Monday, June 25, 2012

For the Sake of Our Children, Restore Religious Liberty, O Lord!

Prayer for the Protection of Religious Liberty

O God our Creator,

Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit,
you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world,
bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel
to every corner of society.

We ask you to bless us
in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty.
Give us the strength of mind and heart
to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened;
give us courage in making our voices heard
on behalf of the rights of your Church
and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.

Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father,
a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters
gathered in your Church
in this decisive hour in the history of our nation,
so that, with every trial withstood
and every danger overcome—
for the sake of our children, our grandchildren,
and all who come after us—
this great land will always be "one nation, under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

We ask this through Christ our Lord.


Prayer from USCCB website

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Like Seabiscuit

I can vividly remember two Christmas presents from December 2003. My daughter gave my father a plastic horse. Jennifer turned five right before Christmas that year, and she was determined that she would pick out and purchase a gift for everyone in the family. She didn’t want money or opinions from anyone. It was her year to be a giver. She chose a plastic horse at the dollar store and declared, “This one’s for Grandpa.”

I guess that Christmas was the Year of the Horse, because one of my older children received the movie Seabiscuit. On December 28th, we finished the evening meal and sat down to watch the movie as a family. The phone rang in the middle of our movie night, and I went to the bedroom to listen to the message as it recorded. It was my sister. She was calling to say that our dad had just passed away.

We turned off the movie, and we never went back to finish it. My mother gave Jennifer the plastic horse. “Here. Grandpa would want you to have it,” She said. Jennifer received the horse with a heavy heart.

This summer I am taking a class on social justice through the Paul VI Institute in St. Louis. Today, the instructor showed us a clip of a movie. Mr. Kraus reminded us that our lives mirror the theme of the movie: we have risen from broken lives to discover what we were meant to be – who we are meant to be. Sometimes, we are pretty beat up by the world. We are so screwed up, sometimes, that we have forgotten that we have human dignity. We don’t remember that we are made in the likeness of God. And we fail to realize that our neighbor is God’s special creation as well.

And then he pressed play. The movie was Seabiscuit.

I swallowed hard and permitted the images and lines to wash over me. This was the movie I had refused to watch for nearly a decade. God seemed to say, it’s okay. You’re ready, and you know it.

This amazing line hit me. “I just can’t help feeling they got him so screwed up, running in circles, that he’s forgotten what he was born to do. He just needs to learn how to be a horse again.”

There was a peace in my spirit as I listened. Denise, you are Seabiscuit. The world did its number on you and you got pretty screwed up. God needed to get your attention, and that was painful. But there was an important lesson to be learned in the dying and brokenness. You needed to learn how to be the one I created you to be. You had forgotten who you are.

I was created in the image and likeness of God! There is a dignity there. I am not created for sin or bitterness or confusion or anger or selfishness or exploitation by anybody. I am made to be Christ to the world. To be His mercy. His love. His joy!

I carry the mark of the risen Christ!

But I had forgotten that.

I am an oblation. An offering back to my God. I am a libation. A pouring out of self for another.

In that same scene, Seabiscuit takes off and runs with such beauty and grace and strength that the jockey (Tobey McGuire) yells out, “You are an amazing animal!”

It’s been almost ten years since we paused the movie and began a season of grieving. In time, that grief turned to conversion. And conversion awakened me to my calling.

I remembered how to run with grace.

I can hear my Jockey sometimes. He says, “Okay, let’s see what you’ve got.” And, like Tobey McGuire, He laughs then and throws back His head, shouting with joy. “You are an amazing creation!”

Like Seabiscuit, there is a sweet release in each one of us when we realize that we are being healed. We run faster than we ever believed we could. Isaiah says it best in chapter 61. I proclaim a year of favor from the Lord. This is your vindication by your God. He will give you the oil of gladness. . . a mantle instead of a faint spirit. . . the planting of the Lord to show his glory.

Okay, so let’s see what you’ve got. It’s time to remember who you are. Giddy-up.


Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Greatest Miracle: Corpus Christi

It is difficult to describe the joy and peace I sensed when I received the Most Blessed Sacrament for the first time--as one who is truly in union with Christ.
To be honest, I wondered if my overactive imagination was partly responsible for the profound experience I had when I knelt afterward, but each time, He has come again with that same deposit of peace. Each time, I recognize the Presence of Jesus Christ inside me and know that He is transforming and equipping me for service. I suppose there will be times in the next few decades when I do not sense Him so readily or feel anything profound, but I am comforted by the thought that He will come, regardless of my feelings, and bring to me precisely what I need every time I receive Him.
It saddens me when I consider my first forty years. I’ve “sat in on” many Catholic Masses through the years; I had no idea what I was missing. Without giving it much thought, I believed what those Catholics were doing was basically the same thing I did every time my Protestant church celebrated Communion. Not so. Protestant Communion was never efficacious for me; it never equipped me to live the life Christ marked out for me. While lovely and inspiring, it was merely symbolic.

Dear brother and sister in the Faith, do you know what you have in this Sacrament? Do you pause before receiving Our Lord and contemplate it all with wonder? If so, have you ever spoken about such things with a non-Catholic? Your evangelical friends are quick to ask you if you have asked the Lord to come into your heart. Have you ever asked them if they know what it is like for Him to come into the heart, the soul, the arms, the legs, and into one’s entire being? My friend, you have access to the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord.

Why not tell somebody?

Blessed Feast of the Body of Christ. Go to Mass this weekend and celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi.


Friday, June 8, 2012

Dear non-Catholic family

Dear non-Catholic family,

You know me very well. And I know you and love you dearly. We are close enough to know which side we each stand on the use of contraception and other topics like sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs. Our country has entered into a serious dialogue about whether or not the new healthcare law, which goes into effect in August of this year, should cover the very things we disagree on.

We can respectfully disagree on the use of these things. It is dangerous, however, to think that the HHS mandate is about contraception, sterilization and abortifacient drugs. It is the topic of the day, but the real danger is in ignoring what is set in motion with this mandate.

It is not about contraception. Contraception is inexpensive and readily available. It will continue to be so no matter what happens with this mandate. So, it is not about whether or not "your side wins" or "my side wins".

In fact, if the mandate stands, we lose. You lose too. Here's why.

I'm not going to try to convince you here that these things are immoral. There is a time and place for that discussion. In our home, around the dinner table - that is probably the best place for that talk.

I'm going to try to share with you the what-if that will affect your dad (step-dad) and me and indirectly you should the mandate fail to be overturned.

If the mandate stands, people like John and me will have to decide whether or not to follow our consciences. If we have the grace to stand in what we believe, we will probably have to "opt out" of the healthcare coverage. There is a fee for this. That fee will affect our bottom line. If there is no options available to us, there is a real possibility that we would be uninsured. Imagine what that could mean. How likely is it that John or I will have an illness that could destroy our financial security? You know us both. We are not overly healthy people. We are also not as young as we once were. One unforeseen thing, and there goes the house and the other assets.

This is something we would have to weigh. It doesn't just affect us. It would affect all of you as well.

If the mandate stands, Catholic institutions like my school might be in danger of closing. Any Catholic institution that throws open the doors to non-Catholics and serves non-Catholics as well as Catholics will be required to accept this mandate. Should Catholic institutions "opt out" the penalty fees are so high that they would have to close their doors. Imagine the Catholic hospitals and schools you know that would simply have to close. Imagine what that might mean for every person living in this country. Imagine what it might mean to you - if I can no longer teach at my school - or any Catholic school.

That would most certainly affect us financially. Anything that affects us financially also affects you and your little sister.

It's not about contraception. Your friends can still get it easily and cheaply. You are probably more aware of that reality than I am. It is about something more. Are people like John and me free to follow our consciences or not? How will we be punished for our "civil disobedience?"

The stakes are higher than you think.

Just so you know, it's not about the money to us. But it will affect us there as well. We know that. Now, you do as well.

Mom and John (Dad)


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Introducing "A Contemplative Vocation" from Catholic Seekers

Meet my friend, my spiritual mentor, my sister in Christ. Mary Beth Kremski. She has walked with me in the Faith since my conversion in 2005. I promise you... you will grow in grace and wisdom as you follow her blogs. [Click on the picture]