Saturday, January 30, 2010

God Has His Reasons

A few weeks ago, I traveled to Iowa and gave two 30-minute talks to a group of 10th grade Confirmation students. My talks were scheduled to come at the end of the retreat, so I spent the first couple of hours mingling with the students and walking around the room while they completed a hands-on activity.

When I approached one table of girls, I was taken by surprise when one of the girls casually blurted out, "I don't want to be confirmed."

I didn't think I had heard her correctly. I gave her my most winsome smile and said, "What was that? I don't think I heard you."

"I don't want to be Confirmed." She said again. "I don't want to be here. My dad made me come today."

In my heart, I said a very quick prayer. Is she why I came? Is this one the reason why I drove six hours from Missouri to talk to this group?

I matched her honesty with a bit of my own. "Oh, don't say that. I drove six hours yesterday just to be with you today and tell you why this is one incredible sacrament!" I hoped that my face showed how much I really meant what I said.

She looked up at me and smiled back. "You did?"

"I sure did."

"Okay. I'll listen. And it's not really that I don't want to be Confirmed; I'm just tired. I want to go back to bed."

"Bed will be there when you get home. Just try to stay awake for the talk. I drove all this way, just for you."

And she did listen. They all listened.

This week, when I stopped by the Adoration Chapel to pray, I remembered the young lady. I know this is the eleventh hour in her journey to the Sacrament of Confirmation, but God does wonderful things in the eleventh hour. I prayed that she would be able to say that she chose to be Confirmed. She wanted it. Not dad. Not duty.

When she renews those baptismal promises and the Bishop says, "Be sealed with the Holy Spirit," I pray that she will be given a double portion of grace.

And when I stood up - after praying in the Chapel this week - after I genuflected and dipped my fingers in the Holy Water Font and passed through the doors, I realized that she was the reason I had gone to Iowa.

Lord, hear my prayer.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Got a Gift to Give Back to God? Learn from St. Francis

From Pope Benedict's Wednesday Audience--Jan. 27. 2010

However, as a true saint and member of the church, Francis did not attempt to do anything "without or against the pope, but only with the pope," he said. Francis "knew that every charism given by the Holy Spirit must be placed at the service of the body of Christ, which is the church, therefore he acted in full communion with the ecclesiastical authorities."

To read Cindy Wooden's article from CNS in its entirety, Click here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

On Facebook? Have a Blog? Moderate a Website? Pope Benedict Had You (and me) in Mind -- article by Don Clemmer

(from USCCB blog -- by Don Clemmer)

Pope Benedict XVI's message for the 44th World Communications Day, which was released over the weekend, finds the pope at his most brilliant, inspiring and dynamically attuned to the ever-shifting state of the world. Okay, maybe I'm just excited as someone who works in media and for the Church, but the message really is a must read. Even though it's geared toward priests, it makes some stunning assertions about the potential for the Church and social media.

The pope makes it clear the urgency and necessity for being online, where so many people spend their time, especially young people. He quotes from Corinthians, "Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel," and we immediately know the sort of stakes he associating with this.

The pope makes repeated references to social media's capacity for dialogue, which suggests social media can be a tool for lovingly bridging division between people. This is an almost radical thought when one considers the seemingly bottomless capacity of the Internet to fuel toxic exchanges that quickly devolve into namecalling and questioning the other's integrity. The Church could be a tremendous leaven in such a setting. I say could largely because so much online discourse dealing with the Catholic Church is marred by this same toxicity and absence of charity.

To that end, the pope notes that its inadequate merely to be online. He notes that the Web and social media are replete with a wide array of voices and ideas and that the Church has a responsibility not only to be present where the people are, but to make a difference by proclaiming the Word in a living, dynamic way.

Again, Pope Benedict aims his message squarely at priests. Since this is the Year for Priests, this is apparently the most important communications-themes message he currently has for the presbyterate. Coming directly from the pope to priests, some in the media have interpreted this message as something of an order: You will go online. You will blog.

One can only imagine how Catholic life even at the parish level would change if every priest were on Facebook, maintaining a blog or otherwise pastorally present online. Forget the bulletin column. Also, in cases where priests are generationally muddled when it comes to social media, there would be the opportunity for the stereotypically younger, Web-savvy parishioners to provide "digital catechesis" to help their pastor honor the pope's wishes on this matter.

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of priests -- and the Church as a whole -- embracing the world of digital media is that this is all just the beginning, the foundation. As technology continues to evolve, the already-present Church can grow with it and continue to improve in its role as a leaven.

As a side note, we're often reminded that we can do better, even when we think we're keeping up with the curve. For instance, our office was recently made aware of a post on the America Magazine blog by Jesuit Father James Martin (a priest making exemplary use of social media) in which he expressed his amazement that the USCCB Web site offers daily video reflections on the day's readings. Of course, we all knew that the Conference has been providing these reflections for years, but it was amazing to learn that we hadn't spread the word to where Martin and others would have heard of this great digital resource.

It all goes back to the need to embrace social media and embrace it well. I'd like to make some sort of illustration about the need for the parts of the Body of Christ to communicate with one another, but Pope Benedict still said it far better. Even though World Communications Day won't be observed until May 16, the pope has given us a vision worth pursuing right now.

To go to the USCCB blog, click here.
To subscribe to the USCCB blog by email, click here.
To become a Facebook fan of the USCCB, click here and scan to the bottom of the left column where you can choose to become a fan.

Lord, help me to do better, to be charitable in my exchanges with everyone, including those I meet through social media, though I know that we may never meet face-to-face. Help me to speak the truth in charity, to love my faith and my Church wholly, and to remember that I may be the only Jesus some may encounter -- through the use of my little computer. Forgive me for the times I have failed.



Sunday, January 24, 2010

Top FaceBook Fan Sites

Top favorites include:

I also recommend pages that feature diocesan papers. Check out your diocesan newspaper to see if it is on Facebook.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Marriage . . . and memorabilia

This morning, I went into my walk-in closet and sat on the carpet beside a shelf that has become my catch-all for paperwork, old Mother's Day cards, random receipts, and other children's drawings, personal notes, and love letters from my husband.

In the middle of my sort-and-throw mission, all the memorabilia came together in my mind and began to synthesize into a mental collage. . .

Marriage is a strange, strange thing. Its earliest days are all about me and us - as documented in the treasury of love letters from our courtship. There is very little in those first moments of us and we that has anything to do with the broader picture of the good that marriage can bring to the world.

But a pile of old memories reveals a different story.

Those early love letters took another direction. I would argue, they were replaced by something of even greater value.

Our love, our marriage became a place where our children learned to love (represented by drawings and cards) and learn (represented by old report cards) and thrive (represented by band competitions and drama performances and graduation programs).

Now, we have just one child at home. The others are off and married and beginning families. I realized that the more recent memorabilia had to do with our conversion to the Church. Prayer books and devotionals. Receipts from charitable contributions. Sunday parish bulletins.

The next decade will bring new challenges and opportunities. We'll decide whether or not to act on our non-profit idea. We'll complete degrees and continuing-education goals. We'll strive more and more to become holy and faithful and the saints we were created to be.

The marriage is less about me and us, and becomes more and more about a process in which life and love finds its broadest and deepest meaning.

A Sacrament, where God moves - and where we realize that the love we share is greater and stronger and more resilient and fertile than it has ever been because we let our definition of love grow.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Yes, We Believe in the Real Presence . . . always and forever

Port au Prince, Haiti, Jan 20, 2010 / 02:43 pm (CNA).- The body of Vicar General Charles Benoit was found beneath the ruins of the Port-au-Prince Cathedral today, a week after the catastrophic earthquake that wreaked havoc on the Haitian community. Vicar General Charles Benoit was discovered with his hands around a reliquary which contained a host inside.

Never Too Old To Commit a New Prayer To Memory

Cradle Catholics, you are so lucky. If you have an arsenal of prayers committed to memory - thanks to a childhood rooted in the Faith - count yourself blessed.

It's not so easy to memorize prayers at my age. But, I'm trying.

Tonight, our 8th grade Confirmation class will begin reciting a new prayer. I'm tagged with the job of assessing their learning. Yes, you got it. That means I have to learn the prayer right along with them.

I'm glad I work with this group. And I'm also glad that I've been given the responsibility of monitoring their progress in the area of Catholic prayers. I guess God knew that I needed an extra kick in the pants in the area of memorization.

And I'm proving that it is possible to learn something new - long after the white hairs start growing.

Here's what I know so far:

Send your Holy Spirit upon us to be our helper and guide.

Give us the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding,

The Spirit of Right Judgment and Courage,

The Spirit of Knowledge and Reverence . . .

That's all I know so far . . . a few more lines to go before class tonight. So, I had better get back at it.

Why don't you take a couple of minutes to contemplate a prayer you learned years ago. And while you are praying, offer up petitions for the littlest souls in Haiti.

Lord, hear our prayers.


Miracle at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption in Haiti - Jan. 19, 2010

RESCUED -- Anna Zizi drinks water after members of a Mexican search-and-rescue team freed her from the rubble of a house in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jan. 19. She was rescued from the collapsed residence of a parish priest at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption. (CNS/Paul Jeffrey)

From CNS on FaceBook
Also found at CNS website


Experimenting with Happiness

I'm sensing a new and exciting addition to my faith journey, and I'm inviting you to come along.

I'm trying to spend each day and each moment in St. Augustine's definition of happiness, finding many and varied ways to let the Holy Spirit inspire and let Jesus act through me. I am not there yet; it is a journey.

But I'm wondering how life would change if I did that. Could be really fun - not as the world defines fun, but more like the saints would define fun, or rather HAPPINESS.

So let's see. Can the happiness and contentment I feel when I'm on my knees - having just received Holy Communion - last and last and last?

Teach me, St. Augustine, the path to lasting happiness. Show me how to awaken my soul to every inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Without fear . . .

Yes, even fear, let me give that as a gift to my God.

Fear that someone will take advantage of my time
Fear that I will over-extend myself and have no time at all
Fear that I might become too generous with my resources
Fear that I will miss out on some "cooler" ministry because I have given to everything else
Fear that I do not have the talent to do each thing well
Fear that I will have to say "no more" to something mid-stream
Fear that I will lose the grip on my life and it will not be my own anymore . . .



Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Bishops Living Out "May the Peace of Christ Be With You"

WASHINGTON—Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, Vice President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) joined with Catholic bishops from Europe and Canada in issuing a communiqué called "The Courage to Achieve Peace in the Holy Land" on behalf of the Coordination of Episcopal Conferences in Support of the Church in the Holy Land. This communiqué was issued at a January 14 press conference at the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem, at the end of the Coordination’s tenth annual visit to the Holy Land.

In the communiqué, the bishops said: "We urge all people to support public officials who take courageous initiatives for a just resolution of the conflict—a two-state solution with security and recognition for Israel, and a viable and independent state for Palestinians. For us, this is not merely about politics; it is an issue of basic human rights."

To read the article in its entirety, click here.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Support Our Bishops

Artwork by Jennifer Bossert, age 11


Friday, January 15, 2010

Good News for Haitians in the U.S.- two thumbs up, Secretary Napolitano!

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Haitians currently living in the United States without legal status will be granted temporary protected status, allowing them to remain in the country and legally hold jobs, announced Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano Jan. 15.

In a teleconference, Napolitano said temporary protected status will be extended to Haitians who were in the United States as of Jan. 12, the day a magnitude 7 earthquake flattened much of Haiti's capital city, Port-au-Prince.

The designation will continue for the next 18 months, she said, and people may apply immediately.

Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in a letter to President Barack Obama released minutes before Napolitano's teleconference that by offering protected status to Haitians they "would be better able to assist their families in Haiti through remittances and by working together as a community to garner other resources for their stricken homeland."

(To read the article in its entirety, click on the link above)


Enough Narcissism - Today: Conversion "Take Two"

I'm tired of checking the live feed on my blog every hour to see who is stopping by for a visit.

I'm done with googling my name every day to see who ran one of my diocesan articles.

Today, the narcissistic faith ends. It's time to get on with conversion. It's time for Faith in Action . . .

Day One: I gathered up more clothes from my closet that I don't need, and I prepared a new collection for the poor. I've sent a resume to one social justice group and another to a women's religious order - not to be a religious (I'm happily married), but to work for them. I'm registered to take two classes with Paul VI Institute in St. Louis. I've offered to speak at some fundraisers if they need me. And I'm thinking about how to get busy living the faith. I'm ready. Enough talking about this faith-that-I-love. It's time to get moving. Yes, it's time for Conversion: Take Two


CNS Article describes Haitian Archbishop as humble man of prayer

(CNS) Haitian archbishop who died in quake portrayed as a humble man
By Barb Fraze

(Contributing to this story were Carol Glatz in Rome and Barb Arland-Fye in Davenport, Iowa.)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Case for Diocesan Papers - consider subscribing!

In October of 2009, the Pontifical Council for Social Communications discussed the following questions: What constitutes Catholic communications and what can be done to curb the number of online writers who use the word Catholic to describe their blog or website while using unpleasant adjectives to describe anyone who doesn’t agree with them?

One idea that surfaced during the October meetings was the creation of a code of conduct for Catholic bloggers.

The idea of a code of conduct – a writer’s creed – is intriguing. While it is uncertain whether such a code would protect the name Catholic from being used for partisan agendas, the concern for the proper use of the name Catholic is a valid one. How can we protect Catholics who visit blogs and websites from assuming that they are receiving an accurate picture of what it means to be Catholic? How can we reduce the number of bloggers and online writers who electronically publish anything they want under the banner of Catholicism?

Catholic authors can seek an imprimatur, but there is no equivalent for electronic media. (Incidentally, the same concerns apply to works by Catholic authors who publish their books through vanity/self-publishing, requiring neither an imprimatur nor the discerning eyes of a publisher’s panel of editors and reviewers.)

Catholic bloggers and online Catholic magazines are quite good at publishing reflective and inspirational pieces, but when these writers dabble in contemporary issues and politically-charged topics, things get dicey. It makes it very difficult for readers to discern the difference between a Catholic perspective and a partisan perspective.

Even the most devout Catholic writers can lose their grip on the nexus of politics and faith. I sadly admit that I fell into this trap while writing for one “Catholic” online magazine. I no longer write for that venue.

I have been a Catholic freelance writer since 2005, when I converted to the Catholic Church. Since then, I have had commentary pieces published in 36 diocesan papers. I have had the great privilege of reviewing many complimentary copies of diocesan papers. One thing is clear to me: diocesan papers are a reliable source of information on all issues. Diocesan papers (both print and electronic) are trustworthy because they place themselves under the authority of their bishops. They transcend the political agendas of partisan politics. In short, they are authentically Catholic.

Regardless of the domestic and international issues they are covering, diocesan editors and writers stand with our bishops. They do not tear them down.

Pseudo-Catholic venues frequently permit writers and readers’ responses to take issue with the USCCB. The ultra-conservative venues welcome articles and comments that criticize the bishops’ efforts regarding conservative concerns. The far left venues welcome articles and readers’ comments that criticize the bishops’ efforts regarding liberal concerns.

Until there is a structure in place to monitor blogs and websites that profess to be Catholic, readers will have to practice discernment. Thankfully, we can trust diocesan papers (and their online websites/blogs) to solidly profess the faith while we wait for better safeguards for Internet browsing.


Junk Mail as a Fire Starter

The best winter nights at our house include a fire in the fireplace. My husband gathers together a few empty envelopes and old receipts. He positions the logs in the firebox and arranges the junk mail into the log arrangement so that the little pieces of unwanted paper stick out at all angles and will easily light and burn.

His hope is that the fire will burn long enough for the logs to catch the fire and eventually provide heat and enjoyment for the family.

God does the same thing with us. He takes our junk - all that stuff we need to purge anyway - and He carefully considers how to re-position the debris of our lives so that it will easily catch fire and be consumed.

And then, He lights a fire.

It is up to us to let the fire of the Holy Spirit truly consume the junk in our lives . . . until we are left with a fire that will burn with love for Jesus Christ. And the entire Family of God gathers around to enjoy what God has done with you and through you and in you.

Come Holy Spirit, enkindle in us the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit . . . and you will renew the face of the earth!


Monday, January 11, 2010

To Iowa - with love

We returned last night from our trip to Iowa. I spoke at a Catholic parish in Dubuque, Iowa (which is at the nexus of Illinois, Wisconsin, and Iowa). The temperatures were crazy cold, but other than that, we did not encounter any problems along the way. The joy of being able to share this faith journey was worth it all.

I used to live in Dubuque (and my father attended a Protestant seminary there in the 1970s). I completed my last year of undergraduate school at the University of Dubuque in 1989. Back then, I thought I would be a minister's wife - but that is not what God had planned for me. So, yesterday, as my husband and I sat in the car, parked in the parish parking lot in Dubuque, and I looked at the doors of that beautiful parish, I had the strange sense of the mystery of each faith journey. I was right there on that journey the whole time, and yet it is a mystery how I could be sitting in the parking lot of a Catholic parish, waiting to go in and tell the story of my conversion - especially considering the fact that twenty years ago, I probably drove past that parish and never gave it a second thought.

Sometimes, you just sit in amazement and say to yourself, how can this wonderful thing have happened to me - that God would bring me full circle and place me here all over again - but now as one who is fully at home in this Church? It is too wonderful to grasp it all.


Friday, January 8, 2010

Spending the Feast of Our Lord's Baptism in Iowa

I am spending the weekend in Iowa where I will be speaking at a Confirmation retreat in Dubuque.

I'll be back on Monday, January 11.

Blessed Baptism of the Lord . . .


A European American - Of English, Irish, Scottish, German and French Descent

What country would you like to visit? As much fun as I'm having with the chance to return to the state of Iowa (as a convert to the Faith) and attend Mass where I spent my Protestant childhood . . . I have to say that it would be equally awesome to go to Ireland, Scotland, England, Germany and France one day and attend Mass in each of these countries. I would see it as a kind of pilgrimage - and a reparation - to visit my ancestral homelands and pray the Mass in each country. I am the only Catholic in my family tree. No kidding. Go back as far as you can . . . nary a Catholic among them.

I would like to enter a Catholic Church in each of these countries and pause before Our Eucharistic Lord Jesus to say, "I'm here . . . and from this moment on, I promise to do what I can do to restore unity to Your Body . . . and to do reparation for the sins against unity that occurred in my family tree."

Pray for Unity. . . that the world may know that the Father has sent the Son . . . John 17.


Preparing for Iowa

I'm preparing for my trip to Iowa. My husband and I will brave the elements and drive to Dubuque, where I will give two talks to a group of Sophomore Confirmation students.

So, I've been thinking about the trip. And our Faith. And the time with my husband. . .

And I guess God knew that I needed a little help getting ready.

I have given very little time to Archangel Raphael in these last four-and-a-half years as a Catholic. I didn't know that he was the patron saint of travellers. Didn't know that he likes to intercede in matters of the heart, especially where husbands and wives are concerned. I hadn't ever thought of turning to him for help in spreading the joy of the Gospel message.

I stumbled upon him last night while surfing the Internet. When I reviewed one site dedicated to this Archangel, I realized that his divine resume was just what I needed.

This morning, he prompted me to take time for a visit to the confessional.

I know why I'm Catholic. It always hits me in times like this. I'm Catholic because I'm not yet holy. But I want to become a saint. And I need all the help I can get.

There is no greater source of help in this journey than Mother Church - who brings us to the Sacraments, the saints, the Archangels and angels, the Sacred Scriptures, the Blessed Mother, and countless prayers and devotions that all lead us to God.

Yes, I'm Catholic because I can use all the help I can get.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

If you could tap into your creativity and use it to change the world, what would you do? Here's one man's story.

How Frank Rasmus, a Philadelphia philanthropist, is changing Baltimore . . . and inspiring the rest of us to think big too.


Is the medicine working?

For three years, I struggled with a chronic illness. I’m not sure how many different medications I tried during that period of time. Too many, that’s all I know. One question needled at me as I bounced between different medications and dosages. “Is the medicine working this time?”
A definitive answer took time. Initially, I’d think the medicine was helping, and then I would realize it was just wishful thinking. Finally, we got the medicine right.

I’m going on my fifth year as a Catholic. I ask myself a similar question each night when I do a review of the day. Is this working? Is this Sacramental life making a difference? Am I becoming more holy? Am I looking more like a saint?

Prior to becoming Catholic, my spiritual life had flat-lined in the area of social justice. So, any improvement would be a positive sign that grace was working.

James 1:27 says that True religion that is pure and undefiled before God is to care for widows and orphans in their distress.

Before I became Catholic, I gave to the Salvation Army at Christmas, and I dropped money in the offering basket at church, but I was never aware of the poor. I didn’t think about them when I went to the grocery store. I didn’t think about them when I gave to the church offering. There was a serious disconnect between my giving and the poor who eventually benefited from my contributions.

Something has happened to me, though. I don’t have any idea when it happened. I don’t have a great epiphany to share. The change was more subtle than that.

I realized we had a St. Vincent de Paul food pantry at our parish. At first it was just an awareness of the location. For months, that’s all it was.

Then, I started noticing that the parish bulletin had a list of needs for the food pantry. (They’ve always had this section; I’d just always been oblivious to it.) I started bagging up a few items from my pantry at home and dropping them off before Mass. Sometimes they were items listed in the bulletin. Sometimes they weren’t.

Then, I began thinking about the food pantry list when I was at the store.

Eventually, I didn’t want to go to Mass without a bag for Jesus. The poor were Jesus to me! That was a big change – a definitive change.

That kind of change means something! It means the medicine is working. This Sacramental life is changing me.

There is still much that needs to change. Now I need to work on patience and kindness and self-control and a whole bunch of vices that I will keep between God, my confessor, and me. And yet, it is good to know that this life of grace is powerful.

Powerful enough to change even me.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Childhood Memories and Moments of Grace

The memory is a wispy one. My sister and I had memorized the books of the Old Testament, and we could recite them in order. As a reward, we were invited to the district-wide awards ceremony where we would each receive a new Protestant Bible.
It seemed like there were hundreds of children in attendance that night. Tons of kids, all dressed in their best. We waited for our names to be called. And then the award was in my hands. My very own King James Version of the Bible, with the words of Jesus in red print and thee and thou and thus saith on almost every page.

We ended the evening with the song “We are One in the Spirit.” It was the first time I had heard the song. I immediate loved it. The sound of the minor chords. The theme of unity. The sense of camaraderie as hundreds of children sang their hearts out in the dimly lit auditorium. It was kind of like singing around a gigantic campfire, with the stage lights holding our attention like the mesmerizing flames of a bonfire.

As I grew older, I realized that we really weren’t all one in the spirit. We came from many different denominations. I began to grasp the deeper meaning of the line: and we pray that all unity will one day be restored.

We weren’t one, and it wasn’t okay that we weren’t one.

On a really simplistic level, I understand that unity and the Eucharist are profoundly connected. You cannot love one without loving and longing for the other. You cannot have one without wanting and needing the other.

And maybe that is why it seemed like my whole world was turned right-side-up when I became Catholic. Unity now seemed possible.

As Catholics, we know that unity is attainable. Sometimes, though, even faithful Catholics work against the effort to be one in the Spirit. I feel a sense of disappointment when I hear people throw around labels like cafeteria Catholics and more-Catholic-than-the-Pope Catholics. The judging doesn’t stop there. Too many American Catholics consider it their duty to criticize and publicly reprimand our bishops, especially when they feel the bishops aren’t advancing their cause quite as zealously as they should. And they let their thoughts be known at family dinners, in parish parking lots, and in blog comment boxes.

I cannot imagine that God is pleased when we are critical of our Apostles in public venues. The responsibility of apostolic leadership belongs almost solely to the Holy Father. That’s the beauty of Apostolic Succession and the role of Peter. Oh sure, there have been times in history when God has led a lay person to admonish the Shepherds, but that person is always a really holy person. I don’t know about you, but I’m just not there yet.

We have one job and that is to build up the Church Jesus Christ founded. We must work toward unity and not division. We must pray for our Church and publicly support her shepherds. We are called to stand with them as they stand with the Holy Father. And together, we pray that all unity will one day be restored . . .


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Beautiful Story from The Catholic Review - Archdiocese of Baltimore

Story by George P. Matysek Jr.
Do you pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life? Well, read this and know that God hears and answers your prayers!


Monday, January 4, 2010

It's Not About the Brand

I have to buy laundry detergent today. Have to. I poured out the last drop of it yesterday.

A year ago, I completely changed the brand of laundry detergent that we use around our house. No, I'm not going to make a pitch for the new brand. I wouldn't know what to call it any way.

I use the store brand. Or the no-brand. Or whatever is on sale.

I used to buy premium laundry detergent . . . until St. Elizabeth Ann Seton got ahold of me. It's her feast day today. Did you know that?

I'm fascinated by her for a number of reasons. One, she's a convert* to the Catholic Church. Two, her grandfather - if I remember correctly - was an Anglican minister**. Three, she was tough in the face of loss. Her mother died. Her father died. Her husband died. Two of her children died. Her sisters died.

I probably would have wanted to die too.

But not Elizabeth Seton. Instead, she grabbed ahold of the grace she found in Mother Church and she let it change her.

Then she went out and changed her world.

My favorite quote by Elizabeth Seton?

Live simply, so that all may simply live. (From a speech given in the Diocese of Baltimore)

Last January, I changed a number of things in my life. Some things stuck. Like laundry detergent. I spend about the same amount of money . . . but I buy two no-brands instead of one premium brand . . . and I give one to the St. Vincent de Paul Center.

That one little change means that another family had clean clothes last year.

This year, what will you change - so that all may simply live?

*Convert - I am as well
**Grandchild of a minister - I'm the daughter of a minister

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Holy Name of Jesus

Ancient of Days, Angel of the Lord, Anointed One, Defender of Widows, Everlasting Father, Glory of God, Holy One of Israel, I am who I am, Emmanuel, King, King of Heaven, Lily of the Valleys, Light, Lord, Lord our Maker, Man of Sorrows, Merciful, Mighty One, Morning Star, Prince of Peace, Redeemer, A Refuge for the Oppressed, A Refuge for the Poor, The Rock of our Salvation, Rose of Sharon, Ruler, Savior, My Shepherd, Witness, Wonderful Counselor, The Almighty, Alpha and Omega, Amen, Author of Life, The Beginning and the End, Beloved Son, The Blessed Hope, The Bread of Life, The Carpenter’s Son, Christ, The Consolation of Israel, Creator, Deliverer, Faithful and True, The First and the Last, The Gate, The Gift of God, God, God’s Son, The Good Shepherd, Head of the Church, Head of Everything, Heir of All Things, High Priest, Holy One, Our Hope, I Am, Immanuel, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, King, King of the Jews, King of Kings, The King of Peace, The Lamb of God, The Last Adam, The Life, Light of the World, Lion of the Tribe of Judah, Lord, Lord of All, Lord of the Harvest, Lord of Lords, Mary’s Son, Mediator, Merciful, Messiah, Nazarene, Prophet, Rabbi, The Resurrection, The Righteous One, The Ruler of God’s Creation, The Savior of the World, Servant, The Son of Man, Teacher, The Truth, True Light, True Vine, The Way, Wisdom of God, The Word, The Word of God, Worthy


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Epiphany Sunday

They came from pagan cultures, proof that God had come for all humanity. Along with poor shepherds, they were the first to be given the opportunity to worship God Incarnate. That is how it is today. All are welcome. Those who have nothing to give. And those who bring the wealth of the nations and lay it at His feet. Those who are raised in the Truth, and those who come seeking it.

If you knew you were about to die, what would you pray for? Here's what Jesus prayed for. . .

On the night he was betrayed, Jesus Christ said a very important prayer. Many Christians don’t remember it. I didn’t anyway, and as the daughter of a Protestant minister and former wife of a United Methodist minister, it should have been a memorable part of my faith formation. But if someone had asked me what one thing Jesus prayed for on the night of the Last Supper, the night he was betrayed, and the night of his arrest, I would have had to answer, “I don’t know.”

In the Gospel of John chapter 17, Our Lord prays to the Heavenly Father, proclaiming that the hour has come, and then He prays for His fledgling Church, saying:

I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me. John 17: 20-23
(French Painting - The Last Discourse Of Our Lord Jesus Christ - James Tissot - 1836-1902)


Friday, January 1, 2010

Mothers Understand that Mary is the Mother of God

It wasn't a hard teaching for me. As a convert, I had so much more difficulty with the Immaculate Conception and Mary being Queen of the Universe. Mary, Mother of God, was easy in comparison.

After all, Elizabeth said it herself. As the infant John leaps in her womb, Elizabeth turns toward Mary and says, "Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled."

There is so much going on in this passage. Elizabeth stands in the place of Israel, representing the Old Covenant. How can we be sure of this? Like so many Old Testament references to Israel, Elizabeth is the once-barren woman, but now she is pregnant with her own child, like Sarah, like Hannah, like Israel herself.Yet, even though God has blessed Elizabeth beyond her wildest dreams, she is able to look beyond that blessing and see the divine and promised one, hidden within Mary, and yet already in the process of his Incarnation. God has come to earth, and Elizabeth knows it.Elizabeth knows this is no ordinary mother and no ordinary baby. In this moment, the Old Covenant and the New Covenant embrace, literally. God has chosen his mother, and Elizabeth seems to know it intuitively.

Maybe it's something every mother understands intuitively.

My daughter didn't inherit very many traits from me. Other than being female, she is a carbon copy of her daddy. And yet, I do not say that I am only the mother of those things that she inherited from me. I am the mother of the whole child. I'm not responsible for her nose. I'm not the reason she's a good artist or gifted in music or has a propensity for technology. And yet, I am her mother. The mother of all of her. Jesus' mother is also the mother of Our Lord's divinity. The Mother of God himself. Elizabeth pronounced it first. And today, we celebrate the mystery of Mary's motherhood. Indeed, every generation should rise up and call her blessed.