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Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Years' Eve

It's always a strange night, full of strange anticipation...of what, exactly? But yet, it is there, the world gathering ritualistically to greet...a single moment. One minute; that's all. One moment of time, which would pass quietly but for all the noise we throw at it.

I remember as a child, at my grandparent's home in Michigan, my brother and I remaining while the adults left for the evening. In the morning, they would return with hats and noisemakers, smelling of cigarette smoke and vodka. We would hear them come in and turn over to go back to sleep. We didn't really care that at midnight people were screaming and yelling. If we couldn't go to the party, it must not be a very interesting one, anyway.

As we got older, this changed and if we were with Mom for New Year's, then we would usually go to a relative's home and enjoy movies, card games, or if at the state park where my uncle worked as a ranger, maybe we would enjoy snomobiling. I believe it was a New Year's Eve night out at the park as we raced through the woods on trails and in the ditches. I remember one moment I was holding onto my cousin as we came out of the ditch; in the next moment, I was sitting on thin air watching in astonishment as she drove away from me. Then I plunged into the deep, soft snow, laughing, unharmed.

New Year's isn't that much fun anymore. There have been nights at the bar with friends and communal bottles of champagne; there was one memorable night when I had way too much and topped it off with cheap sparkling wine; only to wake up in the morning sicker than a dog. I haven't done that since!

And the New Year's Eve when I turned up the alleyway to my boyfriend's home only to confront a girlfriend or ex-girlfriend who claimed she'd been sleeping with him - recently. I confronted him, learned he HAD, in fact, cheated on me with this cheap hussy some time before.

I spent that New Year's Eve with friends in a bar, and nothing tasted good. I don't think I stopped crying all night although I smiled brightly and otherwise pretended to have a good time.

The last few years I have opted to simply stay home and greet the New Year in my own way...whether awake or asleep. Last year I spoke to a coworker about this; I told him I thought something was wrong with me because I simply didn't care. I used to want to go out carousing with my friends; now I just prefer the peace and quiet I can only find in solitude.

He said there was nothing wrong with me; it was a sign I was a "grownup". Yet how many "grownups" still carouse at all hours?

Being an adult is strange territory; just this week the change of the year has made me consider the brevity of life. We celebrate a moment in time as though it is the moment of all moments, when really, it is meaningless, especially in comparison to all the other moments of our lives.

This time of year, people make resolutions, and spend New Year's Eve doing all the things they plan to swear off of in the next year; and of course, they fail miserably in their resolutions. Guaranteed, on January 2, the confessionals will be full of people saying to the priest, "Bless me Father, for I have sinned...I have already broken my New Years' Resolutions...."

By all means, this is a night to celebrate and enjoy the company of friends and family; to celebrate the passage of time, another year come and gone with the promise of another year ahead with all the mysteries it holds. It is a time to focus, not just on a single moment, but upon this gift we have all been given; this brief gift of life, this time in which we are but a glint in God's eye and then we will be with Him. This is a time to take stock of our lives, to consider what we have done right and wrong in the last year, and to decide what we can do to not so much improve our own lives, but the lives of those around us.

Yes, we have to improve ourselves; but while doing so, we can work on simple things such as looking out for others in small ways, and in that process, we will be changed.

My Dad passed away 12 years ago on January 3, so this is always a bittersweet time of year for me. One moment I'm joyful along with everyone else...the next moment I remember his death and Grief sticks a dagger in my back, driving me to my knees. But I try to remember one lesson he taught me; I remember his big heart, his generous soul, and that the legacy he left was in the people he touched in small ways. Even as he suffered, he managed to recognize the pain of others and reach out to them to make their lives better.

We are all called to this; so this year, if you are one to make resolutions, then resolve not so much to change yourself, but to let God change you. And resolve to do at least one thing, every day, that exemplifies the light of Christ to another.

The New Year isn't just a moment; it is a long string of moments, and for all of us, it will come to an end. And at the end stands Jesus to ask for an account of the moments we were given. Will we provide a litany of failed personal resolutions, or will be able to look around us and offer to the Lord all the people we have brought with us into His light?

Saturday, December 30, 2006

As the Pendulum Swings

Some of you know I am an aspiring writer. Perhaps I'll write a soap opera about the Catholic Church in America: "As the Pendulum Swings...."

In all seriousness, the "reforms" that swept the nation after the Second Vatican Council resulted in the mass exodus of the religious from their convents, and even today we see the last vestiges of these religious who have left Catholicism and embraced the New Age, while still grasping the title of "Catholic", resulting in even further mass confusion.

And the Mass...well, on one hand we have the "Traditionalists", ranging from those of the SSPX, the schismatic society which does not recognize V2 as being valid, to Catholic "Traditionalists" who just seem to be a bunch of angry Catholics who are so offended by Haugen/Haas that they seem to feel a Novus Ordo Mass is barely even valid.

And then we have, on the other end of the spectrum, a bunch of nuts who call themselves "Catholic" yet are members of Call to Action, FutureChurch, promote the idea of women's ordination, homosexual marriage, contraception, and abortion.

And we have the run-of-the-mill "liberals" or "progressives" who embrace some of the above and become very offended at the mention that the Church knows what she is doing and that the "reforms" are too extreme.

And we have the average Catholic who may be a mixture of everything, or nothing.

And I haven't even defined the tip of the iceburg.

Father Martin Fox at Bonfire of the Vanities has a couple of posts regarding the issue of reforming the reform.

One of the reasons I get animated about this is that I do want to pursue the "reform of the reform," and I, too, don't want the abuses.

More than that, I believe there are questions of reorienting the celebration of the liturgy to where it is meant to be, but isn't; this is where the issue of music comes in -- and why it's more than bare questions of orthodoxy, but also simply what music.

And all this takes tremendous effort, and patience, both because of ordinary inertia at work in moving any organization, but also because so many of our fellow Catholics are used to what's not adequate, they are attached to it, and so, there will be resistance from other than ideologues.

Read the rest!

Father Fox does a great job of giving us a glimpse into what the average priest has to deal with when faced with the concerns in the Church today, and the wrath of the people he serves.

Friday, December 29, 2006

The Heresy Channel

Theocoid has a great explanation as to why the Heresy...uh, that is, History and Biography channels are completely useless to any bona fide Christian.

The Biography Channel is right up there with the History Channel in competition for the official title of "Channels Most Likely to Dispute Biblical Accounts." Perhaps the worst example is the series "Mysteries of the Bible," which should more properly be called "Postmodern Feminist Mysteries of the Bible."

Read the rest!

And that, my friends, is why I don't watch those particular programs. I'd prefer to get my Biblical education from credible sources. Wouldn't you?

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Holy Innocents

On Sunday morning just before Mass, I was reading one of the last chapters of "He Leadeth Me", by Father Walter Ciszek, S.J., and it struck me that the following passage comes a bit too close to home - although, sadly, the United States, a "free" country, has sunk further down that slippery slope than even the Soviet Union did in the grips of Communism.

Abortion is legal in the Soviet Union. Anyone who wants one can have it performed. The government says it had to be legalized in order to prevent private abuses. The wages of husband and wife together make it hard to support more than one or two children, so everyone wants an abortion. Yet the question haunts them. The hallways of the clinics adjoining the abortion rooms were full of posters, not praising abortions but informing patients of the possible detrimental effects on both mind and body such an operation could have. The doctors, mostly women, and the nurses and other personnel would try to dissuade patients from the operation. Women confided years later that they could not rid themselves of feelings of guilt about it. And these were not “believers”, but women and girls who had received a complete atheistic education in Soviet schools.

Even for communism, it is a basic question of life and death, of wrong and right. If life at its very root can be treated so lightly, people would say, what is going to stop such a mentality from spreading? Society? Hardly. Society cannot even handle properly its present problems of crime and other social disorders. And when a society actually endorses evil, where will it end? Can man alone be trusted to solve mankind’s problems? Look at history, and the depths to which civilized countries have sunk, time after time.

("He Leadeth Me", p. 193-194)

Today is the feast day of the Holy Innocents; those children who were murdered at the order of King Herod to spare him the inconvenience of worrying that his life might change at some point in the future. During Advent, we reflected upon, not the actual birth of Jesus, but upon Mary's fiat and Elizabeth's unborn child leaping in her womb when the Mother of the Lord came to visit her. It is now, even as we celebrate the birth of our Savior that we must also consider the message of life; not just present human life, but life as an unborn child, God incarnate, carried in the womb of the Blessed Mother. We consider the life of St. John the Baptist, unborn in Elizabeth's womb, a miracle child, leaping for joy at the presence of his King.

And so we MUST consider the evil of Abortion, and isn't it ironic that in a Communist nation, so long ago, abortion was legal, even encouraged by the atheist regime...and yet women in clincs adjoining abortion centers counseled the women as to the dangers of abortion on MIND AND BODY! These were women who were schooled and indoctrinated by atheists, where God was looked upon as myth, where believers were ridiculed as part of everyday Communist propaganda. And yet these women still recognized the inherent truth; that life was precious, and that the violence done to women to destroy that life would also destroy them.

Yet here, in the United States, a smug, wealthy nation of "freedom", a democratic and capitalistic society, not only do the medical clinics NOT warn against abortion, but they ENCOURAGE it! And here, we are free to believe, we are free to practice our faith, and we do not have to suffer the institutionalized ridicule and persecution Soviet Catholics and other Christians suffered. Yet more babies are killed here every year than ever under atheist Russia, and these abortions are encouraged and promoted by our government and other educational institutions.

Thus, let us not forget those children, those Holy Innocents of our own time, who did not even have the opportunity to see the light of day, thanks to the institutionalized deaths ordained by the culture of death that surrounds us. Let us remember to thank God for those children who have been born this year and will be born next year, thank God for the "yes" given to God at the announcement of their pregnancy; and let us beg God for mercy upon us all and to remove the evil of abortion from our midst.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

How Can I Keep From Cringing?

Sung to the tune of "How Can I Keep from Singing"

I went to Mass on Christmas Eve
In hopes the choir was singing
But who should be there in that place
But a rock band loudly braying

Through all the tumult and the strife
I wished ‘twere music ringing
But in its place were beating drums
How can I keep from cringing?

While though the tempest loudly roars
Through loud guitars and riffs
I wished the silence ‘round me close;
And songs of Silent Night and Christmas

No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to true prayer I’m clinging
But when a rock band jams at Mass
How can I keep from cringing?

When the altar trembles at the quake
Caused by decibels of drumbeats
When decorations start to fall;
How can I keep from cringing?

No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to true prayer I’m clinging
But when a rock band jams at Mass
How can I keep from cringing?

The Mass went on as endless sound
Above my lamentations
The cymbals threw me to the floor
How can I keep from cringing?

How can I keep from cringing?

(Sorry so rusty, first parody I've written in a very long time. Further editing likely)

Monday, December 25, 2006

The Blessed Mother and the Child Jesus

I had the day off on Friday, so I had a wonderful priviledge of stopping by our Adoration Chapel to spend time in contemplation before Our Lord Jesus.

My parish has a school, so during school days it is quite common for a classroom full of children to be present, kneeling in adoration also. What a beautiful opportunity for them! For Jesus said, "Let the children come unto me", and our parish takes this directive quite seriously.

There were a few other people in the chapel as well, including one woman in the first or second row. Apparently some kind of signal was given to the children, for they suddenly all began standing, row by row, and filing out through the side door which led out into the main sanctuary. But one little boy broke away from his class and went to one of the women who was kneeling in the front near Jesus.

They had a short, quiet conversation and she gave him a gentle push to send him with his classmates. He began to leave, then turned to his mother and gave her a kiss on her cheek. She kissed him back and sent him on his way as he scampered back to join his class.

I was so struck by this moment, and could not help by draw a paralled between Jesus and his mother. Jesus, of course, was a Jewish boy and his family took the Ten Commandments to heart. (Indeed, Jesus himself taught that to break even one Commandment broke the entire Law). So we know that Jesus honored his mother and his father and must have shared many tender moments with them.

In my mind's eye, I saw Mary, going about her daily tasks, and Jesus, perhaps with his friends, or going about his own chores. I saw Jesus breaking away for a moment to approach his mother about something, begin to return to whatever it was he had been bidden to do, then turn back to Mary. I saw him approach his mother and quickly kiss her cheek before she gently pushed him away, smiling, loving her son, being loved by her son.

I realized that Mary is a true mother; she was an earthly mother to Jesus, and he loved her so much that he never ceased to honor her as well. It would simply go against his very nature. God cannot contradict himself; thus the very laws he set down for us all to follow also applies to him for, Jesus, as God Incarnate, sets the example He bids us all to follow and which, by Law, had preceeded his incarnation.

Jesus had sent the prophets; Abraham, Moses, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, etc. All had been abused and ignored. The Law continued to be broken, again and again, and finally, God came himself, Incarnate, as the Son of Mary, virgin Mother. The Messiah. He came to set us free from our sins, to reverse Eve's sin in the Garden of Eden, and in all ways, Jesus was perfect. He did not sin, and as Catholics, we believe that the perfect vessel He created to bear him also was pure, and did not sin.

How profound; not only that God came to earth as one of us, but consider this also from Mary's perspective; until an angel appeared to her she did not realize that she had been set aside for a special task. But throughout Jesus' life, she had the great honor to raise and mother the very Son of God! So while we only wish we could kiss his hands and his feet, she did so throughout life. For not only did she know who he was, but she was his mother! There is nothing like the bond between mother and child. As he grew, how she must have kissed his tiny infant hands and his tiny infant feet, and with what a sense of wonderment! For every mother is amazed at the child that grew in her belly, and completely dessimated at the love she feels for such a tiny being for which she has full responsibility. But to realize that this is God incarnate! For Mary was under no illusions; she knew who Jesus was, and she had that beautiful maternal instinct, no doubt enhanced by God the Father to prepare her for such a momentous task as rasing His only Son. Even the name of Jesus, "Emmanuel", that is, "God is With Us", alone, is a Divine Consolation.

Just consider those beautiful moments between mother and child, the little boy kissing his mother's cheek, bringing her flowers, running to her in times of trouble. The Son of God honoring his mother, a created being. The Son of God, who from his bloody death on the cross remembered to provide for his Mother who wept before him, having kissed his feet for the last time, perhaps remembering those moments just after his birth, those tender, unmarked feet that she must have kissed; those tiny, umarked hands which grasped at her, seeking sustenance. Seeking love, seeking support, seeking maternal love. How Jesus must have looked into her eyes with such devotion!

"Behold your Mother"

We only WISH we could experience, physically, a kiss on the cheek from the child Jesus, to bow before the manger where He was born, and offer him a pinky to grasp as all infants are wont to do. Mary got to experience all of this, every day; and never was there a day when her sinless child did not honor her as the Commandments bid him to do.

When Jesus went to His brutal death on the cross thirty-three years later, he did not forget his mother; nor should we. Mary is OUR mother, too, given to us by Jesus himself. And as Jesus honored his parents, both created beings, he also expects us to do so as well, out of respect for Him. Doesn't it make sense?

When we go to visit other families or friends during this blessed season, do we enter the home of a friend without greeting and thus honoring his or her parents, if they are present? Wouldn't our friend be incredibly offended at our rudeness if we came in and spoke only to that friend and did not perhaps wish the hosts a Merry Christmas or Happy New Year? So it is with Jesus. If we are to honor Jesus, we must remember to honor his earthly mother and father.

Sometime when you have the chance, just sit and consider the motherhood of Mary and imagine the relationship she had with Jesus. Perhaps you are a mother yourself and understand this far more completely and coherently than I. This is new territory for me...a single, childless woman contemplating motherhood of the Son of God. For those with children, especially sons, it has to be easier! Whether you are Catholic or Protestant, Pagan, Muslim, or Jew, consider your relationship with your childen or potential children, and you will realize the profundity of, not only God becoming Man incarnate, but also of Mary's motherhood to us all.

Mary, Queen of Heaven, pray for us!

Christmas Blessing with the gift of humility

Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto thine.

My previous post is as good an example of any of my lack of the virtue of humility. Thank you all for suffering my self-indulgent whining, and so I am leaving that post up as an example of the person I really am. I do not ever want to lead anyone to believe I am "holier than thou" because, as you can all see, I simply am not.

A commenter by the name of Angela, gently pointed out the reality that the Blessed Mother had to bear. She didn't exactly have a comfortable Christmas. Jesus was coming, she was stuck riding a donkey, and Joseph couldn't find them a place to stay. Door after door shut in their faces, and finally, Jesus was born in a cave, into poverty. Joseph and Mary were shunned to some degree, at least, her virtue called into question as a result of her pregnancy, and what she likely hoped would be a safe, "comfortable" delivery was really anything but that!

Can you imagine the anticipation Mary must have had as her due date approached, her trepidation, and yet her complete joy? Can you imagine what Mary must have been going through - maybe some of you have experienced something simliar with your own pregnancies as you neared that wonderful day. (I have no children, this is mysterious to me so I can only allude to what others have described about this time in their and their yet-unborn child's life). How Mary must have prayed to God above that, first of all, she would not give birth on the road, and secondly, that they would have a place to stay, and other women to help her as they had helped Elizabeth. How much trust she had in God to protect them and His unborn Son, already called "Emmanuel".

Mary probably hadn't even considered that there might not be a place for them, but to suddenly come face to face with that harsh reality, while she was in labor (for there must have been laobr to some degree to tell her it was time) must have been almost more than she could bear.

And yet, how she must have, in her discomfort and in her fear, trusted in God to provide, and indeed, God did provide for them. He gave them a cave, a shelter from the wind. He gave them what was needed...not what was likely desired.

Because God's plans are so much greater than our own, even Mary's at the time, for God had not revealed his whole plan of salvation to her...only that part that she needed to know, that being that she would be the mother of the messiah, who would save the world from their sins.

Just as he saved me from my sins, from my petulance, from my self-indulgent whining when Mass didn't go the way I wanted it to go.

I was too dense to realize last night that Jesus gave me a great grace; an opportunity, that granted, I tried to take advantage of, that of patience, offering my suffering, etc. But I had the opportunity to see a parallel with the Holy Family, and I missed the boat (or donkey) completely. Then again...perhaps I AM the ass. Big surprise.

I had the opportunity to be humble and simply submit to God's will, and rather than complain, consider, "What is God trying to tell me through this?"

Because, last night, I could not have attended another Mass. I had to be there, and clearly it was in God's plan for me. He set it up. And rather than take time to actually LISTEN to what the Lord was telling me through that situation, I, like the ass that I am so often, just sat there and grumbled under the guise of "offering it up".

Sometimes the best way to "offer it up" is not through verbal or intellectual prayer, but through silent submission.

I failed miserably.

Last night, God gave me the blessed opportunity to be like Mary, my role model (OUR role model, as women), and I misssed it.

How the Lord loves us, to grant us these graces, time and time again, until we get it right, because in our most extreme impatience, He is infinitely patient, so much so that he sends other people to make clear in our own language what He would rather tell us intimately in prayer if we would only be open to His will in all situations.

If it's not to late, Jesus, I would like to offer this up now, including my previous post, and the lesson you just taught me through the words of an earthly Angel.

Life Teen Christmas? Lord, Have Mercy!

"One Word the Father spoke (Which is His Son) and this Word He speaks in eternal silence, and It is in silence It is heard by the soul." - St. John of the Cross

Silence, reverence, and beauty...the hallmarks of the Church. How I wish people understood this before the baby boomers had decided to take their previously unexpressed teenage angst and inflict it upon the Church of today.

There is a fine line between performance and worship...or maybe the line really isn’t so fine. It tends to be more of a chasm than a line, really, and thus, can’t be blurred.

But that doesn’t stop rock bands from performing at what is still the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Yup. “Performing”. Because they are NOT leading music…they are performing. Loudly. With much gusto, many drums, much bass, and hopping around, dancing, and jamming. I only wish I was kidding.

I had a wonderful Advent, even including the trials of my last week. I have noticed that a time of darkness is often followed by a great blessing, and yesterday morning, I received that blessing at a beautiful Advent Mass. I had such a sense of peacefulness as I went through my day, looking forward to the 4:00 pm Christmas Vigil at my parish.

I really wanted to go to Midnight Mass, but family obligations dictated otherwise, thus I was limited in what I could do. I considered it to be a worthy sacrifice, to place my family above my Mass preference. I had gone to the 4:00 pm Christmas Eve Mass last year, and it was fine; bare bones, but a nice, reverent, joyful Mass.

But yesterday afternoon, when I arrived at my parish an hour in advance, hoping for some time for quiet prayer before the Christmas-and-Easter-Catholics emerged from the woodwork with the regular attendees, I nearly turned around and left when I heard the rock band practicing on the stage which is normally where the choir stands.

I hadn’t realized the LifeTeen band was performing at that Mass. I hadn’t realized that I was attending a rock concert with the trappings of a Holy Sacrifice of the Mass! I nearly turned around and went home to call my family and report I would be 2 hours later than originally planned. I did NOT want to stay for the circus usually referred to as "Mass." But really, I had no choice.

And so I headed for the Perpetual Adoration Chapel in hopes of spending some time in prayer and reflection. But I had forgotten that every Sunday at 3 a group prays Divine Mercy and teh full 20 decade Rosary. So much for quiet reflection. Even the chanting of the prayers was interrupted by the irregular drum beats of the band in the sanctuary.

I left the chapel at 3:30 in order to find a place in the main sanctuary, wishing that I had ear plugs. The Church became more and more crowded, as expected, and it was wonderful to see so many people there. But my enjoyment in seeing so many attending Mass was ruined by the band blasting my eardrums, the bass guitar and drums resonating in the pit of my stomach. I couldn’t pray, I couldn’t prepare my heart because it was so LOUD! I even preferred the noise of the crowds because that I could block out to a certain degree. But not the thumping drums or the bass guitars, or the loud, sometimes piercing singing.

I am not an old, grumpy woman...I still qualify as a "young adult", and the guitars, drums, singing...all that is good stuff...on the car radio. On my stereo at home. On my walkman, the ipod, or what-have-you. NOT at Mass.

My sense of peace was Advent preparations seemed for naught because I couldn’t honestly PRAY the Mass. I found myself flinching every time the music began, and nearly died when the guritar riffs that began the GLORIA were the same that begin a Bryan Adam's song which was popular in the 80's.

There was no reverence. There was only the band, jamming away at their own private concert there in the front of the sanctuary.

I am a musician, and I used to be a cantor, a songleader, and a flautist at my parish while I was in high school. Music has always been a huge part of my life, and having studied it so long and hard, having developed an appreciation for what is proper and when and where, changed me forever. Bad music, or inappropriate music actually pierces my soul to a degree most people probably can't understand. But I do believe anyone with any musical taste would agree.

As an adult member at my current parish, I have not gotten involved in music ministry, although I fondly recall the days of attending 3 Masses per weekend in order to fulfill a need. Yet I have directly avoided this ministry as an adult. Why?

Because when I sang before, and when I played the flute, sang in choir or as a soloist with the choir, it was a performance. I had to be good. I had to ‘perform”, and in a sense, it became about me and what I could do, rather than about Jesus, about leading worship in song, or about bringing others into participation in the Mass.

No one likely knew that I saw it this way, and thank God no one at my current parish has tried to induct me into the choir. I no longer play the flute...I CAN, but I don’t play well anymore due to years of, well, nothing. If I were to take it up again, I would find a private teacher to help me get the rust out of my fingers and find the intonation and clear vibrato which used to be so effortless. I used to be really good, thanks to hours and hours of practice, private lessons on occasion, etc. But since I’ve been out of college, there has been no practice for me, and no singing. I am content to sing with the congregation, to raise my voice in worship with those around me, because when the attention is not focused on me, I do not have to worry if I miss a note or begin singing the wrong verse. I do not have to worry about “my part”, looking for cues from the priest...I can be completely focused on Jesus, about worship with my parish community. That is enough.

And so I no longer lead singing...because even though I have undergone some spiritual formation, I fear, well, first of all that the gift God gave me when I was younger has been taken back (I don’t think I have the same singing voice I once had), and I also fear that if I do step into the role as cantor or songleader once again, I may return to the temptation of “performance” versus “worship”.

Do not take that to mean that the mark left on my soul through hours and hours of practice and musical education has been erased; rather it has been honed by the maturity that tends to happen with age, whether we want it or realize it or not.

Last night at Mass, I saw the gray-haired LifeTeen guitar player jumping around, dancing, while playing the music, some of it even the regular music for the Mass set to a rock band arrangement.

I had to keep checking to be sure I hadn’t wandered into the local “feel good - Got Saved?” church, with all the jumping, banging, and clapping. This should NEVER happen in a Catholic church!

During Advent, I read St. Francis de Sales, and he referred to that quiet interior place where God remains with us, going to that place in at time of adversity, noise, etc. I desperately looked to find that inner quiet, begging St. Francis for his assistance...but every time I began to find the quiet, the cymbals clashed, the drum roared to life and a singer hit a note that should not be hit...EVER.

I could not even focus during and after communion, and found myself apologizing to Jesus rather than thanking him for coming to us as a little child. I was begging for mercy, begging for it all to end, flinching and cringing every time the band found it necessary to start up, once again.

Ironically, during the Eucharistic prayers, part of which Father sang a capella, his microphone failed. (Not due to his singing voice; the man can carry a tune just fine).

I commented to God, “Lord - you switched off the wrong mike!”

I prayed that the band would lose their electrical power, the amps would be silenced and the singers forced to do away with the electronics in favor of the piano or organ. That prayer was not answered.

Finally Mass was over, and I was anything but joyful, really just apologetic, wondering if I should go to Confession for my aggravated feelings during Mass, or just go to Mass again? But the Mass was valid, and I think at this point I just have to accept the fact that Mass was not the one I prefer. I have had to offer it up for the salvation of souls.

So to all of you who were able to attend a beautiful, reverent, Holy Christmas Mass, sans drums and guitars, remember that you are so blessed, and please pray for peace for those of us who suffered at the only Mass our family obligations allowed us to attend. Had I realized this was going to happen I would have changed my obligations prior to be able to attend the reverent Mass we should always have.

Thankfully, the Mass itself was valid and Holy, the priests are solid - only the music was bad. Last night, in the end, was just another reminder that God conveys Grace through the actual Sacraments, whether we "feel" anything holy about it or not. I thank God from the depths of my imperfect soul for that reality.

A continued Merry Christmas to you all!

Devotional Meme

1. Favorite devotion or prayer to Jesus?
* the Mass, Eucharistic Adoration

2. Favorite Marian devotion or prayer?
* Memorare - I love the "emergency novena" of 9 Memorares

3. Do you wear a scapular or medal?

* both. I wear a brown scapular with a St. Benedict Medal, crucifix, and Miraculous Medal

4. Do you have holy water in your home?

* Yes, both upstairs and downstairs.

5. Do you 'offer up' your sufferings?

* Yes - It helps that I was recently given a holy card of Fr. Ciszek and when struggling with some sort of suffering, I read it and it helps me to offer up whatever it is that is happening and be docile to God's will. It does make a difference. What a gift to understand that our daily sufferings are not in vain!

6. Do you observe First Fridays and First Saturdays?

* First Friday Mass and Adoration. (We have Perpetual Adoration)

7. Do you go to Eucharistic Adoration?

* Yup! Every Saturday I have a regular hour, and I often stop in throughout the week.

8. Are you a Saturday evening Mass person or Sunday morning Mass person?

* Sunday morning, 8:45 am

9. Do you say prayers at mealtime?

* I try to remember to say grace, and I've gotten better at it.

10. Favorite Saint(s)?

* St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Joseph, St. Anthony, St. Padre Pio, St. Wenceslaus (he adopted me for 2007), St. Francis de Sales, Fr. Walter Ciszek ... praying for his canonization

11. Can you recite the Apostles Creed by heart?

* Yes

12. Do you usually say short prayers (aspirations) during the course of the day?

* Yes. "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner", "Sacred Heart of Jesus, thy kingdom come, or I put all my trust in thee, Other small prayers that may fit the moment. Sometimes, "Jesus, can I just die now?" (He's never answered that one....)

13. Bonus Question:
When you pass by an automobile accident or other serious mishap, do you say a quick prayer for the folks involved?

* Sometimes, but usually I just grumble at the gawkers as I've been both at the roadside trying not to be killed by the rubberneckers while assisting the involved parties, and I've dealt with working to repair the wrecked cars. Since I'm sick of cars and accidents, I usually just grumble that people don't know how to drive and need to pay more attention. I could use a good dose of charity in those moments because that's when my cynacism takes over when all I want to do is to get where I'm going...safely. Like everyone else on the road.

Nope, not a saint, am I? :-)

I'm not tagging anyone officially because I think this one has made the rounds. So if anyone comes across this and has not been tagged, then consider yourself so!

Christmas Morning

I attended Mass last night and drove, with my dogs, down to my brother's home to celebrate with my mother and he, and his girlfriend (hopefully soon to be wife) joined us after the Easter Vigil at her parish.

We were up until 3:30 am. Drinking wine, socializing. I seem to remember deep theological discussions and Biblical exegesis...and you know what? I didn't realize the amount of information my brain has gathered in the last couple months! So apparently the Holy Spirit was with us, too, because while my brother and his girlfriend remain unconvinced about Mary's perpetual virginity, they at least have something to think about. All because of the great posts and wonderful links posted by Catholic bloggers everywhere.

So to all you Catholics out there who take the time to post links for the enlightenment of us all...Thank You!

So anyway...this morning I am apparently engaging in the adult version of being up early playing with my Christmas toys. My new computer. Although, to be honest, this wasn't a gift from Santa, it didn't come down the chimney, and it wasn't hastily put together over night. And, I paid for it myself a month or so ago. But it was shipped to my brother, our family computer geek, and he has configured it, found a desk for it (which I have to pay him for today), and put the desk together.

People, I am lovin' my new Dell, lovin' my new desk, and I really pray that, now that I have the right equipment, I can get serious about writing. Not just blogging, which is fun, but serious publication-bound writing. All I want for Christmas is a career as a writer. I'll do freelance...maybe a few articles here and there will help pay for Grad school?

Well, I think I got tagged for a Meme, so before I go off on an exegesis of our family Christmas, which isn't over yet, as the house is still quiet, thus my blog still anonymous (my family doesn't know or read my blog and I'm keeping it that way), I will see if I can get to this overdue task.

More later on the family Christmas for it is nearly 12 years since the death of my father, and this year we are bringing his family traditions back and recapturing our heritage from his side of the family.


Our Savior is born!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

My Gift to all who suffer or will suffer from colds

It has been brought to my attention that every year, people get sick with...colds. It's an epidemic. Teachers, priests, co-workers, children, parents...the list just goes on and on. Something must be done!

So I have decided it's time to share the cure. Yes, I'm quite serious.

A few years ago, I attended a party in which the soup served as the second course was "Creole Garlic Soup". It was so good, most of us thought we could likely live on this soup for the rest of our lives, and I believe all of us wrote down the recipe before we left.

It was several months before I made the soup, but as summer turned into fall, the heat came on indoors, and the days grew shorter, I realized it was time to think about making soup. So during the week I gathered my ingredients, dug out the recipe and went to sleep Friday night with dreams of garlic cloves, rosemary, and thyme.

I woke up Saturday morning with one of the worst and most acute headcolds I have ever had. But I still ventured out into the raw, cold, rainy November day to purchase the final ingredients for my soup.

Loaded up on decongestants, washing my hands until they were chapped, I joked with my roommate that I was going to cook up the cure for the common cold. So for a couple of hours, the warm cozy apartment took on the strong aroma of garlic, which even wafted into the hallway.

I do believe one of my neighbors was cured of something just by walking past our door.

I ate two bowls of the soup that evening, amazed I could even taste it. And the next day, my cold was quite literally 90% better. I had gone from misery to a small case of the sniffles.

So without further ado, here is the recipe for this wonderful soup:

Creole Garlic Soup
(the name comes from the spice, not the culinary style)

DISCLAIMER: The ingredients are on the consertive end; adjust to your own taste, and don't be afraid to add more garlic! But I would advise using the old adage "less is more" the first time you make it, but once you have an idea as to what it is like, you can better adjust according to your own taste.

* 1/3 C. whole garlic cloves
* 1 Tbsp minced garlic
* 1 Tbsp. roasted garlic
* 1 tsp fresh thyme, or 1/4 tsp dried thyme
* 1 tsp fresh basil or 1/4 tsp drid basil
* 4 cans of vegetable broth (or 2 32 oz boxes of Swanson's vegetable broth)
(( I recommend low sodium))
* 1 medium onion
* 1 bay leaf
* 1 Tbsp. olive oil
* 1/3 C. Half-and-Half (I use fat-free)
* 1/3 C. parmesan cheese - shredded
* Creole seasoning
* Day-Old French or Italian bread

1. Add onions and some of the garlic cloves to a large soup pan with the T. of olive oil. When the onions begin to turn clear or brownish (don't over cook!), add the broth, basil, thyme, bay leaf, and garlic. Bring this to a boil.

2. When the soup begins to boil, reduce the heat and simmer for approximately 40 minutes.

3. In the meantime, make your croutons: Cube the bread, approximately 2-3 cups, and toast in the oven at 300 degrees. Remove from heat, place in a paper sack, coat with apx. 1 - 2 Tbsp. of olive oil and season with the Creole seasoning. (This is spicy- be conservative at first!). Set the croutons aside.


4. When the soup has simmered for the 40 minutes, add apx 1 1/2 C. of the croutons and stir in with a wire whisk until they have mostly dissolved. At this point, the whole garlic cloves should be "mushy".

5. Remove the bay leaf

6. Add the half-and-half and parmesan cheese and immediately remove the soup from heat.

7. If you have a hand-mixer, use this to blend the soup to a smooth consistency. You may also pour the soup into a blender.

8. Serve immediately and garnish with the remaining croutons, parmesan, and creole seasoning.

**** the half-and-half, parmesan and bread can be omitted for a thinner broth-type soup with all the great flavor!

Christmas Carols for the Psychologically Challenge

Coming to you via Happy Catholic, check out Fr. Erik's humorous offering:

1) Schizophrenia - Do You Hear What I Hear, the Voices, the Voices?
2) Amnesia - I Don't Remember If I'll Be Home for Christmas
3) Narcissistic - Hark the Herald Angels Sing About Me
4) Manic - Deck The Halls and Walls and House and Lawn and Streets and Stores and Office and Town and Cars and Buses and Trucks and Trees and Fire Hydrants and...........
5) Multiple Personality Disorder - We Three Queens Disoriented Are

Read the rest!

The Word is "CHRISTMAS" Say it with me....

This culture is so unbelievably idiotic I'm not sure I can take it anymore, thus today is my long-overdue rant.

People, the word you are looking for is "Christmas". Really. It is a Christian holiday which celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, our savior. Thus the name "Christian" ie: one who follows Jesus in the belief that he is the Messiah fortold in the Old Testament. The very Son of God, 2nd person of the Trinity. And the word "Christmas"; this is the joining of two words, "Christ" and "Mass". Which is what we Catholics do on that holy day...we go to MASS to celebrate the birth of CHRIST.

Yes, we are aware that December 25th is not Jesus' actual birthday, because we don't really know what time of year he was born. Yes, we realize that pagan religions celebrate the Winter Solstice or "Yule" somewhere around December 21 or 22. Yes, we realize that originally, wreaths were a pagan symbol, but we have commandeered it and redefined the meaning as a representation of our own beliefs in eternity, everlasting life, resurrection, etc., etc.

We also realize that while we have celebrated Christmas on December 25 for centuries, that some joker decided to invent another holidy sometime in the 1960's, but I have actually never met anyone who truely celebrates Kwaanza...they tend to be more focused on their Savior as opposed to their culture, which they celebrate around the calender.

People take is not necessary to avoid saying the word "Christmas" for fear of offending people who don't celebrate it. Such logic is in fact, not logic at all and only caters to the lowest common denominator: that being the small percentage of Atheists who are money-mongering greed hounds only looking to get their sour faces splashed across history, because without that, they believe they will not exist when they die. So they employ the ACLU (Anti-Christian Liberties Union) to bully everyone into submission...all so they can have a photo in a newspaper somewhere.

Most atheists and agnostics probably couldn't care less that Christians celebrate Christmas, and likely just smile on our beliefs with a certain air of enlightened superiority, much as a parent will smile at a child who still believes that fairies dance in circles in the back yard duirng the spring. Or some other childhood fancy. Offended by our beliefs? No, because as far as most of them are concerned, "to each their own."

And then you have other religions that popular thought apparently has tried and condemned of the very intolerance of the misguided souls making these strange decisions. They have determined that Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, pagans, neo-pagans, etc., might be offended that the word "Christmas" is used.

What idiocy!

If we Christians were NOT celebrating our beliefs, all of the above listed religions and all others would likely think us quite strange. For what is the point of having a faith if we are not going to celebrate it joyfully and publicly? By not proclaiming our joy at the birth of our Savior, not only are we avoiding doing what Jesus himself told us to do (Go and make disciples of all nations), but we are behaving as though this holy day is something to be ashamed of. Not exactly any kind of testimony to the other religions out there who DO celebrate their faiths and would like to continue to do so.

Muslims are not offended that Christians in America celebrate their beliefs. Jews are known to encourage people to know their own beliefs and to embrace and celebrate them. Buddhists and Hindus just want to be left alone to practice what they believe, whether within our without the public eye. Pagans and Neo-Pagans just want to be left alone as well and tend towards relativism - "do what you will". (That last is a Wiccan precept).

If people are offended that Christians would dare to publicly celebrate their beliefs, this is not indicative of a problem with is a problem with those who have chosen to be offended and further indicative of a problem with narcissism. "I don't like it...thus I am going to destroy everyone else's joy to bring them to my level, thus I will be superior."

Give me a freakin' break.

The news media, the newspapers, businesses, etc., are being so careful to avoid using the word "Christmas" it's actually painful. And I don't think it's my imagination, but even the news anchors seem to be a little strained and have let a few references to "Christmas" slip through. I hope they get to keep their jobs in spite of the "offense" they "might have caused".

Throughout the news in the last couple days have been references to "holidays" with clear contextual references to Christmas alone, not to New Year's. Holiday Lights. Give me a break. The only people putting up lights are people who consider themselves Christian in some way. Thus they are "Christmas Lights". It's perfectly ok to call them that. "Holiday Lights" is a meaningless, inane term which says nothing but "that guy over there might sue me or beat me with a club if I make any reference to Christ".

Holiday shopping. Get real. The stores are not marketing to people who do not celebrate Christmas...they are marketing to the main population of the United States, because THE MAJORITY celebrate Christmas and are shopping for gifts for their loved ones. Let's call it what it is; CHRISTMAS SHOPPING.

If someone who does not celebrate Christmas happens to go to the store, they are not being forced to purchase gifts or observe our Holy Day. They can feel free to disregard the hoopla, and you know what? We Christians don't care, either. We do not expect people who don't share our beliefs to celebrate with us, although they are certainly welcome to do so. If that person is offended, that's their problem.

What's amazing is that this careful avoidance of actual reference to the Holy Day Christians celebrate is not carried over to the other holidays of the year, but I can name a few that perhaps should be modified, if we use the dominant lack of logic that dictates public policy:

* Valentine's Day. Perhaps we should change the name or subdue the marketing because this holiday can be extremely difficult for those who may be widowed, or too young to understand what romantic love is, or diabetics who can't have all the sugary treats peppered throughout the stores and sitting out in candy dishes. Or what about singles? Perhaps singles will be offended by such "in your face" focus on happy couples because maybe they are ugly or misfits or will never find their true love. So let's be sure that they are taken into consideration. Or what about those who are unhappily married, seperated, or divorced? Doesn't Valentine's Day just rub salt in the wound? How awful that we dare to celebrate such a day.

* July 4- Independence Day: Yup. With all the patriotic and nationalistic red, white, and blue, flags waving, children's faces painted, fireworks, etc., this holidy should be squashed, too. It might be offensive to immigrants who are unhappy with our current immigration system and their sympathizers. Or offensive to Democrats...for obvious reasons. Or it might be offensive to people who were in wars in the past and suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder...those fireworks could send them sailing in fear! Or what about people who are just visiting the United States? Perhaps our celebrations are an affront to their own national pride, and we can't take the chance of offending tourists, can we?

* Labor Day. Oh, yeah. What an offense against the people on Disability who can't work, or people who have chosen to live in welfare? (Yes, I'm serious) Or what about people who have been laid off, or fired? How DARE we celebrate and honor workers?

* Veteren's Day. Oy, what a holiday that calls the Dems to task! Can't offend the Dems! And those who were rejected from military service for some reason and never had the opportunity to follow their grandfather's footsteps into Veteranhood. We can't offend those people, either. Or those who don't know anyone in the military services. Doesn't this holidy just leave them out on the fringes? We must have holidays that can include everyone.

What IDIOCY! Yet this is the dominant thought in our culture, and we expose the ridiculousness of it when comparing what they do to Christmas to other holidays. There is a clear double-standard here which applies only to Christians and our celebrations.

So let's stop being a bunch of wusses, lift up our heads, our hearts, and our voices, and proclaim from the rooftops that we are celebrating the very birth of Jesus Christ and take the world to task! We have been COMMANDED to Go, and make disciples of all nations, and we are failing miserably because a few bullies have claimed that people they know nothing about may be offended at the expression of our joy in the birth of Jesus Christ.

Jesus did not come to bring peace and goodwill without effort, and in fact, he was quite a revolutionary. He ticked off a lot of people...and died a horrible death because if it. If we are going to allow ourselves to be beaten into submission over a few legal threats, then we don't deserve to call ourslves "followers of Christ." Let's get a backbone and remember what December 25th is really about, and stop being so hesitant to announce it to the world!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Brother Craig

Well, the news is out about the alleged incident of sexual misconduct. I saw it this afternoon when checking the weather at work, his familiar face splashed with glee across several local News websites. I will not post it here out of respect for him.

Yes, I still respect him, and I still love Brother Craig. Why? Because he was a sort of anchor for me when I was a student at St. Mary's in Winona.

Brother Craig actually started at St. Mary's in 1994 as the new Vice President. When we were in Mexico, he was part of a small delegation from campus ministry, bringing good tidings and support from our American counterparts. He spoke Spanish fluently, having lived and studied in Venezuela, and immediately, in him I found an ally. He was approachable, he was kind, and he understood the psychology of the "study abroad" experience, both during and after.

When I sent a request back with him for some materials for the practicum I was working in, he responded immedately upon his return to the US and within a couple weeks, I recieved a package. He had made good on his word and earned my trust.

We returned to the United States in early December, after classes had ended for the semester, and only a few days before returning, my Dad passed away. I remember speaking to Brother Craig about my father's passing, but I can't remember if he had heard about it and offered his condolences or if I had gone to find him for some reason and revealed it to him. In any case, he made it very clear to me that if I needed a listening ear, he was available.

And I did take advantage of that because not only was I dealing (or not dealing) with grief, but I was dealing with culture shock. It was so hard to be back at school when my heart was still in Mexico...and my soul wrought with grief I couldn't express.

Our conversations tended to be light and brief, but he helped me significantly in those small moments to somehow keep from going off the deep end. His presence in my life was a grace from God, and I will always treasure that. I will forever value those moments and the recognition of an ally at a very trying time in my life when I seemed surrounded by darkness. He was at least a spark of a light that kept me going.

I am very disappointed to hear of these allegations and Brother Craig's resignation, for it does seem to be a sort of betrayal. Yet what was or was not done is done and can't be avoided or changed. He and the rest of us can only move forward.

I just went to Confession tonight; I am in no position to condemn Brother Craig for I am not infallable myself. We all fall; we all sin. And none of us knows the facts in this case, we are not privy to them, nor should we be.

So I would ask you all to keep Brother Craig in your prayers. I can speak for one person who is not willing to give up on him. I owe him at least that.

Sweet relief..but the battle ain't over

The Saga continues.

The comments left on my previous post made me cry this morning, because I realized they were right....I needed to go to Confession again. We aren't designed to fight such battles alone, and God will "recharge" us if we but come to Him with even a shred of humility and ask for His forgiveness.

And today was another bad one, so I KNEW I had to go and be reconciled.

This evening after I had cared for my dogs, I headed out to my parish. We are very very priviledged; it is a large parish and so we have three Daily Masses, and Confessions after each Mass unless announced otherwise.

Tonight was the bi-annual mass-Reconciliation night, which we have during Christmas week and during Holy Week, or the week just preceeding. So from about 1:00 pm to 9 pm tonight, there are multitudes of priests available to hear confessions, and folks, let me tell you...when I arrived at about 6:15 pm tonight, that parking lot was FULL, and the lines were LONG! PRAISE GOD!

But I got into line anyway made my confession to a priest I've never met. Went face-to-face tonight, cried, and then still made it to Mass.

What a blessed evening! But I know that the battle isn't won yet. Tonight was the last opportunity for Confessions until after Christmas, after which the regular Confession schedule will resume. So I really need to keep it together this time. Really.

I've been struggling with prayer, especially in those difficult moments, and those, of course, are the most necessary moments. So tomorrow I will return to work for one more day, do what I can, do my best to be the light of Christ to the world, and I have determined that if I can't do that, then I'll just hide under my desk until it's all over, just so I don't have a repeat of the last two days.

That should be sufficient.

And Friday...blessed day off, which I requested and recieved on Monday, because other than Christmas day, we have no other time off. And I don't think I can take another day this week.

God help me. Please.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Temptations and Virtues

* sigh *

I am suffering many of the former, having almost NONE of the latter.

During this Advent season, I have been reading St. Francis DeSales "Introduction to the Devout Life." As I had written before, it hit me RIGHT BETWEEN THE EYES and I resolved to make a very good Confession before Christmas. I resolved to prepare, to be blunt, be brief...and be gone, as coached by one of our very wondeful and wise priests at one of his Saturday Advent talks.

I wanted to choose my time, but as it happened, the Lord would not leave me alone. Last night I couldn't relax, I was stressed, tearful, and while I didn't intend to go to Mass or Adoration at all last night, that's exactly where I went - to the Church, that is. It was long after Mass had ended, and I wondered if I would miss Confessions as well, but I didn't. In fact, the line was still very long. So I re-read the meditations in "Devout Life" and got in line when that still small voice told me it was the right time.

Then the old thing began to happen...I began to tremble, tear up, to absolutely PANIC and I realized that this was why I had been called to the chapel last night; because my soul recognized the need for Confession, not tomorrow or Wednesday, but RIGHT THEN.

I was so nervous that I could not complete my examination of conscience, so I was forced to pray over and over to the Holy Spirit to help me speak of those sins that most offended God.

So I went, I did my best, I made my Act of Contrition, and knelt at the very feet of Jesus, acknowledging my imperfections, my attachments to sin, all those things that block my relationship with Jesus.

And I left, thankful, yet feeling sort of numb. I am so glad that grace doesn't depend upon "personal feelings"! I did my penance, prayed some more, and returned home having shed my tears.

Before going to sleep, I picked up my other Advent book, Father Ciszek's "He Leadeth Me", and this book indeed is already changing my life. More on that later. He is speaking to me in a way that I never knew I would find for he addresses my concerns, my temptations, my very struggles at work and how to use them to further God's Kingdom. His words of wisdom, spoken through his own horrible experiences in Soviet work camps shamed me as I considered my relatively cushy job (relative to his!), and thus he is helping me to find the resolve to honor God in the small things.

So today, as usual, going in to work with my stomach in knots, overstressed before I even entered my cube, I nontheless had resolved to exude Jesus Christ today.

The Virtues of Fortitude, Temperance, Humility (above all), Patience (just under Humility!), and Prudence were going to be my personal buzzwords to get me through the day.

Rather, each and ever Virtue was called to the test...and each and EVERY time, I failed, and failed again. I had actually fallen before I had even left my garage this morning! But I had driven on, thinking, "Well, that doesn't define my day..."

I had the best of intentions.

So today I proved once again that the best intentions still pave the road to Hell.

Instead of representing Christ today, I'm pretty certain I represented the one who shall not be named. I'm completely ashamed of myself.

And tonight, I just felt tormented, frightened, unfocused...all those things. So while I walked my dog, struggling spiritually, I prayed my new favorite prayer: I claim the protection of the blood of the Lamb.. Over and over again, believing every blessed word. Begging for mercy from this spiritual torture.

Then I went to Mass and offered all this to Jesus, trying to settle down, considering whether I should go to Confession AGAIN given the terrible day I've had, all through my own weakness, my own fault, my own wretched soul.

How wretched we all are in the face of God most Holy! I thank God for this grace He has given me, to be able to see how desperately I need him, how little I can do on my own!

But still...should I go to Confession again, I pondered? I did not believe I had sinned gravely today, just average, everyday sinning, the same stuff we all struggle with, but today was just worse than usual. The evil one does indeed get to us most often through the little things; not the large ones.

"Bless me, Father, for I have's been....uh...23 hours since my last Confession....."

I figured that if I did go to Confession to talk about my transgressions against the Virtues, Father would likely chastize me for being scrupulous, offer wise counsel to deal with days like this, would absolve me again and tell me to keep it together this time. And to remind me that Venial sins do not require immediate Confession and having gone to Mass erased them, anyway.

Remind me to post about sin later. I'll be teaching a class on it in a couple months.

Anyway, I determined not to bother Father as he had a long line already, people likely in need of the grace of the Sacrament...not just a bunch of whiners such as myself. I'd already been to Mass, thus I had recieved the cure, and it was time to depend upon God's promises and His abundant Grace.

So here I am, at home, feeling better because Jesus has lifted some of my burden. But today was a lesson in Humility, I think. Humility in that God used all of my weaknesses at once to show me that I need to depend upon Him, to pray when confronted by temptation, and even upon faltering, to fall at His feet, over and over again. Because without Jesus....there is nothing. Without the Lord, we are only bits of dust.

Praise the Lord for His infinite Mercy!

P.S. (I never said it would be an INTERESTING post!)

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Invisible...the Poor....the Homeless

I read this post over at Abbey-Roads, and encourage you all to head over for a snapshot of life in Minneapolis for those we often would prefer not to acknowledge.

Maybe because I have been reading Dickens, but my experiences today made an impression upon me. I realize how blind I have become to the needs of others, to the invisible people. They are only invisible because I've chosen not to acknowledge them. I may see them in my day to day experiences, nevertheless I never see them in their context. I recognize their poverty, but do not even attempt to imagine their living conditions. I can give money to help them, or a kind smile, but I move on in a hurry to get back to the comfort of my home, forgetting all about them. The irony is, I insist that I am always aware of them...nevertheless they remain poor and miserable while I am comfortable and doing everything I can not to be miserable. In essence, we are no different from these poor, except maybe the fact that they remain invisible.

A few years ago, I wrote a lot of poetry, and I remember how my thoughts, after a conversation with an ex-homeless man, followed much of the same pattern as expressed by Terry in his post. I have not previously shared any of my poetry on this blog as, really, it's not any good, but sometimes I do read this one and it reminds me to open my eyes a little more, to see what I don't want to see, and to remember I'm only a paycheck away from the same sort of existence.

Beneath the bridges
of the highways
People speed by, never seeing
the homeless citizens
beneath them.
The full moon rises over the city
setting in silhouette
makeshift shelters
under which
the downtrodden settle
with their bowls of soup
the light they can't seem to catch.

I often travel through a part of Minneapolis, the borderlands seperating Downtown from Uptown, where Hennepin and Lyndale merge and an exit crosses back over Hennepin to give access to Hwy 94. To the north of that mess, Lyndale extends under Hwy 94 and merges with 394. This entire stretch, in the shadow of the Basilica of St. Mary, the homeless build shelters, hold signs, and eke out some sort of existence; the kind we all think can never happen to us. They probably thought that once, too.

Catholic Social Teaching demands that we embrace the poor, but how often do we do it? How often do we stretch out our hands to the downtrodden; rather, don't we often condemn them and "sentence" them, attributing their demise to their own actions? But we don't know them, we don't know where they came from or how they came to live under the Highway 94 exit, or holding a sign on Glenwood Avenue while trucks rumble by on the overpass above their heads.

To ignore the poor is to ignore Jesus Christ, and yet, it's so hard for us to leave the comfort of our warm, heated homes to spend even a couple hours in reaching out personally to the poor. Writing a check isn't always enough, because a check is a simple piece of paper...a handshake, a conversation...THOSE are blessed moments spent with Jesus.

And by my very words on this page, I am condemned, I am convicted, and you are all my witnesses.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Belief of Children

I read a great post today over at Just Another Day of Catholic Pondering, a review of the new "Charlotte's Web" movie, which I cannot wait to see!

But her review made me think and contemplate, that even as adults, we still have the ability to aspire to child-like belief, and in fact, Jesus admonishes us to do just that!

As adults, we are all forced to be practical, realistic, and to keep our feet firmly planted on the ground. However, a balance needs to be struck somehow; our very faith requires that we accept things without physical proof, and acknowledge the unseen daily.

As a child, I read "Charlotte's Web", over and over again, and while, to this day, I fear and despise spiders, Charlotte has always held a special place in my heart. I cried real tears when she died. I pondered the doctor's words to Fern's parents, reminding them that the imagination of a child is a fleeting but valuable thing and should be treasured for as long as possible. Today, that passage makes me cry for I fear I am Fern all grown up, having forgotten the belief in things beyond my experience.

When I read "The Chronicles of Narnia", I remember going each day to check the back wall of my closet, just in case there was a passage to Narnia for me, too. And I really BELIEVED that it was possible, although I never confessed this to anyone at the time. Yet for years, I begged for a doorway to open so that I could meet Mr. Tumnus, so that I could meet a talking horse, and dine with the Kings and Queens of that beautiful and far away land.

Perhaps now you laugh at such fancy, and as an adult, I do, too. But at the same time, I can't stop the pangs of bittersweet remorse for my indulgent laughter, for I cannot get the Biblical admonition to become like the children. For, as Jesus said, it is only those who are like these children who will inherit the Kingdom of God.

What does this mean?

Chilren are humble; they are small vessels of God's abundant grace, and they accept, unquestioningly, that the Divine is among them. They have not thrown up barriers and they do not know the careful art of argument and debate. Their lives are simple and if we tell them that Jesus is in the tabernacle, they accept this, although granted, with many questions for they cannot understand how a full-grown man can live in such a small space. But they will still accept this as Truth and go about their day resting in the knowledge that Jesus is always there.

Children are in contact with the mystical, which we as adults shut out all to often. We hear that "still, small voice" in our hearts and call it "imagination", wheras children may be conversing fluently with the Angels and just consider it to be a part of daily life.

I remember, as a child, when I still had to stand on the kneeler in order to see over the pew, our parish always sang the "Our Father" during Mass. I don't think Father Weber usually used a microphone for our church was very small, but during that prayer, when he offered his part before the doxology, I remember that a gentle, yet overpowering voice spoke over the music. It didn't sound like Father Weber, because the voice was far too BIG to be his. I remember how everyone stood silently against the subdued background music,praying, yet there was no outward recognition as to what was going on. Not that I could see.

I became convinced that God was speaking to us Himself. This went on for a couple weeks as I became more and more perplexed as to why no one reacted when God was speaking so audibly. His voice was EVERYWHERE, and no one seemed to care!

So the next Sunday, during this part of the prayer, I could contain myself no longer. I realized that I was the ONLY PERSON who realized that this was GOD'S VOICE and thus it was my duty to make sure everyone gave Him the reverence He was due.

I tugged at Mom's sleeve..."Mom!" I said in a loud whisper.

She shook me off.

I became more urgent in my request, pulling on her arm, raising my voice a little more. This was the most important thing I had ever said, and I would not be denied! God was SPEAKING to us and NO ONE SEEMED TO NOTICE!

"MOM!" More urgent, a note of hysteria entering my voice.

"SHHHHH!" She shushed me.

I was actually a very shy child, and by this point, people around us were beginning to stare. I was faltering, but I really believed that God was speaking, so I HAD to persevere, in spite of my own inclination to be silent and hidden. So I raised my voice once again, tugging on her arm insistently, desperately trying to call her attention to God's voice.

Finally, she turned to me, visibly annoyed, finally listening as I told her, "Mom...that's God! God is talking to us!"

Mom did nothing; she just looked me in the eye and told me to be quiet.

And then Father's part ended, Mom continued to look irritated as we sang the Doxology, and I realized I had failed in calling attention to God's voice. People around us were snickering, and I didn't understand why, so I chose to ignore them.

They continued to smile at me throughout the remainder of the Mass and made special effort to shake my hand, but my greeting to them was lackluster, for I felt that I had failed in my divine mission, although I didn't realize that that's what it was.

Of course, as you've gessed by now, there was no voice of God; rather only a child mistaking the wonders of modern technology.

But I will never forget that day, because as an adult, I only WISH I could so unquestionably believe that God is speaking to us. I only WISH I would be so obedient to calling the attention to those around me to God's presence.

There I was, a little girl, no voice or status at all, yet so convinced of God's actual presence that I literally overcame my shyness and made a fool of myself in order to make sure everyone else knew about it. God still requires this of us all, and how often do we listen to that prompt?

I wish I had the humility I had as a little girl.

This coming week, we are preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, as a helpless infant, a humble little child. And we perhaps have other little ones in our lives who have no problem believing that Jesus was a child once, just like them. They have no problem relating to Him; they have not yet learned to throw up barriers and suspend belief.

This week, don't just focus on the final touches for Christmas dinner, the hectic cleaning or traveling, the toys being put together for the children in the name of "Santa", but take some time to remember what it was like to be a child, to believe without question, to understand that God could and does move among us every single day....and when you look at Jesus in the creche, don't just "ooh" and "ahh", but BELIEVE.

Allow yourself to be a child again, if only for just one night...and allow God to reveal Himself to you once again in a renewal of what we celebrate in this blessed season.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

What!? Multiple Sexual Partners are HARMFUL!??

What! Why weren't we taught this stuff in school when they handed out the condoms and discussed contraceptive methods?

Simple. There's a gag order of the demonic kind. And our popular culture is so wrapped up in pop psychology without merit, our society so hypnotized by pornographic images surrounding them, and so enthralled with their own "enlightenment" that they have not stopped to question the reality of the STD's that plague them. They blame everyone; the other person involved in their one-night-stand, their cheating boyfriend or girlfriend...but one thing is in common; no one has any sense of personal responsiblity.

What set me off on this? Check out this article, coming to you by courtesy of a Sister at MySpace:

Unfortunately, the young women....have fallen victim to one of the few personal troubles that our caring professions refuse to treat or even acknowledge: They have been made miserable by their "sexual choices." And on that subject, few modern doctors dare express a word of judgment.

Thus the danger of sexually transmitted diseases is too often overlooked in the lifestyle choices of the young women at the unnamed college where the author works. But the dangers go far beyond the biological. A girl named Heather, for instance, has succumbed to an intense bout of depression. The doctor presses her to think of possible causes. She can't think of anything. Then she says: "Well, I can think of one thing: since Thanksgiving, I've had a 'friend with benefits.' And actually I'm kind of confused about that."

Read the entire article here.

I'll post a few more lines:

Heather continues: "I want to spend more time with him, and do stuff like go shopping or see a movie. That would make it a friendship for me. But he says no, because if we do those things, then in his opinion we'd have a relationship--and that's more than he wants. And I'm confused, because it seems like I don't get the 'friend' part, but he still gets the 'benefits.'" It finally dawns on her: "I'm really unhappy about that. It's hard to be with him and then go home and be alone."

A few years ago I had a friend who was discussing a similar situation, the only difference being that she had talked herself into not caring about the "friendship" part. While I wasn't the most moral of persons at the time, I remember not knowing what to say to her; her comment was so against her dignity, what she was suggesting was so BASE that I was completely silenced.

Modern feminism has taught us that in order to be "free" we must give away all that we have, sexually. To have any form of disinterest in sexual exploration with the next guy to come along results in the question, "What's wrong? Are you a lesbian?" or "You must be repressed. What you need is a good -----." Thanks, but no thanks.

The situation described in the article is all too common. We women have been raised to teach ourselves to resist our feminine instict; that is, to home, family, constancy, chastity and even protection. Yes, we deserve protection. We deserve to be able to live holy and chaste lives...and yet, our culture laughs at this idea.

What I find ironic is that so much money is spent on contraceptives, marketing, clases about "safe sex" (which is quite the misnomer), and AIDS treatment. Yet no one is willing to discuss the consequences of all the chemicals, the reality that condoms don't prevent the insidious Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) which often leads to cervical cancer; the reality that condoms break and can of course lead to other STD's including HIV, the reality that men more often contract and pass on the disease, and are usually more protected in that they spread it more quickly than the multiple women with which they have intercourse. You see; it's STILL the men who "sow their wild oats" more so than women, and of course, men tend to DELIVER the viruses and bacteria. Unless they are homosexuals, they often are not on the recieving end.

So how, exactly, are women recieving greater dignity through multiple sexual unions? How? Explain this to me. I really don't understand. Feminsim has taught us that we can be used over and over again, thrown away without recourse or justic, contract terrible diseases, have children with multiple men, and kill them if that idea is inconvenient to us.

How does this make us powerful? Notice the men get to cause the trouble and leave, but we are NEVER to accept any responsibility for our own imprudent actions, even on our deathbeds.

And let's talk about contraceptives...IUD's have punctured uteruses and done other internal damage. Besides killing viable embryonic babies, I mean. The Pill is a bunch of hormones that can screw you up emotionally (we all are familiar with PMS--I once had one pill to control that issue which did nothing more than make me cry ALL THE TIME FOR NO REASON). They are also linked to breast cancer, but it's politically incorrect to discuss that.

Pumping ourselves full of synthetic hormones CAN'T be good for us, but we have alll, like a bunch of cows, unquestioningly accepted this bunch of bullcrap as gospel truth and we have allowed ourselves to be injected, implanted, and given pills to ingest without any true knowledge of what it would do to us. And they prescribe these pills for ANYTHING, endorse them, encourage them, but never bother to discus the fact that, if we are using them as birth control, that they will have other consequences. And they refuse to publicly acknowledge that that the synthetic hormones alone can be harmful.

And then, getting back to the article, is the issue of depression, the loss of self-worth for being "used". We women have been taught, in the last, what, 30-40 years, that WE are the "predators" on the dating scene, and in order to "take control" we have to be aggressive and spread our legs easier than Skippy in order to overcome society's double standard.

I haven't seen how this has done any more than make us all look like a bunch of whores, and those of us who refuse? Nerds, geeks, prudes, repressed...insert your own personal insult here. In health class, they taught us that "No means NO!", but another reality has developed, in that men have come to expect that any woman they date is going to go to bed with them, and if she doesn't then she must not "care" for him. Never mind that no matter what we are programmed to believe, men and women view sex differently, even if we are forced to suppress our true feelings in light of what popular culture tells us we are supposed to feel.

When I was in college, someone was discussing a particular couple, and how one guy was not treating his girlfriend well. Why was she still sleeping with him, they asked her. Her response? "Because if he doesn't get it from me, he'll go get it from someone else."

Sadly, several women agreed. They were only sleeping with their boyfriends, not out of desire, but out of misguided "necessity", to keep him around. Because he'd find another heifer somewhere else.

Yup. I said "heifer", because that's how women are behaving these days.

Modern Feminism has done nothing to illuminate and uphold true feminity, true womanhood. Modern Feminism has caused the death of millions of women, and they will NEVER be vindicated, no matter how many pink ribbons one wears. No matter how much money you donate to the Susan B. Komen foundation (which, by the way, supports embryonic research and Planned Parenthood, and which, in turn, is funded by United Way), these women will never get their lives back, or undo the loss of dignity done to them, even by their unknowing acquiescence.

No, multiple partners are not freeing...they are enslaving, and the same thing applies to men.

We are all called to be chaste, celibate until marriage, chaste within marriage, and married to one person, one soul, in a holy sacramental union.

Any other arrangement is death, both spiritual and physical...and if you are out there telling yourself anything different and acting in a different manner, well, then search your conscience, your health records, and take a good look in the mirror before condemning my words.

Ladies, we have been lied to. Why do we persist in behaving like mindless cattle in the face of a culture that won't tell us the truth about our dangerous behavior? We enslave ourselves to men and it is WE who suffer the consequences, all in the name of "sexual freedom."

Pardon me, I fail to see any type of freedom in the sexual bondage of our current culture.

If you care to continue to lie to yourself, be my guest. But I'm sick of being used, I'm sick of watching women die in the name of "freedom" that doesn't exist, and I'm sick of the lies that force us to betray our true femininity in the name of "liberation."

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Catholic Spirit and the 8th Commandment

I would caution the professional Journalists of the Catholic Spirit--they are held to a higher standard than bloggers. So what is their point? And why are they painting with such a broad brush?

Take my previous post as an example; because we as bloggers can be so quick to editorialize, yes, we have responsibility, but our ability to respond holds these professional writers to a much higher standard. Get the facts right, or face the consequences. We deal with it in com boxes...editors have the right to shred their responses, but they can't shred blog posts. So instead, they attempt to discredit all sources.

I'm sorry. Is the above accusation against the 8th Commandment...or a legitimate defense of the reactions of coherent bloggers with valid opinions?

The Catholic Spirit is not known to be the most...uh...FAITHFUL...newspaper out there. And quite honestly, I've never found a newspaper I truly trust, for each writer puts his or her own spin on the subject at hand. Can we then accuse each and every journalist out there, no matter their intentions, of detraction, calumny, and every other sin under the 8th Commandment, as the Spirit does against bloggers?

The notorious issue professional journalists face is the fact that they know a little bit about many subjects...and as such, it's very easy for them to determine that they know all there is to know. I have heard this from professional journalists themselves in that this is one of their greatest temptations. So I would suggest that the Catholic Spirit be very careful to check ALL their facts before print, or we will likewise have good grounds to quote their very words back at them.

Let's contrast this with the Gospel message of charitability; it seems that the Catholic Spirit is trying to discredit bloggers across the board. Why? We are all called rather to give people the benefit of the doubt. The Church, in fact, has NEVER condemned a single soul to Hell, but quickly jumps to discern if a particular soul was called to Heaven immediately; thus the process of Canonization, versus the non-existent process of damnation.

I have to ask then; why is this article so quick to paint with such a broad, condemning brush? Really? Do ALL bloggers fit this pattern, or is is just a matter of perspective? Or intention? Or just a mistake in bias?

If we look at the Cathoic Spirit's article about bloggers, they seem to be going the route of damnation of all bloggers. While I'm the first to admit that sometimes we don't have all the facts, as we all well know, neither do the journalists. In fact, most of the time, the journalists are completely useless and ALSO spread rumors and detraction in favor of readership and ratings.

I like to think that Catholic publications are above that, but I live in the real world, with real people, and with the recognition that deadlines often make people do crazy things...such as crunch in an article in favor of making the boss happy, versus getting the facts straight. Anyone every watch KSTP? Yeah...not only do they misspell their copy on the web page at times, but they so often misquote, misunderstand, and completely miss the point. Guess that's detraction and no TV news, newspaper, or magazine article can be trusted. Guess that means the Catholic Spirit is a bit discredited as well.

So my suggestion to the Catholic Spirit would be to remember your own words and cautions against breaking the 8th Commandment; for as professionals, you are held to a much higher standard; and as such, you may take a much greater fall if you falter. A blog can be deleted and the blogger anonymous. But a newspaper and byline goes down in infamy.

Franciscan Nun becomes a Pastor?

The title is a bit misleading, don't'cha think? Fair warning...some of you are about to see my snarky side again, after quite a long hiatus.

Check out the article by the same title, sans the question mark for yourself for the full text. I'll only summarize it here and quote a few of the journalistic verses.

Prognosticators tell us that young adults, just starting out in the work force, can expect to change not just their jobs but their careers three or four times before retiring. In that regard Audree Catalano, the new pastor at St. Paul's Lutheran Church, has been something of a pioneer.

In the opening paragraph, the author of this work immediately discredits himself as he makes the classic blunder; comparing a job with a VOCATION. There IS a SIGNIFICANT difference. For example...those of us with jobs get up in the morning, go to work, and come home. While I'm the first to admit that some jobs are also a lifestyle (ie; police officers are cops 24/7, etc.), it is far from being a Vocation. Those who are called to the religious life, whether as nuns, sisters, priests, monks, friars, or MARRIAGE are called to those individual VOCATIONS, and typically, this does not change. It does happen, however, that someone misunderstands their true calling; as clearly this woman did.

My job, professionally, involves looking for red flags, identifying them, laying them out, and seeing the pattern...which usually leads to further investigation, more questions, and ultimately, a summary in front of some big wigs during which time I make some recommendations regarding the situation at hand.

So let's start with this article and lay it all out:

* Catalano starts out Catholic. This is a good thing; Catholic school, strongly influenced by the Fransiscan Sisters who taught at her school, good religious upbringing, by her telling. Let's just accept this at face value and assume the best. She was off to a good start, and met with the typical struggle...seemed to be called to religious life, but her family wanted her to get married.

She defied her family in deference to what she believed was God's will for her. Kudos for takes courage, and Jesus himself promised that we might be required to leave our families in order to follow Him. So far, so good.

* It appears that Catalano began her career within the context of her religious vocation as a Fransiscan Sister, although the article is not specific. Then the article describes the post-ictal Vatican II cacaphony that occurred here in the U.S., during which, it appears her order lost contact with God and forgot that a call is a call and there is such a thing as temptation; such in this case being the cultural madness of losing the religious habit entirely. BIGGEST MISTAKE ever, in my humble opinion. Or not so humble if I am to be honest with you all.

* Catalano became "dissillusioned by some of the sisters in her group who were not living according to the vision of religious life she had been presented. So, she got in touch with her spiritual director, Father John Jacobs.... Remember that name. John Jacobs, and that he is a priest, AND her Spiritual Director. Important fact there.

* Catalano went on retreat and left her order afterwards, taking a break. She had taken permanent vows by this point. She was not a postulant. She was not a novice...she was a full-fledged nun, and after a meeting with the above person, she left her order. To live in Chicago with her parents.

* This part is just too good not to quote directly: It was while she was in this slough of despond, that Catalano got a call from Fr. Jacobs. Her former spiritual advisor told her he too, had taken a leave of absence from the priesthood and was living in Chicago. They talked on the phone, went out together, started dating and fell in love.

WHAT!? Let's analyze this; in the professional world of counseling, which is a cousin to Spiritual Direction, this is a BIG no-no. It speaks of boundaries crossed that should not be crossed. It speaks of that psychological term "transference" during which certain attributes of parents or other parties are projected onto the authoritative party. And the clincher is this: the authoritative party is required to be strong enough to resist this predictable occurrance and redirect it, thus helping the person they are directing or counseling to understand and find healthy outlets. In the case of a religious, this does not involve what happened here....the priest and sister asking for a dispensation from their vows (aka divorcing God) in favor of a little fling which they referred to as "love". There is a greater story here, details known only to God, but this entire thing stinks of sulpher. Additionally, if the priest in this case was the one to cross the lines, that would be known as a formal crime in the legal world. For example... if a psychologist comes on to his or her patient within a certain amount of time or during their sessions, it's unethical and in fact, illegal. It is abuse of authority.

* The former priest, ie formal Spiritual Director of the former Fransiscan Sister got married. At least they petetioned the Vatican...thank God they still had the grace to submit to an authority greater than their own.

* They got married, had 3 daughters. So let's thank God for children and motherhood...because even in this context, God is still glorified and it proves that He is merciful, forgiving, and of course, loves children. And let's also assume the best of these parties; let's say they really did believe they were acting according to God's will. But apparently, after 15 years, they decided it didn't work so they called it quits. Hmmm....a pattern begins to take shape. And it still smells of sulpher.

* Quoting: After 15 years though, the marriage began to deteriorate, and in 1989 a diagnosis of cancer became the occasion for Catalano to make a decision. Believing that negative things in a person's life can enhance disease, she confronted her husband. The result was a two year separation that ultimately led to a divorce.

Again, time to be critical. After 15 years of marriage, the couple should be able to face the Vow they took; "In sickness and in health". But apparently, when faced with sickness, Catalano did what she did before when disillusioned....she ran away. She quit. She embraced the New Age ideals of dismissing "negativity" in favor of "my comfort" and left her husband......are YOU smelling the sulpher yet?

* Then she got another job, as a Deputy Sheriff, and got a Master's in Pastoral studies (I'm shuddering a little now, as this part comes a bit close to home).

* Then she met a Lutheran minister who told her she could be a Lutheran minister.

WHAT! Leave the Eucharist for the first rebellion? Or had she already really left? The article doesn't say where she was spiritually; just a lot of generic mumbo-jumbo. My guess was that she did not raise her daughters Catholic, but we'll never know. At least they were Christian, however. Thank God for that.

* Then she became a Lutheran Pastor.

I don't see a happy ending here. Not yet. But with prayer, she can come back. With prayer, she can smell the sulpher and realize that she DOES have a calling, but if you read critically and think critically, you will read in her own words that every step she took was all about HER and HER preferences...not about what God was really calling her to do. We are not to run for cover when faced with adversity...we are to stand where we are and place our trust in God. And people...if your Spiritual Director comes on to you or suggests that you date...get a new SD. That type of relationship DEMANDS solid boundaries.

The title is misleading...because this woman hasn't been a Fransiscan Sister for a very long time. But perhaps that is what she is supposed to be.

There is hope here, however. God can take our rebellion and he can do wonderful things if we are open to Him. I just pray that Catalano is truly open to God, and is, to the best of her ability, seeking God, but by the way this article is written, she is seeking herself.

I guess I can say the same thing, so again, in the name of honesty, I can't say that I am any different.

Yes, I have been quite critical here, for any Vocation needs to be affirmed by the Church; the authority of God. Catalano gives an example of what NOT to do, and how to best follow one's own desires versus God's desires for us.

Do I have a right to be critical? So far, I have not been confirmed in any particular Vocation, and I can testify that it is quite easy to follow one's own will and attribute our actions to God's will for us. Yet so easily are we decieved...and so easily God takes our blunders and turns them to good. Catalano could be a lot of things, I suppose. I've met a female Pastor, Methodist, actually, and she was a wonderful, Godly woman...coming back to the Catholic faith. She is truly seeking God, and if Catalano is doing the same, she will find him, and He will lead her.

Perhaps one day we will see Catalano on "The Journey Home". I ask that you all pray this may one day be so.

But do not be afraid to call a wrong when you see one, recognize and call out a red flag when they are abundantly displayed as are so here. Take this woman's journey as an example, and apply the lessons to your own spiritual life:

Do you seek God...or your own will?

For myself...well...I have a lot of praying to do. Better get to it.