Monday, January 31, 2011

Mary of Egypt... one of the great revert stories of all time!

Mary of Egypt was one of the great reverts of all time. She went through one of the most astonishing conversions in the history of the church. Her conversion was extreme for three reasons.



First, her life before conversion was extremely bad (complete rebellion and a sixth century case of sexual addiction). Second, her turnaround was lightning fast (and miraculous). And third, her life after her conversion went to an extreme as well. 

Find the rest of Mary's story at the Word Among Us website: http://wau.org/archives/article/not_your_typical_sinner-turned-saint/

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Why Should I Learn More About Twitter, Facebook, Blogs and Podcasts?


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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Check out Leona's Blog

"Fellow sisters, let's ask ourselves whether we are happily pregnant with our faith. Are we reproducing our spiritual life in other women? Are we currently mentoring anyone in our faith?" 
-Leona Choy, a Catholic convert, writer, speaker and publisher who is well into her 80s! (Just try to keep up with that, ladies!)


Catch the full post here.
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One of the most unlikely "convert stories" I've ever read: Journey to the Land of MORE

When I think of Leona Choy, I am reminded of Sarah and Elizabeth. These two women loved God, but late in life - at a time when they no longer had any reason to believe that they would conceive a child, God blessed them with the gift of life.

Leona was nearing her 80th birthday. She was a lifelong born-again, baptized-in-the-Spirit, Wheaton graduate and evangelical missionary to China and other countries. She was also the author of more than 30 books on loving God and giving one's life fully to God.

While returning home after a book tour of her final memoirs, God stepped in to send her on a new adventure. Leona set out to study the Catholic Church to convince a friend who had become Catholic that she was in serious error and needed to return to her evangelical roots. Love for her friend's soul motivated her to dig into Catholic teaching - in order to refute false teaching and win back her friend.

As with Sarah and Elizabeth, God was about to do a new work. An almost impossible thing. God was about to reveal to Leona - at the age of 80 - that there was more to the Catholic Church than she had ever imagined. While she expected to discover a mountain of error, she discovered a land of Truth and Beauty.

God was about to show her the land of More.

As Leona studied Catholic teaching in order to tear it to pieces and save her friend from heresy... an amazing thing began to happen. It was Leona who became convinced that she had found - not an apostate church - but the Church that Jesus Christ HIMSELF founded.

In her book Journey to the Land of More, Leona presents each of her perceptions of the Catholic Church, and she explains how God stripped away her misconceptions and gave her enough grace to embrace His Church.

"I hereby surrender to Truth, to the Church which Jesus established as His Body, His Bride...I surrender my past misunderstandings...I embrace Jesus wholly in His Church" (136).

After four years of study and painstaking research, on the threshold of her 80th birthday, Leona was received into the Catholic Church. "I wanted to seize the moment and hold it fast....It was not merely a symbol; it was the real presence of Jesus Christ. I partook of His very Body and Blood (John 6)" (146 Choy).

After a lifetime spent as a happy, contented evangelical, God called Leona to a journey of great faith and discovery.

What would happen to her friends? What would she do with all those books that chronicled life as an evangelical? Would anyone listen to her or would everyone think she had gone a little crazy?

Would she still have a story to tell? Or would she be put on a shelf, to be forgotten by those who just couldn't go there.


What did God have for a woman whose life was nearly spent? Why in the world would He call her to this path?

When I think of Leona, I think of Sarah and Elizabeth. When they began to feel those first flutters of life within their once-barren wombs, did they feel as Leona did when she began to realize that God was not showing her how to convince her friend of Catholic error, but instead He was convincing her that the Catholic Church was His Church?

When Sarah and Elizabeth held their sons and those little boys reached up to touch the weathered faces of their mothers, was that how Leona felt when she received Jesus Christ - Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity - in the Eucharist. Was it a stirring up of new life, a kind of spiritual birthing, a gift that had once seemed impossible?

What does it take for a woman in her 80s to say yes to such a profound change of heart? It's grace! Leona Choy is Catholic by Grace!


Over and over, Leona repeats one line: God has had His hand on her life. And it was His good pleasure to show her something new, something beautiful, something unexpected in the Catholic Church.

As with every long wait, as with every difficult labor, the gift on the other side is worth it all.

Congratulations, Leona! And welcome Home!


Journey to the Land of More can be ordered through CHResources.  P.O. Box 8290, Zanesville, OH 43702 or 1-800-664-5110 or online www.chresources.com (or from amazon.com)


Leona Choy's blog: http://leonachoy.blogspot.com/




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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I'm still in that quiet place...one of my favorite quiet-place-songs


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St. Thomas Aquinas - sometimes Feast Days are best celebrated by stillness

I am not tired, although I have rarely been as busy as I am right now. But I find myself needing quiet. Too much in my head is me-talk. So, I plan to mark the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas by stillness & silence. I will return in a few days. (I will check my email - but the blog will be silent for now.) -Denise

"The last word of St. Thomas is not communication but silence. And it is not death which takes the pen out of his hand. His tongue is stilled by the super-abundance of life in the mystery of God. He is silent, not because he has nothing further to say; he is silent because he has been allowed to glimpse into the inexpressible depths of that mystery which is not reached by any human thought or speech.
The acts of the canonization process record: On the feast of St. Nicholas, in the year 1273, as Thomas turned back to his work after Holy Mass, he was strangely altered. He remained steadily silent; he did not write; he dictated nothing. He laid aside the Summa Theologica on which he had been working. Abruptly, in the middle of the treatise on the Sacrament of Penance, he stopped writing. Reginald, his friend, asks him, troubled: "Father, how can you want to stop such a great work?" Thomas answers only, "I can write no more." Reginald of Piperno seriously believed that his master and friend might have become mentally ill through his overwhelming burden of work. After a long while, he asks and urges once again. Thomas gives the answer: "Reginald, I can write no more. All that I have hitherto written seems to me nothing but straw. Reginald is stunned by his reply".

- Josef Pieper, The Silence of St. Thomas
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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Baton Passes from St. Paul to St. Timothy (and St. Titus)

I've spent those random moments of down-time throughout the day by reading various Letters of St. Paul. I ended the day with a few chapters of St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians.

When I read chapter 4 verses 16 & 17, it seemed like a good stopping point as night falls on the Conversion of St. Paul and morning brings the Feast of Sts. Timothy and Titus.

Paul writes: Therefore, I urge you, be imitators of me. For this reason, I am sending you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord; he will remind you of my ways in Christ, just as I teach them everywhere in the Church.


Let us close the evening with St. Paul, eagerly anticipating a new day that brings us news of Timothy and Titus.
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Believing That Unity is Possible - not for the weak or pessimistic!

ROME (CNS) -- Giving in to the temptation of thinking the Christian churches will never be fully united is a sign of weak faith, Pope Benedict XVI said.

"One must resist the temptation of resignation and pessimism, which is a lack of trust in the power of the Holy Spirit," the pope said Jan. 25 at an ecumenical evening prayer service marking the close of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.


(Read full article by clicking on CNS link)
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Feast of St. Paul: what a convert!

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.
On this Feast Day 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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Monday, January 24, 2011

St. Francis de Sales - and some of his little gems

"It is the part of an unprofitable soul to amuse itself with examining the lives of other people."

". . . offer up all your grief, pain, and weakness as a service to our Lord and beseech him to join them to the torments he suffered for you."

". . . have particular love and reverence both for the guardian angel of the diocese where you live and those of the persons with whom you live, and especially for your own guardian angel."

"Confide in him with a daughter's respect for her father; respect him with a son's confidence in his mother."

"A faithful friend, Holy Scripture says, is a strong defence, and he who has found one has found a treasure. . . have this faithful friend who by advice and counsel guides our actions and thus protects us from the snares and deceits of the wicked one."

St. Francis de Sales was a brilliant preacher of the Gospel. He was driven by love more than the desire to win an argument. Within four years, his love and zealous preaching were responsible for bringing most of the Calvinists back to the Church. Let us look to St. Francis de Sales in this month of Christian unity and do our part to bring unity to the Body of Christ.

(All quotes taken from Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales.)


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Who is your Big Sister or Big Brother in the Faith? Time to say thanks!

St. Francis de Sales in his great work Introduction to the Devout Life encourages believers to find a “faithful friend who by advice and counsel guides our actions and thus protects us from the snares and deceits of the wicked one” (46).

The Catechism underscores this important message from St. Francis de Sales. "For Christians a special gratitude is due to those from whom they have received the gift of faith . . ." (2220).

Blessed Feast of St. Francis de Sales!



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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Ecumenism: through the eyes of a Protestant Preacher's Kid Turned Catholic

I went to the Ecumenical prayer service for Christian Unity today. Even with the bad weather, the parishioners at our parish were well represented. There was one Baptist pastor, one UCC pastor (but ordained Baptist), one UM pastor and our parish priest.

I realize that I like Protestant ministers. I really, really like them. I see them, and I can't help but think of my dad, the Protestant minister. Simultaneously, I find myself overwhelmed by the great divide and the burning desire within me to be able to share in a meaningful way what I have come to love and cherish in the Catholic Church. But this isn't the place for that. This is a not a moment for convincing words or arguments; it is a moment for prayer. Father, make us one.

I feel caught between what is and what should be. I feel the pain of it. I literally ache for the remedy.

As I stood and prayed - and sat and prayed - and stood and prayed again, I felt fully a Preacher's Kid and fully a Roman Catholic. It was like being the child of divorced parents, and you finally have them in the room together. And that is wonderful, but your heart wants more. Your heart wants full reconciliation between those you love so dearly.

I wanted to cry over what isn't.

But I also wanted to thank God for even this much.

It is a cross. A kind of standing-in-the-gap and seeing both ledges. One, I love deeply because I was raised there and I can see on the faces of those pastors my own father's face. The other, I love deeply because it is my Home and I see the full helping of goodness laid out before me - all that I share here and all that I keep quiet in my heart.

So I stand here, and lift high this cross - lifting it up to the Cross of Christ. I give it to you, oh God.

Make us one, as you Father are one with the Son.

So that the world will know Jesus.

John 17

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Attention to Details and Deadlines

My husband has owned a Palm II, a Palm V, a Visor, and a REX. If you don’t know what those are, it simply means they are so outdated that nobody remembers them anymore. They have been replaced by a new generation of organizational gadgets and software. My husband is part of a large purchasing group that simply has to have the latest technology to assist in sorting, organizing, storing, reminding, and coordinating every contact number, address, and event.
All that organization means that we can pack more information and events into our already over-burdened lives.
Most of us feel tired and overwhelmed most of the time. There’s simply too much to do – even though our tech toys indicate that they have memory space available. We often feel like the man in the Robert Frost poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” There’s miles to go before I sleep, miles to go before I sleep.
Still, with all of our planning and running, the most important things are often overlooked.
She’s as busy as I am. I’ll talk to her next week and see how she’s doing. The divorce hit her pretty hard.
I’ll get to that retreat next year. It’s offered all the time. Now’s not good for me.
I’m not sure he’s ready yet for an invitation to RCIA. Maybe next year. Yeah, I’ll give it another year and see if he’s still asking questions about the Catholic faith.
There is a deadline coming, and the unique thing about this deadline is that we do not know the day or the hour in which it will arrive. The event isn’t on my calendar. And it’s not on yours either.
The Lord will simply show up that day and say, Okay, I’ve given you enough time to complete your work. Whether it is when God calls me into eternity or when Our Lord returns again, it doesn’t really make a difference. This life has an expiration date. And then, we won’t have time to make time, because time will be no more.
If there is something you need to do, something you need to say, and someone it needs to be said to, do it today. Right now. Not tonight. Not even ten minutes from now.
Our planners may be programmed to keep on sorting and reminding and organizing. You might be able to set up appointments for a date that’s half a century from today just by clicking a button on your computer screen. But you don’t have a guarantee that you’ll be here to carry out the action item. You don’t have a guarantee that your friend, or your brother, or your mother will be here to receive the email or text message or phone call.
Now is an acceptable time.
Go on. You know you have an action item that requires your attention. Take care of it right now.

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Get it Together, Pilgrims: From Today's Readings in the Mass

I appeal to you, brothers, for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, to make up the differences between you, and instead of disagreeing among yourselves, to be united again in your belief and practice. From what Chloe’s people have been telling me, my dear brothers, it is clear that there are serious differences among you.

I Corinthians 1:10-12
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Christian Divisions - It's NOT okay.

"There is nothing more serious than the sacrilege of schism because there is no just cause for severing the unity of the Church." -St. Augustine


How good it is, how pleasant, where the people dwell as one! Psalm 133:1
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Saturday, January 22, 2011

St. Ignatius of Antioch - just prior to his marytrdom

“See that you all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as you would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.” – St. Ignatius of Antioch (100 AD)

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Father, make them one . . .

Christian Unity: A Prayer of the Ages
By Father Juan R. Vélez

LOS ANGELES, California, JAN. 21, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The second part of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st century have shown significant developments in the ecumenical movement, the work of uniting Christians in their religious beliefs, practices and ecclesiastical authority. Last Saturday, the establishment of the first ordinariate -- a structure similar to that of a diocese -- for Anglicans who wish to be in full communion with the Catholic Church marks an important step in this ecumenical movement.

The work of promoting unity between Christians was begun by Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity, who taught his disciples to love one another and to forgive each other their faults. He chose Peter and his successor to be the visible head of his Church, and before his death, he prayed to the Father that all his disciples would maintain the unity of the faith and thus give glory to God and lead others to believe in God. 

Read the full article here: http://www.zenit.org/article-31529?l=english

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Agnes' Day and Agnus Dei





You've got to read this blog post by Fr. 
Dwight Longenecker:

http://gkupsidedown.blogspot.com/2011/01/meeting-agnes.html
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Philosophy and Ecumenism Intersect Here

"It seems counter-intuitive . . . to be enthralled by things of faith and by God Himself . . . and at the same time to be given to a fear of true exchange with those who know the 2000-year-old Church the best."

Subtitled: Go ahead and find out what the Catholic Church really teaches and has believed for 2000 years.
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Words on Unity & the Eucharist by St. Cyprian (249-258 A.D.)

St. Cyprian of Carthage converted from paganism to Christianity around the year 246 A.D. Soon afterwards, he aspired to the priesthood and eventually was ordained Bishop of Carthage. He was beheaded for his Faith in the year 258 A.D., thus he was the first African bishop to have been martyred.

"So too the the sacred meaning of the Pasch lies essentially in the fact, laid down in Exodus, that the lamb - slain as a type of Christ - should be eaten in one single home. God says the words: 'In one house shall it be eaten, ye shall not cast its flesh outside.' The flesh of Christ and the Lord's sacred body cannot be cast outside, nor have believers any other home but the one Church."

-"The Unity of the Catholic Church". Ch.8, circa 249-258 A.D.

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

EWTN announces plans to acquire National Catholic Register :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

EWTN announces plans to acquire National Catholic Register :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)
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The Last of the Litter

We raised Pomeranian puppies when I was a kid growing up in northern Iowa. Buttons and Bows - those were the names of our male and female Pomeranian pets.

One year, in the cold of winter, Bows went into labor. She had two puppies before we figured out that Buttons was acting really bonkers because his companion was in labor. We dashed outside to bring Bows into the warm kitchen. The two puppies she had already delivered didn't make it.

There was one more puppy, a rare albino pup. Mom worked with the puppy for awhile, but she said there was no way it would make it. It was the runt of the litter, she said. And sickly-looking at that.

I was really sad. It was late and Mom ushered us all to bed. In the middle of the night, I woke up and wondered about Bows and her little white puppy. I quietly made my way down the cold hallway. When I got to the kitchen, I knelt down, tucking my long flannel nightgown around me.

There was Bows. The puppy was lifeless. Gone.

I cried. Our mother dog was licking and licking her little one. Mothering this tiny, dead puppy. Hoping against hope that her efforts would stir life up again in the last puppy of her litter.

I cried for the puppy, but mostly, I cried for Bows.

And I thought about maternal instinct and how much a mother - even a mother Pomeranian - needs to nurture the life she has birthed.

A love so deep, an instinct so strong, that the signs of death cannot stop her from trying.

Every baptized child of God is entrusted to the care of Mother Church. And there are times when I marvel at the Maternal Instinct that is intrinsic to everything She does. Sometimes, we are as dead and lifeless - spiritually - as that tiny newborn puppy. Anyone looking at us would say, she isn't going to make it. You might as well go get some sleep and stop hoping (and praying).

But Mother Church just keeps giving, nurturing, trying to stir life back into the lifeless-little-me.

Washing, through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Feeding, through the Eucharist.
Interceding, through the prayers of the Faithful. Saints above. Sojourners below. Everyone offering prayers of hope for each little soul.

I still wake up in the middle of the night sometimes. And I still journey down cold hallways. . . to kneel. For you, dear little one. Can't you feel the Maternal Instinct of Mother Church? She's calling you back.

Come Home.
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Pope Benedict XVI: Ecumenism Already Has Borne Fruit (CNS)

VATICAN CITY (CNS)—The search for Christian unity has not been easy, but it already has drawn Christians closer to one another and made Christianity more attractive to those who do not believe, Pope Benedict XVI said.

Read full article by Cindy Wooden here.

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St. Ignatius of Antioch, speaking/writing in 110 A.D.

"Take care, they who belong to God and to Jesus Christ - they are with the bishop. And those who repent and come to the unity of the Church - they too shall be of God, and will be living according to Jesus Christ. Do not err, my brethren: if anyone follow a schismatic, he will not inherit the Kingdom of God. If any man walk about with strange doctrine, he cannot lie down with the passion. Take care, then, to use one Eucharist, so that whatever you do, you do according to God: for there is one Flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup in the union of His Blood; one altar, as there is one bishop with the presbytery and my fellow servants, the deacons."

-Epistle to the Philadelphians, 3:2-4:1, 110 A.D.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The beautiful word "IF"

Have you ever received an email that said just one word or an unfinished phrase because the sender accidentally hit SEND before finishing the email?
Recently, I received an email that said one word. If. A minute or two later, the finished email came through, which began, "Okay, let's try this again."
I liked the first email even better.
It made me think. So much of what our parents, teachers, and even our faith says to us begins with the word "if" - and it usually implies a "then" that is pretty cool. That email that began with "if" was the beginning of so many possible if/then propositions.
Here are some of the possibilities:
If you choose blessing. . .
If you embrace Lent. . .
If you remember to honor your parents . . .
If you treat others the way you want to be treated. . .
If you honor the Lord's Day. . .
If you do it for the least of these. . .
If you remain faithful until the end. . .
But also:
If you eat all your vegetables. . .
If you clean your room like I asked you to do. . .
If your dad gets that bonus. . .
If I get a raise this year. . .

And it all begins with the word "if". So many possibilities. What is the "if" proposition in your life right now?
Isaiah 43:19 See, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?



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Pick a Church, Any Church? Or is there really one Lord and one Faith?

In the mid-1990s, my father took a new pastorate in Illinois. The Presbyterian congregation had suffered great loss in membership when a new, independent, charismatic church opened its doors for business and began recruiting members from the rosters of local parishes (from all denominations and even the local Catholic parish). Dad had a challenge on his hands. How does one keep parishioners excited about remaining Presbyterian when there was so much excitement about what was happening just down the street at the no-affiliation-congregation?

One day, I asked Dad a question that I'd been thinking about for quite awhile. I wondered how Dad would answer the question.

"Dad, what would you do if you had a parishioner who was marrying someone from another faith community? How would you counsel them - if the future bride and groom had completely different opinions on where to worship?"

Dad responded so swiftly and directly that I knew he had faced this question many times. "I would urge them strongly to decide on one church."

"Even if their choice was not your parish?" I asked, knowing that this was the question I really wanted answered.

"Yes. Even then."

I've thought about his answer many times in the last ten years. And I understand the guiding principle of his position. Unity matters. Where faith and marriage intersect, unity matters.

The microcosm is seen clearly in the marital bond. A man takes a bride and they need to be one. This becoming one is good, but sometimes it is very difficult, too.

If we take this lesson (at the micro-level) and expand it to the macrocosm, we learn another lesson. A very important lesson that is good, even if it is sometimes very difficult.

Marriage between a husband and a wife is the pale imitation of the relationship between Jesus Christ and His Bride (the Church).

St. Paul delights in making comparisons between marriage (and the love between husbands and wives) and the approaching Wedding Day between Christ and His Bride (the Church).

Dad's wisdom, when taken from the microcosm and applied to the macrocosm is very powerful - and potentially life changing.

If it is important for a husband and a wife to be one, how much more important is it for the Bride to be one with her Bridegroom?

We must stop acting like a Bride who thinks it doesn't really matter. You get to do your own thing. Go where you want. Think what you want. Act how you want. Agree to disagree.

The "children" are going to get mixed messages and then the lack of unity becomes greater and more tragic. Who are the children? The little ones who want to come to Christ. But where do they go? What church? What denomination? What is the right teaching to embrace?

Bride of Christ, you are scattered into more than 30,000 denominations. Some researchers say the number of denominations is closer to 50,000. You have different opinions on everything. Whether or not baptism matters. How to get saved. Whether or not salvation can be lost. What it means to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. Whether or not you must have the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit. What the Trinity is. What verses in the Bible really mean. Which verses are more important and should be memorized. The definition of a Sacrament - or whether or not there even is such a thing as a Sacrament. Whether the Creed is important or worthless. Whether going to church on Sunday matters. If the songs sung in church should be old hymns, only from the Psalms, or only new songs that have been written in the last five years and flashed on a big screen. Whether or not one should clap in church. Or say amen. Or whether or not women should only wear dresses and never cut their hair short.

You disagree on everything.

And you don't think it matters. But, it does matter.

If it is important for a husband and wife to be one - if unity is of paramount importance in marriage - how much more important is unity to the Life and Love shared between The Bridegroom who is Jesus and His Bride who is the Church?

The Bridegroom has shared His deepest Heart with you, His Bride. When He prays for you, He asks God to make you one -- with a unity that is perfect -- a unity that is as perfect as the unity between God the Father and God the Son (John 17). Why? So that the world may know Him. Jesus Christ loves His Bride. And He wants you to be so united to Him that your unity draws more and more to come.

True unity is difficult. Husbands and wives know it. Sometimes, it means sitting down and talking and talking and talking. Sometimes it means opening your heart and really listening to your husband (or wife). Sometimes, it means dying to self.

Bride of Christ, it will not be easy, but unity is worth it.

Re-consider the 2000 year-old Church. Deep inside you, you know there is no other Christian faith community that could draw all believers. You know that there is only one Home that can accommodate charismatics and evangelicals and holiness&sanctification Christians and those who hunger for a sacramental faith and those who are quiet contemplatives like the early Quakers. Ask the Bridegroom to show you if She is the seat of unity. Show me where we can all truly be one (Ephesians 4:3-6 ...to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism;one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.)

And if you are on the journey home, may God continue to bless you. The Bridegroom is waiting for you in the Eucharist. Open your heart to the possibility that unity is possible -- and that there is a place where it can happen.
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Does Christian Unity Really Matter?

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

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

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

(From one of those letters)

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

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

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


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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

January 2011 Catholic by Grace article

CBG Column: January 2011
St. Therese once said, “I will spend my Heaven doing good on Earth.” That’s an intriguing thought. I wonder how I will spend my eternity. If I remain faithful until that last breath, what will I be doing with my Heaven? I think we can look into our deepest hearts and get a glimpse into what will be the focus of our prayers when we pass through the veil and, purified, stand before the Throne of God.
There are many possibilities.
In the month of January, we turn our attention to a number of things as Catholics. We remember the lives of the unborn, and we promise to intercede for them. We pray as one, but there are some who are so committed to this battle for life that I am sure they will be spending their eternity interceding for the most innocent and helpless among us.
We also pray for conversion and unity. We are reminded of the Holy Father’s Missionary Intention for the month of January 2011: That Christians may achieve full unity, bearing witness of the universal fatherhood of God to the entire human race. There are some who are so committed to this work that they will be spending their eternity interceding for evangelization and ecumenism.
And in this first month of 2011, we also remember the Holy Father’s General Intention: That the riches of creation be preserved, valued and made available to all, as precious gifts from God to mankind. And, while we pray as one for this intention, there are many who are so committed to this unique form of stewardship that they will be spending their eternity praying for God to raise up more faithful administrators of God’s creation.
These are the prayer intentions this January. But the entire year is full of intentions. Prayers for social justice, for the preservation of the family, for healing of the sick, for peace, for freedom from persecution, for more vocations to the priesthood and religious life, for Christian educators and for the poor, the imprisoned, and the forgotten.
But what about me? What will I be praying for if I should be found faithful and one day stand before the Throne of God? For each of us, the answer is found deep within us. We know what God has written on our hearts. And we know that there is an ache deep within that causes the Holy Spirit to groan and speak to us when we are on our knees and through us when we get up from our knees and go into the world. That call is so demanding that it won’t end with our last breath – it can’t end with our last breath. There is a special prayer intention that simply must follow us into the eternal realm. We know it. And we know it deep within our souls.
Every once in awhile, I read something and there’s this kind of eternal epiphany for me. In that moment, I know that my heart’s desire points to one special intention.
Complete and full unity in the Body of Christ.
If Our Lord, in his goodness and mercy, gives me access to the Throne of God, I will have this prayer on my lips: that East and West will again hold hands at the Altar of Our Lord. No division. No two lungs. Not even sister Churches. Completely one. I’ll also be praying for our separated brethren, that an abundance of grace will lead them to the fullness of the faith.
If, by God’s goodness and mercy, these great events should occur before my death, then I will borrow a line from Simeon, saying, Master, you may let your servant go in peace. For I have seen with my own eyes the manifestation of your high priestly prayer. You, oh Lord, have made us one – with a oneness that mirrors the oneness You share with God the Father.
Until that day, I’ll keep on praying. Lord, hear my prayer.


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Monday, January 17, 2011

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Begins January 18th, 2011

"Although the goal of the ecumenical movement - complete unity in the faith - has not yet been reached", dialogue has produced many points of agreement, Benedict XVI noted. (The Catholic News)
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Podcasts... where to begin listening?

Do you ever get the feeling that God is taking you into a new world? These last two years of blogging have been like that. So much to discover. So much to learn. Not to mention Facebook. And Twitter. And IM-ing. And texting.

And even before that, there was writing and emails and article attachments.

And before that, EWTN television shows and Covenant Network Radio.

And before that RCIA and the Catechism.

And before that the Saints.

I keep thinking that things will settle down. God has taken me through all the new fields. The trail will taper off, and I will sit for awhile and pick the clover and kick up my feet, content with the thought that I have been down every path and seen all the little trails there are to see. I can rest, knowing I've learned how to do those things God wanted me to learn--so that I can take His Good News and spread it around a little more. Motivate somebody else--or have somebody else inspire me.

And then, something new falls in my lap.

Like Catholic Moments.

A Podcast.

And I realize that God takes delight in showing me more and more and more.

Enjoy:

http://castroller.com/podcasts/CatholicMomentsPodcast/2117619-CM%20165%20-%20The%20Lost%20Valentine
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What do Martin Luther King, Jr., a Coca-cola commercial and the Church have in common?

It’s probably the best Coca-cola commercial of all time. In the 1970s a group of people in an array of ethnic clothes gathered on a hilltop to sing a jingle about a soda. They wanted to buy the world a Coke, to teach everyone to sing in perfect harmony, to discover the Real thing.
A couple of years ago, my daughter had a dream. She was born nearly a decade after this commercial hit the airwaves, but her dream reminded me of it. She said there were people of every nation, clothed in every kind of traditional dress imaginable, and they were all making their way to the top of a mountain. The excitement was palpable, like a current that ran through all of them, drawing them to the top. Some were running as fast as they could, gathering their saris and kimonos and kaftans high.
The overriding feelings of the dream were peace and joy and desire, she said. But it wasn’t a desire for any earthly thing. With single-minded purpose, they clamored to the top of the mountain for the fulfillment of all desire.
I smiled and told my daughter that it sounded like the Catholic Mass. Everyone is seeking God. Everyone is there for the source and summit of all things, Our Eucharistic Lord Jesus Christ.
I could vividly imagine her dream. There is only one worship experience that embraces and transcends culture. There is only one faith that is fully united and fully diverse. There is only one religion that has called every people throughout time to come.
It is the Church Our Lord founded. The 2000 year-old Catholic Church.
Commercials and artistic representations like the Coca-cola commercial simply reveal our heart’s desire, a desire that cannot be sated by a cold beverage or a great jingle. The heart’s greatest longing is for Jesus Christ.
So, gather up your saris, your kimonos, your kaftans and make your way to the fulfillment of all desire.
Isaiah 66:18-21
The Lord says this: I am coming to gather the nations of every language. They shall come to witness my glory. I will give them a sign and send some of their survivors to the nations: to Tarshish, Put, Lud, Moshech, Rosh, Tubal, and Javan, to the distant islands that have never heard of me or seen my glory. They will proclaim my glory to the nations. As an offering to the Lord they will bring all your brothers, on horses, in chariots, in litters, on mules, on dromedaries, from all the nations to my holy mountain in Jerusalem, says the Lord, like Israelites bringing oblations in clean vessels to the Temple of the Lord. And of some of them I will make priests and Levites, says the Lord.

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: beginning here

Thou, Who at Thy first Eucharist didst pray
That all Thy Church might be forever one,
Grant us that ev’ry Eucharist to say
With longing heart and soul, “Thy will be done.”
O may we all one bread, one body be,
Through this blest sacrament of unity.





For all Thy Church, O Lord, we intercede;
Make Thou our sad divisions soon to cease;
Draw us the nearer each to each, we plead,
By drawing all to Thee, O Prince of Peace;
Thus may we all one bread, one body be,
Through this blest sacrament of unity.



We pray Thee too for wand’rers from Thy fold;
O bring them back, good Shepherd of the sheep,
Back to the faith which saints believed of old,
Back to the Church which still that faith doth keep;
Soon may we all one bread, one body be,
Through this blest sacrament of unity.





So, Lord, at length when sacraments shall cease,
May we be one with all Thy Church above,
One with Thy saints in one unbroken peace,
One with Thy saints in one unbounded love;
More blessèd still, in peace and love to be
One with the Trinity in Unity.




(posted by Christopher Jordan on the Facebook Event page for "Week of Prayer for Christian Unity". If you would like to add your name to the FB Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, go to: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=121909094545583&index=1)


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Liturgical Change - perfect love casts out fear

Recently, I was talking to a priest. When he realized that I am a Catholic writer, he suggested that I write something about the changes in the Liturgy. “It will be hard for the musicians and some of the people. And it will be hard for priests. We’ll probably stumble awhile, as we try to learn the new wording.”
“Oh, Father! You’ll feel just like a convert!” I told him about my year in RCIA. I was just beginning to get it.  I knew what was coming next and could say it and sing it without too much stumbling, and then I went to a later Mass. The organist was different, and she played a different arrangement. I adjusted to the new tune, and then Lent came along. And we lost the Alleluia. And the dreaded sense of being out of my element returned.
The church secretary who was sitting near us smiled then.  “Maybe that’s not such a bad thing. It might be good for priests to feel like a convert every once in a while.”
She’s right. We all need to feel like we are being converted. We need to be shaken up and stirred sometimes. We need a little bit of Lent in our lives. And it is important to remember that the changes are small, in the grand scheme of things. Moreover, the changes are for our benefit, to bring all of us to the closest translation of the Latin Mass. And converts understand the importance of moving as close as one can to Christ and to His Sacred Heart. It is the reason we said yes to something that is so new, so foreign, so beautiful.
Let Mother Church
lead you.
All will be well...
Change is never easy. And this change will be particularly difficult for many. If you are a priest or a musician, offer it up for a convert who finds the entire Liturgy something of a foreign language. Offer it up for the one who longs to be part of the Church family, but feels like he will never fit in as easily as the cradle Catholic sitting beside him. Offer it up for the one who is trying to learn everything in just a few months of RCIA.
And I will let you in on a secret that every convert knows. You will look back on that part of the journey and miss it a little. You will realize that God was there. You knew it. You felt it. You relied on it.
And maybe that is the most essential part of the journey.

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Saturday, January 15, 2011

He's There - you just have to know how to look: putting on spiritual eyes

Many years ago, my sister sent me a postcard from New Zealand. The picture on the postcard was a stereogram, a hidden 3D picture wrapped in a blue-green 2-D design. The instructions on the postcard said to hold the image right up to your nose and slowly pull the picture away from your face. Stare through the picture. Don’t try to focus on the 2-D pattern. Let your eyes go beyond the obvious image, and you will begin to see the hidden image.
I tried it about ten times. My children figured it out almost immediately.
“I give up. I can’t see a thing!” I tossed the thing on the table and my son picked it up, imploring me to give it another try.
“You have to let it happen, Mom. Don’t look at it. Kind of let your eyes go out of focus. And fight it when your eyes want to look at the design. You’ll never see it that way. The picture is deeper. Not here.” He rubbed the palm of his hand across the postcard. “It’s there.” He took his right index finger and pointed down to the postcard in his left hand. When his finger touched the picture, he slid it around the side of the picture, and kept on pointing to an imaginary place beyond.
He handed the card to me, and I took it reluctantly. I wasn’t sure what I was doing, but I thought about what my son had said and gave it one last serious try.
And suddenly, I saw it. Three dolphins. Three 3-D dolphins in a row. It was SO cool.
There are times when the indelible mark of God on the lives of those around us can seem as elusive as the 3-D picture hidden in a stereogram. We don’t see Christ in our neighbor. We don’t see Christ in the poor. We don’t see Christ in the priest.
We just see a rude neighbor. A guy on the side of the road with a sign. A man with foibles like everyone else who sometimes wears a stole.
God tells us to look closer. No, not at the surface. Don’t fixate on the outward patterns. You’ll never see what lies beneath that way. Jesus is there, and you can see him if you let yourself get past the surface image.
He’s there, in the eyes of your neighbor.
He’s there, in the eyes of the poor, the sick, the imprisoned, the immigrant.
He’s there in the ordained one. A priest forever. Marked with God’s indelible imprint.
Sometimes, the pattern on the surface throws us off. We become frustrated by what we see. God tells us to look a little deeper. Give it another try. True identity is sometimes hidden. Cloaked in external trappings.
And if we can begin to see Jesus Christ hidden in the faces around us, maybe we can begin to see Our Lord hidden under the appearance of bread and wine.

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Friday, January 14, 2011

Inside Scoop

Here's a question from a very dear friend. If you saw the Journey Home show, you might be wondering the same things. So, I'll post a portion of the question and my reply. (Thanks to the one who sent the question - you know who you are - and you are very special to me!)

Denise,
Can you tell me what an altar call is? I keep hearing that and I don't know what that means!

Also, I noticed that you got a little misty eyed when in your show when you were talking about accepting the Lord at his word about John 6. I found that was very powerful to listen to... as was your story, but especially that part. Can you tell me why you cried there?

Hugs & Blessings!

I would love to tell you about both those things. An altar call is an evangelical term for an invitation by the pastor to come forward (kind of like we do when we receive Holy Communion). But the person walks forward (alone, as those who have already done this don't go forward again). When you get to the front of the sanctuary, you kneel. You pray to Jesus and ask Him to come into your heart and be Lord of your life. Here's the thing that I find most interesting about this evangelical "tradition": As a Catholic (who was evangelical), it is very clear to me that the evangelicals are attempting to do what Catholics do. Only evangelicals don't see a need to receive more than once - and they don't receive Jesus in his complete fullness as we do in the Eucharist (Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity). At the core, though, it is something very similar to a spiritual communion. I suspect that the evangelicals do not even realize that they are striving to receive at least a small sliver of the Catholic Holy Communion in this "act". The evangelicals even retained the phrase "receive Jesus" or "receive Our Lord" - but again, it is spiritual (in mind/heart) and not the full understanding of needing to receive ALL of Him - and the 2000 year teaching of the Real Presence.

I probably should have spoken on the show about what had me so choked up about John 6. I just knew that I would lose it and so I kept trying to move forward. What I realized when I read John 6 with fresh and hungry eyes, is that Jesus is really coming to Catholics and He has always truly come to them. This JESUS that I had loved with my whole heart from that moment when I was just a little girl  has been here all along. Fully. Completely. And I was filled with a desire to have ALL of this ONE who has been my heart's love. It was beyond words. Sad--because He had always been there, now realizing the one I love has always been there, and yet I did not know it.

It is like realizing that you have been in love with your dear (male) pen-pal for decades and you have anticipated the day of your wedding for decades, and now you realize that he didn't live on the other side of the world (and you only were able to "talk" to him) - he lives RIGHT DOWN THE STREET (in the Catholic Church) and this one you have loved for almost forever has been waiting all that time for you to discover how very close He really is.

So, sad. But also Joy because it was possible, if all of the obstacles of a first marriage and some doctrinal hangups were resolved, it would be possible to receive my greatest love.

Overwhleming, too. Because NOBODY in my family believes this (of course John and Jennifer do now - and John's stepmom/family and some cousins do). But nobody in my family. What do you do with that kind of Truth. And you know that you are the least likely voice that they would ever listen to on matters of faith.

Mysterious too. Because I knew I would never be able to talk to Dad about this, and yet in the mystery of God, I also knew that Dad already knew it - and was leading me from the other side.

Do you remember that I talked about teaching in a Catholic school? Each time we had school-wide Mass, I would have to stay seated while my students went forward. In the year of my conversion and especially those first few weeks after coming into the Church, I would think about a song we used to sing at that school during Communion - One Bread, One Body, One Lord of All, One Cup of blessing... I realized, too, that I was One with those students now, far more than I ever was as their teacher, because I was finally part of the Body of Christ, fully & completely.

Blessings,
Denise

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Journey Home - Former Presbyterian - Marcus Grodi with Denise Bossert - ...


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On JPII: The News We Have Been Waiting For!

Where I saw it first:


www.catholicreview.org
It’s been eagerly anticipated for years. Now it’s a reality. Pope John Paul II will be beatified.

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Father, make them one as You, Father, and I (Jesus) are one - that the world may know that You have sent the Son

From January 18th - January 25th, Christians throughout the world will be joining together to ask Our Lord to restore the full unity of the Christian community. The most notable rupture to Church unity occurred in 1054 when Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians lost their full bond of unity. Again, in 1517, unity in the Body of Christ was ruptured when ecclesiastical abuses led to fragmentation in the West. Thankfully, there is more hope and effort today to restore that full and visible unity to the Body of Christ than at any time in history.


Please join Christians throughout the world to pray for a movement of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of all Christians that we may fulfill Jesus Christ's prayer for unity on the night of the Last Supper. On the night before His death, Our Lord prayed. Father, make them one, as you Father and I are One. So that the world may know that You have sent the Son. And I pray not only for them, but also for those who will come to me through them.
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