Saturday, February 28, 2009
I got ready for my day a little earlier and headed out the door at 5:45 AM. It was still raining as I made my way onto the highway, praying that everyone drove carefully. I arrived at the church at 6:00 AM. The door was locked and I knocked loudly (according to the sign) so someone could hear me. Sure enough, a man was about ready to get out from the elevator when he heard the knock and came back down to let me in.
I entered into the dimly lit sanctuary, immediately looking toward the altar where the Eucharist was located within a golden monstrance. I knelt completely and bowed before entering the pew, and then knelt down again on the kneeler to pray.
I have heard of this devotion as "spending time with Jesus." But what was interesting was my reaction. Almost immediately, tears came to my eyes as I thought of all the people in the world who go about their daily lives and give very little thought to God, let alone adoring His Son - who deserves such adoration that we would never be able to repay Him enough in worship, even if we had a hundred lifetimes. (Perhaps this is why we need all of eternity to worship God...)
I grieved as I thought about the lost and those who did not appreciate what God had done for us. What was very interesting to me is that I didn't realize at that moment that this is part of the adoration process. I hadn't read anything about Eucharistic Adoration. The sorrow in my heart, the regret, the feeling of grief came naturally. To me, this was a beautiful sign from God that this devotion is not just some type of Catholic superstition; but has true meaning.
When I was involved in non-denominational churches, one of the ministries I was heavily involved with was intercession. I have been a part of all-night prayer vigils and many, many prayer meetings, in addition to my own private prayer time. I have experienced many times when God has touched my heart and by His Spirit, has allowed me to feel a little bit of His own heart toward a situation or people. I am always humbled and simply in awe that our Heavenly Father feels such a depth of longing for His creation to be reconciled with Him, but yet is rejected time and time, again. I cannot even begin to comprehend His response, which is to keep on loving the world and calling for them to come home.
It would be interesting to find out how many Catholics, who practice Eucharistic Adoration, go on to be interested or involved in some way with missions. I would think the two go hand in hand.
I focused on Jesus Christ and thanked Him for all He had done for us. I prayed that our eyes, ears, and heart would be open to Him. And I just tried to be still and in the moment. I was only able to stay 45 minutes since I needed to get to work. Next time I'll arrive 15 minutes earlier. I was still happy to have been able to go and even happier that there was a parish that still did this. Sadly, not every Catholic parish offers this devotion. The one nearest to me only does it once a month.
So, all in all, it was a beautiful time and I look forward to doing this special devotion during Lent. (and maybe beyond!) Thanks to those who have been sharing with me their thoughts and resources for this devotion.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Once again, we as Catholics are deeply blessed by Church Tradition. I'm still learning about the historical teachings of Lent, but already touched by the devotion toward this very special time as we remember the sufferings of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Yesterday, as I sat in Mass, I thought of how much we need Lent. I was grateful for the time to meditate and "rend my heart" as we received the ashes. The responses were all focused on how we separated ourselves from God by sinning, and need to heed the call to for reconciliation. I spent the day partially fasting, according to our obligation. I felt a genuine sorrow and sobriety as I thought deeply about what Jesus went through - all so that I could be joined with Him for eternity. It was very humbling.
As I enter into Lent, I feel as though those who look at this as "just a Catholic thing," are really shortchanging themselves. It is so easy to get caught up with our busy, daily lives - barely giving any thought to this time of the year until it's Easter weekend. How awesome it is to have rituals and traditions that help ground us in our Christian faith, reminding us every year that Jesus Christ came to set the captive free but in order to do that, He had to take up His cross, suffer, and give up everything He had; including His fellowship with His heavenly Father. All for me. All for you.
I pray that this Lent will bring us closer to God and strengthen our resolve to not grieve His Spirit with sin.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
We thought you’d like to know how progressives view penance. Here is what Roger Ray had to say about the issue in today’s edition of the News-Leader, a Springfield, Missouri newspaper:
"As a member of a progressive Christian church, I am more likely than most to encounter folks who angrily reject all penitence and prayers of confession as being associated with the neurotic guilt and neo-puritanical judgment of their past church experiences. One friend recently told me, ‘I just don’t believe in sin.’"
Thanks, Roger, for providing this insight. It explains a lot.
"At one seminary on the East Coast, students had to secretly meet in the basement to say the Rosary. Meanwhile, and most disturbing, local pastors are often the greatest obstacle in establishing Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament -- which sanctifies a parish (and often leads to vocations; in one such St. Louis church, four new seminarians in just a few years, we are recently informed; there are plenty of other examples)."
40 Ways to Get the Most Out of Lent
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
I know not every church practices this devotion. Some only do it once a month, some do it several times a week and some do not do it at all. It would seem that there is a connection in the parish from how they view the Eucharist to whether they engage in Eucharistic Adoration or not.
What are some of your thoughts on this devotion? What are some of the insights you've gleaned from your involvement with it?
Monday, February 23, 2009
For Today: Monday, February 23, 2009
Outside My Window... Dark and cold. I can't wait until Daylight Savings Time and the upcoming Spring birds chirping their tunes!
I am thinking... about the retreat I just was on. Fr. Tuscan, our retreat master, was awesome. The theme was "Faith, Hope, and Charity." Lots to think about how to incorporate these into my life, especially during Lent.
I am thankful for... my warm bed! The bedrooms in the retreat center were really cold, but I survived. I am also thankful for those who worked hard to make our retreat a success.
From the kitchen... Coffee with Italian Sweet Cream, toast. Later tonight, Maple Apple Chicken with Roasted Ranch-Bacon Red Potatoes.
I am wearing... my pink flowered cotton nightshirt and emerald green velour night robe, plus slippers. Still feeling a little sleepy as I sip my coffee. :-)
I am creating... Nothing, yet, but hope to start this week on a digital page. I joined Serif's Forum so I could comment on the Digital Scrapbook Artist message board. I do think that DSA is a great program and look forward to testing it out even more.
I am going... to be studying about the 30-Day Consecration to Mary according to St. Louis de Montfort. This is new ground for me. I'm still learning about Mary and her place in my life. I do believe she is to be honored and reverenced, but ultimately - it is her Son who is our Lord. I am touched by all the Catholics who do reverence her but always magnify Jesus Christ as a result. She does point the way to Him, always. "Do whatever He tells you to do."
I am reading... Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyers. I also have a brand new book I "won" on Twitter by Peter Marx, "The Book Guy" and owner of Antique Mall Books. The book is called The Historian and it seems to have a Bram Stoker 'Dracula-ish' tone! Mysterious, Gothic, and creepy!
I am hoping... to walk in deeper fellowship with my Lord, Jesus Christ, after this retreat. I learned much!
I am hearing... the heat through the vent. Other than that, silence. And I'm laughing a little because it is more silence than I heard on our "silent" retreat - given that we have some really yappy people in our group!
Around the house... boxes from the ukueles still laying around. Shirts hanging to dry. Valentine's day left-over snacks.
One of my favorite things... Being on a retreat and sharing spiritual insights with other retreat members. On our ride home, my car companions and I discussed such things as witnessing to our neighbors and how to handle atheism. Great conversations!
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: I think I'm going to visit the Catholic book store today to get tabs for my Catholic Bible. I'm also going to see if they have some devotions to Mary and take a look at them.
Here is picture thought I am sharing. St. Peter and Paul Retreat and Conference Center in Newark, Ohio. I did grab this one from their site. The weekend was much too gray and cold to take any good photos, but you can see how lovely it looks in warmer weather. I like this statue of Jesus. It's all about Him, and not me.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
That is how I feel today. Last night, I began a retreat with our Una Voce chapter, which is the first Catholic retreat that I've attended in over 25 years. I decided to write and share with you some of my reflections because writing is how I keep things straight in my mind.
Catholics are known for their retreats. This one is supposed to be silent. I say "supposed" because when can you remember women being around each other and not saying anything? However, I have kept silent as much as possible and been polite if someone has asked me a question. Later today, I may take a walk outside since our retreat center has a hiking trail with the Stations of the Cross on it.
Yesterday, I was full of righteous indignation over some Catholics criticizing or persecuting others for wanting to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass. Today I feel a little more softened, a little more convicted that this is not the way I should be responding. Yes, there will always be those who disagree (and often disagree vehemently) that the Traditional Latin Mass is too antiquated, too rigid, or too pious for a "keepin' it real" society. But would my feistiness accomplish anything? Does it bring anything of value to the conversation? Does high dudgeon cause the other person to want to investigate the TLM or throw their hands up in the air and say, "She's just like the rest of them. Rigid. Uncompromising. A hardliner, for sure."
No, I do not want that. I am not entirely clear on my mission yet but I think it's safe to say that taking a strong stand for the TLM isn't part of it. I believe in the TLM for what it brings to the church, how it connects us to a sense of the holy and divine. But I am beginning to see a larger picture of what Pope Benedict XVI is doing with his Moto Proprio and insistence that he give the Eucharist only to those who are kneeling.
He is bringing Catholicism back to its roots.
The roots of the Church is in the Eucharist. As our retreat facilitator said, in one of Pope Benedict's writings, he said it could be distilled into this: God Become Food. The Church is nourished by Him in all ways, in all things. Through the sacraments, we are nourished. Through the liturgy, we are nourished. Through our community, we are nourished. And why the nourishment? To make us strong. Strong enough to stand firm in a world full of sin and darkness. Strong enough to resist the temptations of the devil so that we can be His Light to the world, extending His forgiveness to the lost.
So, in examining this further and my deep love for the TLM, I know that my response has to change toward those who either mock it or persecute it. Forgiveness. There is simply no other way.
And then, if the Lord allows - education, instruction, and encouragement. But I need to first focus on my own nourishment and then find those who are seeking Him, so I can help them find their way home.
Friday, February 20, 2009
As I have mentioned before in "My Long Story," I am a very surprised devotee of the Traditional Latin Mass. I did not intend for this to happen. I was simply encouraged by the only Catholic I knew in town to at least visit because she believed everyone needed to experience the TLM at least once in their lives. I went out of curiosity more than anything else.
I was stunned to find that I fell in love with this beautiful Mass immediately. The silence, the Gregorian chants, the priest facing liturgical East and the solemnity - all spoke deeply to my heart. I knew then that I would not be able to attend regular Mass at a much closer parish because my spirit had found its place of nourishment. This is not a statement to mean that I think I'm a better Catholic for attending the TLM nor anyone who doesn't understand the TLM is spiritual dunce. I simply prefer the TLM because for me, it touches me.
A recent article in a U.K. Catholic newspaper called "The Tablet," recently printed an article against a very fine priest, Fr. Tim Finigan. Now I don't know Fr. Finigan personally, and unless God arranges it, I don't imagine I'll ever meet him. However, Fr. Finigan is one of the few British priests who offer the TLM and for that, he has been branded. It does not seem to matter to the writer of this article that the Blackfen parish has three (count 'em, THREE) "regular" Masses. (I deliberately placed the word 'regular' in quotes since she did the same in her article with "tradition." It also seems that the regular Mass is assumed to be the "normal" Mass while the TLM, which has stood solid for centuries, is viewed as "irregular" or "abnormal." Go figure.)
I have finally reached my tipping point on this issue. I am fed up with seeing those who enjoy the TLM either brow-beaten into apology or ridiculed for finding that the TLM connects with their desire to worship, best. Enough. Below is an open letter to Ms. Curti, the writer of the article. I will be emailing her the link as well as Fr. Finigan. Fr. Zuhlsdorf and Fr. Finigan both engaged in what they called "transatlantic fisking" as they addressed the article paragraph by paragraph. Fr. Z's response is here. Fr. Finigan's response is here.
And now, my response:
Dear Ms. Curti,
I am not unfamiliar with your articles since I have often seen them on the Internet. However, as someone who has written a few newspaper articles herself, I must say that your journalistic endeavors leave much to be desired, especially when you tackle the topic of the Traditional Latin Mass.
Next month will be my one-year anniversary of returning to the Catholic church after 25 years. During those years, I was a member of mostly non-denominational churches. Whatever infractions are perceived by Catholics with the liturgy, it is multiplied ten-fold within non-denominational churches. Non-denominational churches don't have a liturgy. The church service is pretty much is up for grabs, depending upon the senior pastor. Perhaps it is from years of observing the excesses of extreme emotionalism and self-centered church celebrations that created a fertile ground for my appreciation for the TLM. Or it could have been the egos of church leadership that often seeped into a Sunday morning's service. However, whatever propelled me toward the Catholic church, the bottom line is that I am back and the TLM helped me connect once again with my Catholicism.
What exactly is your beef? I mean, honestly - why spend so much energy on a Mass that is at best 10% of a Diocese's Mass offerings? (If even that. From what I hear, the TLM is almost extinct in the U.K.) What truly stunned me was how the article seemed to slam Fr. Finigan for even daring to offer this option to his parishioners while still offering three other "regular" Masses. So in essence, your article is complaining that 25% of what this parish offers is still too much. It sounds like you think the TLM shouldn't be offered at all. Is that correct? If so, I don't understand the logic of this position since the Pope himself made it clear that parishes and priests could offer the TLM if there was interest by even a few people. And isn't it ultimately the decision of the priest to decide whether he wants to offer it or not?
Fr. Finigan is meeting the needs of some Catholics for this Mass. Your article accuses Fr. Finigan of not thinking of what people want but yet you have a Cardinal who thought so little of the Latin Mass Society that he overrode (or steamrolled) the choice of the LMS to invite Archbishop Raymond Burke to preside over the TLM in the Westminster Cathedral and dis-invited him, invoking Canon Law of all things. So when you speak of "not thinking of what people want," I'd say turnabout is fair play. However, I see no fairness when it comes to giving those who love the TLM an even break.
I think what is really at issue is the surprise (and perhaps, dread?) of the TLM becoming popular, as it already has. Many who criticize it would like to relegate it to few elderly people who have "refused to move on" after Vatican II. But guess what? I was born during the year Vatican II was put into play. I'm not old (at least, compared to a 80 year-old.). I'm not inflexible. In fact, I'm not any of the stereotypes often assigned to those who attend the TLM. And interestingly enough, there is a good amount of "twentysomethings" and "thirtysomethings" who attend our weekly Sunday TLM. Hardly the crotchety, stubborn old people usually associated with this service.
I have my suspicions as to why the TLM, and the priests who support it, are persecuted. Because it is proof that some Catholics are tired of seeing their liturgy twisted into a cultural experimentation of self-centeredness. The Mass is not about me, nor you, nor anyone. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is a reminder of who God is, who His Son is, and what Jesus Christ did for us over 2,000 years ago on a barren mount, surrounded by people who hated Him. It is a reminder of the fact we are sinners in need of saving. It is a reminder that God is God and we are not.
It is unfortunate that from reading Fr. Finigan's response, you did not seem to have your facts straight. It was rather presumptuous to insinuate that his clerical garb was obtained by any other measure than saving for it or working within the budget to purchase used vestments. Smaller errors such as not correctly reporting that people do have the ability to "mingle" outside of the church was also regrettable.
It is my hope and prayer, Ms. Curti, that you will use your talents for building up the Church, not tearing it down. Controversial articles such as this may bring more attention to you and your publication but does little for encouraging the Body of Christ. I hope to read something more positive from you someday.
In His Grace,
Mary Rose Maguire
Thursday, February 19, 2009
I think it has been like this for many Catholic parishes. At one time, city neighborhoods were filled with immigrants from all over the world, devout Catholics who were supported in their dreams for a new land by the rhythms of the church. But soon, their children grew up and moved away, often taking their aging parents with them. And urban blight descended upon those formerly tough-American neighborhoods, leaving broken homes and broken lives in its wake.
Catholics have often been the champions of the weak and exploited. It is a good thing. Jesus said we would always have the poor with us, but yet He never wavered from His message - that man was a sinner in need of saving. That was the need He addressed first and foremost. Not whether someone was being treated fairly by the Romans.
I have noticed some Catholic parishes becoming caught up with "social justice." However, it seems convoluted, this relentless push for "equality" and "justice." Is that what we are called to be in the world? A group of activists? Or are we to be the Body of Christ, bringing His Good News to a hurt and dying world? I'm not sure if it's the motivation for "social justice" or the abandonment of Catholic identity that bothers me. Most likely a combination of both. At any rate, I am extremely grateful I returned to the Catholic church at this time. If I had returned, say, ten or fifteen years ago, when liberal, out-of-control parishes ran un-checked, I probably would have headed toward Regnum Christi, eventually finding myself in a completely different type of mess.
St. Stephen's in Minneapolis was a church fueled by the Sixties revolution. From what I read, they took the whole "peace, love, and rock-n-roll" idea to the hilt. You can read about what the church looked like for years in this article. A tidbit:
You know the kind of service: with guitars, lay people giving homilies, dancing in the aisles with people who have mental and physical disabilities, gay couples openly participating in worship, along with ex-priests, ex-nuns and sundry other spiritual wanderers.
It's all so 1960s.
Well, the new Archbishop of Minneapolis was cleaning house and St. Stephen's was on the list. Archbishop Nienstedt had dispatched a spokesman to let the parish know it was time to shape up. As expected, the "free love" bunch didn't take the news so well. In fact, they left the church. I have no idea if where they are now is considered a Catholic parish, but a full-time priest was brought in to St. Stephen's to firmly guide it back to Catholic tradition.
Now this young priest is left with a withering congregation.
Father Joseph Williams came "from the farm to the hood" less than a year ago, to a congregation in a spiritual crisis and a neighborhood riddled with poverty and crime. He is only 34, but as he sits in a low-ceilinged office in the basement of St. Stephen's Catholic Church, it seems like the weight of the 110-year-old structure, and the centuries-old institution itself, sit squarely on his shoulders.
Williams -- smart, witty and likable -- talks about providence, his faith that God is directing this drama. But when asked if the congregation could continue if it did not grow, he frowns.
"No," he said. "We're taking on water."
I'm sure some of those who left have a smug "told you so" face over this, but I'm hoping St. Stephen's hangs on. That's why I'm posting this. If you are a Catholic who is faithful to the Magisterium, perhaps you may consider attending church there, or donating. At least keep them in your prayers. Darkness never welcomes the light.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Msr. Lane is wonderfully deep and his teachings are substantial. Throwing references toward Origen and St. Benedict, among others, it is evident he has studied church teachings and philosophy extensively; much to my great delight. This, my friends, is a good part of why I returned to the Catholic church. Teaching that is meat - and not milk, is what Catholicism does best. And it does it so well because of it's unwavering commitment toward creating saints out of sinners.
Msr. Lane spoke about the "tyranny of relativism." In essence, he was confronting the dangerous ground of New Age thought that claims salvation is by whatever channel you desire. As Jesus was tempted by the devil in the wilderness to test God's love for Him, so we are tempted to take God's goodness for granted, His extension of grace and forgiveness that is always available to His children.
The danger of taking God for granted is falling into what Msr. Lane calls "the sin of presumption" and that by doing so, we become careless about how we live our lives. "Universal Salvation" is a dangerous belief because it means "we need not take seriously the Word of God." We need not strive toward holiness because gosh - "I'm okay, and your okay" just as we are. There is a presumption that as long as people are "trying," (and by that Msr. Lane pointed out the whole "This is my truth" statement commonly claimed by someone who considers themselves 'spiritual') then God, who is a God of love, will redeem them.
What this does is separate a person from the understanding that there is such a thing as Hell, there are consequences to sin. There is such sin in this presumption that "it doesn't matter how I live my life, God will take care of me, anyway." (per Msr. Lane)
This teaching brought up clearly why I often felt uncomfortable in those non-denominational churches. So often, the preaching was about feeling good, about "reaching higher" for spiritual knowledge - but yet the very knowledge that I needed to never forget was that I am a sinner. I am a sinner in need of saving, not just once, but on a daily (hourly) basis. Who else reminds us of such precious and Biblical knowledge but Catholicism? And who provides the remedy like Catholicism?
I have heard the "hellfire and brimstone" sermons but I admit, not as often as we need to hear them. Centuries ago, Jonathan Edwards preached what became a landmark sermon, "Sinners In the Hands of an Angry God." The teaching went on to become a legend within Baptist churches. During that sermon, men and women in the congregation were hanging onto the pews for dear life, terrified that the earth would open up and swallow them into Hell. There was great repentance that day and gave a name to the "hellfire and brimstone" types of sermons that eventually were rejected by those who wanted to focus primarily on God's love.
How often do we need to be reminded that we are in a fallen state of grace? I would say very, very often. St. Paul, to his letter to the Romans warned:
"Or do you presume upon the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not know that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. For he will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury." (Rom. 2:4-8, RSV)
The Catholic church defends against relativism by emphasizing that God's love and mercy is not to be taken for granted. We can't just "slide" into Heaven, with a sloppy soul that cares little for effort and accountability. This is serious stuff. The most serious stuff that a man or woman will ever contemplate. The eternal state of our soul is at stake. As tempting as it is to fall into the "feel good" movements, it is dangerous to our soul. It lulls us into thinking that God will always accept our half-attempts toward doing the right thing while assuming that just because He loves us, He'll overlook our selfish stupidity.
There is a difference between true repentance and the manipulative half-hearted attempts to apologize; often seen in a teenager. I even engaged in those attempts myself when I was younger. Knowing my parents would forgive me, I would put on the show of being sorry but yet inside I was impatient to move on to what I really wanted to do, whatever it was. I often didn't give thought to my sin, and in doing so, I robbed myself of the gift of repentance.
There is more about this topic that I would like to explore but at the moment, it's time for me to start my day. During this season of Lent, it would be an excellent time for me to really consider all the ways I presume upon God's mercy. Praise be to Him that He allows us this consideration and hopefully, the conviction we need to bring us back to Him, availing us of His intent to transform us all into the likeness of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Monday, February 16, 2009
For Today: Monday, February 16, 2009
Outside My Window... The sun is still shining, bare trees are backlit with late afternoon light. The sky is layered with dark, gray clouds, which usually would have me thinking rain but maybe not.
I am thinking... about an upcoming retreat. I am getting excited about going on an authentic Catholic retreat. I haven't been on one in years but I always loved them.
I am thankful for... my husband, who still has been able to help me with my computer issues. I am also deeply, deeply grateful to him for accepting my desire to go on a retreat and being so easy-going about everything.
From the kitchen... I was intending on creating a homemade Teriyaki marinade but didn't have the cooking sherry on hand. So, that's for tomorrow night. Tonight might be simple spaghetti and meatballs. I wanted to make Spaghetti Carbonara but I'm pretty tired at the moment from a busy day at work.
I am wearing... dark blue jeans, a pink thermal shirt, a black cardigan with an empire waist, and white sneakers.
I am creating... a digital scrapbook page. Yes, playing with a new program and just love it! I think the program, Serif's "Digital Scrapbook Artist" will finally get me out from my creative funk!
I am going... to take a deep breath and focus on one thing at a time. I'm going to buy the application "Things" from the iTunes store for my iPhone. I have it at work and it has really helped my productivity! I love the simplicity of the program. It's kept me on track, pumping out the many projects my boss has assigned to me.
I am reading... Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyers. I have to admit I've become a little disappointed by some of the plotline. She created a very unlikeable character who seems to not think much of chastity and a noble vampire who wants to wait until their married before becoming intimate. Go figure.
I am hoping... I am able to accomplish everything I need to do at work this week.
I am hearing... the heat through the vent. The distant sounds of children playing outside. You can tell that kids have cabin fever when they'll ride their bikes outside when it's around 40 degrees!
Around the house... Valentine's Day goodies (candy, nuts), laundry, and butter that is softened and needs to be used in a recipe. (I often leave butter out so it softens and then I forget!)
One of my favorite things... waking up on Saturday mornings and talking with my husband about all sorts of topics without feeling like we both need to rush into our work routine.
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: Okay, I still haven't rejoined the swim club. Need to do that! I also would like to spend more time learning about the new digital scrapbooking program, Digital Scrapbook Artist. I created a review about it here.
Here is picture thought I am sharing. My church, Holy Family. I think it is gorgeous. I just found out that the Traditional Latin Mass on Sundays is the largest attendance out of the four services offered on the weekends. Wow!
Friday, February 13, 2009
Fr. Roderick explained that if he was in a state of sin, separated from God in any way, he didn't want to die like that. He wanted to be in a complete state of grace, ready to meet his Heavenly Father with no barriers. If there were any, he wanted to know about them before facing Him.
Wow. That just rocked me back on my heels and then some. If a priest is saying such things, I think it would be a good idea for me to examine what being a saint means and put forth every effort possible to become one. It also struck me that this area is yet another one where non-denominational churches fall short although the perspective is needed even more than ever in this darkened world.
Here's how it works in the non-denominational church (and many Protestant churches) - come "as you are," and be forgiven. Attend church weekly. Join a small group and grow. Everything will be alright. The word "saints" is not one typically used. In fact, I can't remember that word being used much at all during my years of attending non-denominational churches. Of course the church encouraged me to be Christ-like, but what about dying to self? That particular part of our salvation didn't seem to make it into too many sermons.
I love praying the Luminous Mystery rosary on Thursdays. One mystery that always stands out to me is the Fourth Mystery: Jesus being transformed on the mount before Peter, James and John. I pray the rosary along with a recording of Mother Angelica and her nuns at Our Lady of the Monastery. The narrator prays, "Let us be transformed, Oh Lord, into Your likeness." That prayer always touches me because it reminds me why we are here on earth.
With Catholicism, this reminder is a daily one. There is always a saint to honor, to reverence, to emulate in their devotion to Christ. Even St. Paul said in his first letter to the Corinthians, "Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?" (1 Cor. 1:13 RSV) In other words, St. Paul was saying follow Jesus Christ, not him; for St. Paul was only following Christ and preaching the message of Christ crucified.
This is the message all of the saints have continued to preach. They have counted the cost and embraced their sufferings. They have not sought their own pleasures, but only Christ. This is why remembering the saints is so important. It shows us the ultimate goal of our lives - to be transformed into the likeness of Christ. We look upon the saints and are in awe, knowing that each one was a frail human being until they opened themselves fully to be used as an instrument of God's grace. And God's grace, through the power of the Holy Spirit, sanctified them and made them holy.
This "saint-making" doesn't happen overnight. But it is especially difficult to happen at all in a self-serving culture, where even some churches have become centers of "I'm Okay, You're Okay. Now Let's Sing Kumbaya Together." Instead of training believers to understand that suffering and sacrifice are a part of a saint's life, many pastors choose to "tickle their ears" by bringing pop psychology into the mix, focusing on keeping their congregation in a nice, warm cocoon of denial.
Except this isn't the denial of the flesh, which we are called to embrace, but a denial that sacrifice and suffering is indeed, a part of the saint's life.
I used to think Catholics focused too much on suffering and sacrifice. Inwardly, I'd think, lighten up! Jesus Christ came to set the captive free! However, from my in-depth studies of Scripture, even I had to admit that Catholics were onto something. Throughout the years of my involvement with non-denominational churches, I would often feel that the church leadership was not preparing their flocks for any kind of hardship.
Catholics are not unprepared for what I believe will be a fresh persecution of the Church. (A caveat: Catholics who understand their faith are prepared. Others who are in parishes where "social justice" is preached above Christ crucified may have some difficulty, most likely vulnerable to total capitulation to an anti-Christian controlling institution.) Catholics, with their "silly superstitious" bond with the saints of old, have had years and years of very important, and very strategic training.
Their minds have been shaped, and yes, transformed, by the knowledge that to live for Christ is to die to self. This process is called sanctification. Together with keeping the Sacraments, following the Word of God and the traditions of the Church, a believer is beautifully kept within the safe protection of our Heavenly Father. We have been given the blueprint and the Catholic church has it. The Catholic church has preserved the truths of the Gospel faithfully, since Christ created His Church, His Body - to continue to give life to the world.
So now, I, too am echoing Fr. Roderick's words - Please Lord, do not let me die before I've become a saint. And I shall put every effort, every intention, to meet that goal, and only by the grace of God will I achieve it.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
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Tuesday, February 10, 2009
I don't want to be disrespectful toward the priesthood, but... Fr. Roderick is just as cute as a button! His energy is contagious, his joy, abundant, and his passion for his vocation - undeniable. I can't not smile every time I hear his voice!
So, if you have an iPod, MP3 player, or iPhone, I'd highly recommend his series, "The Daily Breakfast." The production is excellent. Just listen to it for the witty sound bites, alone. (I love hearing Marge Simpson murmur, "Those Catholics, are a peculiar people!")
Share with me some of your favorite Catholic podcasts. I'm now listening to them during my drive-time, and when I'm doing mundane tasks. Very fun!
"...the Holy Father completely rejects what was done in Germany to the Jewish people. He does not accept any offense aimed at the Jewish people. All we have for them is love. We never forget that Jesus was a Jew, Mary was a Jew and the Apostles were Jews."
Asked if he took into consideration bishop Williamson's theories about the Holocaust into account before bringing the decree to the attention of the Holy Father, Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos responded:
"I have always had truth as a norm. The Holy Father knows this. We are moving forward, trying to rebuild the unity of the Church, and put an end completely to this schism."
It seems the Catholic church can't win with some folks on this issue. On one hand, you have critics accusing the Church as being inflexible and intolerant. Then when Rome extends a hand of forgiveness toward someone and seeks reconciliation, she's called "soft" and in this case, just downright insensitive.
I'm glad Pope Benedict XVI did what he did. Peace and unity should be the ultimate goal for all of us, in whatever sphere of influence we move. For Pope Benedict XVI, he took a courageous step toward bringing unity to the Church. He needs support and prayers.
I think this is especially wonderful given that we are about to enter the most holy season in the Liturgical year - Lent.
Monday, February 9, 2009
For Today: Monday, February 9, 2009
Outside My Window... Dark navy blue sky with the solitary orange glow from a nearby school's parking lot light. I was almost giddy yesterday by the warmer weather, which melted almost all of the snow. I never thought I'd be so happy to see grass - even tired-looking brown grass!
I am thinking... my weekend was not as productive as I would have liked. I had plans to do more research on finding a new web hosting service, investigate WordPress, do some digital scrapbooking. Alas, none of it occurred. My computer had "issues" on Saturday which required the assistance of Mickey.
I am thankful for... My husband who is very computer literate! Saturday made me realize just how much my life has been shaped by a computer.
From the kitchen... Just baked a batch of Ginger-Pecan Oatmeal cookies for a nice young man at work. He could have been difficult and not helped me with a certain project, but he was very helpful and saved me probably an hour's worth of time by resetting the server. Long story, but I have a heart for him. I told him I'd bake some cookies and finally did! A bowl of honey-oat cereal for me and coffee with Italian Sweet Cream. Later tonight, I'm going to try to make Oven-Baked Pecan-Crusted Chicken Fingers with Honey-Mustard Dip and mixed vegetables for dinner.
I am wearing... my pink cotton, long-sleeved nightgown and green bathrobe with slippers. Very glad I don't feel the arctic air this morning.
I am creating... A new digital scrapbook page. Yes, I am intent upon finally creating a new page this week! I must! I taught a digital scrapbooking class this past Thursday and have the next one this Thursday. I need to really press forward to explore the program Serif sent me, (Digital Scrapbook Artist) which is just an amazing program. I really feel they give Adobe PhotoShop Elements a run for their money! (and for a lot less money, too.) Now this weekend, I did also create my first batch of homemade laundry soap! (I used Recipe #4 and added 1/4 cup of OxyClean) I love it! It ends up being around .05 a load. Economical and the clothes smell nice and fresh! The bar of Fels-Naptha soap was large, so it only took half of it grated to make 2 cups.
I am going... to try to catch up this week on some of the tasks I didn't complete over the weekend. The one area I want to explore is WordPress. I'm thinking of switching my blog to WordPress but need to do some more research.
I am reading... Eclipse by Stephanie Meyers, and Ayn Rand's Anthem on my iPhone through the eBook program, Stanza. Also trying to read Getting Things Done by David Allen. Anthem is really getting to me. It's a story set in the future where there is no individuality, only the collective. Ayn Rand grew up in the Communist U.S.S.R., so she knows the dangers of sacrificing independence for "the greater good." The story is riveting.
I am hoping... my 90-day review goes well, which will happen this week. I feel pretty good about the job but admit I really don't like to "rate" myself. I have an idea of my capabilities but yet I don't like to say it out loud. Perhaps it's the "polite" Midwestern way I was raised, but it seems like it's bragging on oneself to say to others what you do well. And here I am, working in marketing, no less. (ha!)
I am hearing... some low sound outside, almost like an alarm, but not quite. The soft whirl of the computer. Nothing else.
Around the house... jeans drying from being washed. Garbage that needs to be taken out. A box of ashes from our fireplace which we now know we shouldn't use again. The fireplace has a crack in it and I'm wondering if they leasing company will really fix it.
One of my favorite things... smelling something good baking in the oven early in the morning. MMmmm!
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: Still need to re-join the swim club. I think we've seen the worst of the snow storms pass. (keeping fingers crossed!) My work review and a projects at work to do, the digital scrapbooking class. I think I'll wait until the following week to see if there are any networking events I could attend. I need to do this for my job but prefer the events to happen during the day instead of after-hours. "24" is tonight and I think I'll stay up to watch it. I'm more impressed with the President than I thought I'd be. She has some backbone!
Here is picture thought I am sharing... Another photo from a few years ago. I caught the tail end of this happy little sunflower's bloom. Isn't it pretty against the cheerful light blue of the sky? :-)
Sunday, February 8, 2009
- as a discipline for learning self-control, to free our minds from the chase after material things,
- to identify with Christ's sufferings, and remember what the true pleasures are for followers of Christ,
- as an act of sorrow over our wrongdoings.
I like the thought of discipline, because most of the time, my decisions are focused on my own needs. I also think it's very important to think about what Jesus went through in order to provide us eternal life.
Well, here's my thought: I think I'm going to give up criticizing President Obama and liberals. Whenever I'm tempted, instead, I will pray for them. It seemed this area will be more a challenge than just giving up chocolate. So. My blog is going to be free from my political rants during Lent. Who knows? Maybe I'll even say a rosary or two for them.
Friday, February 6, 2009
I remember feeling perplexed by such beliefs. It was one thing for a business to expect their senior staff to put in more than a 40-hour work week, but in the ministry? Really, what major life-changing events happened on a daily basis, preventing someone from being home with their family?
It struck me as ironic that many "mega-churches" preach the importance of family and relationship but yet seem to do everything to undermine that message for their staff. There are endless meetings, committees, outreaches, weekend services, Wednesday night services, weekly Bible studies and classes, worship team practice, children, teen, and college ministry - and on, and on, and on.
I am not claiming that all this busyness only occurs within non-Catholic churches and not a Catholic parish. I've known a few parishes that have had activities, but I've not known one that has the level of busyness of a mega-church. This is also my argument for why I think it's a good idea for priests to remain unmarried. Can you imagine tending to the business of the parish during the day and then being called night or day to deliver last rites or say Mass for a funeral? (To say nothing of baptisms and weddings.) A priest is just as busy but the difference is - he doesn't have a family expecting his attention when he gets home.
There is something real about Catholics, especially Catholic leaders. I've now been back in the Church for almost a year and I'm amazed by all the differences I've noticed in the way Catholics live. There is none of the "rushrushrush" I sensed when I was attending non-denominational churches. There is also more authenticity in a Catholic's life. Catholics are pretty much a "what-you-see-is-what-you-get" lot. There's not a whole lot of pretending because for the most part, they agree they're wretched sinners and if they make it to purgatory by the thin thread of their rosary, they'll count themselves amazingly blessed by God's mercy.
There is no taking anything for granted, and perhaps that is what marks a Catholic with a rare humility that is genuine. As I've stated before, few things bless me more than to witness a Catholic family with their children, learning how to conduct themselves during Mass . When I see these families, it reminds me that Catholicism cherishes the family. The Church does everything she can to encourage and support them. From the pre-Cana wedding preparation classes, to the pro-life movement, to Catholic grade schools, to an emphasis on family devotions - the Catholic Church not only talks the talk, but walks the walk when it comes to real priorities.
Unfortunately, I've witnessed many a "P.K." (Preacher's Kid) who drifted from the faith of their parents because there was no balance in their homes. Either their father or mother (or both) were so focused on serving the church that they never truly lived out their vocation as a parent, or they dragged their kid to every church event under the sun, using church activity as a surrogate mother. When I make these statements, I am not saying that every non-Catholic church leader is like this. I can only vouch for the ones I've observed. Plus, when I was an academic advisor/pastor, I spoke to many young people and some of them came from a home where one parent or both were spiritual leaders in their church. It was a bit sad to see that many of them had not received the normal attention any child craves while growing up.
It's a dichotomy. Catholics put forth more effort into their faith than any other group of Christians I've seen. But yet they don't take themselves too seriously. On the other hand, I've seen some non-denominational churches do the exact opposite - put less effort in their faith but took themselves way, way too seriously.
United Nations' threat: No more parental rights
A United Nations human rights treaty that could prohibit children from being spanked or homeschooled, ban youngsters from facing the death penalty and forbid parents from deciding their families' religion is on America's doorstep, a legal expert warns.
Michael Farris of Purcellville, Va., is president of ParentalRights.org, chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association and chancellor of Patrick Henry College. He told WND that under the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, or CRC, every decision a parent makes can be reviewed by the government to determine whether it is in the child's best interest.
"It's definitely on our doorstep," he said. "The left wants to make the Obama-Clinton era permanent. Treaties are a way to make it as permanent as stuff gets. It is very difficult to extract yourself from a treaty once you begin it. If they can put all of their left-wing socialist policies into treaty form, we're stuck with it even if they lose the next election."
According to the Parental Rights website, the substance of the CRC dictates the following:
- Parents would no longer be able to administer reasonable spankings to their children.
- A murderer aged 17 years, 11 months and 29 days at the time of his crime could no longer be sentenced to life in prison.
- Children would have the ability to choose their own religion while parents would only have the authority to give their children advice about religion.
- The best interest of the child principle would give the government the ability to override every decision made by every parent if a government worker disagreed with the parent's decision.
- A child's "right to be heard" would allow him (or her) to seek governmental review of every parental decision with which the child disagreed.
- According to existing interpretation, it would be illegal for a nation to spend more on national defense than it does on children's welfare.
- Children would acquire a legally enforceable right to leisure.
- Allowing parents to opt their children out of sex has been held to be out of compliance with the CRC.
- Children would have the right to reproductive health information and services, including abortions, without parental knowledge or consent
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been a strong supporter of the CRC, and she now has direct control over the treaty's submission to the Senate for ratification. The process requires a two-thirds vote.
Farris said Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., claimed in a private meeting just before Christmas that the treaty would be ratified within two years.
In November, a group of three dozen senior foreign policy figures urged Obama to strengthen U.S. relations with the U.N. Among other things, they asked the president to push for Senate approval of treaties that have been signed by the U.S. but not ratified.
This is simply outrageous! It's not enough that public schools brainwash our children into accepting the half-baked ideas of socialism, they now want to over-ride every decision a parent makes regarding the development of a child. There's more to the article. Just click on the "United Nations threat" link.
This underscores the entry I posted recently about abortion, liberalism, and creativity. Who is more creative than a child? Who dreams bigger than a little girl or boy? When does our capacity for creativity begin?
When we are young.
In order to drive out creativity, and the will to fight anyone who denies it, there must first be an across-the-board removal of freedom. Control is bearing down on us, courtesy of the U.N., who claims to have the child's best interest in mind when in reality, it is simply about replacing the source of direction for a child from the parent to an institution. The U.N. has set itself as judge and jury - intent upon carrying out its horrendous sentence of relegating parenting to the role of a stud service, like animals.
Some homosexuals call straight people "breeders." This would be true, if passed.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Today I just learned that the FM station in town that carried "The Dennis Miller Show" also switched to sports talk. Bill O'Reilly has quit his radio show and making his website a news site. Rose answered my letter with the suggestion that I join their "members only" part of the site where I can listen to their podcasts for a fee.
I don't particularly care to pay a fee but I may. What saddens me is that I no longer will be hearing anything "live." It seems as the conservative shows disappear, all we'll be left with is a bunch of recordings. And how does that work for listeners who want to call in?
I'm just a mixed bag of irritation, disgust, sadness, and anger. As Carolina Cannonball of The Crescat would say...
Hiss. Spit. Growl.
The death was sudden and unexpected, as described on Amy's blog, "Charlotte Was Both." Loss is never easy but when it comes so quickly and to one so young, it is especially difficult. My prayers are with Amy and her family.
O God, Whose property it is ever to have mercy and to spare, we beseech Thee on behalf of the soul of Thy servant whom Thou hast called out of this world; look upon him with pity and let him be conducted by the holy angels to paradise, his true country. Grant that he who believed in Thee and hoped in Thee may not be left to suffer the pains of the purgatorial fire, but may be admitted to eternal joys. Through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who with Thee and the Holy Ghost liveth and reigneth world without end. Amen.
Our Father. Hail Mary.Eternal rest give unto him, O Lord; And let perpetual light shine upon him
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
When a child is young, even as a toddler, there is a sense that dawns on her that she is an individual, capable of acting on her own. Soon, she wants to exert that independence by tying her own shoes, choosing her clothes for the day, determining what she will or will not eat. Many parents are exasperated during this stage because they know that what a toddler demands is not always good for her. If a parent gives in to every demand, the child will be spoiled and will continue to see the world as her slave.
It takes a persistent effort on the part of a parent, to break the child not of their spirit, but of their will. To temper it, so that the will realizes it is good to think of others, to be sensitive, to be kind - traits that often overrule the stubborn flesh of man that otherwise would only be absorbed in himself. We are born with the sin of Adam, the assumption that we don't really need God and can make our own way into this world on our own, thank you very much. But a parent reminds us that we do need help and guidance. Parents teach a child humility.
My return to the Catholic church brings up such lessons in a new light. I can see my childishness clearly, now, when I was intent on "going my own way" into the wild, blue yonder of non-Catholic churches. Yes, I was curious. Yes, I was searching, but I became satisfied most when I found a church that didn't demand as much from me, a type of church where I'd look up to see twirling things that captured my imagination and brought entertainment. Of course I thought about God and sought to do His will, but it would seem I was in a playground, and not school.
The Catholic church is a school. A training ground. It is also a fortress. It protects us by disciplining us. And, there is strength in numbers.
I am thinking that our world will be changing very soon. How drastic, I do not know. But the Church will survive because Jesus Christ said it will be so.
I may add more to this later throughout the day. This idea of the Catholic church offering protection has been on my mind lately.
Monday, February 2, 2009
So, tomorrow morning, between 7:30 AM and 8:00 AM, I think I'll be on unless something changes. I'll be called at 7:30 AM, so I believe the interview will happen shortly after that. I know broadcasts can change quickly, but that's the plan.
Interestingly enough, it seems Gus Lloyd had a similar experience as I did - joining a non-denominational church before coming back to the Catholic church. It should be intriguing!
For Today: Monday, February 2, 2009
Outside My Window... Yay! Finally some of the snow melted yesterday. We had so much snow and ice on the roof that it was starting to seep in and damage an area around our bedroom window. We also had icicles about two feet long. I'm glad it melted and the falling icicles didn't hurt anyone.
I am thinking... about chastity and promoting it to our younger people. There is so much in our culture that encourages a young person to get involved sexually with someone before marriage. They really need support and encouragement.
I am thankful for... my iPhone and podcasts! I have really been enjoying listening to the Audio Sancto series and Fr. Roderick's "Daily Breakfast" podcasts.
From the kitchen... It's been busy the past few days, so I've not had much time to plan the menu. For me this morning, cinnamon bagels and coffee laced with Tiramisu Creamer. Tonight I think I'll make chili and spaghetti and perhaps cornbread.
I am wearing... my pink cotton, long-sleeved nightgown and green bathrobe with slippers. I am very grateful that it doesn't feel nearly as cold from window nearby.
I am creating... my first podcast! However, I created it with an Apple laptop and just realized that copying the MP3 on a memory stick and trying to upload to a PC wasn't going to work. Apple puts these weird "._" characters in front of the file name, which messes up a transfer. I still need to figure out how to upload to a hosting site so I can submit it to iTunes.
I am going... to work, another week filled with various projects. I may have a digital scrapbooking class to teach this week, not sure. If I don't have at least 6 students, it will be canceled. (I have 5) This happened last year, too. I had a few but not enough. More students responded after the weather warmed!
I am reading... Eclipse by Stephanie Meyers, and Ayn Rand's Anthem on my iPhone through the eBook program, Stanza. Also trying to read Getting Things Done by David Allen. My boss is really into GTD and I'm trying to adapt to it. For some reason, I read half the book and then stopped. I usually like productivity books, so not sure why I'm hitting a roadblock. Hmm.
I am hoping... I can figure out how to get along with someone at work without offending them. It's an issue of control (and insecurity), so prayers would be appreciated.
I am hearing... the rush of the heat through the vent. Silence, otherwise.
Around the house... are furniture & things that have been moved from the bedroom window. The maintenance guy is going to have to re-plaster the top casing of the window and caulk under the sill. We've had some water damage.
One of my favorite things... listening to solid, Biblical teaching through an audio recording as I'm driving a long distance. Gives me time to think and contemplate.
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: Lots to do! I still need to join the swim club again. I was waiting for our major snow storm to move out and it has. I may have my digital scrapbooking class later this week. Tuesday night is my father-in-law's birthday and I'll be going over to my brother and sister-in-law's for a dinner celebration. (Not sure if hubby will be there since he usually goes to bed at 8:30 PM, but we'll see.) AND... something special is going on tomorrow morning. I'll post another entry for that one!
Here is picture thought I am sharing... This was from a few years ago, but I was tired of looking at the snow and sharing snow photos! The flowers are from an outside garden at the Franklin Park Conservatory. It was a gorgeous day in August (when it was warm...sigh!) and the garden was still in full bloom. I think we caught the tail end of everything but Mickey and I had a great time snapping away a bunch of pictures! Blue skies, purple flowers, and warm weather. Can't wait to do it again!
Sunday, February 1, 2009
So, my father and I recently listened to the teaching, "Holy Families Just Don't Happen." We had a very lively discussion afterward. I won't reveal our opinions, but instead, would like your opinion. Please listen to the recording and after, vote in the poll that is in the sidebar at the top of the page. We're also interested in your comments, so please use the combox for this entry as the place to share your thoughts.
There's a free lunch riding on this. We both are laughing about this but are very curious about what others think about the message.
The recording runs about 30 minutes. You can subscribe to Audio Sancto through iTunes and download these recordings to an iPod, iPhone or MP3 player. I downloaded the entire archive PLUS this year's recordings. 338 homilies! Hot dog! This will be my #1 choice of listening fare for my trips both to and from Cincinnati, and beyond!
Here is the link to the audio file:
Holy Families Don't Just Happen
Thanks! We'll be counting the first 100 votes, if we can get that many!
Gregory Peck plays Fr. O'Flaherty, which just made it all the better. I love Gregory Peck, although I disagreed with his politics. Still, you have to think that maybe, playing Fr. O'Flaherty reminded him that yes, there is such a thing as evil in the world and the response should be to resist it at all costs. Others paid for that cost dearly, but many were saved by their bravery.
Great movie. I'd highly, highly recommend it if you've not already seen it.