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Showing posts from May, 2012

St. John of Avila

Again, Pope Benedict will be naming two new Doctors of the Church in October, one of whom is St. John of Avila (not to be confused with John of the Cross, a contemporary of his, but who is already a Doctor of the Church).

There is as nice biography of him here.

O you souls who wish to go on with so much safety and consolation, if you knew how pleasing to God is suffering, and how much it helps in acquiring other good things, you would never seek consolation in anything; but you would rather look upon it as a great happiness to bear the Cross of the Lord.

The Visitation

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord"

Three Good Things Thursday

1. Short work weeks and long weekends. Although, is anyone else out there still thinking it's Wednesday??

2. Facebook. Yes, all social media has its problems: it can be invasive, time-consuming, yadda, yadda, yadda. Yet, yesterday, a friend who lives 2000 miles away asked for prayers as he rushed his 5 year old son to the ER with a broken arm. What a blessing to be able to ask for and receive prayers from so many, so quickly.

3. Being married to my best friend for 25 years and having an awesome day of celebration with family and friends - joy!


Yeah, I know I'm Franciscan, but I can't resist sharing these guys! (Make sure you hit the "cc" button on the bottom of the screen to turn on the captions.)

Verily, Verily

It's no secret that I'm a girly-girl. I get my mani-pedis (which I remind my husband are cheaper than therapy), I love fashion, makeup, watching the trends and seeing what's new. Of course, I also live in the real world, and what walks down the runway isn't generally acceptable for the office, church or running errands. There's also the teensy little fact that a lot of what happens in the fashion world is horrendously scandalous, both in terms of behavior and looks. And I don't know about you, but I have often had the experience of leafing through a "woman's magazine" in a doctor's office and thought, "Who they heck are they talking to?? This is not MY life!"

Enter Verily magazine.

This slick number has everything a girl could want: latest trends in fashion and makeup, relationship stuff, articles on culture, music, movies, books, real women sharing real stories. Their teaser issue says this in the editorial: We are aiming to show s…

What's REALLY important?

I saw this blog post this morning, with the intriguing title of "The Unimportance of Practically Everything". Since it's from Harvard Business Review, the focus is, well, business. But look:

Why do otherwise intelligent people find it so easy to be distracted from what really matters?

The author talks about a friend who, while a successful business person, is constantly distracted by his cell phone, emails, social media, etc., finding it hard to focus on the most pertinent tasks of his day.

Why do otherwise intelligent people find it so easy to be distracted from what really matters?

Can't we ask exactly the same question about our spiritual lives? We know we should pray regularly. We know we should make time for our marriage and family, our friends and relationships, a priority. We know that spiritual reading will bear fruit. And yet....we are distracted from what really matters.

What really matters?

I used to make a yearly retreat, and the retreat master - every yea…

St. Hildegard of Bingen

I noted yesterday that Pope Benedict was planning on bestowing the title of "Doctor" on two saints, Hildegard of Bingen and St. John of Avila. Typically, the title is bestowed based on the writings and teachings of such folks, so I though we could take a little closer look at each of them.

First, from the Fordham University website:

Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) was a remarkable woman, a "first" in many fields. At a time when few women wrote, Hildegard, known as "Sybil of the Rhine", produced major works of theology and visionary writings. When few women were accorded respect, she was consulted by and advised bishops, popes, and kings. She used the curative powers of natural objects for healing, and wrote treatises about natural history and medicinal uses of plants, animals, trees and stones. She is the first composer whose biography is known. She founded a vibrant convent, where her musical plays were performed. Although not yet canonized, Hildegard …

What's a "Church Doctor"?

There is news from the Vatican that Pope Benedict will declare two new Doctors of the Church in October, Hildegard of Bingen and John of Avila.

So, what exactly is a "doctor of the church"? This is a person whose writings and teachings have become so important to the Universal Church that they are given the honorary title of "doctor". These are NOT people who are defining new teachings or dogma, but rather those who highlight, bring forth, or instruct what the Church already teaches in a new and/or more enlightened manner.

Here's a list of current Doctors of the Church:
Saint Ambrose (c. 340-397), BISHOP OF MILAN, Italy, a major opponent of Arianism, wrote and preached extensively [named a Doctor of the church, 1298]. Saint Augustine of Hippo(c. 354-430), North African bishop, author of Confessions, City of God, and numerous treatises, countered heretical movements, one of the most influential theologians of the Western church, called "Doctor of Grace…

Total Rip-off Tuesdays

Wherein I "rip-off" another writer on the web. Not taking credit, just sharing good stuff.

Sr. Helena Burns, a Paulist sister, has a great media blog, "Hell Burns". I wanted to share part of her review of  "For Greater Glory":

“For Greater Glory” (“Cristiada” in Mexico) is the untold story of Mexico’s Cristeros War (or “Cristiada”): 1926-1929, between the government and Catholics (the actual involvement of the Mexican clergy/hierarchy and Rome is a little murkier). The events are historically accurate, and certain characters are real personalities from the struggle.

Most Americans have never heard of the Cristeros War, and, it seems, just as many Mexicans are ignorant of it as well! Why? Understandably, it makes 33rd degree Mason President Calles and the Mexican establishment look bad, so it’s not in the history textbooks. His brutal enforcement of anti-clerical laws, expelling of foreign clergy, forbidding of Catholic Masses and sacraments, as well as the …

By the side of the road

There's an older gentleman who lives down the road from us. I don't know him, but he has a wooden sign on this property that he changes about once a week or so, with a quote on it, usually just three or four words. Typically, it's a literary quote and our family has good fun checking the sign when we drive past, seeing who knows the reference. One of us almost always does, but once in awhile we have to "google it" to figure it out. (One was a rather obscure A. E. Housman poem...that one had me stumped for a day or two...)
I always want to stop and tell this man how much we enjoy his little roadside treat, but he doesn't seem to be the type who wants company. His house sits back off the road, with a long winding drive, set apart from the road by a gated and locked fence. Funny how he chooses this little way to share himself with the world,when clearly he's a man who doesn't seem to want to interact much. We see him, once in awhile, near his home, tromp…

25 years of wedded bliss!

Modern Art Monday

Sacred Place of the Day

Monasterio de Rioseco


I need a clone!

I told someone yesterday that I felt as if I had a swarm of bees in my head - I have so much to do! Work is very busy, I have a 25th anniversary get-together to plan, a graduation open house in the offing, one kid needs some surgery, every kid needs to be somewhere at some time, and on and on and on.
I am almost frantic.

But this morning I remembered: take a deep breath and pray. And I did.

For you, LORD, give light to my lamp; my God brightens my darkness. With you I can rush an armed band, with my God to help I can leap a wall. God’s way is unerring; the LORD’s promise is refined; he is a shield for all who take refuge in him. (Psalm 18)

Three Good Things Thursday

1. High school graduations. Oh, I know, The caps and gowns don't change, the speeches are pretty similar, and we always hear "Pomp and Circumstance". But high school graduations are a right of passage that the young people realize is an awesome part of their lives. It's fun and sad and weighty and traditional and emotional. It is a one of those clear thresholds in a person's life, where you step from one very safe and secure known into a vast unknown. Hurray for grads!

2. Thunderstorms. Ya either love 'em or hate 'em. I love 'em! Grandeur and rain, noise and lightening.

3. Fresh, homemade, yeast and powdered sugar cinnamon rolls. Yum. (Even better: I didn't have to make them. They were a gift!)

25 Years

Today is our 25th wedding anniversary. I can't believe 25 years have passed since I walked down that aisle to meet the man I couldn't wait to spend my life with. I don't remember being nervous or worried about anything that day - I was just so excited that I was going to be MARRIED to him. It was a wonderful Mass, a wonderful day of friends and family, and a joyful celebration. My daddy walked me down that aisle and handed me off to the only man that I thought measured up to my father.

We didn't have a dime then, so we never had a honeymoon. We just moved into our little apartment, and I had so much fun organizing our wedding gifts into the cupboards and shelves. One night, we mentally removed all the furniture that had been given to us to see what we really "owned": we were left with a second hand dining room table and our mattress.

I had about $40 a week for groceries, which was plenty, but I still worried over the list and then walked to the store and back.

Amazing, amazing, amazing

One blogger that I truly admire is The Crescat - she's witty & hilarious, true to the Faith and honest. We don't share a style of writing, but we do share a love of writing.

Her newest blog post is nothing short of amazing - a brutally honest baring of the soul regarding the scandal of abortion and its effects. Read it.

Total Rip-off Tuesday

Wherein I rip-off another writer. Not taking credit, just sharing some good stuff.

The bishops of the US took the bold move of suing the Obama Administration yesterday over "Obamacare", after the government refused to rescind its forcing employers to provide birth control and abortion under the guise of health care. With that in mind, the great G. K. Chesterton:

ONCE abolish the God, and the government becomes the God. That fact is written all across human history; but it is written most plainly across that recent history of Russia; which was created by Lenin. There the Government is the God, and all the more the God, because it proclaims aloud in accents of thunder, like every other God worth worshipping, the one essential commandment: 'Thou shalt have no other gods but Me.'  ~ “Christendom in Dublin.”

Modern Art Monday

"Common Grace"

I work with a bunch of folks who work hard every day to bring truth to the world. One project has been translating the work of Abraham Kuyper, a Dutch Reformed theologian whose work revolved around "common grace": “this is not a saving, regenerating, or electing grace, but a preserving grace extended to the world God has made, and is seen in the human inclination to serve one’s neighbor through work, pursue shalom in broken situations, and defend equity in all forms of interaction.”

My weekend started at 4:45 a.m. Saturday morning, when my husband nudged me and told me we needed to go the ER. He has a minor heart condition that was acting up, and we had to go get him hooked up to an EKG and make sure he was okay. He was.

The only problem was, that I had made a date with Dark-haired Daughter that day. She's been hospitalized for months, 2 1/2 hours away from home, since February, following an assault. It was her first day pass, and we had planned a girls' day out. My…

Sacred Place of the Day

Parenting a Teenager? Don't do these things.

1. Don't stop hugging and kissing them. They may protest, but don't stop. They need the affection. If they don't get it from you, they WILL seek it elsewhere.
2. Don't assume they are going to be where they say they are. Be that annoying parent that checks up, drops in, calls the other parent to confirm plans. Your teen will hate it, but that's okay.
3. Don't give them approval for stupid stuff. Don't say "It's okay to drink alcohol as long as you're at home and not driving." No, it's not. It's illegal. It's unhealthy. It also gives the impression (accurately) that you really don't care what they do as long as there aren't consequences you have to deal with.
4. Speaking of which, don't back off on consequences. If you tell her she's grounded for two weeks, and she makes your life a living H&^* so you're tempted to shorten that just to get her out of the house, don't. She'll know that from then o…

The Ascension of the Lord

Today is traditionally the day the Ascension is celebrated, although here in the US, the bishops have moved the celebration to a Sunday.

O Lord,
Your Ascension into heaven
marks the culmination of the Paschal Mystery,
and it contains an important teaching for us.
May we live life as an earthly reality
and develop our human potential to the fullest.
May we make use of the results of science
to achieve a better life on this planet.
But in our best moments
we know that there must be more
than all of this,
a transcending Reality.
As Christians, we know that this Reality
is Your loving Father
Who awaits us with You and the Holy Spirit.
Where You have gone,
we ultimately will come - if we are faithful. Amen.

A happy pastoral leader

From Cardinal Dolan's Twitter feed: Lots of folks have asked me about the cape photo from CUA's commencement. I call it my Batman pose. Enjoy! 

Three Good Things Thursday

1. Fr. Robert Barron named Rector at Mundelein Seminary. Those seminarians are SO blessed!

2. Acts of the Apostles. During this Easter season, we get to hear about the baby Church: how Saul was suspect and rejected at first ("He's not one of us! He hates us!"), and Peter struggling with the leadership role, telling people "I'm just a regular guy." Nice to know that our Church has had problems since the beginning (reassuring, huh?) and yet, here we are.

3. Hydrangeas. I took this picture on my walk to work yesterday. Aren't they glorious??

That big question

Is it faith, or just denial?

Total Rip-off Tuesday, Deux

Yeah, I know, but this is good. Chris Dixon writing about blogging to learn, which is exactly how I feel about blogging:

People blog for all sorts of reasons. For me, it is mostly about learning. This wasn’t my original intention – it evolved over time. Now I see blogging as part of a continuous learning process:
- Start every morning by skimming through news, blogs, articles, etc. Much of this is tech related. I used to get tech news in the newspaper, then in Google Reader, and now mostly from Twitter. If someone I meet mentions something interesting that was published that I didn’t read, I go back and figure out how I missed it and change who I follow on Twitter so it doesn’t happen again.
- Try to meet with interesting people during the week. The reason being up on tech news is important is so that we can get the most out of the meetings. Often we’ll talk about whatever each of us is working on at the time but it’s also good to have news or blog posts as shared reference points. This …

Total Rip-off Tuesday

Where-in I "rip-off"another writer on the web. Not taking credit, just sharing good stuff. And this is really good stuff: photographer Shana Dressler shares her work of photography and religious festivals.

I GRADUATED WITH A DEGREE in Medieval and Renaissance Studies from Vassar College, and also spent three years studying graduate-level comparative religion and anthropology at Columbia University, and photography at the International Center of Photography. I was fascinated by Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Far East, and my gut instinct told me that if I wanted to understand the cultures there, I should learn about the religions first.

The pics are amazing!

Be of good cheer...dammit

I am not by nature a cheerful person. I am Irish. We have little to be cheerful about, save Guinness. Deep sorrow and a general distrust of humanity dwells deep in my DNA.

I have five children, ranging in age from 15 - 20, so someone is always mad at me.

My dog just died.

I am Catholic, and while this brings great joy, it also brings great guilt. I feel guilty about everything. Really. I'm pretty sure there was something I could have done to help that poor blind Chinese guy escape to the US sooner. I know that I should have worked harder to master Lego building for my youngest son's sake. And I can't bake very well. Guilty as charged.

Yet, I am working damn hard to be of good cheer. Why? Because (and yes, the irony of this does not escape me), grumpy people tick me off. There is one woman that I frequently ride the bus with in the mornings, and she never misses an opportunity to complain about the driver, the busing system, traffic. Really? You're on the bus for all o…

What we moms are doing in the digital world

Don't "friend" your pastor on Facebook

A message of joy, a jubilant shout

From St. Gregory of Narek (about whom I know nothing....), this was the meditation yesterday in "Magnificat" magazine. I was humbled by the thoughts and uplifted by the language:

By your will, Almighty, may the ears of my stubborn heart be open to the sound of life.
By this tiding of your magnificent good works,
may the ears of the deaf hear.
Through this bell may the tongues of the dumb speak.
May the sight of the eyes be restored,
that they might look upon you purely in unwavering adoration.
May the weary wills of men be refreshed,
that they might repent and return to you.
In my turmoil, O Lord,
grant me the rain of tears
Let this be from you to us
a message of joy,
a jubilant shout,
a tranquil song,
a thing of bliss,
a means of salvation,
an occasion for pardon,
a banishment of grief,
an extrication from entanglements,
an easing of anxiety,
a ceasing of cares,
a dispelling of sighs,
an alleviation of groaning,
an assurance of necessities,
a discipline of passions,
a consolation for disappointments…

Mary Cassatt Monday

Happy Mother's Day

Sacred Place of the Day

It's Friday, and let's just have a little laugh

My very favorite nutty religion story of the week:
Miracle Baby Born in Church holding small Holy Quran :: Islam News

There's a picture and everything. It's on the internet - must be true!

The new Swiss Guard

From Vatican Insider. Go to the website and see all the photos - they are terrific!

Are they buying what you're selling?

"People do business with people they like," a young man was told this by his father, a business man. How true. We want to be served well, treated respectfully and honestly, with genuine concern and superior service. When that happens, we go back for more needs, goods and services. If you're a business person, this is an invaluable lesson.

What? You're NOT a business person? You're a stay-at-home mom? A blogger? A nurse? Maybe a student or a volunteer?

You're still selling something. We ALL have something to sell.

If you're a Christian, your very life should be a big ole advertisement for the life of a Christian. It should be the lit-up billboard by the side of a dark road that says, "Here's what you've been looking for." It should be the Super Bowl ad that people talk about for weeks afterwards. Your life as a Christian should be selling the Christian life.

Does it? Are you like-able? Do you genuinely care for those around you? Do you s…

Three Good Things Thursday

1. Nurses. It's National Nurses Week, and as the daughter of an R.N., I know how hard they work, how incredibly dedicated they are, how important the care they provide is.

2. Cheerful people who do their jobs well. There is a small coffee shop/restaurant in the building where I work, and I often stop in there first thing in the morning to grab a bagel or a cup of tea. The folks that work there are, without fail, cheerful, chatty and happy to serve. I always walk out of there with a smile.

3. Phone calls from loved ones. What a true gift it is to hear the voice of someone you love, but don't get to see frequently. We take it for granted, don't we?

So much to blog, so little time....

Freaky busy at work, and I am bound and determined to finish a sweater tonight when I get home. With a nod to, here are a few goodies you may have missed in Catholic blogdom:

Chivalry Is Dead: It Collided With My Stroller
A gay saint? Why not?Dan Savage: Bully  Why 4 Sets of Mysteries for the Rosary? Why not 5 or even 7? Enjoy the good stuff that's out there, and share!

The Sorrow of Mother's Day

You've probably noticed a marked increase in commercials for floral arrangements and jewelry - Mother's Day is almost here. But for some women, it won't be a day of badly cooked breakfast in bed, a bouquet of roses and a card shakily signed card by little hands.

For many women, this will not be a day of celebration. There are those women who suffer infertility, and those women who've suffered miscarriage. There are women who have lost children through death or estrangement, and those whose children choose not to have anything to do with mom, for reasons we won't know. Certainly, there are many mothers who have given up children for adoption, and still ache for that loss, even if it was done under the best of circumstances. Others may have children whose kids live with dad after a divorce, or women who simply wanted to have kids....and for reasons only the universe will know, it just never happened.

If you see someone woman cringing this Sunday at church as the pas…

Total Rip-Off Tuesday

Total Rip-off Tuesday: wherein I "rip-off" another writer on the web. Not taking credit, just sharing interesting stuff.

I admit it: I used to buy Oprah magazine every month. Then, I wondered why I was giving Oprah, the richest woman in America my money for something that didn't really speak to me.  Apparently, I wasn't the only one.  Here is Amy Henry:

Way beyond the debate about Oprah’s spiritual state (I’m exhaustified of my sorts trying to peg her into any particular theological heresy), what hits me is the O‘s in-your-face-how-can-we-not-have-seen-it hypocrisy:

Accept who you are!–(Yet, How to get better with age! Rev up your metabolism! Refresh your style! Recharge your spirit!)

Be original!–(Here, dress in this cool $895 outfit, try this new $98 skin enhancer, copy the liberated lives of these five uber-original women who have–surprise!–ditched their husbands to find fulfillment!)

Declutter!–(But first buy this Physician’s Formula lotion–Look 6 years younger…

Thinking about Mother's Day

Of all the rights of women, the greatest is to be a mother.
Lin Yutang, Chinese writer

We should all pray for this...

From Father James Martin, S.J.:

[A} priest friend serving as a secretary to one of the local bishops reported on a private dinner with the pope and a few bishops. At the end of the meal, Benedict asked those gathered together to pray for him. "For what intention, Holy Father?" said one. "That I may never get in the way of Jesus Christ."

Mary Cassatt Monday

Bl. Teresa of Calcutta & St. Francis of Assisi

I like it when the saints talk about each other. Even across geography and time, they share an understanding of the Christian life - what it means to wholly surrender one's self day after day to imitating Jesus.
I found this little article from American Catholic, as Bl. Teresa of Calcutta comments on St. Francis:

Why does she admire St. Francis? And why does she think that he has had an impact on her life? “I suppose it’s because St. Francis of Assisi tried to imitate the poverty of Christ so closely,” responds the nun who has spent 35 years caring for the poor and dying in the slums of Calcutta.

The incident in the life of St. Francis that most appeals to her is his kissing of the leper. One day St. Francis had passed a leper on the road—too repulsed at first even to greet the man. “But then he came back and embraced him,” Mother Teresa relates. “That was the beginning of St. Francis. That act of surrender made St. Francis.... After that he was ready to give anything!”


Sacred Place of the Day

The Chapel of St. Gildas sits upon the bank of the Canal du Blavet in Brittany, France. Built like a stone barn into the base of a bare rocky cliff, this was once a holy place of the Druids. Gildas appears to have travelled widely throughout the Celtic world of Corwall, Wales, Ireland and Scotland. He arrived in Brittany in about AD 540 and is said to have preached Christianity to the people from a rough pulpit, now contained within the chapel.

Friday Fun....Calming Manatee

(With deep appreciation to Tallest Son for sharing this silliness with me.)

Kindness and the Culture of Death

I don't know why, but I have noticed a great deal of cruelty lately. It's not the "let's beat up the little kid for his lunch money" or physical assaults, but more the (unfortunately) mundane daily variety: snarky remarks, mean comments behind the cloak of the internet, rolling of eyes and gossipy ways. It's really bothering me.

I do believe it's strongly related to what Bl. John Paul II referred to as the "culture of death". In his encyclical Evangelium Vitae, he noted that we had moved from a culture that celebrated and supported life to one where death is efficiently and systemically promoted.

As I said, the cruelty I've noticed doesn't mean anyone is dead - unless of course you count the death of the soul. And we all know that old saying of "sticks and stones" isn't true at all - words can wound. They have the power to lift up, enlighten, praise and empower, but our words also can cut, demean, mar and crush.

All of this…

A timely reminder

Taking a few hits...

It's insanely easy to be cruelly critical of other people. We all do it, even if we don't voice those criticisms: "Those two parents are idiots. Look at how their kids behave." "She looks horrible. Doesn't she own a mirror?" "I wish they would fire that guy; a monkey could do his job better!"

And yet...

We never truly know what goes on in the hearts and minds of other folks. Maybe it's wisdom borne of age, maybe it's compassion borne of suffering or maybe it's just weariness of a cruel world, but I am tired of meanness.

Found this quote from Teddy Roosevelt:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomi…

Three Good Things Thursday

1. My kids. I don't tell them enough how proud I am of them, and how much they inspire me. They are definitely a good thing - one of the very best things in my life.

2. Potter's House School. This school does amazing things for children and teens. I got invited to a fundraiser by a friend, and I'm so impressed by the care and love the adults involved show, the passion they have for not just education, but for the relationships they have with the kids.

3. Jesus of Nazareth.Yes, the God-Man, but also the the third installment of Pope Benedict's book series on the life of Christ. These have been deeply enriching thus far, and the third book is said to focus on Holy Week.

Pinterest Contest!

My friends at PovertyCure have announced a Pinterest contest. I looooove Pinterest, so I think this will be really fun.

Homeschoolers, educators, catechtists, and religious ed. directors, pastors, take note: you can win a free PovertyCure curriculum! (I've seen the previews - you won't be disappointed!)

Here's the link for the rules:

Have fun!

Comedy & Abortion: what's so funny?

If you've ever seen the TV show, Tosh.O, you know that it's a show that highlights "funny" videos and tends to the vulgar side of life. The host, Daniel Tosh, is an amiable stand-up comedian, but his television program definitely appeals to a cheap and crude laugh.

So what made a young pro-life crusader choose to do an interview with him for the show? Surely, she knew that he'd make a big joke out of it, right? Not so.

There were a few pro-choice people who sent me very respectful messages while still being firm in their beliefs.  They also thanked me for doing the same while on Tosh.0.  Respect seems to be something most individuals can appreciate regardless of their stance on an issue.

Read this interview at Crisis.