Posted in Christian Life

Why Pray the Rosary

Joseph Pronechen posted an article at Catholic Exchange explaining why Our Lady instructed us to pray the rosary every day. The gold nugget in the piece is this quote by Sister Lucia:

Even for those people who do not know how, or who are not able to recollect themselves sufficiently to meditate, the simple act of taking the Rosary in their hands in order to pray is already to become mindful of God, and a men­tion in each decade of a mystery of the life of Christ recalls Him to their minds; this in turn will light in their souls a gentle light of faith which supports the still smoldering wick, preventing it from extinguishing itself altogether.

Sister Lucia

Posted in Christian Life

Oh, yes we can go back!

The most common excuse for restoring the liturgy or anything else in the Church is, “We can’t go back.” And the most oft quoted phrase for continuing change in the Church is, “We can’t go back.” I’ve heard it said from the highest echelons of the Church hierarchy to the lowest. Most recently, in an article by Matthew Gambino over at CatholicPhilly.com. Mr. Gambino wrote

“Catholics must take responsibility for how we effectively live the Catholic faith in our time and place. If we merely ask leaders to “fix” this or that perceived problem, as if to return the church to some perfect state from the Golden Age of yesteryear, we’re going to be disappointed, because going backward is no option.”

Continue reading “Oh, yes we can go back!”
Posted in Christian Life

9 Days for Life: Day Nine

From the USCCB website:

Did You Know?
In the Catholic Church in the United States, January 22nd is designated as a particular day of prayer and penance, called the “Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children.” As Catholics, we are called to observe this day through the penitential practices of prayer, fasting, and/or giving alms.

More Information: www.usccb.org/january-22Intercession: May the tragic practice of abortion come to an end.

Prayers: Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

Reflection: Today, on this 46th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we mourn the many children’s lives ended by abortion and remember in prayer those who suffer the aftermath. The Church comes together today to pray for the protection of all unborn children and to make reparation for abortion, trusting that the Lord hears our prayers.

Pope Saint John Paul II wrote, “A great prayer for life is urgently needed, a prayer which will rise up throughout the world. Through special initiatives and in daily prayer, may an impassioned plea rise to God, the Creator and lover of life, from every Christian community, from every group and association, from every family and from the heart of every believer” (Evangelium vitae, 100). May that prayer arise in our hearts today and each day forward until every human being is protected in law and welcomed in life.

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • Abstain from snacking today. Eat three meals only.
     
  • Learn how to pray the Angelus (www.usccb.org/angelus), and consider saying it every day for the next week—on awakening, at noon, or at 6 p.m. (or all three times).
     
  • Offer some other sacrifice, prayer, or act of penance that you feel called to do for today’s intention.

One Step Further: More women and girls consider abortion than we may realize. They are our relatives and friends, people who work with us or for us. Even if someone identifies as being pro-life, the shock of an unexpected pregnancy, the devastation of a difficult prenatal diagnosis, shame, pressures, or fears may influence her to consider abortion.

If someone shared with you she was pregnant and hadn’t ruled out having an abortion, would you know how to respond in a loving way that is life-affirming for both her and her baby? Learn about the four steps of the L.O.V.E. Approach™*: Listen and Learn, Open Options, Vision and Value, and Extend and Empower (www.usccb.org/l-o-v-e).

For other simple tips on how to provide loving, life-affirming support for a friend who is unexpectedly pregnant, read “10 Ways to Support Her When She’s Unexpectedly Expecting” (www.usccb.org/support-her).

*The L.O.V.E. Approach™ is trademarked by Heartbeat International, Inc. and may not be adapted or modified. The L.O.V.E. Approach™ is used in “What to Do When a Friend Is Considering Abortion” with permission from Heartbeat International, Inc.
 

Evangelium vitae (The Gospel of Life), no.100 © 1995, Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Copyright © 2018, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC. All rights reserved.

Posted in Christian Life

9 Days for Life: Day Eight

From the USCCB website:

Intercession: May those nearing life’s end receive medical care that respects their dignity and protects their lives.

Prayers: Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

Reflection: The dying process is a sacred time—a final season to seek closure in this life and prepare for the next. We know earthly death is not the end, but rather the door through which we must pass to gain eternal life. The deadly practice of assisted suicide—now legal in several states—shortens or even eliminates this sacred season, carelessly cutting short the life of the patient. To support the “false compassion” of assisted suicide is to see people as a problem to be eliminated. End-of-life care should instead help eliminate or alleviate the patient’s problems, whether they are physical, spiritual, or emotional.

Those who die in God’s grace and friendship live forever with Christ. Because of our belief and hope in the Resurrection, we can face death not with fear, but with trust. We pray that society might recognize that every day of our lives is a gift and is always worth living, especially our final days. We need not fear. Christ is with us.

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • Sacrifice some of your free time to do a small act of service, such as making breakfast for a family member, writing a note of encouragement for a coworker, or praying for the intentions of a friend.
     
  • Pray a decade of the rosary (www.usccb.org/rosary) for your friends and family who have passed away, as well as the departed who have no one to pray for them.
     
  • Offer some other sacrifice, prayer, or act of penance that you feel called to do for today’s intention

One Step Further: Assisted suicide is in the news and on lawmakers’ agendas. Supporters call it “aid in dying” and claim it is just another option for ending intolerable pain as part of end-of-life care. Learn why assisted suicide is radically different from end-of-life care and the practice of palliative care in “Killing the Pain, Not the Patient: Palliative Care vs. Assisted Suicide” (www.usccb.org/killing-the-pain).

When family members or friends approach life’s end, we may not know how best to accompany them. For suggestions on authentically compassionate care anchored in unconditional respect for human life, read “Caring for Loved Ones at Life’s End” (www.usccb.org/endoflifecare).

Posted in Christian Life

9 Days for Life: Day Seven

From the USCCB website:

Intercession: May those who long to welcome a child into their family be filled with trust in God’s loving plan.

Prayers: Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

Reflection: It can be very difficult and painful when the Lord doesn’t answer our prayers in the way we hope. A couple that finds themselves unable to bring a child into the world through their loving union can experience this disappointment very deeply. During such times of trial, we may wonder why we face the particular challenges that we do. Yet even though suffering is often shrouded in a sense of mystery, we believe that the Lord loves us with great tenderness and compassion that is beyond our imagination. Knowing this, we can trust that “all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28).

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • Smile. Ask God today for the grace to be extra joyful and share Christ’s love with those who need encouragement the most today.
     
  • Offer the Prayer for Those Hoping to Conceive or Adopt a Child, and spend some time reflecting on the accompanying excerpt from Psalm 145.
     
  • Offer some other sacrifice, prayer, or act of penance that you feel called to do for today’s intention.

One Step Further: “Seven Considerations While Navigating Infertility” (www.usccb.org/navigating-infertility) seeks to provide compassionate guidance that is both practical and informative for married couples who are walking on this road. Although geared to such couples, the article is also helpful for anyone to read, offering insight into the experience of infertility and giving awareness of the need for sensitivity in our relationships with those who may be affected.

Posted in Christian Life

9 Days for Life: Day Six

From the USCCB website:

Intercession: May all victims and survivors of human trafficking find freedom, refuge, and healing.

Prayers: Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

Reflection: Those who are vulnerable are most at risk for being lured into situations where they are trafficked. Migrants and refugees often face increased risk factors like changes to language and culture, lack of support systems, and the burden of poverty. Young people on the margins, especially runaway and homeless youth, are targeted for sex trafficking and may subsequently be forced to have abortions. Easily tempted by the false promises of traffickers, victims often find themselves enslaved with no means of escape.

Christ came “to bring good news to the afflicted, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives” (Is 61:1, cf. Luke 4:18). May all who are trapped in situations of slavery be released from their chains of captivity and find freedom, refuge, safety, and healing in Christ and His Church.

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • Give up sleeping on your pillow tonight. Allow this small sacrifice to remind you of the sufferings endured by those in our world who are enslaved.
     
  • St. Josephine Bakhita, who was born in Sudan and sold into slavery, has become known as the patron saint of human trafficking victims. Pray for victims and survivors of human trafficking, asking the intercession of St. Josephine Bakhita.
     
  • Offer some other sacrifice, prayer, or act of penance that you feel called to do for today’s intention.

One Step Further: Would you know how to identify a potential trafficking situation? Learn more about human trafficking and recognizing the red flags through the USCCB’s Anti-Trafficking Program at www.usccb.org/stopslavery.

Almost half of the reported victims of human trafficking in the U.S. in 2016 were foreign nationals. Consider bringing the Amistad Movement to your parish to help raise awareness about human trafficking among immigrant populations. www.usccb.org/about/anti-trafficking-program/amistad.cfm

If you suspect someone is a victim of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline (888-3737-888) for immediate assistance. They can communicate in over 200 languages and provide immediate information, assistance, and local referrals for potential human trafficking situations.

Posted in Christian Life

9 Days for Life: Day Five

From the USCCB website:

If you or someone you know is suffering after abortion, confidential, non-judgmental help is available. Visit www.hopeafterabortion.org.

Intercession: May each person suffering from the loss of a child through abortion find hope and healing in Christ.

Prayers: Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

Reflection: After more than four decades of legalized abortion, many children’s lives have been ended, and many parents and family members suffer that loss—often in silence. Yet God’s greatest desire is to forgive. No matter how far we have each strayed from His side, He says to us, “Don’t be afraid. Draw close to my heart.” Be assured that it is never too late to seek God’s forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Consider the parable of the Prodigal Son. After repenting of sinning against his father, he returns from far away to seek forgiveness and work as a servant. But the father sees him approaching from far away, runs to warmly embrace him, and hosts a banquet to celebrate his return. So, too, does God welcome all repentant sinners, no matter how serious the sin. Let us run into the arms of Our Lord, Who is love and mercy.

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • Abstain from meat today. If you are already abstaining from meat today, skip your favorite snack, too.
     
  • Pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy (www.usccb.org/divine-mercy-chaplet) for those who are suffering the loss of a child through abortion, asking that they find healing and peace.
     
  • Offer some other sacrifice, prayer, or act of penance that you feel called to do for today’s intention.

One Step Further: If a friend confided in you tomorrow that she had an abortion, would you be able to respond in a way that brings her closer to healing? Learn what to do and say in “How to Talk to a Friend Who’s Had an Abortion” (www.usccb.org/friend-had-abortion).

Posted in Christian Life

9 Days for Life: Day Four

From the USCCB website:

Intercession: May God’s peace fill the hearts of all who travel upon the path of adoption.

Prayers: Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

Reflection: The Letter to the Hebrews reminds us to “hold fast to the hope that lies before us. This we have as an anchor of the soul, sure and firm” (Heb 6:18-19). Families hoping to adopt children and mothers considering placing their children for adoption often face many challenges along the way. We pray that all who are involved in the adoption process would be filled with the hope of Christ and “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding” (Phil 4:7). We also remember that we too can cling fast to this anchor of hope, for we have received “a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, ‘Abba, Father!’” (Rom 8:15). May our loving Father envelop each of us in His love today and open our eyes of faith that we may see and rejoice in His love.

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • Do you have a sweet tooth? Or do you prefer salty snacks? Pick your favorite kind of treat, and give it up for the day.
     
  • Make an act of faith, hope, or love (www.usccb.org/faith-hope-love).
     
  • Offer some other sacrifice, prayer, or act of penance that you feel called to do for today’s intention.

One Step Further: “Accompanying Expectant Mothers Considering Adoption” suggests nine ways to offer ongoing support to a woman who is considering placing her unborn child for adoption (www.usccb.org/women-considering-adoption). Many of the tips given are also helpful for supporting a friend who is experiencing a challenging unexpected pregnancy, even if adoption has not been brought up.

Supplemental resources regarding adoption can be found at www.usccb.org/adoption-resources.

Posted in Christian Life

9 Days for Life: Day Three

From the USCCB website:

If you or someone you know has been abused by a member of the clergy, please report the abuse to law enforcement. You may also contact your local Diocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator.

Intercession: May all who have experienced sexual abuse receive justice, healing, and God’s peace.

Prayers: Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

Reflection: Recent reports have once again exposed the terrible abuses that many have suffered at the hands of a member of the Catholic clergy. Our hearts ache for the grave harm that has been inflicted on our brothers and sisters. Words alone cannot express our sorrow, shame and disappointment that such affronts to human dignity have been carried out within our Church.

It is our prayer and hope that all who have experienced abuse will find the healing and justice they so rightly deserve, knowing that they are never alone. For, “only by confronting our own failure in the face of crimes against those we are charged to protect can the Church resurrect a culture of life where the culture of death has prevailed” (President of U.S. Bishops’ Conference Response to Pope Francis’s Letter to the People of God, 2018).

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • Fast from one meal today.
     
  • Seek the intercession of Our Lady by praying a Rosary for Healing and Protection.
     
  • Offer some other sacrifice, prayer, or act of penance that you feel called to do for today’s intention.

One Step Further: In 2002, the crime and sin of child sexual abuse in the Church was brought out in the open for all to see. While there is still much more to be done, over the past 16 years, the Church has worked to provide healing for victims and survivors and to prevent future abuse through the implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

To learn more about preventing abuse, read this article: “Protecting Children

Posted in Christian Life

9 Days for Life: Day Two

From the USCCB website:

Intercession: May all people embrace the truth that every life is a good and perfect gift and is worth living.

Prayers: Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

Reflection: At every stage and in every circumstance, we are held in existence by God’s love. The presence of an illness, disability, or other challenging circumstance never diminishes the value of a human life. For God does not call us to perfection of appearance or abilities, but to perfection in love. Christ invites us to embrace the lives we have been given, for as long as they are given, as true gifts.

Our relationships on this earth are meant to help us grow in God’s perfect love. Everyone we encounter is a gift, not because of what they can do or accomplish, but because of who they are—a beloved child of God. May each of us experience the power of God’s transforming love, that our eyes may be opened to the incredible beauty of the people the Lord places in our lives.

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • Take a break from television, movies, and social media today. Consider spending some of that time reflecting on today’s message.
     
  • Pray the short prayer “Every Life is Worth Living,” reflecting on how you can bring Christ’s love to others today. (The prayer is also available at www.usccb.org/worth-living.)

Heavenly Father, thank you
for the precious gift of life.

Help us to cherish and protect
this gift, even in the midst of fear,
pain, and suffering.

Give us love for all people,
especially the most vulnerable,
and help us bear witness to the
truth that every life is worth living.

Grant us the humility to accept
help when we are in need,
and teach us to be merciful to all.

Through our words and actions,
may others encounter the
outstretched hands
of Your mercy.

We ask this through
Christ, our Lord.
Amen.

  • Offer some other sacrifice, prayer, or act of penance that you feel called to do for today’s intention.


One Step Further: Our culture is obsessed with perfection—a superficial perfection. Social media, magazines, and television are staged and edited to depict seemingly perfect lives. When life doesn’t seem to measure up to these standards, we may doubt our worth or God’s love.

In “A Perfect Gift” (www.usccb.org/perfect-gift) one parent shares about the experience of raising a child with Down syndrome, contrasting it with what onlookers might perceive: “It’s like looking at a stained-glass window from the outside: The colors look dark, and you can’t quite make out the figures. From the inside, however, with the sun shining through it, the effect can be brilliant. From inside our family, love illuminates our life with Charlie.* What may seem dreary to others, perhaps even unbearable, is actually filled with beauty and color.” Every life is a gift.

Posted in Christian Life

9 Days for Life: Day One

From the USCCB’s Pro-Life Activities

Intercession: May a culture of life grow ever stronger in our communities.

Prayers: Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

Reflection: God has carefully, lovingly created every person—in His own image and likeness—to be in a loving relationship with Himself. From each tiny child knit within a mother’s womb, to every person approaching death, all are loved perfectly and completely by God. “It is therefore a service of love,” Pope Saint John Paul II explains, “which we are all committed to ensure to our neighbor, that his or her life may be always defended and promoted, especially when it is weak or threatened [emphasis added]” (Evangelium vitae, 77).

In a world in which the most vulnerable are so often overlooked and disregarded, Christ calls us to embrace and uphold the unconditional dignity of every human life. In doing so, we help to build “a new culture of life, the fruit of the culture of truth and of love” (EV, 77).

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • Do you love your cup of tea or coffee? Abstain from caffeine today, or try your coffee black.
     
  • “Unplug” for some time, and reflect on how God may be asking you to help build a culture of life in your home, workplace, or Church community.
     
  • Offer some other sacrifice, prayer, or act of penance that you feel called to do for today’s intention.

One Step Further: Watching the news and reading headlines, we may often feel helpless in the face of a heartbreaking lack of respect for human life. When our efforts to make a difference feel small, it’s important to remember that changing the culture is a process of conversion that begins in our own hearts. It includes a willingness to be instructed and a desire to be close to Jesus—the source of joy and love.

For more ideas, “How to Build a Culture of Life” (www.usccb.org/culture-of-life) briefly explains where to start.

Posted in Christian Life

9 Days for Life: Day 9

Day Nine: Friday, January 26, 2018

Intercession: For God’s peace to fill the hearts of all who travel upon the path of adoption.

Prayers: Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

Reflection: The Letter to the Hebrews reminds us to “hold fast to the hope that lies before us. This we have as an anchor of the soul, sure and firm” (Heb 6:18-19). We pray that all who are involved in the adoption process would be filled with the hope of Christ and “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding” (Phil 4:7). We also remember that we too can cling fast to this anchor of hope, for we have received “a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, ‘Abba, Father!’” (Rom 8:15). May our loving Father envelop each of us in his love today and open our eyes in faith that we may see and rejoice in his love.

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • Make an act of faith, hope, or love (usccb.org/faith-hope-love).
    • Fast from snacking today. Eat three meals only.
    • In “An Adoption Love Story,” Jenny* shares her and her husband’s story of adopting their son, Andrew. Read about some of the challenges, concerns, and joys on their journey at usccb.org/adoption-love-story, and spend some extra time in prayer for all who are involved in the adoption process.

One Step Further:

Accompanying Expectant Mothers Considering Adoption” suggests nine ways to offer ongoing support to a woman who is considering placing her unborn child for adoption (www.usccb.org/women-considering-adoption). Many of the tips given are also helpful for supporting a friend who is experiencing a challenging unexpected pregnancy, even if adoption has not been brought up.

Supplemental reference information regarding adoption can be found at www.usccb.org/adoption-resources.

*Names changed for privacy.

NABRE © 2010 CCD. Used with permission. Copyright © 2018, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC. All rights reserved.

Posted in Christian Life

9 Days for Life: Day 8

Day Eight: Thursday, January 25, 2018

Intercession: For an end to the use of the death penalty in our country.

Prayers: Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

Reflection: As Catholics, we believe and put our hope in a merciful and loving God. We are conscious of our own brokenness and need for redemption. Our Lord calls us to imitate him more perfectly by witnessing to the inherent dignity of every person, including those whose actions have been despicable. Our faith and hope is in the mercy of God who says to us, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Mt 5:7) and “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” (Mt 9:13). As Christians, we are called to oppose the culture of death by witnessing to something greater and more perfect: a gospel of life, hope and mercy.

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • Do something kind for someone else without being asked or telling anyone. Pray for him or her while you do so.
  • Ask God today for the grace to be extra joyful and share Christ’s love with those who need encouragement the most today.
  • Read about the life of a modern saint. You might be surprised by how much you have in common with him or her.

One Step Further: For some people who are committed to upholding the sanctity of human life, the death penalty can present a challenge. Properly understood, however, Catholic teaching against the death penalty is both persuasive and eminently pro-life. Learn about the death penalty within the context of respect for God’s gift of human life in “Death Penalty: Catholic Q & A” (www.usccb.org/death-penalty-faq).

 

NABRE © 2010 CCD. Used with permission. Copyright © 2018, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC. All rights reserved.

Posted in Christian Life

9 Days for Life: Day 7

Day Seven: Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Intercession: May those who long for a child of their own be filled with trust in God’s loving plan.

Prayers: Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

Reflection: It can be very difficult and painful when the Lord doesn’t answer our prayers the way we hope. We may have many doubts and questions, wondering why we face the challenges that we do. Yet even though our suffering is often shrouded in a sense of mystery, we believe that the Lord loves us with great tenderness and compassion that is beyond our imagination. Knowing this, we can trust that “all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28).

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • Give up your favorite form (or all forms) of social media for the day. Spend some of the extra time meditating upon Romans 8:28 or another Scripture verse or passage.
  • Learn how to pray the Angelus prayer and consider saying it every day for the next week— on awakening, at noon, or at 6 p.m. (or all three times). usccb.org/angelus
  • Spend quality time with a family member or friend; offer to help them in some way.

One Step Further: “Seven Considerations While Navigating Infertility” (www.usccb.org/navigating-infertility) seeks to provide compassionate guidance that is both practical and informative for married couples who are walking on this road. Although geared to such couples, the article is also helpful for anyone to read, offering insight into the experience of infertility and giving awareness of the need for sensitivity in our relationships with those who may be affected.

NABRE © 2010 CCD. Used with permission. Copyright © 2018, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC. All rights reserved.

Posted in Christian Life

9 Days for Life: Day 6

Day Six: Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Intercession: May those near the end of their lives receive medical care that respects their dignity and protects their lives.

Prayers: Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

Reflection: When Maggie’s active father suffered an accident that eventually led to his passing, he taught her that pain and loss of autonomy doesn’t diminish our human dignity, and that life—however much is left—is worth living.

As a 50-year-old wife and mother of three, Maggie needed this message when she was diagnosed with a terminal illness. Instead of giving up hope, she embraced her father’s legacy: “[M]y life is, always has been, and always will be, worth living.”

Meet Maggie in a 3-minute video (www.goo.gl/SGF7rP), and read the brief article it inspired: “Maggie’s Story: Living like Dad” (www.usccb.org/maggies-story).

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • Pray a decade of the Rosary (usccb.org/rosary) for your deceased friends and family, as well as those who have no one to pray for them.
  • We look forward to eternal life by preparing now, in hope, for our passage from this life to the next. Spend some time prayerfully reflecting on “Catholic Considerations for Our Earthly Passing” (usccb.org/end-of-life-considerations). Several considerations are given as starting points for understanding and preparing for our earthly passing in a way that respects God’s gift of human life.
  • Read and reflect upon “Caring for Loved Ones at Life’s End” (usccb.org/endoflifecare). Ten suggestions anchored in unconditional respect for human life help readers know how to provide authentically compassionate care. (Supplemental information: www.goo.gl/Ji3n35)

One Step Further: Proponents of doctor-assisted suicide try to draw a sharp (and tragic) distinction between those with a mental illness who want to end their lives and those already nearing death who express the same wish. Although polls indicate the public is receptive to the general concept of assisted suicide, when people understand the associated dangers, they are less likely to support the practice.

Learn seven compelling reasons you can share for opposing assisted suicide: “Top Reasons to Oppose Assisted Suicide” (www.usccb.org/reasons-against-assisted-suicide).

 

Copyright © 2018, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC. All rights reserved.

Posted in Christian Life

9 Days for Life: Day 5

Day Five: Monday, January 22, 2018

If you or someone you know is suffering after abortion, confidential non-judgmental help is available. Visit www.hopeafterabortion.org.

Intercession: May each person suffering from the loss of a child through abortion find hope & healing in Christ.

Prayers: Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

Reflection: Today, on this 45th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we consider the past four decades in which our society has legally permitted abortion. Since that tragic decision, many children’s lives have been lost, and many suffer that loss—often in silence. Yet God’s greatest desire is to forgive. No matter how far we have each strayed from his side, he says to us, “Don’t be afraid. Draw close to my heart.”

“In the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, also called confession, we meet the Lord, who wants to grant forgiveness and the grace to live a renewed life in him. … We bishops and priests are eager to help you if you experience difficulty, hesitation, or uncertainty about approaching the Lord in this sacrament. …we are ready to welcome you.”*

Let us run into the arms of Jesus, who is love and mercy.

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • Go to confession today or this week. Before you go, look up St. Faustina and learn a little about the message of Divine Mercy that she shared during her life (usccb.org/divine-mercy).
  • Do you know how to help women and men suffering after abortion? Consider the suggestions in “Bridges of Mercy for Post-Abortion Healing” (usccb.org/bridges-of-mercy).
  • Pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy (usccb.org/divine-mercy-chaplet) for those who are suffering the loss of a child through abortion, asking that they find healing and peace.

One Step Further:

If a friend confided in you tomorrow that she had an abortion, would you be able to respond in a way that brings her closer to healing? Learn what to do and say in “How to Talk to a Friend Who’s Had an Abortion” (www.usccb.org/friend-had-abortion).

Did You Know?

In the Catholic Church in the United States, January 22nd is designated as a particular day of prayer and penance, called the “Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children.” As Catholics, we are called to observe this day through the penitential practices of prayer, fasting, and/or giving alms.

More Information: www.usccb.org/january-22

 

*“God’s Gift of Forgiveness: Pastoral Exhortation on the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation,” www.usccb.org/forgiveness.

Copyright © 2018, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC. All rights reserved.

Posted in Christian Life

9 Days for Life: Day 4

Day Four: Sunday, January 21, 2018

Intercession: May all people embrace the truth that every life is a good and perfect gift, and is worth living.

Prayers: Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

Reflection: Our culture is obsessed with perfection—a superficial perfection. Photos are edited, and social media sites depict seemingly perfect lives. God calls us to seek perfection, too. He does not call us, however, to perfection of appearance or abilities, but to perfection in love.

In “A Perfect Gift” (www.usccb.org/perfect-gift) one parent shares about the experience of raising a child with Down syndrome, contrasting it with what onlookers might perceive: “It’s like looking at a stained-glass window from the outside: The colors look dark, and you can’t quite make out the figures. From the inside, however, with the sun shining through it, the effect can be brilliant. From inside our family, love illuminates our life with Charlie.* What may seem dreary to others, perhaps even unbearable, is actually filled with beauty and color.”

May each of us experience the power of God’s transforming love, that our eyes may be opened to the incredible beauty of the people the Lord places in our lives.

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • Pray the short prayer “Every Life is Worth Living” (usccb.org/worth-living), reflecting on how you can bring Christ’s love to others today.
  • Read “Supporting Families Who Receive a Prenatal Diagnosis” (usccb.org/prenatal-diagnosis), then spend some time praying for babies who have been given an adverse prenatal diagnosis and for their families.
  • We can sometimes forget how blessed we are to have many of our daily comforts. Give up sleeping on your pillow tonight.

One Step Further: Charlie’s mother shares in “A Perfect Gift” that when people say, “I could never handle a child with a disability,” she explains to them, “[Y]ou aren’t given a child with a disability. You are given your child with a disability. …You are not called to ‘handle’ a disability. You are called to love a particular person, and caring for him or her grows out of that love. …Our [family’s] hearts…have become larger [by caring for Charlie].”

She also talks about the “secret” that is the fundamental truth of our existence, which she and other parents of children with Down syndrome share. Find out what it is in “A Perfect Gift” (www.usccb.org/perfect-gift).

 

*Name changed for privacy.

Copyright © 2018, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC. All rights reserved.

Posted in Christian Life

An Open Book: January 2018 Reading List

Welcome to An Open Book where bloggers share what they’re reading each month.  You can link up or view what others are reading by going to My Scribbler’s Heart or CatholicMom.com. I’ve found some very good books to read this way.

I’m starting off this month by telling you what I’m not reading: Karl Marx.  Never read him, never wanted to, and still don’t want to; but it seems I can’t turn around without bumping into Communism.  First we had the 100th anniversary of the Fatima apparitions which included the warning about Russia spreading their errors throughout the world,  the intimation Communism was behind the sexual revolution and abortion, Saul Alinsky’s activism tactics, Antifa name and tactics, The Lost Condemnation of Communism of Vatican II, and, to top it all off, the HVAC repairman discussing it during a service call.  Since I don’t want to read Marx I’ve decided to read books that explain what’s wrong with Communism:

Encyclicals:  Reread Rerum Novarum by Pope Leo XIII on Capital and Labor and Quadragesimo Anno by Pope Pius XI on Reconstruction of the Social Order.  Both of these encyclicals explain why Communism and Socialism are contrary to a Christian ordering of society.

Book Cover ImageCommunism and the Conscience of the West by Fulton J. Sheen

An excellent book published over 60 years ago.  It not only covers the similarities between some western beliefs and Communism (as the title implies), but shows how Communism is opposed to Christianity.  He also made some predictions as to what we could expect in the future.  These predictions are so spot on they’re chilling to read.  I highly recommend this book.

The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr SolzhenitsynBook Cover

From what I understand this is a history of the labor camps (GULAGs) strung out across Russia.  Labor camps Lenin and Stalin used to dispose of those who opposed or did not conform to Communist doctrine.  I chose this book because I heard Solzhenitsyn dissects Communism showing all of the problems with it.

That’s it for Communism.  Let’s move on to a New Testament theme that perplexed me: making your bed.  Yes, there are number of occurrences where, after a paralytic is healed, the person is ordered to get up and make their beds or pick up their mats (Acts 10:1, Mk 2:11, etc.).  Even Christ made His bed after the resurrection from the dead (the ultimate paralyzed state).  Now, I’m all for neatness, but it’s not the first thing I would expect someone to do after being healed from a lifetime of paralysis, so I turned to those who also set a great store on making beds: the military.

Book CoverMake Your Bed: Little Things that can Change Your Life . . . and Maybe the World by Admiral William H. Mcraven

I have to say, for a book I wouldn’t normally have read; it had a profound effect on me, especially the chapter about Giving People Hope.  In this chapter McRaven describes a scene during Hell Week of Navy SEAL training.  It’s the third day in and the trainees are already exhausted.  They are in pain, cold, wet, hungry, and rest is nowhere in sight when an instructor gets on the bullhorn and tries to seduce them into quitting.  In a friendly voice he offers these cold, exhausted and hungry men warmth, rest, and food.  That scene brought home to me how many times I’ve been seduced to do the pleasant thing rather than the hard or disliked thing.  Then it struck me how these men were undergoing all of this to save our country.  As Christians who are meant to save the world, how much more should we be doing?  Like I said, a profound effect.

As to the answer of why make your bed? The answer lies in why upon rising for the first time after recovering from a long illness McRaven got up and made his bed: “It was my way of showing that I had conquered the injury and was moving forward with my life.”  It was Christ’s and the Apostles way of awakening the healed person’s minds to the fact that they were no longer dependent on others: an act of mercy allowing them to assume responsibility for their lives and a restoration of divine order.

Thank you for stopping by and don’t forget to let us know what you’re reading!

May all of our readings be blessed by God!

Posted in Christian Life

9 Days for Life: Day 3

Day Three: Saturday, January 20, 2018

Intercession: For victims and survivors of human trafficking.

Prayers: Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

Reflection: Pope Francis calls for a renewed commitment to end human trafficking, which he aptly describes as “deplorable…cruel…criminal” (Angelus, 7/30/2017). International Labor Organization’s 2014 estimate placed the number of traffic victims — men, women, and children — at 21 million worldwide.

Those who are vulnerable are most at risk for being lured into situations where they are trafficked, particularly migrants and refugees. They face significant barriers such as language and adapting to a new culture, lack of support systems, and the burden of poverty. Easily tempted by false promises of traffickers, they often find themselves in forced labor situations with no means of escape.

When we meet others in our daily lives who have come from other lands, are we extending them the simple warmth of a smile and a welcome? Are we in tune to the red flags that might indicate trafficking in our own communities? Learn more about how you can fight trafficking under “One Step Further.”

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • Contact a local service provider who assists victims and survivors of human trafficking to learn more about human trafficking in your community and how you can support their efforts. (If you don’t know who the local service provider is, ask your local Catholic Charities office.)
  • Spend some time reflecting upon the Catechism of the Catholic Church 2414.
  • Use the USCCB Migration and Refugee Service’s National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month & Day of Prayer Toolkit usccb.org/about/anti-trafficking-program/upload/Anti-Trafficking-Toolkit-Final-2018-2.pdf to raise awareness about and encourage prayer and action to fight human trafficking.

One Step Further:

Would you know how to identify a potential trafficking situation? Learn more about human trafficking and the red flags through the USCCB’s Anti-Trafficking Program at http://www.usccb.org/about/anti-trafficking-program/index.cfm

Almost half of the reported victims of human trafficking in the U.S. in 2016 were foreign nationals. Consider bringing the Amistad Movement to your parish to help raise awareness about human trafficking among immigrant populations. www.usccb.org/about/anti-trafficking-program/amistad.cfm

If you suspect someone is a victim of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline (888-3737-888) for immediate assistance. They can communicate in over 200 languages and provide immediate information, assistance, and local referrals for potential human trafficking situations. 

 

Excerpt from Pope Francis, “Angelus” © 2017, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City. Used with permission. Copyright © 2018, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC. All rights reserved.

Posted in Christian Life

9 Days for Life: Day 2

Day Two: Friday, January 19, 2018

Intercession: For the end to abortion.

Prayers: Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

Reflection: More women and girls consider abortion than we may realize. They are our relatives and friends, people who work with us or for us, married or unmarried. Even if someone identifies as being pro-life, the shock of an unexpected pregnancy, the devastation of a difficult prenatal diagnosis, shame, pressures, or fears may influence her to consider abortion.

If someone shared with you she was pregnant and hadn’t ruled out having an abortion, would you know how to respond in a loving way that is life-affirming for both her and her baby?

Learn about the four steps of the L.O.V.E. Approach™*: Listen and Learn, Open Options, Vision and Value, and Extend and Empower (www.usccb.org/l-o-v-e).

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • Go to an abortion clinic and pray, or set aside an hour today to pray for those who are struggling with a decision of life or death for their unborn child.
  • Read “What to Do When a Friend Is Considering Abortion” (usccb.org/l-o-v-e), and spend some time reflecting on it. Would someone in a difficult pregnancy situation know she could turn to you for loving support?
  • Donate needed items to a pregnancy care center, or volunteer an hour of your time at one. Find a center near you at heartbeatinternational.org/worldwide-directory.

One Step Further: Find out other simple tips on how to provide loving, life-affirming support for a friend who is unexpectedly pregnant: “10 Ways to Support Her When She’s Unexpectedly Expecting” (www.usccb.org/support-her).

 

*The L.O.V.E. Approach™ is trademarked by Heartbeat International, Inc. and may not be adapted or modified. The L.O.V.E. Approach™ is used in “What to Do When a Friend Is Considering Abortion” with permission from Heartbeat International, Inc. Copyright © 2017, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC. All rights reserved.

Posted in Christian Life

9 Days for Life: Day 1

Day One: Thursday, January 18, 2018

Intercession: May a culture of life grow ever stronger in our communities.

Prayers: Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

Reflection: From each tiny child waiting to be born, to people nearing death, all are precious and deserve our care and protection. Women and men suffering after abortion, individuals tempted to end their lives, expectant mothers facing challenging pregnancies, people pushed to the margins of society by a “throwaway culture,” and every other person—each “has a place in God’s heart from all eternity” (Amoris laetitia, 168).

As Pope Saint John Paul II reminds us in The Gospel of Life, we are asked not only to love and honor human life, but also “to work with perseverance and courage” to establish “a new culture of life, the fruit of the culture of truth and of love” (no 77).

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • “Unplug” for some time praying in silence with a short reflectionon this year’s Respect Life theme, “Be Not Afraid” (usccb.org/be-not-afraid).
  • Use one of our Respect Life social media toolkits (usccb.org/prolifetools) to build up a culture of life on social media.
  • Do you love your cup of tea or coffee? Fast from caffeine today, or try your coffee black.

One Step Further: Watching the news and reading the headlines, we may sometimes feel helpless seeing the heartbreaking lack of respect for human life. How do we respond to Pope Saint John Paul II’s invitation when our efforts to make a difference feel small? “How to Build a Culture of Life” (www.usccb.org/culture-of-life) briefly explains where to start.

 

Evangelium vitae (The Gospel of Life), no.77 © 1995; Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), no. 168 © 2016, Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Used with permission. All rights reserved.  Copyright © 2018, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC. All rights reserved.

Posted in Christian Life

Lopsided Relationships

The best analogy of God and man’s (excepting the saints) relationship that I’ve ever heard. She totally nailed it!

Reflections on My Catholic Journey

Tower of Pisa for blog

There’s an old saying that you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you get your Prince Charming.

That was certainly the case for me. One young man, with whom I had a summer romance, had to have everything his way. And I mean everything. A sandwich, for example, had to be made to his exact specifications: “First the mayonnaise, then the lettuce, then the meat, then the tomato, in that order only.” If the sandwich had all the same ingredients but the mayonnaise was next to the tomato, he absolutely refused to eat it.

This attitude of his drastically affected our relationship. Any behavior of mine that wasn’t completely up to his standards was cause for criticism. For example, he told me how rude I was for phoning him while he was watching television—as if I could have known what he was doing while I was dialing…

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Posted in Christian Life

{7QT} Marches, Jewish and Christian Bible Study, and Cross-Stitch

One – Brilliant Media Strategy

I don’t know who came up with the idea to have the Vice-President speak at the 2017 March for Life, but it was a absolutely brilliant political and media-savvy move.  As President Trump duly noted in an interview with ABC News prior to the March; the left-leaning media simply do not cover the annual March for Life.  That all changed when the Vice-President agreed to speak at the March: while the media won’t show up for a pro-life march they do show up for a Vice-Presidential appearance.  Absolutely brilliant.  Thank you Vice-President Pence and the person who came up with the idea.

Two – Speaking of marches

I was listening to the podcast Rational Security the other day.  It was an episode that was recorded prior to the recent Women’s March in Washington.  One of the female co-hosts was asked what the upcoming March was for.  She replied that she didn’t believe there was a point to it, but she was going to attend anyway to show her solidarity, even though she wasn’t able to articulate any particular issue or concern which she would be in solidarity with.  I was pretty surprised that someone, or a whole bunch of someones (women attending the march), would waste their time with pointless marching and decided that humans had reached a whole new level of silliness.  And then, I ran across this Biblical passage which relates an event that happened over 2,000 years ago:

Meanwhile, some were shouting one thing, some another; for the assembly was in confusion, and most of them did not know why they had come together. Acts 19:32

Three – Urrrgggghhhh!

The video at the end of this story over at LifeSite.New made me so angry I had to include it: Nancy Pelosi Tells Adopted Woman: Your Mom Should Have Had the “Choice” to Abort You.  The part that made me mad was the video at the end.  If I could have found the source video I would have given it its own post, but I can’t so I provided the link to the article instead.  The video is at the end.

So what’s the big deal?  A young woman who had been adopted, instead of being aborted, tries to point out, in so many words, to California Congresswoman Pelosi that she’s a human being and, that being the case, adoption is the ethical way to go.  And Congresswoman Pelosi’s response?  Pelosi defended the mother’s right to choose even though that would have meant this young woman would never had a chance to live.  If you could see the look on that young woman’s face as she tried to comprehend that Congresswoman Pelosi could not care less about whether that young woman lived or died.  I felt so bad for that young woman.  It just wrenched my heart.

Four – Mom gives up

Speaking of fortitude my mother has been cross-stitching birth announcements for all her great-grandchildren since the first one was born about 9 years ago.  And we’re not talking a couple of babies; we’re talking about a lot of babies being born within months of each other.  That had slowed down for awhile and mom was actually getting caught up, then the next wave was recently announced and she just up and quit.  Says she’s not doing it anymore.  I don’t blame her.  It was a lot of babies and she’s been doing this a long, long time.  While she did eventually give up her fortitude at lasting this long is pretty amazing.

Five – Helpmate or helper like himself?

I read my Bible daily.  This is not a Bible study, but simply reading a portion each day.  It was time to start over again and I had heard that the Dhouay-Rheims Bible was more of a literal translation, so that’s the Bible I decided to read this time around.  I’m already pleased with my decision as it has given me new perspectives.  Take Genesis 2:20, for example.  First, let me give you the passage from the King James Version (my personal favorite translation) and the NRSV:

And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. KJV Genesis 2:20

The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper as his partner. NRSV Genesis 2:20

I think it fair to say that translations appear to say that woman was created to be a help to man.  I see no problem with understanding it this way.

But now let’s look at that same passage translated in the Dhouay-Rheims Bible:

And Adam called all the beasts by their names, and all the fowls of the air, and all the cattle of the field: but for Adam there was not found a helper like himself. D-R Genesis 2:20

This is an interesting translation because not only can we infer that the woman was a partner (as in the other translations), but depending on how you read it, it could also infer that Adam, himself, was a helper.  My first question: who was he supposed to help?  There is only one other person(s) in existence at that time adam was created and it was God.  My next question: help God with what? To that I can’t say.  One could say that the Garden of Eden is a figure of the soul and in God making man a helper could imply that man is also has responsibility for his own salvation.

It also could be taken to mean the trees were different trees of knowledge.    This makes a lot of sense also because the one tree that was denied to them was the tree of “Knowledge” of Good and Evil, so it would not be too far off to say that the other trees represented some type of knowledge, too.  To expand on this view “Eden” is the Hebrew word used to name the garden, but its actual meaning is pleasure, delicate, or delight.  (The D-R actually uses the meaning rather than the Hebrew words and refers to the Garden of Eden as the paradise of pleasure.)  I can personally say that learning, especially about the wonders of creation and God’s work in the history of humankind, both individually and collectively, is a true delight and a pleasure.  This idea is also confirmed by Eve’s use the adjectives; “good,” “pleasant,” and “desirable,” in describing the Tree of Knowledge of Good and  Evil.  The argument is entirely plausible.

But I’m not here to present an argument for this, but simply to show why I’m glad I decided to try a different translation of the Bible this time around.  It’s given me quite a bit to think about.

Six – Have you heard about Logos and Verbum Bible Study Software?

This is not a sales pitch.  I have no affiliation whatsoever with either Logos of Verbum.  That being said I just wanted to let you know, if you haven’t heard of it, that I use Logos Bible Software for my Bible Study.  I purchased the base package years ago and it has been a real help and I bet I don’t even use 95% of its features.  I’m not going to go into those features here, but to give you an idea of what you get, the version I purchased included 23 different Bible translations.  It gets even more sophisticated than that.  They offer a number of different packages with the largest package with over 4,000 books.  In my mind, that’s a little much, but for scholars that might just be a starting point for all I know.  If you are in the market for Bible software, then know I have been very happy with Logos (Verbum is the Catholic version of Logos sold by the same company).

Seven – Elmad by Pardes

One of things I used to wonder about was what Bibical teaching did Christ receive as a child or, to put it in other words, what was Jewish thinking like at that time?   In order to gain a little insight I started listening to Pardes from Jerusalem: weekly Parsha podcast.  In this podcast the rabbis/professors discuss a different portion of the Hebrew Scriptures.  I especially enjoy this podcast because they bring up so many little things in the text, like a play on words, that would blow right past me.  They have now come up with something new: the Parsha Discussion.  The Parsha Discussion is meant to build on the weekly Parsha by providing information and questions to consider and discuss over dinner on the Sabbath (Shabat).  I thought this was a lovely idea.  As Catholics we also know ahead of time our Sunday readings.  This might be a nice tradition to start around the supper tables on Sundays.

The Parsha Discussion for each week can be viewed here, if you are curious as to how they are using it.

The lovely photo was provided by Rob Bye @Unsplash.

Posted in Christian Life

In Defense (kinda sorta) of Pope Francis for his Recent Homily on Cowardice

The quote below is from the post “Francis: Pope accuses Christians of ‘cowardliness’ for overfocus on following ‘all’ 10 Commandments” by Tantumblogo at A Blog for Dallas Area Catholics.  I was going to reply in their comments sections, but found, as you will soon see, that the reply was much too long.  That is not the only reason that I’m posting it.  As I’ve found since I became a Christian I learn when I write.  I think this a thing of God because sometimes I don’t learn a thing until I have written it.  That phenomenon occurred while I was writing this post and is another reason I have for sharing it with you.

The quotes are from Pope Francis’s recent homily.  Those comments in red have been inserted by Tantumblogo.  My reply is to Tantumblogo, but also includes my thoughts on the Pope’s encyclical Amoris Laetitia.

“In another in a long stream of apparent attacks on his critics, Pope Francis gave a homily last week accusing Christians who avoid taking risks out of concern for the Ten Commandments as suffering from “cowardliness,” warning that such people become “paralyzed” and unable to “go forward.” 

‘Not taking risks, please, no… prudence…Obeying all the commandments, all of them…,’” [Do you not get the implication that the pope sees something seriously wrong with people who actually obey the Commandments?  That would explain a very great deal, wouldn’t it?] the pope said, characterizing the thinking of such Christians. “Yes, it’s true, but this paralyzes you too, it makes you forget so many graces received, it takes away memory, it takes away hope, because it doesn’t allow you to go forward.”

Such people become “confined souls” who suffer from the sin of “cowardice,” the pope added. “And the presen[ce] of a Christian, of such a Christian, is like when one goes along the street and an unexpected rain comes, and the garment is not so good and the fabric shrinks…Confined souls…This is cowardliness: this is the sin against memory, courage, patience, and hope.” [This doesn’t remotely make sense.  It’s just a gratuitous insult.]

I’ll probably get yelled at for this, but I’m going to defend the Pope on this one.  I have seen God do miraculous things with people’s lives.  I’m talking drug addicts, murderers, etc.  It’s a phenomenal thing to see someone completely turn their life around for Christ, so they literally become a new person in Him.  The Church has many saints who’ve undergone this transformation and their lives are an attestation of what Christ does for the repentant sinner.  There is another benefit provided by those who embrace God’s mercy and forgiveness and it is that they tend to use their experiences to help others like them.

But there are other people, who cannot forgive themselves for their past transgressions and, therefore, cannot claim that new life in Christ.  These people are so focused on what they did wrong that they forget the reason Christ died.  They forget He died so they could have a new life and they forget about God’s mercy.  And the world, who crucifies every misstep a person takes (especially these days) doesn’t help at all.  Anyone who has only seen the derision and contempt of the world without seeing the mercy of God would, of course, be fearful.  I know a person that is filled with so much loathing for her past that she cannot claim what Christ died to give her.  She is terrified her friends will find out and crucify her.  This not only keeps her from claiming that new life, but also from helping others who are in similar circumstances and prevents her from proclaiming the mercy of God to others that may need to hear that message.  A message that is much more powerful coming from the prodigal son than it would be coming from his brother.  This is what I believe the Pope is addressing in the quote above.

‘Not taking risks, please, no… prudence…Obeying all the commandments, all of them…,’” [Do you not get the implication that the pope sees something seriously wrong with people who actually obey the Commandments?  That would explain a very great deal, wouldn’t it?] the pope said, characterizing the thinking of such Christians. “Yes, it’s true, but this paralyzes you too, it makes you forget so many graces received, it takes away memory, it takes away hope, because it doesn’t allow you to go forward.”

As to Tantumblogo’s comment in red let me say this: “No, I don’t get the implication that the Pope sees something seriously wrong with people who actually obey the Commandments.”  What I do believe the Pope is saying that those people I spoke of previously also have another problem: they are fearful of making a mistake and this too can keep them paralyzed, if they don’t remember that all God wants from us is an honest effort (or firm purpose of will) and to remember He will provide grace and forgiveness when we are lacking.

Now Tantumblogo also seems to believe that the Pope is against people obeying the Commandments.  This may stem from previous comments of the Pope against Pharisees.  To this I will also defend the Pope, in part.  A pride and a hardness of heart can develop from those who focus on the law to the exclusion of all else.   Both of these apply to all those who follow the law whether that law be of man or God.  This is why we see the same hateful behaviors in the religious right as we do the ungodly left.  We also see it in the rich, the beautiful, the talented, etc.  It applies to anyone who excels at something and sees the other as lower than themselves who don’t live up to their expectations (or laws that they hold dear and rule their lives).  This can be such a large stumbling block, as I myself know, I wrote a post that I hoped would help others overcome it.

I also realize that there are people that love the law AND who understand that the law is a guide to keep us from hurting ourselves and others: sins so grievous to God they could only be paid with the precious blood of Christ.  This was also understood by the saints, which is why they were not hesitant in reproving and correcting the sinner: all done with a focus on the salvation of the sinner and their abhorrence of God being offended, as other people who follow the law also understand.  For who would encourage someone they love to murder, lie, steal, or covet?  No one who understands that these things are harmful and sins against God and man.  No, they would rather discourage than encourage. This also needs to be remembered.

As to Amoris Laetitia

Lest we forget allow me to remind all God has a special place in heart for the orphan and the widow.  Therefore, all is not lost for anyone, who for circumstance beyond their control is the sole survivor of a failed marriage.  To intimate the only recourse for those people is to trespass against God and their fellow man in the sin of adultery is to forget the power and grace of God and promotes a sense of hopelessness, not hope.

That was an indirect censure of Amoris Laetitia now let me get more direct: the dubia needs to be answered.  There is more than one type of cowardice.  It is cowardly to intentionally obfuscate an issue in hopes that the resultant confusion will result in what you wanted without you having to come out and say it, so as not to have to personally deal with the consequences.  Especially, as what you may want, yet refuse to say, will have very real and lasting consequences on those who are left to their own interpretations and consciences.  It is not only cowardly, but duplicitous. It is also cowardly to put something out there and when someone asks you for clarification not to answer.  Human decency, leadership responsibilities, and the salvation of souls require an answer.  Especially the salvation of souls, as not providing clear guidance on this issue in this day and age when sin is a dirty word and expecting people to rely on their own darkened insight and the opinions of the world is like throwing the Christians to the lions.  I also ask you to consider that Amoris Laetitia speaks not only to people now, but also to those of the future.  Left in the dark they, wanting to do God’s will, may consider a course of action that they may not have otherwise considered leading then not closer to God, but farther away.

Posted in Christian Life

9 Days for Life: Day 9

I will be sharing the materials provided by the USCCB on the prayers, reflections, and call to action for each day on this blog. If you would like to download the PDF that includes all  9 days you can download it at the USCCB.

From the USCCB Novena 9 Days 2017 Full Color PDF:

Day Nine: Sunday, January 29, 2017

Intercession: For God’s peace to fill the hearts of all who travel upon the path of adoption.

Prayers: Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

Reflection: The Letter to the Hebrews reminds us to “hold fast to the hope that lies before us. This we have as an anchor of the soul, sure and firm” (Heb 6:18-19). We pray that all who are involved in the adoption process would be filled with the hope of Christ and “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding” (Phil 4:7). We also remember that we too can cling fast to this anchor of hope, for we have received “a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, ‘Abba, Father!’” (Rom 8:15). May our loving Father envelop each of us in his love today and open our eyes in faith that we may see and rejoice in his love.

Acts of Reparation
 (choose one):

  • Today, ignore your sweet tooth. Make healthy eating choices.
  • Make a “quiet hour” today, turning off all electronic devices (cell phone, iPod, computer, television, radio, video game system), and retreat to your room. Spend some time in prayer or prayerful reading, such as the “Novena to St. Joseph: For Those on the Path of Adoption” (goo.gl/dv7Dn2).

One Step Further: Maya*, who placed her child for adoption, gives nine suggestions for offering ongoing support in “Accompanying Expectant Mothers Considering Adoption” (www.goo.gl/srj6L3). In “An Adoption Love Story,” Jenny* shares her and her husband’s story of adopting their son, Andrew. Read about some of the challenges, concerns, and joys on their journey at www.goo.gl/fkhgyV. (Supplemental reference information regarding adoption can be found at www.goo.gl/EqCRV4.)

*Names changed for privacy.

NABRE © 2010 CCD. Used with permission. Copyright © 2016, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC. All rights reserved.

Posted in Christian Life

9 Days for Life: Day 8

I will be sharing the materials provided by the USCCB on the prayers, reflections, and call to action for each day on this blog. If you would like to download the PDF that includes all  9 days you can download it at the USCCB.

From the USCCB Novena 9 Days 2017 Full Color PDF:

Day Eight: Saturday, January 28, 2017

Intercession: For an end to the use of the death penalty in our country.

Prayers: Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

Reflection: As Catholics, we believe and put our hope in a merciful and loving God. We are conscious of our own brokenness and need for redemption. Our Lord calls us to imitate him more perfectly by witnessing to the inherent dignity of every person, including those whose actions have been despicable. Our faith and hope is in the mercy of God who says to us, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Mt 5:7) and “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” (Mt 9:13). As Christians we are called to oppose the culture of death by witnessing to something greater and more perfect: a gospel of life, hope and mercy.

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • Do something nice for someone else without being asked or telling anyone. Pray for him or her while you do so.
  • Read about a Church teaching you don’t understand in the Catechism (goo.gl/FfrkJD).
  • Read about the life of a modern saint. You might be surprised by how much you have in common with him or her.

One Step Further: For some people who are committed to upholding the sanctity of human life, the death penalty can present a challenge. Properly understood, however, Catholic teaching against the death penalty is both persuasive and eminently pro-life. Find out why in “Life Matters: A Catholic Response to the Death Penalty” at www.goo.gl/ci87ud.

NABRE © 2010 CCD. Used with permission. Copyright © 2016, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC. All rights reserved.

Posted in Christian Life

9 Days for Life: Day 7

I will be sharing the materials provided by the USCCB on the prayers, reflections, and call to action for each day on this blog. If you would like to download the PDF that includes all  9 days you can download it at the USCCB.

From the USCCB Novena 9 Days 2017 Full Color PDF:

Day Seven: Friday, January 27, 2017

Intercession: May those who long for a child of their own be filled with trust in God’s loving plan.

Prayers: Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

Reflection: It can be very difficult and painful when the Lord doesn’t answer our prayers the way we hope. We may have many doubts and questions, wondering why we face the challenges that we do. Yet even though our suffering is often shrouded in a sense of mystery, we believe that the Lord loves us with great tenderness and compassion that is beyond our imagination. Knowing this, we can trust that “all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28).

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • Ask God today for the grace to be extra joyful and share Christ’s love with those who need encouragement the most today.
  • Today, pray the Rosary, or even just a decade, for someone who has hurt or disappointed you, and ask for the grace to forgive that person. (Pro-Life Rosary Prayer Intentions: goo.gl/cUf6kj)
  • We can sometimes forget how blessed we are to have many of our daily comforts. Give up sleeping on your pillow tonight.

One Step Further: “Seven Considerations While Navigating Infertility” (www.goo.gl/qUXiGg) seeks to provide compassionate guidance that is both practical and informative for married couples who are walking on this road. Although geared to such couples, the article is also helpful for anyone to read, offering insight into the experience of infertility and giving awareness of the need for sensitivity in our relationships with those who may be affected.

NABRE © 2010 CCD. Used with permission. Copyright © 2016, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC. All rights reserved.

Posted in Christian Life

{7QT} Books, Bible Study, Goals, and Hats

One – 2,000 years of writing

It’s been awhile since I’ve been through RCIA and I don’t remember a lot about how I felt during that time, but one thing I do remember is coming away thinking I had 2,000 years of reading to catch up on.  I haven’t made much of a dent over the years, but l recently set of goal of spending 1/2 an hour a day reading encyclicals until I get through them all.  I haven’t strictly met that goal, but I am reading more encyclicals than I used to, so kudos to me.  I just finished Divini Redemptoris Encyclical of Pope Pius XI on Atheistic Communism.  I sure like the fire in some of these popes, especially Pope Leo XIII.    Next up on the encyclical reading list is Quaragésimo Anno another encyclical by Pius XI on Reconstruction of the Social Order.  I’m not following any special order in these readings.  I get my next reading from whatever encyclical was mentioned in the current encyclical.  That will probably make tracking which ones I’ve read very confusing in the future, but for now it’s a fine system.

Two – What I’m reading

For a blog that is all about words, I noticed, up until now I wrote #1, I haven’t written anything about what I’m reading, so let’s catch you up.  I recently finished Seeking Spiritual Direction: How to Grow the Divine Life Within by Thomas Dubay, S.M.  If you have any questions about spiritual direction, then I highly recommend this book.  It not only answers basic questions, but more advanced questions.  To that end I’m going to hang onto it and try to read it again in a year and see if I won’t get more out of it.  As helpful as it was I don’t believe that it lives up to its subtitle on How to Grow the Divine Live Within.  He gives very little direction on how to self-direct other than suggesting some excellent readings.  Of course, this may be all he can do as spiritual direction requires an expertise that the individual is probably lacking.

I’m currently reading Happy are you Poor, also by Fr. Dubay. There is a lot packed in there, so this is my first time through, then I plan on given it another read.

Benjamin Franklin wrote that women would spend their recreation in sewing parties.  The ladies would get together with their sewing projects and a book, usually the Bible.  One would read while the rest sewed.  I’ve been entranced with that idea every since I first read about it.  I’ve instituted it into my own life by listening to an audio book (trying to find women that sew/knit/crochet who want to sit around listening to the Bible or a spiritual book is practically impossible).  I’m listening to one of the suggested readings that Fr. Dubay gave in the spiritual direction book mentioned above.  It’s called Introduction to the Devout Life by Francis de Sales.   I’m not very far into it, but what I have listened to I just love. For anyone who wants to move closer to God, but are feeling like they’ve been benched, then I highly recommend this book. [Note: I’m listening to the book through an app I found in the iTunes store called Audio Catholic Books.]

And lastly, for those times when I don’t want to have to think when I read, my fiction book is Golden Fool: The Tawny Man Trilogy Book 2 by Robin Hobb.  Robin Hobb has written a few trilogies that I just love.  If you haven’t read her before, then I suggest starting with the Farseer Trilogy.  That’s my favorite by far.

Three – On meeting, or not, goals

I had to read Machiavelli’s The Prince in college.  There was one quote that stuck with me: “He [men] should behave like those archers who, if they are skilful, when the target seems too distant, know the capabilities of their bow and aim a good deal higher than their objective, not in order to shoot so high but so that by aiming high they can reach the target.” Now I know that his advice runs counter to the current wisdom of setting realistic goals, but whether realistic or not, the fact of the matter is that many people have trouble achieving goals they’ve set for themselves.  For those people it may be better to set a very sizable goal.  That way even if they don’t achieve that goal they might achieve something putting them right where they wanted to be.

I’m trying to build up the virtue of discipline muscle, so I’ve set some goals and have been tracking them to see how I’m doing.  I’m actually doing better with the read 2,000 years of encyclicals than I am with the one which I only allotted 5 min. a day.  I wonder if I made the latter so small that it seems inconsequential?  Perhaps I’ll change that to one to 2 hours a day to see if I notice any improvement.

Four – Made me laugh

I ran across a YouTube video for a Bible study system.  Before I laugh at this person I have to say that his Bible study has to be intensive because the system was incredibly in depth.  You could tell that he took it very serious. He had a 5-inch binder, completely full, for each book of the Bible.

Now, the video was one part explanatory and one part sales pitch.   The part that made me laugh was the sales pitch.  One of the reasons he gave for doing such serious study was the parable of talents.  When it came time for him to meet his maker he wanted to show that he had made good use of the talents (the Bible) God had given him.  He holds up this huge binder and says, “When I meet Jesus I’m gonna show him this.”  Yup, he’s taking his binders with him.

Five – Maccabees: also made me laugh

Speaking of things that made me laugh. I was reading 2 Maccabees this morning and the portion I was reading was about a king that hears about all of the gold and silver kept in the Temple treasury.  This king decides he wants that money, so he sends a regiment of soldiers to take it.  The high priest and the inhabitants of Jerusalem learn of this and pray asking God to thwart this person.  God answers their prayers by sending an angel to whip the officer when he shows up at the Temple to confiscate the treasure.  The officer is on the point of death when his soldiers ask the high priest to pray for God to heal him.  The priest does and God heals the officer.  Another angel shows up and tells the officer to go back to his king and explain to him what happens when someone tries to loot God’s Temple.

The officer returns to his king and relates what happens.  The king still wants the treasure, so asks the officer what he should do.  The officer basically says, “Send one of your enemies because whoever you send is going to get his butt kicked.”

Six – Amazing kids and God’s grace

God must just pour graces out on little kids who are born with health problems.  I have this one little neighbor who is 5 yrs. old.  He was born with a defect that won’t allow him to eat.  So every since he was diagnosed when he was a baby he has had tubes going in and coming out of him: one going in to feed him and one coming out to drain his intestines.  He has a little backpack that he wears on his back that carries the machine that sends him the food and monitors the lines.   He has other problems, too, so he is usually in and out of the hospital a couple of times a year.  Many of his hospital stays involve some kind of surgery.  This was what happened recently.

When I heard he was coming home I started thinking about him having to go through the recovery process.  Then it occurred to me that he never really has a recovery process.  When he comes out of the hospital he’s just his usual happy self and back up and running around again.  Unlike us who would probably have to take it easy for some length of time and complain about the pain, this child is always happy.  It’s simply remarkable and I’ve always been in a little of awe of him because I thought it was him.

Then I recently got a new neighbor who has twin daughters.  They are about 1 1/2 years old.  One cannot eat and has tubes coming in and out of her.  Do you know which one of those twins is the happiest?  It’s the one with the health problems.  That’s why I say God must send them some special graces to handle their health issues so well.

Seven – Old ladies and hats

I’ve been having some interesting discussions with little old ladies recently.  I call them discussions because I try very hard not to argue with little old ladies, especially when one of them is my mother.   Perhaps, it would be better to say I’m failing miserably at trying to persuade some senior citizens to come to my way of thinking on fashion: specifically, winter hat styles.

What started all of this was my idea to crochet items I could donate.  At first, I was thinking about baby items that I could give to pregnancy centers.  Then I got talking to my mom and she told me I should also consider senior citizens.  They are on fixed incomes and, in addition, tend to get cold easily.  Great idea, I thought.  I can make hats with wool yarn that will be warmer than acrylic and, perhaps, a little more stylish than the ski hat with the pop-pom that’s usually has too much fabric at the top.  They’re fine when you’re outside in the cold, but sitting around the house I thought we could make something a little nicer.  So I send mom a few pictures of different hats and she rejects all of them.  She wants a ski hat.  First battle lost.

While I’m waiting for the yarn to arrive I decide to use some yarn I have on hand, which isn’t my ideal yarn, and practice my hat making skills.  Unfortunately, I opened my mouth before it was finished and asked one of my neighbors if she wanted it.  I explained that if she didn’t like it my feelings wouldn’t be hurt.  I would rather give it to someone who liked it and would wear it, than someone who didn’t and wouldn’t. She said she wanted it.  Fine.  The pattern ran larger than smaller (lesson learned: read the comments before starting a pattern) and I didn’t like the fit.  I told her I was going to redo it so it’s a little smaller.  “No,” she says.  “I’ll take it the way it is and I’ll just roll it up, if it’s too big.”  “No,” I say.  “It’s not that type of hat.”  And that’s pretty much how the discussion went.  Another battle lost.

Who knew dealing with little old ladies would be so difficult.

The post image was generously donated by Onur Bahcivancilar @Unsplash.

Posted in Christian Life

9 Days for Life: Day 6

I will be sharing the materials provided by the USCCB on the prayers, reflections, and call to action for each day on this blog. If you would like to download the PDF that includes all  9 days you can download it at the USCCB.

From the USCCB Novena 9 Days 2017 Full Color PDF:

Day Six: Thursday, January 26, 2017

Intercession:  May those affected by pornography experience the Lord’s mercy and healing.

Prayers: Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

Reflection: We are created with a desire to love and be loved. We long to be known, understood, and accepted for who we are. In contrast, pornography distracts us from our call to love by objectifying people and bringing hurt and pain. As noted in Create in Me a Clean Heart, “it is an illusory substitute for real relationships and intimacy, which in the end bring true joy.”

However, “no wound is out of the reach of Christ’s redeeming grace. Christ is our hope! The Church proclaims the truth about love, sexuality, and the dignity of each person, and she seeks to provide the Lord’s mercy and healing for those harmed by pornography. … For further resources and help, visit www.usccb.org/cleanheart.”*

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • Don’t push the snooze button. Get right out of bed and offer your day in prayer to God.
  • Fast from snacking today. Eat three meals only.
  • Contemplate a beautiful piece of sacred art today, and reflect upon how true beauty draws us closer to God.

One Step Further: Learn more about the spiritual, emotional, and neurological impact of pornography in “‘Wash Me Thoroughly’: Healing from Pornography Use and Addiction” (www.goo.gl/gjr3Wg) and “Life Matters: Pornography and Our Call to Love” (www.goo.gl/TkTpTV).

*United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth, Create in Me a Clean Heart: A Pastoral Response to Pornography—Abridged Version. (Washington, D.C.: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2016). Copyright © 2016, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC. All rights reserved.

Posted in Christian Life

9 Days for Life: Day 5

I will be sharing the materials provided by the USCCB on the prayers, reflections, and call to action for each day on this blog. If you would like to download the PDF that includes all  9 days you can download it at the USCCB.

From the USCCB Novena 9 Days 2017 Full Color PDF:

Day Five: Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Intercession: For an end to domestic violence.

Prayers: Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

Reflection: “A correct reading of Scripture leads people to an understanding of the equal dignity of men and women and to relationships based on mutuality and love. Beginning with Genesis, Scripture teaches that women and men are created in God’s image.” (“When I Call for Help: A Pastoral Response to Domestic Violence Against Women” USCCB 2002. See: www.goo.gl/mH4b46).

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • Do you love your cup of tea or coffee in the morning? Fast from caffeine today, or try your coffee black.
  • Learn how to pray the Angelus prayer and consider saying it every day— on awakening, at noon, or at 6 p.m. (or all three times).
  • Give up your favorite form (or all forms) of social media for the day. Spend some of the extra time meditating upon a Scripture verse or passage.

One Step Further: Three in four Americans are reported to know a victim of domestic violence. Learn to recognize some of the signs in “Life Matters: Domestic Violence,” which discusses the painful assault on human dignity that is domestic violence. Read the article at www.goo.gl/gVJ9fd.

Additional resources on domestic violence are available at http://www.ForYourMarriage.org* (www.goo.gl/CpKtLF), as well as the USCCB webpage on domestic violence (www.goo.gl/ajGdPz).

If you believe someone you know may be in a troubled situation, you should call a domestic violence hotline number for assistance, or encourage the person to call the hotline or emergency services themselves.

*An initiative of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Copyright © 2016, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC. All rights reserved.

 

Posted in Christian Life

9 Days for Life: Day 4

I will be sharing the materials provided by the USCCB on the prayers, reflections, and call to action for each day on this blog. If you would like to download the PDF that includes all  9 days you can download it at the USCCB.

From the USCCB Novena 9 Days 2017 Full Color PDF:

Day Four: Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Intercession: May those near the end of their lives receive medical care that respects their dignity and protects their lives.

Prayers: Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

Reflection: When Maggie’s active father suffered an accident that eventually led to his passing, her conversations with him turned to life’s more serious topics, and his final days became a time that was cherished by the whole family. During this time, Maggie’s dad taught her that “dignity can’t be diminished by pain or loss of personal control,” that “Jesus was walking along with him,” and that “our suffering is not meaningless when we unite it with Christ’s own suffering.”

As a 50-year-old wife and mother of three, Maggie needed this message in a dramatically new way when she was diagnosed with a terminal illness. Instead of giving up hope, she embraced the legacy her father had left her, cherishing the life she still had left: “[M]y life is, always has been, and always will be, worth living.” Read more about her experience in “Maggie’s Story: Living like Dad” (www.goo.gl/JKnvWc).  

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • Take time to write a handwritten note to someone who is lonely or needing encouragement.
  • Meet Maggie in the brief, 3-minute video (goo.gl/SGF7rP) that inspired the article, “Maggie’s Story: Living like Dad.”
  • Read and reflect upon “Caring for Loved Ones at Life’s End” (goo.gl/fvSEYp). Ten suggestions anchored in unconditional respect for human life help readers know how to provide authentically compassionate care. (Supplemental information: www.goo.gl/Ji3n35)

One Step Further: Proponents of doctor-assisted suicide try to draw a sharp distinction between those with a mental illness who want to end their lives and those with a terminal illness who express the same wish. “Every Suicide is Tragic” (www.goo.gl/KEXpR9) explores the consequences of this false distinction. (Supplemental information, including short videos: www.goo.gl/ufQyTv).

Copyright © 2016, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC. All rights reserved.

Posted in Christian Life

9 Days for Life: Day 3

I will be sharing the materials provided by the USCCB on the prayers, reflections, and call to action for each day on this blog. If you would like to download the PDF that includes all  9 days you can download it at the USCCB.

From the USCCB Novena 9 Days 2017 Full Color PDF:

Day Three: Monday, January 23, 2017

Because January 22, 2017 falls on a Sunday, the annual “Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children” is observed Monday, January 23 in 2017.

More Information: www.goo.gl/ueuvvB

Intercession: May all people embrace the truth that every life is a good and perfect gift, and is worth living.

Prayers: Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

Reflection: Our culture is obsessed with perfection—a superficial perfection. Photos are airbrushed, and social media sites depict seemingly perfect lives. God calls us to seek perfection, too. He does not call us, however, to perfection of appearance or abilities, but to perfection in love.

In “A Perfect Gift” (www.goo.gl/QbXpcn) one parent shares about the experience of raising a child with Down syndrome, contrasting it with what onlookers might perceive: “It’s like looking at a stained-glass window from the outside: The colors look dark, and you can’t quite make out the figures. From the inside, however, with the sun shining through it, the effect can be brilliant. From inside our family, love illuminates our life with Charlie.* What may seem dreary to others, perhaps even unbearable, is actually filled with beauty and color.”

May each of us experience the power of God’s transforming love, that our eyes may be opened to the incredible beauty of the people the Lord places in our lives.

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • Say a prayerfor your parish priest (goo.gl/jHVu2J). Without our priests, we could not have the Mass or the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
  • Pray for your deceased relatives and those who have no one to pray for them.
  • Spend quality time with a family member or friend; offer to help them with something with which they need assistance.

One Step Further: Charlie’s mother shares in “A Perfect Gift” that when people say, “I could never handle a child with a disability,” she explains to them, “[Y]ou aren’t given a child with a disability. You are given your child with a disability. …You are not called to ‘handle’ a disability. You are called to love a particular person, and caring for him or her grows out of that love. …Our [family’s] hearts…have become larger [by caring for Charlie].”

She also talks about the “secret” that is the fundamental truth of our existence, which she and other parents of children with Down syndrome share. Find out what it is in “A Perfect Gift,” available at www.goo.gl/QbXpcn.

*Name changed for privacy.

Copyright © 2016, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC. All rights reserved.

Posted in Christian Life

9 Days for Life: Day 2

I will be sharing the materials provided by the USCCB on the prayers, reflections, and call to action for each day on this blog. If you would like to download the PDF that includes all  9 days you can download it at the USCCB.

From the USCCB Novena 9 Days 2017 Full Color PDF:

Day Two: Sunday, January 22, 2017

Because January 22, 2017 falls on a Sunday, the annual “Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children” is observed Monday, January 23 in 2017.

More Information: www.goo.gl/ueuvvB

Intercession: May each person suffering from the loss of a child through abortion find hope & healing in Christ.

 Prayers: Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be                                                                                              

Reflection: Today, on this 44th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we consider the past four decades in which our society has legally permitted abortion. Since that tragic decision, many children’s lives have been lost, and many suffer that loss—often in silence. Yet God’s greatest desire is to forgive. No matter how far we have each strayed from his side, he says to us, “Don’t be afraid. Draw close to my heart.”

 “In the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, also called confession, we meet the Lord, who wants to grant forgiveness and the grace to live a renewed life in him. … We bishops and priests are eager to help you if you experience difficulty, hesitation, or uncertainty about approaching the Lord in this sacrament. …we are ready to welcome you.”*

Let us run into the arms of Jesus, who is love and mercy.

 Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • Today, go visit an adoration chapel and spend some time with Jesus.
  • Go to confession today or this week. Before you go, look up St. Faustina (goo.gl/bXcnwP) and learn a little about the message of Divine Mercy that she shared during her life.
  • Pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy (goo.gl/kMkSZ2) for those who are suffering the loss of a child through abortion, asking that they find healing and peace.

One Step Further:

  • “How to Talk to a Friend Who’s Had an Abortion”(goo.gl/bz3pld)
  • “Life Matters: Forgiveness and Healing after Abortion” (goo.gl/J2WGnW)
  • “Bridges of Mercy for Post-Abortion Healing” (goo.gl/MpC7RG)

*“God’s Gift of Forgiveness: Pastoral Exhortation on the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation,” www.goo.gl/oXNDBj. Copyright © 2012, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC. All rights reserved.

Posted in Christian Life

9 Days for Life: Jan. 21 -29, 2017

It’s that time of year again: the USCCB’s 9 Days for life “an annual period of prayer and action cherishing the gift of life.”  I am fully participating for this first time.  I have marched, been on a pro-life committee, and participated in other political activities towards this end, but somehow I missed the annual novena.  Not quite sure how that happened.  Perhaps, I thought action was more important than prayer.  If that was the case I have certainly changed. If asked now my thoughts would be a combination of prayer, then action.

If you would like to join myself and others in prayer to cherish and protect God’s gracious gift of a share in His life, then please join us in the 9 Days for Life novena.  All the information that you will need to participate can be found here at the USCCB.

God bless!

Posted in Christian Life

{7QT} CATS, COFFEE, AND CROCHET

One

I’m adding a new post: the seven quick takes {7QT} or {SQT} as it is more commonly known. I find I have things to say that don’t merit an entire post, so this will solve that problem.  It will also fit right in with my blog as it will include random thoughts about words I’ve read or heard.  If this first {7QT} is anything to go by it will also include snippets about what’s going on in my life and on the blog.

Two

I’m no longer putting out dates for my blog posts on the weekly “Down the Road” post. For the most part, I kept to the dates promised; until recently.  That may be just because of the holidays, but it turns out that the words in my head do not naturally flow from my head to paper.  (This is interesting because many of my thoughts, the ones I wish wouldn’t, seem to pop so easily out of my mouth and right into someone’s ear.)  I originally set up promised dates to encourage myself to keep writing, so I may change my mind, but until then no dates.

Three

I’ve taken up crochet, kinda again. I used to crochet one afghan pattern which I made over and over again.  I always liked the look of afghans, but felt they never qualified as a blanket because they had holes in them.  The one I used to make solved that problem by having you weave yarn through the holes.  This made for a lovely plaid afghan sans holes. This time, I’m looking for shorter projects and I’m pretty impressed with the quality and variety of things you can make beyond the standard clothing attire.  Some people are even crocheting necklaces with wire and beads.   Since my skill is novice level I haven’t gotten that ambitious yet, but I’ve managed two scarves with the yarn I had on hand: one for each of my grandchildren and I have family members already putting in orders.  Add that to things I would like to donate plus my own wants and looks like there are plenty of projects in the works.

Four

This is good because I’m trying to live less worldly and more Christian.  Towards that end I’m trying to conform my life to be more monastic.  I had a good start on detachment from worldly things as I am pretty detached already.  Of course, there are always some things that we are very attached to and I’m no different on that point, so still some work left to be done there.  One of those areas is materialism.  In order to be less materialistic I decided to make my attire as simple as possible, while still being neat and presentable and, I’ll be open; cute.  (I have more than one spiritual area that still needs work.)  To that end I was designing my “habit” for everyday wear when I realized I already had one: jeans and a t-shirt which I do wear everyday for my job.  I was both amazed and a little disappointed.  Amazed because I hadn’t realized that God had already gotten me there and disappointed because my new “habit” was going to be so much cuter than what I was currently wearing. 😉  Another thing I’m trying to detach from is my computer.  I spend way too much time on it.  This one is tougher because I have a serious attachment to computers, but hopefully the crochet will help with that.  I’ll keep you updated.

Five

I have to take my cat to the vet. I adopted this cat about a year ago when one of my neighbors died.  I’ve had cats before and they are pretty low maintenance, but with this cat it seems to be one thing after another.  First, he had an abscess on his neck from fighting with another cat.  Then he started losing weight due to some type of worm.  I dewormed him and put more protein into his diet which put the weight back on him, but he started to lose his hair.  Now the hair on his belly (or lack of) could have been that way when I was able to finally coax him into the house and I just never noticed, but the hotspot wasn’t.  I still hadn’t gotten that completely under control, even though it was improving, and now this new setback: he has sores on his face and neck.  It started with just one, which I thought was a result of a fight.  He’s been fixed, so he doesn’t fight much, but he is an indoor/outdoor cat and the occasional tom does wander into the area occasionally.  I was monitoring the sore for infection when another appeared.  Since he has skin problems anyway I decided to give him an oatmeal bath to soothe his skin.  Once I got him wet I could see sores all over his neck, so off to the vet we go.  Poor thing.  He’s such a good cat, too.

Six

As you all know from a previous post when my drip coffee maker died I ended up having to make coffee in a pan by boiling water and adding coffee grounds. The results were amazing, so I decided to go with a stovetop percolator this time around.  I was very disappointed with the flavor.  It didn’t taste nearly as good as I thought it would.  It does fill the house with a wonderful coffee aroma which is a plus, but I thought the taste would be equivalent and it’s not.  Any baristas out there that care to explain this to me?

Seven

I had added a certain person to my prayer list. This is the precious blood of Christ prayer that I use for really big sinners.  For other Christians and my family I use the Rosary to pray for them.  After about a month I couldn’t remember what had prompted me to add her to a prayer list that included such big time sinners.  She’s already a Christian which doesn’t mean I shouldn’t pray for her, but she is probably in less need of prayer than someone that isn’t saved and is promoting all sorts of evil.  Then I was doing my daily Bible reading and it dealt with this person’s weakness and how large a sin she was committing.  Out of my mouth popped: “Wow, Jane sure is in trouble.”  Problem solved.

Until next time, may God watch over you and bless you!

#{7QT}

The post image was kindly given for our use by Eric Barbeau @Unsplash.  Another pic I just love and am so glad I finally got to use.

Posted in Christian Life

Why my Son is Grinching Out on Christmas

Other than the advent wreath I’ve never really participated in Advent.  Once I became a Christian I held on to Christmas as I had learned it and simply added the wreath.  This year, for some unknown reason, I wanted to dig into it more deeply: reading up on it, setting up a Jesse Tree, etc.  In other words making it much more Christ-centric than it has been in the past.  My main problem, I thought, was getting my son on board.

Then he called me up and said, “No, presents for the kids this year. I’m tired of the kids ripping open one present just to toss it aside and get to the next one.  This year is going to be about love and family. I figure we only have to do this one year to get the point across.”  I had mixed feelings.  On the one hand it really bothered me that I couldn’t provide them with gifts. On the other hand I understood where he was coming from: I went through this when he was a kid.  We can just buy our kids too much.  It really goes overboard when you add on the gifts from the grandparents plus aunts and uncles to the ones you’re buying them.  I could really see his point, but no gifts at all?  I did get on board.

One reason was I knew he wasn’t going to be able to get the other side of his family to agree, so the kids would be getting gifts. So, if you were worried for them on that respect, no need. He called the other night to let me know what I already knew:  they would be buying them presents.  I’m also buying some family gifts that we can all enjoy together (I got the okay on that.) The other reason I agreed was that I also wanted the kids to have a greater appreciation of Christmas.  No, how to bring that about?

  • Teach them the history St. Nicholas aka Santa Claus. Let them know that he was a saint because he had so much love for God and his fellow man.  I did some research on his actual life, but I did find out that he is the protector of children.  That will be a good thing for them to know.  Btw, there is actually a movie in production about St. Nicholas.  You can see the details here.
  • Replace secret Santa with secret saint. Yes, I know that santa means saint, but they don’t.  I got this idea from this post at the Hahn Family Blog.  It works just like secret santa, but instead of buying them gifts the secret saint will build up spiritual treasures for them through prayer and offering up to God their work, suffering, etc. for the recipient’s intentions.  I’m thinking of heart-shaped lockets with a picture of each us that we can wear next to our hearts as a way to remember them throughout the days leading up to Christmas.
  • Then there will be coloring the symbols for the Jesse Tree and decorating it along with reading the scriptures.
  • As I mentioned previously, there will be a family gift that we can all enjoy together on Christmas Day along with Christmas dinner and, perhaps, a Christmas movie.

Hopefully, this will help them gain a greater appreciation for Christmas.  It has already helped me: as I was researching St. Nicholas I realized the problem wasn’t the externals–Christmas tree, gifts, feasting, etc.  The problem came from not understanding and appreciating the foundation undergirding the symbols/externals.

So, why am I calling my son a Grinch when he is trying to help his family understand what Christmas is really all about?  Because even though the Grinch stole all of the presents and decorations when he returned them to the citizens of Whoville everyone was much richer for it.

Well, in Whoville they say -that the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day. And then -the true meaning of Christmas came through, and the Grinch found the strength of ten Grinches, plus two! – Dr. Seuss

May we all grow in knowledge and come to a greater love for the foundations that under-gird our holidays!  God bless!

#Advent #Christmas

Thanks to Michael Bentley at Flickr for the generous use of the Grinch ornament photo under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.

Posted in Christian Life

The Sweetest Words I’ve Ever Heard

This post is dedicated to my step-father Donald Patrick Lafreniere who loved deeply and well. May he rest in peace.

I was manning the coffee table during coffee and donuts after mass, when a gentleman in his early 60’s rushed over to the table.  I could tell he was in a hurry as he held two donuts in one hand while trying to make a cup of coffee with the other.  I asked something along the lines of wasn’t he going to stay and visit with friends?  No, he had to get home.  His wife was sick.  She had dementia.  I tried commiserating with him, but he was having none of it.  He just shrugged his shoulders, and not to be deterred from his goal of returning home to his wife, kept talking to me as he was walking backwards to the parking lot.  He then said the sweetest words I’ve ever heard:

“We take care of each other. That’s what we do. We’ve been doing it all of our lives.”

Now, it’s probably been 10 or 15 years since that encounter and at different times throughout those years his words would come to mind.  They especially came to mind during a phone call with my mother awhile back.  See, my step-father had passed away a month prior and we were all waiting for my mom’s meltdown, which, to my knowledge, hadn’t occurred prior to the phone call.  But there was going to be a meltdown. They had been married 39 years and were still the best of friends when he passed.  Beyond that, it was visible to anyone who had been around them how much he loved my mother.  To have all that disappear in an unexpected moment had to be devastating.

She did have some consolations. There was so much of my step-father in their home that she could still feel his presence and she also believed that he was waiting for her in heaven, so she had that to comfort her.  In addition, she was also incredibly busy with funeral and living arrangements; not to mention the constant telephone calls from friends and family.  I don’t think she had time to truly process it, which may have been a blessing in disguise.

Once everything was taken care of and things begin to settle down was when it all came home.  It was a missed small act of love that caused it.  The weather had begun to turn colder and after getting into bed my mother realized there was no one longer there to pull the blankets up around her, making sure her back was covered, so she wouldn’t get cold.  Something my step-father had done for her every night of every winter they had been together.

“We take care of each other. That’s what we do. We’ve been doing it all of our lives.”

It’s a shame men are thought so little of these days for many love so deeply and so well.  Just look at our Lord Jesus.

Image courtesy of Lotte Meijer @Unsplash

 

Posted in Christian Life

FYI: GOD COUNTS ON US

I’m entering a shaky financial period in my life and I’m feeling pretty insecure.  On the flip side, I know that money really isn’t as secure as we think it is.  It can go away at anytime under the right circumstances.  God is truly our only real security.  If God is taking care of us, then there is nothing that we have to worry about.  I understand this on a peripheral level, but trying to live it is another thing.  But I do want to live it because God is utterly trustworthy and there is really no reason recognizing my dependence on God, (We truly are dependent on God, whether we recognize that fact or not.), should make me feel uncomfortable.  Yet, I am.  So I was talking to God about this; telling Him I really need to be able to count on you and such things as that.  Next thing I know God tells me, “and I count on you.”

Well, I certainly wasn’t expecting that.  The idea that God counts on us was so startling to my Christian worldview that I literally felt the shock reverberations all the way down to my toes.  The very world and, therefore us, would not exist if it wasn’t for God: no food, no shelter, and no life.  Zilcho.  Zero.  Nada.  I mean, we’re so messed up that it takes God’s grace just to be a successful Christian.  And God counts on us?

It would seem so.  God counted on Israel to be a light to the nations.  God counted on John the Baptist to prepare the way for Christ.  Lord Jesus counted on the disciples to do as He said: pray until the Holy Spirit came upon them; baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; go out and make disciples; do this in remembrance of me; etc.  Most of all He counted on them to be faithful and true.  So it does make sense.

Once I grew accustomed to the idea I found I liked it.  I liked it a lot.  It’s like asking someone to step up to the plate.  It makes a difference when you know someone is counting on you rather than doing it just for yourself or because you’re told it’s a duty/obligation.  So this Thanksgiving when we count our blessings we should take a moment to realize that God counts on us, too.

Here’s hoping everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving!

May God be able to count on every one of us! God bless!

#Christian #Catholic #Stewardship