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Friday, November 30, 2007

Urgent Prayer Request

I just recieved word from my brother that Mom is in the hospital.

She's been sick with the flu, hasn't been able to keep anything down for two days, including medication. Considering that she's bipolar, diabetic, and has some heart problems, this is a very bad thing. So today she had an appointment and her sister was going to pick her up at 10:30. But Mom apparently left way early for her appointment and was already there when my aunt arrived to pick her up. Understandably, my aunt was both confused and very worried.

Mom didn't bring her cell phone or anything else...she just went.

The clinic sent her to the Emergency Room, and she's since been admitted for observation over the weekend for dehydration, low blood sugar, electrolyte issues, and very low blood pressure.

My brother is on the way down to get some things from her apartment and will hopefully see her yet tonight. Please keep her in your prayers.


I'm sick, just called in. I hate being sick.

All week I've been fighting a cold, nearly called in on Wednesday, but it was going to be one of our busiest days so I went in. And seriously, had I not been there my co-workers would have been crushed by all the happenings. Yesterday I was still under the weather, but felt a little better, and went for Thai food at get the spicy stuff. And it helped. For awhile, but I ended up leaving work an hour early figuring to just add an hour to my 4 hour day today. And I have to be at work very early on Saturday morning for something.

And I've been having really weird dreams all week long, too. Bizarre vivid dreams that often characterize fevers. One night I was wandering around in a chausable - and it was a real pretty one, not the tablecloths the self-styled "priestesses" wear. And even in the dream I thought it odd that I'd be wearing a chausable. In another dream, my brother was telling me what chapters or verses to look in for information on God's mercy in the Bible (for my synthetic paper). It was verse 31 and 40. Or chapter 31 and 40. Or psalm? I don't remember, but believe you me, my brother would not give such advice. I'm not sure he even knows what the Bible is.

Anyway, I think this is the first time I'm calling in to work and not overly worried about what isn't getting done. There are no claims coming in, no vehicle inspections being cancelled. I'm not going to come back to a mountain of voice mails tomorrow morning. In other words, I can stay home and be sick in peace. And get well with my chicken broth and warm lemonade.

Although, sadly, I still have to go to the store, I still have to take the dog out on occasion, and these things are not negotiable. All I wanna do is hang out in a warm cozy house with a cup of tea in my fuzzy robe and fuzzy slippers. And nap a lot, the type of nap only a sick person can take. I don't wanna go outside!

And it's a First Friday so I HAVE to go to Mass tonight, but if I still feel like this I should not be in a crowd. * sigh *

OK, I'm going to end my whining now. Hope you all don't get this cold. It's flattened everyone else in my family already.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Last Thursday, and again today, I watched "Bridge to Terabithia", and let me tell you, this movie never fails to make me cry. Like a baby. Fine if I'm alone, but I was with my family last Thursday and trying really hard to not show emotion! (I have a hard time crying around other people and if I do so I'm horribly embarassed.)

Anyway, tonight, there it was again, and this time, I have a chance to write about what is on my mind. One of the memories this movie brings back is not so flattering, but may at the same time be of use to the mind of a child.

I don't know how old I was, maybe 7, and we lived in a country neighborhood, a conglomeration of trailer homes and houses, most of which were single-story. We weren't even on a map (until my Mom got involved due to another family losing their home to a fire...long story.)

Then one day I met Andrea, who was new to the neighborhood, and, joy of my heart, her family had HORSES! One day after school I got permission to go to her house with the admonition to not go into the horses's paddock. Mom was insistent that she "meet" any horse I even considered petting. She knew my love for horses, as well as my disregard for consequences including those caused by wild animals.

But given Andrea's description of the colt, Toby, and his mama, Bella, I really wanted to go see the horses!

Andrea arrived at her house, but the horses were not in sight. They weren't in the barn, so she ducked under the fence. I knew not to go...but of course, did so anyway. My new friend kept speaking of Toby's sweetness and his beauty...and certainly he was within the fence even if behind the barn! So I ducked in between the wooden fence slats and followed her through the hoof-beaten paddock, taking care not to turn my ankle in the deep hoof prints in the hardened clay of the Illinois (Rock River) river valley clay.

We wandered around the long weatherbeaten barn, chatting amiably, and as we cleared the far side, we saw the alleyway that ran between the wood-and-wire fence and the barn. At the far end stood Toby, a chestnut colt, looking at us curiously, head up, ears forward, somewhat smug in his expression. He was A LOT larger than I expected, as I still had the mental image of "colt" as being a "short-statured baby horse."

Yeah. He was a yearling. Horse people know how big he really was to a 7-year-old.

So as Toby trotted towards we human creatures curiously, we did what was natural in the face of a large oncoming equine...we ran! I followed Andrea around the barn as Toby's hoofbeats followed. She ducked under the fence...and I tripped in one of the deep hoof-caverns there in the hardened clay. Toby was coming! He was at the corner of the barn, coming towards us...and I crawled towards the fence, sure I would be trampled. He was upon me! And somehow I rolled in a very undignified manner under the lower slat and pulled my hand away...just in time!

There Toby stood, his muzzle seeking treats and attention, curious as to why we'd engaged him in a game of "Tag!" if we weren't willing to acquiesce!

Andrea herself had been forbidden to pet Toby when no adult was present, so both we and the poor colt went unfilled.

And there's the connection to Terabithia; Andrea was an imaginative girl, but her family was poor. And so, when she came to school, as she was poorer than my family, she was picked on.

In some ways, I was happy that they were picking on someone other than me. In other ways, I saw in her a real friend...and it tore me apart...because I didn't know how to handle that kind of conflict.

One day after school as we walked together (she had to pass my house) she pointed out the hoof prints in the yard of the neighbor who housed the unofficial "bus stop". She talked about how she was riding with her sister and Bella had gotten out of hand...and put large divots in the neighbor's yard.

That Monday, at the bus stop, the divots became an "issue". And I told the other kids the story about the out of control horse and the damage done to the property. And everyone was rarin' to go and went off on this, condmning Andrea for damage to a neighbor's property. (Never mind that the property owner knew about it, had forgiven it, was witness to the young women nearly falling off the horse...etc...).

Yup. When Andrea arrived, she was subjected to Hell at the hands of her peers. And I was a willing accomplice.

She rode the bus alone that day, head down, and home the same way, walking alone. I felt badly all day, completely guilty..but was afraid to act in her defense lest they jump on me as well. And I saw that it was my own fault.

The next day, Andrea wasn't there. We all felt bad, thought it was our fault, and that we should make it up to her.

Then further down the bus route, we picked up my friend Corrine. She described the police out on the river, the Fire Dept. boats, etc...they were looking for someone. It was a response all we river people had seen all our lives...they were looking for a drowning victim.

We immediately jumped to the conclusion they were looking for Andrea when we revealed to Corrine that Andrea wasn't there that day.

"So that's what all the commotion was about!" She cried.

All day long, the rumor spread: We picked on Andrea, and she drowned herself. It was all very dramatic, and we were at fault. If we hadn't picked on her, she would still be with us. We were too harsh. It wasn't her fault. We really did love her.

It was an agonizing day. The teachers had no idea what we were talking about, or that Andrea's drowning was even the topic of our angst and weird silences throughout the day.

It never occurred to us to discuss the illogic that Corrine lived about 3 miles up the road, and if Andrea was going to drown herself, she would do so at the nearest bank, and then flow south towards Oregon (a local town...we were between it an Byron).

A friend and I stopped when we got off the bus, to regard the hoof prints in the ground...the last memoir of Andrea, our betrayal of her, and our shock at her passing. It was horrible. We were convicted by the hoofprints.

I was crying when I got home, and told Mom all about how Andrea killed herself because of us. It was all our fault. We shouldn't have been so mean.

Mom of course had met Andrea and was very shocked by all of this, especially the idea that a 7 year old would make her way from her house to the river without someone knowing aobut it. And the fact that we had no official sources for this event.

So Mom called her house. I of course tried to stop her, not wanting to cause her family more pain...and terrified they would hate me.

Mom had a great conversation with Andrea's mother, told her the story, was laughing not long after, and when she hung up the phone, gave me a message about rumors, both starting them, participating in them, and in fact....believing them.

Andrea was fine, Mom was proud to share, and her family was thrilled that she was still alive and such a subject of love in our neighborhood and our school.

And in fact, when Andrea came back, we all made it a point to make up to her. It's not everyday that one gets a second chance!

Observations from Parish Life

You just never know what you're going to see from day to day or what lessons you're going to take away with you. These are just a few of my observations and lessons, and other things that leave me scratching my head on a regular basis:

1. Sometimes you just have to stop in the hallway and stand on your head for awhile before toddling onward.

2. Playing with doors is fun!

3. The patron Saint of the parish looks very cool when sporting sunglasses.

4. Some tape must be from a joke store - because it only holds posters to the wall when people are present, but is always later on found stuck to the floor.

5. The rooms are always too hot. The hallways are always too cold.

6. Most priests are not "dog people". There are exceptions but they are rare.

7. No one knows where the overhead projector came from or where it should go when it's done being used. The best thing to do is to walk with it back and forth down the hallway until someone else either needs it or finds somewhere to store it.

8. There is NEVER enough available space in a church/school complex.

9. If parts of the coffeepot are missing, it becomes useless for making coffee but can be utilized for other things. Don't ask.

10. Where's that projector!? They just used it last night!

11. According to the children, they only time they need to behave is when a nun is present. Or a woman dressed as a nun.

12. According to 6th graders, it's only a sin "if you get caught!"

13. Even the calender requires a monthly meeting.

14. If the church has a sound system and it is desperately needed, it won't work.

15. If a key to something is desperately needed, it won't be found. Anywhere.

16. Christmas decorations make incredible hats!

17. If you come across a teen with angel wings kneeling on the floor picking up paper clips...don't ask.

18. People ask questions such as "Why do the children need to learn the Act of Contrition for the Sacrament of Reconciliation?" (as an aside - HUH!?)

19. In the event of a missing 1st grader, try not to panic the Catechists even when YOU want to panic yourself.

20. Now I (and you) know why it's necessary to occasionally stop in the middle of the hallway and stand on one's head: it makes the world look right-side up if even for a moment.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Book List for 2nd Semester

Would anyone be offended if I posted my book list for 2nd Semester? I hope not. Consider this a "wish list" of sorts. Please let me know if you have these books and you're willing to send them my way to be marked up, tabbed, and used for higher education:

***** Catholic Theological Tradition *************

- Richardson, Cyril, ed Early Christian Fathers, TAN books,
ISBN-10: 0684829517 or (pbk) 13 - 978-0684829517

- Belloc, Hilaire, The Great Heresies ISBN-10:0895554755, ISBN 13: 978-0895554758
- Chesterton, G.K., St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Francis of Assisi Introduction by Ralph McInerny and Joseph Pearce, Ignatius Press, ISBN-10:0898709458 or ISBN 13:978-898709452

- Neuner, Josef, S.J. and Jacques Dupuis, S.J., eds. The Christian Faith: Doctrinal Documents of the Catholic Church, 7th Edition, New York: Alba House, 2001.
ISBN-10:0819908939 or ISBN-13:978-0818908934 (hrdcover)

- Bedouelle, Guy, The History of the Church (Handbooks of Catholic Theology Series) London/New York: Continuum, 2003
ISBN-10:0826414818 or ISBN-13:978-0826414816

******* Fundamental Theology ******************

- Kreeft, Peter and Ronald K. Tacelli, Handbook of Christian Apologetics, Downer's Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1004.
ISBN-1-0830817743 or ISBN-13:978-0830817740 (pbk)

- Sheed, Frank, Theology and Sanity, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1993 (Original 1947) ISBN-10:0385508190 or ISBN-13:978-0898704709 (pbk)

- Lewis, C.S. Mere Christianity, Harper SanFrancisco, 2001
ISBN-10:0060652926 or ISBN-13: 978-0060652920

**************New Testament I ***********************

- Dauphiniais, M. and M. Levering, Holy People, Holy Land: A theological Introduction to the Bible, Grand Rapids, Brazon Press, 2005
ISBN: 1-58743-123-8

- Carson, D.A. and D.J. Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, Second Edition. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005.
ISBN-10:0-310-23859-5 or ISBN -13:978-0-31023859-1

- Ratzinger, Joseph, Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth. New York:Doubleday, 2007
ISBN-10:0385523416 or ISBN-13:9780385523417

- Gundry, Robert A Survey of the New Testament, 4th Edition, Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 2003. ISBN 0-310-23825-0

- Pope Benedict XVI Jesus, The Apostles, and the Early Church, Ignatius Press, 2007
ISBN-10:1586172204 or ISBN-13:978-1586172206

- Staniforth, Maxwell (translator), Andrew Louth (author), Early Christian Writings: The Apolstolic Fathers, Revised edition, Harmondsworth: Penguin Classics paperback, 1987.
ISBN10:0-14044750 or ISBN-13:978-0-140-44475-9

I have my registration paperwork and I'm registering for 2nd semester. I think I'm $300 or so ahead from the loan I took out in August, and I do think I'll be maintaining at least a "B" average from my first semester, which enables me to keep my merit scholarship. But the rest...I still have to pay for the rest of the semester and the books.

I recongize some of the book titles, but don't have any of them. I will be applying for another loan for this semester, and can only assume they will approve me as my credit remains good; and the total will continue to be deferred for the next 3 years. The unfortunate part of graduate school loans is that they are not subsidized; the interest will continue to build.

I'm willing to accept that, both because I love God and feel called to further education, and because all money belongs to Him. If God does not want me to continue, His Will will become clear. In the meantime, all I can do is continue to work at this.

God's will be done.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Defending the Truth

I know a few posts ago I was upset by all the snark in the blogosphere, but I still admit that at times it's necessary to step up and defend the Truth, even if doing so seems snarky. So beware...this is going to be a snarky post, and one that I'm certain will land me a greater sentence in Purgatory. Please pray for my soul.

Here's the deal; I read today the content of a homily posted by a local priest. I will not name him or his parish, but will only provide the link to the source and you can follow the links from there.

Apparently this homily came from an audio file, and this is a snippet of the information for your reading displeasure:

Version 3:

Two people came into Church to pray, one was a Catholic Archbishop who refuses communion to Rainbow Sash people at the Cathedral on Pentecost Sunday who prayed ” I give you thanks oh God that I am not like others – greedy, dishonest or like others who need to make their dissent from official Church teaching so public and divisive.”

The other were Rainbow parents of GLBT people at the Cathedral on Pentecost who stood off on the side and prayed, “Oh God be merciful to us for failing to attend our own Churches more often; they say they love God then turn there backs on us in hate directly contrary to 1:John,4 – whoever loves God must also love the neighbor.” Jesus concluded the last ones went home more worthy in God’s sight than the first.

By way of explanation, the gospel being used was obviously the pharisee and the publican. The "version" is one of several "versions" this priest chose to write for his homily, all of which miss the point of the gospel message.

I find it necessary, therefore, to defend our coadjutor bishop, Archbishop Nienstedt, which is pretty sad considering I'm defending him from one of his own local priests.

Firstly, the good Bishop simply stated Church teaching, in this article. His teaching was in response to an attack by local homosexual activists whose desire is that the teachings of the Catholic Church change to meet their basest desires of the flesh. You know the story because it plays out daily somewhere.

For those who don't care to click on the link, the information in the article by the Archbishop simply provided an explanation as to why a local father and daughter were not allowed to use a local parish as a venue to promote the gay lifestyle via a talk on a book she (a lesbian) wrote. Archbishop Niensteadt did not condemn anyone, but stated very coherently what the Church's stand is with regard to these types of behaviors, as well as the need for those in mortal sin to receive absolution before approaching the Sacraments. There is nothing new in what he stated, and in fact, he provided information for Courage and Encourage, an apostolate to those suffering from Same Sex Attraction and seeking to live lives of chastity and obedience to God.

He did not state in any way in his article that he was not a sinner. The Archbishop did not uphold himself as some sort of perfect being. Rather, he did his job in that he, speaking as our Shepherd, guides us all to a full understanding with regard to Catholic teaching in the Divine order of morality. Job well done!

And so I offer that the priest's homily was not only morally dishonest, but was directly miseading with regard to Jesus' own words and intention, was intellectually dishonest as it misrepresents the words of scripture, and so the priests' own words actually reveal the depth of his own ignorance of God.

Do not condemn the priest; although he has chosen to be a tool, God has intended him for something much greater, and at his hands, the bread and wine are indeed changed into the Body and Blood of Christ. For that reason, we must remember that God has set him apart for such an awesome task. So we must remember this and PRAY for this priest; that he work according to God's will and not his own, that he remember the vows from his ordination, and that he remember that as a servant of God he is obliged to preach the Truth according to God...not according to the beliefs of popular culture. And we must pray that God have mercy upon him for he has clearly been conversing with the Serpent and has been swayed to act against God's love for him.

One day, we will all face judgment for what we have done or said, and those of us in teaching positions will be held far more responsible than others, for those who teach and speak have the ability to do far more damage to vulnerable souls.

May God bless Archbishop Niensteadt, and the priest who has thumbed his nose at God. Both are in need of God's grace.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thanksgiving Mishaps!

This time of year, given all the time with family, all the people, all the cooks, all the guests, and all the little "extras" that accompany celebrations, create a serious recipe for disaster. And so it is that often the most memorable holidays involve not the good times, but the comedy of errors that tends to start conversations.

And so, I thought that as we all sit back from the computers with our extra pounds, we might as well laugh and burn some of it off. Please post your disasters, and here are some of mine:

1. When I was a little girl, of course I was not allowed to play with matches, and I didn't want to. Nor was my brother allowed. But, during Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, when we got the china out accompanied by the candles, well, we were allowed a very special honor; lighting the candles. I remember watching my brother complete this honor for a couple years, and finally, it was my turn, and I took my responsibility very seriously! Matches were no toy!

So I leaned over the table and lit the first candle, then carefully moved the lit match to the second candle, and lit it just before the match burned down to my fingertips.

And that's when I realized that sulpher wasn't the only smell in the air...for in lighting the second candle, I'd leaned over the first...and lit my hair! Yes, I was fine, but it could have been worse...

2. When I was in sixth grade, we spent Thanksgiving in Michigan with Dad and our Grandparents. While we were there, the upper midwest was hit with a HUGE snowstorm. So my brother and I spent the weekend of Thanksgiving shoveling just to try to keep up. Because the storm didn't end until sometime on Sunday. Thus, we weren't able to head back home until we were shoveled out. So my brother and I didn't make it back to school until Tuesday or Wednesday that year. Grandma and Grandpa were really happy to have a clear driveway and sidewalks, though.

3. A few years ago, I brought my boyfriend home for Christmas. (The one I thought I would marry. Thankful now that didn't happen.) At the time, I was working for the Fire Dept., was through training although on light duty. My boyfriend, who had gotten me into that particular mess, was a firefighter as well.

That day, my brother made what was destined to become his specialty; Green Bean casserole. Well, while it was ready to go, he'd forgotten to put it in the oven on time, so even though the Turkey and everything else was done, the hot dish was still cooking. That's when he got the bright idea to turn up the BROIL. You know where I'm going with this...

Yup. That's what happened. As my boyfriend and I sat at the kitchen table sipping wine and chatting with my brother and Mom, my brother went to check on the hotdish.

He stood up quickly, eyes wide, clearly startled.

"We have a fire."

My boyfriend and I looked over at him, and even from where we were, we could see that my brother was serving his veggies flambe'. There was only ONE thing to do, and we both swung into action.

"Close the oven door." We intoned. "Turn off the oven."

Then we went back to sipping our wine.

My brother did as directed. He opened the door, and stood up again.

"It's still burning."

"Close the door." We sipped wine again. "Turn on the fan. Open the windows." Sip wine again.

Well, the casserole was ruined, but all was well.

3. Last year, I invited a friend to my Mom's house with me. When we arrived, I stepped in, hugged Mom, hugged my brother, and turned to introduce my friend.

The door was swinging friend was in the hallyway! I yelled my brother's name, glaring at him accusingly and quickly opened the door. There stood my friend, smiling as I profusely apologized. He forgave all immediately, no offense. My brother had heard that I was bringing a friend, but apparently hadn't seen him there so assumed he hadn't come let the door close. He was terribly embarassed.

And my friend, God bless him, was completely unconcerned by the door slamming in his face.

Great, guys...I invite a friend and you close the door on him.....

Don't you all just LOVE family gatherings?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Black Friday

Never mind the shopping. Just give me some coffee!

Yesterday my dog and I drove down to my brother's house. (I drove...the dog was in the back seat sampling the air quality and staring down other drivers). We arrived to a house scented with turkey and stuffing...mmmmm.

Of course, we were shooting for a 2 pm meal but didn't eat until after 3, and as I arrove at noon or so, that meant the snacking on cheese and veggies and the like, with the abundantly flowing wine. Mmmmmm.....

Dinner consisted of Turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, my brother's specialty; green bean hotdish. (or casserole, if you prefer). And some other things.

We watched a few movies. The first was Eragon, which, by the way, I really enjoyed. And then in the evening, we watched Bridge to Terabithia, which never fails to make me cry. No exception last night.

Our last cinematic hours were passed in watching "Harrison Bergeron". Great movie, and even a bit chilling.

And thankfully, my dog has been quite good this weekend, no problems, no garbage robbing, and this is in part due to my brother finally figuring out that German Shepherds can get into anything, and they will, if given the opportunity.

So this morning I took her on a nice long walk (cold!), which helped to work off the overabundance from yesterday, and since I didn't know how to make coffee in my brother's coffeemaker, I tried to study. And that's when I realized it's not possible to study without a dose of caffeine. May need to give up on my reading for now. * sigh *

Anyway, we're about to start "Charlotte's Web", so I must move away from the computer. And if the caffein that just entered my system kicks in, I might be able to pick up my books and do some reading while the movie plays. It's going to be a crazy few weeks before the next class, and I've got two major assignments due! Already panicking!

But it's a lazy Friday for us, and later I will drive home and get on with the business of things that need to be done on the weekends, things that I haven't gotten done since the last time I had a weekend...a few weeks ago. Life is hard. And let's face it...while I'm here with my family I can't study effectively...too much going on.

Being in school is hard. But at Christmas, there won't be any homework so maybe I'll be able to relax a little more.

What a weird post this has been.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Five Grains of Corn

Many years ago, a ship set off from Europe, seeking greener pastures, a land of promise. They landed off course in winter, but decided to remain and eke out their new existance, and indeed, there the people settled. Their code was basic; the Lord is your God, and those who do not work shalt not eat.

That winter, food was rationed, and these completely unprepared people were also completely unequipped to battle for survival. Were it not for the intervention of the Native peoples, they all would have perished. During their worst days, all they had to eat, PER DAY, was 5 kernels of corn. Many died that winter.

And yet, they still had to continue working for survival, even under those rations:


Some of them survived, and their new friends taught them how to plant corn, and how to survive in this new land. When they had their first bountiful harvest, they celebrated. And it was not for only one day. NO! They celebrated as in Biblcal times...for a week! But they remembered their previous winter, and so to begin, they were each rationed 5 grains of corn, as a reminder. It was a solomn moment. There they were, before a repast fit for Kings and their Courts, and yet, in humility, they remembered their moments of the most abject poverty. They remembered the lives lost, the terrible journey, and the friendship and hard work that enabled their survival.

They knew they owed their very lives to God. And only 5 grains of corn was enough to remind them of their humble positions before their Maker.

1 Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the LORD promised on oath to your forefathers. 2 Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. 3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. 4 Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. 5 Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you.

6 Observe the commands of the LORD your God, walking in his ways and revering him. 7 For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with streams and pools of water, with springs flowing in the valleys and hills; 8 a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; 9 a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills.

10 When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. 11 Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. 12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, 13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 15 He led you through the vast and dreadful desert, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. 16 He gave you manna to eat in the desert, something your fathers had never known, to humble and to test you so that in the end it might go well with you. 17 You may say to yourself, "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me." 18 But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.

19 If you ever forget the LORD your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. 20 Like the nations the LORD destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the LORD your God.

DO NOT take the Lord's mercy for granted. Do not make your "Thanksgiving" a moment of self-praise about what YOU have accomplished and built. Remember that the Lord, your God has given you EVERYTHING that you have, to the very air in your lungs. As you sit around the table before a sumptious repast, remember our forefathers and what they suffered, remember your own moments, if you had them, of absolute poverty, and remember that all you now have is a gift. Invite God into your celebration, and if it so helps, as you offer your Thanksgiving prayers and blessings, set before you 5 grains of corn. And Remember whom you serve, and who it is who holds you in existance...and Praise Him.

May you all have a blessed and abundant Thanksgiving, may you all offer what you have and all that you are to the Lord, and may God bless you even more abundantly in the coming year.


** The above story is a summary of part of a lecture from this last weekend of class, and the scripture reading was provided as a link to the recognition of God's blessings and consequences of disobedience. Thanksgiving will never be the same for me again. I hope to pass that same blessing on to you. Remember your roots and your own suffering and that of those you love...and be Thankful to God for what you have now.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Operatio sequitur esse

Just making a few observations from a lot of liturgispeak which has taken over the Church in past decades...

For example, the reference to the altar and the Consecration of the Wine and Bread into the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, making Him Sacramentally and Substantially and Truly Present, is often referred to as the "Eucharistic Sacrifice". Which is fine, but too often the word "Sacrifice" is dropped in favor of "Table".

The altar is NOT a "table". We are not going to a picnic. We are not enjoying some weird ritualized Thanksgiving Dinner with a side of cranberries. It is COMPLETELY improper to refer to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as the "Eucharistic Table". To do so completely denies what is actually taking place.

Go thee and read the Old Testament, for the Catholic faith is the fulfillment of the Jewish religion. In the Old Testament, pay special attention to things like sin, atonement, and sacrifice. Because you will read over and over again how the Priest offers the Sacrifice of Atonement on behalf of the People. And you will see that the sacrifice is a Blood sacrifice, and it is made on an altar, which is raised because that is what allows the blood to drain.

And we know that Jesus was crucified, and his sacrifice was indeed a blood sacrifice, and indeed, his blood certainly did drain and was shed for our ATONEMENT.

The altar is NOT a table, but it is an altar of sacrifice, and when we kneel (as Latin-rite Catholics) during the consecration, we are kneeling before that very altar as the priest offers the sacrifice of Jesus upon the cross for our atonement. There it is again. (And just to be very clear, theologically...we do NOT re-crucify Jesus. This is a heretical idea. Jesus died ONCE for our sins. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass makes the crucifixion of our Lord present to us in an un-bloody sacrifice).

Why can't we re-crucify Jesus? That's in the Old Testament, too. In Leviticus, as the people suffered in the wilderness of Sinai, God told Moses to strike the rock and water would gush out. Moses did as directed, and the water gushed outward for the people and the animals. In Numbers 20, God directed Moses to TELL the rock to yield water. What did Moses do? He STRUCK the rock. Twice. And this kindled God's anger, and He in turn delivered a judgment of His justice, that Moses would wander the desert for 40 years for his disobedience, and he would not see his people into the promised land. They would enter without him.

Why is this significant? Who is the rock? Jesus. (Yes, Peter is also the rock, but stay with me here because the Petros theology is a totally different subject.)

And we see that the "rock" cannot be struck more than order for the water (grace, Holy Spirit) to flow outward again, only words need to be spoken. Doesn't that sound familiar? Such as...the WORDS of consecration?

So we go back to the Mass. Now, consider this:

When you and a group of people go to address a person of importance, you choose a spokesperson, correct? And so when you go, you all face the same direction, that is, oriented towards your "audience", the person you honor or petetion or both. This is respectful and proper. For if your spokesperson turned his back upon the important person and spoke on your behalf but facing you, wouldn't you be shocked? Wouldn't you feel just awful? Wouldn't you just SQUIRM with embarassment?

So why aren't you squirming with embarassment at Mass? We aren't the "audience" although the current setup seems to make us so. GOD is our audience! Why is the priest facing US?

Keep in mind that the Priest is offering the Sacrifice of the Mass on Our behalf, and his audience is not us...but GOD.

So the next time you or someone you know complains that in the Tridentine Mass the priest's back is toward the people, stop and reconsider our own precarious position in relation to our Creator.

Do you really want to see reform in the Church? Do you want to see an increase in holiness both in the liturgy and the people? Then go to the Source and Summit. Go to what's important, and start there. THEN you will see the conversion of hearts.

Put the tabernacle back front and center on the altar, turn the altar ad orientem, as it was always meant to be. Contrary to popular opinion, Vatican II never decreed that the altar be moved. Doing so was a disasterous innovation that was NOT proscribed.

Operatio sequitur esse...action follows upon being.

People ask where the reverence has gone in the Mass. Vatican II is not at fault. Unfortunately, the Church is made up of human beings who err in judgment, and we are in need of reform in order to bring us into obedience with what the text of Vatican II actually stated. The goals of liturgical changes were unity, holiness, enrichment, conversion, and mission. As a Church, we overshot our goals and took the focus from Jesus and placed it on ourselves. Where is the reverence? It's still there...but if we would take the time to properly order the sanctuary, we might find our spiritual lives properly ordered as well.

Just my humble suggestion, and I'm not the first to state such a thing. I love the Mass, I have no problem with the Novus Ordo, which is fine, because it's all I know. But indeed, there are problems, and indeed, they need to be addressed. So, to those powers that be, can we PLEASE get on with the proper reforms?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Thy. Will. Be. Done.

Words of great impact. But have you ever really considered them?

People often finish their prayers, "In Jesus' Name...Amen."

But do they know what THAT means? Scripture cites praying in the name of Jesus, "For whatever you ask me in My name shall be given to you." Scripture cites "faith the size of a mustard seed." So why do prayers seem to go unanswered?

The first thing to understand that prayer is a conversation with God, a dialogue...not a shopping list of demands, which, if made with Jesus' name tacked on, makes the demands magically fall into place. Jesus' name is not a mantra, it's not magic, and if you're praying in His name, you'd better know what you're asking!

Names are important; they have meaning, and we only need to look to scripture itself for this reality. In Genesis, Abram became "Abraham", and in the New Testament, Jesus changed Simon's name to "Peter" (Petros or Kepha). This is significant. Names indicate a particular calling, a particular destiny, and when God offered His name to His people, He was making himself known to them. When we give our names to another, we are making ourselves accessable in some way.

The name of Jesus is more powerful than any name ever spoken, for it contains everything; it containes our entire Redemption. When we pray in the name of Jesus Christ, we should have in mind his suffering, his humility, his will to obey the Father, and his sacrifice on behalf of we worthless sinners. We don't deserve what Jesus did for us, and so when we pray in His name, we must remember the agony of his suffering and death, and the joy of His resurrection. And we must recall that we are undeserving of our salvation. It is a gift freely given.

Who are any of us to make any request of God, much less a DEMAND? Who are we to cheapen the name of Christ in the form of a magic mantra, thinking that only if we attach his name God will obey US?

There is only one proper disposition with which to approach the Almighty, and that is the disposition of humility. Jesus himself gave us the example in his humility and His own prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane: "If it is possible, let this cup pass from me. But your will, not mine, be done." Humility. Obedience. Agonizing love.

So it is, when we pray in the name of Jesus, we must remember to be humble before God and remember the prayer of Jesus himself. That way, when we pray, we will be open to the will of God and allow the Holy Spirit to intervene and request what we are truly asking, for we do not know how to pray as we ought. When we pray with humility, we must understand that God may not desire that our prayer be answered in ways that we expect, for He only wants our good. To provide an answer contrary to our own good would make God unfaithful to himself and his love; God cannot contradict himself.

This leads to the topic of suffering, a topic I've seen often of late. Many people are asking about suffering. Why do we suffer?

Suffering is an evil, and evil is the privation of a good. Suffering is in the world as a consequence of original sin, although that's not to say that it is a consequence of our own sin. We often suffer innocently, clear of any direct wrongdoing.

What do we do when we suffer? We ask questions. Why are we suffering? Why is there suffering? And at the heart of our questions is our true query: "Why ME? Why is this happening to ME?"

And there is God, waiting for our questions, ready to meet us there and show us the meaning of what ails us.

God allows suffering for our own good, for it is only through suffering that we are purified, only through suffering that we ask questions, and only through suffering that we come face to face with the suffering Christ. By his suffering and death on the cross, God himself in his humanity dignified suffering, just as he dignified the flesh in his coming. And there, he meets our questions with his own example, forcing us to look into his eyes, asking us to unite our own sufferings with his anguish. And it is here that we learn of the meaning of redemption.

God is not so concerned with our suffering, but rather, what we do with it. Do we seek Him? Are we willing to be docile to His will, and recognize a greater good may come out of the evil we experience? For God always intends to bring a good out of evil. Are we willing to cooperate with God's plan of our salvation, even though we don't understand?

So when we pray, we must remember the humility of the suffering servant, we must remember to allow God to speak, and we must be willing to be docile to His love for us. It is only through suffering that we will truly learn to pray.

So thank God for all the suffering in your life, no matter how much it hurts, for there you will truly meet God.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Just some thoughts

I don't know if I'm going to continue blogging. Of late, I really haven't been inspired, and perhaps it's the pressure of grad school, perhaps it's all the snarkiness of the internet blogosphere. Of late, it's just been tiresome.

Working in a church has given me some perspective maybe I wouldn't have recieved otherwise. A tour around Catholic bloggers can display the best, certainly, but lately, all I've been seeing is the worst. I know that I'm a faithful Catholic, I know that my friends are, and I know that the parishes I frequent are very holy places, filled with a mix of people from holy to lukewarm to non-practicing.

And I can't sit in front of a non-practicing Catholic one moment, speaking of the mercy of God, and then go read blogs that spout off constantly about how people don't get it, etc. That's right. They DON'T get it. They have NO IDEA. And blogging isn't going to reach them...especially since they aren't looking. And if they do happen to take a peek, they're going to get the impression that Catholics online are representative of everyone...and I'm not sure that they're going to get the best impression. Or find their faith.

I'm guilty myself...I've my own share of snarky posts. Check my archives, especially the early ones. Guilty, guilty, guilty.

I'm tired. I'm tired of hearing about liturgical abuses, especially exaggerated. We all know it exists...somehow, it makes it worse to talk about it in such forums, and somehow, it makes it seem worse than it is. Thank God, I don't see these abuses anymore, and if I did, I wouldn't frequent those parishes anymore...unless there was some spiritual benefit. (God calls us all to certain circumstances to suffer with Him).

Of late, I've wondered why I have continued this blog. Because I feel like I have to? Becaus I have regular readers? When did this become about me? It's supposed to be about Jesus. It's supposed to be about God. But's all about me. That has to end.

Perhaps I'll continue the blog, perhaps I won't, perhaps it'll just be sporadic posting. In any case, for now, grad school is my primary concern. At least until the semester ends.

Yeah, I'm a writer, therefore I MUST write, and so there are likely to be posts. But the tenor of the posts may change, maybe they already have. I don't know.

All I know is that the places I used to like to visit, I visit no longer because I'm too tired of the snark. It exhausts me. Sometimes it's best to look at evil, recognize it, and then move on. Because calling attention to it makes it fester, it makes it rise, and it perpetuates the problem rather than fixing it.

And because I'm my own festering ball of sin, who am I to point the evil stuff out? And how can I best live out a holy life and really be holy if I'm focusing on what I'm NOT doing...doesn't that make me a Pharisee?

Look how awesome I am, because I'm not liturically dancing, I'm not high-fiving during the sign of peace, I'm praying a whole bunch and I want you all to know all about it!

It seems like too much of this happens in the blogosphere. And no, I'm not picking on anyone, just making general observations. And I'm completely guilty.

So I challenge you...if you are a Catholic blogger, evaluate your blog. We are all called to the perfection of charity; does your work exemplify this? Is your motive love, or is it snark? What's your overall tone? Do you speak of things spiritual, or are you mainly critical? Are you pointing the way to Christ...or just pointing at the snake in the corner telling people to take a GOOD LOOK because you represent Christ, but isn't this thing AWFUL?

So maybe this is burnout. Or maybe I just need to go to Confession. Or quit for awhile. Or just get through the weekend, take a day off, and get some perspective.

In any case, God bless, and remember, if you don't point to Christ...who will?

Monday, November 12, 2007

A few things of note...and Padre Pio

It was a crazy weekend with all the work and broken study time, but today I was off and got most of my Vatican II paper written. The paper is about how the "Spirit of Vatican II" (which is defined in the four goals in the introductory paragraph of the document Sacrosanctum Concilium) is manifested in one of several documents. I chose to use Sacrosanctum Concilium itself as I am on a Liturgy Commission, and it's the most abused document.

While I am familiar with this document, suffice to say that I'm now a LOT more familiar with it, and I've gone beyond the required 4 pages, and have about three pages of endnotes quoting the actual text. Because it's quite impossible to answer this paper in 4 pages without ignoring a major point. And I HAVE to do well on this paper; my last paper earned me a B- because I failed to mention or quote Lumen Gentium 16, which I had notated in my research, but didn't use. As it was a key paragraph, while the prof really liked the other things I said and the way I said them, well, he felt the omission was too big to not earn a major deduction. I can't do that again! I need to maintain at least a "B" average in order to keep the merit scholarship. Otherwise I'd be willing to accept a "C" (albeit very grudgingly as I LOATHE the idea of being a "C" student!).

So, anyway, I'm done for today because I have to take time to objectively read the paper before I edit it further, let my mind clear so I can see errors or missed connections, etc.

Moving on....last night something amazing happened.

I had to teach Confirmation (no, that wasn't the amazing thing), and the topic was discerning a Religious Vocation. We had some guest speakers, and two were Sisters from a community I'd never heard of before I called them to give a talk. I was given a name by a solid Archdiocesan person in the Vocations office, so trusted her instincts and called. There were other names also. One I didn't call because I didn't want to have too many speakers, and the other wasn't able to make it. But two Sisters did come to speak. One of them entered the convent at age 18, the other, in her 20's. And they did a fabulous job in their talk and answered a lot of great questions.

(My favorite: Have you ever thought of leaving the nunhood? and Do you ever wear regular clothing or are you a hardcore nun all the time? LOL! Great questions!)

And yes, they answered them. To the first - at 5:20 am when they have to get up, and to the 2nd question - Yup, hardcore, all the time. But it has more to do with the vow of poverty.

Anyway, after the kids and parents left, the Sisters and I spoke for awhile, and I showed them the Adoration Chapel by their request, the Church itself, etc. While standing by a display case showing many Saints, one of the Sisters pointed to Padre Pio, and began to speak of her devotion to him. She spoke of a book she is reading, and just last weekend read of a dear friend of his, an American who often came to visit him and would stay in the monastery. He was a true friend, not just a "groupie" and it was obvious, she said, how much Padre Pio cared for him and his family.

I was amazed, and directed her back to the holy card; it has the name of the friend of Padre Pio as a photo credit, and that friend happens to be my great-uncle! The display and holy card were mine (Communion of Saints for November's reason of why I am Catholic).

She just about fell over!

So did I!

I will not give the name of the friend as I maintain a mostly-anonymous blog and don't want to involve my family, but I will say this: I grew up hearing about Padre Pio. I could almost call him "Uncle Pio" because I heard of him as often. My great-uncle (my mother's uncle) was a friend to the Saint, although, until last night, I really thought in my heart that the claim was exaggerated. A couple years ago EWTN showed a segment on the Saint featuring an interview with my great-uncle, but even then, I figured he was more of a "witness" than a friend. He claims on the holy cards to be both witness and friend. I never in a thousand years would call my uncle a liar, I just always wondered about his true definition of "friend".

As it seems, a true, true friend of this Saint.

The Sister was completely floored, and exclaimed, "You're the NIECE of a SAINT!" She described some of what is in the book and drew a conclusion; that my great-uncle has to have been a Saint himself in order to be so close to Padre Pio, and to both have such great affection for him, and he for my uncle and his family.

Then, of course, I knew I had to fine some of those Holy Cards for Sister...because she is a Spiritual Daughter of Padre Pio. How do I know? Because I'm one, and I still have the letter from my great-uncle stating that, when we were born, he added both my brother and I to Padre Pio's spiritual family. (And note...the letter pre-dates his beatification and canonization).

It was after I gave her the cards that Sister admitted that she'd been wondering if she is a Spiritual Daughter. Padre Pio promised, "I will know...and they will know." And I've often found that he has used me to deliver the message on earth to those who are wondering. And I never know for certain that it was in question until I hand them the cards.

Well, then she tells me more; their Community broke off from the original community when they decided to change their traditions (such as the wearing of the habit). So the foundress of this particular community went to Rome to obtain permission to branch off, and the permission was indeed obtained. Apparently while she was in Italy she also spoke with Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotundo.

Several times in my current position, this Patron of my family has revealed himself to me. When I began preparing for the 1st Reconciliation program, I came across a relic which came to the parish straight from Italy - I have no idea what it says, but given the timing, I know he has been helping me deliver the message of God's mercy through this Sacrament. And the relic card was physical proof of his intervention.

And I also learned that this parish is a huge Divine Mercy parish. And those of you who know Padre Pio, you know of his hours in the Confessional.

The Sisters had to make a phone call before they left, and put me on the phone to say "hello" to the elderly Sister they were calling; I was introduced not only by my position there, but as "the great-niece of the Friend of Padre Pio!"

One of the Sisters asked me directly if I'm Discerning. I confesssed, "I don't know!", but they offered me an invite to come visit them, and I do believe I will. I just love the two Sisters who came, I don't believe in coincidences, and God's hands are all over this. Of all the commmunities in the area, it was the one with the connection to this Saint that came. And the Sister wondering about whether she is a Spiritual Daughter.

Now, don't get excited, all of you! I know your type! Don't jump to conclusions. I need to pray, I need to discern, and I really need a Spiritual Director! There is no way I'm going to be able to figure things out without some objective assistance on the spiritual end.

And God only knows how unworthy I am to even be opening this door once again. I thought I was done with discernment of religious life. I've just been given a direct order to turn the knob and take another look.

And if nothing else, I may have begun a lifelong friendship with some really wonderful religious Sisters!

Now, one request: if any of you have guessed the name of the friend of Padre Pio, please don't state it in the combox. I do not want the names of any family members listed here as I don't want them to appear on search engines. So whether you're right or wrong in the identity of the "friend", Padre Pio did have many true friends and it would be good if the identities of all the families involved are protected. And that is the same reason I'm not mentioning the title of the book.

I'm still a bit shocked...when a Saint appears and hits you with a 2x4 in the presence of another Saint's relics (we were standing near some relics and just outside the sanctuary door),

Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


I need a retreat now.

The weekend went very well. Friday evening I met with Father to go over the last details that included us both, and also shared with him my epiphany of the other night. On Wednesday evening I had spoken to him of my frustrations while looking for guidance as to what he wanted me to do with the people who were finally jumping on board, and I know my irritation was obvious. And he's seen it, year after year, in the people who previously held my position.

So last night I told him what I'd realized; that the thorns in my side were the reason I was there (any of us, really), and that "God told me" I had no right to be upset. So I was coming into the retreat with a totally different mindset, the irritation...gone.

There was a little, yes, but more with the orgainzational standpoint, not with the people themselves. And in fact, those who had been crabby with my laying down the law and telling them that this is a priority thing, well, they displayed their own good will. This week should take care of all of them, even in a couple of groups.

Also, this past week has held some blessings in that I've truly identified a couple of women of leadership who are really allies for us. Just this morning in conversation with one, when revealing a certain grace I recieved on Holy Thursday, I couldn't stop the tears from spilling over. While I can think of the event with a certain dispassion normally, today, in the context of the retreat so related to God's mercy, well, I was a bit overcome. And of course, completely embarassed as the event overwhelmed me yet again, and she pointed out the extent such a grace could go. I don't know why it came up today, but it needed to, but I'm not sure if it was for her or me or both of us. But in any case, this morning started with a very potent reminder of God's loving compassion in my own life, which was consoling even as it startled me with the same raw emotion that affected me last spring.

It's not something I'll reveal here on this blog; suffice to say that when we need something, God gives it, even if it's out of "order" in our prayer lives. It's certainly not something to be sought after, but when God grants it and we are open, the effects go far deeper than we realize.

Today's event made me realize that what happened last spring was not imagination, but rather, was a grace with a purpose.

Anyway, we got through everything, I made a few wonderful connections with some great parents, the kids were adorable, and Father was relieved that his new staff person didn't bungle things!

And right now, I'm just loving him...he's a great priest, he's so good with the kids, and anyone who's willing to put up with me...well, they deserve a Medal of Honor. Really. And I've a long list of people to thank that assisted with this retreat.

But I'm so tired. Tonight I had planned to work on my stuff for school, but it couldn't happen. I was going to go to Mass tonight so that I could just work on my stuff tomorrow before I have to go to work. Nope. I'm going to Mass tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow I'll work 8 hours as I have to do the Confirmation class by myself, and be ready to meet our guest speakers then get through the rest of the night.

Monday is off. And Monday I'll have to finish my 8 page paper (almost there!), actually begin my Vatican II paper (the reading is done), and find the final answers for the Old Testament study guide, then study the stuff from the first quiz as it will be on this one also. And I still don't know what "Basket of Fruit" in Amos means. Or is it Isaiah? No idea.

* Sigh *

So, I need a retreat. I've given up a weekend of homework in exchange for 1 day off, because nothing was done in the lasst few days. I can't work with broken study time - dunno why, but I need time to settle down and focus, take breaks, go back to it, and even then, my max seems to be 2 1/2 hours before I have to quit for the day.

Studying theology is NOT like studying law as I did as an undergrad; law wasn't formative in any way. This is. Absorption is needed. Time to reflect is needed. It's not rote learning and spewing of stuff, but it involves coming to know God, and in turn, coming to know ourselves, and so on and so forth.

Right now, I'm praying I get through everything by next weekend, and I thank God I get time for Thanksgiving, but I'm going to take yet another day off so I can just relax before we go into the rush of...everything.

Are you bored yet? You should be. This post is likely to be deleted, it's putting ME to sleep, and I wrote it!

I'm Playing...

Your Inner European is Italian!

Passionate and colorful.
You show the world what culture really is.

H/T to Happy Catholic.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Participation in the Suffering of Christ

Today I was working, once again, on my paper about prayer and suffering (and all I have left is tweaking and loose ends and a summary, praise God!). And I had an epiphany of sorts.

And there I sat, in tears, completely ashamed of myself, completely humbled, and completely joyful both at the revelation and of the event of being able to cooperate with God's plan of salvation.

Yesterday I wrote of my frustration, of the people who are calling last minute, who haven't bothered to participate in working their children towards their first experience with God's mercy in a direct way, etc. One thing I didn't mention which had rattled me was a woman stating that their biggest conflict was a sporting event about 3 hours away! I wasn't surprised at the "conflict" but I was surprised she was so indifferent as to mention it by name!

(Demon, thy name is Hockey Game...sorry, did I say that OUT LOUD!??)

I told her directly that this is the time that she needs to prioritize and that God should be coming first in her child's life, not sporting events, and that she has to make a choice. I also sympathized to the point that these sports are asking too much of children (they are 7!), but that this is also very important and is a one-time event.

When I left work last night, I was literally in tears driving home.

These people don't get it! They clearly don't take God seriously, and their children are suffering. And of course, my own selfish issues - it's inconvenient to me to have to continue pushing these people through the program. At the same time, it's also a detriment to others who are in need of my time and need me to get certain things done by certain dates. And it's just piling up.

The fact is, of the parents I've had to work with individually, it has been a gift, and I've seen God's hand in that. And yet, now, at "crunch time" I'm still saying "poor me" when I should be praising God that these very can't-be-bothered people have to go through some individualization of the program.These are the very souls that NEED to be addressed individually! And God is using me as His instrument to impart his Word, to impart the importance of the Sacrament, and to help form the parents so they can, in turn, form their children.

I'm starting to think that maybe God should make a whale swallow me, too. Thank God I don't live near the ocean. Just call me "Jonah".

So this afternoon, still frustrated, having had some contact with a parent who feels she should be accomodated for her laziness, and not at all pleased with the prospect of rushing the books or waiting until January to work with Father for their own special Reconciliation date, well, apparently this is a lesson in God's plan for both of us. Or all three of us, if we include her child in the mix.

As I read about suffering, I came across a passage I'd read over and over last spring in Salvifici Doloris. And I considered recently what I'd read in the Old Testament about God being a jealous God, because of how He sees his people (that would be us), and His own pain resulting from Israel's indifference, idolatry, spiritual (and actual) adultery.

I was forced to turn my questions and accusation from God and others to myself; why am I really upset? Is it my own selfishness, my own control-freak-ness coming out? Yes, partially. But there's more. I'm frustruated because these people don't get it. They don't care, and God means nothing to them. The Sacrament is just another "event" in their lives, it has no real meaning, it's extra work in their lives they don't think they need, and it's just a hoop to get through in order to get their kids through the picture-perfect day of First Communion, the photos of which they will put up on a poster board on the day of High School graduation and maybe parse into a DVD on their wedding day.

And suddenly I was realizing that this is the modern-day realization of the Old Testament text of Hosea. And I realized that I was seeing US through God's eyes, and that for some reason, I'm in the role of "prophet", that being the person set to call people back to God, back to repentance.

I don't want to be a prophet. They all come to scary-bad ends. But the role is important.

And to be clear, anyone reinforcing God's love, calling people to the Sacraments, and working to preach the true Gospel message is a prophet.

So all you out there working in RCIA, Faith Formation, Priests, Sisters, Religion Teachers, etc. Congratuations. You're prophets. And I'm guessing you're frustrated, too, aren't you?

Of course you are. And those of you who have been doing this for awhile are likely chuckling at my post from yesterday. Because you know better than I, and you likely realized long ago what hit me today.

My frustration, my stress, my anxiety, all of it, over this coming weekend and the next few weeks trying to get parents to get their kids through this wonderful Sacrament of Mercy is a participation in God's own suffering. I suddenly recognized the bloody face of Jesus, covered with thorns, his eyes tearing up due to the indifference of His people.

God is constantly rejected, and it seems that those who truly love Him and are willing to put Him before their 7 year old's sporting or dance events are few and far between. It's disheartening.

And I'm ashamed because Jesus Himself accepted this suffering silently, not wasting words, not complaining, not lamenting his condition. And he died on the cross knowing that first I abused Him and then when I finally "got it" I abused him some more by refusing to also accept the same abuse of divided hearts in the same silent suffering.

So I have been suffering badly because my last 24 hours has been spent not in accepting God's will and just loving His people as He does, but in crying and complaining.

That is NOT the way to "offer it up."

So today I've been chastized, and all I can do is thank God for that, because were it not for this, I would not understand.

I pray I can go into this weekend now renewed and refreshed with clearer vision and instead of being my crabby self, put on the mind of Christ and let my hands and voice be His, even in the face of those who just don't care.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Too Much!

I'm exhausted, and it's only Wednesday...and I'm just getting started.

Tomorrow is going to include only a few hours at work .Because Friday is some training (good stuff involving Father Loya) through the Archdiocese, but then Friday night is a retreat I have to run, Saturday morning the 2nd session of the same retreat...and I STILL have parents calling to sign up for the sacramental program because they haven't bothered to be bothered with it prior to this.

A couple families have special circumstances, but they took the time to not call me in the last hours before the retreat so I could bring them up to speed.

And still...the stragglers keep coming, and I have orders to let them in. So be it. But I don't have time to give them the royal treatment everyone else got.

And Sunday I'm running the Confirmation program all by myself because the Youth Minister will be out of town.

Oh, and I'm only at the beginning of page 6 of my (really bad) Spirituality paper on Unanswered Prayer and Suffering, I haven't finished re-reading, highlighting, and tabbing Sacrosanctum Concilium for my Vatican II paper on what the "Spirit of Vatican II" really means as the actual text of the document states it (I chose SC over Lumen Gentium or Gaudium et Spes and a few others), and I still haven't finished my Old Testament stuff and yet have no idea what the "basket of summer fruit" in Amos means.

And I don't get another weekend before class since this weekend will be all work. Oh, and never mind errands and chores that have to be done.

And don't even get me started on Minnesota's unjust labor laws that are causing this; because it's illegal to bank hours in Minnesota, thus while this should be a 60-70 hour work week, instead it's cutting things short and then that means I still have to work 40 next week, as opposed to just balancing the hours out.

And no, my position isn't salaried. If it was, there would be justice.

There is no justice in this world. We have to die to get that.

Instead, I think I'll just go to sleep and hope I'm not this stressed out in the morning. And I hope I don't bite anyone's head off before, during, or after this weekend's retreat. After all...I quite literally won't be able to get to Confession.

In fact, I went this morning...and this weekend's retreat is all aobut this very sacrament.

Back to defining irony here...

* sigh *

Monday, November 05, 2007

Let God Love You

Between my job and school, God has it in for me. Really. Because, every so often, they intersect and I turn into a pancake of a soul.

Last night I had to teach a Confirmation class, but this one involved the parents. My assignment...the parents. The topic? Discernment. Talk about the blind leading the blind! Of course, it had more to do with marriage (Again with the blind thing...child of divorced parents here...), but with Theology of the Body as our foundation, all was well.

The speaker doesn't matter if the material used comes from the greats.

So I had a very loose outline, and ended the evening with something that I knew was over their heads, most of them. It was a quote from Cristalina Evert, taken right from Theology of the Body for Teens, and went something like this: "When you are caught between confusion and sin, that is when it's time to sit down, be silent, and let God love you."

That's very paraphrased...her own words are much more powerful. And I saw the power when I was preparing for the evening. But although I thought it hit me heart and hadn't. And I know that hit me today.

Because last night's work was almost 8 hours, I took today off, with plans to work on my Spirituality paper, which happens to be about Unanswered Prayer and Suffering.

I wrote about a page and a half, and then ran a couple errands. What I've learned is that the study of Theology has a built-in wall; I can study it only so long before my eyes glaze over and nothing makes any sense whatsoever. Then it's time for a break or to quit for the day. As it was only 9:30, it was time for a break.

I'd been feeling a call to go to Adoration for awhile, so planned to make it my last stop before home. Indeed, between the store and the church, the thoughts deep in spirituality and prayer, God spoke.

That line...."Let God love you."

Let. God. Love. YOU.

It made my heart stop. Really.

That means everything. At the end of RCIA last year, I said, right here in this blog, to just love God...and He will do the rest. And that's still true. But there's a very important element that presupposes our love of God. He loved us first, He loves us last, and He loves us forever. With a love deeper and more real than any love we will ever find on earth.

When we pray, what do we do? We adore Him, we thank Him, we worship Him, we beg forgiveness, we interceed for others, we petetion for ourselves. Look at that: it's all about us.

I realized that when I go in to prayer, or I go to Mass, even though I am there to worship God, it's all about ME! When, in all that chatter, is it ever about GOD? When have I given Him and opportunity to LOVE ME?

What am I so afraid of?

Why can't I just sit there and be in His presence, and just let God be God? Why do I aways have to bring an though He doesn't already know all about it? Why do I NEED to go in and complain about things, beg for help, ask for illumination, pray for holiness...why? He already knows my deepest needs, and he answers the prayers that remain unpetetioned, because He knows what I need even if I can't speak a word.

When have any of us taken the time to just be with God, wherever we are, and let God love us?

So I went to the chapel, resolved to do just this; let God love me. Just be there, present. I wanted to pray about my paper and other things, and so it was a struggle just to keep such petetions at bay. My goal was silence. My experiment was to experience being loved.

And there, in that experience, the Lord brought to bear the paper I'm writing. He asked me, "Where is your happiness?"

In YOU, Lord.

And it's true...none of the things of this earth bring happiness. None of them is an end in and of itself. God is.

And then He asked me, "To what do you give your affection?"

And I considered all the things of my life, where my affections lie, my "favorite" sins, all of that. And I was ashamed. Christ is my bridegroom...and I give my affection o things that are not of Him. I withhold myself from Him in order to engage in other things. I reject true happiness for temporary pleasures. Name your sin...gluttony, pride, lust...we all do this. We all lose ourselves to the world, making up our own definitions of happiness that leave us bereft. And then we return to our Bridegroom, crestfallen, defiled...and He makes us new.

We are adulterers, all of us. Every last one. Our hearts are divided. Not just because we take our love and give it to the things of the world, but because we don't let God love us. And that is the key. We can't make the decision to love God if we don't know what it means to be loved by Him.

Think about it. Where is your happiness? What definition do you give to happiness? And when was the last time you let God love YOU?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Caption Contest!

I took this photo (or maybe my friend did) while horseback riding near Jordan, MN a few years ago.

Sooooo....who's got a good caption?

Deep Theological Implications of Coffee Beans

This morning I found a bookstore with a coffee shop, and sat down to try to structure my paper on unanswered prayer and suffering. Of course, I also purchased a large dark-roast coffee, which unfortunately tasted burned. But I was in need so drank it all down quite contentedly.

Studying spirituality always seems to lead me into previously-unconsidered territory, which is not surprising. And in fact, quite a warm, excited feeling descended upon me as I began to make connections, the synapses firing in my brain.

And then I began to consider deep theological questions which had never before occurred to me to ask.

* How can I tell the difference between the action of the Holy Spirit versus the action of too much caffeine?

* When contemplating spirituality, what is the difference between actual higher forms of prayer....and an excess of coffee?

* Is this detachment...or overindulgence?

While becoming quite overjoyed at these questions and the potential answers, I became likewise aware of that great internal feeling, that "fire" in the soul, and that I was in need of a "study break". (* AHEM *)

Now I'm back home, having run errands, and I'm still shaking.

Maybe I should rethink the coffeehouse setting with regard to my Saturday study time.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Our Mother of Perpetual Help Rosary

A few days ago I was contacted by the Redemptorists, who are offering a new Rosary CD. Most of you know of my devotion to Our Mother of Perpetual Help...after all, her icon graces my sidebar! And if you could see my house, and my office - well, she's come into my life via several avenues. I'm thrilled to be called upon to assist in what I see as Our Mother's work.

While the focus of my blog is not commercial, at the same time, any of us can recognize worthy causes and the need to be a voice in the wilderness often means promoting other voices much stronger and more effective than our own. Such as the Rosary. After all...who has a problem with praying the Gospels? And this CD is a special treat. Read it in the Redemptorists' own words:

First Rosary CD to Feature the Music of a Saint

First time St. Alphonsus Liguori’s music will be heard

CD to be dedicated to Our Mother of Perpetual Help

DENVER, CO...November 1, 2007...The first Rosary CD to feature the music of a saint will be released in November by the Redemptorists of the Denver Province. Titled, “Praying the Rosary with St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori,” the 2-CD set will be dedicated to Our Mother of Perpetual Help, the name by which Redemptorists “make her known throughout the world,” as stipulated by Pope Pius IX in 1866.

A percentage of the proceeds will be used to fund the work of our Redemptorist missions in Brazil and Nigeria.

Original music composed by St. Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787), founder of the Redemptorists, will be played during the reading of the Rosary and the twenty meditations, also by St. Alphonsus. A majority of the meditations are taken from his great spiritual masterpiece, The Glories of Mary. It will be the first time the music of St. Alphonsus will be heard by a mass audience and certainly the first time in English.

Rev. Peter Schavitz, C.Ss.R. will lead the listeners in the Rosary.

Produced and arranged by Little Lamb Music, St. Alphonsus’ words and hymns will be performed and sung by members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Master Chorale and the Padre Serra Children's Choir. One of the selections includes his famous Christmas carol, Tu Scendi Dalle Stelle, which is performed every Christmas Eve as part of the Midnight Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Italy.

Ray and Theresa Herrmann, co-founders of Little Lamb Music, produce and arrange Catholic music for families and their young children. Ray and Theresa have dedicated their company, their family and their lives to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Ray is one of the finest instrumentalists working in the music business today. He has played with and arranged music for the likes of Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Johnny Mathis, Herbie Hancock, Chicago, and George Benson.

The release of the Rosary CD coincides with the 275th anniversary on November 9th of the Redemptorist Congregation, founded by St. Alphonsus Liguori in 1732 in the hill country of Scala, Italy, overlooking the Amalfi coast.

The 2-CD set will retail for $17.95 through Little Lamb Music. To order the Rosary CD, go to its website at or call 1-800-231-1207 or 1-805-492-5302.