Wednesday, April 29, 2009

"Many Are Called, But Few Are Chosen"

The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a marriage feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the marriage feast; but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, 'Tell those who are invited, Behold, I have made ready my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves are killed, and everything is ready; come to the marriage feast.' But they made light of it and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them.

The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the thoroughfares, and invite to the marriage feast as many as you find.' And those servants went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.

"But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment; and he said to him, 'Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless.Then the king said to the attendants, 'Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen." Matt. 22:2-14

Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few. - Matt. 7:13, 14

If you want to do an interesting Bible study, get a concordance and look up all the verses in the Gospels that have the word "many" in it. In His teachings, Jesus often points out that there will be "many" who think they are going to heaven, but will not. The reasons seem to focus on a person is pretending to be something they are not - a guest without the right clothes, or someone who says and does all the right things on the outside; but inside is unloving.

There is an old-fashioned word that the King James Version of the Bible uses: remnant. In the Revelation to John, it says this:

And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Rev.12:17 KJV)

The reason I've been thinking about these types of verses is because it has occurred to me that we, as Christians, as His Body upon this earth - were never the majority. True Christianity is rare. There may have been moments in history when Christians were more plentiful in society, but the followers of Christ have continued to be persecuted, vilified, mocked, and unfairly treated ever since the Apostles were martyred. I say this because it should not be a surprise to see what is happening to Christianity today.

However, I will admit that even I have been used to living in a "Christian" nation. I grew up attending church and so did most of the people I knew. I grew up accepting that the Bible was the Word of God. Christian values used to be reflected in the movies and magazines. This is no longer the case. The spirit of the world has changed our country and "the way things used to be" until we are now facing more hostility to our faith than we had ever imagined. Every day there is yet another attack on our beliefs, from FOCA to the recent "Hate Crime" bill that puts at risk a pastor preaching against homosexuality from the Bible.

As I've mentioned, I'm in the midst of reading Goodbye, Good Men: How Liberals Brought Corruption into the Catholic Church by Michael S. Rose. My heart has been broken these past few days as I've read account after account of erroneous teachings and outright evil. I know there has been issues of accuracy with Rose's writing; but I know too well the truth of what he is saying. During college, one of my projects for a communication class was to study a group or organization's style of communicating. My project team chose the campus group of gays and lesbians. (At that time, we didn't have the whole alphabet of GLBTQRSTUV to deal with...) I saw how well-connected they were and the growing militancy of the group.

Add that to the enemy's attempts to undermine the Church of Jesus Christ and you have what we are witnessing today: a no-holds barred, all-out war on Christianity.

There is one bright spot. For the moment, we have this - the Internet, and all the ways we receive information and encouragement. As I read yet another story about a "Catholic" teacher in a seminary deliberately teaching heresy, I suddenly smiled. I thought, "They" think they have destroyed faith. They are wrong. They weren't counting on the Internet.

By "they," I am referring to the dissenters against the Bible, the Pope, the Magisterium, and all of our Catholic doctrine, held throughout history. They thought that by hammering the shepherds, the sheep would be lost. They thought that by sodomizing and feminizing our priests, the plans would be set in motion for the Church to bless active homosexuality and ordain women as priests. But they were wrong.

The Internet has usurped their false sense of authority and power. For this, I will always love the Internet and how presently, it has not only leveled the playing field for intellectual discussion, but has birthed a completely new game. For better or worse, our spiritual nourishment doesn't just happen on Sunday mornings. We now can find good, solid food in many places - on the radio, in a magazine, or on the Internet.

We still need our priests. Don't get me wrong. The priest has the power and authority to distribute the Sacraments. But God has kept a remnant faithful to Him and will continue to do so. I praise God for all the good priests who have fought the "good fight," and have stood strong for the truth. Keep them in your prayers because I have a feeling the battle is only going to intensify.

Monday, April 27, 2009

New Look, New Approach

Happy Monday to you! At the moment, I have my window open and can hear the sweet song of the birds. Their joyful song fills the air and I feel hopeful.

"Hopeful" is an emotion I would like to cultivate more, especially on this blog. During the past few months, I've been a mishmash of emotions, ranging from anger toward the direction our country is taking - to the unspeakable joy of discovering Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. I'm sure you can imagine which one I'd rather focus on.

I would like to thank my regular readers for hanging with me during the past year as I journeyed toward a deeper understanding of Catholicism. It wasn't always easy, and I imagine I'll still have moments of puzzlement and wonder. However, I trust God enough to see me through and speak into my heart and mind what I need to know.

But now, I realize I need to focus on some things and clarify the purpose of this blog. More than anything, I wish to encourage you, my dear reader, with whatever the Lord shows me. I admit I've used this blog to rant about quite a few things. I know it makes us feel good to find others who share our views, but ranting won't strengthen our spirit. Only focusing on God, will. There have been times I've allowed myself to rail against the changes in government because quite frankly, I think they're wrong. But in the vast scheme of things, haven't men and women always made mistakes, especially in the area of government?

I have done some serious soul-searching this past week. Believe me, I'd love nothing more than to join some activist group and battle it out on the front steps of Pennsylvania Avenue. But - and here is the $60,000 question, my friends - is this the best use of my time?

We all have a very limited time upon this earth. Each day, we have the opportunity to invest in the Kingdom of God. To be honest, I don't want to waste any more time. I have always been dedicated to the cause of the Kingdom, but I feel a sense of urgency to press in even more. Governments come and go, but the Kingdom of God lasts forever.

And so, on that note, I am announcing a few changes to my blog:

  1. I will be adopting a "blog schedule." Posts will go up Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. That way, you know when to check for updates. This will also free me up for #2, which is

  2. I will be focusing on writing a book about my experiences within the non-denominational church movement and compare/contrast those experiences with Catholicism.

  3. The focus on this blog will be to encourage, equip, and prepare my Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ to "gird up their loins" for spiritual battle. I will still be focusing on All Things Catholic, because I am still in my awe-struck phase of realizing the depth of truth that exists in the Sacraments and everything else we cherish. I anticipate talking more about saints, devotions, and reviewing good Catholic books. (Which by the way, if you have favorite authors, let me know. I'm looking.)

I am in the midst of reading Goodbye, Good Men: How Liberals Brought Corruption into the Catholic Church by Michael S. Rose. It is a shocking account of how orthodox men, faithful to the Magisterium, have been systematically blocked from entering the seminaries by those who have a definite agenda for promoting the ordination of women as priests, homosexuality, and a variety of leftist causes. My anger has no words.

After reading yet another amazing "blackballed" account, I turned to my husband and said, "That's it. I'm going into battle." He asked what I meant. I re-read the portion of the book to him and he agreed it was outrageous. Good men - good holy men who could have been wonderful priests, were locked out because they were seen as "too rigid" by being faithful to the Magisterium, keeping devotions, desiring Biblical truth, and respecting the spiritual authority of the Pope.

So. Reading such stories coincided with my desire to shift the focus of this blog to one of proclaiming the Gospel and exhorting believers. We are in a battle, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ - not only with the world, but with the "spirit of the world" which has infiltrated the Catholic church. I'm going to do my level best to not only respond with conviction and truth, but encourage you to also stand strong. More than ever, Jesus Christ, the light of the world, needs to shine. May we all be His bright candles, witnesses to God's grace.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Do You "Eat and Run?" Thoughts on the Holy Eucharist

As some of you know, I was recently released on Easter Sunday to begin receiving the Holy Eucharist again. You can read about this memorable day here if you're not familiar with my story. (My husband's previous marriage needed to be annulled before it could be convalidated by a priest and our marriage then recognized by the Roman Catholic church.)

I knew that during my period of waiting for the Declaration of Nullity to be completed, I was being given a "gift of time." The Lord wanted me to thoroughly examine my relationship to the Holy Eucharist, knowing my doubts which were shaped by years of "anti-Catholic" beliefs. I always cherished "The Lord's Supper," or "taking Communion." But even as a young girl, I had a difficult time with the concept of transubstantiation.

However, during the years away from the Catholic church, I would always notice if a new church I was visiting practiced celebrating Communion or not. I was bothered by the fact that so many non-denominational churches did not honor Jesus' words to His disciples when speaking of the bread and wine becoming His Body and Blood, and that we were to do it to remember Him. How could any church miss something so simple and straightforward as celebrating Communion?

I knew of very few churches that believed it was truly Jesus' Body and Blood. There is such sacredness to this act, but if a church celebrated Communion, it was treated as symbolic, nothing more. I again share the revelation I had on Easter Sunday - that if indeed the Holy Eucharist is the true Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, then it is no wonder there is such a spiritual battle to deny this truth. Of course the devil doesn't want people believing it. Because when you do, powerful things in the Kingdom of God happen. The devil certainly doesn't want a bunch of Christians walking around, spiritually aware of the incredible transaction that just took place during Mass.

So, as you can see, my mind and heart has still been pondering the ramifications of the Holy Eucharist. And, sadly, its abuse.

When I was a little girl, my parents would never have dreamt of walking out to the parking lot after receiving the Holy Eucharist. I now cannot express enough my deep gratitude for this practice. I would watch other people receive the Holy Eucharist, and then instead of walking back to their pew, keep on walking toward the back of the church. I turned to watch them walk right out the door into the parking lot. At the time, I thought they were rude, but that was the extent of it. Now I'm afraid that those who do this are lacking in their understanding of what just transpired.

Is our life so hectic and stressed for time that we cannot take a few more minutes to ponder our Lord Jesus Christ's sufferings and the rewards His Father bestowed upon Him? After we receive the Holy Eucharist, we are given the opportunity to kneel in silence and... ponder. Meditate. To absorb what just happened and that we have the Living Bread of Life within us.

Recently, I found one of the most beautiful prayers I have read on the Internet. It is Padre Pio's prayer after receiving the Holy Eucharist. You can read the prayer here. In fact, I loved it so much that copied and printed it onto an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper and took it with me to Mass on the Second Sunday of Easter. After I received the Holy Eucharist, I prayed that prayer. I think this prayer would benefit everyone and I may just make copies of it and pass them around to those interested. (Although I'd like to have it in the size of a prayer card for easier transportation.)

When people receive Holy Communion and then head to the parking lot, they are robbing their spirit of the opportunity to meditate upon the relationship Jesus Christ has with them. Jesus said when we took bread and wine, we were to remember Him. I can't imagine there is much room in a person's mind to truly obey this directive when one walks out the door, focusing on the "what's next" in their day.

I don't mean to sound harsh with these words. But we're heading toward difficult days and we need the treasures of these reflections more than ever. We need to be nourished by our Lord Jesus Christ and the spiritual strength that His Body and Blood imparts. I just may be spending a few extra moments after Mass has ended to continue absorbing this magnificent gift.

For those who may be in the place where I used to be a year ago, I suggest studying the Gospel of St. John, chapter six. Think about what Jesus is saying to His followers and how many He lost when they couldn't believe what He was saying. Would Jesus give such importance to the celebration of taking Holy Communion of it was "just" bread and wine? Would He have made such a drastic statement about there being "no life in us" unless we received the Holy Eucharist for what He said it was: His flesh and blood?

So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever." This he said in the synagogue, as he taught at Caper'na-um. Many of his disciples, when they heard it, said, "This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?"
St. John 6:53-60
Hard words, indeed.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Susan Boyle and the Voice That Shattered Myth

I've been as caught up with the "Susan Boyle Phenomenon" like everyone else. When I first saw the "Britain's Got Talent" tape of Susan's audition, I couldn't help but fall in love with this down-to-earth woman who took care of an ailing mother. I sympathized with her, knowing her appearance probably kept her from being taken seriously on more than one occasion. When Simon asked her age and she said "47," I could hear many people's thoughts, such as "What? Are you daft? 47! You're too old! Get off the stage! You have some chutzpah thinking you can compete!"

And then Susan opened her mouth and shattered all the myths.

As a woman who is Susan's age, I know those myths all too well. In the United States, we worship youth and beauty, often assuming the two are exclusive to one another. We have a difficult time seeing beauty in many forms until we meet someone like Susan Boyle. For so long, the entertainment industry has brought before us young people who have been starved into looking like wire hangers and "glammed up." There has been a commoditizing of the human creative spirit, and I for one have loathed it. When people over 30 are told they are "too old" to make it in the arts industry, something is wrong.

All of us have a unique blend of talents that make us remarkable. We have been given a life to shape these talents and contribute them to the world. Not everyone, of course, has a voice like Susan. But she doesn't have other talents that many other people do have. What I love about the Susan Boyle story is that it smashed the misconception that one must look like a model in order to sing well. Susan reminded us that beauty comes in many different packages.

This is a breath of fresh air especially for women. Many women feel the pressure to "be perfect." We're told to lose weight, dye our hair, put on make-up, and at its most extreme - undergo plastic surgery in order to be acceptable to society. It reached its bizarre climax with the show "The Swan," where several women contestants who were thought of as "ugly" were sent to receive cosmetic surgery. I truly felt sorry for the husband of the winner. He had fallen in love with the girl of his dreams and now had to adjust to living with a Barbie Doll.

I think women are the ones cheering for the success of Susan more than anyone else. She is proof positive that although one may not be a "glamour girl," she can be a "classic beauty" in more ways than one.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Head of German Catholic Bishops' Conference, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, Denies Christ

Hear that rooster crowing, Archbishop Zollitsch? Let it chill your heart and convict your soul. You are on very, very dangerous ground spiritually.

This entry is very difficult to write. I feel overcome with emotion when I consider that not just a priest, and not just an Archbishop - but the Head of the German Catholic Bishops' Conference has claimed that the death of Jesus Christ was not to redeem mankind from sin - but to show "solidarity" with the poor.


From Lifesite News (emphasis and red lettering, mine):

According to the chairman of the Catholic bishops' conference of Germany, the death of Jesus Christ was not a redemptive act of God to liberate human beings from the bondage of sin and open the gates of heaven. The Archbishop of Freiburg, Robert Zollitsch, known for his liberal views, publicly denied the fundamental Christian dogma of the sacrificial nature of Christ's death in a recent interview with a German television station.

Zollitsch said that Christ "did not die for the sins of the people as if God had provided a sacrificial offering, like a scapegoat."

Instead, Jesus had offered only "solidarity" with the poor and suffering. Zollitsch said "that is this great perspective, this tremendous solidarity."

The interviewer asked, "You would now no longer describe it in such a way that God gave his own son, because we humans were so sinful? You would no longer describe it like this?"

Monsignor Zollitsch responded, "No." (!!!)

Full article

Pray for this man's soul. A few verses come to mind:

...but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. - Matt. 10:33

but he who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. - Luke 12:9

Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. He who confesses the Son has the Father also. Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you will abide in the Son and in the Father. - 1 John 2:22-24

I cannot express to you the depth of grief I feel in my heart over this. Many previous generations have believed they are living in what's called "The Last Days." These are the days that will precede the return of Jesus Christ, but also be accompanied by a great deal of suffering for the world. It seems to me that we are now witnessing daily blasphemy both in the world, and sadly - in the church.

It should be no surprise to see someone deny the redemptive power of God by sacrificing His Son, Jesus Christ, for our sins. This has been occurring in the world ever since Jesus Christ came, suffered, died, and rose again. What is a surprise is that this blasphemy is coming from a Bishop. And not only a Bishop but one who is the head of the German Conference of Bishops!

What happens when you take away the divine intervention of God and diminish Christ's work on the Cross? The understanding of sin is removed. If man does not understand that he is lost, in need of a Savior, then why would he follow Christ? What was the purpose of Christ's life and death if not to free mankind from sin?

I know I'm preaching to the choir, here. If you're a regular reader, you most likely are already a Christian. But think of how many trusting souls have listened to this German Bishop, getting nearer and nearer to their own death. Think of how many have swallowed his heresy, oblivious to the peril of their own souls. We need to pray for them, too.

O My Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell and lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who are in most need of Thy mercy.

All I can say is that it is no wonder we need a bunch of nuns and monks praying reparations for the sins of the world. We need it!

Monday, April 20, 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, April 20, 2009

Outside My Window... Overcast and rainy. Glad to see the rain, though. It means the Spring flowers are getting their needful drink of water!

I am thinking... about my amazing Saturday. I am still stunned that I met so many wonderful people in the Catholic church in one day. It truly was a special day.

I am thankful for... the Holy Eucharist. Also, new friends!

From the kitchen... Grilled Herbed Chicken, green beans, and the leftover homemade macaroni and cheese from last night's dinner.

I am wearing... blue jeans, a pink cotton top, black cardigan, and my white sneakers. Very casual today.

I am creating... still nothing. I'm long overdue for something. Things have just been very busy. I still haven't found a good rhythm for working on my book.

I am going... to be following up with the contacts I made on Saturday.

I am reading... Double Shot by Diane Mott Davidson, Newsflash: My Surprising Journey from Secular Anchor to Media Evangelist by Teresa Tomeo, and my new Envoy magazine issue.

I am hoping... I can start to focus on what I need to do. I see so many needs and opportunities, but only have so much time. Lord, help me!

I am hearing... St. Gabriel Radio. Just finished hearing "The Morning Sonrise Show" with Brian Patrick. Great show!

Around the house... laundry that needs to be folded and put away, Mickey's new guitar case with his new guitar, business cards of people I want to follow-up with, my Catholic Bible that still needs the book tabs applied, an eBook on how to become a full-time writer within a year. (ha!)

One of my favorite things... Attending a Christian women's event.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: Being involved with a taste test tomorrow night, visiting St. Gabriel's radio station, writing an article and submitting it to our local Catholic newspaper.

Here is picture thought I am sharing. . . A lovely group of Catholic women, learning how to look to God for their self-worth.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Day Filled With God's Divine Connections

I love it when God is in charge of my schedule. He puts together a much more interesting agenda.

Yesterday was a perfect example. A church friend sent an email to let me know Teresa Tomeo would be speaking at a special women's breakfast on Saturday, April 18. I was elated. Teresa (and our local Catholic radio station) played a part in my return to the Catholic church. After my mother passed away in March 2007, I was feeling lower than I ever had in my life. One day, I scanned the radio dial and suddenly heard a woman's voice interviewing another woman about faith. I stopped the dial to listen. Stunned, I realized I was listening to a Catholic radio station. I had never heard Catholic radio programming before and was surprised to hear such articulate wisdom. Both the show's host and her guest were discussing having a deeper prayer life. My soul lit up as I realized it had been a long time since I had been spiritually encouraged.

I listened for the call letters of the radio station: WUCO, St. Gabriel Radio. As soon as I got home, I hurried to my computer. Typing the name into a search field, I found the radio station's website and programming schedule. The host was Teresa Tomeo and she was interviewing Sr. Ann Shields, author of the book, Deeper Conversion: Extraordinary Grace for Ordinary Times. But at that moment, I had no idea who her guest was and decided to write Teresa and ask.

I didn't expect a direct answer from Teresa. But within a day, I received a lovely response from her, giving me the information I requested. Her warmth and genuine love for our Lord Jesus Christ came through loud and clear. I was touched that she wrote. Coming from a background of "mega-churches," I was used to having someone's assistant respond. In many non-denominational churches, there are layers of volunteers and assistants to handle inquiries. But if someone has some level of public "fame," it is next to impossible to ever speak to them personally or have them directly answer their own email. I was deeply touched that someone as busy as Teresa answered my request.

So as you could imagine, I was eager to finally meet her in person. I had meant to check in with the woman at my local parish to see if any of them would be attending, but in the midst of preparations for Easter Sunday, had forgotten. I headed toward a downtown parish alone, looking forward to a great presentation by Teresa.

I arrived on time and found a lively group of women already waiting in line for the registration table. I took my place and looked around. The church was an older one, with gorgeous stained glass windows and a beautiful baptismal font, surrounded by colorful Easter flowers. As I took my place in line, I looked around. Excitement and anticipation filled women's faces, some laughing as they greeted friends. I didn't know anyone, but behind me, there was a tall lady who had a twinkle in her eye. I asked if she attended St. Patrick's and she said no, she attended St. Joseph's Cathedral. Soon we were engaged in conversation as though we had known each other forever. We decided to sit together and continued the conversation.

"Mary" is a convert, as is her husband. During the course of our conversation, I discovered he was the editor of the diocese's Catholic newspaper. I thought this was interesting since I have had a few ideas for articles that I wanted to submit but hadn't completed them. Mary was a joy and I knew I had made a new friend.

We had a Mass, and then afterward enjoyed a continental breakfast. I noticed a few young mothers were present, one with a toddler and another with a newborn. I was happy they had the opportunity to come and hear Teresa. Both sat at the same table with Mary and me.

The program soon started and Teresa gave a powerful presentation on our media culture and what it's doing to women. I have also felt strongly about the negative impact of our media on women and young girls. Images that are nothing more than fantasy are paraded daily in front of women, often leading some to anorexia or bulimia in order to be as thin as the models and actresses. Few realize there is an extraordinary amount of photo-editing work done in order to make a model or actress even more "perfect." The objectification of women continues and, said Teresa, has gotten even worse since the feminist movement. Teresa emphasized how loved we are in God's eyes, without plastic surgery or any "additions." She challenged us to view our relationship with the media to see if we were allowing it to influence our relationship with God.

At the break, I decided to visit the book table and was able to get one of the few copies left of Teresa's powerful testimony of her journey back to the faith of her youth after "having it all" as a successful news anchor. I wasn't sure if Teresa would remember our email correspondence. As I gave her my book to sign, I mentioned I was the one who wrote her last year, the "reclaimer" who came back to the Catholic church. Her eyes lit up and a huge smile filled her face. "Of course! How wonderful to meet you! It's great you were able to come!" I laughed and she took my book to sign it. We chatted a little more and exchanged cards. After I got back to my table, I looked at what she wrote: Mary Rose, so nice to meet you and let's pray for each other! Hope to have you on the show, soon! Teresa Tomeo I had shared with her that my heart was to encourage college-aged women in particular and I had created videos about purity and chastity. She was interested in hearing more and told me to write to her.

While talking to the young woman with the newborn at our table, I discovered she is the assistant editor of Envoy Magazine. She encouraged me to contact her. I met the editor of the magazine through the social website Twitter, and he also encouraged me to submit the story of my return to the magazine. God was definitely on the move! I was stunned that out of all the people in the room, I ended up sitting next to the wife of the editor of our Catholic newspaper and on the other side, the assistant editor of a Catholic magazine! Just amazing.

Later, I attended a fundraiser dinner to help our local Catholic radio station and Teresa was kind enough to stay for the dinner and spoke briefly on the importance of Catholic media. After yesterday's morning event, I had visited St. Gabriel's booth and ended up talking to the Executive Director. I shared a few ideas with him and he told me to come to the dinner if I was able and we'd talk more. He gave my card to another man and I'll be visiting the radio station and helping them brainstorm a little. St. Gabriel Radio is a wonderful station but is in dire straights at the moment financially. It's always a challenge to raise money for these type of ventures and St. Gabriel is no different. They need a significant amount of funds within the next 60 days or there is a good chance they'll have to close shop. Needless to say, I want to help as much as I can.

So. That was my Very Surprising and Amazing Day! Some of you already realize that it has been in my heart to use my communication skills for the Kingdom of God. I just didn't know how or when it would happen. Yesterday greatly encouraged me that yes, God has all things under control and in His timing, it will happen. I shared this experience with you because you also may have something in your heart you wish to accomplish for God's Kingdom.

When I was teaching in the non-denominational ministry school, I would often have students approach me with big dreams. They wanted to accomplish big things for God. This often included traveling to various churches and being a part of the "conference circuit." I would tell them this: Let God open the doors for you. It's much more important to wait upon God's timing than rush in and do something that is not in sync with His schedule. When we "make things happen," often it will not bear as much fruit as when God makes it happen. So often, we get impatient, thinking God has forgotten our desire to serve Him in a specific way. But deep down, we are being pruned and prepared to be used by Him in His timing and to minister to those He chooses. It's a beautiful, intricate dance as we allow Him to lead, touching those around us whom He draws across our path.

I still don't have a crystal-clear idea of what exactly God will do with my life. I do know, though, that it's important to wait upon Him and serve Him in both the seemingly mundane daily tasks as well as the tasks that require more skill. In all things, serve Him and He will connect us with the right people.

Did I mention you have to be patient? I am beginning to think that most of our lives are meant to wait upon him for 5 minutes of play on the field. But during that waiting time, there is plenty being done in our souls. Which really, when you get down to it, is the greatest thing. It's not so much what we "do" with our lives - but rather who we become. We are all called to be transformed into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. And that, my friends, will take a lifetime.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Time to Dump the Drumming Circle? Vatican Probes Leadership Doctrine

Expect to hear more on this:

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Leaders of women's religious communities in the United States say the Vatican has launched a doctrinal investigation into their activities and initiatives.

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious says it was informed of the "doctrinal assessment" in a letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican's orthodoxy watchdog.

The doctrinal investigation is separate from another Vatican-ordered study looking into the quality of the life in more than 400 U.S. women's religious institutes to determine why the number of nuns has declined so dramatically.

The Leadership Conference says in a statement dated Tuesday that it is confident about the new investigation.


You may remember I posted about the issue of the Vatican looking into the "quality of life" in some religious institutes, here.

Sometimes, living in the United States can produce funnel vision. It sounds to me as though religious institutes for women around the world have not experienced such a drop in number as those in the U.S. I could be wrong, but then again, I have to wonder if those in other countries have so happily embraced a New Age practice called Reiki.

I'm sure this is going to get very, very interesting.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Interesting Day, Yesterday

I attended my very first "protest rally" with our local Tea Party. In spite of how mainstream media (MSM) is trying to portray the event as "astroturfing" or "sour grapes," make no mistake about it. The "Tea Party Movement" is a true grassroots movement and it is worrying quite a few Obama supporters and most of the MSM.

If you'd like to read how the movement started, which really was only a few short months ago, read Michelle Malkin's concise and informative timeline.

I have always been interested in politics ever since I've been in high school. But I've leaned mostly to the right. However, when Ken Mehlman, then Chairman of the Republican Party, said the party was no longer for "small government," I felt like an orphan. I didn't know where to turn because frankly, both parties no longer seem to share my convictions.

I believe in the brilliance of our Constitution. I believe in a hard-work ethic, responsibility, respect of those in authority, and all the freedoms we have enjoyed, won by the blood, sweat and tears of brave men and women who have laid down their lives for this country. We live in an exceptional country, showing generosity to those in need and support to those who yearn for freedom. I respect the divide between government and religion but do not believe it is government's role to restrict my religious freedom. I could go on, but this pretty much describes me. The "912 Project." (9 principles, 12 traits)

Now we have the Department of Homeland Security calling those who believe in these freedoms a "threat." This is what has finally motivated me to take action.

I think about Pope Benedict and what he would say to me. I remember last year when he encouraged Catholics to get involved in the public square. I am trying to find the balance. I want to be involved, but yet how involved? And is it really worth it?

Just some thoughts and an explanation of where I've been the past few days. If any of you have found a good way to balance citizen activism with your religious convictions, I am definitely all ears. Big blessings to you.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Sunday, Waterfalls, and Revelation

Well, yesterday was very emotional, to say the least. My father had come up for a visit, mainly to be a witness for the convalidation of my marriage. This past week was a roller-coaster of a ride as I went from thinking it could happen in time for me to receive the Holy Eucharist on Easter Sunday to being doubtful. My amazing pastor is just, well, amazing. This all happened during the busiest week of the liturgical year and yet he made it happen.

I spoke to him on Maundy Thursday to ask about the status. He told me he was waiting to hear from another pastor on the issue regarding the details. He assured me he would call on Friday. On Friday, I was home most of the day but needed to run to the grocery store. Of course he called when I was out. (smiling) After I returned home, I called him. He told me to come the next day to fill out the paperwork and we planned on having the marriage blessed on Saturday.

Except it was Holy Saturday, which meant that no sacraments were celebrated until after the Easter Vigil. Which foretold a very long night! (The Easter Vigil service began at 8:45 PM and usually lasted two hours.) So, at this point I had my father visiting and we were planning on attending the TLM the next morning at 9:00 AM. I mentally did the math. If we waited until after the service, we were looking at not having the marriage blessed until about 11:00 PM. Yowza!

My father agreed to do whatever it took and my husband, the same. Fr. L said he would check on the possibility of doing it beforehand and I expressed my gratitude. Later in the day, around 2:30 PM, the phone rang. It was my pastor who said he had "even better news" for me. It turned out our Bishop had released a retroactive blessing to the marriage, making it valid even from the very day I married! I was stunned! Not only that, it was not necessary for my husband, myself, and my father to travel to my pastor's office to have it blessed in person. It was done! Fr. L then informed me I was free to receive the Holy Eucharist the next day during the Easter service and I was to make sure I received it from him. (At times he has an assistant distribute communion but it turned out he was the only one on Easter Sunday at the Traditional Latin Mass.)

My father and I arrived at Holy Family at 8:50 AM. The church was gorgeous. The purple coverings, draped across all the statues and the life-sized crucifix were now gone. Flowers filled every spare area around the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph statues. Pink and deep pink flowers decorated the altar. There was a statue of St. Gabriel (I think) blowing the horn toward the direction of a miniature tomb, that had the stone rolled away and a small statue of our risen Lord.  Flowers draped from the tops of the pillars and the sun was streaming through the stained-glass windows.

The choir started to sing a joyous song and I gave thanks to God for all the wonderful events that made this day possible. Within a few minutes, the choir started to sing another song as the processional began. The melody was inspiring, full of exaltation. I felt my eyes well up a little with tears as I meditated upon Jesus' victorious battle with sin and death. Life won! And we were rejoicing.

The Mass went along beautifully. Finally, it was time for communion. I rose from the pew and along with my father, made our way to the communion rail. As I knelt and leaned on the rail, I again prayed with thanksgiving. Fr. L made his way to our area and I looked up with a big smile on my face and he smiled in return. I received our Lord and made my way back to the pew.

I knew I would be feeling something but truly didn't think I'd cry that much. I was just filled with joy. But then as I knelt and again thought of my journey, I started to tear up. Before I knew it, I was crying, and then, actually sobbing. Embarrassed? Yes, a little, simply because I don't like crying nor making a spectacle of myself, but I couldn't help it. I was just overwhelmed by God's grace. My father placed an arm around me and gave me a little hug. I whispered to him that I was alright and sniffled a little into a tissue I had brought. (Just in case. Good thing, eh?)

As I knelt and continued to reflect upon the Eucharist, I had a revelation. It suddenly dawned on me why there is such a battle over believing if the Eucharist is truly the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ. It is one of the most solemn things we do as Christians, partaking of the Holy Eucharist. Why? Because when we really believe in it - truly believe this is Christ that we are consuming and that He is filling our very being - everything changes. 

How much more are we committed to avoid sin at all costs? If we partake of the Body of Christ, do we want to ruin it by our own selfishness and insensitivity? Do we then live according to our own pleasure? Or do we remember Who it is that we were entwined, bonded, and joined together with during Mass? This partaking of the Holy Eucharist makes a huge difference in our lives and convicts us as well as nourishes us. We offer our lives up as a sacrifice and Jesus Christ, who sacrificed all for our sake, has assured us that He will help us lead holy lives as we continue to eat His flesh and drink His blood.

That is why there is a battle over transubstantiation. 

The enemy knows that once a Christian really understand it, he is lifted to a higher place, transformed and filled with God's grace and truth. That is a place the enemy cannot afford to have a believer to be. Because once a believer is in that place, all bets are off. The believer is then focused totally on Christ and all else fades away.

So. That revelation was a part of the reason I was sobbing. I cried for all the years I had believed it was "just bread" and that we were just "symbolically remembering" what Christ had done at the Last Supper. And my heart broke a little at the thought of so many other Catholics who had diminished the understanding of this very sacred and profound sacrament. But then I rejoiced quickly that God gave me this revelation, had placed it deep in my heart like a crown of gold and that finally, I understood. I wanted to understand for so long, but never did until the moment I received the Eucharist again.

My brother was amazed that I refrained from taking communion and wondered why I didn't go up in Mass to receive. I told him there were rules for our benefit and I was going to submit to them. What I didn't say to him was this: The attitude of "doing whatever one pleases" and basically telling canon law to take a hike is indicative of the selfish spirit that so plagues the world. Who am I to obey? My selfish heart or the wisdom of God? I'm not the one in charge. God is. And I've begun to trust again the Magisterium, knowing there is a reason and purpose for all things.

I do hope to share with my brother someday the revelations that the Lord has been showing me, but I need to wait until the Holy Spirit opens his heart. As joyful and passionate as I am becoming about such things, I know all too well that not everyone is in the same place, nor would they appreciate the lessons I've been learning. In time, perhaps.

So, that was my very eventful day! My father remarked afterward that he had never been to a Mass like that one. He couldn't believe how reverent the young boys were as they served. The choir sounded glorious and the church was filled with joyous people. He loved Fr. L (who doesn't?!) and I introduced them afterward. We also met a few other of my friends before heading home for an Easter lunch of slow-cooked ham, green beans, potatoes, salad and biscuits. The day was just perfect.

Another thank you to those of you who prayed for me, and sent me warm wishes and blessings. May God bless you richly upon your own spiritual journey. He is risen, indeed!

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, April 13, 2009

Outside My Window... Dark and chilly. I have to say yesterday was one of the most beautiful days, ever. A perfect Spring day for Easter!

I am thinking... about my wonderful weekend. I had Friday off, and then my father came up for a visit for the weekend for Easter, plus, the greatest thing of all - finally being able to receive the Eucharist again!

I am thankful for... God and His provision. Big time.

From the kitchen... For breakfast, Honey Nut cereal, coffee with Sweet Italian Creamer. Dinner will be leftover ham from yesterday's Easter meal and salad.

I am wearing... a pink nightgown with tiny purple roses, slippers. You may think I wear the same gown every week. Actually, I have several of them... (ha!)

I am creating... nothing. This week was busy (again) and I haven't still had the time yet to do much.

I am going... to express my gratitude to those involved with the annulment and celebration of receiving communion again.

I am reading... Double Shot by Diane Mott Davidson. I can't resist a caterer who solves mysteries! (Plus there's some pretty yummy recipes in her book. I've not tried any but I get a kick out of them!) Also still reading Tribes by Seth Godin, and my new Envoy magazine issue.

I am hoping... I can be successful in my job. My boss has ever-changing expectations and my main focus is to be instrumental in bringing in new business.

I am hearing... the soft tweeting of the birds, starting to become a little louder. The heat whooshing through the vent. Other than that, silence for the most part.

Around the house... Cinnamon rolls from yesterday's breakfast, the crock pot that needs to go back into storage (I "slow-cooked" a small ham) The home is still tidy, thanks to the visit with my dad. Nothing like having guests to get one motivated!

One of my favorite things... going to church with my dad, especially on Easter Sunday.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: Work and brainstorming different ways to market it, relaxing at home after a busy weekend, attending (hopefully) my first protest rally, the "Teaparty" (!!) and trying to focus on writing my book.

Here is picture thought I am sharing. . . I wish I had a photo from yesterday, but I don't. I was so busy "being in the moment" that I didn't think to take photographs! Dopey me.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter! (Waterfalls and a Revelation)

Happy Easter, everyone! We're getting ready to visit my husband's family but I wanted to pop in a quick greeting. What a glorious day! I will post more later!

And yes, I cried. Sobbed, actually. :-)

The revelation I'll share later. Wonderful stuff!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Fantastic News!

I was keeping a lid on this until it was official, but I wanted to share my joy with those who keep up with this blog o' mine.

My husband's previous marriage has been annulled by the church and our marriage has been fully validated in the eyes of the Roman Catholic church! Praise be to God! In fact, there is a special dispensation by our Bishop who has retroactively blessed our marriage, so my concerns about us "living together" are now seen as valid years of marriage! Is that just da bomb, or what?!!!??

My pastor just called me about thirty minutes ago to let me know the good news. My father is in town and I specifically asked if he could come up for a visit so he could witness the convalidation. Then I knew my husband had to be present, and tonight was going to be the night when we did it. However, we were going to have to wait until after the Easter Vigil to do it since no sacraments are celebrated before the Vigil. (I tell you, God has kept me on pins and needles for the past week. I truly wasn't sure if I was going to be able to receive the Eucharist by Easter or not.) The Vigil probably won't be over tonight until 10:45 PM. When my pastor told me I was free to take part in Communion tomorrow, I just laughed with joy and said, "I feel as though I won the lottery!"

So, not only do we not have to wait until late tonight to have it blessed, but we'll all get enough rest tonight so my father and I can attend the Traditional Latin Mass tomorrow at 9:00 AM. (My husband probably won't be joining us, but feel free to pray that he would. I've told him it would be wonderful for him to be with us just for Easter.)

So. It has been a year since my return to the Catholic church and a year of not being able to receive the Eucharist. So much has happened in this time frame. I felt at the beginning that God was allowing me this time to truly focus on the Eucharist and transubstantiation. It has taken me that long to believe that yes, the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ is indeed present in the Eucharist. It is a mystery. I can't explain exactly how I came to the realization of it, but suffice it to say that my heart has been yearning these past few weeks more than ever to receive Him.

It is just amazing to me, how God has worked out everything! I look forward to having a beautiful, memorable Easter tomorrow morning, a lovely Easter meal with my father and husband, and later perhaps a visit with my husband's family. But really, more than anything, I look forward to finally being united with my Lord and Savior in Holy Communion.

Deo Gratias, Deo Gratias, Deo Gratias!!!!

Jesus and the World

I could just say they didn't get along but there is more to it than that.

Every Sunday, after a Tridentine Mass has ended, there is one more thing to be done - the reading of St. John's Gospel, chapter 1, verses 1-14 (RSV).

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. ...He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not.

And then Jesus told His disciples something that I think should be meditated upon every day of a Christian's life:

"If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But all this they will do to you on my account, because they do not know him who sent me.But all this they will do to you on my account, because they do not know him who sent me. - John 15: 18-21 (RSV)

Today is Holy Saturday. It is a time to reflect upon the death of our Lord Jesus Christ and mourn the world's rejection of Him. I believe that now, more than ever, we need to examine Jesus' relationship with the world. It was a rocky one, to be sure. On one hand, you have the Son of God, who was with His Father from the foundations of the world, offering forgiveness for the sin of mankind. On the other hand, you have the world, digging in with its heels, either denying that Jesus Christ was the Son of God or they had no need of forgiveness.

Often, those riddled with sin feel they have no need to repent. In their estimation, they believe they've done nothing wrong. But it doesn't occur to them that their logic may be flawed; that in essence, their sin is blinding them to their need for salvation. That is why it is so important for us to pray for those who are stubborn in their refusal to surrender all to Jesus Christ. Only the Holy Spirit can give such sight and allow a man or woman to truly see their need for a Savior.

This brings me back to the issue of Tony Blair. After I wrote my last entry, I was caught up with thoughts of "the world." How often does the Church of Jesus Christ try to "be relevant" to the world. My question is: Why? Why placate a dying entity? Why try to acquiesce to their demands that we "rethink our attitudes" or "evolve in concept?" My unsanctified side says: Go pound sand. But my more sanctified side prays, be merciful to them, Oh Lord. I will freely admit that I often vacillate between anger at a world who wants to be god and compassion for a world that is lost.

The bottom line is that Christians need to understand this dichotomy, for in doing so, we will either succeed in being the light to the world that God desires, or we will fail. I am only too aware of those who hate God, who are just waiting for a Christian to lash out in anger. I know this is not the way of Christ. And especially today, I think about our Blessed Mother Mary, who grieved in the deepest part of her soul the death of her Son. Was there any "lashing out" from her? She would have been justified to express her outrage, but we see none of that in Scripture. Instead, we see her mourning, but not condemning those who so unjustly condemned her Son. I am taking that as a response worth emulating.

Those who call themselves Christians yet seek to please the world are trying to serve two masters. First, there will always be an enmity between the world and Christ. Those who follow Christ must realize that the moment they embraced Him was the moment they were to release the world. Secondly, our relationship with the world is to be a witnessing one, as a lover who is entreating his wayward wife to return to the love he has for her. The father did not chase after the Prodigal Son but waited in hope for the day his son would return. The father did not search for his son, and finding him among pigs say, "Son, this is really an okay place for you to be. Here, let me join you."

We know the story. The son was embarrassed by his station in life - going from the son of a wealthy man to now eating with pigs. He repented to his father and his father gave him everything in return.

The problem with many Christians is they never understood that separation, the cutting of the bond to a dying world. And so they keep trying to please it, to "be relevant" in order to bring the truth to them.

But Jesus Christ is not one to conform to the world. It is interesting to me that when Truth is presented uncompromisingly, without apology - the world has a much clearer choice to make. And the disciples who are born from such a choice, are those we call saints.

I know I want to become a saint. It is God's purpose for us all. Let us pray that God gives us the courage to stand for the truth, and to continue to be a witness that God loved the world so much, that He gave His only Son for them. Let us realize that we will never be friends with the world, nor will the world ever love us - for they did not love the Light. Tonight, during The Service of Light, let us remember that He shines brightly in the darkness and the darkness will never overcome Him.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

If You Want to Be Catholic, Tony Blair, Be Catholic

My brother-in-law, "Dave", is a bartender and a very good one. He has been a bartender ever since he was in his twenties. Not only does he enjoy it, but has enjoyed a certain amount of notoriety for his "flipping" skills and creation of new drinks, much to the delight of his customers. In the same year that my husband I were married, he also married. The woman he married was a nurse who eventually went back to school to become a lawyer. It wasn't long after that she started to complain about Dave's "lack of ambition." She felt he was "capable of so much more" and started to push him toward getting a job in an office.

I knew Dave enjoyed being a bartender and would loathe working in an office. I told my husband: She fell in love with a bartender. She knew what she was getting into and now she wanted him to change. I thought it was not only arrogant, but selfish and short-sighted. 

I feel the exact same way right now about former British P.M. Tony Blair and his wife.

Tony Blair converted to Catholicism in 2007. I am certain he was presented with a catechism but cannot be certain about the type of spiritual formation he received (or his wife). At any rate, just two years after his conversion, they feel it is their duty to tell the Catholic Church that they've got it all wrong on homosexuality and condoms. In fact, Tony Blair said this:

"Actually, we need an attitude of mind where rethinking and the concept of evolving attitudes becomes part of the discipline with which you approach your religious faith," Blair said in an interview published in Attitude, a magazine aimed at gays.

Tony Blair Criticizes Vatican Attitude Toward Gays

"Concept of evolving attitudes," Mr. Blair? I'd give anything to have ten minutes with him. My first question would be: Did you understand the church's position on homosexuality according to the Bible and the catechism? My second question would be: Do you understand that what God declares and nature confirms, is an incontrovertible truth that cannot be changed? And if you understand the concept of an unchanging nature - what, pray tell, does "evolving attitudes" have anything to do with it?

God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Period.

Tony Blair's position (which just may change next year, you never know) causes me to wonder if he understands the nature of God. God doesn't change according to the winds of popular opinion. He doesn't bend to the wishes of a sinful world. He has created a natural order which includes procreation between a man and a woman, and life only springs forth from that union. God is all about life.

But what really irritates me is that Tony Blair and his wife aren't alone. There are many who convert to Catholicism and then suddenly, once received in the church, want to change whatever they think is unnecessary or outdated. My question to them is: if you didn't like it before you became a Catholic, you shouldn't have converted. I've watched even those born into Catholicism complain about the "women priest" issue. My opinion is the same to them: you know what the church teaches and if you don't agree with it - leave.

It isn't that difficult to do. There are plenty of churches that allow women to be ordained and welcome practicing gays. Maybe, Mr. Blair, that is where you and your wife belong.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

In Praise of Tradition

Thus says the LORD: "Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. - Jeremiah 6:16 (RSV)

"Where the good way is..." The God of Israel was entreating the Jewish people to stop chasing after greed and return to the old ways, the ancient paths. Unfortunately, Israel refused and brought judgment upon herself.

It is a strong lesson for us and a strong exhortation to not throw away "the old ways" so quickly. There is a reason for these ancient paths. They have been tried and found worthy. They have kept many generations going in the right direction. They have provided stability and in that, "rest for our souls" is found.

During my years attending non-denominational churches, I can now say that for the most part, it was a time of unrest. I discovered moments of peace as I rested in the Lord, but most of the time, I was busy keeping up with the latest changes, fads, and trends within these congregations. There was always something "new." And like a child, I was often entranced by the "new and shiny."

But did it bring peace? Stability? No. In fact it brought more confusion at times, frustration, and weariness. There didn't seem to be enough hours in the day to implement the leadership's interpretation of yet another new trend, which often included endless meetings and pleas for more volunteers. It was constant information overload that made for quick burn-out.

Now that I have returned to Catholicism, I can see the value of "the ancient paths." Some Catholics have been trying to mimic some of these non-denominational approaches toward church and have been busily filling up their Mass with all types of activities. But do these activities bring peace? Or insecurity?

This is one of the reasons I love the Traditional Latin Mass. It is a Mass that has been around for quite some time. It has withstood the trends and fads and keeps to the basics. To me, it is a rich treasure trove of "ancient paths." But the "New Mass" still has those paths, too. It depends upon the leadership of the pastor and if he has the backbone to buck controlling personalities in a liturgical committee. It depends on if the people view the Mass as a time to focus on God instead of "expressing" themselves. It depends on many things, but it can be found.

I'm beginning to wonder if this is our Holy Father's intent - to return the Church to her ancient paths and bring stability. In a way, it is almost like setting broken bones. The cast at first seems too rigid, but it is there to protect the healing. Perhaps our Church, in all her brokenness, is in the midst of this healing. And after the healing, we will be able to walk with strength. That, most certainly, should be cause for rejoicing.

Monday, April 6, 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, April 6, 2009

Outside My Window... Dark and ugh, cold. We're actually supposed to get a "wintry mix" of rain and snow today. Say it ain't so! I thought our cold weather was finally behind us!

I am thinking... about yesterday's Palm Sunday procession and the lovely conversation with a young couple after church at our "Coffee & Doughnuts" hour.

I am thankful for... younger people appreciating tradition.

From the kitchen... For breakfast, Honey Nut cereal, coffee laced with Hazelnut Biscotti creamer. Dinner will be spaghetti with the left-over sauce, garlic bread sticks and salad.

I am wearing... a pink nightgown with tiny fuchsia roses, slippers. Definitely still waking up at 5:38 AM, here.

I am creating... not much. My week blasted by and I've hardly had time to play with my digital scrapbooking program, let alone the mind-mapping or the basic web design program I downloaded. (Yet another project - redesigning my scrapbook website!)

I am going... to enjoy this short week. I took off Good Friday.

I am reading... Dead Heat by Joel Rosenberg, Tribes by Seth Godin, and my new Envoy magazine issue. Rosenberg's book is sooo good! He is a Christian who was raised as a Jew and his entire family became Christians. He is an excellent writer and uses Biblical prophecy to create very taut political thrillers.

I am hoping... lots of things. My boss gets back from his months-long stay at the Caribbean and I'm sure he'll have lots on his mind he wants done. I am also hoping I can start to focus more on my writing. Sometimes it seems everything else takes precedence but I know I need to concentrate on it.

I am hearing... the songs of the birds, welcoming Spring even in the cold.

Around the house... laundry that has air-dried, a new pair of jeans, my laptop which has doubled as a movie viewer. We've been watching lots of "instant view" Netflix movies, lately! (Last night it was "Dan In Real Life." Cute movie although I wanted to strangle the daughters a few times...)

One of my favorite things... meeting younger people and discovering what they love, especially younger people at church.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: Connecting with my parish pastor, a "girl's night out" on Tuesday night, working on a bunch of stuff at work, like still re-designing the website.

Here is picture thought I am sharing. . . This is from yesterday's Palm Sunday Procession. It's something Catholics do for special Feast Days and is meant to be a witness to the neighborhood, as well as the parishioners.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Palm Sunday Procession

I've seen a few photos online showing various processions for special Feast days. I wasn't planning on being a part of one today but lo and behold, our parish held a Blessing of Palms and Procession of Palms outdoors today.

We were blessed with great weather - sunny, not too cold, and thankfully not too windy. (For those of us who wear the mantilla without clips, being outdoors in the wind can be a challenge.) We gathered at the rear of the church outside as Fr. L blessed the palms. Some photos may seem "foggy" but that was actually incense. What a beautiful way to enter into Holy Week.

Fr. L starting the blessing ceremony.

The Schola chanting Psalms.

Fr. praying.

Fr. blessing the palms.

The processional begins...

There are quite a few young men and boys attending!

And the parishioners start to follow...

The procession wrapped around one block and now is heading back to the church.

The second part of a long procession.

One family, united by our faith, remembering the welcome Jesus received...

Back inside the church.

Fr. L, now in his purple, celebrating Palm Sunday Mass.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

What I Love About the Traditional Latin Mass: Silence

I love silence.

Ever since I was a young girl, I have needed silence in my life. As a bee is drawn to flowers, so I have been drawn to finding places that allow me to step away from the world and simply think. Or ponder. Or pray. Or - just be. I feel we live in a hyper-overdrive world, constantly shouting at us to run faster, do more, get to the point and move along because we're holding up traffic. There is a "rushrush" to our daily lives that is so taken for granted that the moment one has some time to rest and reflect - they feel guilty. Guilty because they're not "doing" anything and "doing" is so highly valued in our society.

Did Jesus Christ rush around in life? I have never gotten that impression. In fact, I used to joke to myself that He didn't carry around a day planner to schedule His day. He simply took orders from His Father. However, I am a bit of a planner, myself, and realize that planning can be good. But how often do you find a place to be quiet so you can think or pray?

The Traditional Latin Mass is that place, at least for me. I am slowly discovering the beauty of our liturgy, but it has taken time. It is as though I found a treasure that has been caked with mud and as I slowly cleaned it, finally saw the amazing beauty of it. I almost want to whisper, where have you been all my life? But it was hidden. Now I'm seeing it and simply reveling in its truth.

I would like to point out that I believe the TLM is a mighty gift to the church. I know there are many Catholics who would love to attend one, but can't - or others who prefer the Novus Ordo. I think the TLM may be a gift because it can filter the strength of the liturgy through it's historic lens, and shine it into the "regular" Mass. The truth of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is a very awesome thing. Unfortunately, it has been diluted many times by man's flights of fancy. One of the areas I believe has been tossed in exchange for "the new" has been the silence.

Silence was the response of our Blessed Mother as she pondered what the angel had told her. Silence was the response of the Wise Men as they beheld our Savior for the first time. Silence was the response of the disciples when Jesus would say some of the most amazing things. Silence was the response of those who loved Him as they looked upon Him hanging from the cross. Silence was the response of the disciples who had breakfast with their risen Messiah.

Silence is our response when we are confronted with the Way, the Truth, and the Life. What else can we do? Words seem to only justify the poor state of our soul. In silence, we are humbled as we realize there is absolutely nothing we could do or say that could justify our standing before Almighty God. Only in humility, kneeling before Him, remembering what His Son did in order for us to be set free from the bondage of sin, can we even attempt any connection with our Creator.

There is so much to ponder during Mass. Each prayer, each action, all points toward the incredible sacrifice that was made by both God the Father and God the Son so that we may live. During the TLM, the silence that is woven within it allows me to separate myself from the world, the chaos, the tyranny of the now, and clearly focus on Jesus Christ. He who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Such thoughts do not have room to grow during a liturgy that allows no pauses, no breaks for us to fully absorb the meaning of it all. We need time.

It is ironic to me that the pursuit of leisure is so highly prized by our culture but yet rest cannot be found. Jesus Christ said, "Come to Me, all you who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." He gives us peace, but that peace takes time to consume and absorb. It's not like some fast-food restaurant drive-thru lane. He is inviting us to enter into the most magnificent and sacred of places to take, eat, and remember. To meditate upon His gift, to relish it and give Him glory for it.

The silence, is what allows me to receive fully what He has for me during this time, and for me to give Him the only thing I can offer. My deepest praise and thanks, and a devotion toward pleasing Him in all things.

I pray we all will find those places to rest, and especially find them in the liturgy.