Some of you know I'm a huge Joe Castillo fan. His work is absolutely incredible, and I was lucky to even see him perform live last summer with my husband, John (a hilarious story in itself considering Castillo's a Christian artist).
Anyway, I'm part of his mailing list, so this popped up in my inbox over the weekend. I wanted to share it with all of you. If you're interested, feel free to check out his website.
I found this through Spirit Daily this morning. It's taking all the charity I have within me not to start spewing horrible, nasty things about this pea-brain of an "artist."
He claims he made popsicles using the Blood of Christ after a priest "inadvertently" blessed it during a Mass.
For the record, a priest cannot "inadvertently" bless anything. He either does or he doesn't. The corporal isn't just there to act as a napkin to catch fallen particles. It's also a boundary for items that need to be included for consecration.
So in order for this fool to obtain the Precious Blood, he'd've had to do one of two things:
1) Sneak a cruet of wine onto the corporal (which is direct center of the altar) in the middle of Mass (since the priest opens and places it after the Liturgy of the Word), then somehow steal it away before Communion without ever being detected.
2) Steal the consecrated wine through taking a chalice that's being used during Communion (which would create some sort of commotion, I'd assume), or accepting the Precious Blood via Communion and instead of ingesting, commit an even greater sacrilege by spitting the now consecrated wine into a vial or some other container for later use.
It's not like he could hold his little bottle of wine under his pew during a Mass and have it consecrated (which is what he stupidly thinks he did). It's not like he could drive by a chapel and suddenly the wine in his cooler becomes Christ's Blood.
Seriously - how foolish does he expect people to be???
Apparently exactly as foolish as they are. This article ran on CNN and he's planning to sell them during NY's Design Week. Disgusting.
May God have mercy on us. We have no idea how tragic we are unto ourselves.
This has been rattling around in my head since the middle of last week. A new mother was a bit frazzled because she was planning a baptism for her daughter. In the course of the planning, she tried to solidify paperwork for the baby's godparents. The godfather wasn't Catholic, but the godmother was. She just couldn't get a letter from her pastor because she no longer practiced.
Now before any of you start rolling your eyes and stamping your feet with irritation, take a deep breath and let it go. She's a good mom and wonderful person, but like many Catholics anymore, regular practice isn't "normal."
We can't punish the child by refusing baptism because the adults in her life are negligent in their Catholic responsibilities. Baptism is still an avenue of grace for her, so every effort should be made to ensure she is able to obtain a proper Sacrament.
So again - no coming down on this woman. It's not her fault our current pool of potential godparents is miserable.
Anyway, as I was talking to the new mother about this, she and I agreed that it was darn near impossible anymore to find practicing Catholics our age to trust as godparents. She said something, however, that made me kind of stop. She said, "Who goes to Mass anymore? I know I don't. Do you? It's just so old-fashioned."
I responded, "Yes, actually, I do go to Mass every Sunday. All those days of obligation, too." I then added with a laugh, "I guess that sorta makes me old-fashioned, huh?"
Now mind you, there was no animosity at all during this conversation. She made a valid point that I hadn't given much thought to before. It really is considered "old fashioned" to be a practicing ANYTHING anymore (when it comes to religion, anyway). Religion has become antiquated in the minds of youth... a relic of a past era where science had not yet 'made sense of the world.'
I dunno. When you see novenas, pilgrimages and even your own weekly Mass being attended by mostly elderly parishioners, it's hard not to think you're the odd man out. However, things like World Youth Day and the upswing in Pro-Life activism from people my own age are remarkable. They're strong signs that the youth of Catholicism aren't to be discounted just yet. I also have to admit that through blogging, I've come to meet other like-minded Catholics (my age, even!) which has done wonders for my own feelings of loneliness regarding the practice of my faith. Though we aren't members of the same parish, we're members of the same Church. We may be young, we may even be "old-fashioned," but last time I checked, Truth and Morality never go out of style. Loving and praising the Father who created me can never really be considered outdated.
I love stories like this.
I'm no fan of Westboro Baptist Church, and I honestly feel terrible for the cultish mentality that the children of that family are an unwitting part of.
However, this entry isn't about WBC so much as it is about a brave young man armed with a pencil, paper and love.
Upon seeing the demonstrators rallying with their anti-homosexual posters and signs, this young boy requested permission to write a sign of his own. Playing off their typical "God Hates ..." signs, little Josef simply wrote "God Hates No One."
Amen, little Josef! Amen!
We'd all do well to remember this.
No matter the lifestyle choices, no matter the faith preference, no matter the grievous list of sins we souls have committed, God still loves each of us and wants nothing more than to embrace us in His arms. Search out that love in yourself, as God is a part of you. Search out that love and extend it to everyone you meet.
I'm not typically a fan of icons, but this one is simply incredible. Christ, seated upon golden arches, is pictured within the mandorla - a triune of circles radiating light that signifies the Divinity of the Trinity (of which Christ is a part). His now glorified Body is wrapped in golden clothes, yet He retains the pink of the mountains (earth) to signify His two natures (Human and Divine). His halo carries the sign of His triumph - the Cross. His Hand is raised in blessing as He holds a scroll in the other.
Though Christ is leaving the Earth to take His rightful place at the right hand of God the Father, He is still the source of blessings and wisdom, as they are sent down to the waiting Church (signified by His mother and the apostles). He is, after all, sitting on what appears to be a bridge. Christ is our bridge to Heaven - He is the only path which leads to salvation.
Speaking of the apostles, they're a jumbled mess. Some critics have said that this is because they are confused and scared. Others have said it was the artist's way of conveying intense grief. I honestly think it's a bit of everything. The apostles were surely grief-stricken at the thought of saying goodbye to their Friend and God again. No doubt His Blessed Mother was besides herself once again as she understood her place was to stay behind to nurture the growing Church.
Her beautiful hands are lifted in supplication to her now glorified Son. She does not look mournful, but she does look expectant. She understands that while Heaven awaits her Son, earth would now await His Return, and she would be first in line!
So while the apostles around her held their heads in grief, or held one another in mid-gasp, Our Lady was already looking forward to the day she would reunite with her Son (whether through His 2nd Coming, or her own passage into Heaven - who knows if she knew which it'd be).
Our Lady is also in a deep crimson red. Red is the color of power - of the Holy Spirit. The Blessed Mother is, after all, "full of grace" and as a result is the most powerful intercessor of all. Flanking her on either side, then, must be Saints Peter and Paul. Though Saint Paul was not present at the actual Ascension (having not had his conversion), the artist probably chose to include him anyway so as to speak of the gentiles the Church would come to encompass.
One final note about Our Lady. She is standing on what appears to be a little square platform. I thought about this for a bit, and I assume it's meant to symbolize that though Mary was left in the world, she was not of it. She is there, but she's above it - closer in union to Her Son through her holiness. There's a story from her childhood in which her mother, St. Anne, wouldn't allow the Blessed Virgin's feet to touch the floor until she was three years old (some cultures still have this practice). The earth is impure, so to have Our Lady standing above it a bit... I wonder if that's significant of her holiness and grace.
Anyway, it's a beautiful image celebrating a beautiful day. Today, 40 days after Easter, is when Christ once again reunited with His Father in Heaven. We celebrate not only His glorious ascension, but the fact that He will come again... in the same glory He ascended with!
Blessed be, blessed be, blessed be. :)
So I missed my normal window for Confession today. As a result, I did a quick search of the surrounding parishes to see who had confession at a later time. Turns out there was a parish about ten minutes from me that offered it just before their vigil. I was surprised that their vigil was at 4pm (just seems early to me). However, I figured I'd give it a go since I like the option of checking out new churches when I have spare time.
So I found my way to the Church and am immediately struck by how modern it looks (even from the outside).
The rectory, for example, looks like the dorm buildings my friends lived in back at college. The Church was offset a bit and had no real visible entrance. Luckily, I saw an elderly gentlemen walking off around a corner somewhere, so I followed his lead and found myself in a tiny room attached to the church. In this tiny room was an elevator that apparently takes you into the church, itself.
That's a first. I've never been in a church with an elevator that takes you directly into the church.
Anyway, as I exited the elevator, I took a quick look around to figure out where I was. The entire set-up of the church was confusing - I think it has to do with the shape of the building itself. It's kinda like a hexagon. The pews were all angled - NONE ran parallel to the altar. There seemed to be several "cry rooms" flanking the various walls. The confessionals were closed off, and all the lights were out. There were three or four people in the pews praying, so I followed their lead and shimmied my way into a pew near what was as close to "center" as I could get. Even from my well-chosen vantage point, I had to crane my neck to view the tabernacle because the seating arrangements were so odd.
I wish I could explain it better, but wow. Jesus was "technically" in the center of the sanctuary, but because the seating around the sanctuary was so angled and confusing, you'd be hard-pressed to acknowledge that during a Mass.
Then the artwork... barring the statues (which were absolutely beautiful), there were these huge lines that ran the entire length of the church. In my mind, they looked like music note lines. Hanging on these metal lines were the various Stations of the Cross. You could see them easily enough, but again, due to the set-up of the pews, I wonder how one might actually walk them without weaving yourself dizzy. The stained glass windows, though colorful, were an assortment of random religious symbols. Nothing inherently Catholic about any of them which just reaffirmed my sense of being in a Pentecostal church. Otherwise, it was a blank white wall.
And that's really what it was like for me - a Pentecostal church. I really thought for a quick minute that maybe this parish had originally purchased it from an organization like that and had just made a few changes. It was just so strange.
So I took all of this in while waiting for the Confessional lights to blink on. No luck, so I asked a parishioner if there was Confession tonight. She directed me to the narthex (which is the lobby area of a church) and said I could find a Reconciliation room there.
In the NARTHEX?!?!?! Oookay...
Anyway, after checking the "Reconciliation Room" a few times , I finally walked in and surprised the priest who had snuck in between my checks. I poked my head around the wall and there he was, sitting in a chair, rosary in his hand, dressed in a full-on Jesuit cassock! And he was young, too! I darn near fell over!!!
Upon recollecting myself, I asked if he would please hear my confession. He welcomed me and off I went. He gave me very sweet advice, a proper penance and even wished me a happy Mother's Day. Considering how completely displaced I'd felt in the church, I was honestly surprised by the traditional, tidy confession I was blessed with.
I almost - ALMOST - decided to stay on for the vigil, but the "odd" feelings wouldn't leave me be. I couldn't even finish my penance there. I had to leave because everything about being in that church felt wrong. I couldn't even genuflect to Christ as I crossed aisles because of how the seating was arranged. It was unnerving. I couldn't imagine attempting to make it through a Mass with such a heavy feeling of "wrong, wrong, wrong" nagging at my heart.
In all the churches I've been to, I've never once had that reaction. I've been in plenty of modern churches, too (my own home parish is modern), but none were so off-putting as this.
Ah well - on the plus side, I was blessed with a wonderful confessor. If he was the one presiding at Mass, I have no doubt the congregation was blessed tonight, regardless of the church's set-up. I honestly couldn't stick around to find out. I waited the hour and a half and took Vince to the vigil at my own parish.
I'm glad it worked out that way. Just before the final blessing, Father Atlas gave flowers to all the mothers. Then, he extended his hands in a special blessing over us. How sweet was that? Our sweet deacon handed Vincent my flower and said, "Now give that to your Mommy!" Vincent happily did so, and after Mass, he happily gave it over again to the Blessed Mother (along with a few blown kisses for good measure).
***Some viewers may find the content in the video to be offensive due to occult imagery as the female character battles emotional demons. Please view at your discretion.***
For the record, after a while, even the most thick-skinned among us start to bruise.
I apologize - I wasn't able to find a clearer image of this incredible sculpture, but no doubt you get the gist.
This photo is taken directly from Cross Ministries, a non-profit dedicated to reproducing Christ's life through life-sized sculptures. I want to go to Texas so bad now!!! Apparently that's where all their best stuff is. Ha.
Anyway, I have no idea if this ministry is Catholic or not, but considering the items in their gift shop (I saw rosaries and St. Benedict medals), I lean towards the "likely" side. Not that I care. Non-Catholics have just as much claim to Christ's Life as we do, right? :)
Seriously, though - check out their site. Though it's not very stream-lined, the photos of their work are breathtaking.
Anyway, the reason I wanted to post this image is because it's got the Last Supper strategically placed before the foot the Calvary so that at this angle, you can see Jesus offering up not only the bread of Passover, but His Sacrifice on the Cross as well. This is truly the meaning of the Eucharist (which, again, leads me to believe there's a Catholic SOMEWHERE on this ministry's council).
I also found the video below through Cam's A Woman's Place Facebook page.
Up for a paradigm shift?
This sculpture is the first (and as yet only) piece of art that has ever made me weep. I came across it in my travels, and the reaction was instantaneous. The tears were coming before I even understood what it was I was looking at.
The tender love and comfort extending from the child as she reached out to touch her agonizing mother is intense. That flood of intensity was then made into a deluge of sadness as I realized the child was "invisible," the symbolic soul of a child this mother lost. Then, when I realized what the title of the sculpture actually was, I just about died of a broken heart.
Though this sculpture doesn't necessarily have to speak of the post-abortion grief many woman feel, that was what I took it for at first glance. Then I realized this grief could easily be felt by women who suffered miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, or even hysterectomies before fulfilling their vision of a family. This sculpture could also encapsulate the grief of a mother denied children through birth control, social pressures or infertility... maybe even a mother who lost her child to illness, violence or trauma.
Such ceaseless pain is perfectly juxtaposed with undescribable love. This ghost child is peaceful, seeking no solace for itself; she is only looking to comfort her stricken mother. The mother, overcome by her emotions, cannot feel the touch of this angel. She wants to... she yearns to... but she cannot.
Oh my heart. I'm actually writing this entry with my "window" scrolled up just enough that the image is not visible on my screen. I can do nothing but weep when I see it.
May the Lord grant us mercy for our transgressions against these innocent babes. May those who seek reconciliation find peace, and may the Holy Spirit alight in the hearts of those who don't understand that life begins at conception.
Oh joy of joys! Happy Solemnity of the Annunciation!
Today our liturgical calendar marks the momentous occasion in which the Blessed Mother becomes the new Eve through her eternal "Fiat" to the Divine Will of God!
Our humanity, overshadowed by sin and a longing for the Messiah, is granted not only the Savior Incarnate... we are granted a dignity that far surpasses our mortal minds. God, Himself, takes on our flesh. God - the timeless, omnipotent Author of Life - constrains Himself in the womb of His Mother that He might teach us all the way of holiness.
God did not demean Himself by taking on the form of man. Instead, God elevated humanity to Himself, allowing His Divinity to sanctify the physical temple of the flesh. This is simply unfathomable, and I honestly get a little dumbstruck every time I think about it.
Anyway, you folks know I'm a big fan of the Annunciation. I've spoken of it many times in the past. Bear with me while I talk about it again. This is one of those mysteries I'd be content talking about forever. In fact, I'm hoping to ask God to let me watch a "replay" of it when I die just so I can see that blessing unfold over and over again! :)
When Eve said that first "No" to the Divine Will of God, humanity suffered. Until that "No," all of creation was in perfect union with God. There was joy, happiness and peace because everything followed the Will of God (which was and always will be perfection). However, as soon as Eve consciously turned away from God's Will, she unwittingly destroyed the peaceful flow. It was like a pebble being dropped into God's ocean of tranquility, and the ripples reached out, touching everything and everyone in future generations, reverberating back to the source from all angles.
As a result of this break from God's Will, humanity was forced out of Eden to await one who would help rectify the reverberations that disfigured creation. One would come who would help restore balance, peace and dignity to the fallen people. One would come who would say "Yes" where Eve had said "No."
My favorite Theotokos icon
The Blessed Mother was that person - the Theotokos. Mary, within her immaculate womb, bore the remedy to sin and death. Only through her consent to God's Divine Will did Salvation through Christ become possible.
This is why Catholics believe her to be the Mediatrix of all Graces. However, as pointed out in the Second Vatican Council's Lumen gentium, this understanding "takes nothing away, or adds nothing to the dignity and efficacy of Christ the one Mediator."
Mediatrix simply means "woman mediator" and Our Lady was (and is) the go-between of God and humanity. Her sinless life - from her Immaculate Conception until her glorious Assumption - was one, singular "Fiat" to the Will of the Father.
And as I said before, she's not only our example of how we, too, can lead lives in union with God's Will, she's also our strongest intercessor helping us ensure we do just that!
Jesus, having given everything He even unto His last drop of Blood from the Cross, looked out at His people and saw one thing left to share with us - His Most Holy Mother. Mary, who had been His consolation, joy and refuge was no left without her Son. To both console her and to console us, He bequeathed this gem to us through the person of St. John.
Louisa Piccarretta's description of this moment is entirely too moving for me to fully encapsulate here without delving into the entire Hour. Suffice to say, however, that this gift of Christ was majestic, and I, for one, am eternally grateful for His arrival via Annunciation / Incarnation! :)
Say it loud and proud, Angel Gabriel!!!
I found this through a friend of mine, Catherine, about three years ago. It is absolutely INCREDIBLE and great for kids! :) Enjoy, and may your celebration be lively, joyous and blessed!
Just a quick tally of a few links I found particularly interesting / edifying today. Hope you enjoy! :)
Canonical info regarding Father Guarnizo and Barbara Johnson by Edward Peters, an actual Canonical lawyer.
***NEW*** Here's an awesome response from Phil Lawler to the horrible letter written to appease Johnson from the Archdiocese. Spot on. Evil has permeated our ranks. May God save us.
A great "advice" letter written by Supertradmum that was originally meant for seminarians, but can really be utilized by anyone looking to advance in holiness and charity.
A super nerdy look into the size and scope of the universe both big and small, and how we fit into it. Our God is an incredible God!
Incredible music / art video with extraordinarily powerful lyrics that young women everywhere need to hear.
Here's the video so you don't even have to go clicking anywhere! :)
Found another incredible image for you folks in my travels! This one gets its own entry because, well... because it's AWESOME!
We've got the Triune God, but instead of being depicted as "Old Man, Adult Son, and Dove" we've got Him depicted a a trio of almost identical Jesus'.
The first figure is God the Son, Jesus Christ. He has a lamb upon His Chest to denote that He is the Lamb of God. You can also make out the marks of His Crucifixion on His Hands and Foot. His Hands are open and outstretched, emploring humanity to accept His gifts of salvation and mercy (as symbolized by the cherub finding refuge under His mantle - a universal sign of protection).
Central to the painting is God the Father, denoted by the Omniscient Eye present upon His Chest. He carries a golden scepter denoting Divine Justice while His Hand is raised in the Trinitarian blessing of Divine Providence. This image almost reminds me of the American Eagle that grasps arrows in one claw and olive branches in the other to juxtapose our willingness to go to war with our desire for peace.
God the Father demands Divine Justice, but He is tempered through Divine Providence - always looking for ways to gift grace and mercy to His wayward children.
Finally, we've got the Holy Spirit denoted by a dove. His Hands are crossed over His Heart, symbolic of a pledge to protect and love, which the Holy Spirit does through guiding the Church on Earth (shown through the little cherub grasping His mantle to follow along wherever He leads).
Then those adorable little angels that are touched by the Feet of God. Four of them, they may represent the Gospels that finally put this picture of the Triune God together for humanity. Three angels are physically touched by the Feet of God with one more (possibly the Gospel of John), feeling the purity of Christ's dazzling white gown supporting his head.
I think I'm in love with this Trinity portrayal. What magnificence!
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
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.
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 got a lovely little booklet in the mail today from the Franciscan Missions. It's titled "Little Francis' Love Notes." It must be the most adorable little booklet I've ever seen!
It's filled with cartoon images of Franciscans (like the plush version pictured) and sweet little sayings that help you open your eyes to a whole new way of seeing the world.
One, in particular, caught my attention.
"It's best to try to look at others from the inside out. God makes everyone's heart the same color."
Mmmmmmm - I adore that. Even those I don't necessarily agree with or even like too much - we're all children of the same loving God. All of us have been given a sacred dignity and a share in the gifts of our Father.
In other words, it's best to don a pair of those "Resurrection Glasses" and see folks for who they really are, not just who they seem to be.
Just give the video a few minutes to pick up. Excuse the shoddy acting - the point is worth it. <3
Found this through a buddy on Facebook. I absolutely love it and think it's a brilliant evangelization tool. It's also brilliant for public relations, and I hope it goes viral! :)
These are all things people seem to forget about the Church. We do so much good and began so many positive things. Though we're far from perfect, we've truly exemplified love and strive to do so always.
Spread the love!
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! :)
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!
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