Saturday, January 30, 2010
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
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
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
From CNS on FaceBook
Also found at CNS website
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Monday, January 18, 2010
Friday, January 15, 2010
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)
By Barb Fraze
(Contributing to this story were Carol Glatz in Rome and Barb Arland-Fye in Davenport, Iowa.)
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
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.
Monday, January 11, 2010
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.
Friday, January 8, 2010
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.
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.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Monday, January 4, 2010
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
Saturday, January 2, 2010
Friday, January 1, 2010
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.