Okay - the premise of this article is as follows:
Parents should be allowed to have their newborn babies killed because they are “morally irrelevant” and ending their lives is no different to abortion, a group of medical ethicists linked to Oxford University has argued.
Pay close attention to the shifting of vocabulary. We're not calling it infanticide or murder. Instead, because those words carry severely negative connotations, they call it "after-birth abortion."
Why? Well because the word "abortion" has the connotation of CHOICE! It's got the connotation of women's liberation and sexual freedom!
Is there no hope for the world my son is now forced to grow up in?
If we are capable of this, this, or this, we're simply opening the door to allow even worse things to become commonplace (and LEGAL).
For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world...
Test your Lit. Calendar Strength!
A friend of mine asked what I'd be teaching for CCD tonight (because she's been enjoying the crafts we did over the last two periods). I told her I was sorry to burst her bubble, but there wouldn't be a craft tonight so much as a test. Ha ha.
She then asked me what the test was on. I told her the Liturgical Calendar. She responded that it'd be fun if she could take the test, too, just to see where she compared to my 6th graders. She took the test, and subsequently failed miserably. Chagrined, she warned me that the test was too hard for my class, and suggested that I rework it into one of my crossword puzzles to give them a fighting chance.
I explained the test was only difficult because she hadn't taken part in my class. If she had, she'd've known all the answers! She expressed some doubt, but wanted me to compare her grade to the average grade of my kids.
Welp, my class scored an average of 93%.
When I called my buddy to let her know, she almost didn't believe me! Ha ha. But I've got the tests to prove it. I am so proud of them!
Plus, now that I've explained the answers to her, no doubt she'd score at least a 93% next time around, too. Ha ha.
But for anyone else interested in testing their skills, I've included the test for your entertainment (or if you'd like to use it for your own classes, be my guest!).
Mother of Sorrows, Pray for Us
***Disclaimer - this entry has the capacity to offend / upset sensible Catholics due to outside content.***
I found the following link through Father Z's WDTPRS page. The link will take you to the Huffington Post for a supposedly "tongue-in-cheek" piece by Larry Doyle (of Simpsons / Beavis and Butt-Head fame).
However, when I followed Fr. Z's link to the article in question, I was floored by the absolute disgust he wrote of Catholicism. I saw nothing "humorous" in his prejudiced, anti-Catholic tirade.
This has nothing to do with me "taking this personally" or "reading too much into it." I'm all for poking fun at stuff, and I've heard (and dished) my fair share of Catholic jokes. This, however, has a tone that is completely inappropriate, hostile and indecent.
Just offer up a prayer for Doyle, the fools laughing at this garbage, and those Catholics who commented bad dogma in a weak attempt to defend the faith. Oh, God... help us. We are in such need of guidance and wisdom!
How folks remain blind to anti-Catholic sentiment is beyond me. If this sort of banter had been leveled against any other group, the media would be all over decrying it (regardless of the false "satire" tag it gave itself to hide behind).
Deplorable. Yet we were warned, and for our part, we must take up the Cross of our Chastisement and move forward. Pray for these people. They truly are in need of the Holy Spirit.
The picture to your left is of my wonderful grandparents - Eugene and Ida. I wanted to include a photo of my Grandmom, but the only ones I have of her (digitally) are those from her nursing home days. None of those photos do her justice, and I have serious doubts about her approving those had I chosen to post them.
Today I took John and Vincent to see Nanny, John's paternal grandmother. She lives with one of her sons, Michael, who has taken on the lion's share of her care-taking. Recently, it's begun taking a toll on him and he confided that she's been wearing him down with her loneliness. She calls him around the clock and complains when he doesn't come home right away.
I offered to visit her with John and Vince for the few hours Uncle Mike needed to tend to the Church. He's a sacristan for his parish, and he enjoys feeling useful. It also gives him time away from home.
So today we went during the 9-12 time frame she's most lonely for Uncle Mike. Vince was angelic and lavished an impressive amount of affection on her. Vince is normally very affectionate, but wow. He must've had his sixth sense working overtime or something, because all he wanted to do was sit with her, share his toys with her, kiss her, or call her name. She thoroughly enjoyed the attention!
However, even with us being there, she reached out to call Uncle Michael twice. She also vented to John about her loneliness. My heart broke for her because I understood the situation for what it was. John, on the other hand, just got frustrated, thinking it was a guilt trip or some manipulation for future visits.
That broke my heart twice.
I told John the story of my own Grandmom and something horrible I did that I still regret to this day.
After my Grandfather passed away (he suffered from Alzheimer's), my Grandmother began to rely even more heavily on my mother for everything. Normally a sharp, attentive and independent woman, my Grandmother suddenly couldn't function without my Mom's guidance. Mom would get phone calls from Grandmom the second she came in from work. Mom would get phone calls that woke her up in the mornings. Mom would get phone calls moments after walking through the door after having spent the morning with her.
At this point, my mother was sick, herself, so couple her illness with my Grandmother's incessant loneliness and then add that 5 of her kids constantly needed attention and boom - she was ragged. I remember her being so tired all the time and I felt awful for her.
Well, one Sunday, after Mom had walked in from seeing Grandmom, I picked up the phone as it rang. I was upstairs in my Mom's room, so I had heard my Mom walk through the door.
(Ugh - I'm cringing as I write this as I recall my horrible, horrible reaction).
Grandmom was on the other line.
Now you have to understand something about me and my Grandmother - regardless of what anyone says, I was totally her favorite. She was mine, too, and we had an unspoken agreement to have each other's backs regardless of what was going on. She always gave it to me straight, and I appreciated her honesty, love and affection. I loved her like no other, and in my book, she could do no wrong...
... until the day I picked up that phone.
My Mom heard the phone ring and I could almost hear her entire body dread the inevitable "Mom, Grandmom wants to talk to you" that was coming. So instead of shouting that over the bannister, I told her I would take care of it. I asked Grandmom if I could help her with anything.
She said no, she just needed to talk to my Mom.
In what will forever be my most regretted utterance ever, I said, "Grandmom, what do you need Mom for? She was over there all morning, and she'll be back again tomorrow. She's really tired right now. I think you call too much."
(Seriously... now I'm crying because I realize what an awful, awful mistake I made.)
Grandmom was somewhat taken aback by my reaction and we somehow parted ways. I'm sure I said "I love you" in an attempt to ease the mean words I'd just said, but I know they hurt.
I was annoyed with Grandmom. Why did she need to bother my Mom so much? I understood she was lonely, but to be calling so much, so often, and for nothing? It was making me so annoyed for my Mom's sake.
A few months later, of course, we found out Grandmom also had Alzheimer's. I can't even express the depths of guilt I felt upon realizing that my anger and annoyance had been directed against my innocent Grandmother who honestly had no idea what was causing her emotional instability. Instead of patiently trying to offer her my understanding, I abruptly accused her (in my mind) of the same manipulation and guilt trips that John now accused Nanny of.
I saw all the signs today that I neglected to see as a teenager. I pointed out that Nanny was obviously confused on dates and the time of year, and I pointed out her apparent short-term memory fog regarding how often she'd attempted to call Uncle Mike while we were there.
John got quiet for a while after I told him how I'd handled my own Grandmom and what the signs his Nan was showing. I didn't want him to write her off as "too strong" or "too independent" for "this nonsense" like I'd done with my own Grandmother years ago. Instead, I was really hoping to help him understand that which I couldn't as a child - the people we love and look up to our whole lives sometimes can't remain the triumphant, unbreakable heroes we make them out to be. They, too, are human. They, too, succumb to age and illness. They, too, will one day be in need of our love and care - the same love and care we craved from them as they nurtured us into who we are.
With that in mind, I made a mental note to get over there once a week. I failed Grandmom in that regard - but maybe I can begin rectifying that mistake through Nanny.
Coolest Statue / Triptych EVER
So I stumbled across an incredible set of Marian art as I was looking for a picture to accompany a beautiful prayer I found. I had originally wanted to share the prayer only, but now I want to share the art with you, too!
These incredible works of art seem to be hybrids of statue and triptych. This style of art was apparently popular (at least for Our Lady) in the 15th and 16th centuries.
These pieces are called "Vierge Ouvrante," which roughly translates to "The Opening Virgin." They are also known as "Madonna Shrines."
Images inside these triptych statues include scenes from the Passion, Mysteries of the Rosary, lives of the Saints, and Old Testament stories.
Seriously - aren't these the coolest things ever? I want to commission a new set for myself. Ha ha.
The idea behind these is wonderful. God - the Eternal - is within each of us. However, He was, is and always shall be fully present within Our Lady because of her perfect Fiat. Our Lady, through the Annunciation and Incarnation, became Mother of the Eternal. Within her womb she carried the Fount of Life which cannot be constrained by place or time. Through her, we can know God. Through her, we can find the path to Christ.
Really - I am in love with these!!! I think they're absolutely brilliant!
And before I forget - here's the prayer!
Hail, Mary, beloved Daughter of the eternal Father!
Hail, Mary, admirable Mother of the Son!
Hail, Mary, faithful Spouse of the Holy Ghost!
Hail, Mary, my loving and dear Mother, my powerful sovereign!
Hail, my joy, my glory, my heart and my soul!
Thou art all mine by mercy, and I am all thine. But I am not yet sufficiently thine. I now give myself wholly to thee without keeping anything back for myself or others. If thou seest in me anything which does not belong to thee, I beseech thee to take it and to make thyself the absolute mother of all that is mine. Destroy in me all that may be displeasing to God; root it up and bring it to nought; place and cultivate in me everything that is pleasing to thee. Amen.
--by Saint Louis Marie DeMontfort
The power of prayer, trust and Divine Providence!
A wonderful friend of mine, Jean, lent me a rare prayer book for the year. This book is rare because only a few thousand were printed and you cannot find them anywhere. They're not allowed to be printed again until they get a certain "re-approval" from the Church (this process will take a while because the volumes are so large). As a result, these books are highly prized by the faithful, but they cannot be copied or published in any way until we get that final re-approval.
Anyway, I was given a year's time to properly meditate on these prayers. However, she was coming to collect the book yesterday, so I knew I needed to have the last few completed. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to finish them in time, so I decided to make a copy for myself.
... sigh ...
Yes, I decided to make a copy for myself, fully knowing that it was disobedient to do so. I'm certainly not proud of that, but it's true.
Anyway, as I was running off copies, my conscience was yelling at me the whole time. I realized that if Jesus wanted me to pray these prayers, He'd figure out an honest way for me to come across the book again - even with it being as rare as it is. He never wants us to sin - even with the right intentions. Sin is sin is sin - regardless of motive. Thus, I said, "Okay, Jesus, I trust You. If You want these prayers completed, You'll find me a way."
I promptly closed the book and shredded the pages I had copied.
For lunch, I went to Adoration and attempted to finish out the rest before I saw my friend that night. I got through all but the final prayer. I had run out of time, so I again said, "Jesus, if You want a completed set, You'll find a way."
She arrived and we had ourselves a great time. I had her book ready to return, because she intended to take it with her on a trip. Right before we had dinner, a friend of hers (who I've never met and never talk to) called and told her she had an extra copy of this book that she wanted to give to me. This woman and I only know of each other through Jean, so while we hear of one another, we've never interacted. Yet she was apparently thinking of me and putting together a prayer package that included THAT BOOK.
I did a double take.
Coincidence is a fallacy. All is Divine Providence. EVERYTHING is provided by the loving Hand of God.
My friend said, "Well look, Gina can keep my copy, and when I see you, I'll just pick up that one."
As usual, my trust in Jesus was rewarded. I immediately relayed to my friend what had happened earlier in the day with what must have been the dopiest grin ever.
God is good. He truly, truly is.
Great Blog if you click the pic!
So I was watching a documentary the other night about a woman and her no-kill cat sanctuary. Being a bit of a "crazy cat lady" myself, I thoroughly understood much of what was revealed during the hour-long special.
I've been an avid animal lover my entire life. I must've drove my mother up the wall with the amount of animals I'd try to sneak into the house. I succeeded with a few she still doesn't know about to this day! Ha ha.
(Mom, if you end up reading this, sorry... blame Grandpop. His blood pumps through me, too, and inevitably ends up using my heartstrings as a makeshift accordian. I'm powerless, really!)
Anyway, it wasn't until I moved out and started a life with John that I kicked into "foster-mom" gear. In the last few years, John and I have fostered and found homes for more than 50 cats / kittens. Now obviously 50 isn't nearly as fantastic a number as 700, but those 50 that we saved enabled 50 others to find room at the shelters. Our work also opened the hearts of others to the plight of unwanted animals, and now several of our friends have either fostered or adopted their own furbabies. Be the change you want to see, right?
In my travels as foster-animal advocate, I've come to see a lot of heartbreaking things. My own foster-turned-adopted cat, Zoey (read her story as featured on Animal Planet) taught me an incredible amount about the overburdened shelter system, the carelessness and cruelty of humans, and the power of faith.
Knowing this, one thing from the documentary really struck me. A tiny, malnourished kitten was brought in, barely clinging to life. A team of volunteers rallied around him, bottle feeding, warming, and caressing this impossibly small, hungry and dehydrated kitten. Sadly, they were too late in their efforts and the kitten succumbed to its tryst with neglect. This situation is all too common all over the world. However, Lynea Lattanzio (the "crazy cat lady") said something I've found myself saying when faced with the crippling emotions that come from being "too late."
She said "At least this animal died surrounded by love. At least, for a few moments, he understood what it was to be cared for, to be held, to know dignity."
I was crushed, then, because I've known that feeling. I've felt my heart break over the loss (and even potential loss) of these little lives. People would always look at me cock-eyed, asking me how I got attached so quickly to these animals. Much like the kitten documented above, the volunteers had only known him a total of 15-30 minutes before his life slipped away, yet all felt that sharp pang of loss.
Lynea said something else that echoed my own voice to friends: It never gets easier. It's always painful when you lose one. In all the years I've done this, it's never not hurt.
And as I was thinking more on it, a little light went off over my head. Why DO we feel such an incredible sense of loss? Why does that pain linger? Why do we catch ourselves mourning - years later - those little lives that were lost on our watch?
I realized it was because we felt, briefly, Divinity. As I explained in a previous post, all animals have souls. Not only do they have souls, they have pure, unblemished souls that can do nothing but infinitely please their Creator.
As we hold those little furry angels, we delight in that purity. We recognize the hidden gem of God's breath that animates their beating hearts. As that life force returns to its Creator, it inevitably leaves us behind, and we sense that we lost something of infinite value. We lost something pure and innocent - a reflection of the One our souls unconsciously seek. I really do think that is why we immediately sense that connection and subsequent loss.
All life comes from God - and as such, all life returns to Him.
May those folks over at the Cat House be immensely blessed for everything they do. May all fosters, volunteers, and rescue staff be blessed. They do incredible, heart-breaking work... and they DO make a difference. Even if the world is incapable or unwilling to see it.
I wasn't able to attend Mass early in the morning like I'd hoped. Instead, I had to wait until evening to go, and I had Vince with me as a result. I didn't mind - he was actually being phenomenal. Thank goodness, too, because there wasn't any room for us in our normal spot on account of the PACERS who dropped by to collect their yearly ashes.
The Mass itself was nice. I noticed, however, that we went from being an over-packed house before the Distribution of Ashes to being about 2/3 full as folks simply exited the Church upon reception of the ashes.
I couldn't believe it!
Folks were willing to wait come for ashes, but completely neglected to stick around for JESUS in the Eucharist?
I have to admit being ashamed for them. I just felt awful that Jesus was witnessing this sort of callousness in His people. Ugh. Makes me feel like a jerk for not shaking them all and shouting "You'll wait for ashes, but not GOD? What is WRONG with you?!"
May God forgive us our foolishness...
Vincent was surprised by the ashes. He's used to Father Piotr blessing him, but when he saw Father bless me, too, he whipped his little head around in amazement. His eyes then did a double take when he saw the cross smudged onto my forehead. He quickly realized that he, too, must've had a cross on his head because he immediately tried to feel around for one. Ha ha.
For the rest of the Mass, Vincent kept looking up at my cross as if trying to figure out what it was for. He only tried to touch it once or twice, but after correcting him, he was content to steal glances and smile at it. He again stooped down as I knelt to receive the Eucharist. His newest thing is to dip his little hands into the Holy Water font on the way out the door. Since I always bless him with a little cross on his forehead when we come in, he tries to dip his fingers into the font to then thumb my face.
Instead, I'm trying to teach him to "flick" the water from his hands onto the floor while saying "for the souls in Purgatory." Obviously he doesn't have those words down just yet, but it's never too early to teach them to use sacramentals for others! :)
Do you struggle with diocese envy? Do you wish your diocese (or Archdiocese!) would step up and do something as brazen as purchase prime-time airspace to get this message of healing to the faithful? To those fallen away? To those looking for a way back in?
I do - but no worries... Confession isn't just for Floridian Catholics! :) We've got ourselves regular Confessions up in Jersey, too. Actually, we've got confessions anywhere there is a priest! So take advantage, folks! Jesus is waiting to embrace that soul of yours with His Divinity!
Again... I love me some Confession!
I run / help admin three separate sites. This blog is the first, my parish website is the second, and a Catholic chat / information page is the third. Technically, I moderate the sometimes torrential threads that spawn on my Facebook, too, so let's round it to four.
On each of these sites, I have an open-comment policy. Folks can leave any comment without gaining approval first. However, I reserve the right to delete entries that are flammatory, hostile, or deliberately misleading. So far on this site (*knock on all wood available*), I haven't had to delete more than two comments. This is probably due to the fact that this blog isn't as well-traveled as the other two, and the material I tend to cover is personal enough that folks don't get offended by that which I state. Also, being a Catholic blog, I tend to only get traffic from other Catholics. Ha ha.
However, the Catholic chat site is another ball game. It's much more traveled and draws folks from all religious backgrounds (plenty of atheists, too, just to get their kicks from tormenting those of us who enjoy talking about Jesus). As a result, moderation is extremely strict.
Similarly that's true for the parish website. We get plenty of parishioners who drop by, especially now that I created a "Prayer Blog" section for folks to digitally submit their personal intentions for the month. Thus far, the Prayer Blog itself has been a success. We've gotten plenty of great feedback, and even grew our tiny prayer chain, fostering community.
Last night, however, I came home to an "intention" that made me cringe. Being solely responsible for content on the website (including comments in need of moderation), I must've turned 7 shades of purple in my embarrassment. I hadn't seen the comment until the evening, but the poster had submitted it about 4 hours prior. God only knows how many people came across it before I deleted the entry! Heaven forbid dogmatic confusion spring up as a result of my carelessness regarding comment approvals.
Anyway, that's what spawned this entry. Personally, I find the approval process stifling. If folks want to discuss something with one another, the approval process makes it difficult because the element of time is variable. Granted, a prayer blog isn't exactly the proper vehicle for conversation, but still.
I realize now - begrudgingly - that I have to have approvals up for at least the parish website. God forbid content there doesn't reflect our Catholic heritage! Thus, I talked it over with my pastor (and a good friend). We all came to the conclusion that approvals are necessary in order to ensure the integrity of our Catholic identity.
This reminded me of a none-too-happy dialogue I was forced to have with a friend of mine regarding moderation on Facebook.
I take moderation VERY seriously. Sometimes my Facebook threads weave upwards of 40-50 comments. Content for these threads is typically polarizing and folks get their panties in a bunch with impressive ease. Tempers flare and the occasion to send off a mean-spirited assault is frequent. As a result, I take great care to provide a respectful, intellectually honest place for folks to exchange ideas. I'm not a perfect moderator, but I really do pride myself in squashing the ad hominem attacks people dish out, and I'm always on top of holding folks accountable for misleading / incorrect information posted to these threads.
That being said, I expect the same to be true of others who establish threads on their pages. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that not all people are capable and/or willing to moderate the threads they haphazardly start.
Folks are all about generating commentary because it gives them a sense of popularity. I get that. But let's be real... commentary shouldn't just be about your flippin' popularity. If you're linking intelligent articles and asking for honest opinions, you should be prepared to moderate any thread that spawns from it.
Then again, that could very well just be me - I admit holding myself to a higher standard for these sorts of things, but it's because of my dedication to intellectual honesty and the free-flow of ideas between two groups of polarized people. Honest, respectful communication is the only bridge that divide has, so I believe it must be fostered at all costs.
Truth be told, I confronted the offending party for this gross oversight, and she has yet to see anything even remotely wrong with her outlandish behavior. This SHOULD be unsurprising considering her personality, but still... it drives me up a wall that there is no accountability on sites like Facebook. Folks will create a front in which they present themselves as intelligent adults looking to discuss political / social / religious / local issues, but in reality, they're just looking to find a platform to shout their opinions. These folks don't ACTUALLY want to discuss. They don't actually want to learn / teach / share. They want to be thought of as funny. They want to be thought of as intelligent. They want to be seen as champions of activism. In reality, all they want is the gilded facade. Very few people are willing to engage in anything more than their polished (and empty) shell.
Very disheartening. Very, very disheartening.
So tonight was rougher than a sheet of sandpaper across the backside.
Some parish members had a meeting of sorts and my heart just about broke into a million pieces for my pastor. Then those itty bitty pieces took a trip through a meat grinder as I realized that his predicament is not unique... there are priests all over the country going through similar tribulations as they attempt to keep their parishes above water.
Humpf. All I wanted to do the entire time was give him a hug.
Since I wasn't really able to offer much in the way of assistance throughout the meeting, I kept silent and offered my prayers. As frustration began to build, I reached out to Our Lady of Wisdom (whom Father had invoked at opening prayers). As anger and hurt boiled up, I reached out to the Holy Spirit. Oh, but my heart was a calamity unto itself as I realized just how much stress our dear pastors are burdened with as a result of these haphazard mergers.
May Our Lady hug them all close to herself. May the Holy Spirit comfort them with Divine Grace. May their people open their hearts in understanding - our priests do so much more than we realize! God bless them all.
On a happy note, I'll leave a ridiculous picture of one of my favorite priests and I. He's been a wonderful family friend since his deaconate, and did me the honor of presiding over my marriage to John. He also baptized Vince! God willing, he'll baptize any future children we're blessed with. :)
Anyway, as I was visiting my mom before the parish meeting, he surprised us by dropping by! It's always great to see him!
Yeah - we're about as cool as two 8-Tracks at an Apple convention...
It's that time of year that faithful Catholics feel the scramble of trying to figure out last minute gift-ideas for the Guy who not only has everything, but MADE it all, too.
What to sacrifice in love for God?
Well, the regular litany of "candy, soda, movies, fast food, Facebook" wasn't cutting it this year. As my first "technical" year back, I want to do something extra special. I was at a loss trying to figure out what would be a real sacrifice. Out of nowhere, a little voice in my head suggested "Take Vince in the mornings."
My heart actually stopped at the thought.
I'm a night owl. I hate, hate, hate, hate, HATE taking Vince in the mornings. Call me a bad mother, consider me a selfish oaf. I speak the truth, though. I abhor anything and everything that concerns getting out of bed in the morning - ESPECIALLY anything that has me dragging myself from bed earlier than 8 am.
Since Vince typically wakes up around 6-6:30, I sleepily yank myself from bed, change his morning diaper, and deposit him onto my husband's lap (the husband that somehow thinks 6 am or earlier is a perfect time to start the day - Ew). I'll then crawl back into bed and sleep until John has to leave for work (if I'm dropping Vince off), or until I have to go to work (on those joyous days that John drops him off).
Anyway, getting up early and doing it with a smile would certainly fit the bill for sacrifice. Plus, as all good Lenten sacrifices are meant to do, it fosters a good habit that is supposed to "stick" after Lent is through. I think I may have found my daily offering.
Also, something I always try to keep in mind with my offerings is this:
Jesus doesn't "need" any material goods from us. However, there IS something He does want, and that's souls. Jesus wants souls, and souls can be gifted back to Him through prayer. Prayers like St. Gertrude's Purgatory Prayer free souls to fly into the Arms of Jesus. Our prayers are Divine Providence in action, so agreeing to take part in this plan for blessing certainly makes Jesus happy. Thus, the more we offer up in prayer, especially for those hardened of heart who refuse to look upon Christ with anything but contempt, the more we fill His Heart with joy.
So whenever I am blessed with something special, I always say three Purgatory Prayers in honor of the Trinity who no doubt ensured a happy outcome for whatever my intention was.
In between running after Vincent and pulling one of my cats off the wall (no, you didn't misread that, and yes, I had to pull her off my wall) I found National Geographic's Jesus of Nazareth on TV. Interested to see where they were going with this, I kept it on as background noise only to be drawn in repeatedly by the extremely poor historical context given by supposed experts.
Just a few of the ridiculous statements given that prove these folks had no idea what they were talking about:
1. Jesus "had probably never been to the temple" which is why He "reacted so violently" towards the moneychangers.
Never been to the Temple? Are you KIDDING me?! The NT places Him there at least 3 separate times (not including the time He was "found" as a youngster). And as for His "violent reaction" might I point my dear readers to this historically accurate and Biblically sound explanation.
2. There was no Cenacle - Jesus held His Last Supper on the roof of a random building because room was probably too sparse for a group of people so large (meaning Jesus, His 12, and the various female disciples that followed Him).
Something that a lot of folks tend to miss about Jews back then is that they were just as fragmented as Christians are today. You had the upper-class Jews, the religious zealots, the Essenes, and the Jews by blood only. You had folks following John the Baptist, Jesus and probably a smattering of other folks, too. When you realize this, you then realize why that phrase from Holy Thursday becomes key to figuring out exactly where Jesus held His Last Supper.
When the Apostles are freaking out over where to hold the Passover meal, Jesus simply says "Go into the city, and a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him; and wherever he enters" we'll have our meal.
This doesn't seem like a big deal to most people. Maybe some might think "Hey Jesus... Jerusalem is packed - how in the world do you want us to spot a particular dude carrying around a pitcher of water? Are you seriously attempting to have us try to find a needle in the haystack?
Think for a quick second, though.
"A MAN will meet you carrying a PITCHER OF WATER."
Back in those times, men didn't do that sorta stuff. Drawing water from the well was a strictly female thing to do. So this wasn't a needle in the haystack goose chase. Instead, Jesus was specifically telling them EXACTLY where to go in order to find a man carrying around a pitcher of water. Only ONE place in Jerusalem would fit the bill, and that'd be (drumroll please...) the Essene quarter. Since Essenes lived a very basic (and typically celibate) lifestyle, the men were forced to take on traditionally feminine duties as the two sexes lived separate from one another. Thus, the only place in Jerusalem you'd be able to find a guy carrying water would be the Essene district.
The Essenes weren't exactly the most loved bunch of Jews. They were highly pious and did not much appreciate what they saw as a degradation of the Temple by secularism and government pressures. However, they waited with great longing for the Messiah, and were huge followers of John the Baptist. As such, they welcomed Jesus kindly and would have given Him anything requested. Thus, the Cenacle is still highly plausible and again takes care of women being present at the Last Supper.
I have no doubt that women helped with the preparation of the meal. After all, Our Lady was close by when Jesus began His Passion, so it's likely she was staying with relatives (who were very likely Essene themselves). That doesn't mean she was present for the Last Supper. It also doesn't mean that Mary Magdalene was, either (which is the point they were trying to make).
Speaking of Mary Magdalene...
3. Jesus and Mary Magdalene were an item.
Bah and humbug. This tired rubbish is so beyond played out that I'd rather listen to the Macarena a thousand times than waste my breath on this anymore. It was at that point I abruptly changed the channel.
Ah well. I noted they didn't seem to interview many Catholics. Lots of Christians, but I didn't note any Catholics. Come to think of it, I didn't note any Jews, either. For a special on a 1st century Jewish man, you'd think they'd do a better job of scouring for experts.
"In short, not only does the Administration not comprehend Catholic moral reasoning and the full-meaning of the principle of religious liberty, it does not even understand the basic economics of health-care insurance. "
Click HERE to read the rousing statement the Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist issued regarding Obama's lack of compromise on the HHS Mandate. It hurts so good!
If I hadn't been called to a marriage vocation - I'd've been one of those fresh-faced college kids joining their ranks. These aren't your typical sisters - they're NUNS!
And while you're at it, bask in the united front of US Bishops who have (finally) unanimously denounced this mandate. Don't look now - it seems like we're beginning to act like the Church Militant!
In the brilliant words of my newest favorite blogger (from whom I stole this picture and subsequent statement):
When any creature that normally takes half a century to form a complete statement starts a united effort to destroy your plans, think twice about your own brilliance.
I'm about 90% sure the above quote is a variation on commentary regarding the Ents of LOTR finally joining in the war against Saruman. Regardless, it works!
When I was a child, I was surrounded by Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary... better known as "Mac Nuns" to us Inky folks.
They were my principals, teachers, librarians and mentors. Two, in particular, were the models of what I thought every sister should be: Sister Vincent and Sister Miriam.
Sister Vincent was our 2nd grade teacher. I say "our" because she got my two older siblings and at least one of my younger two. Without a doubt, she was everyone's favorite teacher. She did "Popcorn Fridays" in which we'd be allowed to watch a movie and eat popcorn if we'd been good the whole week. She was active in the school yard, teaching girls how to jump-rope or hopscotch. She was brilliantly patient and never got annoyed with the ridiculous amount of questions kids would throw at her. Finally, she was extremely generous and simply couldn't be outdone in how much she'd do to ensure her children were well-taught and loved.
It was in her class that I came to learn that prayer wasn't just for bedtime or Mass, and it was in her class that I prepared for and came to understand Reconciliation.
Anyway, we were learning about money (coins and dollar bills). Every Wednesday, she'd allow us to "purchase" items from her shop (coloring books, rosaries, small toys) with our little cardboard coins. It was to teach us the value of money (as well as to addition and subtraction). Well, on the Wednesday before Mother's Day, she replaced the toys with "gifts for Mom" type things. Flowers, a ceramic vase, oven mitts, etc. I was almost besides myself. On the chalkboard ledge (which is where she showcased her items), there was a beautiful, oblong ceramic vase. It was a grayish blue with the most delicate roses encircling it. I'd never seen anything so wonderful, and I knew without a doubt that I wanted to give it to my Mom for Mother's Day.
Kinda like this, but mine was way prettier.
Before she "opened her shop" she told us to pray to the Blessed Mother for the proper gift for our moms. I was so worried that someone else would choose the vase for their mother that I prayed VERY SPECIFICALLY for that vase. I remember distinctly asking Our Lady to let me "go first" so I could snag the vase before anyone else.
I didn't know if I was allowed to ask for that kinda stuff, because I felt a little selfish, but in my mind, that vase already belonged to my Mom and I just had to figure out a way to beat the other kids off with a stick. Plus, Sister Vincent had said it was "OK" to pray for specific things, so I figured, "May as well give it a go!"
So pray I did, and before I even finished my Hail Mary, Sister Vincent called my name to choose first. Can you believe that?! I knew the Blessed Mother was responsible for picking my name from the hat first, but wow. I thanked her the entire way up to the front of the classroom where I bypassed everything else to pluck that beautiful vase from its ledge. For the rest of the day, I carried that sucker around like a prize. I don't think I waited until Mother's Day to give it to my Mom, either. I'm pretty certain that as soon as I saw her after school, I shoved it into her hands with the proudest grin ever. Ha ha.
For a few years afterwards, I'd see that vase sitting near the window in the kitchen. It collected dust and was never really filled with flowers (save for the paper ones I'd make now and again). That's okay, though, because it was still beautiful in my mind, and it represented more than just a gift to my mother. It was a gift FROM my Mother. Divine Providence in the making - I prayed to the Blessed Mother for the gift of the vase so I could then pass along that blessing to my Mom.
Ha ha - the power of the Hail Mary.
Then there was Sister Miriam. Sister Miriam was a much older sister who basically ran our guidance department.
God bless that woman. I honestly thought she was our version of Mother Teresa. Still do, honestly. She was gentle, quiet, and probably the most empathetic person I've ever been blessed to know.
On her wall, she had a poster that somehow etched itself into my memory. It was bright yellow with a little red gift box in the corner. The words "Children aren't clay to be molded, they're presents to be unfolded" took up the majority of the foreground. I remember reading that and thinking "Wow! All grown-ups ever try to do is tell us what we can or can't do. No one ever asks us what we think. No one ever tries to see who WE are. When I'm a grown-up, I want to unfold children."
As an educator, that lesson has always been with me. Sister Miriam exemplified it daily, and I remember as a child wanting to be just like her when I grew old. Truthfully, I always wanted to be exactly like Sister Miriam and my grandmother when I was older. Ha. They were my models of "how to be an old person." Ha ha ha.
Anyway, I adored Sisters Vincent and Miriam. They were much of the reason that I, myself, wanted so badly to become a nun as a child. I loved them so much that I wanted to be just like them.
Oh my goodness...
"I loved them so much that I wanted to be just like them."
I just realized something.
I loved those wonderful sisters and respected them with every fiber of my being. What, then, can I say of Jesus? What then, can I say of the Blessed Mother? Can I honestly say the same of them?
Do I love Jesus / Mary so much that I want to be just like them?
Shoot... didn't realize that was going to be the fruit of this reflection.
The more I read things like this, the more appealing the idea of homeschooling Vincent becomes.
Whoever is responsible for this gross misuse of authority should be fired immediately, along with whoever was responsible for this person's management / development.
Goodness - and folks want MORE government involvement? How's about we tell Uncle Sam to take a hike, especially considering everything he touches anymore turns to absolute trash?
Religious Freedoms are in the Lions' Den right about now...
Gay marriage - this is one of those topics that John and I strongly differ on. There was a time in which I saw no reason for anyone to say "No, homosexuals, you can't get married." However, in coming to terms with what that actually spells out for religious freedom - I have a huge bone of contention now with "Gay marriage."
Upon solidifying my stance that homosexual marriage is morally wrong, I came to the concession that homosexuals could "marry" all they want so long as those who understood homosexual marriage to be morally deficient wouldn't be forced to be a party to it.
Well, apparently that's not good enough for folks in power as they're attempting to yet again stifle religious freedoms in the sake of "equality."
Can I go ahead and wave the BS flag wildly?
Much like in Australia, Washington State (in the US) just signed off on a marriage bill that would require Churches (or Synagogues, or Mosques, etc) to offer their buildings / services to homosexuals or face fines for being discriminatory.
Um, excuse me? I can be fined because I practice my religious beliefs in not participating in the sham of homosexual marriage? And that's EQUALITY?
Again - I don't care if homosexuals want to get married in churches that welcome their belief systems. I don't care if they want to get married in the middle of a McDonald's, jumping out of a plane, or in the middle of a park at dusk. More power to them. They're not infringing on my rights, and they're not forcing me to be a party to what I consider to be not only a farce, but a morally degrading and socially crippling sin.
So again - this has NOTHING to do with homosexuals getting "married." It has EVERYTHING to do with having my rights ignored and my very faith threatened. This is a religious rights issue, not an equality issue.
The government is attempting to force me, through threat of financial punishment, to open my doors / services to homosexuals. If the homosexual lobby wants to get even more asnine than they currently are, they could easily stir up bogus claims against a few churches in any given area, successfully crippling them due to fines / fees / etc.
That would effectively shut down still more Churches / Synagogues, etc. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see how dangerous this move is.
Once again - homosexuals can get married all they want under law. I don't really care. What I DO care about is seeing any religious institution being forced to go against their beliefs just so these homosexuals can feel vindicated in their chosen lifestyle.
But yeah - let's keep sticking with the tired "We demand equality" shtick. Let's keep ignoring the fact that this has absolutely nothing to do with equality so much as 1st Amendment freedoms.
Again - for shame...
I was lucky enough to have my CCD class on St. Valentine's Day! How exciting that I was able to share the history of St. Valentine!
I planned a special craft to get them into both the Lenten spirit and help them understand what Valentine's Day is really about.
I was sure to wear red and I asked the class why I was wearing red for St. Valentine's Day. They all answered "Love." Now, we had JUST finished discussing liturgical colors last week, so I asked them to pull out their notes and see if they couldn't figure out why I might choose to wear red on SAINT Valentine's Day.
One of their hands shot up and she answered, "It's the color of blood. Did he give his blood?"
Slowly but surely it began dawning on them. One of my boys proudly said, "He was killed!"
I confirmed his deduction and taught them the word "martyr." I explained that martyrs are a special group of saints who died because they loved Jesus so much. I explained that in St. Valentine's time, it was illegal to be a Christian. In some parts of the world, it's still illegal, even today! The kids were floored. One chimed in "That's stupid! What if you only say good stuff about Jesus?"
From the mouths of babes...
I said that in some parts of the world, it's illegal to even mention Jesus' name because people believe that even the name of Jesus offends their god. The people in charge don't want everyone believing in Jesus when they believe only their god is important.
It was like that back in St. Valentine's period as well, but instead of an invisible god, they believed that the emperor was god (or the son of god depending on which emperor we're discussing). I likened it to everyone in the United States thinking that President Obama was a god. They shook their heads in disbelief that anything so preposterous could ever have been true.
Ah, but so it was! And in some places, so it still is! May we keep these persecuted Christians in our prayers.
With that, I told them the story of St. Valentinus (now known as St. Valentine) and why we send "Valentines" to one another. Not one of them had ever heard the history behind this feast! Can you imagine?
Anyway, as a special craft, I had them create little "Valentines for Jesus." These were half Valentine - half Lenten preparation. On each foam "heart" (they were given 10 each), I requested that they draw a picture / write a prayer or good act they could do to offer to Jesus as a show of love. After all, we are all the "hands of Christ" and what we do unto others, we do unto Christ. My class really did an amazing job exemplifying this through the choice of their offerings:
Originally I had intended them all to glue the hearts into a wreath (as you see in the original picture), but their words / pictures extended too far in some instances, so I came up with the idea of a ladder. I had them poke holes into the tops and bottoms of their hearts and they laced them together that way for a cute chain:
All in all, they turned out really nicely, and I'm really glad the kids had so much fun coming up with ways they could show Jesus they loved Him. Now they've got ideas for Lent which was a great prep for next week's Ash Wednesday lesson! Woo hoo!
Seriously - I love teaching these kids. I'm so blessed!
My husband and I celebrated St. Valentine's Day a little early on account of Tuesdays being my night to teach CCD.
He surprised me with dinner, chocolates, a ridiculous "Mr. Romance" doll, "Conversation Cards" and an awesome heart-framed photo of he and Vincent.
For my part, I had gotten him a special dinner (which can't be made until Wednesday since he surprised me with dinner Monday - ha), Pocky candy (from when we had first started dating), and a movie he'd been wanting to see for a while (but he doesn't know that yet).
For fun, after Vince went to bed, we decided to open the Conversation Cards. One of the questions was "What is your favorite flower?"
John thought "Tulip" because that was a pet name he'd used for me on account of our enjoyment of the Preacher series (and subsequently through any RPG's he'd play via Nintendo).
Tulips are nice and all, but they're not my favorite. Carnations are my favorite. I don't know if it's because I would get them all the time for Student Council stuff or what, but I LOVE carnations! I think they're beautiful, soft, and smell so pretty! Plus, they come in so many colors that you're bound to find something you love!
This conversation sparked a fond memory of an old co-worker. She used to tease me about my choice of flower, chiding me for my lack of taste. "They're weeds" she'd say. "They're ugly."
Yet on Valentine's Day (or was it my birthday?), she got me carnations just the same. Ha ha.
It's true - I think they're beautiful.
Roses come in close second, though. In fact, my favorite bouquet was a combination of roses and carnations. I had gotten these from my brother after giving birth to Vincent.
Don't get me wrong - roses are beyond magnificent. They're beautiful and soft and also have a really pretty smell. I just find carnations to be a more subtle, delicate beauty.
Plus, I recently read that Christians believed that carnations first bloomed from the tears of Our Lady as she wept for Jesus as He carried His Cross. Roses may signify Love, but carnations would certainly be the fruits of Love.
Lore aside, I love me some carnations, and I love me some roses. Down in Virginia (while visiting you, Mary!) I snapped these photos of roses:
This one is brilliant. I have no idea how they were able to marble the colors like this, but I found this rose to be the coolest thing I'd ever seen. The deep red felt smoother than velvet and the creamy white looked like it was bursting forth from the sepal.
Seriously, I still think this is the most incredible rose I've ever seen in person. It smelled divine, too!
This is my favorite "rose photo" ever. While pink isn't my favorite color for roses, these three just happened to settle in such a beautiful way that I couldn't help but fall in love. I didn't notice until now how very Trinitarian they are.
These, too, were found outside the same flower shop as the one above. However, these were more perfumed and seemed more delicate.
I dunno if you can pick it up over the computer (with monitors picking up colors as they do), but that front rose had the slightest highlights of a whispered violet along the petal fringes. These roses were actually part of a bush that I wanted so much to take home with me.
Unfortunately, I have no green thumb whatsoever, so instead of sentencing it to a horrible death with me, I snapped this picture and prayed the bush found a home with someone who could care for it properly.
Ah well... sorry for the random floral theme today, but I couldn't help myself. I wanted to share something of beauty with you all, and carnations and roses fit the bill. :)
Love transforms suffering into sacrifice.
I really wish I could figure out who is responsible for this particular piece of art. It's beautiful.
Anyway, I found the above quote in a new book I'm reading. It leapt off the page at me and I've been thinking about it ever since. Oddly enough, John and I were playing a game in which the question "What is a more powerful emotion - Love or Hate?" was asked. Without a doubt, the answer is "Love."
Hate may have been what inflicted Crucifixion upon Christ, but LOVE is what enabled Him to bear that hatred. Hatred cannot bear Love. It cannot sacrifice. Love, however... Love can not just bear the hatred... it embraces the sacrifice.
Sure hatred is fiery and fast - incredibly powerful and unfathomably destructive. Yet this destructive and fiery force burns out because it simply cannot sustain itself. Love, though... love is gentle and steady and infinite. Love creates. Love protects. Love perfects.
Surely Love is the most powerful emotion as love is the essence of God, Himself.
I was rushing around on Sunday morning in an attempt to get to Mass on time. It was my own fault - I had gotten a late start, and since John wasn't feeling well, I also had to chase around Vince while I got ready, too.
We did manage to get to the Church as Mass was beginning, but I realized that I'd left my veil in the car. There was no way I was going to run out with Vince, up the block to my car, then back again just for the veil. A friend of mine questioned its absence and I simply said "I was running late today."
However, the veil is only an outward sign of the inward promise of humility. There's a saying I heard once that really made me better understand the whole idea of veiling...
"Don't wear it over your head unless you've got one over your heart."
In other words - don't make a show of humility unless your heart is prostrate before the Throne of God (because then it becomes just that... a show).
I still felt kinda naked, though. Vince, for his part, thoroughly enjoyed playing with my hair. He attempted to play "peek-a-boo" by closing my hair around my face, then parting it while saying "BOO!" He's so used to playing with my veil that I think he was somewhat delighted to have my hair back.
Aside from playing peek-a-boo with my hair, Vincent was again a little angel. No outbursts, no attempts to run through the Church, and no struggling to steal the goldfish crackers from the child to our left. :)
In fact, I was immensely proud of him at both Communion time and as we exited the Church. As I knelt before receiving the Eucharist, Vincent stooped onto both his knees. I had to help him up so as not to jam the line, but Vincent knelt! He did it again as we exited the Church (I always genuflect, but I don't think Vince has the coordination to only use one knee - it's both or nothing). Ha ha. The visiting priest commented on it and gave Vince a little hair-tousle after our deacon high-fived him. It was simply adorable.
He may not be able to join in the prayers yet, but he's picking things up! This more than makes up for the cringe-worthy events of two weeks ago. :)
Exhausted and deeply saddened.
Is anyone else tired of all this blather? I am so beyond done with attempting to explain to others why this mandate is a horrible, horrible injustice, specifically aimed at Catholics.
I have never been so thoroughly aware of how much hatred for Catholicism existed until this sorta stuff was stirred up. Folks are pouring out of the woodwork with their opinions on why Catholics should round themselves up and jump off a cliff.
So many threads on Facebook - ugh. It's almost impossible to keep up with all of them. Yet I continue to try. I feel duty-bound to at least attempt to correct the misrepresentations, lies, assumptions and flat-out misinformation being spewed by folks who have no idea what they speak of.
Even if I can't change their minds, at least I can give others who read their foolishness an alternate point of view with which to arm themselves...
But wow... I didn't think my stamina for this sort of thing could ever be spent...
The topic of 1st Penance came up as our 2nd graders made theirs tonight. For me, my 1st Penance was the most memorable of the Sacraments of my childhood.
I was in 2nd grade, and I was in Fr. John Kalloor's line (he's now a Bishop in India serving the Malankarites - he's so wonderful!). I remember being a little nervous because my family was so well known in the parish. I trusted that Father Kalloor wouldn't tell my mom any of the bad stuff I would confess (because of the seal), but I was still worried he'd think I was a bad person or something.
Anyway, I saw that it was my turn to make my confession. I was happy that Fr. John was sitting in front of Our Lady's statue in the sanctuary. It was a face-to-face confession (which I had dreaded), but I was glad that the Blessed Mother was watching over everything. I don't remember what my confession actually consisted of, but I remember that he gave me a penance of 3 Hail Marys. I recited the Act of Contrition and off I went.
Instead of immediately going to the Altar Rail for my 3 Hail Mary's (like we were taught), I was SO excited that I started shouting into the crowds of parents, students and teachers "Mom! Mom! Where are you Mom? I DID IT!"
Sr. Damien (our 1st grade teacher at the time), was suddenly in front of me, hushing me and asking, "Did you say your penance yet?"
I realized with a pang of panic that Oh no! I didn't!
She then sent me off to the rail where I completed my prayers quickly. I doubt I said them with any real piety, because I was so excited with what had just happened. I felt absolutely alive! I did, however, remember to thank the Blessed Mother and tell Jesus that I loved Him. Ha.
Anyway, my mom found me and we left the Church to get a treat as celebration. I was even allowed to sit in the FRONT SEAT! She decided to take me to Dunkin' Donuts. On the way there, I was going on and on about how happy I was. I finally said, "Mommy, I feel all floaty inside!"
I will never forget her response to that. As she drove on to Dunkin' Donuts, she said, "That's Jesus' love in there [meaning my heart], making you happy. He loves you so much and is so proud of you!"
I was silent then. It made perfect sense to my 2nd grade mind, yet I was still in awe that Jesus loved me so much that He could make me feel so incredibly happy.
Finally, we got to Dunkin' Donuts and my mom ordered a box of munchkins and even let me have a cup of Mountain Dew - my favorite soda at the time (which she didn't tend to let me have because of the insane amount of caffeine and sugar).
As we started to go home, I still was beyond myself with that feeling of the purest exaltation I'd ever experienced. While enjoying the high, I absent-mindedly took a sip of my Mountain Dew and realized it wasn't good. I didn't like it. I munched on a doughnut and realized that, too, had lost its appeal. Two of my favorite things in the world, munchkins and Mountain Dew, had become less than lack-luster. It was almost as if their "treat" was a mockery of the delicious, fulfilling and beyond-any-fathomable-sense feelings I was experiencing.
To this day, I don't like doughnuts or Mountain Dew. They simply couldn't compare with the intense emotional satisfaction and fulfillment I received through my 1st Confession. That Sacrament - it will always have a special place in my heart. For as powerful as the Eucharist and Confirmation are, Reconciliation, too, is immense. I'm sorry that it is so often overlooked as unnecessary or pointless.
Mmmmmm - I'm going to spend the rest of this evening on cloud nine, though. Anytime I think of my 1st Reconciliation, I retaste those feelings and feel sustained in joy for hours on end. :) Truly that was one of the happiest days of my life.
God's Timing is Always Perfect
So I had a big date today with the courthouse. I can't offer many details at this juncture, but be assured I didn't break any laws. Ha.
Anyway, I was really hoping that today would be the end of a very long, very emotional, and very psychologically draining battle. Unsurprisingly, God had other plans in mind.
I was feeling pretty miserable on the way home. Luckily I had brought my new Lighthouse CD with me for the ride, and a brilliant quote wafted over the speakers. I actually replayed it - twice - because I knew God wanted me to not only hear it, but understand it.
"Sometimes God makes you wait in order to purify your motives."
Hrm - how true that is! I realized that in my desire to have this done and over with, I was being a smidgen outlandish. Instead of accepting this litany of grievances as opportunities to practice patience, or offer them up for some greater good, I've been selfishly desiring the end of them and the opportunity to "get away" from my issues.
I needed to hear that, and I needed to hear it right then and there.
How often do we rush and grumble when others aren't rushing with us? Instead, maybe we should slow down and be grateful for the "Gift of Waiting." In being forced to slow ourselves down (even in traffic), we could very well be given blessings untold. God's timing is perfect. Every red light a manifestation of His Mercy... every irritatingly slow driver a testament of His Grace... every tear-inducing conversation with the lawyers a new chance for us to submit to God's Will in an effort to understand what it means to trust.
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