Saturday, October 30, 2010

Our Number One Blog Post

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Faith is a journey. Grace is a song.

Whether we realize it or not.

He who sings prays twice...

I found myself alone this morning. The others have gone to eye appointments, and I spent some time listening to my favorite Catholic songs on And it is true. He who sings... prays twice.
Music. It is one of God's best gifts to his dear ones.

Go & find a song that lifts your soul to God... play it and pray twice.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Washing Machine Troubles

I hadn't factored it into my day. Today was supposed to be the day I got a haircut and made a grocery run. I thought I would run a few errands - like dropping a few items off at the dry cleaners - in order to wrap up my to-do list for the trip I'll be making to EWTN.

And then, the washing machine leaked water. Twenty-bathroom-towels-worth-of-water.

I don't think I handled it perfectly, but I'm getting better at this offer-it-up thing. So I said a prayer: Lord, help somebody today who is struggling with sin and wants to be clean all over again... but they are trying all kinds of broken-fixes. Help them to turn to you through the Sacrament of Confession.

As for me? The repair guy has come and gone. I'm still testing the machine to see if it is water-tight. I'm praying for that too - and for the grace to accept the "budget setback" if we have to buy a new machine. Lord, hear my prayers.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

From EVANGELII NUNTIANDI-- on New Evangelization

"[Encourage] our brethren in their mission as evangelizers, in order that, in this time of uncertainty and confusion, they may accomplish this task with ever increasing love, zeal and joy."

How can I share this ancient & beautiful Catholic Faith? With love, zeal and joy!


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Intercessions for "Deep in History" Conference

Let us keep in our prayers all those attending this year's "Deep in History" Conference in Ohio - most especially the Protestant clergy who come with seeking hearts. May they discover the Eucharist in a deep and compelling way. May they grow in their love for Christ, and may that love propel them in their Journey Home to Mother Church.

Love Note to Self #11

Make us, O Lord, to have a perpetual fear and love of Thy holy name, for Thou never failest to govern those who Thou dost solidly establish in Thy love. Amen.

(From the “Litany of the Most Holy Name of Jesus” by St. John Capistrano and by St. Bernadine of Siena)

A Lesson from the Stars

The stars shine joyfully at their set times: when he calls them, they answer, ‘Here we are’; they gladly shine for their creator. (from Baruch 3)


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Archbishop Burke - among the number of new Cardinals!

Congratulations to Archbishop Burke and to his home state of Wisconsin. He is among the number of new Cardinals named today by Pope Benedict XVI.

Love Note to Self #10

I want to set myself on fire with love...I want to be entirely on fire with love...and I want to know how to sing in the fire of love.
-St. Paul of the Cross
(It's his feast day today!)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

New Cardinals to be Announced Tomorrow

Pope Benedict XVI is expected to announce the names of 22 new Cardinals tomorrow. So what does the color red signify anyway? The color symbolizes the commitment of the cardinals to hold fast to the faith "even unto the shedding of blood" ("usque ad sanguinis effusionem", literally "up to of blood the shedding") -- that is, up to martyrdom.


Love Note to Self #9

The very fact that God has placed a certain soul
in our way is a sign that
God wants us to do something for him or her.
It is not chance;
It has been planned by God.
We are bound by conscience to help him or her.  

Once we take our eyes away
from ourselves, from our interests,
from our own rights, privileges, ambitions -
then our eyes will become clear
to see Jesus around us.
Keep the joy of loving Jesus
in your heart
and share this joy
with all you meet especially your family.
-Mother Teresa


Friday, October 15, 2010

More Than a Coincidence!

Today is my saint's day - Spanish writer St. Teresa of Avila. Her book INTERIOR CASTLE sent me on the final leg of my journey toward the Catholic Church - It is fitting that today is the day two EWTN programs contacted me, both interested in having me as a guest. Journey Home will tape December 14 with air date in January (Women of Grace--TBA).


Sunday, October 10, 2010

10-10-10 A Quote from Pope Benedict XVI

"Salvation is universal, but it passes through a specific historical mediation: the mediation of the people of Israel, which goes on to become that of Jesus Christ and the Church." —Pope Benedict XVI, Homily, Opening Mass of the Synod on the Middle East, St. Peter's Basilica, Sunday, October 10, 2010

Friday, October 8, 2010

Writing 101 for Christian Writers

Have you ever waited for something that you wanted very badly? Have you spent decades hoping and dreaming for something and then realized that it might happen? The dream might actually come true after all?

I have.

When I was twenty, I started writing. That was the year my father told me that he'd heard somewhere that each one of us has a bestseller inside of us, but most people never take the time to write it down & capture it on paper.

In that moment, I vowed that I would not be like everyone else. I would take the time to write down my ideas. I would write as many books as it took to get my bestseller written.

I wrote five or six books. I wrote and wrote and mailed manuscripts to publishers and waited and the rejections came and I tried again.

And then, I gave up.

It all seemed like such a waste of time and effort. So much for a B.A. and M.A. in English. If I wanted to use those degrees, it would be as a writing teacher - not as a writer. And so, I encouraged my students to become writers. I was convinced that I would never live that dream for myself.

For those of you who know my story, you know that I converted to the Catholic Church after my father became ill and passed away. During his illness, I began writing my thoughts in a journal. Eighteen months later, I picked up that journal and wondered.

It was all there, captured in the pages of spiral notebooks. My journey from Protestant preacher's kid to Roman Catholic neophyte.

And I put together a small article and sent it to the local diocesan paper. They published it. That was over five years ago.

Recently, I scanned the list of papers that have run my little conversion articles and once again, I wondered.

And I decided that I could try one more time. Maybe there was a book inside of me. Maybe the story just hadn't unfolded enough when I was in my 20s or 30s. Maybe the story I was meant to write wasn't fiction. Maybe it was my story.

I sent some sample chapters to a publisher recently. They took a look at them and invited me to send the entire manuscript. I did.

And now, I'm waiting. I'm waiting upon the Lord.

This time is different, though. This time, I have given it to the Lord. Yes, it is possible to offer up everything, even a dream.

Sometime in the next few weeks or months, the manuscript will be accepted or rejected. I will let you know what happens. But the giving has already occurred - and so has the acceptance. Every gift, every work, every effort and dream and hope can be laid at the feet of Jesus. Nothing is wasted in this Kingdom. He receives it all.

Not even the-manuscript-that-never-gets-published is wasted. Not even if its final resting place is the bottom of a cedar chest.

What is your gift? Have you been holding it close to your breast, afraid of rejection? Give it to the Lord Jesus Christ, for He renders all things good - even when the answer is no thanks from everyone else.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

It's the Feast of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary

David had five little stones.
You have five little decades.
Go ahead,
bring down the Goliath in your world!
 Pray the Rosary today - and ask for a special conversion. Our Lady has promised to intercede for the conversion of the whole world.

Love Note to Self #8

Let us be rooted and grounded in charity so that with all the saints we may be able to comprehend what is the length of eternity, the breadth of liberality, the height of majesty, and the depth of discerning wisdom. -St. Bonaventure


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Love Note to Self #7

Lord, in my zeal for the love of truth, let me not forget the truth about love.-St. Thomas Aquinas


Love Note to Self #6

What we need most in order to make progress is to be silent before this great God with our appetite and with our tongue, for the language he best hears is silent love. - St. John of the Cross


Love Note to Self #5

We cannot be sure whether we are loving God, although we may have good reasons for believing that we are. But we can know quite well whether we are loving our neighbor. -St. Teresa of Avila


Monday, October 4, 2010

Catholics, Don't Be Afraid to Stand Your Ground

My husband's parents are on vacation - and we're dogsitting their two little poodles. Our labradoodle is not dealing with it very well.

Oh, it's not that he lacks hospitality. It's more like he has permitted the visiting dogs to take over the place. They yip and he dodges out of the room. They charge at him, and he backs away from the food bowl. The labradoodle is around 60 pounds. Together, the toy poodles can't weigh more than 10 pounds - tops.

I want to tell Max to stand tall. Don't let them chase you away from your own food bowl or frighten you away from your place at my feet. You belong here. You were here first. This is your home, Max! You don't have to act all superior around them, but you could act like this is your home. Stop being a wimp.

Too many Catholics have the Max Syndrome.

When proselytizing Protestant Christians come around, some Catholics run for the hills. They become intimidated. They are suddenly unsure of themselves, afraid they can't defend the Catholic faith sufficiently, and so they hide in the shadows and let the Evangelicals take over the place.

Sometimes, I wonder if Jesus feels like telling some wimpy Catholics to stand tall. Don't let them chase you off. Don't let them frighten you away from your place at my feet. You belong here! This is your home. You don't have to act all superior around them, but you could act like you belong here. Because you do.

Love Note to Self #4

Christ works through my hands, walks with my feet and loves with my heart -St Teresa of Avila

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Total Depravity - just not biblical

I'm in an email discussion with a Protestant. I am thankful that she is willing to open up a dialogue with me about faith issues. Anyhow, we got into a theological discussion and the grace-works thing came up. Since becoming Catholic, I see the old grace/works issue as a prime example of Protestants misunderstanding Catholic theology. Catholics believe we are "saved by grace" . . . but we also believe that "faith without works is dead." Both faith and good works - the Bible tells us - are necessary. Both come from the gift of grace in our lives. It's the "both/and" perspective. It never was an "either/or" way of thinking. We never really did believe in works-only salvation, though we have been accused of that often enough.

But the one topic that did come up - the one we do disagree on is the topic of total depravity. We (Catholics) simply do not believe that humanity is totally hopeless.

We are not worms. (Okay, so the Psalmist calls himself a worm in chapter 22, verse 6, but that is because he is despised by others. This passage, by the way, has long been considered a prophetic passage, describing Our Lord's Passion. Read from the beginning of the chapter and you'll have to agree. And Jesus Christ certainly is no worm. And neither are we. Those who are in Christ are a new creation. Precious in the eyes of the Lord.)

So what are we if we are not worthless, hopeless worms?

"We are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them" (Ephesians 2)

So, we are not totally depraved, and our best efforts are not "nothing". We are something. We are hope-filled. Redemption and restoration are possible.

In short, we can become holy.

Sure, we are pretty wretched without God. Before we enter this life of grace, we are rather pathetic. But we are worth redeeming. That's how God sees us. The Protestant idea of "total depravity" simply isn't Biblical. You don't command something that is totally depraved to become holy. Why? Because it can never do it.

"Total Depravity" is inconsistent with Christ's command: be holy as I am holy.

Jesus Christ has not only made it possible for us to become holy, but he has told us that it is necessary for salvation. We must become holy.

There is, however, a necessary thing. On our own, we cannot become holy. It all comes down to grace. God's grace.
Oh, yeah, and one more thing. When grace shows up, say "Yes" to it. Grace & freewill. Another both/and.

Thomas Aquinas declared that special grace is necessary for man to do any supernaturally good act, to love God, to fulfill God's commandments, to gain eternal life, to prepare for salvation, to rise from sin, to avoid sin, and to persevere.[Summa Theologiae (hereafter ST) I:II:109:2-10].