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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Attire for Mass

This post is not likely to be what you think it is.

This morning at Mass, I saw a man walking up the aisle with his two little girls, both dressed in what appeared to be dance constumes. They had short skirts, glittery tops, and they of course, matched. The girls were of different ages. Now, the dance costumes were quite cute, but to myself, I grumbled about "innapropriate attire" for Mass.

Then I thought back to when I was a little girl, and I almost giggled out loud!

I realized that the man with the little girls did not have his wife with him, and that could serve as an explanation.

When I was a little girl, usually Mom dressed me in the morning for Mass. Well, one night she had to work so my Dad, himself a Lutheran, had to agree to bring my brother and I to Church in the morning, and she would meet us there. She did not have time to come home and still make it to Mass on time.

So that Saturday evening, I told Dad that I wanted to dress myself. He was affable to this, having no idea that Mom usually "assisted" in this matter.

Well, the next morning, I got prepared for Mass. I picked out my favorite dress, then as I was about to put it on, I realized that it had buttons. No problem. I just put the buttons in the front. I didn't want to need any help and I didn't see why it mattered where the buttons went. After all, it was a dress. (It was also a summer dress and it was winter outside, snow included).

I solved the problme of the light cotton shift...I wore my leg-warmers. I wanted to be sure to stay warm!

I think I also wore either a cardigan of a clashing color, or maybe a knitted poncho.

And I wore my purple moon boots. I LOVED my purple moon boots.

I was SO proud of my outfit! I dressed myself and I didn't need any help at all!

So we trooped into Mass, and when I saw Mom standing just outside the sanctuary, I flew into her appalled arms and announced loudly, "Mommy! I dressed myself!"

She, and everyone in the whole church knew it when we entered with my very embarassed mother. There wasn't time to go to the bathroom to correct my backwards dress, and so she was forced to take me to Mass attired as I was.

As I understand it, she was very upset with my father, the poor man, who had been duped by a child and of course thought that my outfit was hilarious. He was highly entertained by my antics. Mom...not so much.

I wasn't allowed to dress myself for a very long time.

And so I considered that father at Mass today, and my heart goes out to him...clearly he was talked into letting his little girls dress like ballerinas today, and maybe he was relieved, least they were wearing skirts.

So the next time you see a single parent (sorry guys, but especially a single father) at Mass with improperly attired children, try to stifle your giggles and cut the guy a break...he likely got outsmarted, and maybe thinks that his daughters are the cutest things he's ever seen!

For myself, I was "Daddy's Girl" and I think that helped me in my manipulation of the family system...fathers, beware your little girls!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Until Further Notice....

...The desert is being relocated to the upper Midwest.

I've visited the desert, and truth be told, I fell in love. So much so that I considered putting in for a transfer so that I could spend more time there. Although I hate tarantulas (spiders in general and those are HUGE), and even though scorpions creep me out and leave a painful bite, I was completely enraptured when I experienced the desert.

Of course, those times I spent in the Phoenix, AZ area were limitd to September, October, and April, and of course, that's probably the best time of year to be there.

I came to realize, though, that God provides us air conditions for roughly 7-8 months out of the year in the form of winter, and as a lover of flying down a hill as quickly as possible on two waxed pieces of wood and composites, I cannot live in the desert.

Well, apparently Arizona missed me, for he has come to visit. Sorry, all. I didn't realize that the enrapturement went both ways.

In this drought we are experiencing, it takes nothing to kick up a dust devil and I think a tumbleweed attacked my dog on our walk this morning. The grass is quickly browning and the 100 degree heat has convinced me that I'm not so much a desert kind of girl...I'm more of a winter type of girl. Or fall. I love fall. (Not fall-ing, mind you, just fall, as in autumn). I love crisp 50 degree weather with the changing leaves littering the ground and floating on the breeze. I love the fact that here in MN, spiders don't grow to the size of coyotes, and scorpions are creatures made to be sealed into paperweights.

The only thing that doesn't really fit with the desert heat is the humidity. I've experienced Puerto Escondido, Mexico (it was dry there, too), but at least we had the ocean to swim in and the morning and evening breeze coming of the ocean was refreshing in comparison to the hot, humid puffs of air we currently experience.

They were saying in the last "heat wave" (which has not really left) that it's been 11 years since we experienced the triple digits up here, and in fact, I remember that day because I got heat exhaustion. I went on my typical 3 mile run, although I walked a lot that day. But I was dehydrated to start out with and too stupid and prideful to quit. I thought that when I grew tired I was only having a bad day and I hit "the wall". I pushed myself by continuing to my turn around point, when I should have stopped long before.

I was so hot that I took my headphones off...even they bothered me. I had never before realized how little shade there was on that road, and of course, I had no idea that the heat had surpassed 100 degrees. At some point, my head pounding, blackness crowding in at the edge of my vision, I realized that something was wrong. And although I desperately wanted to sit down, I also realized that there wasn't a lot of traffic and I needed to get I kept walking, one foot in front of the other.

When I walked into my air-conditioned apartment, I hit the floor and just laid there for awhile...actually on the edge of consciousness.

Knowing what I know now, I should have been in a hospital.

I'm feeling much better now. *wink*

Of course, I learned something that day...check the weather report! It was 102 with dew points in the upper 90's, and I had no business going for a run that day. What an idiot.

The following summer was hot as well, and I remember it well because I had law enforcement training and lived in a shabby apartment without AC...and I did a LOT of outdoor running that summer! Of course, having nearly killed myself the summer prior, I knew better than to run when it was too hot, and even our instructors modified the regimen on certain afternoons.

I do prefer the desert heat to the midwestern heat, although I'd far rather live in good old Minnesota, even with our harsh winters, than, say, in "Hotlanta". (hat-tip to my friends in Atlanda).

Thus ends my commentary on the present state of the weather in my state.

I'm getting redundant in my vocabulary now so I guess it's time to go to sleep so I can regenerate new words like the one I thought I made up this week..."pursual" only to find that it's in the dictionary. *sigh*.

I need a nap. Good night!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

If These People only Understood....They Would Come HOME

I read this article in the local Strib today, and it made my heart ache for those who truely don't understand. They are seeking healing, and perhaps they are recieving it, for the Lord is merciful and our seperated bretheren also share in salvation, as members of the Church.

But if they only realized they could reach Jesus himself...they could literally kneel or lie prostate at his actual feet...if they could recieve his physical presence, every day if they wanted, and even more than once!

Here is the link to the full article, but I am going to pull out only a few highlights for your consideration.

Adolphus, who grew up Catholic in Long Island, N.Y., recently joined Cedar Valley, a 2,000-member Assemblies of God church.

"I'd always been a Christian, but more and more I felt drawn to Jesus himself," she said, and to Pentecostal worship.

She says she grew up Catholic and is drawn to Jesus himself...apparently she was not taught that Jesus is fully present in the Eucharist, body, blood, soul, and divinity. He is not present, physically, in the Pentecostal church, where she is seeking emotional response. Jesus is NOT about emotion...he is reality, he is true, and he is PRESENT in EVERY tabernacle in EVERY Catholic Church.

As far as Pentecostal worship...she can find what she is describing in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, and learn that the Lord does not need our emotions in order to heal our souls, although He welcomes our emotions as gifts in worship to Himself.

I'm first to admit I'm an emotional person...I'm a complete crybaby. Sometimes, when the Blessed Sacrament is brought out, I recognize Jesus deep within my soul, and I can do nothing by cry. I can't stop the tears and words defy me. Jesus doesn't need my words for he already knows my wounds.

And so I say to people such as Ms. Adolphus, COME HOME! If you are looking for Jesus, and you seek his presence, COME HOME, He is WAITING FOR YOU WITH OPEN ARMS!

The Rev. Bob Battle, who leads 200 Pentecostal believers at St. Paul's Berean Church, part of the Church of God in Christ denomination, said credit for Pentecostalism's growth should go to the Holy Spirit.

"Jesus lived in a particular place and time, but the Holy Ghost is everywhere, all the time," he said. "He dwells within us and does things that marvel man."

I think that it just proves that the Holy Spirit can still work through those who have historically rejected the Church, and proves that the Lord does not will anyone into Hell...He reaches out to people where they are, and if they are paying attention, and truly seeking, they will find their way to Rome. But they must be called Home...only God knows how this works. The rest of us can only pray.

I do have to call attention to this: yes, Jesus lived in a particular place and time, and He sent his Advocate, the third person of the Trininty, to dwell within us...but He is still present with us, physically. He is in the Eucharist, the Blessed Sacrament and remains with us. Remember the apostles recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread, as do we. He is there, He is present, even today. Jesus himself has never left us, and we only understand this THROUGH the Advocate.

There is no doubt that these are our brothers and sisters...and as Catholics, we have to understand how we can help bring them home. They are sincere in their beliefs, and sincere in their worship, and God honors sincerity. He does not hold them responsible for what they have not been taught.

It is our place as Catholics to live as an example, and love people into the Church; to help them understand that Jesus is here, He is fully present, and that no matter what they worship style or favorite spirituality, they have a home in the Church.

Let us pray these people home, my friends...they are our relatives and the Lord is holding a special place for them at the feast we all celebrate...every day.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Disordered Objectification

I deal with crime victims and fraudmongers. That's what I get paid to do. And I don't know how much of my tongue will be missing when God finally gets me out of this job.

Some time ago, I blogged about a man from Iraq, a fan of Saddam Hussein, who compared his car being stolen to someeone having sex with his wife. He said he would not want her anymore after this, and actually SAID that it was like someone was having sex with his car.

(I wish I could banish the mental image that came so unbidden!)

I was offended by this...highly offended, but given his political and moral hero, I let it go realizing that the man may very well be deranged due to his cultural origins and political indoctrination, and thus perhaps he had reason (although wrong) for his disordered thought.

Then just this week, I spoke with a man, AMERICAN grew up here, and he said nearly the same thing. He compared his car to his girlfriend. He said that he wasn't sure that he would want his car back because it felt like the same thing as someone having sex with his girlfriend. He stopped just short of saying that it's like someone having sex with his car. I simply interrupted him and moved on to the next item of business.

I had to tightly reign in my very strong desire to reach through the phone, grab this asshole by the throat and explain to him that as a woman, I am not an object, neither is his girlfriend. 'Scuse the French, and no offense to those from France.

I would like to make something very, very very clear:

* A car is an object. It is a thing that is thus acted upon in order to be of any use at all.

* A woman is NOT an object. She is a person, and she has priceless value which does not require being acted upon in order to make her valuable.

Has this been understood by everyone? A WOMAN IS *NOT* AN OBJECT!

If your house is broken into, if your wallet is stolen, if your car, motorcycle, etc., is stolen, and you DARE to compare this to someone having sex with your girlfriend or wife, then you have a very serious problem. This is so disordered it is far beyond words.

Anyone who compares their girlfriend or wife to an object has clearly underscored the fact that they have objectified this priceless woman in their life. They have proven what Pope John Paul the Great said in Theology of the Body, and it PROVES beyond a doubt that radical feminism has failed. It PROVES that the prolific use of sex to define a relationship, and ourselves in relation to another or to ourselves has done NOTHING but deman us from being human to being mere objects.

Men, the women in your life are not cars, and if you see them as such, it proves you are using them. Stop doing this, take a serious self-inventory, amd realize that men and women who do not treat each other as objects are infinitely healthier in mind, body, and soul.

If you are one of these people who compares the car or other object to the woman, then realize you are living a double standard. Most of us own cars which have had other owners. Most people have multiple sexual partners in today's culture, thus the woman (or man) comes already "used". This has done nothing to further the value of life in our society, but rather, demeans it so completely so as to make it comparable only to whatever handy thing can be used and discarded without another thought.

If anyone ever again makes the mistake of making this satanic comparison, damn the recorder and damn the professionalism that censures my sharing of the truth. I'm not sure I can afford to lose another piece of my tongue just to keep my job...for without a tongue to speak to God's glory, then what good am I?

Oh, that's right...I'm a woman. As a woman I have infinite value. I cannot be compared to a heifer, a cow, a car, or a house. I am worth far more, and if you can't bother to buy me a ring, then your value as a man ain't even worth the ground I walk on.

This is a two way street...we need to bring respect for ourselves, our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit, and respect for each other back into the culture.

Maybe the culture won't value us, and maybe we'll go dateless or husbandless or wifeless for taking the high moral ground. But Jesus never said it would be easy...he only said that He'd be with us. So let's all get a backbone and if you hear anyone in your life spitting out the vile trash that betrays their objectification of people in their lives they claim to care about, then let them have it with both verbal barrels. This cannot continue in our culture. We are children of God, and we should start behaving as the royalty we are, as opposed to the barbarians we have so often chosen to be.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Bible is Patriarchal and Oppressive to Women

"The Bible and Christianity are Patriarchal, demeaning, and oppressive to women. Christianity is intolerant to women and thus women should revolt against this ideology."

How many of us have heard the above claims? How many of us have looked to scripture to read it for ourselves, and have been outraged by, for example, the directives of the apostle Paul when he stated that women must be quiet and are not allowed to teach?

How accurate are these claims?

Let us look to the Bible itself for the answers.

If we look at historical fact, throughout the Bible, men were the heads of families and were the leaders. Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, Joseph. Thus, it stands to reason and historical fact that the Bible is indeed patriarchal. But does this necessarily mean that women are oppressed and demeaned?

Let us look to Genesis 1:26-27

"Then God said 'Let us make man in our image, after our likemess, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air..'

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them"

Notice the references here and the wording: God created not just MAN, but MAN AND WOMAN in HIS image; He created a MARRIED COUPLE to reflect God. This is the Divine Institution not only of the life of humankind, but of marriage, and women was included in this Divine plan. It was not Adam alone, but Eve who made up God's image, and thus, women are a part of this creation story, not demeaned but fully equal in the benefits provided by God. Arguing the idea that the male gender was created first is like twins arguing about who is greater due to which emerged first from the womb. They were created equally and with the intention of reflecting God's image in their own union, man and wife.

Genesis 2 discusses Eve's role as "helper", but what does this mean? Does this mean that woman is designed to be only a servant?

If we look to the rest of the Bible and the use of the word "helper" we see that this word has a deeper meaning and should not be taken at face value. Remember that society and culture changes the meanings of words to fit their culture and thus the original meaning may be lost. This is why the full context of the Bible and the history surrounding the Bible must be called upon in order to understand these words which we incorrectly take for granted.

Throughout the Old Testament, God himself is referred to as "helper". Only page through the Psalms to see this reference over and over again. If we, then decide that in Genesis that "helper" is demeaning and signifies that Eve is submissive to Adam in value, then do we then change the interpretation of "helper" in the Psalms and other books and interpret that God is also submissive to Adam?

How ridiculous an idea!

The reality is that we need to consider this context and realize that the denotion "helper" or "helpmate" refers to the fulfillment of divine orchestration; women are not submissive, but are even more like God than is Adam for we are compared to God in our very "helper" to the "Adams" in our lives.

Let us move forward to the Fall.

Notice that the serpent, Satan, went to Eve, not to Adam. Did Eve ever confer with Adam when the serpent suggested she partake of the forbidden fruit, as would a submissive partner? No, she makes the decision on her own, and in fact, she ATTEMPTS TO RESIST the persuasiveness of the serpent. When she does partake of the fruit, and then offers it to Adam, does he resist?

NO! Adam does whatever Eve tells him to do, and he does not resist. He does not reiterate what God directly told him, and what he then related to Eve...he simply obeys Eve and partakes of the fruit he knows is forbidden.

Later, when God confronts Adam, Adam acts like a typical male as we know them today, and he blames Eve. He takes no responsibility and in fact, we realize that he DID NOT EVEN BOTHER TO RESIST when he KNEW the act of eating the fruit was wrong! ADAM was given the command not to eat the fruit first, not Eve, and yet he does not resist when she offers it to him!

This actions displays the chasm created by the fall; that sin seperates relationships not only from God, but from each other.

How, exactly, is this reality oppressive to women?

Does it not show the power women have OVER men? Do you realize why the serpent went to Eve? Because he recognized Eve's role in God's Divine plan...and that if he got to her, he automatically had Adam.

For a more contemporary reference, look to "My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding."

In that movie, Tula wants to go to school but her pleas are met with resistance and a chauvenistic attitude on the part of her father. But Tula's mother stepped in and she hugged Tula, comforting her, explaining she understood. She told the young woman, "The Man? He is the head. But the woman...she is the neck. And she can turn the head any way she wants."

I'm certain that this movie did not set out to reveal to modern audiences the true role of Woman in God's Divine plan, but just the same, this line sets it up pretty well. Men may be the heads of households, and they may be the leaders...but have you not heard it said that behind every man is a good woman? Without us, men would be nothing but so much dust.

Unfortunately, that means we hold the higher we have the "greater" role in God's divine plan, we also must be cognizant of our authority and our power, and use it wisely. I do not mean to say that God created women as a higher order to men, but rather, within the context of our own specific role in salvation history. That's actually a topic for another post.

If we skip forward to the New Testament, the Wedding at Caana, we see Mary's role even more clearly. Remember how she asks Jesus to do something when the wine runs out. Jesus says to her, "Woman, what have you to do with me? My hour is not yet come."

And like a good Jewish mother [tongue in cheek here], she ignores him and tells the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."

Jesus, the humble and obedient son he is, submits to his mother and he orders the servants to bring him the water, which he subesquently changes into wine.

Clearly, Mary knew who Jesus was (as though she was informed by an angel that she would carry the Messiah!), and as a good mother, and a good woman in fulfillment of God's plan for her role, she pushed Jesus into his ministry. He protested...and she pushed. Good mothers push. Men, take note.

Because of Mary's influence, Jesus performed his first miracle. Look at how this mirrors and reverses the actions of Eve:

* Eve was approached by and seduced by the serpent to FALL from grace; she was the catalyst and the beginning of sin. She had free will, and she gave in to sin rather than obedience to God. She gave in to pleasure and pride.

* Mary was approached by and recieved the message of an angel of God to RECIEVE the grace of bringing the messiah into the world; that is, the cure for sin. She had free will, and she accepted with her fiat in obedience to God. She offered her own suffering in humility and love.

Now, I realize there is a great deal more to the story of the Wedding at Caana...after all, it is one of the two pillars upon which the Gospel of John rests! As that is not my current topic, I will not go into further detail within the context of women in the Church but you may find more on this post which focuses specifically on John 2:1-11.

Moving on, we look at Jesus Christ's Passion. All of the apostles, all of them male, (all but one, John,) fled when Jesus was persecuted. They could not watch. They feared for their lives, and although they had promised fidelity, they fled. So much for the strong, brave patriarchy of the Bible!

I'm afraid that the "Bible" displayed nothing but the nature of men...a bunch of cowards who ran away when the chips were down! I do not mean to demean men at all and I fear by that statement that I have ruffled feathers, but consider the Biblical context here in reference to the nature God has given us all, respectively as men and women.

It was the women who remained at the foot of the Cross. It was Jesus's mother, Mary, the other Mary, and Mary Magdalene who remained at the foot of the Cross, with only the Apostle John, the beloved disciple.

And it was Mary Magdalene who went early to the tomb and discovered the greatest event in history...the Resurrection of Jesus. It was not a was a woman.

In that time period, women were not considered to be reliable and they were not allowed to be witnesses in court. Yet Jesus used women as his strongest witnesses, and it was women who were a part of his greatest works.

Jesus directed Mary to bring the apostles to a particular location, so we see that he relied on women to bring the men to him. He relied on the women, to whom he has given a special gift of faith, to bring the men to him to become spiritual leaders.

Men did not do this on their own, and they disbelieved, they questioned, and they ran from the conflict...but the women gathered them and lead them back to Jesus.

Now, one major issue is St. Paul himself:  He really comes across as a big chauvenist pig, doesn't he?! our interpretation accurate?

In 1 Timothy 2: 11-13, Paul says, "Let a woman learn in silence with al submissiveness. I permit no wman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve, and Adam was not decieved , but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. yet woman will be saved through bearing children. If she continues in faith and love and holiness, with modesty."

It seems that Paul is saying that women should remain silent, barefoot, and pregnant. Is he really?

Consider the historical context: Paul wrote this letter for a specific purpose. In that time period, women were not educated and were not allowed to be educated, yet Paul is stating very clearly that he was allowing women to learn. The rest of the statement is not about domination of women, but is a discussion of proper behavior. The men, long accustomed to education, knew how to behave in a classroom. The women did not and were quite unruly. Who could blame them?

In our culture, we learn early how to behave in a classroom, but if we were deprived of the right to education, would we not be excited at the opportunity and would not our inappropriate reaction be classified as unruliness? Would we not need to be taught proper manners?

This is the case here. Paul is not saying that women cannot learn and cannot teach...he is explaining to them the etiquette of the classroom.

As for the authority...well, it would not be proper in that society for a woman to be publicly teaching with her husband as a student. This would be considered to be scandalous. A woman could teach a man, but she could not appear to have authority over her husband, specifically, in public. Again, this is an instruction in etiquette.

Let us also remember that women are encouraged to be celibate, as are men, for the sake of the kingdom of God. 1 Cornithians 7 disusses marriage and the single life, and this was revolutionary. Women in that time period were considered to be property; first of her father, then of her husband. Yet Christianity changed this; women in Christianity were given options and they learned that they had the right to choose not to marry; not to be property, but rather, to give their lives to God and remain single and celibate.

Let's remove the romance from the idea of history; women did not have a choice in marriage and they did not marry for "love". They married because they were forced to marry. Consider maybe a local businesman or some neighbor...maybe you are 17 or 15, or even 20...and he is 56, fat, hairy and not at all attractive. And in Biblical times, people didn't bathe a lot. Yuck. Yet you have to marry him and become his property. And maybe he has a heavy hand, or maybe he's completely self-absorbed but makes eyes at you every time he sees you. Is your skin crawling yet?

If you lived prior to Christianity, your only option to escape a life with this man would be death...otherwise, be prepared for your marriage bed because he's about to own you.

Christianity changed this...not only did Christianity propose an option to the bloody, sacrificial and self-indulgent idols of the time and give a message of hope and freedom, but it restored the dignity of women and revealed God's plan. The pagans were very disturbed by this...they liked having control, and they liked the idea they could buy the local village virgin for themselves. Women obtained freedom through Jesus and His Word, and they learned they could choose celibacy...and escape from false authority over their bodies and lives.

The next time someone claims that Christianity is patriarchal and that Christianity is demeaning to women, hand them a Bible and explain to them God's Divine plan and the evidence within the text which so clearly refutes their claims. Men and women are co-equal in God's plan of salvation; we each have clearly defined roles, clearly defined natures, and each one of us is called to live out God's plan within this context.

It's not about men versus's about men and women together, reflecting the glory of God for eternity!

EDITOR'S NOTE: The above information was obtained at a talk by Dr. Mary Healy at the Called to Lead Conference in Wayzata, MN, 2006.

I am not a theologian, and I have never had the opportunity to attend a Bible study, so boy howdy, I'm like a kid in a candy store! If there are errors in theology in this post, please help me correct them, even better if you have Biblical references to fit the correct context.

UPDATE: 1-23-2010:  I graduated from Ave Maria University with a Masters in Theological Studies in June, 2010. Guess I'm a theologian now.  ;-)  Having read through this old post, it still stands and perhaps another is forthcoming when I get a round tuit.  ;-)   This remains one of my most statistically popular posts, ever since it was first posted.

The Called to Lead Conference

I just need to say that I'm extremely disappointed in the conference in only one regard...not enough local Catholics attended. Most of the people I met were from OTHER STATES!

This is completely unacceptable, and I am now demanding that all you locals put this conference on your calender for next July. Believe you me, this is a conference well worth attending and I told the pastor at my parish that he needs to send people next year. Then I gave him one of the CD's made from a talk given by Mother Assumpta on the Virtues of a Parish leader as a fine example of what to expect at this conference.

There are three different "tracks", or categories that the various talks fall into; Leadership, Scripture, or Evangelization. I attended talks in all three categories and honestly, I'm still trying to intellectually digest what I have learned, and whenever I think about it, I am set on fire. I can't wait to share this knowledge, but I want to do it in a way that will make sense.

This conference is all about sending us out to carry out the Word to others in whatever capacity we may need to fulfill. It is designed to assist our own mental and spiritual health if we work in parish ministry, or to bolster our knowledge of scripture whether personally or in the context of formal Bible Study leadership. We are all called to be evangelists, and thus all categories actually fall under this heading. Truth be told, they are all one and the same...we cannot preach the Gospel to others without being an evangelist. We are all leaders in some way, even if only in the home for our children, or at work, in speaking to an individual. We are called to lead others to Jesus Christ, and boy howdy, I am ready to GO! :-)

My plan at this point is to highlight some of the talks I attended in order to pass on some of this invaluable information. I am purchasing some of the CD's because the knowledge contained within is well worth hearing again..and again...and again.

Those of you who know me can expect to be able to borrow some of these CD's...and once you do, realize that you will WANT to come to this conference next year. It's not possible to know enough about our faith...we need to be constantly learning because that is what keeps the fire of the Holy Spirit burning within us. And that fire is visible to others, which of course draws them to us...and we call those who are drawn to us "converts".

Point taken? Good.

I will summarize with one final point.


Yours, in Christ Jesus

Friday, July 14, 2006

A brief interlude

I was going to blog about the Called to Lead conference I am attending this weekend, but I feel called to discuss something else. The issue is this...I think I need to spend some time thinking about what I learned today, and perhaps then I can present it in a more informative and thoughtful manner. In the meantime, I'm going to talk about one of my favorite movies.

The Green Mile, by Stephen King

Of course, the book is better, but I have absolutely ZERO complaints about the movie.

I read somewhere that Stephen King can actually be considered to be one of the great American writers due to his ability to capture a time period in our history in such a way that it provides a snapshot. We understand the picture and those who lived in those time periods find the descriptions accurate.

That said, let's talk about my subject. I read this book in college, and loved it, and when the movie came out, I stood in line to see it.

For those who don't know the storyline or perhaps have been scared away thinking it's a horror assured, it is not a horror. Parts are horrible, yes, and that is because they show a bit of truth about the lives we live and the attitudes expressed...and when we face those attitudes in full color, the only correct response is to be horrified.

The story takes place on death row and features a very special inmate...a man given a special gift from God, one he takes seriously, and because of where this gift lead him, he is condemned for a crime he did not committ. And we went as a lamb to the slaughter.

This movie does not make apologies for or attempt to excuse the crimes committed by the death row inmates. It does not discuss the moral implications of the death penalty, but only accepts the reality in this place as a foregone conclusion, one we must accept in order to become one with the plot and identify with the main character.

The people who work on "the Mile", the term for Block E, or death row, are filled with compassion and walk each day carrying the weight of what they do for a living and we see them as people; as good men forced to deal with reality and still carrying on.

The movie does not discuss religion, but there is no question of God or His existance. There is no question about the reality of consequences, for their jobs are all about consequences.

There is a point in the movie where Percy, the guy who causes all the problems (where is a story without an active antagonist?) attends his first execution. Afterwards, he is alone with the body and he makes snide remarks towards the deceased man, and is caught in the act.

One of the guards snatches him away from the corpse and demans that Percy let him be, stating, "He's paid what he owed; he's square with the house again!"

This sums up one of the issues I love about this movie...all of the characters have their dignity and their humanity. Even approaching and after the completion of the state-ordered death, they are treated with respect.

There is a point in the movie which never fails to make me cry; the execution of Delacroix, the botched execution. Those who have seen the movie know what I'm talking about...we almost must watch, for the brutality of capital punishment is addressed here; the inhumanity and the reality that once the switch is thrown, mercy is gone...the only mercy is to keep going and face the consequences. It is then that the irony of the comments of the witnesses is realized and even they cannnot stomach the reality of what they wished for upon learning of the murders by this very man of their loved ones.

And then the main character...the protagonist. A gift from God, a man with little intelligence, but a large, humble heart and healing hands. Religion is never discussed, although we get the impression of Christianity given the context of the movie, and even Catholicism, in the case of one lady who is healed by this man.

It comes to the fact that this gift of God must be executed, and those who understand who and what he is, and realize his innocence and condemnation are faced with a moral dilemma...proceed with this evil of executing an innnocent lamb...or do their jobs? And so the decision is given to the protagonist, and he responds in the only way he can.

I lvoe this meets issues head-on without being political or partisan; it addresses God without being religious yet not wavering in faith or drawing any doubt about our Creator. THe attitudes, expressions, background, and reality of the time is described inerringly (seemlingly for one who was born in the 70's), and we are thus drawn into this story and when it ends, if we have not questioned certain issues surrounding the death penalty...we do now.

Stephen King did not set out to make a political commentary; he only sought to tell a good story and in this he has succeeded. This is one of his best works and I highly recommend this book especially for those who think that King is all about the horror genre...he may actually surprise you.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

A Protestant Pastor Comes Home

Tonight the 2nd annual Called to Lead conference began at Holy Name Church in Wayzata, MN.

I arrived early to avoid rush hour traffic and so had time to browse and spend time with Jesus in the adoration chapel.

While I wandered, a woman near me happened to mention to one of the vendors that she was a Pastor for a Protestant religion. I wandered away and then as I was praying in the chapel, the thought came to me that I should ask her what brought her here?

Well, shortly after I left the chapel, she directly crossed my path. I took the opportunity and verified what she had said- that she is a Pastor? She verified that she is an ordained minister for the United Methodist Church. I asked her what brought her to a Catholic Bible Conference?

She explained that she was raised Catholic and through all the tumult among those of her religion, she has found herself returning to Rome. She explained that her conference in her state voted to not support the marriage amendment, and that being a female pastor, people constantly assume that she is a lesbian and she is for gay marriage. She is sick of the fact that there is no substance in her religion, and she has recognized the truth of the Catholic faith.

We ended up sitting together this evening as I did not attend the conference with a group, nor did she. We entered the pew, but she did not genuflect, explaining to me that she was "not there yet". I had not questioned her; she brought this up on her own while I did genuflect. I simply told her I understood. Why would one genuflect if they do not believe in the True Presence?

She was not familar with the process around the Exposition and Benediction, so I acted as "tour guide" and gave a brief explanation as to what would happen. I explained that when Jesus entered, we would all kneel and then follow the directons of the presiding priest in prayer or adoration.

Something made me bend towards her and make a brief confession...I revealed that sometimes when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed, I cannot stop the tears from flowing. I have no idea what made me bring this up, but she seemed to understand.

I had to leave after a short time of adoration in order to drive home...for morning comes early. When I left I said goodbye, and saw that she had been crying...and I know the reason why. I know why I had cried all those years at Mass and why sometimes I still do.

Because faith is not about the intellect, or politics, or anything else. It is a gift of God's grace, and even if we can't recognize Jesus with our eyes, our souls recognize Him and respond in with a prayer far deeper than words.

My friends, we have another Sister in Christ who is coming home. Please keep her in your prayers.

UPDATE God is good, my friends! Today at the conference I sat down on a bench to organize a few things, thinking to jot down a few notes surrounding my own personal impressions, when someone sat down nearby. I happened to glance up and saw my new friend, the converting pastor! We greeted each other and she wiped tears from her eyes, smiling. She had just come from the chapel, I gathered, and explained that she had gone to Mass this morning, went forward for a blessing but did not recieve communion. She revealed she was in tears and she realized that she needed to make this huge leap of faith...and come home. She's going to do it and she's asking for help.

She has spoken with Marcus Grodi and Jeff Cavins of the Coming Home Network because she has to quit her job. She wants to come home...but she has to tie up loose ends and if her local conference knew she had converted...they would fire her in a second, leaving her with nothing. She is scared, but she trusts in the Lord...let us all, then offer special prayers for her.

I really want to be sure you all understand how momentus this is...this is not just a person who is choosing to convert and is afraid to tell her family...this is a woman ordained in another religion, Pastor of her own church, a religious leader in her own right. She is leaving her "ordination", she is leaving her career, her lifestyle, all to come home to the Truth. She lives in a parsonage (rectory in Catholic parlance), and thus, she is losing her very roof...all to accept and follow Jesus.

She needs all the prayers she can get. Please, everyone, offer some special prayers for our sister in Christ. Maybe one day Marcus Grodi will feature her story on The Journey Home...but for now, let her remain the anonymous female pastor, finally coming home to Rome.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Glass Chalice

I read this article today over my lunch break and nearly choked...not by the topic, for it's gotten a lot of press, but rather due to the attitudes expressed within.

The headline reads, Despite excommunication threat, McCandless woman plans to become a priest."

I am going to highlight some excerpts for your reading displeasure;

But Mrs. Houk, who celebrated her 66th birthday last weekend, remains resolute. On July 31, the cradle Catholic will join 11 other female candidates in an ordination ceremony aboard a rented boat here -- the first ceremony of its kind in the United States. Eight are seeking to become women priests and the other four, deacons.

The event, a public challenge to the Roman Catholic church's teaching that only baptized men can be priests, will disturb traditional believers.

The first line in which the woman's age is given says a lot...this movement will die because it is not of the Holy Spirit, and as all of the participants are's pretty clear what generation gave rise to this heresy.

Note the jab about "disturb traditional believers." Yes, it does disturb faithful believers because we can see the works of Satan and we fear for the souls of these women. If it were only a matter of bad catechesis, then perhaps it could be better addressed. But the problem is that these women are educated; they are not just laypeople whe read National Catholic Reporter and epitomize the dissent contained within. They are educated, they know the truth, and THEY HAVE CHOSEN TO REJECT IT.

If Mrs. Houk holds herself out as a priest after the ceremony, she risks excommunication.

No, that's not true. She has CHOSEN excommunication and she has publicly rejected her faith. She is no longer Catholic. Period. She has joined another religion, a fraudulent one which gyps its members of grace and misrepresents itself by calling itself "Roman Catholic." There is no threat of excummunication or is a done deal by her own choice whether she cares to recognize that or not.

Ignorance cannot save her for this woman and women like her are not suffering from invincible ignorance...they are suffering from selective rejection of the truth.

Mrs. Houk believes the best way to spur the church to ordain women is to violate what she believes is an unjust law.

"The church has to take a stand for women ... that they are the image of God and are to be respected and treated on an equal, human level. This is really why I have to do what I am doing," she said in a recent interview.

I'm sorry, but what she is doing actually reflects very poorly upon women as a whole. It makes us all look like a bunch of raving fools...or at least women of her age group. The Church does not deny that women are in the image of fact, God loves us women so much that he gave us the power to co-create with him through the ability to conceive, carry, and bear new life. This woman has chosen the path to death via the form of committing and perpetuating and promulgating a very grave sin.

"Equality" does not mean "exactly alike in all ways." Most women do not suffer from penis envy...after offense to men, but who'd want one? Get real. We don't want to be men, we can do some jobs traditionally held by men, but all of those jobs and careers are man-made, thus subject to change. The Church is not man-made, but is a supernatural, Divine Institution subject to God, not the preferences of a few misguided feminists who have not yet realized that the statium in which they are speaking is empty for they have brought only death, not new life to the world with their satanic illusions of power.

This statement requires some serious critical thinking; Since the 1980s, tens of thousands of American Catholics have consistently told the National Opinion Research Center in Chicago that they favor ordaining women as well as married priests.

Let's break that down.
* Since the 1980's It is now 2006--so this addresses a time frame between 20-30 years.

* tens of thousands of American Catholics have consistently told the National Opinion Research Center in Chicago.. Um....ok, let's look at those years of bad catechesis, where people did not know their faith or why we believe what we believe, and realize that there is a reason why they held the opinion of the following:

* they favor ordaining women as well as married priest

Let's look at all of that...this is a fine piece of propaganda, meets all the elements of misrepresentation and misdirection, designed to shock and to pursuade readers via the bandwagon ploy..."Everyone believes it, why are you such an idiot not to see that you should believe this nonsense too?" What they are saying that "tens of thousands" of American Catholics during the time of the worst catechesis in the history of the world, over a time period and numerous surveys within a 20-30 year span did not know their faith and they displayed their confusion and misunderstanding through this question. So it's not saying that everyone feels this is saying that American Catholics are sadly ignorant about their faith.

"A majority of American Catholics for quite some time have supported those changes in church doctrine. The public has been open to more innovation in the church than the church itself has been," said Tom Smith, director of the center's general social survey A bunch of people who CLAIM to be Catholic but have no idea what they are spouting about have supported those changes. And of course the public has been open to "more innovation" than the Church itself has been...we call the public the "culture of death", and we call the Church, "The Church", which has stood for over 2,000 years and will continue to stand no matter how many souls try to cause ruin from within.

"I believe the ordination will be valid and part of the apostolic succession," said Mrs. Houk, who earned her master's in divinity on a full scholarship at the University of Notre Dame in 1996.

She believes the ordination will be this shows that she has made herself her own Pope. She gets to call the shots now. This is actually called "pride" and it's one of the seven deadly sins. Sadly, I'm not at all surprised she graduated from Notre Dame..isn't that where the heretic priest teaches and flaps his gums off in outright dissent against the obedience he vowed at his own ordination?

"We do not promise obedience to our bishop. We promise obedience to Jesus and the Gospel," Mrs. Houk said, adding that each candidate will receive a glass chalice engraved with her name and the date.

The failure to pledge obedience is a HUGE red flag...Jesus Christ himself designed the Church and set up the heirarchy, and this is the reason the Church has stood for so long..the Holy Spirit holds the heirarchy together, and brings in the faithful. By being obedient to a superior, one is obedient to Jesus and to the Gospel. We cannot bypass those in authority to serve our own agendas, for we are NOT our own popes. We cannot all be the Vicar of Christ, for that position is taken, and it is appointed by God himself.

Do you see the symbolism of the glass chalice? It's glass because glass is breakable and shatters. It is transparent, as are the lies of the evil one who seeks so hard to lead souls away from the Lord. It displays whatever is inside it, and unfortunately for these women, their chalices which represent their "ordinations" hold nothing but air...they are as empty and worthless as the invalid ceremony which serves only to seperate the participants from the Lord.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Fair warning to job seekers!

Anyone on a job search should check out this link, found at the Minneapolis Star Tribune. .

Several years ago, back in my early 20's, I was desperately seeking a job. I had a job, but I was looking for something significantly better with a paycheck I could hope to live on.

I didn't contact Bernard Haldane (the firm the article is about), but I did contact the consulting firm, Allen & Associates. I found their advertisement in the paper and figured I'll call to inquire as to how they worked and what might be expected of me.

The man I spoke with initially started out very cordially; but he would not answer my questions. He simply learned that I was a college grad and expressed interest in meeting with me to discuss my future. I tried to inquire about fees; how much would their assistance cost? He woudln't tell me and tried to hedge the question and get me to come in for an appointment.

He continually told me that the clients are in charge and they only accepted the most promising clients, etc etc. It was just a bunch of flattery with no substance.

I explained to him that I did not want an appointment; I explained that I was looking to see how their service worked before I committed to meeting with anyone at the firm.

The man became very hostile and said, "I'm no longer interested in having you as a client." And he hung up on me.

I was shocked that a person offering their services would dare to do such a thing, and from that point on, I have steered clear of any such job search agencies. I would suggest that anyone reading this blog do so as well.

I learned later on from other people that exorbitant fees were expected up front and there was never a guarantee that a career would be delivered. They do not provide fees up front so that they can lock the "client" into a contract and obtain their very souls if their pocketbooks weren't big enough to reimburse them for "services provided".

Consider this a little PSA which may keep you from going bankrupt in the name of finding a career.

Baptism and New Life

Today at Mass we were privileged to witness the baptism of a new member of the Mystical Body, and when that happened, I was overwhelmed with such a sense of God's love for all of us!

I considered this perfect little human being; this flawless little life being offered by her parents to the Lord and the indelible mark placed upon her soul today. She belongs to God. She was given by the Lord to her parents and in turn, they have offered her back to Him.

Is this not beautiful?

I realized that shortly after I was born, my parents did the same thing. They were so grateful for the gift of my life to them that they turned and offered me back to the Lord, recognizing that I was first His child before I was theirs. And their parents before them did the same thing, all the way down the line.

Do you realize the implications of this, the very reality of this connection with the Lord?

We are given to the Lord and He places an indelible mark upon our souls...God recognizes us as His own and asks only a small thing of us in return...that we love Him and Serve Him all the days of our lives.

Each and every time we help another person, we are helping the Lord, for He gave us hands in order to do this. He gave us voices in order to serve each other, and by doing this, we are serving God. We are called to lives our lives as a gift to others for we ourselves are gifts. We need to embrace this reality and understand what it means in order for us to be able to fulfill it.

Maybe this is obvious to most of you, but for some reason I had never thought of it in this way before, but suddenly, as that baby was baptized, the synapses were firing off in my brain, and I began to make this huge connection.

I'm not sure I can adequately articulate the immensity of what I came to interiorly understand today, so my prayer is that those who read these words today comprehend them.

Let us always remember that as we are children of God, we must in turn continue to offer our lives as a gift for that is what we are all intended to be.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy 4th of July!

I think I'd be remiss if I did not recognize the celebration of our nation. After all, no matter what I sometimes think of the people my country contains, and the culture they perpetuate, I have to remember that God sent us all here for a reason.

To love and to praise God.

So on this day, let us remember the blessings the Lord has so graciously bestowed upon our country:

* great beauty, sweeping vistas, and beautiful cities
* people from all over the world, a veritable nationwide tower of babel, and in spite of it, and even because of these differences, most of us get along the vast majority of the time.
* the freedom (for now) to mostly practice our religion, except when it conflicts with the immoral opinions of the loud political left wing minority whose current influence is unchecked and more equal than that of those who worship the Lord;
* the freedom to state the above on this blog without fear of arrest;
* the ability to vote, to speak and be heard, and to use our religious beliefs as a foundation for who we were sent to become so that God's word may be declared from every podium, ever city, every plain, and every mountain, even if we don't specifically use His name, but rather, act and vote in ways that glorify Him.

Folks, in other countries, people would be killed for stating about their country what I have stated about ours. People in the Sudan are being raped, tortured, and killed just for being Catholic. In this good ole' US of A, Catholics were once persecuted (and we still are, but to a far lesser degree), but we are still holding on without fear of death.

In the Middle East, there is freedom of religion inasmuch as one is Muslim; and in China, the true Catholic Church is underground, celebrating their faith with the reality of martyrdome hanging over their heads each and every time they seek to worship in a community of the faithful.

My friends in Christ, we here in America, while we struggle to defend our rights to worship and proclaim the Truth, we at least have not been silenced, and while there are those who disagree and call us small-minded, they have no power but their own voices echoing in their own empty minds.

We live in a blessed place, and we need to remember that freedom isn't free; just as our forefathers of this great country fought and died that others may live in the liberty they tried to provide, so must we go on to preserve these rights which we hold so dear. Our country is still a refuge for others from other nations; let us pray that the Constitution, as it was originally intended, is upheld and not twisted by activist judges.

At times I feel like we are watching the slow death of liberty; yet, as the Lord has blessed us, we have no reason to believe that He will not bring us through this dark valley and back into the light He intended this nation to be.

Tonight, as we cheer, oooh, and ahh at the fireworks, let us let the concussion of small explosions remind us of why others have died; and let us carry on with their mission.

Let us continue to defend our right to free speech in proclaiming the Gospel; let us continue to defend our right to practice our religion without retribution by the left; let us continue to defend life at all stages so that we may raise a nation of children wiser than those who have sought to kill them in the womb.

Without them, we will cease to be a nation and this holidy will be for naught.

May the Lord bless our country on this day and lead us out of the darkness we have, as a nation, created for ourselves. May the lives of the unborn be protected, and may our leaders be lead by the Holy Spirit to make intelligent decisions.

May the Blessed Mother forever wrap us in her mantle and lead us to the Mercy of Jesus; and if we must suffer, let our suffering be offered on behalf of unconverted sinners.

May God Bless America, and may He bless each and every one of you and keep you safe on this national holiday.