Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Grant that today . . . we may give happiness to all

This morning, I read this in the Morning Prayer: Grant that today we may bring sadness to no-one, but on the contrary, give happiness to all we meet.

It has been on my mind most of the day - or, more accurately, in the back of my mind most of the day.

And you know what? Tonight, as I take stock of the day, I hope that I have brought sadness to no-one, but happiness to all I have met.

I do know one thing for certain - while I'm not sure how I did - I am sure how someone else did. I'd like to reprint a Letter to the Editor of The Catholic Times (LaCrosse, WI). The editor was kind enough to send this to me today. It completely made my day.

The beautiful and humble article by Denise Bossert in the April 30 issue brought tears to my eyes. What a gift she has given to any heart open to her story of conversion to what marriage really is or ought to be. She has suffered pain and loss, and in that, she only hopes that young Catholics might see the beauty and truth of Catholic teaching and avoid the same mistakes that she has made. What a witness! Maybe those in our diocese who prepare young people for marriage could hand out copies of this article.
Carrie Teegarden LaCrosse

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Monday, June 29, 2009

101 Things You Must Never Do - #5

101 Things You Must Never Do- If You Want to Remain Protestant

Number Five: You must never sit in a Catholic Church when the Holy Eucharist is exposed on the altar and ask the Lord to make His Presence known - if He is indeed there.

(See blog posting right below this one for the true story of what happened to me after my first hour of Adoration.)

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Encountering an hour of Adoration for the first time

(reprinted from a 2006 Catholic by Grace article)

Entering the Presence of Our Lord in order to worship him during an hour of Perpetual Adoration is a multi-sensory experience. Just minutes before eleven o’clock on Wednesday night, I walk up the steps to the little church and open the heavy wooden doors. I notice the way the place smells first, and it comes to me like a warm greeting. Old wood. Old books. The residual scent that lingers from decades of burning incense and candles in this place.

I try to shut the door quietly after I cross the threshold, so as not to disturb the one who has come before me. Candles quietly burn for the intentions of the faithful. I dip my fingers in the font which is half-filled with cool, refreshing holy water. The water feels good to my fingertips and forehead, and leaves a mark on my shirt where I touch. This act always reminds me of my baptismal vows. It brings to mind the day my father baptized me, and I thank God for the profound connection that remains to the father I loved so deeply and for the chance to renew my vows to my Heavenly Father.

The church is dimly lit in the eleventh hour, but the golden tabernacle and monstrance reflect the candle flame and soft overhead lights. I walk nearly to the front, eyes fully fixed on the Lord.

I kneel before the altar. I see what appears to be bread, but I think about how it feels to receive my Eucharistic Lord, and once again He pours grace upon me to see with eyes of faith.
Then it spreads over me, with the gentle aid of the Holy Spirit – a spiritual communion so sweet that I know He is glad I came for this hour.

I reflect back to the first time I participated in this kind of worship at the invitation of a friend. I didn’t think anything unusual was happening to me. In the preceding weeks, I had been given the grace to believe in the Real Presence. I knew the Lord was really up there on the altar. Perpetual Adoration seemed like something one would want to do out of obedience to and affirmation of the Real Presence; so I accepted the invitation. It was lovely, but I didn’t realize this unique form of worship was doing something inside of me.

For weeks after that night, every time I passed the little church, I felt a call to come back. I couldn’t shake the feeling. And I knew that something had happened to me. My RCIA leader calls it a grace. All I know is that my spirit had been awakened to the importance of Perpetual Adoration, and there was no denying the hunger in my soul to return to the source of peace.

This quiet worship has become part of my life. When I am sick or on vacation and am unable to spend my hour with Our Lord, that same hunger returns. And I think my RCIA leader is right. That hunger is a grace, a little gift, a gentle reminder that Our Lord loves me and wants me near.

Sometimes I sit with Our Lord and say nothing. Sometimes I sing a quiet song of praise (since there is nobody but the Lord and me at the eleventh hour). Sometimes I pray or read a religious book. Sometimes I leaf through the Missalette and see if the Lord has something to tell me through the day’s Mass readings.

When I get home, my husband always asks me how it went. “It was wonderful,” I say. How does one put into words what it is like to sit with the Lord?

I asked Jesus to come into my heart when I was eight. I know what it is like to fall in love with Jesus Christ with the simple heart of a child because that’s how it was for me. I was so young – and the Lord was so real.

Years later, I recognized the Eucharistic Lord as the Lord of my youth, but I realized that His Presence in the Eucharist is richer, deeper and purer than anything I’ve ever experienced. My heart says this is the same Lord. My spirit knows that, while that is true, it goes deeper.

When, by grace, a child of God is able to recognize the Real Presence in the Eucharistic Lord, there is no place to call home apart from the Catholic Church. That is why I make my way to that little church every week and spend an hour with Him.

Jesus said, Where I am, there shall my servant be also (John 12:26). Jesus is there; so that’s where I want to be.

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I Don't Remember Hearing About Him

When my husband became Catholic, a wonderful world opened up for us. Finally, we could talk about the faith without it ending in an argument (primarily because I no longer felt compelled to convert him - which can put a definite strain on simple conversation about faith).
I remember one day when I brought up the priestly king Melchizedek, who is mentioned in the Mass.

"Isn't it interesting how references to bread and wine seem to pop up everywhere in Holy Scripture once you become Catholic? I mean, I don't remember reading about Melchizedek before I became Catholic. Do you? We overlooked so many clues that make the case for the Eucharist in the Bible."

John thought for a moment. "I know he's mentioned in the Mass, but I still don't think he's in my Baptist Bible." He was implying that this was one of those things that didn't make it into the Protestant revision of the canon of Holy Scripture during the Protestant Reformation (like Judith and Tobit, etc.)

"Of course he is." And I ran to get his old Bible. There it was, in the Book of Genesis chapter 14 - in my husband's own Protestant Bible! Melchizedek, the King of Salem (which means Peace). Abram offers him a tithe. And the king-priest gives Abram a blessing and then he offers a sacrifice of bread and wine.

And our Catholic priests are ordained in "the Order of Melchizedek".

They are, for us, a kingly priest, blessing us and offering a sacrifice of bread and wine on our behalf - and the King and High Priest comes to us then. He comes inside of us, as the reigning King of Peace (Salem). John looked at his Bible and nodded, "Huh! You're right. He is in there."

Indeed, how much we missed!
I hope you are having a blessed Year For Priests! Be ready to give a defense for the faith and the Priestly Office!

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Article Marking Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul @TCW

http://woman.catholicexchange.com/2009/06/29/1544/
Check out the article at Today's Catholic Woman. It marks the Solemnity of St. Peter and St. Paul (today) and the conclusion of the Year of St. Paul.

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Saturday Night Alive (in Christ)


In my young adult years, I probably would have said that Catholics who attend Saturday evening Mass were probably just trying to fulfill their obligation while simultaneously preserving Sunday for less-than-holy things.


Or maybe they were getting to Mass early so they could party all night and sleep in late the next day.


And now, I'm the Catholic who attends Saturday vigil Mass (though I attend Sunday Masses almost as frequently - it all depends on when our daughter is scheduled as an altar server).


So, like we do on so many Saturdays, my husband and I attended Mass last night - and our daughter served. I woke up this morning and logged onto Universalis to read the Office and Morning Prayer. I found myself wanting to go to Mass again this morning. Why? Because I simply love Mass. It doesn't lessen my love for God to go to Saturday Mass. In fact, it sets the tone for the next 24 hours. It begins the Lord's Day, which runs from sundown to sundown (a traditional Jewish way of marking a 24 hour day). The Lord's Day - which we keep holy - sundown to sundown. It's a very Catholic thing.

God forgive me for ever judging another's soul.
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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Remains of the Day

This has been a very strange day – the kind of day that’s likely to come up in my dreams - as some peculiar reordering of real life, a metaphorical rendering of real experiences, a dream that only makes sense to me because only I can connect the dots between the real and the nocturnal rendering of the same.


It's the brain’s way of processing life events that are too big or bizarre to neatly tuck away in existing brain files.


Or maybe it’s the kind of day that will end up in an article somewhere down the line as I share about how the Sacrament of Reconciliation is sometimes a little like having food poisoning. Just get it out, all of it out of the system. Tell yourself that you’ll never indulge in that again as long as you live. And when it’s all over, and you’re surprised you survived, you realize how good it feels to be healthy again. Alive. Kneeling, as grace returns like a cool wet cloth on your forehead. And you’re ready for Mass, so you can receive holy food, something that sustains and renews, something that brings life and light.


Yes, we went to Saturday evening Mass, where I received two Sacraments. And it was amazing. Completely amazing.


And then, we went into the city to attend the retirement celebration of my husband’s childhood pastor. More than a childhood pastor. He was John’s pastor for almost thirty years. The only pastor he knew before entering the Catholic Church.


That’s not unusual, I suppose. But the pastor’s two children shared some memories from over the years, memories of what it’s like to be a preacher’s kid, the radical change that comes when a preacher-dad steps away from pastoral ministry. How hard that is.


And suddenly, I’m that preacher’s kid. I’ve stood in that place. I have known what it is like to have all of your faith and faith experiences wrapped up in Dad. And to have it end. A real identity crisis for the whole family.


What church do we call our own now? What comes next? If every life event up ‘til this point has been built on this foundation, how do we begin to have new memories, ones that don’t include this church or Dad’s role as pastor?


Our friends and our parents’ friends are here. Our definition of faith was formulated here. Our memories – thirty years of them – were made right here.


Now, we are wondering where to go to church next week. And we know -- the pastor there won’t preach anything like Dad. Nobody can preach like Dad does. And we won’t know what to do when we don’t have labels to wear. Preacher’s wife. Preacher’s daughter. Preacher’s son.


And maybe that’s because it wasn’t meant to be like this. Maybe there is a faith community that has no boundaries. You go to France, and that is your church home. Or Japan. Or the Netherlands. Or Uruguay. And your church is there.



Because your church is The Church, and she is everywhere.


Maybe there is a church that doesn’t have a beginning or ending or labels that wear out. Laity remains laity. Clergy remains clergy. And those things define who you are for as long as you live – and even into eternity.


Yes, I think this day will come back to me again. In a dream. Or an article. Or a memory that comes to me while I’m waiting in line or waiting for my grandchild to be born or waiting for the storm to pass over.


Much to process here.


Sacramental grace that reminds me how beautiful my new Home is. And a dinner later that night - that reminds me of how transient life can seem when it is built on something else. Anything else – except the Rock.
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The Word to Purge


The word irks me. I think it bothers me because it goes against everything the Fourth Commandment asks of us. Honor our father and our mother. Or, more comprehensively, honor our higher authority.

What is this word that I think we should purge?

Whatever. The word is Whatever. It needs to go, especially when it is said with an eye-roll and a bit of attitude.

We could replace it with a classic phrase from the Deep South. Yes, Ma'am. Or Yes, Sir. Either of those would work just fine.

Or a simple Okay.

If, however, one absolutely must express dislike. Simple English works quite well: I don't happen to agree with you. Or I don't understand this at all. Or I honestly disagree with you, but you are in charge.
.

Or a simple Okay.

But, the word Whatever. . . it just needs to go.

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Year of St. Paul Coming to a Close

(The Year of St. Paul is coming to a close. To mark its passing, I am reposting an article that ran last October/November in diocesan papers.)
There are a lot of us, and our stories fascinate you. Sometimes, the stories are so compelling that we almost achieve celebrity status. But we are not celebrities. Being a convert to the Catholic Church simply means we said yes to grace. A few of us had St. Paul-style conversions, the kind that knock you over and render you blind for a bit. The rest of us just came around to the truth slowly and methodically, and we found ourselves in a Rite of Christian Initiation (RCIA) class without being sure how it all began.

In this Year of St. Paul, we must remember that it wasn’t St. Paul’s conversion story that turned the world upside down, though it certainly surprised those he had persecuted and outraged old friends. St. Paul was more concerned with living the faith, keeping the faith, and dying in the faith. With great humility, this servant of the Lord writes, It is not that I have already taken hold of it or have already attained perfect maturity, but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it . . . forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead (Philippians 3:12-13).

St. Paul understood that conversion was only the beginning. To him, it was a sobering reality that he must continue to run the race with a focus on what lies ahead and not behind. What does forward-focused Christianity look like and how does a new convert move beyond the joy of that initial conversion to lay hold of what lies ahead?

The answer is found in St. Paul’s writings.

It was not enough to be converted. It was not enough to be beaten and imprisoned and stoned. It was not enough to be shipwrecked or tossed out of one city gate after another. St. Paul knew that he must not only run the race well. He must finish the race well.

In the early 1990s, I lived north of Atlanta, Georgia. One evening, our family visited the home of a parishioner who had worked as an executive producer at Turner Broadcasting System. Ira gave us a tour of his beautiful house. I was surprised to see a number of Oscars lined up on one shelf in his office and asked him if they were real. He nodded, and I told him that I was impressed. He said, “Don’t be.” And then he explained that, in his business, one was always working on the next thing, not looking back. I was intrigued by his humility and impressed by his tenacity.

If one can be tenacious for the things of this world, why not be consumed with the work of the Kingdom of God. That’s what St. Paul would say. Fight the good fight. Run the race. And win the prize.

The Church needs lectors, cantors, cleaners, quilters and intercessors. She needs people who visit the sick and volunteer at the women’s shelter and coach the parish athletic teams. She needs artists and writers, speakers and architects. She needs those who have great intelligence, great creativity, and great hospitality. There is a job description that fits your talents perfectly.

I am blessed to be a part of this network of Gospel living. Sure, conversion stories are great. They inspire cradle Catholics who find it exciting that God is still calling people to conversion. But there is more.

Without a doubt, the best conversion story is the one that keeps going and growing long after the first conversion. And I’ll be honest with you. The work that comes after that first conversion is more exhausting and demanding, because few see it, even fewer affirm it, and almost nobody applauds. Even so, let us run the race as St. Paul did. Moreover, let us finish the race as St. Paul did!

For the grace to finish the race well, St. Paul, pray for us!

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Novena for Priests - Day Nine

Ninth Day
St. John Vianney, Good and Holy Priest, O holy Priest of Ars, you lived in an age of much upheaval, in a time when men turned their backs on God. Your bishop told of a parish to which he wished to send you where there was no love. He assigned you to Ars and said that you would be the Priest who would enable the people to know the love of God. Not only did you draw these people back to God, but your saintly reputation soon spread and many people were converted to a life of holiness. You said that a good Priest, a Priest after Christ’s own heart is the greatest treasure that God can give a parish. Give us such Priests! O great St. John Vianney, once again we are living in day of upheaval. There is much evil in the world. Obtain for Father _____________ the grace to persevere in his faith and never to despair. May he walk with the Lord and trust in Him all the days of his life. Obtain through your heavenly intercession, for Father ___________________ the grace of modeling his life after that of Jesus Christ, that his people will know the love of God. More than ever the people need him to be able to bring the world to Christ. Pray for Father______________ and all Priests, O great Priest of Ars. (Recite the Novena Prayer.)

Novena Prayer
O holy Priest of Ars, St. John Marie Vianney, you loved God and served Him faithfully as His Priest. Now you see God face to face in heaven. You never despaired but persevered in your faith until you died. Remember now the dangers, fears and anxieties that surround Father ___________________ and intercede for him in all his needs and troubles especially console him in his most difficult moments, grant him serenity in the midst of crisis, and protect him from evil. O St. John Vianney, I have confidence in your intercession. Pray for Father ____________________ in a special way during this novena.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

It's Not Hocus Pocus or Superstition - It's a matter of faith

A couple of years ago, my sister-in-law and her husband were trying to sell their house. It was before the downturn in the economy, but it still was going slow. Their realtor happened to be a Catholic family member. She suggested a St. Joseph statue and prayer. My brother-in-law was skeptical. He laughed and said, “Do I have to hold the number thirteen while I do it? Do a little hop? Why St. Joseph?”

I understand his skepticism. Christians should not be superstitious. The core reality of what our Catholic Mother-in-law (their realtor) was saying is far different from hocus pocus or superstition. It isn’t about a formula or raising the luck factor. It is about intercession. It is about faith. It is about trusting St. Joseph - that holy foster father of Our Lord and earthly provider and head of the Holy Family - to hear our petitions. In particular, we ask him to intercede in those areas that impact the family, and in turn he presents those concerns to his Son. It’s that simple.

But what about all the trappings? What about the things that seem superstitious or just plain ridiculous? Here’s what I know. Our Lord used the ridiculous many times; so I think I’ll suspend disbelief when it comes to Christ-centered faith and action.

Come here, Blind man, let me put some mud on your eyes.

Lepers, go dip seven time in the river.

Friends, drop your nets on the other side of the boat and see if you have more success with your fishing.

The Blessed Mother probably knew her Son performed miracles by way of odd and peculiar things. Perhaps that’s what prompted her to tell the disciples “to do whatever He tells you.” And what did He tell them? Let’s pour the water from this barrel into that one and then we’ll have wine.

It isn’t about superstition. It isn’t about looking ridiculous. Whatever we do, we do it in faith, with obedience.

And it usually begins with a simple petition. Lord, we’ve caught no fish. Mary, we’re out of wine. St. Joseph, I have a house I need to sell.

Pray for us.


(Five years ago, when my husband and I were having trouble selling our house, we petitioned St. Joseph. We didn't get a ton of money for our house, but it sold at a fair price precisely when we needed it to sell.)
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Novena for Priests - Day Eight

Eighth Day
St. John Vianney, Lover of Penance and Mortification,O holy Priest of Ars, you led a life of detachment from worldly pleasures. Your meals consisted of a boiled potato each day; you slept a few hours each night. But you did all of this so that you would be able to serve God to the best of your ability. Your life was portrayed by the saying: “We complain when we suffer. We have much more reason to complain when we do not suffer, since nothing likens us to our Lord as the bearing of His cross.” O great St. John Vianney, in these days when we are surrounded by so many comforts and pleasures, it can be so difficult for us to do penance for our sins and live a life of detachment. I resolve to offer some sacrifice today for the expiation of Father ______________’s sins and the sins of all mankind. Assist Father in accepting the cross God chooses to send him. May he embrace the life of sacrifice to which Priests are called. May he willingly offer his whole life to God! Obtain for Father _____________________ the grace to imitate the life of Christ by the bearing of His cross. (Recite the Novena Prayer.)


Novena Prayer
O holy Priest of Ars, St. John Marie Vianney, you loved God and served Him faithfully as His Priest. Now you see God face to face in heaven. You never despaired but persevered in your faith until you died. Remember now the dangers, fears and anxieties that surround Father ___________________ and intercede for him in all his needs and troubles especially console him in his most difficult moments, grant him serenity in the midst of crisis, and protect him from evil. O St. John Vianney, I have confidence in your intercession. Pray for Father ____________________ in a special way during this novena.
for complete Novena, go to: http://www.sacredheartdunnnc.org/novena.cfm

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Falling Asleep in Mary's Arms

I used to do it all the time. That is, I used to pray the Rosary when I climbed into bed, and I'd fall asleep before I had completed my prayers.


It has been a long time since I did that. But, it happened to me last night.


The first couple of times I woke up with the Rosary laying beside me on the bed, I felt like I had let God down. Like I couldn't "tarry with Him for even one hour" as it says in Holy Scripture.


But then I realized that it was okay. I couldn't let that bother me or I might limit how often I pick up my Rosary beads. I might let fear-of-not-finishing derail a whole lot of prayer time - and all the good that comes with this powerful prayer.


So, now I think of it in a completely different way. I pray with Our Lady, and if I fall asleep before I'm done, I know she completes the prayers while I sleep peacefully in her arms.


Do you have a Rosary beside your bed? Try picking it up, even on nights when you think you are too tired to finish five decades. When you wake up and find the Rosary right beside you, I'm telling you, it will make you smile - like the memory of falling asleep in your mother's lap or those times daddy carried you into the house in his own arms - and you can't remember how you made it back to your own bed.


As St. Therese said, "It's all grace." Even half-finished Rosaries.

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When Abortion Seems Like a Good Answer

His conception was announced by an angel. His name was given when his mother was still carrying him. An angel proclaimed that he would be made into a great nation. His name was Ishmael.


Unlike the unborn John the Baptist, from yesterday's Mass readings, the circumstances of this child's conception were not orchestrated by God.


They were devised by faulty human reasoning in a mad-grab by three people to play God: Sarah wanted a baby. She couldn't accomplish it on her own. She tells her husband to sleep with the servant Hagar, and they will raise the child as their own. Ishmael is the innocent one in this mess.


And yet, God willed that the child should not die while still in his mother's womb. An angel commands his mother to leave the desert and return to the child's father - so that the child may be born into a safe place (relatively speaking). When the child is older, Hagar is permitted to leave with Ishmael, and God's protection travels with them.


Read today's Mass readings and let it renew your confidence in the sanctity of human life, from conception to natural death - even when the child is conceived in less-than-ideal circumstances, even when the parents are simply trying to play God. Life is always precious.
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St. John Vianney on Humility


(from today's Novena Prayer for Priests, a quote from St. John Vianney)

St. John Vianney said that the “first virtue is humility; the second, humility; and the third, humility.”

In a world (and especially a country) in which we believe it is important to get noticed and have a following, St. John Vianney reminds us that the first virtue is humility - even for those who share the Gospel message. If we remain humble and simple, we will do much good.


Lord, help me to remember this lesson on humility from St. John Vianney when I am tempted to lift myself up so that others will take notice. Amen.

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Novena for Priests - Day Seven

Seventh Day
St. John Vianney, Humble in all Things, O holy Priest of Ars, your life was filled with humility. You wore an old cassock. You ate meager meals. You realized that before the throne of God, you were one of His creatures made to glorify God and praise Him in all things. You said that the “first virtue is humility; the second, humility; and the third, humility.” You counseled people to remain humble, remain simple and the more one is so, the more good he will do. Your simplicity of soul and your uncluttered way of life led you to sanctity. O humble St. John Vianney, when Father _____________________ forgets he is totally dependent on God for everything, intercede for him with Almighty God, to allow him to see that without His Creator nothing is possible and that he must rely on God for everything. He is his Creator, who keeps him in existence at every moment. Obtain for Father __________________ the grace of humility. May his life exemplify your humility and simplicity, a life uncluttered, a life totally dependent on God. (Recite the Novena Prayer.)

Novena Prayer
O holy Priest of Ars, St. John Marie Vianney, you loved God and served Him faithfully as His Priest. Now you see God face to face in heaven. You never despaired but persevered in your faith until you died. Remember now the dangers, fears and anxieties that surround Father ___________________ and intercede for him in all his needs and troubles especially console him in his most difficult moments, grant him serenity in the midst of crisis, and protect him from evil. O St. John Vianney, I have confidence in your intercession. Pray for Father ____________________ in a special way during this novena.


for complete Novena, go to: http://www.sacredheartdunnnc.org/novena.cfm

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Jon and 8 minus Kate


If one can believe wikiAnswers.com, Jon Gosselin was raised Catholic. Jon married Kate on June 12, 1999 in a friend's back yard.


I am really saddened by this train-wreck-of-a-marriage. Many people are looking at the failed marriage and blaming it on reality television and the media attention. Some are saying it's Kate's fault because she has a less-than-pleasant attitude most of the time.


I have to wonder if the problems go back even further than that. Even before infertility treatments and multiple births.


Jon was raised Catholic. If we are to believe wikiAnswers.com, he did not marry sacramentally. Rather, he married in a friend's back yard.


You have to wonder what might have happened if they had set the marriage on the solid rock of the Church.


You have to wonder what might happen if they both ate humble pie and went to the Church even now, to set things in order, sacramentally.


I do not say any of this as one who is spiritually superior. I say it as one who has been there. And I honestly don't know how any marriage makes it without the grace of the sacraments.


Our prayers are with Jon. May he reclaim his Catholic faith. And raise those babies in the Church of his childhood.


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Celebrating a Birthday

His conception was announced by an angel.


His name was given before his conception.


He was filled with the Holy Spirit and leapt in his mother's womb when he heard the voice of the Virgin Mary. Even then, he recognized the presence of God within the Blessed Mother's womb.


And his mission was foretold centuries before his conception.


We celebrate the birthday of St. John the Baptist today. Read today's Mass readings and let it renew your confidence in the sanctity of human life, from conception to natural death.
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Say YES to VBS (Vacation Bible School)


"Say Yes to VBS" - my 10 year-old daughter thinks that should be the motto for summer vacation. As you can tell by the artwork in the picture, she loves Catholic VBS.


There was a time when Vacation Bible School was almost exclusively for Protestant children. Not anymore.


It's still called Bible School, but Catholics have something Protestants don't have. Church Tradition. We have the Bible and Church Tradition.


Why is that important? It's important for a few reasons.


For starters, one cannot teach the Faith without Holy Scripture. But the canon of Scripture was not set for the first four centuries of the Church. That highlights the importance of Church Teaching. How could they go nearly 400 years without a set canon of Scripture? They had Church Teaching to keep the faith (and the faithful) united.


When I was a child - in Protestant VBS - I learned the song The B-I-B-L-E, which ends with "I stand alone on the Word of God, the B-I-B-L-E." As Protestants, we based everything on the Bible. It's called Bible-only theology, or Sola Scriptura. As Catholics, we know the dangers of Sola Scriptura. We know how divisive that can be.


That is not to say that Catholics do not believe the Bible is sacred and necessary. Of course, the Bible is important. As Catholics, we know this (just think of the reverence we give to the Gospel Reading - standing, singing the Alleluia, crossing our forehead and lips and heart to remind ourselves that what we hear will remain in our mind, on our lips and in our heart). Yes, the Bible is very important to us.


But we know the importance of Church Teaching. We know that for about four hundred years, that's all there was. We know that the Catholic Church (with the help of the Holy Spirit) determined what would be in the B-I-B-L-E. And we know, without Church Teaching, taking the Bible alone actually leads to disunity - and the primacy of personal interpretation.


We know that this mistake leads to fracture and spiritual pride. We know this mistake has created over 33,000 different Protestant denominations that hold to many different interpretations of Scripture.


And so, Catholic Vacation Bible School emphasizes the Bible and Tradition. Early Church Fathers would be proud.
Say YES to Catholic VBS!

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Novena for Priests - Day Six


Sixth Day
St. John Vianney, Model of Purity,O holy Priest of Ars, your life was a model of purity. Your life of chastity was a source of edification to all. You said that when a soul is pure all the court of heaven looks upon it with great joy. Today we are experiencing a great disregard for the virtue of purity; it is looked upon with ridicule by worldly standards. O great St. John Vianney, more than ever before, we need your prayers and help in avoiding sins of impurity. I ask you to help Father ___________________ to keep pure in mind and in body and give good example in his speech, conduct and in his faith. Obtain for him the strength necessary to combat temptations against the virtue of purity, which could lead him away from God. Unite your prayers with those of Mary Immaculate to implore God that Father ___________________ be pure in mind and heart and preserve him from those sins which are so displeasing to God. (Recite the Novena Prayer.)


Novena Prayer
O holy Priest of Ars, St. John Marie Vianney, you loved God and served Him faithfully as His Priest. Now you see God face to face in heaven. You never despaired but persevered in your faith until you died. Remember now the dangers, fears and anxieties that surround Father ___________________ and intercede for him in all his needs and troubles especially console him in his most difficult moments, grant him serenity in the midst of crisis, and protect him from evil. O St. John Vianney, I have confidence in your intercession. Pray for Father ____________________ in a special way during this novena.
for complete Novena, go to: http://www.sacredheartdunnnc.org/novena.cfm

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Recharging Life's Battery




Today, I'm getting back to the basics. I'm going to read a little. Clean a little. Exercise a little. Pray a little.


Sounds like a good plan.


The only problem is this. I won't be able to spend as much time here with you. But I will be back. I just have to plug myself in like my daughter does with her DVD player and iPod.

So, I'm off - doing some recharging. Blessings--

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Novena for Priests - Day Five


Fifth Day

St. John Vianney, Lover of Sinners, O holy Priest of Ars, you spent many long hours daily in the confessional. People came to you for forgiveness of their sins from far-off places. Although you despised sin, you always received the sinner with much love and forgiveness. O holy confessor of the Lord, St. John Vianney, awaken in Father ____________________ a sense of his sinfulness before the eyes of God. By your Priestly example, grant him a love of the reception of the Sacrament of Penance. Obtain for him the understanding that it is in confessing his sins that God’s mercy is poured out upon him and he draws closer to Christ. Obtain for him a deep hatred of sin and the grace to resist temptation. Teach him the value of frequent confession, where he meets Jesus, our Savior, the source of all mercy and consolation. Contrite and forgiven may all those with whom he comes in contact act with that same mercy. Pray that Father __________________ always love the Sacrament of Penance. Pray that he may call sinners to repentance with his good example and lives in complete service to our Lord. (Recite the Novena Prayer.)


Novena Prayer

O holy Priest of Ars, St. John Marie Vianney, you loved God and served Him faithfully as His Priest. Now you see God face to face in heaven. You never despaired but persevered in your faith until you died. Remember now the dangers, fears and anxieties that surround Father ___________________ and intercede for him in all his needs and troubles especially console him in his most difficult moments, grant him serenity in the midst of crisis, and protect him from evil. O St. John Vianney, I have confidence in your intercession. Pray for Father ____________________ in a special way during this novena.
for complete Novena, go to: http://www.sacredheartdunnnc.org/novena.cfm

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Monday, June 22, 2009

A Case for Being Catholic

My ancestry comes from England, Ireland, Scotland and Germany (by way of France - French Hugenots).

It is little wonder, then, that I came from a Protestant family. These countries felt the effects of the Protestant Reformation more than most.

Take England, for example. The background story for today's saints proves just how difficult it was to remain Catholic under the rule of King Henry VIII.

Then, this same king took land from Catholics in Ireland and gave it to Anglicans who were faithful to him.

(My family left England - for the U.S. - because it eventually became difficult to be a Protestant of any stripe other than Anglican. Persecution bred persecution. So much for free will.)

And Germany had Luther, who chose to leave the Catholic Church rather than seek reform from within. It began a trend that continues today. When you see something you don't like, leave the Church and start your own faith community. Create a denomination of your own. (Build a church - something akin to build-a-bear.)

As John Henry Newman said, "To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant." Or, at the very least, one is left with the sobering realization that it was far more difficult to remain Catholic than it was to become Protestant (back then). And that fact, alone, underscores the case for the Catholic Church. Why would anyone remain Catholic if they might lose their head for it? Only one reason - only one reason that I can think of anyway.

It is the Truth.

If we are to believe that the Christian faith will test our resolve, will bring persecution to the point of death, will be difficult and at times personally challenging, then there is no greater testament to the Truth of the Catholic Church than lives and martyrdom of today's saints.

And here they are:

St John Fisher (1469 - 1535)
He was born in Beverley, in Yorkshire, in 1469. He studied theology at the University of Cambridge, and had a successful career there, finally becoming chancellor of the University and bishop of Rochester: unusually for the time, he paid a great deal of attention to the welfare of his diocese.
He wrote much against the errors and corruption into which the Church had fallen, and was a friend and supporter of great humanists such as Erasmus of Rotterdam; but he was greatly opposed to Lutheranism, both in its doctrine and in its ideas of reform.
He supported the validity of King Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon, and for this he was briefly imprisoned. When the King had divorced Catherine, married Anne Boleyn, and constituted himself the supreme Head of the Church in England, John Fisher refused to assent. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London on a charge of treason, and on 22 June 1535, a month after having been made a Cardinal by the Pope, he was executed. He was so ill and weak that he had to be carried in a chair to the place of execution.
He was the only bishop to oppose Henry VIII’s actions, on the grounds that they were a repudiation of papal authority, but even so he avoided direct confrontation with the other bishops, not holding himself up as a hero or boasting of his coming martyrdom: I condemn no other man’s conscience: their conscience may save them, and mine must save me. We should remember, in all the controversies in which we engage, to treat our opponents as if they were acting in good faith, even if they seem to us to be acting out of spite or self-interest.

St Thomas More (1477 - 1535)
He was born in London, the son of a judge, and himself became an eminent lawyer. He married twice, and had four children. He was a humanist and a reformer, and his book, Utopia, depicting a society regulated by the natural virtues, is still read today.
Thomas More was a close friend of King Henry VIII. As a judge, he was famous for his incorruptibility and impartiality, and he was made Lord Chancellor – the highest legal position in England – in 1529.
When Henry VIII demanded a divorce from Catherine of Aragon, Thomas More opposed him. He resigned the chancellorship in 1532 and retired from public life; but he could not retire from his reputation, and so it was demanded that he take an oath to support the Act of Succession, which effectively repudiated papal religious authority. He refused, and was imprisoned in the Tower of London. After the execution of John Fisher, he was tried on the charge of high treason for denying the King’s supreme headship of the Church, found guilty, and sentenced to death. He went to his execution, on 6 July 1535, with a clear conscience and a light heart; he told the spectators that he was still “the king’s good servant – but God’s first,” and carefully adjusted his beard before he was beheaded.
He wrote a number of devotional works, some of the best of them while in prison awaiting trial. He fought his fight without acrimony, telling his judges that he wished that “we may yet hereafter in Heaven merrily all meet together to everlasting salvation.”

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Special Icon: Commissioned by Pope Benedict XVI - Year for Priests


Year for Priests - special icon

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Novena for Priests - Day Four

Fourth Day
St. John Vianney, Greatly Devoted to Our Blessed Mother, O holy Priest of Ars, your life was consecrated to the Blessed Mother. You prayed earnestly to her, entrusting your Priesthood to her care. You begged all the faithful to pray the rosary, the favorite prayer of Mary, our Mother. You summed up the reason for your great love of our Lady by saying: “We have only to turn to the Blessed Mother to be heard. Her heart is all love.” O great John Vianney, I ask you with all my heart through the merits of Jesus and the intercession of Mary, the Virgin Mother to make Father ____________’s life patterned after that of our heavenly Mother, full of love for God and his neighbor. Obtain for him a deeper love for our Lady and a filial confidence in her. She is the person to whom he can turn in times of distress when lonely or upset or in times of temptation. Inspire Father __________________ to consecrate his life to his Mother in heaven. May he know the powerful protection of Mary’s Mantle all the days of his life. (Recite the Novena Prayer.)


Novena Prayer
O holy Priest of Ars, St. John Marie Vianney, you loved God and served Him faithfully as His Priest. Now you see God face to face in heaven. You never despaired but persevered in your faith until you died. Remember now the dangers, fears and anxieties that surround Father ___________________ and intercede for him in all his needs and troubles especially console him in his most difficult moments, grant him serenity in the midst of crisis, and protect him from evil. O St. John Vianney, I have confidence in your intercession. Pray for Father ____________________ in a special way during this novena.

for complete Novena, go to: http://www.sacredheartdunnnc.org/novena.cfm

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

The T-Shirt That Kick-starts Evangelization - Go KU!

The Red T-Shirt.


My sister-in-law in South County saw one the other day. She asked about it today at our Father's Day celebration.


So, Lawrence, Kansas - your efforts are getting around. The t-shirts are popping up in St. Louis. And they're generating questions.


Here's a link to buy your own "Ask me why I'm Catholic" t-shirt. http://st-lawrence-org.ecatholicchurches.com/index.cfm?load=page&page=36&view=details&product=5


And here's just a portion of the original article:



Jayhawker Evangelization


Red Tuesday changes the way KU students think about their faith


By Jill Ragar Esfeld


LAWRENCE — On a recent Tuesday, University of Kansas freshman Leann Tracy was racing across campus so as not to be late for her art class. As she blazed down the sidewalk in a flash of red, no one could miss the large block letters on the back of her shirt that spelled out “Ask me why I’m Catholic.”Tracy wears the shirt every Tuesday. When asked why, her answer is unequivocal: “Because it’s starting a revolution!”And she’s right. KU is indeed undergoing a revolution of sorts – Catholic students are taking their message to the streets.In this, a formidably secular environment, Catholic students find their faith challenged on all sorts of fronts. But now there is a sanctuary, a home base, where they can turn for answers to the many questions college classes — and even college life — give rise to.It’s the Red Tuesday table hosted by the St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center, and it’s changing the way KU students think about faith, God, salvation, their world, their future and Catholicism.An open invitationWhen outreach and evangelization coordinator Jennifer Meitl joined the St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center last July, she was charged with getting the center out onto the campus and increasing awareness of the Catholic presence at the university.Center director Father Steve Beseau had heard of a program at Texas A&M University where students wore T-shirts that invited others to “Ask a Catholic a Question.” “I brought the idea to [the staff for discussion],” he said. “I thought it was a very non-threatening way of evangelization, and I liked that.”The center staff liked it, too, but decided to tweak the question in order to provide more opportunity for personal witness. They then had bright red T-shirts printed up, with the center’s logo on the front and “Ask me why I’m Catholic” on the back.Meitl then arranged for the campus center to host a table each Tuesday at Wesco Beach, a centrally located area on campus, and word soon spread that Catholic students should wear red on Tuesdays. The second day of the school week quickly became known on campus as “Red Tuesday.”“We asked all the students to wear red and keep us in their prayers,” said Meitl, “so they would be in solidarity with us, even if they were unable to stop by the table.”

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Father's Day Without Dad

There's always a moment on Father's Day that makes me quiet and a little sad. It would be nice just to have a hug. To say I love you one more time. To sit with Dad and tell him how things are going. I miss him. And I'm beginning to think that ache will never go away.

Every Father's Day without Dad is a cross. It is a definite cross.

And I know what to do with crosses. I've been Catholic long enough to know what to do. I offer it up to the Cross of Christ and make it into a prayer.

So, Dad. I miss you. But I believe love doesn't end. I believe we can still pray for each other. We can still pray with each other. And I believe that the prayers you pray are more efficacious than ever - since you are that much closer to the Throne of Grace.

You've always known my heart, Dad. And so, I know you have my petitions in your pocket. Take them with you to the Throne of Grace.

Here's the wonderful thing about moments like these. I end up realizing that it really isn't a Father's Day without Dad.
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A Father Like St. Joseph

I met John in 1996, just a year after the failure of my non-sacramental marriage. I was treading water, spiritually, financially and emotionally. The future loomed before me. I had a teaching degree, but no job. I had three children (seven, nine, and eleven). My only option was to live in my parents’ basement and see if I could gain some ground by working on a master’s degree.

Grace has a way of showing up when we are at the end of ourselves. And that’s what happened in graduate school. That’s where I met John. Eventually, we married and began rebuilding a family out of the ashes.

I look back over the years now and realize just what a gift John has been in my life. Like so many other step-fathers (and step-mothers), he has taken on a responsibility he did not have to accept. He has become a father to my children and given them the most normal childhood one can possibly have when their biological parents are not both under the same roof.

Daily, John has picked up this unique cross and carried it with a very steady hand. In many ways, he has been my St. Joseph. He could have married a woman without children, a woman without a non-sacramental marriage in her past. He could have remained unmarried and spent his salary on himself rather than on orthodontia bills and school clothes. Instead, he has given his entire life to making a family where there was very little hope for a normal future. He has offered advice and meted out discipline, always carefully weighing in the balance the fact that he is not the biological father, and yet he is a father. He is a St. Joseph in this family. And I know that Our Lord’s beloved foster father, the real St. Joseph, must be interceding on John’s behalf.

Every family needs St. Joseph. We need someone to carry our burdens to the Lord and intercede for our children. We need someone to pick up the pieces when we are at the end of ourselves. We need a saint who is given to the mission of helping the family to endure the present age and triumph in its effort to raise saints for the Kingdom of God. St. Joseph is that saint. As Pope John Paul II said, "Saint Joseph was a just man, a tireless worker, the upright guardian of those entrusted to his care.”

He is a patron saint for every family and most especially for every step-parent and non-traditional family that is trying very hard to create a home following their own cataclysmic familial event. As Pope John Paul II went on to say of this great saint, “May he always guard, protect and enlighten families.”

(from APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION FAMILIARIS CONSORTIO TO THE EPISCOPATE TO THE CLERGY AND TO THE FAITHFUL OF THE WHOLE CATHOLIC CHURCH ON THE ROLE OF THE CHRISTIAN FAMILY IN THE MODERN WORLD)

Behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. (Luke 2:20, 24 NAB)


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Novena for Priests - Day Three


Third Day
St. John Vianney, Adorer of the Blessed Sacrament, O holy Priest of Ars, you had such an overwhelming love for Christ in the Blessed Sacrament that you prayed for hours in His presence. You said that “when our Lord sees them coming eagerly to visit Him in the Blessed Sacrament, He smiles upon them. They come with that simplicity which pleases Him so much.” O Saint of the Eucharist, may your example enkindle in Father ____________ a deeper love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. By your prayers, never let him doubt Christ’s Real Presence, but obtain for him a firm faith rooted in the Eucharist. Help him not to be afraid to defend or preach Christ’s Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament. Obtain for him the grace to approach our Lord with simplicity of heart as he lays his soul’s innermost thoughts before Jesus’ Sacred Heart. Keep Father ___________________ under your continual protection, that he may be supported by your example and assistance and be faithfully devoted to Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. May his life reflect the belief of our Lord’s abiding presence with us. O St. John Vianney, by the power of your intercession, give us Priests devoted to the holy Sacrament of the Altar. (Recite the Novena Prayer.)



Novena Prayer
O holy Priest of Ars, St. John Marie Vianney, you loved God and served Him faithfully as His Priest. Now you see God face to face in heaven. You never despaired but persevered in your faith until you died. Remember now the dangers, fears and anxieties that surround Father ___________________ and intercede for him in all his needs and troubles especially console him in his most difficult moments, grant him serenity in the midst of crisis, and protect him from evil. O St. John Vianney, I have confidence in your intercession. Pray for Father ____________________ in a special way during this novena.
for complete Novena, go to: http://www.sacredheartdunnnc.org/novena.cfm

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

You Gotta Love St. Paul


If there was ever a man who could boast, it would be St. Paul. And he refused to do it.



While he would not boast in himself, he did boast frequently in the mercy and blessing of the Lord. He even thanked God for the thorn in his flesh, that thing that reminded him of his own weakness. Why? Because it kept him focused on God's goodness and not on Paul's goodness.



Do you know what your weakness is? Yeah. I do, too. And it's what I'm bringing to Mass today. I don't know if Our Lord will ever take it away (this side of eternity), but I know He always forgives. And in my weakness, God's strength is made manifest.



2 Corinthians 12:1-10
Must I go on boasting, though there is nothing to be gained by it? But I will move on to the visions and revelations I have had from the Lord. I know a man in Christ who, fourteen years ago, was caught up whether still in the body or out of the body, I do not know; God knows-right into the third heaven. I do know, however, that this same person – whether in the body or out of the body, I do not know; God knows – was caught up into paradise and heard things which must not and cannot be put into human language. I will boast about a man like that, but not about anything of my own except my weaknesses. If I should decide to boast, I should not be made to look foolish, because I should only be speaking the truth; but I am not going to, in case anyone should begin to think I am better than he can actually see and hear me to be.
In view of the extraordinary nature of these revelations, to stop me from getting too proud I was given a thorn in the flesh, an angel of Satan to beat me and stop me from getting too proud! About this thing, I have pleaded with the Lord three times for it to leave me, but he has said, ‘My grace is enough for you: my power is at its best in weakness.’ So I shall be very happy to make my weaknesses my special boast so that the power of Christ may stay over me, and that is why I am quite content with my weaknesses, and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and the agonies I go through for Christ’s sake. For it is when I am weak that I am strong.

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Novena for Priests - Day Two

Second Day
St. John Vianney, Full of Zeal for Souls, O holy Priest of Ars, you taught men to pray daily: “O my God, come to me, so that You may dwell in me and I may dwell in You.” Your life was the very living out of this prayer. The divine life of grace abided in you. Your zeal for the salvation of souls was manifested by your total self-surrender to God, which was expressed in your selfless service to others. You gave of yourself unreservedly in the confessional, at the altar, in the classroom, in fact, in every action you performed. O great St. John Vianney, obtain for Father ________________ the realization that God also dwells in him when he is free of sin. Remind him that the salvation of his soul is the fulfillment of his existence. Awaken in him a sense of self-giving for the salvation of souls. Obtain for Father __________, by your intercession, a zeal for souls like your zeal. May he see that God dwells in him and in his fellow men. Obtain for him from our Lord the grace to lead all men to salvation. Let your prayer be his: “If you really love God, you will greatly desire to see Him loved by all the world.” (Recite the Novena Prayer.)


Novena Prayer
O holy Priest of Ars, St. John Marie Vianney, you loved God and served Him faithfully as His Priest. Now you see God face to face in heaven. You never despaired but persevered in your faith until you died. Remember now the dangers, fears and anxieties that surround Father ___________________ and intercede for him in all his needs and troubles especially console him in his most difficult moments, grant him serenity in the midst of crisis, and protect him from evil. O St. John Vianney, I have confidence in your intercession. Pray for Father ____________________ in a special way during this novena.

for complete Novena, go to: http://www.sacredheartdunnnc.org/novena.cfm
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Friday, June 19, 2009

Tonight and Tomorrow - where two hearts meet and beat as one


June 19th is the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
June 20th is the Feast Day of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
And so, tonight, as dusk settles across the Midwest, I find myself wanting to linger here for awhile, between these two holy days, and imagine what might happen if I truly let myself be transformed. . .
in this place where two hearts meet and beat as one.

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Sacred Heart of Jesus, I'm such a weakling

Sacred Heart of Jesus,
When I feel like I'm failing at this thing called holiness, help me to turn toward You. Redeem the rest of this day, as only You can do.
Jesus, I trust in you. To pick me up. To help me to begin again. To turn the rest of this day around, as though it were fresh and new and just beginning.
And thank you that Mass is just around the corner - where there is forgiveness for these venial sins that mar even holy days like this one.
Amen.

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God's Mail

Marcus Grodi of The Coming Home Network, Intl., talks about the verses he overlooked as a Protestant Pastor.

I know what he means by that. It seems that I stumble upon verses - daily - that underscore the truth that Jesus established one Church, a visible and tangible Church, and placed within Her the fullness of the faith.

There was a time when I would have said that any faith community who claims to have the full deposit of Truth, to be the one Church Jesus founded, was obviously a cult (or at the very least extremely stuck on themselves).

But now, it seems like God puts a message in my mailbox daily to let me know that He did, indeed, establish one Church - see red sections in today's reading. Sometimes, these messages come from the writings of early Church Fathers, but more often than not, they come straight from Holy Scripture. They are everywhere in Sacred Scripture, if we have eyes to see.

The only explanation I have for why I missed it for 40 years is that we all focus on different things . . . like sorting the mail . . . and we keep what we think is important and set aside as junk mail what we think is not that important. I would have to say that, as a Protestant, I simply would have focused on different parts of the following passage - see gray parts.

From Today's Mass Reading:

Ephesians 3:8-12,14-19

I, Paul, who am less than the least of all the saints have been entrusted with this special grace, not only of proclaiming to the pagans the infinite treasure of Christ but also of explaining how the mystery is to be dispensed. Through all the ages, this has been kept hidden in God, the creator of everything. Why? So that the Sovereignties and Powers should learn only now, through the Church, how comprehensive God’s wisdom really is, exactly according to the plan which he had had from all eternity in Christ Jesus our Lord. This is why we are bold enough to approach God in complete confidence, through our faith in him; This, then, is what I pray, kneeling before the Father, from whom every family, whether spiritual or natural, takes its name:
Out of his infinite glory, may he give you the power through his Spirit for your hidden self to grow strong, so that Christ may live in your hearts through faith, and then, planted in love and built on love, you will with all the saints have strength to grasp the breadth and the length, the height and the depth; until, knowing the love of Christ, which is beyond all knowledge, you are filled with the utter fullness of God.






(I also like the part about the hidden self - hence the bold text. Another very Catholic sort of thing. Makes me think of St. Therese and the strength that comes from being small and hidden.)
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Novena for Priests - Day One


First Day
St. John Vianney, Who Accepted the Cross
O holy priest of Ars, as a young seminarian you encountered many obstacles on the road to the Priesthood, but you realized that to suffer was to suffer with Christ on Calvary, and so, if following our Lord meant taking up His cross, you lovingly embraced it. Your motto in life became loving while suffering and suffering in order to love. You did not get discouraged, but your strong faith united you closer to Jesus every day of your life. Oh great St. John Vianney, you know what is needed for Father _____________________’s salvation--a strong faith able to accept the will of God in all things. To serve Christ, he too must take up his cross and follow Him. By your prayers, obtain for him a heart full of courage and strength. Obtain for Father _____________________ that same courage and strength to follow Jesus wholeheartedly even if it means following Him to Calvary. Intercede for him before the Lord that he may do the will of God, obey the commandments, and loyally love the Church, the Bride of Christ. (Recite the Novena Prayer.)


Novena Prayer
O holy Priest of Ars, St. John Marie Vianney, you loved God and served Him faithfully as His Priest. Now you see God face to face in heaven. You never despaired but persevered in your faith until you died. Remember now the dangers, fears and anxieties that surround Father ___________________ and intercede for him in all his needs and troubles especially console him in his most difficult moments, grant him serenity in the midst of crisis, and protect him from evil. O St. John Vianney, I have confidence in your intercession. Pray for Father ____________________ in a special way during this novena.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Something Fantastic Happens Tomorrow



To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Vianney, the Holy Father has announced the Year For Priests, beginning on June 19 (tomorrow).


Here's an interesting thing. The Year of St. Paul doesn't end until June 29 of this year. We are about to enter ten days of great graces as these two years come together and intersect.

So, if you have never done a novena. This might be a great time for you to begin.

Stop by this blog every day for the next nine days. Here, you will find a new prayer to go with your 9-day novena. What a great way to begin the Year For Priests.

Novena Prayer
O holy Priest of Ars, St. John Marie Vianney, you loved God and served Him faithfully as His Priest. Now you see God face to face in heaven. You never despaired but persevered in your faith until you died. Remember now the dangers, fears and anxieties that surround Father ___________________ and intercede for him in all his needs and troubles especially console him in his most difficult moments, grant him serenity in the midst of crisis, and protect him from evil. O St. John Vianney, I have confidence in your intercession. Pray for Father ____________________ in a special way during this novena.

Based on the Novena written by Anthony Manuppella
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Catholics and All Those Wordy Prayers


I alluded to this conversation in a post a couple of days ago. Since today's Gospel reading contains the core of my son's concerns about Catholics and their repetitious prayers, it's a good day to talk about it.



Some translations call it "vain repetition" - and some non-Catholics immediately think of the Rosary or a Catholic whose lips are moving through the prayers of the Church, but the heart and soul are off to the grocery store or the swimming pool or what's for dinner tonight.



But here's the thing (and what I told my son who was not raised in the Catholic Church - as I converted just a few years ago):



Do not judge the heart of the one praying. How can you know what is in her heart. Maybe she is praying with more fervency and zeal in the quiet of her heart than anyone you have ever met. Maybe she is praying for her child with the anguish only a mother can feel, but all we see on the outside is the moving of her lips.



It is not the repetition of her prayers that is wrong. In fact, the prayer Our Lord gives as the perfect example of prayer is probably the very prayer she is praying.



No, the problem is meaningless repetition - vain repetition - and God alone knows if there is purpose in her heart, longing in her soul, true communion and communication with God. Or whether she is merely repeating words.



Be careful. Spiritual judgmentalism is a big, big deal. The worst form of pride.



My son nodded his head. He agreed. We cannot know what is deep within the heart of another. Brief conversations (Q & A) moments like these with my older children are precious. I am glad for these moments. I consider it a great blessing to be able to share what I have come to see as beauty and truth in this new faith - and to share it with those I love most.



Because, you see, I am that woman who prays like the woman I described above - and he is the son I'm praying for - and my grown daughters, too. My son loves God with his whole heart. And I think, God willing, he will see what I see in Mother Church, one day. And so, I pray. Our Father. . .



Mt 6:7-15
Jesus said to his disciples:"In praying, do not babble like the pagans,who think that they will be heard because of their many words.Do not be like them.Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
"This is how you are to pray:
'Our Father who art in heaven,hallowed be thy name,thy Kingdom come,thy will be done,on earth as it is in heaven.Give us this day our daily bread;and forgive us our trespasses,as we forgive those who trespass against us;and lead us not into temptation,but deliver us from evil.'
"If you forgive others their transgressions,your heavenly Father will forgive you.But if you do not forgive others,neither will your Father forgive your transgressions."

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Keeping Your Own Conversion Journal


Probably one of my most precious things is the journal I started writing in December of 2003. I started it because my husband suggested that I write down my thoughts as I watched my father go through a terrible health crisis.



I took John's advice. It was the best advice I have ever received.



In the two years to follow, I filled up three spiral notebooks. I didn’t realize I was capturing the transformation of my soul. I was just writing words. Thoughts. Doing something that seemed cathartic. But those spiral-bound thoughts are very dear to me today, as I stand on this side of that profound conversion.



In The Way of the Pilgrim, the writer quotes one venerable Callistus Telicudes who says, One ought not to keep thoughts about God and what is learned by contemplation, and the means of raising the soul on high, simply in one’s own mind, but one should make notes of it, put it into writing for general use and with a loving motive (French 51).



If you don't keep a journal of your faith journey, I highly recommend that you start doing it. Begin by reading and responding to the daily readings at Mass. If you cannot go to daily Mass, read them on your own. Jot down your thoughts. Don't stop there. Write about anything. Write about everything. Life contains many spiritual metaphors. See if you can start recognizing them in your own life.



All is grace - as St. Therese said. If you pay attention to your life, you will begin to see that she was right.

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Former Anglican Priest Swims The Tiber


Here is a teaser. For the full story, go to Catholic.org.
(Fr. Jeffrey Steel, announcing his conversion to the Catholic Church)

In my heart, I knew that I had grown to love and believe the Catholic faith as it was taught in the Catholic Catechism. On my final day in Rome on 17 April 2009 I went to the tomb of St. Peter and knelt and prayed for quite some time. I knew in my heart I was a Catholic and asked what it was that was keeping me from converting. All sorts of fears ran through my head and I felt very restless there and at times just knelt quietly asking S. Peter to pray for me because I didn’t know how or the way to go. At the end of this time I went over and knelt at JPII's tomb and asked him to please pray for me as I was scared to make a journey like this with a wife and six children not knowing how God would provide for us. After praying with JPII, I got up and went to S. Peter’s tomb again and there with conviction of heart signed the Roman Catholic Catechism stating ‘This is the Faith of the Church and this is my Faith’, and signed my name with the day's date. Before leaving the Basilica I walked over to the statue of S. Peter with the key in his hand, rubbed his foot, and said, ‘I am going out to find the way, open the door and make this happen and pray for me as I make this journey.’

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My Weakness, Your Strength


The passage below always hits home with me. I am, by nature, a quiet person (those of you who knew me in high school, I don't know what to tell you, but something changed - a lot).


By nature, I'm a contemplative.


Writing is a good fit. Marketing? Not so much. In fact, every time I try to "get my stuff out there" I feel like I am trying do precisely what this passage says I must not do.


And so, I send articles to diocesan editors and Catholic magazine editors, and I let them figure out what to do with my gift.


I post things here, and whoever comes along - well, that is up to Our Lord Jesus.


There are some roles that are not mine to wear. I am not supposed to do marketing. It feels wrong. I sense that it would get me into trouble - spiritually. It would take me out of my "little" place. And being little is what keeps me belonging to Christ.


There are others, though, who are gifted PR people. They were made for this role. Perhaps for them, writing is the wrong thing. Writing (or singing or teaching) holds temptations to pride that they they know might harm them.


And so, at least for now, I live a quiet little life. I get up in the morning and, if God gives me something to write, I write it. And that feels to me like praying in my closet. I still stay small.


God bless you and the gift you were given. What is that thing that brings you close to God, maybe even inspires another, but still helps you to remain little.

St. Therese, Little Flower, pray for us.


From today's Mass Reading:
Matthew 6:1-6,16-18
Jesus said to his disciples:
Be careful not to parade your good deeds before men to attract their notice; by doing this you will lose all reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give alms, do not have it trumpeted before you; this is what the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win men’s admiration. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you give alms, your left hand must not know what your right is doing; your almsgiving must be secret, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.
‘And when you pray, do not imitate the hypocrites: they love to say their prayers standing up in the synagogues and at the street corners for people to see them; I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you pray, go to your private room and, when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in that secret place, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.

‘When you fast do not put on a gloomy look as the hypocrites do: they pull long faces to let men know they are fasting. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that no one will know you are fasting except your Father who sees all that is done in secret; and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.

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