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Showing posts from February, 2013

March Madness - Catholic Style

A little tongue-in-cheek

Things my dad taught me

Our office is moving. We toured our new building yesterday, and the construction company was busy putting finishing touches on it, so we were stepping around tools and wading through sawdust in some areas. It was the smell of sawdust that got me: it smells like Dad.

I was thinking about him, then, most of the day, and how much he would have enjoyed walking through the new building, asking questions, and seeing where his little girl now worked. And I was thinking about things he taught me.
 It is never to late to learn. Dad went to college after he retired, and loved every minute of it.Working with your hands is good for the soul.Daily exercise is a must.Being the strong, silent type does not mean you don't love fiercely.A great dad sets a high standard for his daughter's husband.The more you learn about nature, the more enjoyable it is.Service to others is not a "nice thing to do"; it's your obligation to God for the gifts He's given you.Family is important, …

Isn't Lent dreary?

Ugh. Lent. You have to get to confession, give up something you really like, scrape all your change into the Rice Bowl, do the whole fish on Fridays thing...And if you're like most Catholics, you're trying to get in some extra prayer and spiritual reading.

And it's hard.

There's still the job, and the dog, and soccer practice, and you don't like fish, you really want a piece of chocolate, you're trying hard to be charitable and then you overhear some inane conversation on the bus between two people who are discussing how humans have "devolved" from early Native Americans who totally accepted homosexual activity, and you just want to scream: "You're an idiot!"

Or maybe that's just me.

Lent. It's hard and dreary. It's lonely, even though we're all in it together, we do it alone. Our failures are ours to own. We check the calendar for Easter and spring, and it's so far away. So much time between here and the Resurrectio…

Quiet blogging this week

I am not expecting to get much blogging done this week, as both my daughters are getting their wisdom teeth taken out, and our entire office is moving. Please pray for all involved!

Some really awesome Sisters

Sisters Live in a Modern, Global Community

The sisters in Houston are members of a global community of 90 Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist, founded in 1973, with headquarters in Meriden, Connecticut. As a pontifical community, the order has 12 houses around the world, including places like Assisi, Rome, Jerusalem, Michigan and Oregon.
“Although we’re rather small as religious orders go, we have a very strong connection across the globe, not only with our own sisters, but with the many other religious, priests and lay people with whom we work,” she said. “The blessings of modern technology enhance our ability to share information and stay united.”
The charism of the order is to bring people into relation with the Church through marriage and family counseling, education to the teachings of the Church, and Catholic social services that support the dignity of every human life throughout all developmental stages.
The sisters wear their habit at all times, as a symbol of…

Monday Morning Art Jam

The papal portraitist

How much do you know about the Vatican's official portrait painter? Well, now I know:

1. It's a woman.
2. She has a pet owl.
3. She's Russian.
4. She bought her own red zuchetto (cardinal's cap) because she got tired of borrowing one.


Freakin' Friday Fun

Here in West MI, we are YET AGAIN enjoying a beautiful out-pouring of God's affection in the way of powdery white confection heaped upon us from the Heavens. Amen. Thank you. Please stop.


Totally stealing this from my work blog....

Papal infallibility: it's probably not what you think



Thanks to John Zmirak for not only creating this, but pointing it out to me.

Three Good Things Thursday: the musical edition

1. "I'll Fly Away". Both Dark-Haired Daughter and I love this hymn. Favorite rendition for me is from the soundtrack of "O Brother, Where Art Thou".

2. "The Thief" by Third Day. Especially poignant for Lent.

3. "Dona Nobis Pacem" by Yo Yo Ma.

Should Mahoney stay home from the conclave?

In a word: yes. Most emphatically, yes.

On Monday (Feb. 18) Italy’s main weekly, the Catholic magazine Famiglia Cristiana, put the so-called “Mahony affair” on the home page of its website, quoting the petition by left-leaning group Catholic United calling the prelate to “stay home.”
The magazine also asked its readers to share their thoughts on whether Mahony should attend the conclave. Within hours, the magazine received hundreds of answers via its website, overwhelmingly asking the cardinal not to come to Rome.
“Cardinal Mahony should not only stay home from the conclave but retire to a life of prayer in a monastery,” read one typical comment. “It seems inconceivable to me that he doesn’t feel the moral duty to abstain from the conclave,” read another.
By Tuesday, Mahony’s case was on the front page of most of the main Italian newspapers, prompting the first reactions from within the Vatican.
In an interview with the daily La Repubblica, Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, the…

Total Rip-off Tuesday

Wherein I "rip-off" another writer on the web.  Not taking credit, just sharing good stuff. Today's choice is Kevin Clay at Monkeock on the desert of Lent:


HERMITAGE (POUSTINIA)Biblically speaking, the desert or wilderness is not what we would most likely imagine, such as the Sahara Desert or the Daintree Rainforest. The Hebrew desert or wilderness was a stretch of land used often for the pasturing of sheep and goats, and where wild beasts would dwell. The desert was not totally deprived of vegetation and water or even inhabitants (mainly nomads). The desert even had mountains, caves and streams. Yet, the desert was certainly considered uncultivated, uncivilized, barren and desolate.

The desert or wilderness was known as a place of wandering, hiding, solitude and danger. The desert was also a crucible of trial, temptation, affliction, punishment and purification as a certain rite of passage lasting from 40 days to 40 years.

In the story of Noah, God flooded the earth with 4…

What do you do when you don't know what to do? Pray.

Faithful readers know that my catechetical adventures this year have been a struggle. The kids - no matter what I've tried - are "bored". They find everything "too hard". Games are fine, so long as they don't actually have to know anything. Musical chairs was suggested to me by a student, as opposed to a catechetical trivia game. The most excitement I get is when I let one of them leave to go to the bathroom.

Two weeks ago, I gave them a quiz: list the seven sacraments. We had spent the entire class prior learning these. Mind you, these are 7th graders who have all received at least three of the sacraments, and are preparing for a fourth. Only two kids out of sixteen got all of them; most of the students turned in blank papers.

What do you do when you don't know what to do? Pray. So, I hit my knees.

I knew I needed to rattle them. Shake them up. Let them know that this wasn't some boring stuff they had to learn so they could get that oil on the for…

Monday Morning Art Jam

If Lent is easy, you're doing it wrong

Well, two days into Lent, and there I was: wishing I could have the very thing I had chosen to sacrifice. It would be easy to rationalize having it: "Well, I'll just choose something different" or "Maybe this wasn't the thing I was meant to give up". Of course, that would be wrong, but what's a good rationalization for, anyway?

If Lent is easy, then you're doing it wrong.

We Catholics get asked why we "give something up" for Lent. I suppose there are as many reasons as there are Catholics, but the real reason is this: Christ sacrificed for us, so we sacrifice for Him. Clearly, our small sacrifice comes no where near the enormous sacrifice He made, but it is intended to unite us with Him. We want to be reminded, every time we are tempted to pick up whatever it is we have chosen to put down these 40 days, of Him whom we love: pouring Himself into human form, taking on the devil, putting up with the foibles of humanity, and finally, that hor…

The Truth Behind the "Magdalen Laundries"

During the middle of the 20th century, the Magdalen Laundries became a place of infamy in Ireland. Young women "in trouble" were sent there to work out their penance for their sexual sins, forced to perform menial tasks (such as laundry) and beaten by perverse nuns who sadistically tortured these young women.

Except it didn't happen.

According to Brendan O'Neill (an atheist, by the way) of  The Telegraph UK, it is time to set the record straight:
In the Irish mind, and in the minds of everyone else who has seen or read one of the many films, plays and books about the Magdalene laundries, these were horrific institutions brimming with violence and overseen by sadistic, pervy nuns. Yet the McAleese Report found not a single incident of sexual abuse by a nun in a Magdalene laundry. Not one. Also, the vast majority of its interviewees said they were never physically punished in the laundries. As one woman said, "It has shocked me to read in papers that we we…

Freakin' Friday Fun

How does a pope get picked?

This infographic is from the last conclave, but it gets the point across.


Three Good Things Thursday

1. St. Valentine's Day: a good day to remind all those you love how much they mean to you.

2. Got to head back to my old school and do a little teaching yesterday. Felt great to be back in the classroom, and see some old friends.

3. Watched this clip from Stephen Colbert - schooling knucklehead Gary Wills on the Eucharist.

What are three good things in your life today?

Mardi Gras!

I love Creighton U's online Lenten prayers and resources. Here's a Mardi Gras prayer from them:

Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation,
for it is from your goodness that we have this day
to celebrate on the threshold of the Season of Lent. Tomorrow we will fast and abstain from meat.
Today we feast.
We thank you for the abundance of gifts you shower upon us.
We thank you especially for one another.
As we give you thanks,
we are mindful of those who have so much less than we do.
As we share these wonderful gifts together,
we commit ourselves to greater generosity toward those
who need our support.
Prepare us for tomorrow.
Tasting the fullness of what we have today,
let us experience some hunger tomorrow.
May our fasting make us more alert
and may it heighten o…

Art for Lent

I hope you are planning your Lent well. I am thinking that I'll be using some art to help me with contemplation and prayer. Having access to great art is a wonder of the internet. Here are a few ideas for you.


Total Rip-off Tuesday: getting sucked in to a foreign culture

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

Some thoughts as we head into Lent: what do we do to live in a culture that is hostile to our faith? Here is Joel J. Miller:
 ...the wisdom books called their hearers and readers to recognize that the fear of God was the summit of wisdom — piety and obedience its hallmarks. For Christians, piety and obedience find their fulfillment in a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, the eternal word and wisdom of the Father. It is easy to lose sight of God, to let him slip the mind, to make moral compromises for short-term gains. How much more so when the culture seems stacked against us? Most of us would never say, “If you can’t beat them, join them,” but it’s something we do often enough, regardless. We should return to the pages of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Sirach and remember that all but the wholehearted pursuit of God during our earthly sojourn is vanity.
Such a remembrance i…

Pope abdicates

I am a little busy at work, with the news flying in fast and furious. For the latest on the pope's resignation, go to Acton's Resource Page on this event.

Monday Morning Art Jam

Freakin' Friday Fun

Growing Up With Gramma

My grandmother was pretty old by the time I remember anything about her. She was about 70 when I was born (70 was older then...). I do have very fond memories of her: visiting her home in Detroit and playing on her back stoop, playing cards. My mom says that if there were four people in a room, Gramma would set up a card table. She was a great cook, and a classy dresser.

When I was a young teen, it became apparent to the family that Gramma couldn't live on her own anymore. So, she came to live with us. My mom was working full-time and my sister and I were often charged with Gramma's care: getting her dressed, to the toilet, making her breakfast, etc. She was feisty and often cross, but not a burden in any way. In fact, I think every young teen should have to do this: it taught me an awful lot about charity at an age when selfish was all I wanted to be.

Enter Democratic representative Jim McDermott. He's pushing a Medicaid program (now, I do believe there are people who ne…

What kind of woman.....?

I was reading this on the way to work today (on the bus, people, not while I was driving...geez):

So...I beg you - it is my will in Christ Jesus - make your home in the pulpit of the cross. There be engulfed, lose yourself completely, with insatiable desire. Draw the red-hot knife and strike the devils, seen and unseen, who want continually to disturb your conscience by nipping people's fruit in the bud. Don't give in to this wicked devil - especially now, when it is time for harvesting and sowing. Tell the devil to deal with me instead of you! Forward then, courageously!

St. Catherine of Siena was some kind of woman. I don't know the context of this piece, but she was a papal counselor. I don't know who received this, but what an incredible gift. Can you imagine calling the devil to yourself! I know she was doing this only under the greatest of necessity and she was very close to God - a stigmatist, a reformer, a saint.

Do you have insatiable desire for the Cross? Are…

Three Good Things Thursday

1. My kids make me laugh. In a good way!

2. I love Dear Husband so much. He's struggling with work responsibilities right now, and it's hard to see him stressed. He is such a good man.

3. We are within "spittin' distance"of spring training and opening day: baseball!

What are three good things in  your life today?

Don't even say it...

How Not To Do Lent

Yep, that's right: it's almost Lent. That time of year when McDonald's sell us fish sandwiches, whether we want 'em or not (have you seen the "Fish McBites"? EW - wholly penitential!)

Let's go over a few ways NOT to do Lent.

1. Ignore it. Just forget about it and go about your life as usual. Wake up on Easter Sunday and wonder why the church is so full.

2. Get a Rice Bowl, empty your change every night and call it good. (No, there is nothing wrong with using the CRS Rice Bowl - I encourage it - but if that's all you do....)

3. Think of Lent as the Church's back-up plan to failed New Year's Resolutions or a Godly-inspired method of more healthy eating. Yes, it's good to cut back on sweets or not snack. But Lent is not a weight loss program.

4. Give up something and then LET EVERYONE KNOW YOU'VE GIVEN IT UP. DAILY. A LOT. Be in their face about your sacrifice. Don't let anyone forget about how holy you are.

5. Piously point out that…

Feast of St. Paul Miki and Companions

“Ask Christ to help you become happy. I obey Christ. After Christ’s example, I forgive my persecutors. I do not hate them. I ask God to have pity on all, and I hope my blood will fall on my fellow men as fruitful rain.” - St. Paul Miki

Total Rip-off Tuesday: Sorry, Cardinal Mahoney, not buying it.

I haven't written much about the sex-abuse scandal, mostly because it's too painful and a lot of ink has already been spilled. But this - from Rod Dreher at American Conservative - frosted me this morning:

First, I think we have to always remember that priests are in the business of forgiving sins. It’s a constant in pastoral life, whether in the confessional or not, that people tell you things they’ve done wrong, and reveal their dark sides to you. You learn to suppress your judgement, and always to offer hope and the possibility of a new beginning. If, as a priest, a layman came to me as a sex offender of the most horrible kind, I would swallow my disgust, and try to find some way to help him move forward. It’s part of the job description.

I think this dynamic is at work in bishops dealing with priest offenders. They have in front of them someone who, for all the rotten things he’s done, is still a broken child of God.

The second factor that’s important is that priest…

Still not good enough, Mr. President

Religious liberty groups had multiple objections to the proposal. First, the groups said, religious organizations still will be required to carry an insurance plan that is tied to coverage of contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs. Second, religious employers -- particularly those who are self-insured -- will be acting as "conduits" with health providers to ensure their employees can obtain the drugs. Third, it's unclear who is paying for the "free drugs." As some religious commentators were suggesting: Will insurance companies simply raise rates -- and thereby pass the cost for the abortion-causing drugs on to the religious organization? New HHS rule on abortion mandate 'inadequate'

Catechetical Moanin' and Discouragement

Holding class on Superbowl Sunday: probably not a great idea. However, our fearless leader managed to move the class schedule, bribed kids with a pizza lunch, and I had almost a full class! Yeah! Especially since we were discussing the Eucharist: the MOST IMPORTANT SACRAMENT! Yay!

And I got a classroom of listless teens, watching the clock, telling me the project I planned was "impossible", "too hard", and that they couldn't possibly remember ALL seven sacraments, for crying out loud!

I don't know a whole lot of things, but I do know this: I am a really good teacher. And I am not making a dent in these kids. And that is no one's fault at this point but mine.

So it's back to the drawing board - or the brick wall - as they say. I have to figure out what is going to touch these kids' hearts, stir their souls and get them at least vaguely interested in Heaven, Hell and the fact that Jesus want them to know, love and serve Him.

If you ask them (and …

Monday Morning Art Jam

Infertility

Really thoughtful article on infertility:
The infertile will still be mourning their lack of children this side of the grave, but – as C. S. Lewis made so clear in his writings – everything in this world is just a pale reflection of the realities of Heaven. The biological motherhood and fatherhood, that we are missing in this life, will be given to us a hundredfold in the next. This is not an empty promise, but a reality we can taste here at moments, though it remains opaque in its fullness.
How this spiritual motherhood and fatherhood manifests itself depends on the couple’s vocation. They may be involved in teaching, or saving babies’ lives through their pro-life work, or helping single mothers; they may be doctors, nurses or be giving themselves in other, less visible ways in a Carmel; even picking up a pin-needle out of love for God, as St Thérèse of Lisieux said, can be a salvific act. Hence spiritual parenthood is in reach for everybody.

Freakin' Friday Fun