Sunday, December 22, 2013

Catholics and the song "Mary, Did You Know"

Today, a woman on Twitter posted that she knows a lot of Evangelicals, and they all love the song Mary, Did You Know.

Then, she said that most Catholics – herself included – loathe the song.

A few years back, our entire family attended an Amy Grant Christmas concert. Some priests were seated beside us. When Amy sang Mary, Did You Know, one priest wept silently. My twenty-something daughter still talks about how much love she saw in that priest.

Back then, nobody in the family was Catholic. Not even me.

So when I saw the Tweet today, it kind of surprised me. I suppose the woman's loathing is because the song's fundamental question has to do with whether or not Mary was oblivious to the full reality of the One within her womb. How much did she know about the One she bore, the One she held, the One she nursed?

As Catholics, our sense of wonder goes deeper. It goes to the heart of Mary’s yes.  Mary is God’s most perfect creation, and she has given us a Savior.

She wasn’t stewing over whether Jesus would be able to walk on water or heal a blind man. She was marveling at the power of God. As Catholics, we enter into that moment so deeply that a songwriter’s words can’t contain it.

Only Mary’s own words, her own song – the Magnificat – will suffice.

But what I loved about the priest at that Amy Grant concert is that he didn’t loathe an Evangelical’s rendering of Mary. He didn’t critique Mark Lowry's lyrics, though the priest's understanding of Mary went far deeper than the song ever could. When he thought of Mary, he thought of the Immaculate Conception, the Mother of God, the perfect creation, Our Lady of Grace.

And he wept as he listened. Someone was singing about his greatest love – the miracle at Bethlehem. A virgin and the Son of God.

The priest knew that God places questions in our hearts.

The simple questions, like Mary did you know . . .

The profound questions, like Mary are you the Immaculate Conception?

The deep, troubling questions.

The questions-that-shake-the soul.

And all the questions are answered right here – where a woman’s fiat to God ushers in the greatest gift. For unto us, a Son is born.

She is the sign. She is the one we read about today at Mass. The priest at the Amy Grant concert fully understood who Mary is. He also understood that most evangelization begins with a question – and the evangelizing bears fruit when we welcome the question and respond—not with loathing because we have it all figured out, but when we respond with love.

Perhaps even with tears.

With wonder and awe.

What did Mary know? I think she knew a lot – far more than we can imagine. But the one thing that matters most is not what she knew.

It’s what she did.

Let it be done unto me according to your word – for I am the handmaid of the Lord. All generations will call me blessed – for the Almighty has done great things for me.

And holy is His name.

Let us lose the arrogance. Yes, we know Mary in a way Evangelicals do not. What matters is not how much more we know. What matters is how much we love. How much we share. We must become like that priest. Our love must fill us and spill over.

We let that transform us until the tears run down our cheeks – and the people sitting in our row begin to grasp something more.

We have been given a sign. There is enough for everyone to contemplate. And that is something we should encourage.

“The Lord himself, therefore,
will give you a sign.

It is this: the maiden is with child
and will soon give birth to a son
whom she will call Immanuel,
a name which means “God-is-with-us.” – Isaiah 7:14
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Monday, December 9, 2013

Both the resume and the pedigree would have to resemble Christ - and they do.


I've spent a lot of time thinking about why I'm Catholic. My shortest answer is simply that it is a
St. John Lateran, Rome -Consecrated in 324 A.D
result of grace moving in my life (hence the name of my column, podcasts and blog).

But I haven't spent much time thinking (or writing) about the reason why most serious fundamentalists and evangelicals are NOT Catholic--
 --and why they do not even consider it a viable option or even a possible choice among many choices.
 It comes down to this. The Catholic Church does not see herself as a possible choice among many choices. The fact that the Church states that She is the Church Christ founded makes most (if not all) evangelicals dismiss her completely.
It sounds too much like a cult.
Cults believe they are the Church. The Way. Chosen. Established by God Himself.
So, Catholicism is lumped in with the groups that make this claim. You say that you are the Church Jesus Christ founded. Enough said. I'm out of here.
There is a problem with that generalization. What if there really is a Church that was founded by Jesus?
She would have to be present from the moment of Pentecost forward. She would have weathered the gates of hell and still be standing. She would have to be able to point to a line of holy people that were made holy while in the embrace of this Church. She would have to have a message that touches hearts of people in every culture and time. She would have to transcend time, politics, history, culture, trends, whims, and the theoretical. She would have to be able to set up shop in Calcutta, India and be as valid there as she is in Des Moines, Iowa or New York City or La Paz, Bolivia.
She would have to have a resume.
She would have to have a pedigree.
Both the resume and the pedigree would have to resemble Christ.
History would have to affirm her claim and Christ would have to be present there. Really and truly.
One, holy, catholic, apostolic.
There is only one antidote to the fear that says, "You can't say that! You can't say that you are the Church! Come on. You're sounding like a cult now."
The only antidote to that kind of fear is Jesus Christ Himself.
He is here.
His Body is here, for you.
His Blood is here, poured out for you.
The same Christ.
A perfect love.
And perfect love casts out fear.
Yes, it is a radical claim. It is an absurd claim - unless it is true. John 6. It's true.
Come home. He's waiting for you. In the Eucharist.

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Sunday, December 8, 2013

Advent is a polite guest.

I have dipped my toes in the chaos of the Christmas-before-Advent scene. I’ve been to the mall once.

I’ve landed on radio stations that play Christmas music around the clock – and quickly popped in my Rosary CD to escape the noise. I’ve seen enough of commercialized Christmas even though I have actively avoided it this year.

Advent is the only antidote.

But Advent only comes to those who know how to get quiet. It hides from those who have to hurry. It will never be found in the crowded places and packed spaces of shopping aisles and city crosswalks.

Advent waits to be invited to your December. It will not show up on its own. It is a polite guest. It will not crash your party.

Christmas-without-Advent is a fake. An imposter. We all know it.

The Christmas we all need – the one we long for – the one we can imagine so clearly . . . it only comes to those who walk alongside Mary.

In the quiet.

Away from the crowds.

Where Sacred Scripture comes alive and holiness is real.

It’s no mirage – this Advent journey. It’s necessary. It’s the way to Christmas. The only road to Bethlehem.

The journey that leads to Christ.
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Monday, December 2, 2013

December 2013 Catholic by Grace Column


My due date was the 26th of December, but by Christmas Eve 1985, I was ready to be done with it.

I stretched out on the bed and reluctantly prepared for another night of leg cramps and propped pillows. The Christmas presents were wrapped and ready. The Christmas cookies decorated. The overnight hospital bag was packed and waiting in the corner. My sister had arrived and was ready to look after my daughter.

Still, nothing happened.

The first pain hit at 9:30 PM. I knew immediately that I had skipped early labor and entered active labor. At the hospital, the nurse called it precipitate delivery. There would be no time for pain medicine. I was disappointed, but at least something was happening. I wouldn’t be pregnant forever.

I looked at the clock and wondered if our baby’s birthday would be Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

Then the nurse checked the heartbeat and the questions about pain medicine and possible arrival time turned into terrible silence.

Something was wrong. The nurse wasn’t smiling. She just kept moving the obstetrical stethoscope from one spot to another.

“I’m having trouble finding the heartbeat.” After a few more attempts, she muttered something about getting the doctor, and I was left alone in the small examination room

The wait was excruciating. I knew what labor was like. I’d been through it two years earlier. I couldn’t imagine giving birth while overcome by grief.

Sometimes, waiting is like a game. It’s fun. Exciting.

Sometimes, waiting is a chore. It’s demanding. Requires effort.

Sometimes, waiting is agonizing. Terrifying. Earth-shattering.

This pregnancy had been all of these.

Before I became Catholic, every day between Halloween and December 25th was Christmas, not Advent. I focused on making sure the food was ready, the cards were sent, and the presents were wrapped. I prepared the house for Christmas, but I did not stop to think about how to prepare myself for Christmas.

Bottom line, I did not know how to wait.

As Catholics, we know that Advent is about waiting. Preparing. Journeying with Israel through Salvation History. A man grows into a family. Twelve sons become twelve tribes. The tribes become a nation. Prophets, judges and kings lead them. Everything presses on to one great event.

A young woman steps into the center of all things and says yes to the most incredible proposition of all time. God has chosen you, Mary. And all creation waits for an answer.

As that final week of Advent arrives, we see clearly. This is more than a journey through time. This is a journey to a person.

To the God-man. Messiah. Mary’s child.  God’s own Son.

At times, the wait was exciting. Seas parted. Angels visited. Walls tumbled. A donkey talked.

At times, the wait was difficult. Brothers argued. Kings failed. Generations were exiled.

At times, the wait was terrifying. People died. Nations fought. God was silent.

And then, He spoke.

With one word, the waiting was over. Unto us a child is born. Unto us a son is given. And upon his shoulders, dominion rests. (Isaiah 9:6).

Advent quietly passes. A baby cries. The wait is over.

On Christmas Eve 1985, a doctor stepped into the examination room and heard a heartbeat. My son was born at 11:53 PM. The wait was over.

Every year, we pass through Advent and enter Christmas. The changing liturgical seasons are always fresh and new, like it is all happening right now – the waiting, the expectation, the fulfillment. And so it is.

 

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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Advent - and an epiphany with a lowercase e

Advent has begun.

During morning prayers, I thought of something that has never dawned on me before.

I was raised in a Christian home, so I suppose I have always known that my heart must be open to receive the Lord. I must say there is room in my life, my heart, my thoughts, my work, my play and my all for you, O Lord.

And then I saw Mary and Joseph in my mind, rushing toward the stable, for there was no room for them in the inn. Hurrying, for labor had begun. It was time for Mary to deliver God’s Son.

And there was room in the stable, not only for Jesus Christ to be born, but for Mary, and Joseph, and shepherds, and a little later, the Magi. There was room for animals and starlight and rejoicing. For heavy labor. For quiet rest.

And it must be this way in our lives, our hearts, our thoughts.

We must make room for Jesus – and also for Mary, and Joseph, and the Saints, and the shepherds who are the poor among us, and the Magi who are the rich. Those who come from places near to us – and places we will never see.

We must have room for the animals – room in our hearts like St. Francis had.

We must stand in the starlight of that celestial proclamation.

We must let all of this come into our lives, in times of rejoicing, or labor, or quiet rest.

Let us begin Advent, with open hearts and minds and lives.

Come, let us prepare and be ready to receive. Let our lives become humble stables welcoming all in the name of Christ.

It has begun.
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Mary's Touch Interview with Denise Bossert: Listen December 6th, 7th, and 8th


The weekend of December 6th is the air date of my interview with Mary’s Touch. They will be receiving the download by noon on December 6th.

Join Cheri Lomonte and me--


Airs on Radio Maria - http://radiomaria.us/

Click on LISTEN LIVE button (and note the times are listed for Central Time)

Wednesday 1:00 PM (Central time)
Sunday 9:00 AM (Central time)

 


Click on LISTEN Online button  and then click where it says Click below to listen online!/ via Computer(and note times are listed for Central Time)

KEDC 88.5
College Station, TX
Saturday 3:30 PM (Central time)
Sunday   8:30 PM (Central time)

 

Guadalupe Radio Network - http://grnonline.com/

On the right hand column, click on one of these two stations under LISTEN LIVE heading or simply click on the link below and go directly to the online radio link:


KJMA - South Texas
Sunday 5:30 PM (Central time)


Indianapolis, IN

Click on LISTEN ONLINE and then click LISTEN LIVE
Saturday & Sunday 11:30 AM (Eastern time)

 

St. Gabriel Radio - http://stgabrielradio.com/

Click on blue LISTEN NOW button at top of website

Sunday 1:30 PM (Eastern time)

  


Click on LISTEN NOW button (and note the times are listed for Central Time)
"Bridging the gap between Faith and everyday life!"

Sunday 7:00 AM (Central time)
Sunday 8:30 PM (Central time)

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Friday, November 15, 2013

That Famous Quote by Schindler & the Words of Jesus that Haunt Me

Oskar Schindler’s quote in the 1993 film Schindler’s List haunts me.

I didn’t do enough.

It haunts me, like the story of the rich man who wanted to know what he must do to be saved, and Jesus put it simply. Sell what you have and give it to the poor.

It haunts me, like the words of Jesus when He said, depart from me for I did not know you.

It haunts me, because I am an American. Comfortably middle class, though not always so. I have plenty. A custom house on four acres. Two vehicles that are over five years old, but paid for. A Dooney & Bourke purse my husband gave me one Christmas. A laptop – my third, or is it my fourth? I have a really warm Eddie Bauer winter coat. It would keep me warm anywhere, except the Arctic Circle. I have clothes in three sizes – just because I have the luxury of eating too much, and I do it far too often. I have a pair of J.Jill boots that I love – with these neat buckles that run up the back of the leg. I have books – so many books – and I can order more any time I want. A Kindle and an Amazon membership make it crazy-easy to keep a constant flow of books coming into my life.

Then, there is a tragedy like the one in the Philippines. Our Archbishop and priest ask us to be generous. I’m not even sure what that would look like. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t mean I should drop a five in the offering plate.

Not when I have been given so much. Not when I am fully capable of giving more. Yes, it haunts me.

At the end of this life, I wonder if I will be mumbling Schindler’s line. I didn’t do enough.

I wonder even more what the Lord will say.

Here’s the thing. What He says is not set in stone – yet. Today is the day for me to go and reach into my treasure chest – which is really His anyway – and pull up a gift worthy of a King.

It is about the people in the Philippines.

But it is also about Jesus Christ.

It haunts me, because I do not want to hear Him say, depart from me.

I long to hear Him say the words that are full of life and love. What you did, you did for me. Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into your rest.

Yes. That is what I long to hear.

And today is the day of decision.
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Friday, November 8, 2013

Book Contract, Author Status, and Life as a Catholic Writer


I have wanted to be a writer since I was in 9th grade. That’s when Mr. Canterbury made us write short stories and read them to the class. I shook. I found it hard to swallow. But I fell in love with writing and sharing my words with others. I realized not everyone feels that way about writing when Val asked me to be her ghost writer the next time Mr. Canterbury gave us a short story assignment. I declined the offer, but Val affirmed something that needed some affirmation. I was born to write, and I was pretty good at it.

I was fourteen.

Now, I’m forty-nine.

It was a long time coming, but I have a book contract. I can finally say I’m an author, although it feels a lot like saying I’m a columnist – a title that was far easier to obtain. The sky doesn't turn to rainbows when I say it. I don't hear music swell. There is no drumroll. I am a columnist. And now, I am an author.

You think everything will change when you have a contract. Literary agent Rachel Gardner sums it up well here.http://www.rachellegardner.com/2013/11/when-you-sign-a-book-deal/

Perhaps the greatest change is that there is a sense of justification when I sit at the computer. I always felt like I should be cleaning or running errands. I still feel those things calling, but it’s easier to keep writing. I am an author after all. We authors sit at the computer. It's what we do.

But the house still needs to be cleaned. The errands must still be run. So, I’m still me.

The best part about being a Catholic author is that I have friends in high places, and like the writer to the Hebrews says, they are a great cloud of witness. They cheer me on. They pull me through days of writer’s block and hold my hand when I feel the rush of adrenaline that comes with radio spots.

And Mary has become my greatest advocate as a writer. She keeps me little. She wraps me in her mantle. She shares her story. And I listen.

This is what I was born to do. When everything falls away and it’s just Mary talking to my soul, I know that I know that I know – this is what I was born to do.

The road to publication is long. Books don’t pop up on Amazon the second you sign a contract. But even then, Mary yields grace. This is the best part. The waiting. Waiting with her.

It’s like being in Advent for a year. Not a bad place to be.

Pray for me.

Pray that I will glorify Jesus Christ.

Pray that the Blessed Mother will become vivid – profoundly real and accessible – to readers.

Pray that I will let Jesus and Mary take center stage. All for Jesus through Mary.

Yes, that is the correct posture. And it feels amazing – as it always does when one knows this is what I was born to do. And this is how I was meant to do it.

 

 

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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Life on Crane Creek


Crane Creek was the rambling stream that ran behind our house in the heat of summer. It was the swelling water that rushed mightily in the spring and flooded the basements in Saratoga, except ours – thanks to the sump pump the board of trustees included in the building plan of the new parsonage (think Protestant rectory).

Crane Creek was the frozen play land where I first learned to keep my ankles firm when they wanted to twist and buckle in my new white ice skates. The creek where some guy veered off the road one night and drove down the embankment and right out on the ice. And we all marveled that he didn’t fall through and drown.

That creek ran beside the park where I slid down a splintery slide and tore an eight-inch hole in my favorite jeans – back when I was still young enough to climb the slide but old enough to care about favorite jeans.

It’s where my sister, brother and I cut grass and made pocket change so that we could pay for pool admission at the local KOA.

Crane Creek. It’s where my brother caught blue gill too small to eat, and I became an Iowa girl always and forever.

It’s where I took a walk with my prom date one night and realized how much I didn’t want to move to my father’s new pastorate. I wanted to stay there, by the creek, and near friends, and marry and have babies who grew up to skate and slide and fish right there.

Place matters.

It forms us. Never leaves us. Like the Church, where our fingers dip, where we were washed and freed from every stain. Where we return every Lent and remember. Reclaim. Renew.

It stays with us, not only as long as the brain cells function and synapses work without fail.

It’s there always. If we will it.

A water that captures us and captivates us. And never lets go.

Water strong enough to hold us, even when we crash into it like the driver on a cold January night. Yes, even then it saves us. Protects us. Bears us up.

It’s always there, even if we travel miles, take up residence in another state, stop skating, stop remembering.

It doesn’t forget, but waits for us to remember.

And we make the long drive home again and claim our heritage.

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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

G-Shocks, Storybooks, Mrs. Beasley, and Evel Knievel

http://denisebossert.com/2013/11/05/g-shocks-storybooks-mrs-beasely-dolls-and-evel-knievel/

New post at denisebossert.com on what makes us feel nostalgic - and why that underscores the passage from Proverbs exhorting us to raise up children in the faith - http://denisebossert.com/2013/11/05/g-shocks-storybooks-mrs-beasely-dolls-and-evel-knievel/
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Monday, November 4, 2013

November 2013 Catholic by Grace Column


We are called to witness. Every baptized Catholic must share the Gospel message with others. Yes, even those who are afraid of public speaking are called to bear witness to the joy of living a life for Christ.

Before you dismiss the Great Commission, before you tell yourself that the mandate to give witness to the faith is only for those who like to stand up in public and hold a microphone, you need to know something.

We are all afraid of public speaking.

Some mornings, I am a lector at daily Mass. As I step up to the ambo, I feel the fear once again. It always comes. It has a voice. It tells me that I am going to lose my place or trip or get a frog in my throat that won't go away or have a clothing malfunction. I'll sit down in a few minutes and realize that the tag is sticking out of my shirt or I forgot to zip up my pants or my shirt is tucked in on one side and not the other or...

You get the idea.

I am afraid.

Every time I get up to speak, I bow before the altar, and I give it all to Jesus. My weakness. My horrible insecurities. My mind games.

I hesitated to admit that I have these fears, but then I changed my mind. Here's why:

If there is any chance that you have exempted yourself from sharing the Good News because you don't feel comfortable speaking up in a crowd or talking about the faith with others, then you need to know that you are exactly like the ones who do it. The only difference is that you don't do it, and they do.

The fear is exactly the same. It doesn’t mean you have to be a lector. It does mean that you have to be a public witness. The Church is full of wall flowers. Too many of us find a comfortable corner, and that’s where we sit.

St. Paul was no wall flower. His motto was: “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:16). Wait, you say. He was an apostle. That message is for the clergy, not for regular people like me.

In the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi Pope Paul VI clearly states that it is “the whole Church that receives the mission to evangelize, and the work of each individual member is important for the whole. . .” (7) He continues: “Evangelizing is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists in order to evangelize . . . (14)

The Synod of Bishops underscores the words of Pope Paul VI when they assert:  “Loving one's faith implies bearing witness to it, bringing it to others and allowing others to participate in it. The lack of missionary zeal is a lack of zeal for the faith.” (XIII Ordinary General Assembly, The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith 10).

If you love the faith you have received, you must bear witness to it.

So let your knees wobble. Let your words get all jumbled up. Fumble for your glasses. Trip on the first step. But offer all of it to the Lamb Who Was Slain. This is where grace shows up. This is where conversion begins. It is where conversion has always begun—through the word of one who is willing to open his mouth and proclaim the Good News to anyone who will listen.

Do it for love of Christ; do it for love of Mother Church. After all, Perfect love casts out fear (I John 4:18).

 

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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Ender's Game: Reading the book, watching the movie, and imagining eternity


A movie is never as good as the book.

Ever.

We saw the movie Ender’s Game today. We had all read the book – which was phenomenal. So we were pretty sure the movie would stink. It wasn’t bad. Not bad at all.http://denisebossert.com/wp-includes/js/tinymce/plugins/wordpress/img/trans.gif
 
Ender was good. Bean was adorable. The adults were the weakest part, but the kids carried the roles well. And that’s not easy to do. The film adaptation of a book almost never holds up to one’s imagination. You go into a movie with a character in your head, and you walk out of the movie with your own perfect image obliterated. Never again will you be able to drum up the image in your mind, no matter how hard you try.

Poof. Gone. From now on Colonel Graff will be Hans Solo. Bonzo Madrid will be that little cheeky kid from Hannah Montana. And Mazer Rackham will be Gandhi.

Not so with God. You read the Bible. You go to Mass. You pray. But you have only begun to imagine what eternity will be like.

Our eyes have not seen. . .

Our ears have not heard. . .

Our imaginations cannot conceive. . .

. . .  what God has waiting for those who love Him (I Corinthians 2:9).

The finite cannot grasp the infinite. It cannot even come close. The faithful will not be disappointed because the human mind can never ascend to such divine heights - no matter how brilliant we are - no matter how creative. Our only hope and safeguard against really getting it wrong (and having our finite minds totally fall into heresy) is to stick close to Mother Church. The Holy Spirit leads her into truth. Always has. Always will. (John 16:13 & Matthew 16:18).

The Church is – and always will be – the pillar and bulwark of truth (I Timothy 3:15).

She possesses the author – or rather, the Author of life possesses her. She alone has the fullness of faith, for Christ has given His Body to her.

So, go ahead and imagine eternity. If you remain grounded in the faith that has been passed down to you (2 Thessalonians 2:15), you will live to see what God has waiting for those who love Him.

And you will not be disappointed.

 

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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Reformation Day through the eyes of a Roman Catholic Preacher's Kid

I didn't realize that today is Reformation Day - until someone posted it on Facebook. It was a celebratory post. Happy Reformation Day!

And the one who posted it is a relative of mine.

Martin Luther

Reformation Day marks the Protestant Reformation. It honors the men who walked away from the Catholic Church and began creating denominations.

I come from a Protestant family. Dad was a preacher. I don't remember celebrating Reformation Day, and I didn't even realize it existed until I became Catholic.

When I first heard about it, I was sad. Really? We think it's fun to celebrate this greatest of divisions? We delight in the fact that so many have gone a different way and left the Sacraments behind - the Eucharist behind?

In my dad's second pastorate, there were some high school boys. When the adults weren't looking,
they would thump us on the head - really hard - with their knuckles. They would glom onto our toys and mistreat them. Sometimes, they would break them.

And we would blink back tears.

That's how it feels to read celebratory posts about Reformation Day.

It stings. It's like being hurt by kids who don't really understand how it feels. Kids who can move on to other things in a few minutes and not realize you are still stinging from their pranks. It's like having our toys used and abused.

Okay, I'm going to blink back the tears and move on now. It's All Hallows Eve. Time for Mass. Time to prepare to celebrate what really matters!

We have brothers and sisters who went before us and overcame. It is time to remember what matters. Holiness is possible. Jesus really does save. Saints are praying.

Thanks be to God!

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Praying With Mary


There’s just nothing fun about a colonoscopy. Not. One. Thing.

This time, I had a sinus infection that peaked on the day I drank the tanker of Gatorade-Miralax mix.

I should be ultra-thankful for modern medicine that keeps me well – but when you’re in the middle of gagging down lemon-lime ackiness and running to the bathroom, it’s hard to drum up gratitude.

So, yesterday, I kept returning to my Catholic faith. Offer it up, Denise. Just offer it up.

It didn’t make me feel better, but it did make me feel useful.

Recently, I renewed my consecration to Jesus-through-Mary. I read 33 Days to Morning Glory, and I was struck by something that had escaped me in the five-plus years since I made my first consecration.

To be truly consecrated to the Blessed Mother, we must be willing to take her petitions as our own. I no longer have jurisdiction over my prayers.

That was a hard thing to accept. I thought I was all-in with this consecration thing. Suddenly, I realized I was not as far along as I had thought.

I have prayed a lot over the years.

But I always had my list of petitions, and that list of petitions was (usually) limited to my family members. They got all of my attention – and I liked it that way.

Now, I realized, Mary wanted me to take on her intentions. She wanted me to trust that she would know what to do with my family – that they wouldn’t be lost if I completely gave over control to Mary. Her mantle was big enough to cover every petition.

She simply wanted me to trust her. To care about what she cares about.

Now . . . I have prayed the Rosary many times. And from my first days as a new convert, I dedicated each decade to one of the other five members in my family. Things were about to change. I had to pray that Rosary with as much fervor as before – but now, it must be for Mary’s intentions. Could I do it? As a mom and grandma, that's a tall order. I want to pray for those who are closest to me.

I remember the first time I tried to pray for the things that Mary has in her Immaculate Heart, deliberately setting aside my family's needs. I was amazed by what happened next.

The beautiful thing happened – that thing that used to happen in those early days of conversion - that thing that doesn't happen quite as often any more – that contemplative communion that St. Teresa of Avila describes. Consolation upon consolation. Joy. Holiness. Rapture. I was in the presence of God.

And I heard God speak to my heart.

That day, a mom had a special prayer intention that she shared through social media. It was for her son.

I don’t know very much about the situation. I had no idea what to pray for – specifically.

Until, God spoke. The boy came to my mind, and I knew how to pray.

And it felt amazing – a true communion with the Saints – and especially with Mary. There was a boy who had some old hurts, and he was working through them. God was healing old hurts.

So, what does all of this have to do with a sinus headache and a colonoscopy? Well, there wasn’t any great contemplative prayer going on yesterday. I spent most of my time feeling awful – but I offered it up.

Last night, late, long after I had swallowed my last mouthful of lemon-lime mixer, I saw a post on Facebook. Another mother needed prayers. Her preemie was back in the hospital - fighting off an illness – and his life was hanging in the balance. I suspected that this was Mary's intention. And it became my intention as well. I offered the day for a baby I will never meet. For a mother I will never know. For Mary's intentions.

This morning, while the fog of outpatient anesthesia was wearing off, I clicked on Facebook and read that the little boy made it through the night. Thanks be to God.

I’m learning to take Mary’s petitions and make them my own. I am still learning.

But it is good and sweet and a very beautiful gift we have – and it is ours to give. Through Mary, I offer all my works, prayers, joys, and sufferings, all that this day may bring. For Jesus.

All for Jesus through Mary.

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

White Glove Test

I have always had a lived-in house. No spic-and-span for me. No white-glove test on the window sills.
.

I have tried the daily list. Vacuuming everything on Mondays. Washing clothes Tuesdays and Fridays. Bathrooms on Wednesdays and dusting on Thursdays.

I rarely have a clean house - a totally clean house, that is. My children were always the kids who asked, "is someone coming" when I managed to get the house in order.

That is okay for houses.

But that is not okay for souls.

We shouldn't wait for mortal sin to send us to the confessional - like I wait to see the dust accumulate before dusting or my feet to stick to the floor before mopping.

We are meant to be holy - as He is holy. To be perfect - as our Heavenly Father is perfect.

And that cannot happen if we fail to put our souls in order.

Our souls were never meant to settle for the world's lived-in standard.

If you come to my house, the floors may be sticky because the grandsons came for a visit. If you sit at the piano to play me a song, you may find that the keys are dusty and the Mozart statue on the upright piano is dusty, too. The fireplace may still have ashes from the previous winter's final hurrah.

But there is one thing I want clean - one thing I will not leave a mess.

My soul has either just been made clean through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Blood of the Lamb - or there is a little notebook in the bottom of my purse that keeps track of what needs to be cleaned. It goes with me into the Confessional where the Lord has washed away some complicated heaps of trash. We are now working on the corners and crevices where dirt likes to hide.

I am not perfect. But that is my goal.

I am not yet holy. But that is my desire.

When I die, the house may be left a bit of a mess, but I pray my soul is ready to entertain the King of kings.

If not, bring on purgatory.
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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Everyone really is fighting a battle.

One of the more popular quotes on Pinterest today goes something like this: "Be kind - everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about."

Who knows where the quote originated. According to Wikipedia, it was first coined by a Scottish writer and minister by the name of Ian Maclaren who died from a bad case of tonsillitis while visiting the U.S. The illness overcame him, and he took his last breath in Mount Pleasant, Iowa.

Iowa. My home state. I am quite familiar with good ole' Highway 218 which used to cut right through Mount Pleasant. Now, it bypasses the little Iowa town and is known as The Avenue of Saints.

But I digress.

I thought about the quote yesterday as I had breakfast with my daughter at Panera. Those of us who live in the Greater STL area know the eating establishment as The St. Louis Bread Company. Home of great bagels and coffee.

A middle-aged woman sat at a nearby table - a newspaper spread from one end of the tabletop to the other. She hopped up to get another bagel or cup of coffee, and turned around to look back at her table. I glanced up when I heard her snapping her fingers like a mother might do to reprimand her child.

"What are you doing? That's MY table! I'm still sitting there." She was livid.

A grown man looked up and mumbled something about not realizing she was coming back. He slinked back to his table and waited for his friend to join him. An older man finished filling his cup and took the seat beside the newspaper-thief.

They began chatting.

My fourteen-year-old daughter whispered, "Awkward," and spread more cream cheese on her asiago bagel.

When the woman returned to her table, the would-be thief attempted to apologize once more. But the woman was still miffed, making reconciliation impossible.

"Couldn't you tell I was still sitting here? My glasses are here. My plate. My purse. Seriously, couldn't you tell I was coming back?" She pointed at each personal possession as she named it, and then nailed him with a look over her reading glasses that declared him to be either an idiot or a -- well, since this is a Catholic blog, I won't write that word here.

The man abandoned the apology and went back to his conversation with the older man and the woman returned to reading her newspaper.

By now, I am in full-people-watch mode.

Within minutes, the man's story took shape. He thanked his friend for meeting him. Asked him if he had any leads on jobs. Anything. I'll do almost anything. My dad has helped us out a lot financially. Really, everything is going well. My wife is even doing better.

Over the course of the conversation, I pieced together that the man's wife had been ill - quite ill - due to some unfortunate health problem that was left unsaid.

Actually, everything would be just great, if I could get a job. It's been almost a year.

And that's when I began to wonder. The newspaper thief seemed to be at least middle class. He wore a suit coat. Had well-groomed hair. Was clean-shaven. Wore glasses that made him look almost handsome. But he wasn't eating or drinking anything.

Could it be that the man was simply looking for the help wanted pages? Was he pinching pennies out of necessity and not because he was some arrogant *&^&)*^$?

Is it possible that the woman just didn't realize that the trespasser was dealing with some really tough stuff, and all he wanted was a couple of pages from her paper.

I thought about their conversation. How she had ended it by saying there are more papers right over there if you want to buy one for yourself.

She had been indignant at that point. The man didn't get up from his chair then. He didn't go buy a paper. He just thanked her. And kept waiting for his friend.

I felt convicted. How would I have responded if I had been the woman? Would I have been angry. Would I have snapped my fingers at the man? No. I don't like to draw attention to myself like that. But I definitely would have been irritated by a man who violated my personal space the second I stood up and walked away from my table.

Everyone really is fighting a battle. Everyone. And I wouldn't have realized it any better than the woman with the angry snapping fingers.

Unemployment. A spouse with health issues. God knows what else.

How difficult would it have been for the woman to ask the newspaper-thief if he was looking for something in particular? If I'm not reading it, you are welcome to it.

That wouldn't have been so hard. Not hard at all.

So, a Scotsman who died in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, might have left us the key to peace and justice and charity.

Everyone really is fighting a battle you know nothing about.

Be kind. Share the love of Christ with all people.
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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Denise will be on the Son Rise Morning Show

Denise will join the Son Rise Morning Show Tuesday (10/22/13) at 7:45 ET.



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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Check Out the New Website: denisebossert.com

The new website is up and running! http://denisebossert.com/

You can still find Denise at:








































and now... on her new website: http://denisebossert.com/
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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Mary and the New Evangelization

Image from The Catholic Company - Facebook Page
Today, Pope Francis consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

If you have followed my blog, you know that I once struggled with Church teaching on the Immaculate Conception - and you know that, today, I am consecrated fully to Mary.

Like so many others, I have come to know Mary as a tender and merciful mother. In 2007, I went through St. Louis de Montfort's Consecration to Jesus Through Mary.

I have a heart for evangelization. Maybe you do as well. Just as there is no quicker and easier path to holiness than through Mary, there is no quicker and smoother path to evangelizing the world than through the Immaculate Conception.

In 33 Days to Morning Glory, Fr. Michael E. Gaitley, MIC, explains that the goal of St. Maximilian Kolbe's Militia Immaculata "was nothing less than to bring the whole world to God through Christ under the generalship of Mary Immaculate" (50).

She is Judith. She is Deborah. She is Queen Esther. But Mary's goal is not just the salvation of a few. It is not limited to the salvation of one nation.

If you have a heart for evangelization, you need to know something. Mary's heart for evangelization is bigger and wider than you can possibly imagine. Her Immaculate Heart is fixed on one thing: "The Conversion of the entire world" (60 Gaitley).

That is why Pope Francis has consecrated the world to her Immaculate Heart.

She is not looking for an army whose end is found in serving her. She is building an army who will follow her in battle - to bring a lost world to Christ.

For Mary, it is always about Christ.

Who is she that comes forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in battle array?

Confer, O Lord, on us, who serve beneath the standard of Mary, that fullness of faith in You and trust in her, to which it is given to conquer the world. Grant us a lively faith, animated by charity, which will enable us to perform all our actions from the motive of pure love of You, and ever to see You and serve You in our neighbor; a faith, firm and immovable as a rock, through which we shall rest tranquil and steadfast amid the crosses, toils and disappointments of life; a courageous faith which will inspire us to undertake and carry out without hesitation great things for your glory and for the salvation of souls; a faith which will be our Legion's Pillar of Fire - to lead us forth united - to kindle everywhere the fires of divine love - to enlighten those who are in darkness and in the shadow of death - to inflame those who are lukewarm - to bring back life to those who are dead in sin; and which will guide our own feet in the way of peace; so that - the battle of life over - our Legion may reassemble, without the loss of any one, in the kingdom of Your love and glory. Amen.

(prayers take from Legion of Mary)


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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Praying the Rosary With a Child's Heart by Pope John Paul I (1978)

"To be, for a half hour at least, before God as I am in reality, with all my misery and with the best of myself; to let rise to the surface from the depths of my being the child I once was, who wants to laugh, to chatter, to love the Lord and who sometimes feels the need to cry so that he may be shown mercy, helps me to pray. The rosary, a simple and easy prayer, helps me to be a child and I am not ashamed at all." -Pope John Paul I (1978) who reigned for 33 days.
 


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Monday, October 7, 2013

World Mission Sunday Is Coming!


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Friday, October 4, 2013

September 2012 Catholic by Grace Column


Dad tried to convince me to become a Presbyterian minister. Presbyterians had embraced women’s ordination. My father could think of nothing that would make him prouder than for one of his children to follow in his footsteps and become a Protestant preacher. My sister was more interested in science and math than theology and philosophy, so Dad targeted me.

I laughed, and said, “No way. I see what you go through. Every parishioner is a critic. You have as many bosses as you have members on the parish roster. And many of them criticize you behind your back!”

It was sad, but true.

I still don’t like gossip, and as a Catholic convert, I am particularly uneasy when I hear someone talking about a priest.

Old Testament David would not be amused.

I remember sitting on my grandma’s lap as she read the story of young David and King Saul from a children’s Bible. When David stumbles upon King Saul in a cave, he knows this is his one chance to end the deadly cat-and-mouse game that King Saul started. But David merely cuts a square from Saul’s garment and walks away – to prove to Saul that David is his trusted servant.

“I will not raise my hand to God’s anointed one.” It was David’s motto, and it should be ours as well.

Most of us would walk away from revenge. But how often do we use our tongues as a weapon? A weapon against a family member. A colleague. And even one’s own priest.

Words are powerful. They kill friendships and wound marriages. They turn neighbors into enemies. They can make a person resign or stop going home for the holidays.

But I think the greatest damage the tongue can do is in a parish.

When I was about five years old, I learned a song in Bible school. “Oh be careful little mouth what you say. For the Father up above is looking down in love. So be careful little mouth what you say.”

It is a lesson I need to learn.

As much as I hate gossip, I find it difficult to walk away when others dabble in it. All too often, I have remained silent or even participated in the conversation when I should have come to the defense of another. When two people gossip, the “weak and defenseless one” is the one who is not even present to refute the accusations. He is the one that I am charged with defending!

Father, forgive me.

Sins such as these affect the Body of Christ. Each one of us is made in the likeness of Christ. Our fellow Catholics have been anointed with Holy Chrism. And so, we are called to remember David’s motto. “I will not raise my hand to God’s anointed one.”

Sometimes, that means coming to the defense of the one who isn’t even present to make a defense.

And sometimes, the hand we must not raise is actually a mouth that should not speak.

In his homily at a morning Mass on April 9, 2013, Pope Francis exhorted the faithful to remain meek and refuse to speak ill of others. Meekness has “many enemies,” he said, explaining that gossip is the first enemy of meekness. The Holy Father wants us to put aside a gossiping tongue and a critical spirit. "When one prefers gossiping, gossiping about another, it's like clobbering another . . . it is a temptation of the Evil One," said Pope Francis.

If we are to be one body in Christ, we must place a guard on our tongues. Father, silence our wayward tongues and make us truly one.

 

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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Mary's Touch Interview

On Wednesday, October 2, Cheri Lamonte will be interviewing Denise on Mary's Touch. Program TBA.

For more information about Mary's Touch, go to: http://www.marystouch.org/

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Saint Joseph Radio Interview

Bossert was interviewed by Saint Joseph Radio on Saturday, September 28th. She is the newest member of the Saint Joseph Radio Speakers Bureau. For more information about having her speak at your parish, go to: http://saintjosephradio.net/ or contact her at denise.bossert@centurytel.net.



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Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Eucharist - Finding Jesus in God's "Stereogram"


In the early 1990s, my sister lived in New Zealand and worked for a traveling science roadshow. We talked on the phone rarely. It was too expensive, and the voice delay on oversea phone calls was really frustrating. My sister began sending postcards to keep us current on her exciting adventure. One postcard stands out in my memory from that era. On the front of the postcard, there was a stereogram, a hidden 3-D 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. The reader was told to stare through the picture rather than 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,” the footnote read.
I raised the card to my nose and tried it about ten times. My children figured it out almost immediately.
“I give up. I can’t see a thing!” I tossed the card 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 effort.
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.
Fight it when your eyes want to look at the design. You’ll never see Him that way. Christ is deeper. He’s there.
No longer bread.
No longer wine.
Jesus.
Soon, we enter the “Year of Faith.” It’s time to put on the eyes of faith and see Jesus Christ.

 

 

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