Thursday, December 25, 2008

Sunday, December 07, 2008

O Holy Night...

**Reposted for your listening pleasure! And check out this interview with the man behind it.**

Christmas is just around the corner, and so I thought I'd drag out my favorite mp3 of the worst rendition of O Holy Night ever sung. This was passed onto me from my former coworker, and we used to listen to it around Christmas and just have giggling fits over it. Those were some good times!

So, here you are, and enjoy!! (Be sure to listen to the WHOLE thing, it gets progressively "better!")

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Traditions and Rituals

As Christmas approaches, I got to thinking about what it is I, and people in general I think, like so much about holidays. I think a lot of it is a sense of familiarity. We bring out those same decorations year after year, make those same cookies, practice our same family traditions, sing those familiar songs etc, and they bring us together and make us feel united. Humans crave familiarity, tradition, and even ritual.

I grew up in a church where tradition and ritual were seen as bad things, and yet we practiced them all the same without calling them what they were. The family prayer was always the same, complete with hesitations in the same spots that made it perhaps sound more like spontaneous prayer on the surface, but the truth is any of us could have repeated it word for word, hesitations and all. Church services were the same each week and would have fit any definition of ritual, for instance this one from a dictionary online: "Any practice or pattern of behavior regularly performed in a set manner." Well yeah, that's what we did!

I think an interesting side note is the fact that, as an introvert, I appreciate rituals and rote prayer even more because it allows me to really focus on my intentions and prayers, rather than frantically scrambling to find "the right words." I'm not a good thinker off the cuff, and I was always terrified of having to pray out loud in front of people (and thankful I was a girl so I didn't have to often!) But with rote prayer, the words are given to me so that I can focus on the meaning rather than finding the words.

But rote prayer and rituals were seen as vain and empty in the church of my upbringing, and yet we practiced them all the same. We practiced them without calling them what they were. And we practiced them in family settings too, especially around the holidays. It doesn't matter how much we said they were bad or wrong, in the end we were drawn to them and we practiced them anyway. Why did we do this? Because it is natural, it is good. God created us with this longing for tradition and ritual, it is not a bad thing or a dirty word.

People have their bedtime routines, their nightly prayers, their weekly Saturday morning breakfast or weekday game night. The seasons and the activities that come and go with them are also a form of tradition, we can see that our liturgical seasons mirror the natural seasons. These things comfort us, they give structure to our time and familiarity and closeness. So why wouldn't we embrace these things in our worship? Why pretend like we don't practice them when we do?

Of course the answer one would probably receive is because these rituals and traditions are "man-made." Well, so are church service programs, who gets to decide how many songs you sing before the sermon? A man does! But the thing is, man-made does not automatically mean wrong. Yes, some of these rituals and traditions are "man made" in the sense that men were there to organize them. But the desire, I believe, is God-given. It's why, even when we try to avoid rituals we end up fitting them in somewhere in our lives...in our weekly schedules, or in our holiday traditions, even in our daily family interactions. Seeing as God created us, and became one of us, certainly he's aware of this natural human desire for ritual and tradition. How, then, could we say it's a bad thing?

I love the structure that the liturgical year brings to my life, and I thank God for fulfilling the desires He places in our hearts for such things through the Church!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My (Very) Early Christmas Gift

So for a long time we've been talking about getting a second car, so that I can you know, go grocery shopping during the day and not on the weekend! We've had good luck with our two previous Hyundais, and when the 2007 Santa Fe came out, we both really liked it. But, it was a bit pricey (not as far as SUVs go, but just more than we paid for cars before) and I'd been trying to figure out if we could justify spending that much just for little old me. Then the gas prices shot up and I almost gave up the idea of getting one at all.

Last month or so, I was browsing Carmax and saw some great deals on fairly new Santa Fes, so I kept my eye out. Then last week I looked, and they were suddenly all gone! Just to make sure I checked again this past Sunday, and a 2008 Santa Fe with only 10K miles on it was listed for an extremely reasonable price, not much more really than what we'd paid for our other cars! And to top it off, it was silver, my favorite car color! So we talked it over and decided to go for it a bit early...

And here she is! :-)







It's really kind of hard to believe I can just walk out and go somewhere during the day, lol! Not that I really plan to all that often, but it's just nice having the option there. :-) I'll never have to wake up early to drop Camille off at work again if I need to go somewhere, woohoo!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Rosaries for Life

Check out Rosaries for Life, which started out as this blog, and if you feel so inclined pledge to pray the rosary every day until the inauguration for the intention, as Archbishop Wuerl stated, “That our nation’s new leaders be guided in their decisions with wisdom and compassion and at the heart of all of their decisions may there be a deep respect for and commitment to the sanctity and dignity of all human life and support for the most vulnerable among us.”

The original idea was to start on November 10th and go through January 20th, but you can either start now and go to the end, or do a couple to catch up. If you can't do a rosary every day, pledge to do one a week. Or even just one!

Whatever you do, let's join together in prayer for our country!

Post Election Obama Zombies

Lol, saw this on Mark Shea's blog...gotta love The Onion!


Obama Win Causes Obsessive Supporters To Realize How Empty Their Lives Are

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

And It's Over.

Finally...

The Obama supporters got their wish. I truly, genuinely hope I'm wrong in my belief that this means the death of so many more unborn children, children that I would give anything to raise as my own while we wait with empty, aching arms as unwanted children are being disposed of as trash legally in our country.

I hope all of us, especially those who hoped for an Obama victory, will be on our knees in fervent prayer the day he fulfills his promise and signs the FOCA, undoing and forbidding any and all restrictions for the murder of children nation wide.

May God forgive us our most heinous sins, and may our future president's heart be softened toward the most defenseless among us.

Election Novena - Day Nine

The prayer in podcast form.

Ninth Day

Opening Prayer

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful
and kindle in us the fire of your love.


Reading

Mt 5:13-16

“You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with
what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything
but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are
the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be
hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a
bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light
to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before
others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your
heavenly Father.”


Reflection

How am I salt for my community?
How do I shine your light for all the community to see?
What deeds am I performing in order to glorify God?


Prayer

Lord Jesus,
you give us your love and your grace
to do great things.
Give us the faith
to shine our light
by walking humbly
and acting justly
before our God.

Amen.


Novena Prayer

Immaculate Heart of Mary,
help us to conquer the menace of evil,
which so easily
takes root in the hearts of the people of today,
and whose immeasurable effects
already weigh down upon our modern world
and seem to block the paths toward the future.
From famine and war, deliver us.
From nuclear war, from incalculable self-destruction, from
every kind of war, deliver us.
From sins against human life from its very beginning,
deliver us.
From hatred and from the demeaning of the dignity of the
children of God, deliver us.
From every kind of injustice in the life of society, both
national and international, deliver us.
From readiness to trample on the commandments of God,
deliver us.
From attempts to stifle in human hearts the very truth of
God, deliver us.
From the loss of awareness of good and evil, deliver us.
From sins against the Holy Spirit, deliver us.
Accept, O Mother of Christ,
this cry laden with the sufferings of all individual
human beings,
laden with the sufferings of whole societies.
Help us with the power of the Holy Spirit conquer all sin:
individual sin and the “sin of the world,”
sin in all its manifestations.
Let there be revealed once more in the history of the world
the infinite saving power of the redemption:
the power of merciful love.
May it put a stop to evil.
May it transform consciences.
May your Immaculate Heart reveal for all the light of hope.

Amen.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Stinkin' ADORABLE!!!

Mark Shea posted one of these videos on his blog, and I went and watched all of them. They are SO cute!! They're recordings of little Irish children telling Bible stories set to animation, lol. I could listen to the accents all day, so so cute!

Birth of Jesus



John the Baptist



Lol, I love "Are ya reeeally God or are ya a ssshhhhhockin' holy saint?"

Election Novena - Day Eight

The prayer in podcast form.

Eighth Day

Opening Prayer

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful
and kindle in us the fire of your love.


Reading

Is 32:15-18

Until the spirit from on high
is poured out on us.

Then will the desert become an orchard
and the orchard be regarded as a forest.

Right will dwell in the desert
and justice abide in the orchard.

Justice will bring about peace;
right will produce calm and security.

My people will live in peaceful country,
in secure dwellings and quiet resting places.


Reflection

How do I recognize the Spirit’s involvement in my life in
the community?


Prayer

Spirit of God,
fill our hearts with peace
so that we may bring peace to our community.

Amen.


Novena Prayer

Immaculate Heart of Mary,
help us to conquer the menace of evil,
which so easily
takes root in the hearts of the people of today,
and whose immeasurable effects
already weigh down upon our modern world
and seem to block the paths toward the future.
From famine and war, deliver us.
From nuclear war, from incalculable self-destruction, from
every kind of war, deliver us.
From sins against human life from its very beginning,
deliver us.
From hatred and from the demeaning of the dignity of the
children of God, deliver us.
From every kind of injustice in the life of society, both
national and international, deliver us.
From readiness to trample on the commandments of God,
deliver us.
From attempts to stifle in human hearts the very truth of
God, deliver us.
From the loss of awareness of good and evil, deliver us.
From sins against the Holy Spirit, deliver us.
Accept, O Mother of Christ,
this cry laden with the sufferings of all individual
human beings,
laden with the sufferings of whole societies.
Help us with the power of the Holy Spirit conquer all sin:
individual sin and the “sin of the world,”
sin in all its manifestations.
Let there be revealed once more in the history of the world
the infinite saving power of the redemption:
the power of merciful love.
May it put a stop to evil.
May it transform consciences.
May your Immaculate Heart reveal for all the light of hope.

Amen.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Election Novena - Day Seven

The prayer in podcast form.

Seventh Day

Opening Prayer

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful
and kindle in us the fire of your love.


Reading

Ephesians 4:1-6

I . . . urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call
you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with
patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to
preserve the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace:
one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one
hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one
God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and
in all.


Reflection

What divisions exist in my community? What structures in
society seem unjust?
How am I striving to achieve justice and peace in my
neighborhood, church, and nation?


Prayer

God of justice,
we are created in your image.
May we glorify you in all of our actions.

Amen.


Novena Prayer

Immaculate Heart of Mary,
help us to conquer the menace of evil,
which so easily
takes root in the hearts of the people of today,
and whose immeasurable effects
already weigh down upon our modern world
and seem to block the paths toward the future.
From famine and war, deliver us.
From nuclear war, from incalculable self-destruction, from
every kind of war, deliver us.
From sins against human life from its very beginning,
deliver us.
From hatred and from the demeaning of the dignity of the
children of God, deliver us.
From every kind of injustice in the life of society, both
national and international, deliver us.
From readiness to trample on the commandments of God,
deliver us.
From attempts to stifle in human hearts the very truth of
God, deliver us.
From the loss of awareness of good and evil, deliver us.
From sins against the Holy Spirit, deliver us.
Accept, O Mother of Christ,
this cry laden with the sufferings of all individual
human beings,
laden with the sufferings of whole societies.
Help us with the power of the Holy Spirit conquer all sin:
individual sin and the “sin of the world,”
sin in all its manifestations.
Let there be revealed once more in the history of the world
the infinite saving power of the redemption:
the power of merciful love.
May it put a stop to evil.
May it transform consciences.
May your Immaculate Heart reveal for all the light of hope.

Amen.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Happy All Saints' Day!

Hope your All Saints' Eve (aka Halloween) was a good one! Here's a fun little song for All Saints Day. :-)

Election Novena - Day Six

The prayer in podcast form.

Sixth Day

Opening Prayer

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful
and kindle in us the fire of your love.


Reading

Mt 5:43-46

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your
neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your
enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you
may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his
sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on
the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you,
what recompense will you have?”

Reflection

Who are my enemies? How do I love them?
How do I live up to the definition Jesus provides for living
a Christian lifestyle, a life of Christian love?


Prayer

God of peace,
Give us the courage
to be reconciled with our neighbors, our enemies.
Give us the vision
to truly see what it means to be a Christian
so that peace and justice may rule in our world.

Amen.


Novena Prayer

Immaculate Heart of Mary,
help us to conquer the menace of evil,
which so easily
takes root in the hearts of the people of today,
and whose immeasurable effects
already weigh down upon our modern world
and seem to block the paths toward the future.
From famine and war, deliver us.
From nuclear war, from incalculable self-destruction, from
every kind of war, deliver us.
From sins against human life from its very beginning,
deliver us.
From hatred and from the demeaning of the dignity of the
children of God, deliver us.
From every kind of injustice in the life of society, both
national and international, deliver us.
From readiness to trample on the commandments of God,
deliver us.
From attempts to stifle in human hearts the very truth of
God, deliver us.
From the loss of awareness of good and evil, deliver us.
From sins against the Holy Spirit, deliver us.
Accept, O Mother of Christ,
this cry laden with the sufferings of all individual
human beings,
laden with the sufferings of whole societies.
Help us with the power of the Holy Spirit conquer all sin:
individual sin and the “sin of the world,”
sin in all its manifestations.
Let there be revealed once more in the history of the world
the infinite saving power of the redemption:
the power of merciful love.
May it put a stop to evil.
May it transform consciences.
May your Immaculate Heart reveal for all the light of hope.

Amen.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Election Novena - Day Five

The prayer in podcast form.

Fifth Day

Opening Prayer

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful
and kindle in us the fire of your love.


Reading

1 Cor 11:26-29

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you
proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.

Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of
the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and
blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and
so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats
and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks
judgment on himself.

Reflection

How is the Eucharist central in my life? My community?
Where do I reach out to the body of Christ in my
community?


Prayer

Lord,
we come together at the Eucharist to celebrate
your death and resurrection.
Help us experience authentic worship.
Help us grow in awareness of each person’s dignity,
and increase our sensitivity to injustices.
Guide us to seek ways to redress them.

Amen.


Novena Prayer

Immaculate Heart of Mary,
help us to conquer the menace of evil,
which so easily
takes root in the hearts of the people of today,
and whose immeasurable effects
already weigh down upon our modern world
and seem to block the paths toward the future.
From famine and war, deliver us.
From nuclear war, from incalculable self-destruction, from
every kind of war, deliver us.
From sins against human life from its very beginning,
deliver us.
From hatred and from the demeaning of the dignity of the
children of God, deliver us.
From every kind of injustice in the life of society, both
national and international, deliver us.
From readiness to trample on the commandments of God,
deliver us.
From attempts to stifle in human hearts the very truth of
God, deliver us.
From the loss of awareness of good and evil, deliver us.
From sins against the Holy Spirit, deliver us.
Accept, O Mother of Christ,
this cry laden with the sufferings of all individual
human beings,
laden with the sufferings of whole societies.
Help us with the power of the Holy Spirit conquer all sin:
individual sin and the “sin of the world,”
sin in all its manifestations.
Let there be revealed once more in the history of the world
the infinite saving power of the redemption:
the power of merciful love.
May it put a stop to evil.
May it transform consciences.
May your Immaculate Heart reveal for all the light of hope.

Amen.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Election Novena - Day Four

The prayer in podcast form.

Fourth Day

Opening Prayer

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful
and kindle in us the fire of your love.


Reading

Deut 30:15-20

Moses said to the people:
“Today, I have set before you
life and prosperity, death and doom.

If you obey the commandments of the LORD, your God,
which I enjoin on you today,
loving him, and walking in his ways,
and keeping his commandments, statutes and decrees,
you will live and grow numerous,
and the LORD, your God,
will bless you in the land you are entering to occupy.

If, however, you turn away your hearts and will not listen,
but are led astray and adore and serve other gods,
I tell you now that you will certainly perish;
you will not have a long life
on the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter
and occupy.

I call heaven and earth today to witness against you:
I have set before you life and death,
the blessing and the curse.

Choose life, then,
that you and your descendants may live, by loving the
LORD, your God,
heeding his voice, and holding fast to him.

For that will mean life for you,
a long life for you to live on the land which the LORD
swore he would give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac
and Jacob.”


Reflection

How do I defend the right to life especially of the unborn
and those near death? How am I tempted to turn away
from the commandments and not support the right to life
of all people? How can I overcome that temptation?


Prayer

God of life,
may we protect and defend the inviolable sanctity of
human life
from the moment of conception until natural death
with strong voices, gentle hands, and loving hearts.

Amen.


Novena Prayer

Immaculate Heart of Mary,
help us to conquer the menace of evil,
which so easily
takes root in the hearts of the people of today,
and whose immeasurable effects
already weigh down upon our modern world
and seem to block the paths toward the future.
From famine and war, deliver us.
From nuclear war, from incalculable self-destruction, from
every kind of war, deliver us.
From sins against human life from its very beginning,
deliver us.
From hatred and from the demeaning of the dignity of the
children of God, deliver us.
From every kind of injustice in the life of society, both
national and international, deliver us.
From readiness to trample on the commandments of God,
deliver us.
From attempts to stifle in human hearts the very truth of
God, deliver us.
From the loss of awareness of good and evil, deliver us.
From sins against the Holy Spirit, deliver us.
Accept, O Mother of Christ,
this cry laden with the sufferings of all individual
human beings,
laden with the sufferings of whole societies.
Help us with the power of the Holy Spirit conquer all sin:
individual sin and the “sin of the world,”
sin in all its manifestations.
Let there be revealed once more in the history of the world
the infinite saving power of the redemption:
the power of merciful love.
May it put a stop to evil.
May it transform consciences.
May your Immaculate Heart reveal for all the light of hope.

Amen.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Election Novena - Day Three

The prayer in podcast form.

Third Day

Opening Prayer

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful
and kindle in us the fire of your love.


Reading

Is 58:2-3, 6-8

[The Lord said]:
They seek me day after day,
and desire to know my ways,
Like a nation that has done what is just
and not abandoned the law of their God;
They ask me to declare what is due them,
pleased to gain access to God.
“Why do we fast, and you do not see it?
afflict ourselves, and you take no note of it?”

This, rather, is the fasting that I wish:
releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking every yoke;
Sharing your bread with the hungry,
sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own.
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your wound shall quickly be healed.


Reflection

What actions do I perform to please God?
How am I healing the wounds of my community?


Prayer

God of light,
give us the freedom to walk in
the footprints of your Son, Jesus.
Let our light shine out for all to see
by turning to those who call for our help.
Heal our wounds, heal our community.

Amen.


Novena Prayer

Immaculate Heart of Mary,
help us to conquer the menace of evil,
which so easily
takes root in the hearts of the people of today,
and whose immeasurable effects
already weigh down upon our modern world
and seem to block the paths toward the future.
From famine and war, deliver us.
From nuclear war, from incalculable self-destruction, from
every kind of war, deliver us.
From sins against human life from its very beginning,
deliver us.
From hatred and from the demeaning of the dignity of the
children of God, deliver us.
From every kind of injustice in the life of society, both
national and international, deliver us.
From readiness to trample on the commandments of God,
deliver us.
From attempts to stifle in human hearts the very truth of
God, deliver us.
From the loss of awareness of good and evil, deliver us.
From sins against the Holy Spirit, deliver us.
Accept, O Mother of Christ,
this cry laden with the sufferings of all individual
human beings,
laden with the sufferings of whole societies.
Help us with the power of the Holy Spirit conquer all sin:
individual sin and the “sin of the world,”
sin in all its manifestations.
Let there be revealed once more in the history of the world
the infinite saving power of the redemption:
the power of merciful love.
May it put a stop to evil.
May it transform consciences.
May your Immaculate Heart reveal for all the light of hope.

Amen.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Election Novena - Day Two

The prayer in podcast form.

Second Day

Opening Prayer

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful
and kindle in us the fire of your love.


Reading

Ps 146:1-8

Praise the LORD, my soul;
I shall praise the LORD all my life,
sing praise to my God while I live.

Put no trust in princes,
in mere mortals powerless to save.
When they breathe their last, they return to the earth;
that day all their planning comes to nothing.

Happy those whose help is Jacob’s God,
whose hope is in the LORD, their God,
The maker of heaven and earth,
the seas and all that is in them,
Who keeps faith forever,
secures justice for the oppressed,
gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets prisoners free;
the LORD gives sight to the blind.
The LORD raises up those who are bowed down;
the LORD loves the righteous.


Reflection

Who are the oppressed in your community? How am I
helping them secure justice?
How am I helping to feed and give sight to those most
in need?


Prayer

God of Jacob,
strengthen our hope in the Lord.
Help us to keep the faith
by striving for justice in our land.
Give us hearts, hands, and feet to truly reach out to those
in need.

Amen.


Novena Prayer

Immaculate Heart of Mary,
help us to conquer the menace of evil,
which so easily
takes root in the hearts of the people of today,
and whose immeasurable effects
already weigh down upon our modern world
and seem to block the paths toward the future.
From famine and war, deliver us.
From nuclear war, from incalculable self-destruction, from
every kind of war, deliver us.
From sins against human life from its very beginning,
deliver us.
From hatred and from the demeaning of the dignity of the
children of God, deliver us.
From every kind of injustice in the life of society, both
national and international, deliver us.
From readiness to trample on the commandments of God,
deliver us.
From attempts to stifle in human hearts the very truth of
God, deliver us.
From the loss of awareness of good and evil, deliver us.
From sins against the Holy Spirit, deliver us.
Accept, O Mother of Christ,
this cry laden with the sufferings of all individual
human beings,
laden with the sufferings of whole societies.
Help us with the power of the Holy Spirit conquer all sin:
individual sin and the “sin of the world,”
sin in all its manifestations.
Let there be revealed once more in the history of the world
the infinite saving power of the redemption:
the power of merciful love.
May it put a stop to evil.
May it transform consciences.
May your Immaculate Heart reveal for all the light of hope.

Amen.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Election Novena - Day One

Over the next 9 days, I'll be praying this novena in addition to the rosary for the intentions of our country, most urgently for respect for ALL life from conception until natural death from our politicians and citizens.

Regardless of who wins, think what a powerful witness it would be to see some of the most extreme and outspoken proponents of abortion to have a change of heart, to realize what a monstrosity it is, to acknowledge that this is the civil rights issue of our day. Whomever you vote for, I urge you to pray for our leaders, and to contact them and let them know what the people think of our abortion laws in this country, laws that are more extreme than anywhere else in the world, allowing abortion for any and all reasons, without parental consent for young teens, and at any gestational age. Let them know that this is not what the majority of people in our country want.

But most of all, pray. Nothing is impossible with God...pray fervently for a change of heart in pro-abortion, pro-ESCR, pro-euthenasia politicians. Pray that they see or hear something that speaks to them and makes them aware of the true horrors of our current culture of death. Pray, pray, pray...

The prayer in podcast form.

First Day

Opening Prayer

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful
and kindle in us the fire of your love.

Reading

Ps 8:2, 4-10
O LORD, our Lord,
how awesome is your name through all the earth!
You have set your majesty above the heavens!

When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and stars that you set in place—

What are humans that you are mindful of them,
mere mortals that you care for them?

Yet you have made them little less than a god,
crowned them with glory and honor.

You have given them rule over the works of your hands,
put all things at their feet:

All sheep and oxen,
even the beasts of the field,

The birds of the air, the fish of the sea,
and whatever swims the paths of the seas.

O LORD, our Lord,
how awesome is your name through all the earth!


Reflection

How will I praise God today? How will I show respect for
others, especially my neighbor or those in my community
who are not like me?

Prayer

God of love,
may we grow in our love for you
by respecting the dignity of all people we encounter.

Amen.


Novena Prayer

Immaculate Heart of Mary,
help us to conquer the menace of evil,
which so easily
takes root in the hearts of the people of today,
and whose immeasurable effects
already weigh down upon our modern world
and seem to block the paths toward the future.
From famine and war, deliver us.
From nuclear war, from incalculable self-destruction, from
every kind of war, deliver us.
From sins against human life from its very beginning,
deliver us.
From hatred and from the demeaning of the dignity of the
children of God, deliver us.
From every kind of injustice in the life of society, both
national and international, deliver us.
From readiness to trample on the commandments of God,
deliver us.
From attempts to stifle in human hearts the very truth of
God, deliver us.
From the loss of awareness of good and evil, deliver us.
From sins against the Holy Spirit, deliver us.
Accept, O Mother of Christ,
this cry laden with the sufferings of all individual
human beings,
laden with the sufferings of whole societies.
Help us with the power of the Holy Spirit conquer all sin:
individual sin and the “sin of the world,”
sin in all its manifestations.
Let there be revealed once more in the history of the world
the infinite saving power of the redemption:
the power of merciful love.
May it put a stop to evil.
May it transform consciences.
May your Immaculate Heart reveal for all the light of hope.

Amen.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Wow!

I'm planning on going to vote today...and then I look forward to ignoring every political ad and blog and article and email, and simply focus on praying for our country whatever the result. (I'm going to be starting a novena here on the blog 9 days before election day, please please pray with me for our country!)

In the mean time, I thought I'd post something completely off topic and fun with Halloween coming up. So here it is...



Isn't that amazing?!?!? Check out this artist's website here to see other astonishing carvings!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Political Musings

I've stayed mostly away from politics on my blog, largely because I am not myself enthusiastic about any particular candidate.

But I felt compelled to mention something that has bothered me in the past. Many Catholics are struggling with who to vote for. So many of the social issues which Catholics have long been known to support are packaged in one party, but then tied up with the large red bow of abortion "rights". On the other side we have quasi-pro-life lip service mixed in with some anti-life issues (like support for ESCR), and social issues that don't always line up with a great number of Catholic voters' feelings. For many of us, neither of these are exactly inspiring choices.

I know Catholics who have equally weighed their choices, and chosen to support opposing sides. It is not my place to judge any one's heart on the matter, I assume that both sides are trying their best to apply good judgement. I know many people who are holding their nose to vote McCain, because they feel the risk that nothing at all will be done to further pro-life causes is better than the certainty that much will be done to hurt pro-life causes if the other side were chosen. I think many of those who chose the nice package despite the red bow are sincerely well intentioned, and are fed up with feeling pigeon holed and yanked around by one party because of one giant issue, and have hope that addressing other issues will help that one issue in the end. I can absolutely sympathize...as I said, I'm not enthusiastic about either side.

Here is what bothers me. In these times, where our choices are reduced to picking the least of the worst candidate rather than picking the best, it tends to surprise me when I see enthusiastic support for candidates who have huge, gaping moral problems. I'm more inclined to expect grudging support, support with a heavy heart, support accompanied by fervent prayers for a change of heart on behalf of the candidate on those moral problems, than outright enthusiasm about that choice.

I'll be frank and say I haven't even decided who I am voting for myself. I have decided who I cannot, myself, in good conscience vote for. Abortion, for me, is too fundamental an issue to let go. I see too much harm from the proposed actions of the democratic candidate that outweighs, in my mind, any good that could come from them. Once the flood gates are open, it's much less likely they'll ever be closed again, and the opening of those flood gates will cost millions of lives, and that is just too great of a risk. Those are my feelings on the matter.

If, however, there was ever a time where I felt the totality of the other issues outweighed the issue of abortion, I know with certainty that it would be one of the hardest things in my life to vote for that person. Knowing that, even if I became, in theory, a "supporter" of such a candidate, I still cannot fathom ever being an enthusiastic supporter...I can only ever imagine being a reluctant one.

I would not be smiling when I saw him on TV. I would not be rushing to be at his rallies. I would not be chanting his slogans, slapping his bumper stickers on my car, or encouraging others to follow my lead. It would be with an extremely heavy heart that I would ever make such a choice, and it would be my constant and fervent prayer that his mind was changed on the issue of abortion so that I could support him more fully. I would happily join any group who mostly supported him and yet wrote to him and lobbied for him to change his view on abortion (like this guy, kudos to him!)

And so...while I've seen reluctance (from both sides) in supporting any particular candidate, I have also seen some great enthusiasm. I've seen enthusiasm from both sides, yes...but I admit that when I see Catholics who are enthusiastic particularly about a pro-abortion candidate, it frankly boggles my mind.

Don't misunderstand me, I understand the thinking behind the choice, I understand the arguments against one-issue voting, I don't think of them as bad Catholics or anything of the sort for voting their conscience in that way, especially when I'm assured that it is a vote despite the pro-abortion stance, not because of it. I respect their choice, it is theirs to make. But to have enthusiastic support for that choice? When it will likely lead to the deaths of many more children? I honestly can't wrap my head around that. When I see such enthusiasm, I wish for, I hope for an inkling of proof that there is, at least privately if not publicly, an equal amount of fervent prayer that the candidate has a change of heart on the abortion issue, perhaps attempts to contact the candidate about it, in general I hope for a balance of horror for the extreme pro-abortion views with the enthusiasm that may be there for his other plans. I try my best to assume that it is there, but it gives me a sick feeling when I think that it might not be.

In short, it bothers me when it seems people are cheering for what they like about their candidate, and apparently ignoring the moral problems with the candidate altogether. (And again, that goes for both sides.) Especially when there is a frighteningly messianic view of a candidate, it seems to turn into a cult of personality rather than a choice about issues. And any time this happens, on either side, it bothers me. Candidates come and go, they'll have their strengths and weaknesses, they are mere mortals. The issues are what will stay and what we'll have to continue to fight for. Any time we put too much faith in one mere human as if he is going to fix all our problems, things start to get scary. And yet I see this intoxicating enthusiasm even among Catholic voters who say they are supporting a candidate despite some very serious moral issues. I want to believe they are very concerned about the bad that will be coming with the good, but I'm sorry to say...it isn't always very apparent, and that doesn't feel right in my gut. It worries me.

Whatever happens in the election, though, whichever side wins, we need to be actively praying and campaigning for an end to abortion. I ask both sides, will you match your enthusiasm for your candidate of choice with equally fervent attempts to save the lives of millions, through prayer or letter writing or protests or anything? If you are proud enough of your candidate to openly and enthusiastically support him, are you likewise proud enough of your faith to openly and enthusiastically put it into practice by defending life from conception until natural death? Are you happy to boast about your political affiliation but hesitant to mention your religious convictions? Do we fumble around when asked about pro-life issues, trying to avoid the subject as St. Peter tried to avoid association with Christ when it was asked of him, or do we own our faith with conviction as we own our political choices?

I'm not pointing fingers with these questions...I just think we all (myself included) sometimes need a reminder about our priorities in life. Politicians come and go, no single person will ever fix our nation...Christ alone is our savior and redeemer, and that of the whole World, not any one single nation. When we align our values with Christ's teachings, our world prospers. When we don't, our world suffers. No economic policy or social programs can fix a world that has turned its back on Christ. And so when we weigh the pros and cons of various candidates and make our choices about who to support, let's remember while we give support for what it is we agree with in any given candidate's platform, to pray even more fervently for an end to those grave evils which may be included in that platform.


Courageous and wise St. Thomas More, patron saint of politicians, pray for us during this election season, and for our candidates, that they may uphold what is right even among political pressure and threats as you did!

Lord, send us representatives who have prudence, wisdom, and the backbone to stand up for what is right!!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Condoms - Why Not?

On my NFP board, a fellow member (a former Catholic) asked about the rationale behind being so against abortion, and yet also being against non-abortifacient contraception like condoms, since it seems that would be an easy way to prevent many abortions, by preventing many pregnancies.

This is an often asked question, a question which, on the surface, seems quite valid, but looking a little deeper reveals a fundamental flaw in understanding the root problem. As I spent some time trying to answer this question, I thought I'd share my answer here as well:

So here's the thing...a lot of people look at the Catholic teachings and see what they are on the surface, but don't see the depth behind them. On the surface , as you mentioned, it may not make sense to some...well if we're trying to stop abortion, HELLO?!? Condoms anyone? What kind of crazies are these! lol

Others have mentioned that each act must be "open to life" or "ordered towards procreation." That doesn't mean you have to have a kid each time you have relations, or that you have to be trying to have a kid. It just means that the way the act is done needs to be able to result in a kid if the stars are aligned, so to speak, nothing can be done to the act to make this impossible. Essentially, if you'll forgive my crudeness, tab A needs to end up in slot B.

But why? What's the big deal?

It's not just about "correct action", it's so much more. The action is only a "symptom" of a completely different mentality at work. Our culture, our society has sent the message that fertility can (and often should) be separated from sex. That sex can be a recreational activity, something fun to do on a Friday night, like bowling, that there's no need to wait for the protection of marriage because as long as you're careful, there's no need to get tied to someone through children, etc. How has it sent this message? Through contraception...contraception is precisely an attempt to separate fertility from sex, to make them completely unrelated.

Now, whether or not one agrees that separating sex from fertility is wrong, what has been the result? Each generation since contraception became widely available has become more and more promiscuous...because sex is largely seen as recreational. But that's not my main focus here, my main focus is the mentality, the attitude behind this behavior. People my age (I'm in my mid 20s) have grown up being told that all you have to do to separate sex from fertility is "be responsible" and use contraception.

So here we are, walking around with this notion that sex can without a doubt be separated from fertility, it's an accepted axiom. People go out, and whether they just hook up with people they meet at bars or enter into a long term relationship, they are assuming that as long as they are taking that pill or using that device, they are succeeding at separating sex from fertility with no problem, just like society told them they could.

And then that pill or that device fails. BAM, they get pregnant.

What then? It isn't FAIR!! I was being responsible like they all told me to be!! They told me I could separate sex from fertility, I did what they said, but now I'm pregnant! What happened? What went wrong? I dont understand? Well, whatever happened, it's not right that I should have to be pregnant. I was following the rules the world told me, so now I'm going to make this right. I'll get an abortion, because I mean, it's not *MY* fault I got pregnant, I was being responsible.

You see, it's about acknowledging reality. When we try to force ourselves to ignore reality, when we tell ourselves we can do something that we really can't and shouldn't do, we end up messing things up BIG TIME. What happens if you ignore reality and tell yourself you can fly? You jump off a building...and gravity proves you wrong.

Our society is walking around with their heads in the sand, imagining that they are "in control," that they can separate sex from fertility and go on their merry way and be just fine. And don't get me wrong, most contraception succeeds in preventing conception, but even if one never falls pregnant unexpectedly, there are other unfortunate consequences occuring because of this assumption that sex can be separated from fertility, like objectification of people as sexual objects and unhealthy relationships. When proof to the contrary does arise in the form of a pregnancy, rather than acknowledging our error, we've justified getting rid of that proof in the form of abortion. Anything to keep our tight grasp on the notion that we have control, that we can separate sex and fertility, and that this is good for us.

So what's the difference with NFP? NFP (and the teaching of the Church against contraception) is all about acknowledging reality as it is, not attempting to change it even when it's inconvenient for us. We acknowledge that we cannot separate sex and fertility. We can work with God's natural design, but the act itself is always ordered towards procreation, nothing is altered or changed in the act itself. And this is a physical expression of a deeply rooted mentality, of our recognition that sex cannot be separated from fertility. And so, because we acknowledge that sex cannot be separated from fertility, we also acknowledge that the only full proof way to avoid having children is to avoid having sex altogether. Now, thanks be to God, with the knowledge we have of the female body, we can pinpoit fertile and infertile times...but even this takes some sacrifice, to abstain during fertile times. It's hard at times, yes, it's not always easy...but this, in turn, can help us to overcome any potential selfishness.

After all, the yearning couples have for each other during fertile times sometimes makes them reconsider whether they really *need* to avoid having children at the moment. If the answer is, "Yes, absolutely we do!" then that's that. But sometimes, the answer is, "Hmm...well, maybe we're ready after all!" or "Hmm, maybe another one isn't a bad idea!" These kinds of thoughts are less likely to happen with contraception, because sex has already mentally been separated from fertility, and there's no reason to reconsider...after all, with or without contraception they'll be having sex, so there's not much motivation to rethink one's decision and give up the contraception.

That's largely why you tend to see larger families among NFP users...it's not just due to method failure, we're more likely to call this method success, lol, people's hearts are opened, they are more prone to reconsider their choice to avoid when it takes some sacrifice in order to do so. But regardless of whether one is trying to avoid children or trying to conceive children, there remains an underlying acknowledgement of the reality that sex and fertility are inextricably intertwined. And so if there is a surprise pregnancy, having always acknowledged that with sex comes a chance of offspring, there does not tend to be the same kind of refusal of responsibility for the pregnancy, or the same level of feelings of injustice and unfairness. They are mentally prepared for this possibility in a way that contraceptors, by and large, are not.

I hope I've been clear in describing this mentality. In a nutshell, to say that condoms are a good solution to abortion is missing the root cause of the problem. It's like if someone is trying to lose weight, and a friend suggests "Well you know if you just purge yourself after each meal you'll lose weight." Well...that may be true, on the surface that is an effective solution, but it's not addressing the root problem of gluttony, in fact it could very well be encouraging it. This proposed solution is not recognizing the function and purpose of nutrition, and therefore totally misses the mark about how to fix it. Healthy weight loss will have to involve sacrifice, it will have to recognize the relationship between food and nutrition and respect that relationship. Not gaining weight does not mean eating whatever you want and then purging yourself, it means making healthy choices to begin with, practicing self control and abstaining from certain foods.

Likewise, using contraception to avoid children does not recognize the relationship between sex and fertility, instead of practicing self control and sometimes difficult self sacrifice in order to avoid children, it encourages seeking out the pleasure while keeping the fertility aspect completely separate in an attempt to avoid the natural consequences at all costs. It's simply a continuation of the "separatist" view. We are a nation of sexual gluttons and self proclaimed victims, and we've forgotton what self control and personal responsibility really mean. (And that is, of course, not only in regards to sex...food, money, consumerism, ridiculous amounts of debt, it all goes together.)

To see the proof of the error of this mentality, note that over time, as the use of contraception went up, so did the amount of abortions. On the surface that doesn't make sense, right? If people are preventing more pregnancies then there should be less abortion...but that's because people are buying into the idea that sex can be separated from fertility, and so if a pregnancy happens despite contraception use, then it's not seen as their responsibility, and therefore they feel justified in getting an abortion.

More than that, though, the idea that one isn't responsible for getting pregnant trickles over to those who don't even use contraception. Once the idea is commonly accepted that sex can be separated from fertility, it tends to mutate into the assumption that sex already is separated from fertility. This is why we're having to remind teenagers that you can get pregnant when you have sex...because we've divorced the concepts so thoroughly that we've collectively forgotten this reality.

So you see, in our eyes the solution is not "more condoms!" which only reinforces this mentality of separation, rather the solution is acknowledging the reality, reminding ourselves that sex is not simply a recreational activity, that it has a purpose and a function, and remembering that when we ignore this reality, we start messing up our world big time. We're running towards the edge of that roof ready to jump off thinking we can fly, but in the end you simply can't cheat reality.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Ste Thérèse de Lisieux

Today we celebrate the feast day of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, a holy woman who showed the world how to love greatly in simplicity, and in showing us her "little way," became a Doctor of the Church. We're very lucky to have a priest who speaks French, and today he'll be celebrating mass in French in honor of St. Thérèse!

To read more about the life of St. Thérèse, see here.

"Love proves itself by deeds, so how am I to show my love? Great deeds are forbidden me. The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love." She took every chance to sacrifice, no matter how small it would seem. She smiled at the sisters she didn't like. She ate everything she was given without complaining -- so that she was often given the worst leftovers. One time she was accused of breaking a vase when she was not at fault. Instead of arguing she sank to her knees and begged forgiveness. These little sacrifices cost her more than bigger ones, for these went unrecognized by others.

Some quotes:

- You know well enough that Our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, nor even at their difficulty, but at the love with which we do them.

- I applied myself above all to practice quite hidden little acts of virtue; thus I liked to fold the mantles forgotten by the Sisters, and sought a thousand opportunities of rendering them service.

- I feel that when I am charitable it is Jesus alone who acts in me; the more I am united to Him the more do I love all my Sisters. If, when I desire to increase this love in my heart, the demon tries to set before my eyes the faults of one or other of the Sisters, I hasten to call to mind her virtues, her good desires; I say to myself that if I had seen her fall once, she may well have gained many victories which she conceals through humility; and that even what appears to me a fault may in truth be an act of virtue by reason of the intention.

- True charity consists in putting up with all one's neighbor's faults, never being surprised by his weakness, and being inspired by the least of his virtues.

- To offer oneself as a victim to Divine Love is not to offer oneself to sweetness - to consolation; but to every anguish, every bitterness, for Love lives only by sacrifice; and the more a soul wills to be surrendered to Love, the more must she be surrendered to suffering.


Thérèse, tu as promis ''de passer ton Ciel à faire du bien sur la terre''. Prie avec nous afin que dans notre coeur fleurissent les roses d'une foi éveillée, d'une confiance persévérante, d'un amour ardent pour Dieu et tout homme, dans les petites choses de chaque jour.

Exauce notre prière, ô Dieu notre Père, en l'Esprit de Jésus. Amour et Miséricorde à tout jamais. Amen.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

New Blog!

I'm pleased to see that R.J. Grigatis now has a blog! I'll be adding it to my blogroll. :-)

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship


Once again I've been MIA for quite a while on this blog because I've been busy sewing! I thought I'd take the opportunity, though, to remind all the Catholics out there to read the USCCB's voter's guide, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship during this highly charged political season. It's really quite good!

May the Lord guide us and help us to properly form our consciences when voting, and guide our future president towards good and especially to protect all life from conception until natural death.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Lord, Have Mercy

I would think most Catholics in the blogosphere have heard about this story, but in a nutshell a student in Florida took a host out of mass to keep as some kind of show and tell, and in mocking reaction to the shock of Catholics everyhwere, University of Minnesota professor P.Z. Myers promised to find and desecrate a host himself.

It appears he has done it.

The only words that come into my head in regard to him and the people who delight in what he has done are those of Jesus on the Cross while people mocked Him and spit upon His crucified body the first time around...Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.

Please join me in praying for this man and those cheering him on.

Lord, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

Friday, July 18, 2008

A Rainbow

The other day I saw the biggest, most complete rainbow I think I've ever seen. I was driving at the time, and was disappointed I wouldn't be able to get a picture of it. I got home, stepped out of my car and looked behind me...and this is what I saw. :-)







Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Poorest of the Poor...

I was reading the liveblog from Jen on the America Magazine website discussing her conversion from being pro-choice to being pro-life, and having just read about Mother Teresa one of the comments struck me...it was from someone who (God bless them) had worked alongside the poor and seen much suffering. The argument was along the lines of, until the world is rid of the poor, being pro-choice is an unfortunate necessity because it just isn't fair to force children to be born into poverty and neglect, and I'm not going to be self-righteous and feel good about "being good" and take away someone's choice when they're faced with such suffering. Jen (as always) graciously responded and acknowledged that although she hadn't worked with the poor the way this person had, she did have some personal experiences that were relevant and went on to share them and discuss the issue.

As I read this, having just finished reading all about Mother Teresa in Come Be My Light, I couldn't help think about her. I mean, this is THE contemporary most of us think of when we think of helping the poor and sick and suffering, right? Even the mainstream media acknowledges her good works.

And what did Mother Teresa, a woman who devoted her life to caring for the sick and dying and poverty stricken, who joined them in poverty herself and spent her time among them, who likely knows better than the commentator on the liveblog or Jen or me or any of us what it is to be poor and suffering, what did she have to say on the issue?

"I feel the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a direct war, a direct killing, direct murder by the mother herself. And we read in the Scripture, for God says very clearly: 'Even if a mother could forget her child, I will not forget you. I have carved you in the palm of my hand.' ...That unborn child has been carved in the hand of God..."

"Many people are very, very concerned with children in India, with the children of Africa where quite a number die, maybe of malnutrition, of hunger and so on, but millions are dying deliberately by the will of the mother. And this is what is the greatest destroyer of peace today...Let us ensure this year that we make every single child born, and unborn, wanted....Have we really made the children wanted?..."


and

"I find the unborn child to be the poorest of the poor today - the most unloved - the most unwanted, the throw away of the society."

United in Darkness

While on vacation, my father-in-law (*wave*) offered to let us read Come Be My Light, the book which tells us about the hidden suffering of Mother Teresa.

First let me say that any reviewer out there who reads this book and claims that she doubted God her whole life or had a "crisis of faith" or any such thing obviously missed the entire point of her writings. The feeling wasn't there after a certain point in her life, and this caused her much suffering because she longed to feel God's love so much, but the amazing part is that her faith remained and grew despite the lack of feeling, and in fact because of it and even through it. She did not spend her life doubting God, she says herself she never doubted God...her writing is a testament to her great faith. It's really ridiculous that some people try and twist what she said around to say the opposite. On to the book...

It begins with one of the biggest secrets of her life...her vow as a young and fairly new nun, made with the permission of her spiritual director (who obviously had confidence in her ability to keep it). She "made a vow to God, binding under [pain of] mortal sin, to give to God anything that He may ask, 'Not to refuse Him anything.'" It seems so simple and yet what a colossal promise to make. This was her driving force, and in fact people often thought her impatient because once she believed something was a request from God, she wanted to do it as quickly as possible for Him.

It is after making this vow that she heard the "call within a call" to minister to the poorest of the poor. After pushing hard to get permission from the bishop to be able to fulfill this call (but always putting obedience to the bishop first and foremost), she realized her goal and began the Missionaries of Charity. It was then that the darkness began. She worried that it meant she wasn't giving all to God at first, but over the years, through the guidance of a small handful of spiritual directors, it became apparent that Mother Teresa herself continually put God first and foremost, and so the absence of God that she felt was God's Will, a way to unite her suffering with Christ's.

Her longing for God was so great, her desire to please Him so strong, that the darkness, for instance not feeling anything in the presence of the Eucharist or in prayer, was excruciating. And yet, when she came to understand that it was God Himself who willed this, she thanked Him for the darkness and offered to endure it eternally if it would only please Him. And throughout all of this externally she radiated the love of God. Though she did not feel it herself, those around her felt it through her. She was truly living Christ's passion, as God allowed her to share in the desperate plea of Christ, "My God, my God, Why have you forsaken me?" Despite the incurable longing for Christ hidden behind a smile, her faith remained abundantly clear through her actions.

Time and time again she resolved to decrease herself even more so that Christ could increase in her. One resolution was that, "the greater the pain and darker the darkness the sweeter will be my smile at God." She constantly asks for prayers from everyone she writes to, to "Pray for me that I may not refuse Him." She also says "I want to smile even at Jesus & so hide if possible the pain and the darkness of my soul even from Him."

In response to the Offertory verse used for the Mass of the Feast of Sacred Heart (Ps. 68:21) which says, "I looked for one that would grieve together with me, and there was none: and I sought one that would console me, and I found none," she responded herself and encouraged others to respond with, "Be the one." She spoke of the Thirst of Jesus on the cross, and encouraged her sisters to "be the one who will satiate the Thirst. Instead of saying 'I Thirst' say 'be the one,'" echoing Christ's words, "Whatever you did to the least of these, you did to me."

I think what touches me most is her total humility. She always assumed that those suffering around her were suffering more than herself and so she longed to help them. She didn't at all like the spotlight, she begged those who knew about her interior darkness to keep it secret so as not to draw attention to herself. She didn't like the media attention, but only submitted to it out of obedience because her spiritual advisors and bishops told her God was working through her and it was His Will, so when she did have to speak publicly and be in the spotlight, she invariably used it to point ever more to God, never to herself.

I walk away from the book with such a mix of emotions...sadness at her intense interior suffering, wonder at her incessant call to keep smiling through the pain and darkness, and inspiration from her determination to be the Light of Christ for all, and most especially for the "unwanted and unloved" of the world. Above all, though, I come away so deeply humbled by Mother Teresa's intense love of God, her desire to do all and be all for Him alone. I believe the following passage from the book sums it up perfectly:

"Her painful darkness mysteriously united her so intimately with her crucified Spouse, that He became the sole 'object of her thoughts and affections, the subject of her conversations, the end of her actions and the model of her life.' Her total surrender to His will and her determination not to refuse Him anything allowed Him to manifest through her His love for each individual. It was the light and love of Jesus Himself that radiated from her - in the midst of her own darkness - and that had such an impact on others."

Friday, June 27, 2008

Five Happy Years!

It's just about midnight here, so I can safely say that today is our 5 year anniversary!

I received a beautiful pearl necklace from my dear husband (which I asked for, lol), and then he surprised me with tickets to Pirates of Penzance! A friend in my orchestra was playing the role of the Major General and I mentioned I'd wanted to see it. It was a wonderful surprise and we both thoroughly enjoyed the performance.

So thank you darling, and here's to many more happy years together. :-)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Adding to my Blogroll

Just thought I'd mention I'm adding to my blogroll the blog of a priest of an online friend, Fr. Demets, who happens to be French. He has posts in both French and English, all of which are enlightening!

Check out De Fide Catholica!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

MIA

Just in case anyone is wondering where I've been and why I haven't been posting here, it's largely because I've been in quite a sewing frenzy, which you can read about on my sewing blog here. :-)

I've opened up an Etsy shop as well: mllevaleur.etsy.com.

I'm sure one of these days I'll be inspired to post here again, in the meantime I'm busy sewing!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

My Husband's Latest Hobby...

Bagpiping! Well he hasn't gotten to the actual pipes yet, but he's doing well on the practice chanter. This was his first public performance along with his fellow student and teacher (she's the one in the kilt), only after several months of learning.



And here's a taste of what's to come in the future. This is the Silver Thistle performing, the group that teaches his lessons.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Rare Sight

Me, with straight hair!





I'm still a curly girl at heart, though, I think I look better with my natural curls. But I have a friend from high school that is training as a hair dresser and she needed a curly model to practice on...it was fun!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

This One is for Camille...

Who often affectionately talks about the cat's stinky gaseousness.

stove.jpg
see more crazy cat pics

It even looks like Berlioz, lol!!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

"The Devil is No Fool"

I'm just beginning to read Thomas Merton's The Seven Storey Mountain, and I came upon a passage that had me enthusiastically nodding my head in agreement. Merton is describing his grandparents and their religious views. He explains that he coudn't really tell you which brand of Protestant they were because, it seemed that as far as they were concerned, the various Christian denominations were all pretty much the same. Except, of course, for the Catholics...

"But as for the Catholics - it seemed, in Pop's mind, that there was a certain sinister note of malice connected with the profession of anything like the Catholic faith. The Catholic Church was the only one against which I ever heard him speak with any definite bitterness or animosity...

This was one of the few things I got from Pop that really took root in my mind, and became part of my mental attitude: this hatred and suspicion of Catholics. There was nothing overt about it. It was simply the deep, almost subconscious aversion from the vague and evil thing, which I called Catholicism, which lived back in the dark corners of my mentality with other spooks, like death and so on. I did not know precisely what the word meant. It only conveyed a kind of cold and unpleasant feeling."

I think that any of us who grew up surrounded by anti-Catholicism know exactly what he is talking about. It's not an overt hatred, at least most of the time...but it's a seething feeling of, something akin to disgust. You simply know within your very being that it is so vile and repulsive, and so obviously sinister, that there's no need to even waste one's time considering its claims!

And therein lies the genius of the devil's handiwork.

Merton goes on to explain,

"The devil is no fool. He can get people feeling about heaven the way they ought to feel about hell. He can make them fear the means of grace the way they do not fear sin. And he does so, not by light but by obscurity, not by realities but by shadows, not by clarity and substance but by dreams and the creatures of psychosis. And men are so poor in intellect that a few cold chills down their spine will be enough to keep them from ever finding out the truth about anything."

I thank God that He gave me the grace to move past the cold chills and actually consider the claims of Catholicism, even while knowing all the while I was going to find them completely false. I've never been happier to have been proven so wrong! And not because Catholicism is "easier" or lets me get away with more or has more entertaining worship, all things of which I've been accused. It's simply because I sincerely believe it to be true, and all I ever wanted was to find truth.

Deo Gratias.

Monday, March 24, 2008

I *heart* my Parish!

This is just a taste of the gorgeous and unique music we get to hear at mass.

This is a 13th century piece sung in middle English (which I find fascinating!)



This is the translation:

"Stand well, mother, under the cross, behold your child with a glad spirit; a happy mother may you be."

"Son, how may I happily stand? I see your feet and your hands nailed to the hard tree."

"Mother, put away your weeping. I suffer this death for mankind; I do not suffer for my own guilt."

"Son, I feel the wounds of death, the sword is at the bottom of my heart as Simeon promised me."

"Mother, have pity on your child! Wipe away the bloody tears that wound me worse than my own death."

"Son, how can I refrain from tears? I see these bloody streams run from your heart onto my foot."

"Mother, now I may say unto you, better it is that I alone die than all mankind go to hell."

"Son, I see thy body beaten, breast and hand and foot pierced through; no wonder that I am grieved."

"Mother, if I may tell you, unless I die, you go to hell; I suffer death for your sake."


Is that not beautiful? We are so blessed!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Veggie Tales does St. Patrick

So I'm a bit late for St. Patrick's day, but this was so cute I just had to share! I think it's only available to watch this week, so watch it now!

Sumo of the Opera with the St. Patrick story

And I can't believe it's been a full month since I posted! Hopefully I should be posting more very soon since things have settled down a bit.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Pantry Organization!

That's what I've been busy doing today...

BEFORE:


AFTER:




Aaahhhh, a nice and newly organized space always makes me feel like I can breathe a bit better. :-)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Tools of Grace

Jen has another great blog post with an analogy for how she came to be convinced of the truth of Christianity, and specifically Catholicism. She says she doesn't think the analogy is all that great herself, lol, but I think it's quite accurate. In fact, I remember long ago when I was talking to my husband online about religion long before we were married, I asked him why Catholics had all this extra stuff. After all, why not just stick to the Bible and the Bible alone? His answer was that all this "extra stuff" accompanied and complemented the Bible, all the "extra things" were tools that helped people to put the words on the page into action, to live a Christian life. Of course, that didn't convince me at the time, I still believed he was adding to the Bible and in error. But, those words stuck with me, and now I see clearly what he meant, and I'm so glad to have all those tools available to me. They are a gift from God, and they are what make living an authentically Christian life possible.


I remember once standing in the foyer at my childhood church, probably not too long after I'd been baptized, so I was likely in my early teens. I don't know why the thought occurred to me at just that instant, but I was thinking about all the sins I had committed, and how easy it was to commit little sins all the time. (And since I believed that all sin was, essentially, mortal sin, this was a scary thought indeed.) I also remember thinking of the verse that says God hates lukewarmness and will spew lukewarm people out. I thought...wow, I don't seem to be trying very hard to stop all these sins, because obviously I keep doing them over and over. The thought of battling these sins, of trying to remain free from them for the entire rest of my life suddenly felt like a massive weight on my shoulders and gave me an utter sense of hopelessness, because I knew instinctively that I couldn't do it, although I'd been taught I should be able to. It always sounded so easy, "Just choose not to sin. Don't sin. Just say no to sin." as if the choice alone would somehow come to fruition on its own, or by sheer force of will.

In practice, though, I'd found those "simple" words much more difficult. And honestly, because the kind of statements I heard so often, ("Just choose not to sin") I wondered if I was so bad that it did come easily for others but not for me...and if so, why? What was I doing wrong? (Obviously, if I'd just read St. Paul's words that "I do not what I want, but I do the very thing I hate...I do not the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want," along with St. Matthew's famous words, "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak," I would have seen I was most certainly not alone. Even the apostles struggled with avoiding sin!)

I share this story because it provides the backdrop for an example of one of these amazing tools I found in Catholicism, and how I first saw it working so well where my own tools had not. The specific tool I'm speaking of is confession.

There was a particular sin I struggled with growing up. I tried so many times on my own to stop. After I broke promise after promise to myself and God that I would stop, I started to try and find physical ways to manifest my resolve, thinking that would help me keep it. I made contracts to myself, I even once had a mini-ceremony all alone declaring I would stop and never do this sin again, complete with a candle. (Looking back I see how instinctive the need for a physical manifestations of spiritual things is in human nature, I craved sacraments before I knew what they were!)

Needless to say, although I often did better for a while after these promises, and often went longer than before without committing this sin, inevitably I'd fall back. In hindsight, I do believe God was giving me the grace to avoid the sin during those times, my problem was I thought it was supposed to be a one time thing, so when I fell back, I would basically be pushed to despair that I had failed, yet again, and become hopeless at the prospect of ever conquering this sin completely.

Enter Catholicism and her many tools.

Once I became Catholic I started going to confession for this sin. What I noticed is that each time I went to confession for it, the time until I started feeling tempted to it got longer and longer. First it was weeks, then it was months, and I'd eventually, unfortunately, fall again...but I'd head to confession after I fell. And the next time I would last even longer before giving in. One day, I realized it had been a while since we'd gone to confession, and thought we ought to go. And at the same time I realized, I hadn't committed the sin! That was my first confession without having to confess that sin. It felt wonderful...and since that confession, I've not had to confess it again (though, obviously, I have plenty others to confess!). It has been several years and it is hardly ever a temptation at all anymore, thanks be to God.

What is the difference? It's not me...my resolve has not gotten any stronger than it was when I was a teen trying to write myself contracts and have ceremonies. The spirit was always willing, but the flesh was invariably weak. So what changed that?

The difference, I believe, is grace. The grace we receive through the sacraments is a powerful thing. It is not some nebulous pardon of sins or a get out of jail free card. It is efficacious, it is ontic, it is real. I can truly say about this conquering of a certain sin, It is not I, but Christ who lives in me.

To go back to the tools analogy...I believe that all the tools God gives us through His Church work so well for one reason. What they all have in common is that they bring us grace. I'm certainly not saying non-Catholic Christians don't receive grace because they don't have all the tools. God cannot be put in a box, He is not tied to the sacraments, He can give grace where He sees fit. But, the sacraments and other tools are God's clear gift and promise to us, they are an assurance that when we need grace to overcome sin, He is there waiting in the sacraments to give it to us.

I didn't have all those tools (though I had some) growing up, just as I didn't realize the problem was that I kept counting on myself to stop sinning. I know now that I was right so many years ago, feeling hopeless about the thought of relying on myself to stop sinning, because that is simply impossible. Now, though, I have the remedy to the hopelessness I felt in the realization that I simply can't do it without God's grace, but our gracious God is there ready and willing to dispense the very grace we need to conquer sin through the wonderful tools He has entrusted to His Church.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Wrecked Car and New Car

So Cam had an accident about a week ago (he wasn't hurt at all, thankfully)...it wasn't his fault, of course, but our car got most of the damage. Our little Hyundai Accent served us well!







Seeing as that was our one and only car, and we were told by several insurance reps that with the reported damage (and the value of the car) it is most probably totaled, we decided to go ahead and get a new car so that we had a way to get around again!

This is our (slightly used) 2007 Hyundai Elantra.







We're enjoying the new car, although of course we'd rather not have had such a reason to get one.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

A Blessed Ash Wednesday to Everyone!

So what are you all doing for Lent?

I'll be giving up sugar (again), that was tough! We'll also be giving up fast food (we've been bad lately!) I'm going to try and pray a rosary each day and start chores, BEFORE checking the boards and blogs.

I hope everyone who is joining the Church at Easter (Aimee and Erik come to mind!) will relish this time of preparation and fasting. I'll be keeping all of you in my prayers, and I can't wait to share your joy with you at Easter!

Let us pray that this Lent will help us reproduce in our lives the self-sacrificing love of Christ. Amen.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Wise Words

Jen gets to the heart of the problem of abortion while explaining her own conversion from being pro-choice to being pro-life.

I didn't want to hear too much about heartbeats or souls or brain activity...terminating pregnancies just had to be OK, because carrying a baby to term and becoming a parent is a huge deal...and society had made it very clear that sex is not a huge deal. As long as I accepted that for people to engage in sex in a contraceptive mentality was morally OK, I could not bring myself to even consider that abortion might not be OK. It just seemed too inhumane to make women deal with life-altering consequences for an act that was not supposed to have life-altering consequences.

When we're fed the lie that you can separate sex from procreation, we make up other lies to convince ourselves that the evil being done as a result isn't really evil, and even more, is a "right" and a good worth fighting for.

Definitely read the whole post, it's great as usual!

Friday, January 25, 2008

To Veil or Not To Veil

On the exer board, a discussion was started about head coverings. A couple women reacted with a kind of instinctive cringe which I think is common today. I don't blame them, and I do understand the reaction, but I think it is one that is because of the time we live in, and I think it is one that comes from a place of misunderstanding and reactionism based in the feminism of our day.

I think true feminism is a good thing, and I'm so thankful for all the good stuff that women have fought for...but I think in many ways the movement has made women uncomfortable with expressing what have traditionally been very feminine attributes at all.

It seems some sections of feminism strove to be man-like. Since men were in charge, many traditionally feminine characteristics were things to be avoided if women wanted to be equals with men. In the process they, certainly inadvertantly, ended up actually furthering the idea that femininity itself is inherently "less than". In my opinion, because of this error many ended up sacrificing true femininity rather than encouraging people to respect true femininity. The result is, many women now cringe at the sight of thoroughly feminine characteristics...including modesty, purity, humility, etc. (All of the things so thoroughly embodied in Our Lady.)

And so we're leftover with knee-jerk reactions to feminine signs of humility and submission (even to God), because we were supposed to get rid of all that, because obviously no woman would ever want to be those things, it was assumed that she was always forced to be those things. I think that's where they went wrong in their assumptions.

Now, it goes without saying, a woman should never be oppressed or forced to do something she is not willing to do simply because she is a woman. But that shouldn't mean that women (or men, of course, but there doesn't seem to be a problem there) can't choose to perform acts of humility or submission willingly, especially before God.

According to the Christian tradition, humility and mutual submission (from both men AND women) is a good thing.

He who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.

I think we're so used to crying "OPPRESSION!!" at any sight of women showing some kind of external sign of humility (because of the assumption that it was always by force and never by choice) that we're starting to oppress them ourselves in the opposite manner...they are no longer even allowed to show any kind of external sign of traditionally feminine humility or submission before God for fear of being told they are not "progressive" enough, and they're insulting all those who broke free from their bonds by returning to them.

But I thought true progress meant allowing people the choice. And yet, I find it interesting that those who are the loudest to run to the battle cry of "choice" often seem to actually be trying to push one particular choice above all others.

Some claim that veiling is just an oppressive rule required by men and promoted by men, but personally, most of the people I've talked to who support someone wearing it (should they want to) have been women who felt called to wear one as a sign of devotion. It was humbling for them, because in this day a lot of people tend to look down on them for wearing it, and they're doing it despite that (and the women I know are not doing it as a "holier than thou" thing, although I certainly know those types exist.)

Some say, well it's not necessary so what's the point, other than some kind of forced submission?

In my opinion, It is an expression of faith in and reverence for the Euacharist. There are many things we do that aren't, strictly speaking, "necessary." In the Catholic faith, we believe in an incarnational faith...which means, spiritual things are expressed through physical things. That doesn't mean they have to be, but it means they often are, and this is good and fine. (As opposed to gnostics who thought matter was bad, etc.)

Likewise, our actions and such tend to affect our inward thoughts...not only does blessing myself with holy water upon entering the Church express respect for the Eucharist, it also helps me call to mind my baptism and entrance into the Church, and to remind me physically that I'm entering a holy place. It works both ways, it is both a physical expression of a spiritual reality, and a physical reminder of the spiritual reality.

Such can be the case for some using a head covering too...for some, it is a physical reminder that they are entering a holy place. And there is nothing wrong with that, is there? To assume someone is being "holier than thou" or has been brainwashed into oppression just because of a veil on the head is, to use the favorite accusation of our modern day, judgemental. It isn't right to judge anyone's intentions when we don't know them, charity necessitates that we avoid assuming the worst about people and their intentions.

To be clear, I'm not trying to insist that everyone should be wearing a veil, I don't wear one myself! But I do think it's just as unfair to insist that everyone should as it is to insist that everyone shouldn't (because it's archaic/because it's seen as holier-than-thou/because it's just symbolic and isn't necessary/fill in the blank). I think the gut reactions instilled in most modern women is a sad testament to the errors made by some of the early feminists in denouncing femininity itself.

I'm simply asking for the freedom to let those who want to wear one to do so without reproach or ugly looks or uncharitable thoughts, and for those who don't want to wear one to do so without reproach or ugly looks or uncharitable thoughts. When we get to a place where people can respect others' choices and avoid uncharitable thoughts about them, then we'll be making true progress. Until then, we're just trading one form of oppression for another.