The painting to your left is of Jesus walking on water, grasping the hand of St. Peter (whose faith had just faltered).
St. Peter, who had faithfully followed Jesus, even to the point of walking on water at His Command, suddenly found himself afraid, lacking faith, and in need of Christ's immediate support.
I felt a lot like St. Peter must've felt in that instant this weekend. Lost, near drowning, feeling my faith in myself and my calling all but gone, and boom - I ask Jesus to redirect me and He gifts me a "lightbulb moment" during the Liturgy of the Word.
The last couple days I've been struggling with a few things. Friends are dropping like flies, fleeing from my newfound passion for Catholicism. My husband has gone on record stating that he thinks I'm going insane. Even my mother has chided me for my "over-zealousness." I repeatedly went back to my spiritual director, wondering if this blog, my online threads, my involvement with evangelization... I just needed guidance, and a lot of it.
I was supposed to go to Mass on Saturday night. Things didn't work out that way, so I vowed to go on Sunday morning at 9am (as is typical). Oddly enough, when Sunday morning rolls around, I have the distinct urge to push off Mass until 10:30. I'm not usually that willing to push off Mass, especially knowing that John's had Vincent all morning already. But something was telling me, in no uncertain terms, that I should wait until 10:30. So I did.
Fr. Andrew was a visiting priest. He had originally come from India and knew how to sandwich his homily between two lighthearted jokes. Everyone took a liking to him quickly. I soon realized that Fr. Andrew was why I was to attend the 10:30 Mass. God wanted to be sure I heard his homily.
To recap this weekend's Liturgy, go here. Each reading was tailor-made to smack sense into me.
First reading summary: Silence in the face of evil is a grave sin. Silence makes you culpable for the faults of others. This comes to mind.
Responsorial: "If today you hear His Voice, harden not your hearts."
Second reading summary: Love thy neighbor as thyself.
Gospel: Charitably confront others in their misdeeds. Key word: charitably.
Step by step, God was kind enough to allay my confusion through the Liturgy (so anyone balking at the idea that God really does speak through Scripture, here ya go!).
I've been really concerned with the threads that've been woven as a result of these blogs (reminder to those not connected with me on Facebook: many threads tend to multiply into a conversation between several people upwards of 30 and 40 comments long). Due to the massive amount of disinformation that exists regarding Catholicism, and the heavy, HEAVY anti-religion sentiment many of my friends harbor, it's like I'm constantly putting out a million small fires at once. I'm always battling against those who simply don't know any better. They are very ignorant of true Catholic teaching, but think nothing of spouting their misinformation to others who accept it as gospel. This is the real reason I get upset with "Protestant Catholics" (also known as Cafeteria Catholics).
Anyway, in one of my most recent threads, my Catholicism was lampooned by one of my dearest friends. Because she did it in so public a manner, in a thread meant to invite open, honest discourse among people of all faiths, backgrounds and beliefs, I felt the need to publicly reprimand her for an action that, in my opinion, halted conversation by turning the environment sour with immature anger and arrogance. As a moderator, I take policing my threads VERY seriously, and anyone stepping out of line will be dealt with swiftly and severely(with the hope of stamping out such behavior from happening in the future).
So that's what I did with her. Unfortunately, I was neither charitable nor patient in my response. I angrily retorted, tearing apart her ad hominem argument as well as taking a stab at her credibility. Part of me knew I was 100% correct in my argument and the basis for my anger, but another part of me knew I was going about it 100% wrong.
Within minutes, I deleted the entire thread, opting to start anew as opposed to leaving such gaping wounds to fester in the public eye. I reflected heavily on this, however, as well as recent threads that have also spiraled into this heightened form of verbal warfare.
Thus, the spot-on-timing of God through His Liturgy this weekend.
Since starting this blog, I had been convinced of my calling to educate other Catholics (and those who are interested in becoming Catholic) of the TRUE teachings of the Church. I openly share this with others in the hopes of fostering dialogue (which inevitably leads to a greater understanding of perspective). However, because I take a very traditional, no-candy-coating approach to true Catholic teachings, some of my Catholic friends, and plenty of ex-Catholic friends, take grave offense. Plenty assume I'm attacking their lack of Catholicism, and plenty of others assume I'm attacking their ignorance regarding the faith.
I attack no one for their "lack of Catholicism." That's just silly. I do, however, attack ignorance. Considering my mission to root out ignorance, I am a stickler for intellectual honesty. Just as I wouldn't post a response on string theory (since my knowledge of that is beyond miniscule) without first researching a bit about it, I don't expect others to willy-nilly post what they "think" the Church teaches, or angrily accuse Catholicism of any number of ridiculous things, just because they assume the media paints an accurate picture. Yet that's what happens, time and again.
Normally, I pride myself in my ability to keep a level head and calmly explain Church teaching to those who are ignorant through no fault of their own. Catholic education isn't exactly what it used to be, and again, misinformation has been spreading long before many of my friends were even born. I, myself, have been a willing victim of ignorance for years. So who am I to fault another for their ignorance of a faith that, even if we were given hundreds of years to devote to its study, would still remain clueless about many of its facets?
There are instances, however, when folks accuse me of lies, half-truths, or complete fabrications that I go off my rocker. In those instances, I lose all sense of Christian virtue and go straight for the jugular. Instead of "responding," I react. Instead of patiently explaining, person-to-person (as the Gospel suggests), I tear into them vehemently, in public.
So coupling the Liturgy with Fr. Andrew's homily, I feel as though God would like me to continue my evangelization efforts, but He wants me to big-time adjust the way I deliver the remedy to misinformation. After all, I need to live out the Gospel I preach, right? So that mantra of loving my neighbor as myself must be at the forefront of my mind at all times. In each response I make, I have to think to myself "Would I want to hear it this way?" or "Would Jesus say it nicer?"
BVM "teaching" Jesus to pray
Now that I'm back from vacation, I can post en masse.
Saturday's topic? Pope Benedict's apology lamenting "cradle Catholics" who haven't shared their faith with subsequent generations.
As is typical, our Holy Father is spot on.
This is a particulalry thorny issue for me, especially now that I'm taking charge of a CCD class and moving "full-steam-ahead" into evangelization.
A few months ago, I was given the opportunity to share some ideas regarding children within the parish during what we called "Open Forum" nights. I was sadly the only person from my age group to attend, but it was a worthwhile night anyway. I asked the others who were there what function the Youth Group served within the parish. No one could tell me. All they said was "Well, they do a car wash" or "The do a Mass once in a while." So I stated (for the Holy Spirit, I think):
How can we expect them to know their value in the parish if we don't?
And it's true! Children are SO eager and SO full of love that they'd happily bend over backwards to feel useful. So it is OUR job to harness that potential and direct it in a positive, life-affirming way. It is our job as parents, educators, community leaders, etc to define their roles and encourage participation in our faith. Something as simple as having the Youth Group lead the Monday night Rosary would have such a lasting effect!
But we don't do these things. We ignore an entire category of parishoners because of their age... because of their lack of perceived value! How foolish we are!
And as Pope Benedict points out, it goes even farther than that. How many of us have witnessed parents pushing their way into a foreign parish to enable the baptism of their baby only to never set foot inside a church again? How many couples move mountains to enable a Catholic Nuptial Mass only to ignore every other aspect of our faith? How many parents drop their children off to CCD classes only to ignore the greatest expression of our faith, the Mass, every Sunday??? Worst of all, maybe, how many times have we... fully vested Catholics who understand and love our faith... not practiced the day-to-day profession of faith in our actions? How many times have we not followed the most basic of Catholic principles, to love thy neighbor as thyself? All of these things have deprived our youth of truly understanding and appreciating the Catholic faith, and we've only ourselves to blame.
Seriously... we need to do better at acknowledging the value of our children and encouraging them to take part in all the beauty our faith has to offer. We need to do better at holding ourselves accountable for our role in depleting respect, awe and understanding of Catholicism.
Pope Benedict was kind in "apologizing" on behalf of Catholics everywhere. It opens the door to a mirror which reflects our own sad truth back at us, and acknowledges the pervasive, growing problem of lack-luster Catholics... hopefully this gentle chide is enough to push us back on the path towards true evangelization.
Does this not disturb anyone else???
Let me warn everyone: Lots of links today, but all are very useful in understanding this pervasive (and very perverted) issue.
I love that folks give me the “Woman, you’ve done lost your mind” look when I lament the overwhelming push to indoctrinate children in an attempt to sexualize them way sooner than they are psychologically, emotionally, even biologically capable.
Well, bring on the crazy. I defy any of you to attempt brushing this one under the rug as a product of my over-paranoid personality.
Switzerland has (against parental opinion) introduced a new “sex education program” for their 4-10 year olds. Taken directly from the article (my bold/italics/underline):
The guide [being sent to 30 schools in Basel] included with the kit instructs kindergarten
teachers to "show that contacting body parts can be pleasurable." It also recommends having children massage each other or to rub themselves with warm sand bags, all accompanied by soft music.
According to Daniel Schneider, a deputy kindergarten rector who helped develop the program,
“Children should be encouraged to develop and experience their sexuality in a pleasurable way.”
So in other words, it is now becoming not only acceptable to teach children to masterbate both themselves and one another, but MANDATORY (because this program is, in fact, mandated by the government). All under the guise of protecting children from predators???
Are you KIDDING me?!
The rate of dumbing down going on in our schools rivals warp speed. It’s become normal for our kids to not read, write, spell or add properly, but we’ve got time to teach them MASTERBATION?!
Kindergarteners and elementary students should be concerned with learning their ABCs, numbers, and social behaviors like sharing and basic conflict resolution. Where, exactly, does one find time for plush vaginas and wooden penises? And what purpose do they serve other than to expose children to a subject that, first and foremost, they’re not ready for, and secondly, is the responsibility of PARENTS to broach?
This should be an absolute OUTRAGE, yet too many folks are turning a blind eye, thinking it isn’t such a big deal (because the big, scary child predators are all out to get your kids!) or that it won’t happen “here.”
Guess what, it already IS happening here. Slowly, but surely, this creeping perversion is snaking its way into schools because we’re being conditioned to fear child predators on a scale that does NOT make sense. In fact, this is detrimental to our children!!!
Mind you, I am not at all advocating that we ignore a very serious problem, but I’d like to caution against strapping TNT to the bathtub while the baby is still in it. That’s what we’re doing, and I truly believe it is a very calculated game folks are attempting to play in passing this trash off as necessary to “protect” our kids. What we need protection from are sexual perverts like these “education experts” who are again trying to over-sexualize children in a culture that is already off-the-deep-end with turning children into sex-products.
If that makes me a crazy, paranoid person, I don't want to be sane, especially with evidence like THIS supporting that this is nothing but harmful to society as a whole.
The painting to your right is entitled The Nightmare, and it was painted by an artist named John Henry Fuseli.
I've never really been one to have nightmares, and even when I did, I'd immediately wake up, brush it off, and go right on snoozing.
For the last two nights, however, I've been plagued by horrible, horrible nightmares. I cannot figure out why!
When John woke me up yesterday, he said that I'd been crying in my sleep all night. He had apparently tried to console me, but his efforts were in vain. I remember waking up once, shaken and confused. My own moaning had snapped me awake. But, as usual, I figured it was nothing and tried to go back to sleep. When I finally got up to start my day, I ached EVERYWHERE. I was exhausted, too, from the night of emotional, psychological warfare my mind was waging against me. Ugh.
I figured it was a fluke. I went to bed that night, fully expecting a restful, peaceful sleep. Again, however, my sleep was usurped by the most insane nightmares. Luckily, I didn't wake up nearly as achy, so at least my body was able to rest.
I dunno... I feel like that little demon sitting atop the dreaming woman is fitting. I can't help but feel like some unseen force is attempting to shift my normally peaceful mind into an angry, upset tizzy. Not much tends to bother me... but something must be itching at my subconcious...
St. John Bosco, pray for me. Angel Gabriel, guide my dreams.
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