Thank you all so much for reaching out yesterday. Sorry it took me so long to update! God was good and allowed last night to go much better than I had been anticipating, and I have no doubt it was through our prayers. So thank you so much!!! I'm honestly so much more at ease than I've been in a very long time, so I'm hoping that this time, things stick.
Bless you all for your spiritual generosity. I feel so very lucky to have connected with so many wonderful people via blogging. :)
The Holy Family
I've got an intention I'd like to ask your favor with.
A big one.
I've been grappling with this for months now. MONTHS. Probably even longer.
Anyway, I'm going to need some divine intervention, so if any of you would be so kind as to toss a spare Memorare (or prayer to St. Joseph, protector of families) my way, I'd be incredibly appreciative.
Thanks so much. I'll be sure to let you know how it turned out.
In all things God's Will be done.
PS - If you know the artist who did this painting of the Holy Family, please tell me so I can track more of their work down!
Originally posted 4/1/2012
Rare depiction where BOTH are present
So this past week, I discussed Palm Sunday with my CCD class. After giggling like, well, sixth graders at the reading (in which the term "ass" is used in lieu of "donkey"), I made sure they understood the significance of that donkey and even the colt that sometimes seems so forgotten (because of that messy business attempting to explain why there might be two vs. one animal that Christ rode upon into Jerusalem).
Greek translations aside, the donkey itself is extremely important for two reasons. The first is obvious. Christ came to fulfill the Promises of God the Father (which included reconciling humanity to Himself). Prophets had come and gone, describing to Israel the events surrounding the Savior's coming. Jesus fulfilled every single prophecy made about His arrival. Nothing escaped His Will, even the act of riding into the city on the back of a donkey.
After giving them a brief lesson on the etymology of "ass" and "donkey," I asked them why they thought Jesus might choose to ride into Jerusalem on one. The answers ranged anywhere from "Because He didn't have a horse" to "He was too poor to buy anything else."
I'm surprised no one mentioned He might be afraid of horses... Heh.
Anyway, I had them read that above quote from Zechariah 9:9. After they'd finished reading it, I had them try again. Why might Jesus have chosen a donkey for His grand entrance into Jerusalem?
One of my kids correctly said that Jesus had to do everything that was in the Old Testament because that was "His job." (He totally got a piece of candy for that gem! I love it when they pay attention to these things!)
I affirmed that though he was right, Jesus did come to "fulfill" the Old Testament prophecies. But why, I asked, might God have chosen the donkey in the first place? What did donkeys do?
Another child raised her hand and said, "They carry stuff."
Another chimed in, "Yeah, like blankets and baskets and stuff."
I smiled. They were getting there!
So I said, "Yes! You're on the right track. That's exactly what donkeys did. They still do today. In fact, donkeys are responsible for carrying large amounts of heavy, heavy items because they are so strong. Back in Jesus' time, they didn't have SUVs with huge cargo bays to hold everything. Instead, they led donkeys around with their backs piled high with goods and equipment. They were basically walking "trunks" that carried everything that their human masters didn't want to lug around themselves. So why, then, might Jesus have chosen to ride on one into Jerusalem?"
Since they were still at a loss, I redirected them back to Zechariah and pointed out the word "meek" to them. I then defined "meek" as the ability to endure suffering with humility and patience. A donkey is considered meek because it patiently carries heavy burdens over long distances. Even though the donkey may get tired or sore from such hard labor, he continues on, content to be serving as best it can.
That all being said, I again asked why Jesus might have chosen a donkey. I saw some light bulbs flicker.
A hand shot up. "Jesus is meek! But He's meek as a lamb, not meek as a donkey."
I was surprised by that connection. We had spoken about Jesus as the Pascal Lamb the week before, but I was impressed he remembered the term "meek" and connected it to the donkey.
I explained (since the poor dears were so close but beginning to get flustered by the Socratic questioning):
Yes! Jesus is meek as a lamb because He is The Lamb of God who consented to the Will of His Father, accepting death on the Cross for our salvation. However, Jesus is very much like that donkey - He fully accepted the burden of our sins without complaint, humbly carrying them on His Back in the form of His Passion. He was tired, He was in pain, and He was so sore, yet just like a donkey, He kept carrying our sins (truly the weight of the world) all the way up Calvary.
Jesus chose a donkey because He was, in fact, beginning His own journey. When the people accepted Him as the Promised Savior on Sunday, He understood that this acceptance would be short-lived. The Essenes may have understood Him to be the Son of God, but theSanhedrin most certainly did not. Pontius Pilate and Caesar most certainly wouldn't have, either. Thus, Jesus understood that He was coming to accept His Passion and Death in atonement for the sins of mankind... the price for our reconciliation with the Father.
It's interesting to note, BTW, that Jesus specifically requested the COLT of a donkey (which is basically a younger donkey who hadn't carried anything yet). This donkey was innocent and pure, much like Christ who never carried sin of His own.
Father Byers (of Holy Souls Hermitage fame) even taught me through his blog that Christ was depicted in the early Church as a crucified donkey! No April Fool's joke, I promise. Read it for yourself here!
What's more, I found an interesting little poem regarding the "cross" that all donkeys seem to have on their backs (their fur just seems to stick out in this pattern). It's similar to the story of Our Lady's blessing of the Tabby Cats at that first Christmas (which can be found here).
Anyway, I shall leave it with you. Enjoy!
"Bring me the colt of a donkey,"
was the Master's request.
A young donkey was brought to Jesus
to carry him into Jerusalem.
A week later Jesus was ordered
to be crucified.
The little donkey so loved the Lord
that he wanted to help Him carry the cross.
But, alas, he was pushed away.
The sad little donkey waited to say
goodbye until nearly all had left.
As he turned to leave, the shadow of
the cross fell upon the
back and shoulders of
the little donkey.
And there it has remained,
a tribute to the loyalty
and love of the humblest of
Vince outgrew his toddler bed, so John and I ordered him a full-sized frame / mattress to go with the crib back that converts to a headboard for such occasions.
Instead of just putting the new bed in the pale green nursery, I decided on Friday afternoon that I was going to completely revamp the nursery into a "big boy room" to go with his new big boy bed.
I taped and painted until late Friday night, then I painted and removed tape Saturday morning. I screwed the frame together and rigged the headboard to actually fit the frame (which technically isn't supposed to happen) and then I put together a few odds and ends to make the room feel like a cozy bedroom. I'm not finished yet, but I don't think this is bad for a 24 hour conversion!
He was so excited! He kept leaving the room, going halfway down the stairs, and then coming back into the room so he could see it "as a surprise" again and again. When we told him it wasn't bedtime yet (it was only five and he hadn't even had dinner!), he cried and threw a minor hissy fit because all he wanted to do was play in his new bedroom!
I call that success!
I tried catching photos of him in the room, but he just wouldn't stay still. He was too excited! I did finally get one, though. Granted, he was asleep, but he was not bouncing!!
We were able to make the donation today! THANK YOU, EVERYONE!!! It's not much, but it's something, and the Pro-Life Union of Greater Philadelphia will know best what to do with it. How exciting to be able to work together for the benefit of the pro-life movement! Bless all of you for your generosity and support!
EDIT: I encourage everyone to read through the commentary as well. So many great points have been raised that are worthy of your attention. They are critical of my viewpoint, but deservedly so. I think this is an extremely worthwhile discussion, so please avail yourselves of the various perspectives. And as always - don't forget to ask the Holy Spirit for His Thoughts, either! *Grin*
Some of you may already be aware of this, but for those of you who aren't, Pope Francis made the decision to have the Mass of the Lord's Supper outside St. Peter's Basilica this Holy Thursday.
I'll be honest. I'm not happy about this. I'm not happy about this at all.
Before you start calling me a Pope Francis hater, let me explain.
Holy Thursday Mass is the kickoff of our most sacred season - Triduum. This is the Mass in which we celebrate the institution of the Eucharist and Holy Orders - two Sacraments that exist for one another. Without one, the other cannot exist. Priests are ordained specifically to bring the Eucharist to their people, and the Eucharist exists only on account of those men blessed to be ordained for the duty.
Holy Thursday Mass is no thing to trifle with. Being such a sacred and blessed time in our history, this specific celebration deserves to be treated in the most dignified and respectful manner. Offering this Mass in St. Peter's is what has been done as tradition because, frankly, this Mass is worthy of St. Peter's. If no other Mass is offered in St. Peter's for the rest of the year, THIS ONE SHOULD BE.
I mean, if the Church dictates that Catholic marriage ceremonies not take place outside a church, how is it suddenly OK to have THE MOST IMPORTANT MASS OF THE YEAR in a juvenile prison?!
I get what he's trying to do. He's really big into humility and publicly showing folks that it's necessary and important to care for "the least among us. I'm all for that!
I am not, however, all for neglecting to pay Christ and His Sacraments homage in the manner dictated to us by Tradition (one of our three pillars of Church Authority). I feel this is a misstep on the part of our new Pontiff. It is really disappointing to me. As a Church, God gifted us things like the Basilica of St. Peter specifically so we COULD celebrate with splendor the very special graces afforded to us through the Eucharist and Holy Orders.
I can't help but think he's a little too gung-ho with this whole "Let's toss all tradition aside so I can prove to the public that as the newly elected leader of the Church, I turn away from finer things and ignore past traditions" in an attempt to regain the trust of a very jaded and unhappy world.
Again, I don't think his reasoning is terrible. I really don't. I think we really do need someone to stand up and put an end to the ridiculousness going on in the Church. That being said, we should not be throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
We're talking about JESUS and His institution of the Eucharist and Holy Orders. This is Holy Thursday Mass.. the beginning of our Triduum - the opening Mass that sets the stage for Good Friday and Holy Saturday. To offer it in a detention center where you'd only fit a handful of people (successfully closing off the service to the crowds that would have been able to gather in St. Peter's) and replacing the retired priests with children to have their feet washed... I just feel like this is going three steps too far on the "Look how humble and willing to buck tradition I am, so don't worry, the Church will be back to its humble and poor-loving self soon" scale.
Holy Father, I'm praying for you because you've got quite the job to do. I pray you're able to clean up the mess you've been left and I'm still hoping your intentions on this are pure and true. Your decision, however, has truly, truly unsettled me. My heart is not at ease.
And I realize I'm the odd man out for calling out this decision since your reasons seem so justifiable. You want to serve the "least among us" and the societal "rejects." You choose troubled children, and how can anyone take issue with such an endearing and gentle display of charity?
I get that I'm in the minority on this, but I can't help but express my discontent, especially given that the washing of the feet is an act Jesus used specifically to prepare and ordain his chosen 12 for their priestly duties. The tradition of washing the feet of retired priests was a beautiful symbol of and testament to this fact!
And also keep in mind Our Lord's appreciation for the woman's actions at Bethany. She poured the entire contents of extremely expensive perfume over Christ to anoint Him. Judas grumbled at her "wastefulness," but Jesus defended her for her actions. She was blessed with something special by God, and she wanted to give back without thought to cost. She simply wanted to offer the finest of what she had to He who had given her so much.
This is a righteous action in the Eyes of the Lord. This is not wasteful and it is not prideful and it is not arrogant. It is taking the gifts God granted and using them to shower splendor and blessings back upon Him. All that we have - all that we are - are meant to honor and glorify the Lord. She did just that, even though some accused her of extravagance.
Oh, Holy Father, my heart breaks at the thought of relegating this most sacred Mass to a jail cell that is barren of sacred relics, sacred artwork, sacred vessels, and even the legions of faithful who would gather to celebrate the Lord's Supper. If we do not allow for such a thing to occur with marriages, how can we allow such a thing to happen for Holy Thursday Mass?
In a place that is already barren of Catholicism, how will those children come to understand the importance of the procession after Holy Thursday Mass where the sanctuary is stripped of its ornamentation, artwork and finery... sentenced to suffer the same death and tomb of Her Eternal Bridegroom? These traditions are in place because they are important... they are educational... and they are pleasing to God because this is the manner in which He saw fit to remind us of His Sacrifice so that we might grow closer to His Heart of Love.
The thought of this brings actual tears to my eyes. This seems wrong. Everything about this seems wrong, wrong, wrong. My heart cannot quiet its echoing cry of discontent.
Guess who found a gorgeous statue of Our Lady today?
I'm not entirely sure of her depiction. One of the priests told me he thought she was Our Lady of Good Health, but I'm not too sure. Anyone have any clues confirming or denying such a title for this depiction?
Regardless, she's BEAUTIFUL!
She's completely covered in gold. The intricate design of her robe is matched only by the detail of her veil. Her sash / mantle is a shimmering gold, but you can see the "Marian Blue" pop from underneath. Her hands are held over hear heart and she seems to be almost catching herself... her heart... as it shouts out for love of God.
Oh goodness... I could stare happily at this statue for days!
She is, in fact, standing on a blue and gold globe, so if anyone has any ideas on this particular depiction of her, I'd appreciate it! In the meantime - ENJOY!
I've been a busy bee with earrings lately. I had a special request for guardian angel earrings (last set!). A group of teens (8 in total) will be wearing them in solidarity for a Pro-Life event they helped put together through their Youth Group. How cool is that? I did them free of charge (of course!). How cool that they thought to wear earrings in solidarity with the "angels" lost to abortion every day? Sometimes these kid astound me. They'll be giving the Pro-Life Union of Philadelphia the first My Broken Fiat check I've been able to amass through your generosity. $100! So thank you so much for your support, guys!!!
When I get a new batch of these particular beads in, I'll start offering them in the shop. The others are new designs I was fiddling with to add some gold to the mix since most of my pieces are silver.
Anyway, here's what I've got! I'm really loving the metal charms and glass beads. The colors are pretty and they're just so much fun to work with!
Here it is! My favorite image from the Papal Election coverage.
I had been curled up on my couch - sick - waiting for the new Pope to be introduced to the people. The cameras kept panning back and forth over the crowd which was swelling with cheers of excitement and anticipation. About 10 minutes before Pope Francis took to the bacony, this child came up on my screen. Obviously on the shoulders of his or her father, this child raised - triumphantly - the Crucifix.
Victory, dear Lord. Your throne of Salvation is STILL our sign of triumph, and this child raised it up above Your people in anticipation of Your new Vicar.
This, for me, was an image of hope... an image of joy!
So I actually scrambled for my camera and replayed the scene so I could snap this picture. That's my TV on pause! I hope to come across a better picture of this image. It's just beautiful.
Anyway, just wanted to share this with you! Anyone else have any favorite images of the conclave / election? There are certainly some great memes out there now. Ha ha ha!
Some of you may have seen this on the Facebook Feed. I'm posting again anyway with a bit of commentary compiled from three threads (I posted this to my personal page as well).
Actual snippet of conversation I had via G-Chat:
Friend: "This pope might finally support gay marriage! I'll be able to call myself Catholic again!"
Me: "Barring the fact that popes don't get to suddenly support things that go against the dogma they vowed to protect, let's say Pope Francis does. Let's say he suddenly says, 'Alrighty, homosexuals, go ahead and get married.'
Does that make you and all those 'Catholics' like you suddenly believe in things like transubstantiation, the Immaculate Conception and actually attending Mass more than twice a year?"
Friend: "What's transubstantiation?"
*Insert me legitimately face-palming myself*
Me: "My point, exactly. You wouldn't be Catholic no matter what Pope Francis did, so please stop pretending it matters what his well-documented stance on homosexual marriage is."
- End Snippet -
This conversation continued back and forth for a bit with the friend coming to the conclusion that homosexual marriage in the eyes of the Church really DOESN'T mean anything in the scheme of things when he doesn't care about 9/10ths of our dogma, anyway.
As I pointed out in one of my threads, the Church's view on homosexual marriage changing or not changing really has absolutely ZERO to do with one's fidelity to Catholicism. In the scheme of things, if people actually believed in what Catholicism offered, they'd' realize what a tiny blip on the radar homosexual marriage is.
We've got JESUS in the Eucharist... God willingly sharing Himself with us in the most intimate of ways. We've got absolution through our priests. We've got the Communion of Saints. We've got the hope of Purgatory and the blessing of the successor to St.Peter.
Homosexual marriage just doesn't register on the scale of importance when you look at it in light of the fact that we offer God (fully incarnate!) as a covenant blessing.
If you don't believe (or care) about this, what will our stance on homosexual marriage do to change that?
So tell all your friends that we've elected a pope that is *gasp* Catholic and he will strive to uphold *gasp again!* actual Catholic theology.
Not this kind, either.
So I was diagnosed today with Shingles.
I'm 29 years old, and I came down with something that I didn't think would bother with me until I hit retirement age.
This ranks right up there with last year's scarlet fever. I mean, seriously - who gets these things anymore? As my friends have now teased, I got lost on the Oregon Trail somewhere.
So yeah... I still feel terrible. At least I know why, though!
I finally caved and went to the doc this afternoon after the rash I'd been attributing to my fever started feeling like a bunch of bee stings. My friends, a shingles rash is no fun thing. These little welts HURT.
I'm so glad Vince has no chance of catching them. Since he's vaccinated against chicken pox (which is where shingles come from), he's safe. Also, the blisters are relatively covered, so it's not like he can come into direct contact with anything. Yay for that!
Now I've just got to ride out the rest of the symptoms. I guess it was timed perfectly to coincide with the conclave. I've got a ready-made daily sacrifice to offer up for all the cardinals! :)
Speaking of the conclave, a few of you have asked why I haven't written anything on the retirement of Pope Benedict XVI or mused as to who might be the next pontiff.
Welp, I had written about Pope Benedict's possible retirement in 2011 here. After that, I sorta just expected him to someday announce his resignation. I have no real opinion on his departure because I simply don't know enough to formulate a proper one. All I can do is pray for his fruitful and blessed retirement and thank God we were given another staunch and brilliant defender of the Faith.
As for the current conclave and the various gossip surrounding "popular choices" for pope, I have nothing to say. I don't know much about the various "popular cardinals" and I certainly wouldn't presume to say "Oh I think we should have a pope from X country because of this, that and the other thing."
Considering it's the Holy Spirit running the show on this one, my ideas are completely pointless. I haven't read any of the conjecture / gossip / professional opinions because, frankly, none of it matters. No one can predict our next Holy Father. Even if someone was right, it's doubtful their reasons for his selection are going to be correct. Our ways are not His ways, so what's the point in attempting to rationalize that which we can't possibly grasp?
That being said, it's totally entertaining to read some of the "If I could choose X as pope" entries I've come across. Those always make me smile because the people who have put so much time and effort into selecting their "Dream Pontiff" obviously have such a love and care for our faith and our priests.
Actually - fun fact about Pope Selection: Did you know that a man from the laity could be called upon to become Bishop of Rome?
I did not know that until last week when a coworker explained the process! I thought that was a really entertaining factoid! You just need to be an unmarried Catholic male. How cool is that????
So I guess my brother is in the running!!! Ha ha ha!
Ah well. Anyway, that's it for me. I'm headed back to bed now. Thanks for all the well-wishes!!! Keep those prayers for the cardinals going because as of now:
Thanks for all the well wishes for my son! He is, in fact, feeling much better! He's tumbling around the living room with his daddy as I write this!
I, however, have succumbed to whatever it was that Vince was reeling from last week.
So I won't be of much use online. However, might I direct your attention to one of the best perspectives I've read on the Parable of the Prodigal Son? This Church of Ireland priest calls it the "Parable of the Absent Mother." I do think it was the best blog entry I've come across this weekend. I love new insights into Scripture!!!
You're welcome in advance... I think this is something worthwhile for everyone to read!
Click here to read all about it!
A big congratulations to these wonderful winners - we've got several who won several times over - way to stay on top of those entries!!!
I'll be shipping these out as soon as I get your contact information. Thank you so much to everyone who participated. You're all in my prayers for a peaceful, fruitful Lent!
Vince has been very sick the last few days. He's been cuddled against Mommy with a 103 degree fever, total sinus congestion, and all sorts of little aches since Saturday afternoon. My poor baby!
He's starting to feel a bit more like himself, thank God.
Before he came down with this nasty little bug, I had taken him to The Franklin Institute for the first time! Since John was off meeting one of his childhood idols that day, I got to spend a whole day with my little munch - something we haven't really done in a while.
So I packed him up and took him into Philly to explore the Institute.
For those of you who have never been, it's a great place for kids to get hands on experience with science in action. They've got rooms set up to tackle topics like global weather patterns, static electricity, the circulatory system and aviation. My favorite part of the Institute has always been the planetarium. Vince enjoyed looking at the planets and seeing a brief video about black holes, but he was more interested in the train room. In the train room, there are real locomotives that you can climb aboard and look at. Vince must've climbed aboard at least a dozen times! He even got to try his hand at turning one of the giant wheels!
He also got a big kick out of the circulatory room. This room is probably the most famous one the Institute has simply based on the "maze" they have that follows the path blood takes through the human heart. It's a massive exhibit that allows you to walk through a model heart... tracing your way through arteries, the lungs and eventually veins and back through the heart again. Vince was scared of the heart, but he adored the exercise equipment that showed you how you could "get your heart racing" in order to promote good health!
He wasn't too fond of the aviation room. At first he was a little afraid of all the wind tunnels and noises of jet engines, but once I plopped him into the pilot seat of the old plane they've got hanging from the ceiling, he changed his tune a bit. :)
Once we finished in the aviation room, we stopped to get a quick bite to eat in the atrium. This served to fuel the little munch for his romp in the Sports Center! I let him take the marble steps instead of the elevator so I could show him the huge pendulum swinging down through three flights of spiraling stairs. The pendulum swings due to the motion of the earth. Every morning, dominoes are set up in a perfect circle around the pendulum. As the day progresses, the tilt of the earth causes the pendulum to switch direction almost imperceptibly. The tiles get knocked down little by little as the pendulum shifts to account for the spin of the earth. Vince got a kick out of seeing it!
However, he enjoyed running up the stairs a lot more. Maybe he felt like Rocky Balboa!
The sports room is probably where he had the most fun. I got several fun shots of him playing around in there! All over are jerseys of sports celebrities, footprints of basketball players and various statistics of some of Philadelphia's best loved athletes. Vince didn't much care about any of that. He just wanted to play on all the cool stuff!
However, even having all that fun in the sports room, he still wanted to head back to the trains. So, we headed back to the trains to have some more fun on the old locomotives!
So yeah - as you can see God was very good to give us this fun little adventure before his little body got caught up in this whole being sick business. I keep telling him that when he gets better, we'll go back and see the trains again. Without fail he forgets he's sick and smiles so big! He really loves those trains!
If any of you are ever in the area, the Franklin Institute is a great place to stop by (even if you don't have kids!). A few weeks ago, some friends and I attended one of their traveling exhibits - the Titanic. Last year it was the Dead Sea Scrolls. This spring I'm taking John to see one about Spies and all the different spy gadgets governments have created over the years.
It's really such a great place and I can't wait to take Vince again when he's feeling better!
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