say one Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be.

V. St. Teresa, pray for us:

R. That we may become worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.

Let us pray: Graciously hear us, O God of our salvation! that as we rejoice in the commemoration of the blessed virgin Teresa, so we may be nourished by her heavenly doctrine, and draw from thence the fervor of a tender devotion; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

Novena found at:

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Good Morning? yes it is

Yesterday, my husband bought a crucifix.

Once each year, a group from the Holy Land comes to our parish and sells crosses, crucifixes, rosaries, and other sacred objects like carved images of the Last Supper and St. Michael the Archangel. Their profits go to help Christians in the Holy Land.

So my husband bought a crucifix. We are new to the Catholic faith, and so we are - little by little - turning our home into a Catholic home.

My husband mentioned that we should have a crucifix in every room. Before he bought the new one, we had only three. Like I said, we are slowly getting there.

On Sunday, he bought a fourth one. It was a small crucifix, with a silver-colored corpus. In a little window at the base of the cross, the carver placed some stones and soil from Jerusalem. The cross, itself, was made from olive wood, also from Jerusalem.

I wasn't sure where to put it. So, last night, I set it up on the windowsill above the kitchen sink.

This morning, when I walked to the kitchen, making a straight path to the coffee pot, I discovered that my dog was sick in the night. He left me soiled spots on the hard wood floor and on the braided rug in the great room. Five spots in all.

This is not how I like to wake up in the morning.

So, I walked to the sink (rather than the coffee pot) and turned on the hot water tap. As I was waiting for the water to run hot, I saw the new crucifix and my irritation became a prayer. Instantly, I gave the anger and frustration up - for His Work.

I offered it up.

These are the lessons Our Lord is giving us, as a newly formed Catholic family. It is good to have a crucifix in every room. Not because we are so holy. But because we are not inclined to be holy and we need the help of our crucified Lord. We need reminders at every turn.

And now . . . the coffee pot awaits.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Nine Days

We have asked Blessed Dina Belanger for her intercession.

We have asked St. Padre Pio and St. Therese for their intercession.

We have even asked St. Monica to pray.

And now, in just three days, we will ask another saint to lift our petitions to the Throne of Grace. We will look to St. Teresa of Avila, my patron saint, to step into the gap as well - to raise her voice with these other saints and to pray to the Lord Our God for answered prayer.

Nine days with St. Teresa of Avila.

Discover what it is like to submit to nine days of prayer. . .
Discover what it means to call upon the Communion of Saints. . .

The disciples, along with the Blessed Mother, gathered together for nine days and prayed - beginning on the day of Our Lord's Ascension and ending on the day when the Gift of the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost. Nine days of prayer. Nine days that ushered in the birth of the Church and changed the face of the earth forever. Lord, hear our prayers . . .


Friday, October 2, 2009

The Holy Father Understands U.S. Strengths and Weaknesses

This morning at the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI received the letters of accreditation from the new U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, Dr. Miguel H. Diaz. (EWTN News)

Quoting his predecessor Benedict XVI said, 'a society lacks solid foundations when, on the one hand, it asserts values such as the dignity of the person, justice and peace, but then, on the other hand, radically acts to the contrary by allowing or tolerating a variety of ways in which human life is devalued and violated, especially where it is weak or marginalized.'

It sounds to me like the Holy Father understands the strengths and weaknesses of the United States, her people and her politics. Thank God that we have a pope who will speak the truth in love. Pray that those who are in positions of power (in our country) will heed the call.

If I can believe the Bible . . .

In those first days as a Catholic, I had to tell myself that my guardian angel was sitting beside me. I find it odd that Evangelicals (myself included prior to my conversion) believed in the Bible 100% - but we didn't ever talk about the Scriptural support for these celestial beings. We never mentioned them. We didn't talk about them with our children. There were no sermons about them.

Oh, sure, we talked about the angels in the Old Testament. How one of them stopped Balaam on the road, how Balaam couldn't see the angel with its raised sword - but his donkey saw the angel and refused to move another inch. How Balaam had yelled at his donkey and beat him, calling him all sorts of names. How the donkey turned his head to his master and spoke - yes SPOKE - saying, what have I ever done to deserve such treatment? And then, Balaam raised his eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord.

Or the angel in the furnace. When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (also known as Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah) are thrown into the furnace by King Nebuchadnezzar because they would not bow before the king, an angel appears in the furnace with them. And the men are not consumed by the fire. Instead, they begin singing and praising God together.

And of course, the New Testament begins with an angel talking to Elizabeth's husband, Zachariah. And the Archangel Gabriel comes to Mary and announces to her the greatest news of all time. She would bear a son, the Messiah, the saviour.

But I was never told that I have a guardian angel.

I had to will myself to receive this teaching. I had to remind myself that it was true. I had to imagine my angel beside me.

I began the process by willing myself to remember that my guardian angel was beside me - at home, at Eucharistic Adoration, at Mass.

I began talking to him, rather than to myself.

And eventually, I began thinking about my husband's guardian angel - or my daughter's guardian angel - or a perfect stranger's guardian angel.

What an amazing thought. We have our own private messenger and protector! He kneels before Our Eucharistic Lord Jesus Christ when I genuflect. He bows and trembles with incomprehensible joy when Our Lord is placed on my tongue. He leads me back to my seat after I have received Our Lord and waits with me as I pray.

He communicates with another's guardian angel even as I speak to his dear one about the faith and the Church and the joy of being Catholic.

He walks each step of this life with me. And he will lead me all the way into eternity - if only I would follow.

It is not so difficult to believe. If I can believe that an angel stopped Balaam and caused a donkey to speak, if I can believe that an angel visited three men who were tossed into a furnace for refusing to worship someone other than God, if I can believe that an angel spoke to Zachariah and Our Lady -

I can believe that my guardian angel is real . . . and standing right at my side.

Amazing. Completely and totally amazing.


Blessed Feast of our Guardian Angels

He Shall Give His Angels Charge Over Thee - Psalm 91

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.

A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.

Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;
There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.

Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.

He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.

With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation.