March Madness - Catholic Style

A little tongue-in-cheek

Things my dad taught me

artist James Weins
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.
  1.  It is never to late to learn. Dad went to college after he retired, and loved every minute of it.
  2. Working with your hands is good for the soul.
  3. Daily exercise is a must.
  4. Being the strong, silent type does not mean you don't love fiercely.
  5. A great dad sets a high standard for his daughter's husband.
  6. The more you learn about nature, the more enjoyable it is.
  7. Service to others is not a "nice thing to do"; it's your obligation to God for the gifts He's given you.
  8. Family is important, and family history is valuable.
  9. A man treats his wife with love, respect and tenderness. Don't settle.
  10. Work hard. Every day. Every day - even when you don't feel like it.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him forever.

Isn't Lent dreary?

photo by Dan Jurak
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 Resurrection.

What to do? Really, there is only one thing to do: pray harder. Pray really hard. Pray for yourself, for your spouse, your family. Pray for those idiots on the bus (okay, I'll pray for the idiots on the bus...) Pray for the Church.

Lent IS dreary. Hell is worse. Pray hard.

Adopt a Cardinal

Love this! With the upcoming conclave, it is so important that we pray for our Church leaders. This website allows you to spiritually adopt a cardinal and pray for him as they choose our next pope. Check it out, and sign up!

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

Franciscan Sisters Honored at Mardi Gras GalaThe 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 something greater than themselves.
“We don’t have other clothes in our closet,” Sister Mary Roberta said. “We’ve never regretted having chosen to maintain a traditional habit. It’s a symbol, a sign of the Church. People know you’re approachable.”

Read more.

Monday Morning Art Jam

"The Last Supper" by Ellen Francis Poisson, OSH

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.


A walk on the wild side: Religion in New York

PBS is airing, this weekend, a journey through the religions of New York City - the most religiously diverse place on earth. Sounds awesome!

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 former head of the Vatican’s Prefecture for Economic Affairs and the pope’s envoy charged with reforming the disgraced Legionaries of Christ, said that “it will be up to (Mahony’s) conscience to decide whether to take part or not.”
De Paolis stressed that there is no formal procedure to stop Mahony from attending the conclave. (Religion News)
There are no two ways about it: Cardinal Mahoney knowingly covered up for pedophiles. He should not be at the papal conclave.

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 40 days and 40 nights of rain. Twice Moses fasted for 40 days and 40 nights on Mount Sinai. For 40 years, Israel wandered in the desert where most of them died. Goliath taunted the Israelites for 40 days before being slain by David. For 40 days and 40 nights, Elijah fasted in his flight through the desert to Mount Horeb where he met God, not in the wind, the earthquake, or the fire, but in the gentle air as a still small voice. The prophet Jonah gave the people of Ninevah 40 days to repent before God was to destroy their city.

For 40 days and 40 nights, Jesus was tempted in the desert before his public ministry. Our Lord spent 40 days after the Resurrection before his Ascension. And for the past 40 years of the so-called “post-Conciliar era” (post-Vatican II), the Church has been wandering in its own “desert” still trying the find its way to the promise of a new Pentecost.

In short, the desert or wilderness was a jungle fit for wild animals and strangers, and a sort of hermitage or half-way house for the prophet and pilgrim. The desert or wilderness was a battlefield for spiritual warfare, and it was a holy ground for divine encounters. With such an understanding, it is not difficult to see the desert or wilderness as a figure and type of the monastery, the monastic way, and the monk himself. In fact, the Latin rendering of desert in the Vulgate is solitudo, where we get the word solitude. And this is what the word “monk” means – “alone”.

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 forehead and be done with all this boring Church stuff.

I prayed for each one of them. I prayed for guidance. I prayed for an answer.

God is good. He led me to a friend of a friend, who happens to be a near-by youth minister. She brought in some of her core team last night to evangelize.

The skit they started with was a powerful one. A young man, in line for confession, is telling his friend that he doesn't really care about confession; his mom is making him go. He doesn't really believe in this stuff, and he hates telling his sins to some priest he's going to judge him. So he and his friend devise a plan that he will simply make up a bunch of sins: stealing an old man's walker, spitting on food at the hamburger joint where he works, etc.

He heads in to the confessional, and starts to rattle off his "sins". The priest catches on, and before he will give the young man absolution, tells him he must go kneel in front of the crucifix and tell Jesus: "You died for my sins, and I don't give a damn."

Of course, the young man thinks this is nuts, but out he goes. The first time, he blurts out, "Jesus, you died for my sins, and I don't give a damn." Then, looking up at the crucifix, he mumbles, "Jesus, you died for my sins...and I don't give a damn." Finally, he bows his head in shame: "Jesus, you died for my sins, and I....don't give...a damn."

Humbled, he walks back to the confessional, makes a good confession and receives absolution.

I told my students at the end of the evening that it was their choice to give a damn. When we stand before God, he will ask us, "Did you know Me? Did you love Me? Did you serve Me?" I told them I can't love God for them, and I can't serve God for them, but I can help them know God....and I hope they will give a damn.

Here is to prayer.

Monday Morning Art Jam

Temptation of Christ - J. Kirk Richards

If Lent is easy, you're doing it wrong

Risen One - artist Sommer Roman
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 horrible, agonizing trudge up Calvary, cross on His shoulders, only to be killed in a most gruesome fashion. All that we may have life.

Our Lenten sacrifice is supposed to keep us in mind of that, more so than usual, as we pick our way gingerly through prayer, sacrifice and alms. We hope that, come Easter, we will be able to truly celebrate the Resurrection, having gained some minor knowledge of Christ that we did not have before, all because we chose a hard Lent.

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 were beat and our heads shaved and that we were badly treated by the nuns… I was not touched by any nun and I never saw anyone touched." The small number of cases of corporal punishment reported to McAleese consisted of the kind of thing that happened in many normal schools in the 1960s, 70s and 80s: being caned on the legs or rapped on the knuckles. The authors of the McAleese Report, having like the rest of us imbibed the popular image of the Magdalene laundries as nun-run concentration camps, seem to have been taken aback by "the number of women who spoke positively about the nuns".
And yet, despite the fact that the McAleese Report has utterly exploded the popular view of these laundries, some are wondering out loud if it was nonetheless legitimate and good to have produced so many embellished stories about evil nuns in recent years, as a way of highlighting the broader culture of abuse in the Catholic Church. As The Irish Times ponders: "Are factual inaccuracies in movies justified by role in highlighting issues?" The Times cites campaigners for justice who believe that "the role such [movies and books] played in highlighting the issue justified any artistic embellishment". A playwright told the paper that even if these portrayals of laundry life were exaggerated, they "served an important function at the time" – that is, to raise awareness about the problem of abuse in Catholic life more broadly.
Nice to know that so many good names were ruined in the name of "artistic license".

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 our consciousness
so that we might be ready to hear your Word
and respond to your call.
As our feasting fills us with gratitude
so may our fasting and abstinence hollow out in us
a place for deeper desires
and an attentiveness to hear the cry of the poor.
May our self-denial turn our hearts to you
and give us a new freedom for 
generous service to others.
We ask you these graces
with our hearts full of delight
and stirring with readiness for the journey ahead.
We ask them with confidence
in the name of Jesus the Lord.

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.

Man of Sorrows - Memling    
artist Diane Walker
Remove the Sandals From Your Feet - Veryle Lynn Cox
Memory - James A. Magnum

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 is the only way to avoid becoming absorbed by the world, rather than serving as salt and light in the world.


Growing Up With Gramma

Artist Gregory Myrick
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 need help with health care, so don't go all socialist on me), but here is how he's doing it. He's asking us to pity him because of his grandmother:

When I grew up, my grandmother had four daughters, and she spent three months with each one of them. And she had no Medicare, she had no Social Security. And she lived with her daughters. And we took care of her. I mean, I got thrown out of my bedroom. My bedroom became grandma's bedroom, I slept on the couch in the living room, because that's the way families took care of their seniors before 1964.

Now we have a Medicare program, where my father -- and my father lived to 93, my mother to 97 -- and my brothers and sisters and I did nothing for them, except pay their taxes.
"I got thrown out of my bedroom"? "I did nothing for them"? Well, Jim...that wouldn't fly in my family. (In my family, unless you're paying the mortgage, it isn't "your" bedroom, anyway.)

My gramma was not a burden but a blessing. We got up in the middle of the night when she needed to use the toilet, listened to her talk in German at the dinner table, made her eggs with salsa, combed her hair and painted her nails. Was it fun? No. Was it something two teenage girls wanted to do every day? No.  Is it something every family can do? No.

Was it right? Yes. Was it a blessing? Yes. Poor Jim: he just can't see that. I hope his grandmother never knew how he felt.

What kind of woman.....?

The Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine of Siena - J. W. Waterhouse
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 you ready to strike at demons? Are you giving in where you shouldn't? Forward then, courageously!

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...

Louis C. K.

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 others should not be eating chocolate/drinking beer/watching tv because it's Lent. "Oh, you didn't give that up for Lent....? Huh..." Let them know that you're just a little bit better than that. Not in a smug way, of course. It's for their own good. (Especially do this for your Protestant friends, family and co-workers.)

6. Overload yourself with Lenten righteousness. Give up chocolate, swear off alcohol, no snacking, pray the Office, get up early for daily Mass before work, read 15 books on prayer and saints, search out Stations of the Cross at every parish within driving distance and try to hit those at least four times a week.....You get the idea. Can you say "burn-out"?

7. Choose a Lenten sacrifice that will be on hard on everyone around you. I speak from experience. Gave up chocolate one year and at Easter, Dear Husband said wearily, "Don't ever do that again..."

8. Figure if you're giving something up, you're set. Forget that Lent is three-pronged: sacrifice, prayer, alms.

9. Do exactly the same thing you've always done for Lent. Don't shake things up, don't do anything new or different. Don't ask God what HE would like your Lent to look like.

10. Forget to unite yourself with Christ during Lent. This is really all about you, right?

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 priests generally don’t grasp the seriousness of the offense, and the damage it does. We see this in Cardinal Mahony, but it’s not just him. I wish I knew why this was so. It seems to me common sense that assaulting children sexually or otherwise damages them.
The attitude lingers, largely, because even now most clerics haven’t heard a victim’s story. I was revolted by these things from the first moment I heard of them, but it wasn’t until I dealt with a victim that my reaction became visceral. Abp. Myers probably hasn’t had a real conversation with a victim, or a victim’s parent, and so the damage done is still abstract.

It’s a matter of proximity. A broken priest directly in front of you vs. a victim who you perceive as somebody who’s just angry and demanding, but not somebody you have daily contact with.

To which I reply: Oh, REALLY? Try to help an offending priest "move forward"? Would that include turning himself into the authorities and removing him immediately from his priestly duties? And Cardinal Mahoney isn't grasping the "seriousness" of the offense? Again: Oh, REALLY?? Sex abuse doesn't register as serious. And trust me, there is no such thing as damage done "in the abstract" and any priest who has spent more than five minutes hearing confessions knows that.

Not buying it. Shame, shame, shame.

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 I have), what must be done to get to Heaven, they will say, "Be nice." (And everyone they know is nice.) To go to Hell, you must be Hitler - or his equivalent. However, ask them to name and tell you about a saint, and they go blank. Ask them what "grace" is (and we've been over this), and they can't tell you, nor how one might obtain grace.

Heavy, heavy sigh.

Okay, time to go back over what I've been doing and re-do. Re-think. Re-imagine. MUST get this right. MUST make sure something gets through. MUST teach God's truth. MUST pray, pray, pray for each of these young souls.

Monday Morning Art Jam

Sleeping Drinker - Pablo Picasso

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


Always Faithful

We went to Mass last night, and had an older priest. In his homily, he exhorted us to "semper paratus:" Be prepared. The Gospel,...