We've all been asked this question.
"Is there anything you regret?"
I know I always answered in a similar way. It seems to be the popular answer anymore.
"No. Everything I've ever done, good, bad or ugly, has made me into the person I am today. I am quite happy with who I am, you see, so no. There is nothing I can truly regret."
Upon closing the chapter of 2011, I realize I have a much different opinion of myself. As a result, the answer to that question is much, much different.
Seeing the world through new eyes this year has helped me learn many things - many of which have been hard on the heart. Those things which are heart-heavy, however, tend to be just the things that give our souls a good scrubbing... a swift kick in the pants to focus on the things that truly matter.
Now, having been posed that question in rapid fire succession (probably through some societal square-dance that's been passed along through the generations), I hesitate in my response. I don't delve into the deluge of regrets that I've come to terms with and let go of. I also don't quip away the valid (though typically thoughtless) question. Instead, I give a slight nod and answer in as cliched a manner as possible, "Don't we all?"
I don't know which is worse, truth be told: lying to myself regarding the fact that "there's nothing I can truly regret" or allowing the question to roll away, neglecting another opportunity for growth.
Probably the former. Cliched as it may be, the latter rings true and side-steps further investigation.
No matter. Regardless of how public I choose (or don't choose) to make my realizations of regret known, I am much more equipped to accept them, learn from them, and request guidance on shunning them in the future. In that I find peace and, quite honestly, joy. :)
Onwards to 2012 - a year of prayer, self-reflection, and blessings. :)
It's that time of year! I haven't really given resolutions any thought these last few years. I don't think I've ever really stuck with any New Year's resolutions ever, so I kinda gave up even attempting to list them.
However, a friend of mine asked me what they would be for this year, and I decided to give it another go. After all, I made the resolution to become a faithful Catholic again, right? So far, so good. Maybe I can stick it out with a few other things. It's always good to have a few goals for improvement in mind, so here are some for 2012.
Getting more physically fit. Ah, doesn't everyone want to attempt dropping some pesky pounds? I got John a Bowflex for Christmas, so maybe I can sneak in a few circuits when he's not looking...
Keeping up with the house cleaning. I'm typically very organized and clean, but I've noticed that over the last few months, I've let a lot of things slide.
Reading at least a book a week. Now that I've got my Kindle, I've blown this one out of the water. I'm averaging about 3 a week right now, but once the holidays are over and I don't have as much time, I'd like to keep myself at 1 a week.
Saving more money - since I'm horrific with saving money and rely on John to do that for us, it's high time I get more involved and budget myself better.
Add a daily rosary to my Divine Mercy chaplet.
I'd like to be better with keeping all my intentions present in my mind while praying.
Teaching Vincent more about Catholicism and getting him to patiently sit through a full Mass.
Confession once a month.
There we go. Four in each area. Wish me luck on these! Do you guys have any resolutions for 2012? How've you been with resolutions in the past?
For about two months, I've visited a person who has been helping me along the path of spiritual development. Not a spiritual director... more of a friend and confidante. Anyway, every time I go, it's like something happens in my brain that I black out directions.
It's not like I don't know the area. It's certainly not like I haven't been there a bunch of times (he's in the same vicinity as the hospital in which I gave birth to Vincent!). Even John commented that it was somewhat difficult for him to recall how to get there as well. How strange is that?
My only rationale is some sort of angry little spirit is causing me to forget. It's like my mind is wiped clean after a certain exit and I'm simply baffled as to what turn to take next. The last time it happened (this past Wednesday), I actually thought I was losing my mind. Had it not been for John confirming the strangeness of it, I would've thrown my hands up and cried out in frustration.
However, glad that I wasn't completely out of my mind (though still uncertain of being on the cusp of insanity), I asked God to help me get to where I needed to go and to brand the directions into my brain so as not to have this confusion next time I drive up to this place.
Writing out down and rereading it makes me think I'm going a little off the deep end, but in all honesty, this guy has been helping me really find peace and happiness, and I can't help but think the evil one knows that. He's not happy about it, and he wants to do what he can to destroy it.
Ugh - crazy, right? St. Michael, protect me.
I cannot possibly tell you how high my heart leapt at the title of this piece! How absolutely brilliant that Christ is being brought into the heart of the battle... to where He is so desperately needed.
The lyrics to O Come All Ye Faithful keep repeating themselves in my head:
O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!
It seems that in so many places we've lost our recognition of Christ's True Presence within the Eucharist. We've lost our understanding and thus, our appreciation, for this gift. Movements like this instill hope that my generation is working to go back to our Catholic roots and seek out the treasures our God has granted us through the Church.
The greatest of these treasures is Christ, Himself, through the Eucharist. O come... let us adore Him. Let us adore He who Triumphs over despair, darkness and death itself. Let us adore Him and beg mercy for our transgressions against His Most Holy Will. His love is all encompassing - He would do nothing but grant us such grace.
Heartbreaking news came from Nigeria today. As I'd been busy traveling to see both sides of the family, I hadn't turned on the news. This morning, however, the stark reality of martyrdom greeted me as I opened my browser and saw the headlines.
I was upset, but not altogether surprised. An Islamic group claimed responsibility for the horrific violence. Ugh - this comes after several dioceses across the Islamic world decided to forego Midnight Mass on account of the increased threat from Muslims. Much like Dymphna, I'm sick of hearing that Islam is the religion of peace. Considering how much of the Islamic world condones this sort of behavior, I have my doubts anymore.
I'm sure many Muslims recoiled in horror upon hearing of the massacre, but let's be honest - how many of them spoke out against this injustice? How many marched in protest? But make some political cartoons that depict the Prophet and you've got riots, marches, and protests galore.
Ever since reading Bruce Bawer's book While Europe Slept, (and subsequently Ayaan Hirsi Ali's book, Infidel) I've come to realize just how well the Islamists use inaction to support the so-called "extremist" movement within their ranks. Islam in the States vs. Islam in Europe vs. Islam in Africa... they're all very different from one another. In the States, we've done a pretty good job buffering ourselves against the extremist versions on account of our naturally overwhelming "melting pot" mentality. Europe has done a poorer job of this, and as a result, remained ignorant of the subtle take-over being wrought through immigration. Now there is palpable tension between Islamists and non-Islamists, but due to politics and niceties, no one wants to talk about it and even less does anyone want to do anything about it. Thus, flare ups occur randomly and burn hotly for a short while only to return to a seemingly dormant state as fuel builds for the next eruption.
In Africa (and more Islamic European countries), everyone is more than aware of the tension and simply feel powerless against Islam. Education is lacking in many areas, and as a result, folks don't understand their ability to mobilize. They also aren't properly taught the truth about Islam... only the angry, polarizing parts that are useful to the militants in charge... as a result, you've got a constant powder keg of miseducation and manipulation that is willfully pushing the population into an ever greater frenzy. Flare ups become commonplace as the war machine attempts to forcibly take over those who don't want to adhere to the Islamic vision of peace.
Now obviously all religions have extremists who go and do all sortsa nutty things. We can't always blame the evil people do on the religion they practice. However, the difference between other denominations and Islam is that when others step out of line, their religious leaders immediately distance themselves from the violence, condemn the evil for what it is, and verbally reprimand the guilty party in the hopes of re-educating both the perpetrator and those confused by the perp's actions "in the name of X religion."
How many imams have risen up against this group to decry their actions? How many Islamic leaders denounced such tactics as contrary to their religion? We've got a lot speaking about peace and inter-faith dialogue, but condemnation in an effort to distance and re-educate? That seems to get choked on an awful, awful lot.
May those souls rest in peace, safe in the arms of the Creator whose Birth they died celebrating.
The above painting is an original done by an artist by the name of Mark Sanislo. I found it a few months back and was immediately struck by its beauty. Also, the Christ-Child looks just like my niece, Arianna!
Anyway, I wanted to share this truly unique painting with you. It speaks to me of the true Christmas message.
May all of you feel the Love and Peace of Christ, and may you hold Him close as our beautiful, Blessed Mother does.
Merry, merry Christmas!
John snapped this picture of Vince and I right before we left for Christmas Eve Mass. The church was packed with PACERs (those who attend only on Palm Sunday, Ash Wednesday, Christmas, Easter, or other Required events like weddings and funerals). Honestly, I'll admit to being really irritated by that at first. These folks were coming in droves to the church for what reason? A sense of obligation? Tradition? Sudden desire to rekindle a relationship with Jesus?
Then I realized I was honestly no one to dare exhale a huff from my lungs. Regardless of the reason, Jesus was no doubt happy to have folks come to see Him. Maybe a few were even moved by the Spirit and will become a fixture in our parish. Here's to hoping, right?
Anyway, on account of the church being packed like a sardine can, I couldn't hear or see anything. That meant Vince couldn't either. I was surprised he was as calm as he was. He behaved very well save for a short moment of refusing to share his book with another little girl beside him. After a quick "Angry Mommy" look, he handed the book over without question and then clapped, proud of himself for sharing.
During Communion, I made my way to Father's line and as I knelt down before accepting the Host, I saw Vincent stoop again beside me. The altar server holding the patten saw him stoop, too, as did several people in the pews as there was a moment of "awww" as I flushed with pride and gratitude. I was so proud that Vincent was picking up proper etiquette and grateful that God had pushed me to take him all this time (through you fellow bloggers!).
Anyway, we made our way back to the now empty cry room (apparently once Communion is received Mass is officially "over"). Vince had definitely had enough of being a "good boy" and chose that moment to run like a crazy person all over the place. I allowed him about a minute of energy-loss until I wrangled him in for the final blessing.
Due to the crowd and Vince's super-fidget, I thought it best to leave approaching the nativity to next week. All in all, a wonderful experience.
We're just waiting on you now, Baby Jesus! :)
This picture is exactly how I felt last night (and this morning... ha!).
I spent about 3 hours cooking for my husband's company party last night. The party was this morning, and I spent the better part of this morning running around like a crazy person.
The pulled pork had been ordered three weeks ago from a place I couldn't remember the name of. I had Googled it weeks ago and couldn't tell you the name or city it existed in. I thought I had saved the info on my computer, but no dice. With less than an hour until the party, I was in a panic. I still had to ready the other food, wrap the gifts, get Vince's daycare stuff in order (he had a party, too), and take care of a work emergency.
I called upon all my Purgatorial buddies and several saints (St. Anthony included) and even the Blessed Mother in an effort to help me remember the name of the shop. I even said, "Okay, Guardian Angel, I know you know what it is! C'mon... please, please, please help me remember!"
Finally, after a morning of dwelling in a half-heart-attack state, I said, "God, I fully know you're capable of something this tiny. I also realize you've probably got way bigger things to take care of. However, you're God, and you can handle it. I know you'll take care of this, too, 'cause I know all those saints / angels are praying, and the Blessed Mother never turns down intercessions. Just help me be patient as you sort through the paperwork."
Seriously - not even five minutes later and the answer comes to me as I'm scrolling through my computer.
I seriously dropped to my knees and started thanking God in every possibly way I could. Man... what a relief! John wasn't going to have to find someone to help covertly bury his murdered wife after all!
Everything else quickly started falling into place.
After picking up the pork and dropping off the food I made, I went straight to the Adoration Chapel I found a few weeks back. Unfortunately, the Eucharist wasn't exposed, but I didn't let a little thing like a tabernacle door stop me from adoring Jesus. :)
I really felt so happy and grateful to be with Him to properly thank Him for His help this morning. I gave shout outs to all my saint / purgatory friends, and spent some time meditating on Our Lady. I offered up couple chaplets for the Holy Souls as a thank you since I know that made both them and Jesus happy.
Mmmmm - even though I'm absolutely exhausted (it's not even 3pm yet!), I'm insanely happy that I was given such a gift today. We've got ourselves one swell God, huh? :)
The poll is below for those of you here to answer that! For the rest of you - the reason for the poll...
I'm gonna go ahead and apologize thrice for this entry. I realize some folks might be a bit offended by the title, others by the comic to the left, and still others by the video at the end.
Please note that my intention is not to incite ire, but to develop a point about this whole "Merry Christmas" vs. "Happy Holidays" debate.
So if you offend easily, I'd suggest refraining from the visual aids I've chosen (though you might enjoy the sweater!).
Anyway, the comic above was sent to me by my friend, Mary, this morning. I'll freely admit to laughing at the plight of the poor guy who just wants to spread some well-wishes. It's a situation many of us have no-doubt found ourselves in over the years.
The last few years, I've fallen into the politically correct trap of "Happy Holidays." It started back when I was working as a Center Director for an educational center. With 200 some families as customers, I felt I needed to be diplomatic in my holiday greeting approach so as to side-step the toes of paying customers. I also had a lot of Jewish / atheist friends, so saying "Merry Christmas" seemed insensitive to me.
Mind you, I wasn't "super-Catholic" at the time. As I've stated before, though I was away from the Church, I never lost my love of Christ, so when I stopped saying "Merry Christmas" I always felt a twinge of guilt. I felt like I was actively pretending not to be Christian just to appease public opinion.
That being said, my pastor's homily last week made me re-examine this stance. I briefly touched on that in this post, but I admit to pondering this for a little while now.
This year, I've definitely made more of an effort to wish others a Merry Christmas. However, if I know you're Jewish, I'll wish you a Happy Hanukkah. I don't believe that's taking Christ out of Christmas so much as acknowledging the beliefs of others and wishing them goodwill in a language they will appreciate. After all, our words can be gifts as well.
And what are well-wishes other than verbal gifts of goodwill?
Think of it this way...
Your dear Aunt Sally creates one of her infamous winter sweaters for you. She slaves over it lovingly for a month, picking out colors, embellishments, and patterns she "just knows" you're going to love. Excitedly, she hands you the box which represents all those hours she thought of you, persisting against craft store lines, miscounted stitches and tangled tinsel, all so she could keep her cherished loved one warm through those chilly winter months.
You open the box and pull back the paper, revealing her most "unique" creation yet.
Do you throw the box at her and stomp off, angry that she doesn't know your favorite color is now black, or that feathers are so last season?
Of course not.
You emphatically thank her for her thoughtful gesture. You compliment her on her choice of colors and you gush about the adorable Mr. and Mrs. Santa Flamingo. You point out the green tinsel grass as brilliant to the cousin sitting next to you, and you might even brag about the softness of the feather collar. In fact, just to prove your gratitude for such a heartfelt, thoughtful gesture of slave-labor, you just may pull it over your head and strut through the kitchen so everyone can admire dear Aunt Sally's artistic brilliance.
Because it's not about the sweater. You don't get warm fuzzies because the gift itself is something you love. The person GIVING you the sweater is who you love, and what that sweater represents - thoughtfulness, generosity, and love - is what counts. The feelings BEHIND the gift are what shoot out the warm fuzzy vibes into your heart. Why is it any different when those feelings are encased not in a sweater, a coffee maker, or a fruitcake but in a verbal salutation of goodwill?
So how about we all agree to view these salutations as a personal gift from the heart! Accept each and every greeting as a thoughtful gesture of peace and blessing, and dole out your own without fear of stepping on toes. If anyone is offended, simply remind them that words are gifts, too, and they should be accepted graciously from anyone willing to bestow them.
As for me, I'll be sticking with "Merry Christmas" unless I know for a fact someone celebrates a particular holiday. :)
I've always wanted to find a good picture of Our Lady and Eve. I came across this through a friend on Facebook. I honestly have no idea who the artist is, but I love, love, LOVE this! The only thing I wish I could change was Eve's expression. Upon meeting Our Lady and touching the Christ-child within her womb, Eve would've been overjoyed! The Blessed Mother is the one who was promised to Eve! Mary was the woman who would right the wrong of that original sin and restore Heaven to humanity.
The serpent, too, is accounted for in this portrait. In the presence of Our Lady (and Jesus within her womb!), he falls away from Eve, his power gone, and succumbs to the gentle majesty of the King and Queen of Heaven.
Merry Christmas indeed... the gift of Hope is victorious!
So I spoke with the friend of mine who originally posted this photo to Facebook. He told me a sister created this beautiful image. Doesn't that make your heart melt even more? He thinks its made of colored pencils. How cool is that?! LOVE IT!
And yes, this talented sister is still alive. I hope she's still creating beautiful art!
The shirt you see at right is one that I'd like to give to a female lector I know. She's always impeccably dressed, ensures every hair on her head is in place, and quite probably gives her face the twice (or thrice) over before stepping out of the house.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to appear presentable in church, especially if you've been tasked with delivering the readings to the congregation. However, your external appearance means absolutely nothing when you exude arrogance.
Each time I've been at a Mass she's read at, I've been horrified at how she approaches the altar. She sits towards the back, so when it's time for the readings, everyone must wait for her to sashay down the aisle. When she enters the sanctuary, she stops in the center and simply looks at the wall behind the altar (at the tabernacle? at the light? at the bricks?). She gives an almost imperceptible nod, then moves towards the pulpit to deliver her reading. She then returns to her seat upon completion following the same ritual in reverse.
As she's walking back to her seat, she's nodding her head to folks with a big old smile, as if she's thanking them for their admiration.
Are you kidding me?
I am absolutely horrified, and I'm not altogether sure what to do. She's able to nod her head at others but is incapable of even bowing her head in the presence of GOD? When I was trained as an altar server, I was taught to genuflect before the Presence of Christ in the tabernacle (regardless of how many times I crossed in front of the altar / tabernacle). When I "graduated" to lector, I continued the practice, though sometimes I'd simply bow at the waist as the priests did. The point is, I was properly taught to pay reverence to the Blessed Sacrament, and I would assume EVERYONE is taught this. However, I honestly don't know if she's been taught that or not, and I don't really know how to approach the topic or whom I should approach it with.
From my standpoint, I was watching someone ignore Jesus. It's like going to a birthday party and never once paying any attention to the birthday boy except to thank him for giving her an excuse to get dressed up and have a good time.
It's just upsetting to me. I've always taught my children to genuflect before the Presence of Christ because it reinforces that Jesus, in His Divinity and His Humanity, is fully present. He is really there - not just symbolically. Jesus is waiting inside the tabernacle, excited to the point of bursting... waiting and waiting for the moment the priest unlocks the door and brings Him out to share during the Eucharistic Procession.
It's why I was so upset that my class was instructed "not" to genuflect when they approached the altar during the Christmas pageant.
Ugh - this is a big issue for me. If we're willing to neglect Jesus in the small things, how can we be assured of not neglecting Him in the bigger ones?
I don't lector anymore. In fact, I've been asked and I've declined simply because as I've returned to my more traditional roots, I no longer believe women should take part in the Mass as lectors (most especially not as Extraordinary Ministers). However, I'd like to find out who is training these lectors to stress the importance of what is apparently a very passe act.
I don't know about you, but genuflecting before my Lord and God won't ever be passe for me. I fully plan on getting on my arthritic knees until my body refuses to bend anymore in the presence of His Divinity.
Okay, so here's another smile-inducing video. Real Christmas CAROLS being sung by a choir throughout the mall with a special surprise at the end.
The first female singer, while talented, does grate on the nerves a bit as she tries to differentiate her voice from the rest of the choir, but bear with it. The men are great, and the woman at the end more than make up for her.
Plus, the Holy Family makes an appearance, with plenty of audience members "falling to their knees" as a result. Mmmmm... happy, thy name is Flash Mob.
So I have a confession to make.
I am a wimp.
For months now, I've been doing really well with one of my habitual sins. I've met the temptation and walked right on by, even calling out to Saint Michael in my dreams to chase away the jerky little demons.
I was getting a little proud of myself for having been able to "put that sin behind me." I was still worried I'd fall back into it, but considering what I felt to be an impressive track record, I let down my guard a bit.
Apparently that's what they were waiting for.
The temptation has been really strong the last two weeks. Unfortunately, I willing got involved and, as usual, feel like a jerk. It's incredible to me just how easily I can ignore warning signs and flat out defy that which I know to be right when temptation strikes.
Here I was, proud of myself for having triumphed for a while. I was completely unaware that God had protected me from the stronger temptations and had reminded me to call upon St. Michael, my own guardian angel, the saints, Our Lady. Now that I've gone ahead and dragged myself through the mud, I'm able to look up and see that my arrogance was my undoing. Such pride in "my" ability to ignore temptation simply tenderized me for the real temptations later. Humpf.
But hey - God is merciful and I think He knew I needed a kick in the pants. I needed to be knocked down a few pegs so as to more readily fly to His aid when the devil comes a-knockin'.
I was all set to hear our pastor expound upon Our Lady's "fiat" this weekend. Imagine my surprise when he instead focused on the first two readings instead! Ha ha ha.
It's okay, though, because he made some great points that I simply hadn't thought about and tied it nicely into Our Lady's "fiat."
He started by explaining that while David wanted to build a great temple to house God because he was ashamed of his own opulence while the Ark rested beneath a tent, David missed a huge lesson - God wills everything.
God handed victory to the Israelites. God gave David the wealth he enjoyed. God gave David the talent, wisdom and patience necessary to lead His people. God also provided David with the home he found himself in - a far cry from the fields of his youth.
So while David's gesture was from the heart, he missed out on the fact that God was already fully present in EVERYTHING. Sure the Ark was an extremely prominent sign of God's presence, but that didn't mean He wasn't everywhere else as well. A temple (or in our case, a Church) cannot contain the infinite. Sure, God is present with us in a wholly unique way through the Eucharist, but He is also present within each one of us.
In fact, the Blessed Mother was, in truth, THE Temple of God. When the angel came down and greeted her with "Hail Mary, full of grace" he was acknowledging that her soul was a complete refuge for God's love. Upon her "fiat" Gabriel no doubt knelt down in adoration as the Incarnation of Christ illuminated her soul.
We each contain the light of Christ within us. It's up to us to acknowledge it and share it with others - which our pastor smartly tied into the "Merry Christmas" message. He chided us for using "Happy Holidays" and reminded us of our duty to SHARE Christ with others... not hide Him away for use only in Church or when we think we need Him. God is with us always because He WANTS to be with us. So let's not do Him the dishonor of ignoring Him during the time of His greatest gift to us... His Birth into Humanity - the trumpeting call for Salvation.
Having found a sitter for Vince and a dress that fit, I made it to the party with John early! This photo was taken by my sister-in-law towards the end of the night. Good times were had by all. :) It really was a nice change of pace, especially since John and I rarely get an excuse to gussy up and head out together. It's usually one or the other. One of the perks of working with a family business, however, is TWO invites to the company party. Ha ha. Good times, good times! :)
I am so blessed. I have such a wonderful little boy and sometimes I have to stop and scratch my head in wonder at how amazing he is and how little I've done to deserve him.
Mommy's little munch!
Goodness... there are times I get so frustrated with him, but as soon as he cracks a smile at me or says "Hug" or "Mommy" I melt and he could quite possibly get away with murder. Heh. He's such a little sweetie, though. Absolute heart of gold... I hope and pray I'm able to raise him into a good, strong man with solid values.
I was giving him a bath when I realized - again - how much he's grown. It catches me off guard every now and again. Sometimes, I note that his feet are too big for his socks, or his ankles are showing now that his pajama legs are too short. Other times I just acknowledge that my little butterball is getting too heavy to "superman" around as much as I'd used to. Tonight, however, as I was giving him a bath, he just looked bigger. I don't know what it was, but it was as if this tiny little human sprouted out of nowhere and became a toddler who was trying to help Mommy with bathtime - even reaching for tooth paste and singing the toothbrush song.
Where does time go?
Well, I've got my camera to help me prove that my little munch was, indeed, a little munch... at least for a little while. So I'm going to enjoy this precious gift from God as much as I possibly can. Every stage of his development is an adventure, and right now, I'm beyond grateful for the wonderful surprises each new day brings. <3 Thank you, Lord, for such a perfect, perfect gift.
Here's Vince attempting to walk around in Daddy's shoes. I think this is my new favorite picture, even if it's a little blurry... :)
Stop, already, Gina!!!
I'm going to keep posting these smile-making videos until I can't find 'em anymore! It's Christmas, gosh darn it, and I'm determined to spread the happy!
I've always been a huge Groban fan. This just makes me love him even more! Enjoy!
Sheesh! Triple post today. Usually the good news piles up on Wednesdays, but WOW! Today is shaping up to be quite the smile-maker!
I just came across this story through a friend.
A woman decided to pay off three random Christmas layaway bills, leaving only a $10 balance on each. In her words, she simply wished to anonymously "bless others" as she's been so abundantly blessed.
Don't bother sopping up your melted heart just yet - it gets better.
Upon broadcasting this kindness through a local news channel, ANOTHER secret Santa decided to pay off 13 more to the tune of $2,000.
Opening your heart in kindness and gifting in so selfless a way is the TRUE meaning of Christmas. That is the TRUE lesson St. Nicholas taught us. When Saint Nicholas dropped coins off to poor families, he wasn't simply giving them money... he was giving them HOPE. He was showing them love. St. Nicholas, in truth, was bringing these people Christ. He was the perfect role model of Divine Providence, and that's why his image as "Santa Claus" exists today.
These "Secret Santas" are carrying on the tradition of anonymously spreading the blessings of Christ to others. As one recipient correctly explained, "It's the best gift that I ever received, and it's the gift of believing in people." In a word - hope. :)
May the domino effect continue!
I love finding new things, and it seems I got THREE fun things to share with you folks today... my previous post, this music video, and the book I found because of the video! The above is from a musician by the name of Matt Wertz. I've heard some of his stuff before, but I was totally blown away by this one. I can't get it out of my head and the video has been on constant repeat here on my computer. It's so sweet.
I was also entertained by the Scratch-n-Sniff book he was "reading" and went online to Amazon to find it for my own son (who loves that sorta stuff). Score all around. Enjoy!
Through the Facebook Page of Veils by Lily, I came across a new blog-group called Catholic Sistas. It's a group of 40+ women who share their experiences with Catholicism. The ribbon you see to the right was created by one of their members, Erika (read her AMAZING story here!)
Anyway, this particular blog entry is what drew my attention. It details Erika's journey towards and feelings on veiling. I felt very connected to her story as it mirrors my own almost perfectly. For those of you still contemplating this for yourselves, give this entry a read.
Also, this "Ribbon Lady" melts my heart. Erika was diagnosed with cancer while pregnant with her daughter. Through the grace of God, they're both alive and doing well today. However, through her suffering and emotional hurricane, this hope-filled Ribbon Lady was born. She is a beautiful reminder of hope, maternal love, and the graces of God given through Our Lady.
I really wanted to pass this along. Please share it with others and link them back to Erika's story. It's a plethora of inspiration and love. :)
_One of my students was to do a reading for a prayer service and referred to it proudly as his "speech." Ha ha.
Four gave their oral presentations on their "patron saints" and responded brilliantly to my final question of Why do you think this saint chose you this year? I was quite pleased with their insightful remarks which ranged from:
"I don't go to church all the time, and I don't really help the poor, but he [St. Francis de Sales] was doing that stuff all the time. I think maybe he wants me to think about that more and be more active like he was."
"She offered all of her good works to the souls in purgatory and thought about her dead relatives a lot. I only have a few who have died, but now I think about them and pray for them. Maybe they needed my help to go to Heaven."
to, my favorite:
"St. Rita didn't smell bad when she died. She smelled really good because she lived such a holy life. She suffered lots of pain by an infected thorn in her head for 15 years all by herself and offered that pain for others. She wants me to live a holy life so I can smell good when I die, too."
Ha ha ha ha - seriously. My CCD time rivals my time with Vincent. I could just about explode from the pride and happiness I get from both of them. ♥
Welp, apparently an entry on Father Z's blog and an entry on mine connected at some point yesterday, because I got few e-mails "reminding me" that taking my son to the priest's line for a special blessing is pointless since he gets blessed at the end of Mass anyway. Plus, some of these well-meaning folks feel as though I'm simply setting Vincent up to expect that Communion is about him and not about Jesus.
Firstly, thank you for your concern about my son's spiritual well-being. Another pair of eyes (or several) is always helpful, especially in this chaotic world we find ourselves in.
That being said, I'd like to explain myself a little more clearly.
I am fully aware that we all receive the same blessing from the priest at the end of Mass. In fact, at each final blessing, I am consciously aware of the guardian angels who bow their heads down with us as they, themselves, acknowledge the surpassing dignity of priests. Thus, I don't intend Vincent's communion line "blessing" to be an "bonus blessing" or anything different from the final blessing. Instead, I view it as a learning experience for a toddler.
He is much too young to understand that the Host Mommy receives is Jesus, but he IS aware that something different is happening in this line as opposed to the supermarket line. The blessing helps reinforce that. I want Vincent to understand there is a ritual to the Communion line. For him, that ritual consists of walking up with Mommy, stooping as Mommy genuflects before the Sacrament, and standing still as the priest makes the sign of the cross on his forehead. As he gets older, I will explain that since Jesus cannot come to him in the Eucharist, He comes to him in the form of the priest's blessing (after all, the priest is simply standing in for Jesus, Himself).
In effect, the blessing is not about Vincent but about Jesus wanting to communicate His Love to Vincent.
I imagine that's exactly what Jesus wants to do during Communion. He longs to tell us of His Love, and wishes us to reciprocate that Love. Thus, I doubt Jesus takes issue with a priest stooping to acknowledge a child through a blessing when that blessing reinforces Christ's desire to bless us abundantly in countless ways.
So again, while I appreciate the messages and "reminders" I assure you that I am aware of how things work. I will still take Vincent to Father's line when I'm able until Vincent is old enough to understand just what a blessing attending a Mass is, even without reception of the Eucharist.
***Been getting a large uptick in traffic to this particular page recently (as of May 2012). If you'd be so kind as to let me know where you're being linked from, I'd appreciate it. Would like to thank whoever is forwarding traffic my way. Blessings!***
_This letter was read last week by all Philly parishes. Having only recently left Philly for S. Jersey, I am still very interested in what goes on across the river. As a result, I asked my Philly folks what their reactions were to the letter.
Most, I am happy to report, were happy with this letter. They understood the need for relatively harsh words and welcomed the direction their new Archbishop seemed to be leading them. That made me happy.
It also made me sad to think many of the schools / parishes I'd grown up knowing and loving would be shuttering. Considering how many have already closed, it's almost painful to think of still MORE having to go defunct. Yet I agree with the fact that severe pruning needs to take place if we're going to see real, healthy growth.
So I'll leave the note here for others who wish to comment. What are your thoughts? Hoping for something like this in your own diocese? Already have a good, strong shepherd? Suggestions for those of us about to enter into the deeper pruning stages?
_These words of Jesus to Sister Mary of the Holy Trinity really struck a chord with me. May they do the same for you.
"Those who love Me a little, have a little confidence in Me. Those who love Me much, have great confidence in Me. Those who place no limit to their love have a confidence in Me without bounds or limit. I cannot disappoint them. You honor Me more by the confidence you show Me than by all that you could give Me. And notice, I respond at once by putting joy into the heart that honors Me with confidence."
"As I am happy, yes, happy to show you the marks of My Passion -see how your God has loved you! -Will you not also be happy to show Me the marks of your love...? "Oh, if you knew how I long for you! Not to reproach you, but to overwhelm you with joy in showing you the marks of My love... "
"People have a false idea of Me. They take Me for a master who distributes his favors at his caprice and who enforces His will. Do you understand that I enforce nothing? I am powerless before your liberty. It is I who beg for your love. Look at Me gasping for breath upon the Cross; behold My royalty! I have expiated your sins, but I do not even force you to believe it. I show you My Passion -does it speak to you? -and I wait. Behold My Divinity; -an indefatigable patience. Throughout the centuries I await souls. I never refuse them. Ask to know Me better. Do the same with your life. Make reparation; expiate; love without asking for anything in return; and wait patiently until you too are loved. Never refuse to give love. It is I whom you honor and serve so tenderly; I have such need of it."
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