Tuesday, March 31, 2009

President of US Bishop Conference Is Embarrassed by Notre Dame

This is getting more and more heated. I've been following the decision by Notre Dame to invite President Obama to be the guest speaker at their commencement ceremony. When I first heard about it, I was shocked. In fact, I felt as though it was a slap in the face of Catholics everywhere. It was as though Notre Dame was flaunting it's rebellion toward Catholic doctrine. From observing the actions of President Rev. Jenkins, it is clear to me that he simply doesn't care. It doesn't seem to matter that his actions have now been condemned by many Catholics including Archbishop Nienstedt, Archbishop Dolan, and now USCCB President Cardinal Francis George - Jenkins will continue to march to the beat of his own misguided drummer.

From Cardinal George:

"Whatever else is clear, it is clear that Notre Dame didn't understand what it means to be Catholic when they issued this invitation," George told the crowd at a conference Saturday on the Vatican document Dignitatis Personae. The conference was hosted by the Chicago archdiocese's Respect Life office and Office for Evangelization at the Marriott O'Hare hotel.

In a video obtained by LifeSiteNews.com (LSN) today, Cardinal George prefaced his remarks by noting that as USCCB president he does not have jurisdiction or authority over other bishops, but nonetheless has "some moral authority, without any kind of jurisdiction or any sort of real authority."

"As president of the U.S. bishops' conference I have to precisely speak for the bishops and not in my own name, as I could as Archbishop of Chicago," he added.

George said he had spoken with the administrative committee of the bishops' conference and corresponded with University president Fr. John Jenkins several times on the issue.

"That conversation will continue .... whether or not it will have some kind of consequence that will bring, I think, the University of Notre Dame to its [the USCCB's] understanding of what it means to be Catholic," said the Cardinal. "That is, when you're Catholic, everything you do changes the life of everybody else who calls himself a personal Catholic - it's a network of relationships.

"So quite apart from the president's own positions, which are well known, the problem is in that you have a Catholic university - the flagship Catholic university - do something that brought extreme embarrassment to many, many people who are Catholic," said the cardinal.

"So whatever else is clear, it is clear that Notre Dame didn't understand what it means to be Catholic when they issued this invitation, and didn't anticipate the kind of uproar that would be consequent to the decision, at least not to the extent that it has happened," said George.

Full Article

What I've been thinking about lately is this: Did not Pope Benedict XVI's visit and talk with Catholic educational institutions not make a dent? I am just stunned.

Monday, March 30, 2009

A Simple Woman's Daybook

Thanks to Peggy at The Simple Woman for starting the daybook. For more entries, or to join, go here.

For Today: Monday, March 30, 2009

Outside My Window... The sun is finally peeking out, after hiding all day yesterday. (Appropriate for Passion Sunday, come to think of it...) But it's cold! Eek! I thought we were done with 30 degree weather!

I am thinking... about how much I love my country.

I am thankful for... living in the greatest country in the world, under the greatest Republic ever. I am thankful for freedom, more than ever.

From the kitchen... For breakfast, leftover pancakes and link sausage from yesterday. (Surprisingly, the pancakes tasted better!) For dinner: Baked Zita with meat/Italian sausage sauce, garlic bread and salad.

I am wearing... black pants, a cream mock turtleneck, mauve and black houndstooth jacket, silver necklace, and black flats. We have a guest coming in to work today.

I am creating... more mind maps, my book, and digital scrapbook pages.

I am going... to call our tax lady today. It's terrible. I have been dragging my feet the past two months. Geez.

I am reading... Dead Heat by Joel Rosenberg, Tribes by Seth Godin, and my new Envoy magazine issue. I also finished Davidson's Catering to Nobody and liked it so much, I borrowed another one of her mysteries, Double Shot.

I am hoping... to focus on my book outline this week. I also hope to download a new website design software program and play with it a bit.

I am hearing... The War Room with Quinn and Rose.

Around the house... The NetFlix envelope to return "Crash", new books from the library, my Bible that needs to be "tabbed" with the special tabs I bought from the Catholic bookstore.

One of my favorite things... figuring out a better way to do something. The mind maps is a way to get my ideas out of my head and onto paper so I can plan to make it happen.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: Playing with the website design program, meeting with the man from church to discuss how we can update the website for a church ministry (more on that later!) writing, and getting the tax stuff in order.

Here is picture thought I am sharing. . . I don't have one. I wished I had taken some photos of our church with all the statues veiled in purple. I can't remember this tradition when I was younger but I like it. The veiling is a symbolic act to represent Jesus Christ drawing Himself away, being "hidden" as it were. And God's face was about to be hidden from His only Son, which is frightening when you think about it.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Why Be Friends With the World?

I am reading a book about Pope John Paul I. He was smack dab in the middle of the Second Vatican Council and its mission to move the Roman Catholic church into the twentieth century. I still have much to learn since I've never studied the documents of this council in depth. But I have seen some of the results.

What is interesting to me is this relentless pursuit to be "relevant" to a dying culture. Why should we be friends with the world? Why should the church that Jesus Christ established be expected to perform the duties of a political action group? It's all become confusing because so many want to be friends with the world.

The world is a corrupt, lifeless system. I believe we can see it more clearly than ever. There is no justice or peace (the obsession of many in the pro-Vatican II crowd), and there never will be until Jesus Christ returns. Reminding ourselves that Jesus Christ came to save the world (and not organize a group that challenges government), how should our time here on earth be best spent? Fighting against a broken system or reaching out to individuals with the saving message of the Good News?

My husband and I watched the movie "Crash" last night. I made a mistake in renting it. I thought I was ordering another movie with Sandra Bullock, and didn't read the complete description. "Crash" is a gritty tale of racial unrest. It is a story of how the lives of strangers came to intersect in one day through car crashes, carjackings, and shootings. Everyone struck me as having a huge chip on their shoulder, ready to explode at the slightest sense of ill treatment - and explode they did.

As I reflected upon this movie, I thought to myself that so much of the mayhem, danger, and even loss of human life could have been avoided if people simply acted nicer to each other. The film bothered me because I thought it played heavily on people's reactions. We live in a tightly-wound society. My father had a phrase that I used to think was funny until I saw the truth in it. Whenever anyone was crabby or short-tempered, he would refer to them as being "on the muscle."

"On the muscle" was a good description for most of the film's characters and many people we see today. They may be your co-workers, your neighbors, or even your family and friends. They are filled with resentments, bitterness, eager to punch an imagined fist through someone if spoken to the wrong way or somehow mistreated. We as Christians know this is not Christ's way. Jesus knew that He was not going to be friends with the world. In John 15:18, He says, "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you." (RSV)

Jesus Christ did not come to earth in order to win the friendship of the world but to win their soul. In John 12:47, He said this: If any one hears my sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.

It is very interesting that Jesus placed saving the world before judging it. In other words, salvation of a person is preceding justice in their world. The ruler of this world has been judged already and found guilty. But justice will not be found for the world's evil. Unrepentant mankind will always stand in defiance toward the rule of God's Kingdom. Kingdom life looks weak to them, and so they ridicule it as being "narrow-minded" or "unjust." How ironic, that the world would dare call the providential love and mercy of God, unjust.

I am watching with amazement as so many churches try to be friends with the world. However, the world will not be placated. The anger, bitterness, and resentments will not go away even if all the demands for "justice and peace" are met. Only will the anger subside as an individual realizes their own sin and asks for forgiveness through the blood of Jesus Christ. To change society requires an internal change within a person - not an external one of a political system.

I know the movie "Crash" was to make us think of all the ways we discriminate toward one another, the way we use one another for our own gain. There is value in examining ourselves and our attitudes toward people of other races. But if we leave out Jesus Christ and what He did for us at the Cross, we will only be left with a poor attempt toward reconciliation. It would be man's definition of reconciliation, which to me would not involve the freedom God has given to us through the death of His Son. It would only bring forth coercion at best, slavery at worst.

Trying to be friends with the world, to "get along" with everyone, is not the path that will bring the world peace. Only following the path to Golgotha and kneeling at the foot of the Cross, will do it.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Traditional Latin Mass, Men, and Masculinity

A friend of mine passed along an article about the Tridentine Mass, "Refugees From the Vernacular Mass." (New Oxford Review) The author had me with the opening paragraph:

I see there's a new book out, Why Men Hate Going to Church(Nelson Books). David Murrow, a television writer and producer, decided to write it after years of attending Catholic, Orthodox, mainline Protestant, and evangelical churches. He found that "no matter the name on the outside, there are always more women on the inside." I haven't read the book, but according to Peter Steinfels, who wrote a column about it for The New York Times, Murrow cites surveys showing that in most forms of church-related activity women constitute a great majority of participants, generally from 60 to 80 percent, and that most churches are "dominated by women and their values."
(The full article is reprinted by permission on the blog, Musings of a Pertinacious Papist.)

Many years ago, I noticed the very same thing. In fact, I started to call it "the feminization of the culture" before I heard others use the same phrase. Feminism wasn't satisfied with giving women the right to vote and be paid equally. The agenda seemed to shift toward destroying masculinity altogether. Since men were, as they said, the "enemy," it wasn't enough to subdue them but eradicate every aspect of their oppression. The injustice that so many feminists fought against, became the very same tool they used to bludgeon men. The irony was shameful.

There is something about women and spirituality. Women are usually on a quest of one kind or another in order to understand the world around them. For a woman, relationship takes precedence, whether it is the relationship with her friends, her boyfriend or spouse, or God. I believe it is because God built the desire for relationship into women; for instance, Eve was created for relationship with Adam. Adam was first given something to do, which explains why most men would rather pound nails with their bare hands into wood than discuss their "relationships." Women, on the other hand, can happily discuss relationships until the cows come home. But I digress.

The writer of the article goes on to point out how men, generally, do not attend church. However, he noted that plenty of men were in attendance at a Tridentine Mass. I've noticed the same thing. Here are a few reasons why I think men like it.

Men are not distracted. During a typical church service, there is often too much going on. Whether it's an overly eager worship team that "wants everyone to join in" or constant flow of people assisting at a service, it produces a flurry of activity that often causes a man to think, "Now why did they have to go and do that?" Many times, there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the actions. There are also times when it is obvious that someone didn't get the memo.

At a Tridentine Mass, it doesn't seem as disjointed. Everything is flowing toward the same point. The priest, deacon, and servers are engaged in a beautiful liturgy that has been around for hundreds of years. There is deep and profound meaning to each rhythm of the Mass.

Man's role as the spiritual head is confirmed with the Tridentine Mass. I don't want to step on the toes of the ladies, but I have to say it. When women take the lead within a worship service, very rarely will a man step up to the plate and join them. I've seen it over and over again. Within the last ministry I was involved with, about 80% of the church service activities were completed by women. Did that mean there were few men present? No. Although I'd say the percentage of women was higher than the men, we still had plenty of men. But they didn't do anything. It was mostly the women who greeted, acted as ushers, took up the collection, and worked the bookstore.

Within the Tridentine Mass, men see men completing the sacred tasks. In the Old Testament, only men were allowed to be priests. There was no such thing as a female high priest. Men are validated in their role when they see only young boys and men assisting at Mass. There are no altar girls, a sure sign that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass has been politicized, which is a tragedy. Worshipping God is not an issue of "fairness" or "justice" as though we're talking about worldly systems such as corporations or sports. There is a pattern God has initiated and men instinctively know when it's awry. I think women do, too.

Then the author, Tom Bethell, said this:

But there is a much stronger argument for the restoration of Latin. It is well suited to ecclesiastical purposes precisely because it is a dead language. A language that is no longer in use is inherently an obstacle to all innovations and feverish updating. The Church is concerned with the permanent things, and a language without even a vocabulary for modern things is a natural barrier to every fad. You can see why Latin, and the Tridentine rite in particular, do not appeal to those who are working for a politicized Church that keeps abreast of the latest cultural trends.

Men appreciate substance. This isn't to say that women don't appreciate substance, but women can become distracted by the bells and whistles of the culture. Men usually ask the deeper questions. My father instilled this in me when I was a young girl. He would constantly challenge me by asking, "why?" Why did I do something? Why did it matter? Why did I concern myself with what others thought? Why did I allow myself to be taken advantage of? Sometimes I thought the questions were overbearing, but they taught me a great lesson: Know yourself and ask questions.

Within the Tridentine Mass, men see the value of tradition which expresses itself by staying true to the purpose of Mass. It isn't to entertain us or be used as a pawn in some cultural power play. It is holy and the less men and women tamper with it, the better.

Finally, I think men appreciate the Tridentine Mass because they see women understanding the role God has given to them. Many women wear a veil during the Tridentine Mass. The practice is explained in St. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians in chapter 11. Women wear the veil to show their submission. I know firsthand how much this blesses men when they see it. At first I wasn't sure about wearing it, but then remembered that I loved a prayer shawl I had bought from a woman, who had brought it back from Israel. I love Judaic tradition and have a high respect for Judaism. I would often drape the shawl over my head as I prayed in private, feeling a special connection to God as I did so.

Wearing the veil has the same effect on me. But I'm going to go out on a limb and make a supposition. I believe the reason it blesses men so much to see a women veiled isn't because he thinks that now "she knows who's boss." It because as a woman embraces her role, so a man may embrace his. Very few men enjoy a power struggle with women. Most will relent because they simply don't want more aggravation at home, which to them is to be a place of refuge. When a woman understands what God has called her to be, there is peace. The woman feels it and so does the man. This, is what I believe happens when a man looks at women at a Traditional Latin Mass. It is radical in its counter-cultural approach and God blesses it.

There is a strength in the Tridentine Mass, an unwavering stance that provides stability in the relentless storm of fickleness which exists in the world. There is security and peace within the old liturgy, untainted by human ego. May God continue to protect and nourish the Tridentine Mass, and may it bear fruit for the universal Church, and the world.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What I Love About Catholicism: The Lack of Artifice

Yesterday, I received in the mail a huge postcard from a local church. It was advertising their Easter services. In fact, there were "3 Options" for the services. On the other side was a message from the pastor, a photo of a hip Christian band, and the message that there was "a place for you" in the midst of a busy schedule, a place that offered "great music, casual dress, and children's programs."

The name of the church had a slogan underneath that was registered. Since when does the intention of moving closer to God need to be registered? As I looked at the slick marketing of the mailer, I smiled as I realized my current parish would never send out such a thing. It's not usually something a Catholic parish would do.

I can now see several things that are misguided about such a mailer. First, it focuses on the the obsession our culture has with entertainment. To mix religion with entertainment is to rob religion of its true purpose - to separate us from the world and help us focus on God. Second, it caters to the flesh, which is in enmity with the spirit. Romans 8:7, 8 says: For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God's law, indeed it cannot;and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (RSV)

The flesh constantly demands to be entertained, to be fed, to be noticed, to be indulged. It is not about to deny itself anything. Catering to it by providing pretty colors on a screen and cute ditties will not help our spirit grow closer to God. The path to holiness does not lie in slick marketing campaigns that promise a good time will be had by all - but by remembering that we are travelers through the world, in it but not of it. And heaven's future citizens focus on heavenly things.

I used to think that Catholicism was woefully behind the times. For many years, I was a member of a church that had slick marketing campaigns and excellent entertainment. I used to think this was what a modern church should be. In order to be "relevant" to the culture, I reasoned that we needed current modes of reaching out to them.

But did it produce anything good for the spirit? It was as though we were advertising "Christianity-Lite," plenty of flavor but zero substance. It never challenged me spiritually and somehow, deep inside, I knew as Christians that we were supposed to be challenged - not coddled.

I know there are good churches out there that do challenge their members. But the Catholic church is the only one I know of that seems to do it naturally. There is no artifice, no marketing initiatives. The liturgy, for the most part, has stayed the same. The rhythms of Mass helps our spirit focus on what is truly important - which isn't whether we're 'enjoying' it, but whether we are humbled before God. The point of the Catholic Mass is seen in the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the focal point. Not us. It has taken me a long time to appreciate that but I am elated that I'm finally "getting it."

There is a slavish pursuit of "The New" at the expense of "The Old," which is true spiritual food. The world wants the latest and greatest. This is why fads (and the consequential marketing ploys) are so appealing. We mistakenly think it's progress when it's anything but. It's not a progression, but a regression from what is true.

One last thought: Jesus Christ did not come to destroy the old, but to fulfill the Law, which was of the Old Covenant. Yes, He brought a New Covenant but without the Old, there would have not been the New. There is a relationship there that I think is worth pondering - as well as its implications for church.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Thank God for Pope Benedict XVI

I recently read this piece by Damian Thompson at The Telegraph.co.uk, denouncing those who have criticized Pope Benedict XVI simply because he isn't playing their game. In his article, The Pope's Worst Enemies Are Catholic, he says this:

We learned this morning that "Vatican insiders" consider Benedict XVI "a disaster". It's true. They do think that. He's a disaster for them, and their determination to turn the Catholic Church into a touchy-feely forum in which uncomfortable teachings and traditions are "modernised" to impress non-Catholics. Until the Williamson affair, the media weren't sufficiently interested in attacking Benedict XVI to be useful. But now, after that own goal... YES!!!

Full Article

I can't help but wonder how my own journey back to Catholicism would have been affected if there was another Pope who did please the "touchy-feely" crowd within the Vatican. I am so grateful for our Holy Father, more so than I'd ever thought I'd be. Unlike many of his critics, I do feel as though someone is in the driver's seat within the Catholic church. All I have noticed is how Pope Benedict has stood firm for Catholic faith time and time again. He has been unflagging in his support for life on all levels. He has addressed the tragic wounds of the sexual abuse by priests in the United States. He has promoted a return to the basics throughout the world. He is reminding us of what it means to be Catholic. As far as I'm concerned, anyone who takes issue with his decisions needs to read the Bible again, with a copy of the Catholic Church Catechism by their side. I see no deviation from either in Pope Benedict's actions.

It seems as though the "progressive" crowd have been operating with little restraint for so long, that now they act as though they're entitled to creating a belief system filled with heresy. A very astute blogger, Paul Anthony Melanson, author of the blog La Salette Journey, recently posted an entry on a Catholic shrine that is now entertaining New Age practices including inviting a woman to speak who seems to be a witch. Except she is supposedly "Catholic." Here's Melanson's take:

Although the names have changed , the old Gods are back. There existed in antiquity a temple, it was called the Pantheon of the Gods. It is being rebuilt, the false Gods are being reawakened just as the true God is being put to sleep. This Pantheon was like a great ecumenical super dome. In it were found not just the God's of the Romans but also the deities that the Empire had acquired through it's contact with the rest of the Pagan world. All were found acceptable, all were authentic as all were real. The reason that they could co-exist was because none of these Gods claimed he was the only God. The modern political system of 'Big Tent' inclusivity follows a similar pattern where all relative philosophies are on the inside while the objective ideas of men who actually believe in anything are today relegated to the cold outside.
La Salette Attleboro: The Spiritual Sickness Continues

Pope Benedict is bringing in those who have been left out in the cold, embracing and encouraging them. This is what enrages the progressives. They are witnessing a slow return to Catholic identity that does not include native American spirituality, enneagrams, dancing circles, and everything else that is anti-Christian. And few are attracted to the bland spiritual food they offer as nourishment. The religious orders that have embraced such nonsense aren't attracting new vocations. The younger generation is returning to tradition. And the progressives are stunned.

Pope Benedict XVI needs our prayers, as does the Church. I know I am deeply grateful to God for him. May our Heavenly Father continue to protect our Holy Father and surround him with all the support and protection he needs.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Mind Mapping! With a Link to an Open Source Site

Okay, it seems I piqued the interest of a few of you. Yes, I am a recent fan of this software program, XMind, which is an open source program to develop your own mind maps, organizational charts, flow charts, and more. Plus, if you're trying to collaborate with someone in another city or state, can be very beneficial since you can easily share your charts.

Let's say you need to plan a move. Your mind is filled with a mass amount of thoughts but they are all jumbled together. In order to make sense of it all, you might create a mind map to capture everything that needs to be done.

For instance, it may look like this:

That's a simple drawn mind map. It can be as complex as you'd like, depending on everything that needs to be done. But once a person starts laying out the ideas for a project, soon they start to see details that otherwise would have been lost. But now, your mind has a place to put all of those ideas. Hence, the beauty of a mind map.

With XMind, a map is just one of the choices to map out your project or idea. I use an organizational chart to help me see the flow of tasks I need to address. The map on the side is a homemade one. XMind has all sorts of nifty ways to make a map look so much better.

When I mapped out the ideas for my book chapters, they came so quickly that I was amazed. I know books need outlines, but for some reason, I felt overwhelmed by it. Once my eyes had a visual image to work with, however, the ideas flowed quickly until I had ten specific topics I wanted to cover in each chapter. What a relief! I felt as though a 50 lb. weight had lifted from my head! I was even able to see the progression I wanted to take with the chapter development, hopefully creating them in such a way that would segue naturally into the next chapter topic.

If you have a huge project, or need to plan your curriculum or next meeting's agenda - I can't recommend enough using a mapping approach. It just feels much more organic than the formal outline method and for me at least, it was much more enjoyable.

Hope it brings out the productive genius that you always knew you had. Thank God for these tools!

Pope Benedict XVI May Appoint Next Archbishop of England and Wales

The reason I am following the story so closely is because Cardinal Murphy O'Connor has been so vehemently against the Traditional Latin Mass. He even prevented Archbishop Burke from conducting a TLM at Westminster Cathedral.

I hope the next Archbishop of Westminster will be more flexible.

The Pope has been forced to intervene in a damaging power struggle over who will become the next spiritual head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales.

Pope Benedict XVI will decide next week who should succeed Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor as Archbishop of Westminster. It is possible that he will shun all five candidates vying for the post and impose a Vatican diplomat instead.

The highly unusual move is the result of his advisers’ failure to reach a consensus on the best candidate.

The Catholic Church in England and Wales is riven by splits and opponents of at least two of the candidates have lobbied the Vatican in an attempt to sabotage the candidates’ hopes.

Full Article

A Simple Woman's Daybook

Thanks to Peggy at The Simple Woman for starting the daybook. For more entries, or to join, go here.

For Today: Monday, March 23, 2009

Outside My Window... Dark. It's 36 degrees but will be warming up to a nice Spring day.

I am thinking... about the great mind mapping tool I discovered recently, Xmind. I might post a separate post about it later. Great productivity tool!

I am thankful for... my weekends! It is always nice to relax and recharge my batteries for the upcoming week.

From the kitchen... For breakfast, a honey-nut with almonds cereal, coffee. Quick-n-Easy Baked Ziti (again!), salad with assorted veggies.

I am wearing... a gray-striped cotton nightshirt with embroidered pink roses, emerald-green night robe, slippers.

I am creating... Mind Maps!

I am going... to finally input the last expenses in my Pampered Chef software so I can create my expense report for taxes. It's going to go to our tax lady, who I admit is worth paying to do this sort of stuff.

I am reading... Catering to Nobody by Diane Mott Davidson and my new Envoy magazine issue. I have a new intellectual crush, by the way. Dr. Peter Kreeft. What a brilliant man!

I am hoping... to take advantage of the outline I created this past weekend for my book and keep writing. It took me some time to finally organize my thoughts, but once I did, I was on a roll. I hope to keep rolling!

I am hearing... the heat coming through the vent.

Around the house... laundry that needs to be finished, Netflix movie that still needs to be returned.

One of my favorite things... cooking for friends and family, especially my stepson and his new wife, who were in for a quick visit on Friday.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: Writing, writing, writing. And getting the tax stuff in order.

Here is picture thought I am sharing. . . I need to add one of my stepson and daughter-in-law. Will post later. They really are cute, if I do say so myself!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Why I Love the Traditional Latin Mass

My love for this precious Mass continues to grow. On the heels of my last post, I would like to address more specifically why this Mass means so much to me, especially in light of one of the comments on this post on Clerical Whispers, which reported that the Extraordinary Form Mass would soon be available in County Mayo, Ireland. One anonymous poster quipped:
Has the Church rejected the teaching and spirit of Vatican II to such an extent that the Latin Mass has to be said?

Most people under 50 would regard the Latin mumblings as alien and incomprehensible. Are the Latin Mass supporters afraid of worshipping in a language they and othr [sic] can understand?

Oh, how wrong you are, dear one.

First, I'm not sure how it is in Ireland, but in the United States, we are seeing a large percentage of younger people (meaning those under 30 years old) turning toward tradition. This includes attending the Gregorian Rite (as Pope Benedict XVI calls the traditional Latin Mass), complete with mantillas and the 1962 Roman Missal. They love it. It's easy to see why they love it and I share their joy.

Second, you have obviously underestimated the erosion of Catholic identity which has occurred through the many liturgical abuses committed under the guise of "in the spirit of Vatican II." There are some Catholic parishes that celebrate the Mass in such a way that they are almost indistinguishable from a Protestant service. I'm not sure how it is in Ireland, and to be honest, I can't imagine such indignities being foisted upon the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass from such a gentle but fiercely devout Catholic country. But in the United States, we have had to deal with these types of atrocities:

Is it any wonder why the sacred silence of the traditional Latin Mass, with the reverence of receiving the Eucharist while kneeling and on the tongue, has appealed to Catholics who are weary of such weirdness?

When it comes to remembering what Jesus Christ has done for us at Calvary, no human "creativity" is needed. The stark truth of what God did for mankind is awesome and demands our fullest attention. It is not a time to be entertained. It is a time to be convicted.

During the TLM, heads are bowed as the priest re-presents the Sacrifice of All Sacrifices. It is a holy moment. To sully it with someone's desire to be the center of attention while wearing a clown outfit is not only profane but in my opinion, borders on heresy. It has absolutely no place whatsoever in the Mass, no matter how "diverse" or "tolerant" a parish may think themselves to be.

The TLM has become a refuge. It is a place for me to reconnect with what it means to be a Catholic, a believer in Christ and understand what He has done for us. A place to recognize the sacred role of the priest as he acts as a bridge between the people and God. You better believe that the enemy of our souls would love nothing more than to destroy it, relegating the Mass to nothing more than a diversion, bringing shallow pride in one's heart for fulfilling an "obligation."

Well, I have news for those who are of such an opinion. God doesn't need our reluctant spirits, acting as though we're doing Him a favor by showing up at Sunday Mass. He desires our obedience and submission to His will, knowing it is the perfect way for us. His way is always better than our ways, whether we understand them or not.

I love the TLM because it demands so much of me, like God requires so much of us. The path to holiness is not an easy one nor does it shape itself to our "microwave" culture. It requires discipline, perseverance, dedication, faithfulness. These are the traits that the TLM are shaping in me. I am finding my devotions deeper and more rich as a result.

That is why I love the traditional Latin Mass. Quite simply, I believe it is making me a better Catholic. Not better than anyone else, just better than what I would have been if I had attended a clown Mass. Deo Gratias.

Victory for the Killala Diocese: A Traditional Latin Mass May Come Soon

I have been interested in the dioceses who have obstructed or hampered the desire of some Catholics for having access to the traditional Latin Mass. Recently, the Vatican stepped in and informed the Killala Diocese (County Mayo, Ireland) that they are to provide the Catholics in their area a Mass in the Extraordinary Form. (mantilla nod: Clerical Whispers)

The Catholics in this area were placed in the unfortunate position of having to lodge their complaints to none other than the Vatican when it was evident their Bishop was turning a deaf ear to their requests. This to me is shameful. Why do Catholics have to go to such lengths to be provided access to a traditional Mass that has now been given the blessing from the Pope? Do not priests and bishops respect the Pope? Wait. Maybe I don't want to hear the answer. From the post at Clerical Whispers:

In July 2007, Pope Benedict's letter, Summorum Pontificum, eased restrictions on the pre-Vatican II Mass, the so-called Tridentine Rite and established that any Catholic priest can celebrate the traditional Latin Mass without first seeking the permission of his bishop.

Prior to the coming into force of Summorum Pontificum bishops had the right to restrict access to the Latin Mass.

Initially, the Killala Council of Priests, an advisory body made up of both elected members and priests appointed by Bishop Fleming, advised that no provision should be made for the Latin Mass pending a request for clarification from the Vatican on aspects of the Pope's letter.

This advice was accepted by Bishop Fleming and an announcement made that the Mass would be unavailable in the Killala diocese.

However, The Irish Catholic has learned that the matter came to the attention of the Holy See as a number of people in Killala wrote to the Vatican to express their frustration at the lack of provision.
Full Story (Thank you for the link, Tom!)

This is one of the reasons why I love the Catholic church. There is a very specific line of authority. Catholic parishioners do have a voice but it must always be heard through the dual headphones of the Bible and Tradition. The Pope, (who needs our prayers always) must discern God's will, glorifying Him. Not "mob rule" or the preferences of bishops. The Head of the Church, who is Christ, must oversee and direct. In the case of Pope Benedict XVI, His Holiness decreed a lifting of the restrictions regarding celebrating Mass in the Extraordinary Form. Sadly, some bishops and archbishops are resisting. They too, need our prayers.

The Mass of the Extraordinary Form will be held in a beautiful church, Our Lady of the Assumption in Ardagh, Crossmolina, Co.Mayo. The church has impressive roots, dating back to the 12th century.

It is good to know those of us who love the TLM have a friend in the Holy See.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Quick Post: Fortune Cookie

My husband and I enjoy a local Chinese restaurant and especially the fortune cookies. They were kind enough to give us extras and tonight I opened one. Inside it said:

Self-respect is the root of discipline.

Very profound.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Letter One: Dear Ex-Catholic at the Interdenominational Church

I am going to write this post as though I am writing it just to you, someone who at one point was attending a Catholic parish but drifted away.

I know you felt a spiritual void. You wanted to attend church somewhere because deep down inside, you know you need God and you need to be spiritually nourished somewhere. I can remember well the day I left the Catholic church. I felt as though I was entering a brave, new world. I thought the Catholic church was a relic, an ancient behind-the-times structure that needed a complete overhaul. And no matter how many songs we sang from the Gather hymnal, or how many 'modern' services I attended, I knew I was missing out on something.

I'll never forget the day I attended an open house for an all-girls Catholic high school. My parents were considering it among the choices and I dutifully took the entrance exam. Even back then, it shocked me to see their version of a "chapel." I stepped into the room, filled with seats. I can't remember kneelers. But what I do remember is the utter blank space where the tabernacle should have been and a very abstract piece of art on the wall that was supposedly the crucifix. Except Jesus Christ wasn't anywhere to be seen. In fact, I nicknamed it "The Chapel of the Big Plus Sign." I even said to my parents (in my most indignant fourteen-year old way), "Do we worship a Big Plus Sign? How is that supposed to remind me of Jesus Christ and what he did for me?"

The nuns at that school wore regular clothes to feel comfortable, which made me uncomfortable. The other high school we looked at had older nuns still walking around in full habit even though some of the younger nuns had modified theirs. The chapel was gorgeous and looked just like a little chapel should, right down to the old wooden pews and kneelers. I liked it much better.

However, during those years of being stirred into a hazy spiritual milieu, something happened that I didn't count on. I lost my understanding of Catholicism.

You may be in the same boat. I don't know. But something happened in order for you to move from the Catholic church to that non-denom you now attend. Maybe it was the parish's boring worship, or its cold architecture. Maybe it was a domineering priest or nun. Maybe it was a bunch of rules you didn't understand or cared to follow. Whatever it was, it led you to push away because you felt something better existed "out there."

In all fairness, to contrast what is "out there" with what you had "in here," within Catholicism, you need to understand thoroughly what you have left. Do you? I didn't. I thought I did, but I didn't.

The one thing I noticed in every church I attended was whether they celebrated communion or not. How it was treated. The frequency of that celebration. What happened if a church practiced communion regularly?

Most of the non-denom churches I attended did not celebrate communion. And even when they did, something was missing. It has taken me a very long time to discover what was missing, but I think I know now what it was.


Jesus took the bread and said to His disciples, This is My body, given for you. Do this in memory of Me. I know that many times I believed in remembering, but I didn't believe it was actually His Body and Blood. Have you read the Gospel of St. John, chapter 6? It is very interesting. In verse 53, it says: Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you." (NIV) Then Jesus goes on to show us exactly how it is that we can eat His flesh and drink His blood. Through the Eucharist.

Since returning to the Catholic church, I have marveled at the maturity of faith that so many Catholics have. The maturity I'm talking about was in short supply within the non-denom churches I attended. This maturity is even in short supply in many of the more "modern" Catholic churches.

Could it be possible, that the maturity I see is directly linked to how a church views the Eucharist and believes it to be the True Presence of the Body of Christ? Words to ponder, indeed.

From "Chris & Company", Another Fine Catholic Blogger

This post is so wonderful that I'd like to share it with you. Written by Chris (who now has a new blog, Sub Tuum Praesidium, which means, "We fly to thy patronage" and is the beginning of the oldest hymn found to the Blessed Virgin Mary.), it is the description of her growing dissatisfaction with what seems to be the majority of Catholic parishes and her surprised delight in finding that a church that offers the novus ordo Mass in Latin made a huge difference in her spiritual life.

The post: treatise time: how did I get this way anyway?!?!?! Inquiring minds want to know!

(Note: Chris decided to close her first blog to 'members only' but started her second blog for the Catholic audience. Below is her post. I didn't realize the snag others would hit while trying to follow the link. So, here it is. I found it inspiring and interesting. I hope you do, too. Enjoy!


So, I went ahead and joined St. Agnes parish up in Saint Paul.

This in spite of the fact that I do not even live in the archdiocese (normal Catholics go to whatever church is closest- I think we've already established my lack of normalcy here!) I talked to the pastor on the phone today and he was happy to take my name and address.

So, happily, I will no longer be subjected to the following practices- all of which I have observed in one local parish or another:

*hideous projection screens at the front of the church, despite the fact that all they are putting up there is the music that is in the book which is sitting right in front of you

*lack of visible (or altered) crucifix in the church (we're Catholic- by golly, let's look like it!)---lack of kneelers or a visible Tabernacle often goes along with it!

*drum sets which need to be played during EVERY song of the Mass (I love Christian rock music- but there is a time and a place....Holy Mass is neither!)

*hand-holding while praying the Our Father (who started this anyway? I could see within your own family maybe....but everyone????)

*priests who infuse the entire liturgy (including the not-to-be-messed-with Eucharistic Prayer) with their own little tidbits, opinions, campaigns, thoughts, prayers...instead of following the book like they should be

*the saccharine 1970's "Gather"-hymnal-fest of such songs as "Rain Down", "Jesus Come to Us" and "Open My Eyes Lord" (wonderful sentiments in and of themselves...but the lyrics are just pathetic and always made me feel like I was in 2nd grade again....) OK fine, they might sing these at St Agnes at some time, but I doubt I will hear them at the Latin Mass!

*the ultra-distracting communion where I am required to participate in singing no less than 2 songs while traipsing up to receive our Lord and Savior from the unconsecrated hands of a random person instead of a priest

*clapping (for any reason whatsoever) during Mass (tack-Y!)

*priests who turn their back to the Lord and "face the people" (see Fr Z's latest post on ad orientem worship- it's very good)

*someone going up before Mass to read off the lists of people who are "doing things" in the Mass today (hint- "active participation" does not mean you need to be up on the altar doing something...unless you are in fact the priest)

*woefully inaccurate ICEL translations of the actual prayers of the Mass (I didn't take a day's worth of Latin in high school, but even I can see that et cum spiritu tuo does not translate into "and also with you"!)

*altar servers schlepping up to do their duties with their jeans and sneakers showing

I could go on.....

Believe me, even *I* can't believe what a hard-nose I have become. How did this happen?

Well, I think it was because I prayed for some type of conversion experience this Lent. I believe I got it.

Here's the deal.

I believe I have always been on the fairly conservative side of things, religiously and politically. A lot of the things I mention above are things that have bothered my over the years, but I never knew there WAS any other way.

Until I started going to the Traditional Latin Mass (abbreviated TLM because it's too long to type out every time). A couple years ago I went for the first time, purely out of curiosity. I didn't knew the TLM even existed anymore.

Growing up, all I remember hearing of pre-Vatican II Mass was that it was all in Latin, the priest "had his back to the people" (a gross misunderstanding of why he faced East), women wore veils....um, yep, that sounded pretty weird to me for a long time. Good thing Vatican II got rid of that. (clue- it didn't!)

Anyway, after going to a few TLM's here locally I started to realize that there was something BIG happening...this Mass was different. The priest was facing the altar because he was leading us in prayer to God -who cares if his back was to me, what does he need to look at me for- he's certainly not praying to me! And there were all kinds of gestures, the candles, the incense--- that made you realize something very important was going on. It was suddenly much more easy to see why it is called the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, not just a "meal to be shared".

As I learned more about the history and liturgy of the Latin Mass, I began to look at the Masses I went to in a very different light. Having been born after the changes of Vatican II, I had never known anything but the modern "novus ordo" Mass. I started to think that I was missing a lot...

Then over Lent I started reading a lot of Catholic blogs- a lot of people that are fired up about the faith, who are working to expand the use of the TLM, to bring back treasures of the faith that have been lost over the last 40 years (post-Vatican II). And it was in my search to find a weekly Latin Mass in the area that I found St. Agnes parish. I was a little hesitant at first because they do not celebrate the old Tridentine Mass, they celebrate the novus ordo Mass in Latin (there is a difference- it may not make a difference to you, but it is a big difference). But they do it right- they don't make up their own stuff, they don't put in stuff that doesn't belong there.

Ah, big deal, you say. So they're old-fashioned.
So, why drive all that way just to go to church? Isn't that a little odd? A Catholic church is a Catholic church, right?
Well, one would hope....
The word "catholic" actually means "universal". Back in the day (pre-Reformation) there WAS only one Church- it was universal (catholic). So one would think that going to any Catholic church anywhere, the experience of the Mass would be (you guessed it) universal.

This is far from the truth.

I know there are lots of Protestant churches etc. that aren't used to having "rules" that as a church, they need to follow. But (in case you haven't noticed) Catholics do. There is a "how to" book for how Mass is to be done- and a great many Catholic churches have thrown it out the window.

WHY, you ask, does this matter.

Why do I have a little logo on the side of my blog (thanks to the Closed Cafeteria) that says "Save the Liturgy, Save the World" - other than the fact that it sounds cool? Could anyone possibly believe that how a bunch of Catholics celebrate the Mass has any effect on anything outside of the church walls?

I actually do.

The title above that logo to the right says "lex orandi, lex credendi": the law of prayer is the law of belief. Basically- it means that how we pray affects what we believe.

Have you ever thought of it this way? It should be the other way around shouldn't it?

Well, for those who are Catholic...picture your typical Sunday Mass that you go to:

What indications are there that something sacred is happening?
What reverent positions or gestures do you see which show our respect and worship of the Almighty?
Does the music inspire you to prayer, or is it there to fill the time?
Does the Eucharistic Prayer reflect the fact that at this moment, the sacrifice of our Lord on Calvary is being made present?
Does the priest's handling of the consecrated bread and wine reflect that this is the true and literal body and blood of God Himself?

Because if your average Joe and Jane Catholic don't SEE and experience this at Sunday Mass....how are they to know that it is truly our Lord and Savior that they are receiving in the Eucharist? How are they supposed to believe that anything miraculous has happened? What is going to "give that fact away"?

Ever seen a poll on how many Catholics don't believe in the Real Presence? Can you imagine now why that might be the case?

Skits and hand-holding and sappy music Masses don't tell us what is really going on at Mass. The Eucharist is the "source and summit of the Christian life" - THE MOST IMPORTANT THING. How many treat it as a 45-minute social engagement?

If we REALLY believed we were receiving Jesus....would we be so casual about it?

How we pray DOES affect what we believe. If your parish is of the "Mass is a community meal, let's all gather round the table and sing folk songs" mindset, you may have a tough time recognizing the Mass for the Sacrifice that it is. And in turn, the fact that it is your Lord that you are receiving could too easily be sidelined. And if you miss that boat, you've missed EVERYTHING.

In light of that, the latest Pew Forum report on the decline of religion in America- particularly Catholicism- isn't as surprising. Very sad. If all the ex-Catholics had truly believed in the Real Presence and understood Whom they were receiving at Mass- I would like to think that they would never left it.

If you've actually read this far you deserve a cookie, so go and get one for yourself, I'll wait here.


So those are my thoughts and the basic story of how I became a hard-nosed, mantilla-wearing, rosary-toting, Latin-chanting traditional(ist) Catholic. Other than that, I haven't changed. I am still a nice (and downright hilarious) person. And my faithful Lutheran husband and children have yet to disown me despite the fact that I am spending all our money on gas to drive to St Paul every weekend. (Not only that- but he actually DOESN'T think I'm crazy, if you can believe that.)

Thanks for reading. Enjoy your cookie. :)

Monday, March 16, 2009

A Simple Woman's Daybook

Thanks to Peggy at The Simple Woman for starting the daybook. For more entries, or to join, go here.

For Today: Monday, March 16, 2009

Outside My Window... A nice Spring-like day is shaping up. The sun is peeking from the horizon and a slight breeze is in the air.

I am thinking... about the gorgeous Cathedral Basilica I visited yesterday.

I am thankful for... my church family. They are such a warm, loving, and smart bunch of folks. And proud of their Catholic faith!

From the kitchen... Quick-n-Easy Baked Ziti, salad with assorted veggies, garlic bread.

I am wearing... dark blue jeans, pink thermal shirt, white sneakers, and my favorite black cardigan with the empire waist.

I am creating... not much at the moment. I'm still working on the digital page.

I am going... to get my oil changed today. It's time!

I am reading... Catering to Nobody by Diane Mott Davidson and my new Envoy magazine issue.

I am hoping... to get my 2008 expenses organized in preparation for our tax accountant.

I am hearing... "The War Room" with Quinn & Rose.

Around the house... The Netflix envelope for our latest movie, "Raiders of the Lost Ark ", my husband's guitar case and ukes, two coats I'm giving away to the thrift store.

One of my favorite things... attending Mass in a jaw-droppingly, gorgous cathedral. Nothing elevates my spirit like breathtaking sacred art and architecture.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: Writing my introduction for the book, attending a networking event, finishing some digital pages, cleaning for a visit from my stepson and his wife.

Here is picture thought I am sharing. . . Yesterday, I attended the baptism of a friend at St. Mary's Cathedral Basilica in Covington, Kentucky. If you're ever near this area, I highly recommend a visit. It's one of the few Minor Basilicas in the area. (I've read two different numbers of the Minor Basilicas in the United States - St. Mary's website said 35 exist but another site said 62. St. Mary's has the distinction of having the world's largest stained-glass window within it. Below is the photo of it but you really don't get a sense of the immensity unless you were standing before it. It is just amazing!

The Fruit of the Spirit and Conservativism

Years ago, as a "move of the Spirit" was affecting a church, many were skeptical and wondered if it was of God or not. My response was this: look for the fruit of the Spirit. If anything is of God, we will see the truth through the prism of His Word. Does a spiritual experience deepen our love for Him? Are we moved to repentance? Is the fruit of the Spirit more evident in our lives?

I have always loved St. Paul's letter to the Galatians. In 5:22 and 23, we learn what the fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control. These nine "fruits" have helped guide me considerably in discerning what is a true "move of the Spirit" and who is an authentic spiritual leader. In St. Matthew 12:32,33, Jesus instructs His disciples:

And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in that which is to come. Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree corrupt, and its fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by its fruit.

I was reminded of this truth recently when I attended a social media symposium on Thursday and Friday. The topic was "remix," which is becoming more popular today in our fast-paced world. It is a form of communication and many consider it an art form. A remix is when someone takes clips of various video footage, and then "remixes" it and adds audio - creating a social expression; often observations on culture and society.

However, sitting among the group, I realized I was probably one of the few conservatives there if not the only conservative. Remixing has attracted a decidedly politically-left bunch. There were six videos shown that slammed President Bush and war. Only one seemed to slightly mock President Obama. The panels were filled with the usual suspects - anti-American self-styled "artists" and those who felt somehow cheated because of their race or sexual preference. Most were filled with a certain self-righteousness that came across as arrogant. What really impressed me was this sense of seriousness. Most of them took what was being discussed so seriously. As though it was a matter of National Security that they be allowed to hijack someone else's creativity in order to produce their own worldview.

That's when I thought about the fruit of the Spirit and it's possible connection to Conservatism.

I think I'm safe in saying that the majority of people who consider themselves Conservatives are also believers in God. Many of them are Christians. (note: I am aware that there are atheists who are conservatives. But they are not the majority.) Those Christian beliefs are reflected in their attitudes and actions. Contrast this with the attitudes and actions of those who consider themselves Liberals (or "Progressives").

I told my father long ago that I've never met a radical feminist who was happy. I still hold firm to that opinion. Where is the joy? The peace? The kindness, goodness, self-control? Nowhere. They are, sadly, an unhappy lot, erroneously believing their predicament is someone else's fault.

When I was at this symposium, I realized how out-of-touch I was with what is considered the 'norm' for any major university campus. Both the attendees and the panel members were unfriendly. There was a chill in the air as I looked around, surprised that I didn't feel comfortable with least trying to make light conversation with someone. Even before the symposium started, there was no laughter or lightness of spirit. Evidently, talking about copyright issues and open source was too important to even smile at those just entering the room. Yeesh.

No love. No joy. No peace. No humility.

Is it any wonder why those who consider themselves Very Important Artists are obsessed with everything that is the opposite of those fruits? Here they are: Hate, Unhappiness, Discontent, Impatience, Rudeness, Evil, Infidelity, Arrogance, Licentiousness. In other words, don't tell them God loves them and if they can embrace that truth, they'll be filled with joy. It's much more interesting for them to record the world's misery.

This is why, more than ever, we need Christian artists to step up to the plate. We have a life-changing message. Will they listen? Many will not but some will. Let us bear the fruit of the Spirit and spread the Good News.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Ukulele Player Magazine - Fourth Issue Released

I was bad last month and didn't announce it but will this month! Ukulele Player Magazine is my husband's creation. It's a free online magazine covering all sorts of things ukulele-wise. He takes great effort to get the best news available, which usually involves staying up late and getting up early so he can do this before he goes to his day job. (Yes. He is obsessively dedicated!) Ukulele Player Magazine, Issue 4 is now available!

In this latest issue, we both had the delightful pleasure of meeting Jake Shimabukuro when he recently played in Akron, Ohio. Jake had an unusual blessing happen to him three years ago. In 2006, he was pretty much an unknown, attending in New York a ukulele festival. While in Central Park, he played a rendition of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." Someone videotaped it. That video found it's way onto YouTube where it now has over 2 million views. That video, as he said, changed his life.

He now frontlines for Jimmy Buffet while he's on tour, has been a guest on the Conan O'Brien Show (Conan loves him!) and many other opportunities have emerged for this sweet, humble musician. I have never in my life met someone so nice who is as talented as Jake! When we went to the concert in Akron, Jake stayed after to meet the audience, taking photos, signing autographs for a little over 500 people. He was gracious and kind with everyone. Just an amazing guy! I made him laugh (and my husband) when I said to him, "Oh, I just want to cook for you!" Jake gave me a hug and I quickly explained that I'm half-Italian and know that musicians travel so much, it was just in my blood to want to cook a nice home-cooked meal. I'm sure he was laughing at the "silly" wife of the Mickey afterward! (But I couldn't help it. I really did want to cook for him!)

The video that started it all is below. Enjoy and pass along the link to the magazine if you know of anyone who loves the ukulele!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Woman, You Are Loved

Anyone who regularly reads my blog can tell, I hope, that I love to encourage people. Sometimes my words may come across strongly, but it is only because of the passion I feel in my heart to remind people to look to God always - for everything.

Sometimes it is easier to think of looking to God for our physical needs. "I am in need of a good job, Lord, please hear my prayer." Or, "Father, my son needs Your healing touch. Please, Lord, hear my prayer." But it's not as easy to ask God to help us with our sense of identity; to give us peace and contentment in who He created us to be.

This is a reason why my focus is often on women and women's issues. Whatever women go through in their quest to be appreciated, rewarded, recognized, acknowledged - I have experienced the same. I have wrestled with the role of women in ministry and sought validation through the eyes of men. I have questioned church authorities and been disappointed by their lack of concern or attention regarding women. I have taken offense on behalf of other godly women who, in my eyes, were rejected and scorned by church leadership. I know. I've been there.

However, continuing to ram my way into relevancy was not the way to go. I somehow knew this. During solitude, while in prayer, I knew in my spirit that this was not the way to fulfill my purpose as a Christian woman. In my most private times, when I allowed myself to be painfully honest with God - I could see how self-absorbed I was and how rebellious my spirit could be. And always, my precious Lord Jesus Christ would look at me and say, Come, My daughter. Follow Me.

Following Jesus. What does that mean? We all have our unique crosses, but for women overall; I would say it means dying to your need for recognition. Dying to your need for validation. Even dying to your need for reassurance that you are doing the "right thing." Jesus asks that we lay down our lives for Him. That we die to everything that keeps us from loving Him completely and becoming vessels to be filled with God's love, compassion, and forgiveness for a deadened world. God cannot use me if all I'm thinking about is me. He needs me to let go of all that binds me to this world, those strings of desire that hold me to what others think, what others see. He wants to set me free, to cut those strings so I can go where He wants to lead me.

Women's desire for recognition has been heavily abused by the devil. In its most strident form, we see radical feminism. The devil loves to stir up a woman's anxiety and make her feel as though she is "missing out" on something bigger. Stealing a woman's peace and contentment in Christ is, in my view, the top target of the enemy's plan of attack. If he can get a woman's eyes off Jesus Christ and focus her on the "unfairness of it all," his work is done. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see what happens when a woman is unhappy. Like the t-shirt saying, "When Momma Ain't Happy, Ain't NO ONE Happy!"

This is why I stress the importance of dying to self for women. If I ever have the opportunity to speak to women again, this will be my life message: Die to yourself. Die to your desire to "be somebody." You already are somebody. You are a precious daughter of God and He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ to die for your sin so you could be with Him for all of eternity. Woman, you are loved.

Years ago, I was attending the orientation program for the Wycliff Bible Translators. These translators are missionaries who travel across the globe in order to learn another culture's language, translate their history into books for future generations, and then translate the Bible. I met some wonderful Christians in this program. We had two women speak to us during one session. Afterward, I said to one of the program leaders, "You know what I noticed most about those two women? Contentment. Peace. They were so obviously filled with joy to obey God's calling upon their lives."

In the Gospels, we have many occasions to glimpse Jesus' treatment of women. Aside from the obvious beautiful relationship with His mother, Mary; there are many others we can study. Mary Magdelene, Mary of Bethany, Martha, the Samaritan woman at the well, the Gentile woman begging for healing, and others. All were treated with respect, compassion, and great love. It astounds me when women call the Bible "patriarchal" or "oppressive." I just look at them and think, "Dear lady, you don't know Jesus. Because if you did, you'd never say that."

Many times, unhappy women will insist that they should be leaders, when in fact, there were few women leaders noted in the Gospels. All of the disciples were men. The majority of the church leadership were men. If a woman was mentioned, it was rare and often in conjunction with her husband.

So where does that leave women, as far as being involved in ministry? I like what Pope Benedict XVI said recently:

"Also in our own time, Rome has need of women" like Santa Francesca Romana, he said. Women “entirely dedicated to God and entirely dedicated to others; women capable of prayer and of generous and discreet service; women who know how to obey pastors but also to support and stimulate them with suggestions that arise from their intimacy with Christ and from direct experience in the field of charity, assistance to the sick, the marginalised and young people in difficulties. This is the gift of maternity which is an inseparable part of religious oblation, following the model of Mary Most Holy”.
Pope: Rome Has Need of Women Entirely Dedicated to God and Entirely Dedicated to Others

During Jesus' ministry on earth, a group of women would follow Him and minister to His needs. How can women continue to do that today? We are here to minister to His needs, not to have our own needs met.

However, I can share with those who are doubtful that something wonderful happens when you do this. Something magnificent that eclipses all other desires: When you minister to Jesus and place Him first in your life, you feel whole. Completed. And you experience the peace that passes all understanding.

There is an amazing lightness in your spirit when you are no longer tied to the world. What others think of you does not matter nearly as much as what God thinks of you. Their approval or confirmation of you does not even begin to compare to the life-affirming words of our Father when He speaks to your spirit with comfort and love. All we desire, is in Him.

I wouldn't trade that for all the fame and fortune of this dying world. Through Him, we live.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Socialism, Feminism, and Christianity

That's a pretty ambitious title for a post, I know. However, while visiting my Yahoo! page on Sunday, I noticed the symbol for woman was standing in for one of the "O's." I wondered what it meant. So I clicked on it. I was taken to a page that talked about Yahoo! celebrating International Women's Day. (March 8) When I read that in 1909, February 28 was declared National Women's Day by the Socialist Party, I was surprised but intrigued. I decided to do a little more digging.

Turns out the U.S. Socialist Party page has this as their statement of principles:

THE SOCIALIST PARTY strives to establish a radical democracy that places people's lives under their own control -- a non-racist, classless, feminist, socialist society in which people cooperate at work, at home, and in the community.

Now think about this. This is a political system that wants to level the playing field. They don't want us to see color. They don't want us to see class. But they want us to notice there is a difference between men and women and that women - in its estimation - need special treatment.

This, after all the years of advancement for women. How long have women been able to vote, travel into space, fight on a battlefield, and lead a company from the Chief Executive Officer's office? But yet that's not enough. At this point, all I can do is shake my head and realize some people live in an alternate universe.

Feminists have bothered me for years; ever since for a brief moment in time, I considered myself one. At one point in my early twenties, I started to veer toward feminism. I attended events and frequented the radical bookstores. However, it didn't take long for me to notice that almost every book about feminism would open with a vicious attack on the Bible and Christianity. I found it interesting that rarely would I read any critical thought toward Islam or other belief systems that clearly treated women much worse than Western culture. There is a reason for this.

It is because feminism is just another attempt by the enemy to control women. It is highly ironic that feminism - with all its bravado of 'freeing' women - actually enslave women even more. It is a very slick strategy to continue to make women think they are oppressed when in fact, Western civilization has produced one of the most free climates for women the world has ever known. There is nothing, at this point, that a woman cannot do in the United States of America. I suspect it isn't too different in Europe. Women have not only excelled in institutions of higher learning, they have gone on to succeed in every field possible. The only area this hasn't happened is in football, where brute force is necessary to get a small, leather ball across 100 yards of grass. But other than that, women are in every sport. Even, to my distaste and disagreement, boxing.

Socialism is about control. It is about telling you that your hard work, whatever you produce, is not for you alone to enjoy. You must share. There is no choice in the matter. It doesn't matter if you were sharing before by giving to charity, a religious institution, or your family and friends. What matter in a socialist world is that individuality is destroyed and the collective embraced. It is one step closer to Communism and we all know what a splendid 'success' that has been.

So why would feminists be so drawn to socialism? Well, there is the obvious hatred for men and their deep resentment that men have somehow 'stolen' something from them. Then there is the inequality of wealth, which in their eyes, should not exist. In the socialist world, wealth - which is the result of effective productivity - is punished.

I don't have any clear answers. But I know something is there and feel that as a Christian woman, I need to be prepared spiritually to address it. Because I think it's going to get worse. I think we're going to see more feminists get more angry and push our society toward socialism. (In fact, this is the goal of quite a few "radical women.") However, we know these women do not speak for all women and in fact, a consistent Christian response from women will be necessary.

I do notice this: when you take away God, you have a void. Many of the feminist books I read in my early twenties would immediately fill that void with a "Goddess" spirituality. Take away the God-designed purpose of women bringing life into the world and nurturing it; and you have a void. What happens when a woman rebels against God? What did Eve do when she rebelled? She convinced Adam to join her in sin. They felt shame for the first time. They hid from God.

Unfortunately, what started out as an attempt to create more opportunity for women and ensure they were paid fairly for their work has evolved into a hate-filled philosophy that denies God, resents motherhood and family, and ridicules men. It is an ugly system that only produces bitter women who tragically fall short of God's purpose for them.

Women are bearers of life. Think of that. God has ordained women to conceive life and bring it forth into the world. What better way can the enemy kill life than deceive women?

Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is the Water of Life. He came to bring Life into the world, and to free men and women from the bondage of sin. But look at what socialism and feminism has produced: poverty, misery, and tyranny. One doesn't have to look far to see that as a political system, it is substandard. It simply hasn't helped people lead better lives. It has produced death. Death of freedom. Death of ideas and creativity. Death of progress.

Life, and its intrinsic creativity, will always be a threat to our enemy. He prowls about, seeking whom he may devour. Stem-cell research funding is just another tentacle of his diabolical plan to destroy life. May women rise up and defend life, on all fronts. Our future generations depend on it.

Monday, March 9, 2009

A Simple Woman's Daybook

Thanks to Peggy at The Simple Woman for starting the daybook. For more entries, or to join, go here.

For Today: Monday, March 9, 2009

Outside My Window... Noontime, and it's light. Cloudy and a little sun. 

I am thinking... about my husband. He is just a sweetheart and brings a smile to my face whenever I think about him.

I am thankful for... my new tire. It did fix the major wobbling. Just needed alignment and of course, a new tire.

From the kitchen... I have no idea yet what I'll make tonight for dinner. Something with chicken, I'm thinking. Will most likely check AllRecipes before leaving work!

I am wearing... dark blue jeans, white cotton long-sleeve shirt, my favorite black cardigan with the empire waist.

I am creating... a digital scrapbooking page of my husband's 50th birthday (last year! See how behind I am?!!). I am really enjoying my new program, Digital Scrapbooking Artist. Discovering new things about it all the time, like the cool edges to add to an object.

I am going... to visit the library today. It's been awhile since I've been to one. I have two books reserved.

I am reading... Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyers. Slowly but surely getting through it. I'm still annoyed with the story development. The books I have on order are a Diane Mott Davidson mystery (her first one, Catering to Nobody) and a Joel Rosenberg political thriller, Dead Heat.

I am hoping... to start some exercise routine this week. It's time.

I am hearing... Rush Limbaugh. He's absolutely right. There was plenty of criticism for President Bush when he was in office. Doesn't seem to fly when the shoe is on the other foot...

Around the house... The Netflix envelope for our latest movie, "An American Carol", more boxes from the ukes and uke cases, Jake Shimabukuro's latest CD "Live." 

One of my favorite things... Attending a concert with my husband. We saw Jake in concert in Akron on Saturday night. What a great concert! We even got to meet Jake afterward! He is a total sweetheart. More humble than I've ever witnessed in a talented musician. I tell you, this young man has zero attitude (except a good one!).

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: Writing more here for the blog, attending a networking event, finishing some digital pages, working out. 

Here is picture thought I am sharing. . . I may add one later but don't have one yet. I'd like to add one of Jake!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Continue to Pray for Vocations

Vatican says a study shows a moderate but steady increase in the number of priests. This is such beautiful news! May God increase vocations a hundredfold and continue to touch the hearts of young men and women everywhere to follow Him!

Vatican Radio: Pope Piux XII Tried to Help Jews

A document has surfaced that shows Pope Piux XII tried to help Jews during World War II by acting in quiet diplomacy. Very interesting.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Bishop Joseph F. Martino: Truth Bearer for Catholicism

Bishop Martino made a bold and brave statement about the teaching on "diversity" and "tolerance."

As Catholics, we must distinguish between authentic tolerance and an “anything goes” mindset. For example, would the Diversity Institute be justified in hosting a speaker who believes the Holocaust is a myth? Or one who believes slavery is okay because certain people are inferior? Or one who believes women can be exploited because they are the “weaker sex”? There are people out there who actually believe this nonsense, and they would be perfectly willing to come to the campus to tell you why.

Their views are certainly “diverse,” but does that qualify them to be given a platform in the name of tolerance? Or should they be allowed to make a presentation without any retort from the Catholic perspective?

Here, here!

The Fruit of Rebellion: Catholic Institutions for Religious Women

"..This now organized effort to get us back into the older form."

I had heard about the Vatican sending officials to visit various institutes of women religious in the United States, and of course, rejoiced. Rejoiced because I know that many of these religious institutions have wandered far from their Catholic roots. Rejoiced because many of these who refuse the name "Sister," were partly responsible for my weakened spiritual formation. Rejoiced because these "progressive" orders weren't increasing in their vocations and finally, something seemed to be in motion to address it.

Am I angry? I am only angry at the devil for successfully deluding so many. The self-absorption and misguided steps of many of these "enlightened" religious communities have done more damage within the Catholic church than I'm sure they'd be willing to admit. The above quote was from a letter from Sr. Sandra M. Schneiders, a member of Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Monroe, Michigan. She is a professor of New Testament Studies and Christian Spirituality at the Jesuit School of Theology, Berkeley, California. (Yes, it did not escape my attention. Berkeley.) 

Here is part of her letter, that was reprinted recently in the National Catholic Register. My comments are in red.:

We realized, by our return to the Gospel and to our own foundations, that we were called to much more radical [meaning in-depth] renewal than surface adjustments of lifestyle. (So prior women religious orders before the 70's didn't have in-depth commitment? Not one of the centuries of these communities went beyond 'surface adjustments of lifestyle?') There is no going back. But I think we may have to claim this, calmly and firmly, in the face of this now organized effort to get us back into the older form. (In other words, you don't want to even consider anything that the Vatican may suggest.) We are as different from "apostolic Religious Congregations” [such as those represented by the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, or CMSWR] (of whom the Vatican is much more approving) as the mendicants were from the Benedictine monks. The big difference is that they [apostolic Religious Congregations] read Perfectae Caritatis and did what it asked: deepened their spirituality (I hope), and did some updating -- shorter habits, a more flexible schedule, dropping customs that were merely weird, etc. (Would that have included praying the rosary? Studying the lives of the saints? However, I suppose it's not 'weird' to include a drumming circle.) We read Perfectae Caritatis through the lenses of Gaudium et Spes and Lumen Gentium and we were called out of the monastic/apostolic mode and into the world that Gaudium et Spes declared the Church was embracing after centuries of world rejection. (Called out? Then why take the vows? Why commit your life to one of separation? If you feel you are called into the world then perhaps you missed your vocation to begin with and should have remained within the laity.)

I could be wrong, but my understanding of women who took vows to enter into a consecrated life through a religious institution was that it meant they were separating themselves from the world - for a purpose. That purpose could be a monastic life, filled with prayer and reparation for the sins of the world; or it could be a life focused on serving the needs of others, such as assisting in the spiritual formation of children or serving the poor within their communities. I don't understand how someone could say they wanted to be a nun but then balk at the requirements. Aren't there standards?

Here is the vision of the Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary:

The IHM community envisions and is committed to bringing about the dream of God on planet Earth through respect for, nurturing of and promoting the liberation and well-being of all persons and all of nature as God's good creation.

The "dream of God?" "Well-being?" Okay. Maybe I missed it, but where is "sin" mentioned? Repentance? Forgiveness? Catholic doctrine? In fact, this bland vision statement is so lacking in vision that it renders itself almost useless. You know what it says to me? It is the product of too many hours of discussion over what is "politically correct" and what isn't. It has no backbone, no 'oomph' when it comes to reflecting the rock-solid, historical truth of the Catholic Church. In short, it is boring and lifeless.

An interesting link was in the NCR piece. It led to a the “Symposium on Apostolic Life: Religious Life Since Vatican II ... Reclaiming the Treasure” held in Boston last year in October. This is very telling. One of the keynote speakers, Sister Sarah Butler, MSBT, in addressing the current state of division within religious communities, said this:

“The reality of this polarization is more than regrettable; it is a cause of scandal. It is a counter-sign. We are called to be vivid, visible signs of the kingdom and to attract others to Christ and his Church by the joyful witness of our consecrated lives.”

This polarization continues abetted by bishops unwilling to confront progressive religious, she said.

Part of the problem was timing, she said. The 1960s and 1970s were the worst times to initiate reforms, given the turmoil and strife that marked those decades. This was especially true, considering the Second Vatican Council’s emphasis on the apostolic at the expense of the monastic, she said.

Because much of the apostolic impulse was expressed through participation in social justice crusades, after religious had finished fighting for civil rights or to end the Vietnam War, they turned the tactics and revolutionary fervor towards perceived injustices inside the Church, she said.

The other aspect of the problem was that Church leaders underestimated the strength of radical feminism in the United States, she said. This strain of feminism is no longer a part of the conversation in civil society, but it remains ascendant within religious communities, she said.

And that, my friends, is the crux of the matter. Feminism. In its most radical form, it is not only a renouncement of God's divine order of authority, but defiance. It is straight from the pit of hell if you examine it closely. Who raised his fist against God, demanding to be worshipped? Who is the father of disobedience? Who whispered in the ear of Eve and purred, "Did God really say...?" Who tempted Eve and then Adam with the proposition that they didn't need God, they could reach enlightenment on their own?

There will always, always, always be opposition from the enemy when it comes to living the Christian life. 

What is at issue, dear Sisters, is Catholic identity. I think that is what the Vatican will be evaluating.