Working for the Church means I get to use words like "absolution," "seminary," "liturgical," and "Divine Providence" on a routine basis. I write them, edit them, add them, and speak them all the time.
While helping a co-worker draft a letter meant for a parish, I began editing things in a way that surprised her. I capitalized the words "body" and "blood," for example, because in the letter, they pertained to the Body and Blood of Christ. I also capitalized any "he" referring to Jesus. I definitely added "Divine Providence" in lieu of a sentence that implied it but somehow stopped short of just saying it, and I suggested that she adjust her language to embrace Catholicism rather than hide it.
She was confused by what I meant. I explained:
It just seems like you're writing a Catholic letter to a Catholic population while trying not to sound like a Catholic.
She laughed and said that was exactly what she was trying to do. I huffed in frustration because I knew precisely why she was practicing self-censorship. I pushed again saying:
Catholics sound different because we ARE different. We have different vestments, different rituals, different social action and yes, even different language and grammar because we are called to be different.
Just like the Jews were instructed to do things differently from the rest of the world in the Old Testament, Catholics were tasked with setting themselves apart as well so that we could easily be identified as followers of Christ. Our differences are what highlight our unique call to others that there is, in fact, a different way - THE Way - Jesus Christ.
So it follows that Catholic-speak is and should be different. That's okay!!!
I hate that there are Catholics who run around trying to dumb down their Catholic language in an effort to broaden the appeal of their message to those who aren't as entrenched in the Faith.
A hungry person isn't going to turn away from a banquet table because there are too many items to choose from! He's not going to turn away because he's not sure what a turkducken is! He's going to be drawn in by the delicious smells, the savory sight and, ultimately, the satisfaction of tasting the sumptuous spread before him.
Use your language as a sumptuous feast, Catholics! Do not be afraid to use words that convey the richness of our Faith! Don't scrub the Catholicity from your speech as if that will somehow draw more people to your message.
Your message IS your Catholicity. Proclaim it with everything you have - glorious diction included! If language is a staff, Catholic words are the gems and gilding that turn it into a crozier. People aren't going to be put off by that which is beautiful, even if they don't wholly understand it! Allow the language of Mother Church to draw Her children in. Don't shirk them in the hopes that, eventually, lost and hungry souls somehow stumble upon Her wisdom. Don't worry that you will turn people away with words that hint at deeper spiritual truths.
The Holy Spirit will gently call out to those willing to hear; allow Him to reach into their souls with the poetic patois of Catholic Faith.
In the morning, I drop Vince off at school. I sign him in at 8 AM. John picks him up between 3-5 PM depending on the day and signs him out.
We've begun leaving one another notes in the sign section. Instead of leaving our initials (like we're supposed to), we've taken to leaving each other tiny phrases:
It makes me laugh because no one ever checks this thing, so these tiny scribbles are like secret notes passed back and forth between class.
This particular morning, he'd been feeling rough on account of his wisdom teeth being removed the day before. I knew seeing "Feel better" would give him a smile when he picked up Vince, but imagine my surprise when I saw "Thanks beautiful" in the box to greet me the next morning. Such a small, tiny gesture, but those are the gems that make me happiest.
He and I might not see eye-to-eye on religion, but we do love one another deeply, take our responsibility as parents seriously, and are committed to one another and our family.
I truly believe John and I were made for one another. We met young, fell in love young, and married young. I believe this was by design, and I am grateful for the spouse I've been blessed with. He is a good man, a good father, and a loyal friend. While I know the religion issue is a tough one, I hope you don't use that as the only stick to measure him by.
If tomorrow he decided to teach Vincent all about Atheism and telling him that Stephen Hawking agrees that there's no need for God when science explains everything, I'd be incredibly upset. He feels the same way about Catholicism. Because he views it as something akin to a fairytale, he sees it as a crutch... something fine for children to believe but necessary to outgrow (like Santa Claus). Adults can't rely on God for things. Adults shouldn't need direction in things from a book predating most civilization. Adults also shouldn't base social lifestyle choices on religious rationale.
I understand his mindset; I do. However, I simply don't share that viewpoint and, though he doesn't understand my point of view, he vowed to support me, so he does it as best he can. I must recognize the difficulty he faces as well when he watches me teach our son what he views to be fantasy and unnecessary superstition. At the same time, he recognizes his promise to allow me to raise our children Catholic.
Believe it or not, this is what love looks like. Love isn't always the romantic, happily-ever-after fodder you see in the movies. In reality, love is dirty, sweaty and yes, even tearful at times. It is also beautiful, and the appreciation we have for one another... the trust we've developed precisely because of our struggles... the knowledge that we've survived the dreaded "D-word" and come out stronger... this is love, because love endures.
Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, it is not pompous, it is not inflated; it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests. It is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrong-doing but rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. (1 Cor 13: 4-8)
These words were chosen by me for our wedding Mass. I recently read them, myself, at the marriage of two other friends. These words of Saint Paul are so crystal clear to me whereas before, I'd only understood them in a sterilized, Disney-shaded sense.
The day I married John, I heard these words as "Be nice to one another because that's what lovers do. They aren't rude or arrogant, they don't hold grudges and they don't act selfishly. The lovey-dovey feelings you have today will carry you through everything because love never fails."
Oh, Gina... Saint Paul was no Nora Roberts. How naive of me to fancy him one! When I read those words now, I hear something so much richer... so much deeper. Saint Paul might not be Nora Roberts, but if the above snippet doesn't embody the truth of love, there is no such thing as truth and no such thing as love.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
~Shakespeare, Sonnet 116~
This is incredible. I bowed my head in appreciation and reverence for the outpouring of solidarity, faithfulness and piety that was shown to the Blessed Sacrament in reparation for the horrid mockery allowed to happen in Oklahoma City under the guise of religious freedom.
We must consistently show this sort of solidarity. We must consistently and unapologetically pour out our faithfulness and reverence for the God who created us.
Bless these folks and all who took part in supporting the reparation. <3
I must've written and rewritten this entry a dozen times. I've come to the realization that there's simply no neat and tidy way of being fully honest, especially given the circumstances. Thus, I apologize for the mess you're all about to find yourselves in.
A lovely woman named Anne is a Catholic woman who is dating an Agnostic man. She believes they are a perfect match in all things but religion. He was born and raised Catholic but now views Catholicism as something akin to a fairytale while she obviously has deep reverence for her Catholic heritage.
She asked us for our advice on what to do given she's looking to marry this man.
I've been wrestling around a lot with this one. She commented her plight at the end of August to my "I Married an Agnostic" post from 2011, and I'm half afraid she thinks I've forgotten all about her!
Anne, I promise that I haven't. I just didn't know how to write this without upsetting you. My advice, I fear, is not what you're hoping for.
My advice, in fact, is to get out now.
I realize you might be surprised to hear that from me, but I've walked in your shoes. For miles. I'm STILL walking in them which is precisely why I'm telling you that unless you know for certain you are being called to convert this man through a lifetime of marriage (which, itself, carries the reality of conversion not happening and your struggle having an adverse effect on future children), cut your losses, give your heart a healthy time to heal, and ask God to put the right man in your midst.
You might be wondering how I could say such a thing when my own marriage hasn't fallen apart and my son is a (mostly) willing participant in the Faith.
This was not without toil, tears, a very real threat of divorce, and an intense overhaul of my entire relationship with John. That's not even counting the amount of prayers and work that still go into it.
Am I saying I wish I hadn't married John? Of course not. I got two children out of the deal and undoubtedly grew closer to Christ. However, I was significantly less spiritually mature than you currently are when I answered the call to marriage.
You fully understand the importance of your faith and the necessity of a father to be a spiritual leader for his family. I didn't understand that; worse, I didn't even think such a thing was necessary! As a result of my ignorance, my family started out with a distinct disadvantage. We were not a cohesive unit in what would become a very large and important part of our lives. That friction reached its tentacles into everything, especially as I matured in my faith and realized the depth of my ignorance.
John's refusal to accept my religious beliefs as valid directly - DIRECTLY - correlates to his refusal to be open to more children.
So Anne, if you plan to have children, be prepared for a similar fate. It is an excruciating,
at-times-unbearable, cross to shoulder.
Readers who have been following me for a while might be incredibly unsettled by this.
When I first learned that this was the driving reason behind my husband's reluctance to have more children, words couldn't possibly express the emotions that coursed through me. In fact, it's been over a year since I learned that this was my reality and this is the first time I've voiced it beyond my two closest friends.
It's also the prime reason why responding to you, Anne, has been so challenging. I couldn't be honest with you without being honest about the depth of my own struggle. This is a tragic, brutal and incredibly bigoted reality, and it's a reality I want so much to protect you from. I wouldn't wish this sort of sacrifice on anyone.
It's a sacrifice that I willingly make, yes, but it's a willing sacrifice only because I've already made my vows. You have not. Please understand that this is what you'd be saying "I do" to... not just for yourself, but for your future children.
And before you think to yourself that your boyfriend would never do such a thing, again, I've walked in your shoes. My husband said he accepted my Catholicism.
Seeing Vincent's participation alongside me must've shifted that for him, because Catholicism was no longer some harmless fairy tale. To John, it became a bitter irritant. Prayers at bedtime are nails on chalkboard. Sunday Mass can solicit anything from an eye-roll to not-so-secret vindication when Vince cries that he doesn't want to go.
Catholicism has become such a hated thing to my husband that he does not want to see it replicated in his children. Because he cannot love that part of me, he cannot love that part of our children. Thus, the only way to stave off such irritation is to stop having children. To poison one is enough... to poison more than one is unthinkable to him.
And that is his mindset. Through tears, I demanded to know how he could hold such a bigoted notion in his head. He is not what I'd consider a bigot. He's otherwise incredibly tolerant and accepting. In fact, should any of his friends read this, they'd probably think I was somehow mistaken - that I'd misunderstood his motivation.
I assure you I have not. I had him spell it out for me. That was one of the most painful and damaging conversations I've ever had with anyone in my entire life. It still stings when I think of it.
I couldn't understand. I still don't to a certain degree. I asked him what part of Catholicism bothered him so much that he couldn't stand to see it played out in me... in Vincent. He couldn't answer me. He noted prayers at bedtime or his little sayings of "Jesus loves me" irritated him, but our son is wonderful. Him being baptized Catholic has not somehow made him less wonderful, but for John, it was enough to make him resent and yes, even hate, Catholicism. Hate it to the point where he willingly allows me to suffer an enforced infertility so as not to bring forth any other children who would suffer the fate of *gasp* Baptism and a Catholic education.
It is not fear of finance... fear of time constraints... fear of love or capability that has condemned me to this cross of infertility. It is my husband's hatred of Catholicism.
He shared this in a moment of deep and unfiltered honesty just over one year ago. I appreciated his honesty, because it showed a level of trust that we'd never come close to understanding. However, I've lived with this knowledge, completely unsure how to proceed. When I thought his decision was based on finances and such, the cross was easier to bear. At least his rationale made sense. This, however, was almost insurmountable. It is still a daily struggle.
It is a struggle I want to preserve you from, Anne. It's a struggle I want to preserve your future children from.
My husband and I have since discussed things. We both agree that had we known then what we know now about the importance of faith to one another, we likely would not have gotten married. I had, after all, broken off the engagement at one point when he tried to get me to agree not to baptize our future children. We should've known then that faith was more important than we were giving it credit for.
But we didn't, and we publicly vowed to love one another every day for the rest of our lives. Love doesn't begin and end with tummy butterflies. It is an active choice to respect, honor, protect, nurture and support your spouse - every day.
So that is how I find myself in this situation. I love my husband, Anne. I love him, respect him, support him, and do my best to nurture him in ways that will ultimately make him a better person. He obviously tries his best to do the same for me. However, I'd be remiss if I didn't warn you of the heartache that comes with this sort of union.
Take my story to heart. For as much as you love your boyfriend (and I have no doubt you do), you will also love those children you create, and you need to be thinking of them. The best decision you can ever make for them is who their father will be.
In all things, you have my prayers. Other readers, please feel free to chime in with your advice for Anne.
You guys have seen all the videos, articles and memes regarding the ALS Ice-Bucket Challenge at this point. For those of you that haven't (I can't imagine there being many of you), there is a viral challenge sweeping the internet. It goes like this:
Maggie gets nominated by Joe to dump a bucket of ice-water over her head. Should Maggie accept the challenge, she donates $10 to ALS research, videotapes herself getting soaked, and nominates 3 new people to the challenge. Should Maggie NOT accept, she donates $100 to ALS research.
Either way, money is donated to ALS research. With those accepting the challenge, however, the added benefit is raising awareness.
Now I've seen a lot of folks complaining about the challenge taking up space on their news feed. I find that to be an incredibly arrogant complaint, especially when the "hide" feature is so easily accessible. Why complain about other people posting a 30 second video that you don't have to watch? It just seems incredibly arrogant.
Then I saw folks complaining about donations to the ALSA. The ALSA funds embryonic stem cell research, so I was mostly on-board with folks complaining about donations made to the ALSA. Most people are completely unaware of the embryonic stem cell issue. That being said, there are several organizations one can donate to that meet the requirements of the ALS Research donation. I, for example, offered the Kimberly Kim Foundation as well as the John Paul II Medical Research Institute as viable, moral alternatives. So again, why complain about something with such an easy solution?
Finally, I saw the most ridiculous of all arguments, and it shamefully came from a Catholic whom I follow via Facebook: Frank Weathers of Why I Am Catholic. Normally I can get behind stuff Mr. Weathers writes, but his brief, snarky message against the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge made me cringe.
He quotes Matthew 6:2-4 and uses that as his "#1 Reason" for being against the challenge:
When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites
do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen,
I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms,
do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your
almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who
sees in secret will repay you.
I think Mr. Weathers is stretching things a bit. He'd've gotten more support if he stuck with the anti-embryonic stem cell research. Pulling the Bible into things as if he actually thinks Jesus wouldn't be cool with His children banding together in such a way to help one another... that's mind-blowing to me.
People aren't dumping water on themselves to say "Look at me and how charitable I am!"
In all honesty, I think the majority of folks are doing it so they can feel a sense of belonging. They see this challenge as being a real solution to a real problem, and it's a solution that is fun, easy and entertaining. And they're right! This sense of belonging has become a real movement which has already raised over $70 million dollars. $70 MILLION DOLLARS!!!
And that's only from the ALSA. That doesn't count the Kimberly Kim Foundation or the JPII Medical Research Institute.
That is nothing to turn your nose up at. More than raising money, this viral campaign has raised awareness of ALS which has raised compassion and understanding. It has caused folks to reach out to one another in new and unexpected ways. It has given hope to those struggling with ALS, and in some ways empowered them to realize they COULD do something about their seemingly hopeless situation.
Again, it has bonded people into a sense of belonging to a real solution. That is incredible!
And yes, while it'd be nice for folks to support, en masse, Christians is the Middle East, you cannot condemn participants of the ALS Challenge because, frankly, you have no clue if that person already IS. Supporting one does not preclude you from supporting the other.
So I'm in favor of the challenge, and I think anyone who would attempt to shame me or call my Catholicism isn't question would do well to remove the hull of the Titanic from their eye first . I accepted the challenge from a friend, explained my donation to the Kimberly Kim Foundation (as opposed to the ALSA), and then requested (in my commentary) for my three nominees to do the same. So not only am I spreading awareness for ALS and donating to the solution, I'm also making folks aware of the embryonic stem cell issue that, again, most folks are simply unaware of (and not seeking to intentionally be malicious about).
Finally, from a marketing standpoint (given my background in Communications), I LOVE the simplicity with which this challenge went viral. Brilliant marketing ploy. Kudos all around.
Ooo, and obviously, keep folks suffering with ALS in your prayers, and if you haven't already, make yourself aware of the signs and symptoms so you can better serve those whose lives are affected by it!
I was at a wedding this past weekend for my cousin. It was a nice little ceremony with a splendid reception.
However, I have to admit that during the ceremony, I wasn't quite sure when the rite of marriage actually took place.
In a Catholic ceremony, it's cut and dried. You know precisely when you've completed your vows and are husband and wife.
In my cousin's ceremony, however, I had absolutely no idea when the union actually took place. There were two sets of vows, there was a sand ceremony that "symbolically united" them (similar to unity candles), and there were two blessings offered. There was also the ring-exchange. My niece kept asking me "Are they married yet? Are they gonna kiss now?" and I had no idea what to tell her because I didn't know, myself!
Granted, that's not a huge deal in the scheme of things. It was a nice ceremony - much nicer than some others I've attended - but it made me appreciate my own Catholic ceremony so much more.
I knew precisely when our Sacrament was taking place. Though our vows weren't "super unique" or funny, or quirky, or any other number of extravagant things couples try to put forth to show everyone just how special their love for one another is, I now fully appreciate the timeless aspect of our simple (and deeply rich) vows. After all, these vows have been around for millennia. They've provided the basis for countless blessed unions. Our marriage, in effect, became a part of this tapestry. It's a comfort to know that our vows are the same ones made by the strong family lineages that produced us. They are like tethers to our ancestry.
Just a musing. Again, I thought my cousin's ceremony was nice, but it struck me as odd that I wasn't sure when the actual marriage took place given the amount of circumstantial "fluff" that's sole purpose was to give everyone the warm fuzzies. And I'm cool with warm-fuzzies, but I feel that for a marriage, you should KNOW when the rite is taking place. It's such an important step in your life (two becoming one and all) that there shouldn't be confusion as to when the moment comes to pass.
Ah well. Regardless, prayers of blessing for them, please - they're good people. :)
I just about lost my mind via cellphone the other day. I did precisely what I just promised I'd try not to do in this entry.
If there's one thing that can set me off, it's the whole "Novus Ordo vs. Tridentine Mass" thing that has people on both sides of the aisle crying out with indignation.
I had originally titled this entry Novus Ordo vs. Tridentine Masses, but then I realized I was fueling the fire even more. Why must there be a "versus" in there all the time?
I've never attended a Tridentine Mass. Ever since coming back to the Church, I've wanted to. I follow blogs that support the TLM (Traditional Latin Mass) in the hopes that should I ever build up enough courage, I won't make a complete fool of myself the first time I attend.
From all I understand about a Tridentine Mass, I know I'll love it. I see its value and know it's a necessary balm for our aching Church.
That being said, I don't see why I have to trounce the Novus Ordo in order to appreciate the beauty of the TLM.
Why can't we accept that both forms of the Mass accomplish this:
Which encapsulates both this
Now I fully understand that liturgical abuses have abounded within the NO (Novus Ordo), but that does not mean that the NO is completely without merit.
It doesn't mean that a NO Mass is invalid and those who worship at NO Masses aren't really Catholic.
Those sorts of statements are vicious, uncharitable, an incredibly arrogant.
And I shot back stating as much.
I mean, I didn't even know that a TLM existed in the present day until I had my reversion. I didn't know that there were still priests (and laity) who prayed in Latin and celebrated Mass ad orientem (priest facing the tabernacle) vs. ad populum (priest facing the people with his back to the tabernacle, and thus, Christ). That was all super new to me!
Should I be labelled non-Catholic because I was ignorant that "the old Mass" still existed?
Also, what of the folks who simply don't have TLMs available in their vicinity (through absolutely no fault of their own)? Should they, too, be labelled as something less than Catholic because their only mode of celebrating the Paschal Mystery is through the Novus Ordo Mass?
I'm all for having the TLM alive and well in every parish in the world. I really am. However, I'm not okay with constantly being made to feel inferior because I accept the NO Mass as a valid form of worship. And this inferiority complex is being forced on me by my fellow Catholics!
I just don't understand this vitriol. I really don't. I love that there are folks out there who are passionate about bringing back the TLM. I'm happy that there is a drive to educate Catholics of their roots and the beauty of our original liturgy. I am grateful that blogs like Fr. Z's What Does the Prayer Really Say go out of their way to highlight the original prayers and expound on the prayerful insights and spiritual education that can be found within them.
I really do.
However, within this same group of passionate, driven people are those who take their zeal to the point of arrogance. They wish to trample charity in the name of propping up the TLM. They are precisely the reason I feel ill-equipped to attend a TLM. I'm afraid of riling anger from kneeling at the wrong spot, misspeaking Latin, or even wearing the wrong color veil.
I am absolutely certain that most folks who attend the TLM wouldn't treat me poorly for learning to crawl my way through a TLM. I'm sure many of them would jump at the chance to help me learn to walk until eventually I was confident in my celebration of a TLM in union with them. However, I've come across enough "bad apples" that I simply don't want to deal with the arrogant chastisement for the litany of mistakes I'm sure I'd make.
Maybe that's my own insecurity talking. Maybe I'm even trying to make excuses for not attending the TLM. The truth is, though, that there really are enough folks out there who have trounced me and my defense of NO Masses that I have been scared off TLMs for the time being. I'm not part of their "holier than thou" club. I'm not spiritually enlightened. I'm not theologically justified in my abhorrence of all things Vatican II.
That makes me sad, because like I said before, I KNOW there are plenty of loving proponents of the TLM who would happily endure my mistakes and patiently teach me the ways of our beautiful liturgy. Until I find one close enough to me who I feel comfortable enough to rely on, though, I'm steering clear.
In the meantime, however, I'll continue to defend the NO Mass as a valid way of celebrating the Paschal Mystery. No amount of human error is going to detract from the efficacy of Christ's Passion, Death and Resurrection.
I have no idea if you guys have seen this or not, but when I read this article, I felt sick to my stomach.
Some anonymous women got together and petitioned the Vatican to allow priests to marry because they are already in relationships with priests. They basically played the victim in crying over their secret lives as mistresses.
Ya know what, ladies? You're not victims. There is no real way to "accidentally fall in love with a priest."
You see a collar, you move on. That's common sense. However, much like those women who ignore wedding rings and then complain when their lovers don't leave their families to continue shacking up with them, common sense doesn't really come into play, does it?
Obviously the priests who participate in these sorts of relationships are also at fault, but as a woman, I am always so angry when I hear of other women being stupid enough to do this sort of thing (with married men, priests, etc).
I mean, c'mon now. This is like running a red light because you thought the cops weren't looking. You've officially caused a five-car pile up because you were too selfish to care about anyone else, and now you're demanding that the officer change the law so that the injury and pain you caused is somehow no longer your fault.
My mind is officially blown by such arrogance.
In their letter, they wrote "Very little is known about the devastating suffering of a woman who is deeply in love with a priest."
Actually, quite a lot is known. Ya know why? Because your ridiculous sob story is the same exact one that's played out in every other marriage plagued by adultery. You are "the other woman." Just because he's a priest doesn't make this fact any less true. You purposefully went after someone who was off-limits. Maybe he even made it easy. Maybe he pursued you. I don't care. You're still wrong for allowing yourself to become entangled in such stupidity. You are no better than the woman who knowingly sleeps with a married man (or the man who sleeps with a married woman). You're both committing adultery and you're both causing one another to be unfaithful to yourselves, your communities, and God.
You will find no sympathy from me in this regard. What you are doing and what you have allowed to happen is evil. You are a pliable pawn being used by satan to take down God's representatives on earth. You should be absolutely ashamed of yourselves.
Maybe one day the Church will allow Her priests to marry. Until then, be mindful of the incredible sacrifices that these men make on your behalf and be charitable. Do not let yourself be a temptation to them- no matter how innocent your supposed intentions are.
Ugh. Seriously. Just... ugh. You love him, you say? Then respect the fact that he took vows and support him upholding every last one of them.
Pray for your priests, people. And pray for women like this.
This, my friends, is how Catholics combat evil. We draw together as one Body and proclaim the Divinity of the One Who Loves Us. We adore our God within the humble Eucharist and refrain our thunderous "AMEN!" as the demons tremble in their hellish shackles.
THIS is the Church Militant as She armors Herself in the Blood of the Lamb.
Special thanks to Justin Bell (@ajustbell) for giving me permission to use the above photo for tonight's entry. He was present for the Procession and took some really incredible photos. Looking through them, my eyes truly began to well up with gratitude for the outpouring of love for Christ within the Eucharist.
Lord, You are loved. Forgive us for neglecting to show our love like this more often.
By now, you've all heard of the repugnant event that was to be hosted on the Harvard campus. I, like many of my Catholics, joined my brothers and sisters in Boston in a national show of solidarity through prayer, fasting and sacrifice.
There is nothing more I can possibly say on this matter that hasn't already been outline hundreds of times by others who have written about this. I will say, however, that I was incredibly hurt by such an event being promoted. Physically, painfully hurt.
So from 7pm until 8pm, I locked myself away and offered the hour in union with the entire Church. I offered it in reparation for the mockery of Christ, I offered it for the conversion and repentance of those responsible, and I offered it for the strength and clarity of those with the power to stop it.
There were no adoration hours available to me locally, so I chose to unite myself by reading about the Eucharist in a little booklet I picked up about a year ago. It's been sitting in my drawer waiting for this day. I pulled it out and spent the hour in prayerful reflection of the lessons contained within.
The booklet is titled The Most Blessed Sacrament and is written by Fr. Stephano Manelli, OFM. I thought it fitting. Fr. Manelli creates a quilt of reflections patched together by various saints who were entirely devoted to our Divine God hidden in the Eucharist.
Folks just don't understand how Catholics can adore what - to them - amounts to be a cracker. God would never, in their minds, appear as something so insignificant. God is majestic - divine! He would not stoop so low as to appear as bread and wine.
And yet this is exactly who we know God to be. This is precisely why we praise Him, honor Him and love Him. The Divine and Unencompassable God consents to become the most base staple of nourishment so that He can mercifully feed us in an intimate and personal way. That is how loving our God is. He is not this mythical creature who is too self-important to care for His children. Instead, He bends over backwards to be near to us. He cares not for golden ciboriums or tabernacles encrusted with jewels; He years to take refuge within the depths of our soul. He wishes to enjoin Himself to our deepest, truest essence so that He can fashion us to Him and make us more like Himself - divine.
This is why Satan hates the Eucharist. He can't stand that the Divine God humbles Himself so basely for the likes of humanity. It is why he seeks to mock and sully the truest, most blessed gift ever given to humanity.
St. Augustine once exclaimed of the Eucharist, "Although God is all-powerful, He is unable to give more; though supremely wise, He knows not how to give more; though vastly rich, He has not more to give."
Why is this? Because in the Eucharist, we are given God's Incarnate Son. Jesus comes to us fully (Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity) to feed us and nourish our souls with effusions of Divine Grace. God cannot give more than the gift of Himself in this humble form. This blessed gift is the summation of His promise to be with us always.
Methinks I'll be doing a lot more meditating on the Eucharistic Lord in the coming months. The media still isn't entirely sure if the mockery took place or not. Some reports are saying it happened in a Chinese restaurant across from campus, others are reporting that it has been pushed off indefinitely. Either way, evil is beginning to get increasingly brazen, and a more constant meditation and show of Christian love is necessary to combat this treachery.
Did any of you participate in the 7-8pm vigil?
Does anyone else feel a bit like characters in a Chicken Little book? Instead of the sky falling, I am constantly hearing "The Church is falling! The Church is falling!" from a swelling underbelly of paranoid Catholics and a growing army of gleeful anarchists.
If you take a look at the media, you'd think the Church was at death's door!
Relax, folks. I assure you, the Church isn't going anywhere. Remember that whole business with Peter getting renamed in front of the giant cave that devoured infants?
Let me refresh your memory, then. Since all four of the Gospels were pretty clear about this, it's obviously important enough for folks to understand.
Once upon a time, Simon (meaning "reed") was following a cool guy named Jesus. Simon wasn't super smart, he certainly wasn't very rich, and he didn't hold major sway in the community. That was okay. He wasn't interested in being the smartest guy in the room. Money didn't hold any power over him, and he didn't aim to have folks do his bidding. He was just a guy who loved Jesus and was willing to follow Him wherever He went - up to and including the Gates of Hell.
That's right, folks! Simon followed Jesus to the Gates of Hell! Believe it or not, this place actually existed in his time. It was located in Caesarea Philippi, and today, it looks like this:
What you're looking at is a giant cave that was carved into a massive chunk of stone. In fact, this giant stone mass housed several caves which, at the time of Jesus, would have been temples dedicated to various deities.
This particular one, however, was dedicated to Pan, god of desolate places (being a lonely little farmer / herder dude isn't the best diety-gig to have). Because his temple had a bit of water running through it, folks would come and sacrifice their infants over the cliff to him where they would either drown or die of blunt force trauma. Thus, because of the grisly sacrificing of such innocence, it was likened to the gates of Hades (even by the Romans).
So Simon followed Jesus all the way to Caesarea Philippi to stand before this giant stone structure that signified death and complete desolation. It was here that Jesus asked a series of silly questions. I'll let the Bible talk from here:
When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Good old Simon. His birth name meant reed, something easily bent or even broken by the passing breeze.
Now, however, Jesus blessed him with the name that translates to "large rock." Jesus didn't change Simon's name because He was impressed with Simon's knowledge of Scripture. He didn't change his name because He liked how sinless Simon was. He didn't even change his name because of how faithfully Simon followed Jesus all around the known world.
Jesus changed Simon's name to Peter because name changes signify divine inspiration - a deep, spiritual change that dictates a person's destiny. It's part of the reason we are given new names at Confirmation, too!
Jesus specifically changed Simon's name to Peter because He asked a question with an answer that only could've been arrived at through divine inspiration. Simon was open to the movement of the Spirit, and this is why he was chosen as the cornerstone of the Church.
On Peter's shoulders the Church would be built. When Jesus goes on and explains that He will give him (after the Ascension) the "keys to the kingdom," He was referencing Isaiah 22:22-23.
I will place the key of the House of David on his shoulder;
For those unfamiliar, the "key" wasn't just a symbol of power the king bestowed onto his most trusted servant. The key was an actual key that could open or lock all the doors in the kingdom (grain storehouses, vaults for gold, even the very temple doors). Whoever wielded the key was given the king's authority (with his approval, of course) while the king is absent. The servant then went about doing the king's bidding by opening grain storehouses for the hungry, the vaults to pay for kingdom necessities, making pronouncements, etc.
Jesus was telling Peter that his openness to divine inspiration announced him as this highly trusted servant. And thus, on Peter's shoulders, the glory of his ancestors (the Jews) and his descendants / offspring (the Catholic Church / various sects of Christianity) will hang on his leadership. PETER is the cornerstone on which Christ's Church is built.
If you continue reading Isaiah (and I love this), the original servant spoken of is named Eliakim. Verses 24-25 speak of Eliakim's eventual downfall and the institution of another servant. This servant is Peter, and when the Lord speaks, it is Jesus who does the speaking. How awesome is that?
Anywho, Peter is set as the everlasting servant. The gates of the hell (Death) shall not prevail against the Church set forth under his guidance. Jesus entrusts this destiny to Peter because he has proven his openness to divine inspiration. Peter proves himself as the faithful, humble servant who does not put his own "wisdom" above that of God the Father.
THAT is the sign of a great servant.
So why do I bring this up at all?
Because for all the bellyaching folks are making about Pope Francis, they need to keep in mind that he is a servant. He is a servant hand-selected by divine inspiration to "keep the keys" until Christ comes back for the 2nd Coming.
You trust Jesus, right? You trust that what he said 2 millenia ago still rings true today, yes? Then quit your bellyaching and trust that when He said He wouldn't let His Church crumble, He's not gonna let His Church crumble.
The Church is His eternal bride. He's not going to forsake us. We'll be persecuted and crucified, this is true. We must, after all, follow faithfully in His Footsteps. But we must remember that with a death fashioned after Christ's comes a resurrection as well.
We have been told that the time is coming for this great persecution and crucifixion, but we're not there yet. Even if we were, your job isn't to head for the hills or apostatize. Your job is to keep your oil lamps filled and burning brightly. Your job is to be a beacon of Christ to others. Your job is to continue praying for and supporting the Church.
I am deeply saddened for and shamed by those Catholics who are renouncing the faith simply because this pope doesn't do things the way they expect. Our faith goes beyond a man in a white cassock. Our faith is the Resurrected God-Man who consents to give Himself to us as food in the Eucharist... as mercy in the Confessional... as divine royalty in Heaven.
I'm also saddened for and shamed by those who are gleefully dancing over the tears of those Catholics who mourn the loss of faith in their communities and families. Things may look bleak from where you're standing. You might delight in the passing of laws that deride the Church and force Her members to face fierce punishment and humiliation, but we know better.
We've witnessed Our Lord upon the Cross. We've seen His Divine Face, even as blood and spittle made Him almost unrecognizable. We've recognized that through this torturous sacrifice, evil was conquered and hope for our eternal inheritance was restored. Laugh now, but we are no strangers to persecution.
Know this. We are the Church that Christ founded. We are His Body, we are His Bride. He will not allow us to be destroyed.
So to you Catholic Chicken Littles running around freaking out about the state of the Church, relax. Do your part by praying, sacrificing and being the person God meant for you to be. Do not worry about the pope shirking his mantum or the local priest singing One Bread, One Body. Unless you witness an actual sacrilege or liturgical abuse happening, try not to freak out and just turn to Christ in prayer. Don't spread paranoia and upset by lamenting the terrible state the Church is in because Father So-and-So allows women to distribute Communion.
You folks know I hate that. It's one of my biggest pet peeves. But ya know what? I don't deny myself participation in the one, true and Catholic liturgy because of bone-headed mistakes. Also, even if the priest in question did it PURPOSEFULLY KNOWING he was in the wrong, I'm not going to let his sin cut off my avenue to Christ, because even if he was stained with a thousand mortal sins, Father Pro-Women Eucharistic Ministers is still Christ's representative on Earth and is able to consecrate whereas I am not.
To you Christian Chicken Littles hoping beyond hope that the evil Catholic Church is finally crumbling, sorry. You guys are our brothers and sisters in Christ. We still pray for you at every.single.Mass. You are our offspring. Do not neglect your Mother.
To those of you who are foaming at the mouth waiting to ravage the remnants of a Church on fire, don't hold your breath. Seriously.
John and I have been through a lot the last few years. A whole lot:
So these, among other random bits, have caused us to grow, change, and love more deeply. Looking back at this journey has made me so incredibly appreciative of the marriage I have and the friends and family who have supported us these last ten years.
As a result, I want to throw a special party this year. It's only our 7th year as a married couple, but it's our 10th together as a couple.
I want to throw a fire hall banquet, invite all those who have supported us through love, prayer and example and celebrate the blessings they've all been to John and I.
I want this to serve as both a THANK YOU to our family and friends for being so supportive over the years, and as a "Marriage is Worth It!" witness.
So many of those in our group of friends are incredibly jaded about the institution of marriage. They are vehemently against marriage on the grounds that it's an archaic, pointless practice that only ends in divorce, they are indifferent, or they look at marriage as something they can't do until they've amassed enough golden eggs (whether that be money, a house, career satisfaction, etc). Very few of our friends look at marriage as a sacrament of power, love and beauty.
That makes me sad. It really does.
So while I want to thank everyone for their support of us, I also want to show our friends that marriage IS something worth investing in. And once you are married, it's worth fighting for. It's a constant choice to love one another, every day. The honeymoon fades and the cutesy names will sometimes turn sour. However, with support and love, a married couple can weather the natural dips in romance and find a deeper, truer connection than they started out with.
When I asked John if he'd be OK with this, he was, but thought the idea of "throwing ourselves a party" was tacky. He said he'd feel like an idiot explaining to people the purpose of the celebration.
I can understand his hesitation. I mean, who the heck throws a 7th anniversary party?
To me, though, it's perfect timing. Usually the 7th year is associated with the "7 Year Itch" in which couples are often teased about the eventuality of affairs stemming from the stagnation of marital relations.
For us, this 7th year - though incredibly emotional - has been anything but stagnant. John and I love one another better now than we ever have.
And I say "better" because we both make the conscious decision to be better spouses to each other.
So I do want to celebrate that, especially given the fact that we have the added bonus of me being cancer-free (assuming the annual test comes back clear which I'm sure it will).
We've got a lot to be thankful for, and I feel my gratitude overflowing. As such, I want to use it to thank others and share those blessings we've received with others.
Is a party a bad idea? Do you think maybe I should rethink how I go about doing this? I'm not looking for gifts or anything. I don't want anything from anyone. I want to do this FOR everyone. Our anniversary just happens to provide a perfect backdrop.
Well, the gay rights lobby is at it again with their fake indignation and trumped up discrimination allegations.
I'm just about done with them whining about every little thing that doesn't coddle their every self-centered inclination.
By now, I'm sure most of you have seen the kerfluffle caused by trolls at the annual St. Patrick's Day Parades in New York and Boston.
These are two of the biggest parades in the world that celebrate St. Patrick's life and legacy. Of COURSE these yahoos would take it upon themselves to instigate trouble when they'd have a worldwide audience.
I just hate that companies and politicians went and supported this stupidity without stopping to question the legitimacy of those doing the whining.
They're upset because they can't run around with banners labeling them as gay? Cry me a rainbow river, why don't you?
Pro-Life groups can't march under a banner any more than gay groups can. Where are all the pro-life unions that are decrying that their dignity is being threatened? Where are all the Italian-Americans? Where are all the lovers of ice-cream and chocolate? The pro-puppy groups?
Oh yeah - none of them have anything to gain by feigning discrimination. None of them are looking to bait an entire population into feeling sorry for them.
ARGH - I'm so sick of people stupidly falling for this. How did our population come to exchange common sense and critical reasoning for Kim Kardashian and buzz words?
I'm just so beyond done with always being labeled a bigot or a homophobe because I see this for the charade it so blatantly is.
This sort of fake discrimination touted by the gay lobby is BLATANTLY FALSE and no one seems to care. Why does no one care?!?!?!
Just a quick note, but tonight was my first CCD class of the year.
Over half of the students didn't know that Jesus was God. Not one knew how to make the Sign of the Cross properly, and everyone gave me blank stares when I asked who Moses was.
At least they knew Mary's the Mother of Jesus! :)
I love a challenge, but starts like this really make me wonder what is being taught in the lower levels (or at home!).
Ah well. Last year's class was similar, but by the end, they were mini Catholic gurus. Ha. Here's to a new year of education, blessings and fun!
Please be warned - the linked article has a moderately graphic image for some of you involving blood. No bodies are shown, but blood smeared on the wall in letters is.
This is an article regarding the wave of anti-Christian crime that's been sweeping through Russia and the surrounding areas in the wake of the Riot sentencing. A few people are now dead in connection to the crime-spree (whether capitalizing on the fame of the trial or not is to be determined) and countless churches and communities have been victimized through desecration, theft and violence.
We are to be tried once more in the public square. Anti-Christian fervor is building, and we can expect more of this to spread even to within our own borders.
Arm yourselves, Church Militant. Prayer is your sword; the saints are your armor. Your battle cry is Truth and that Truth is Christ.
Just suppose that you could have pre-existed your own mother, in much the same way that an artist pre-exists his painting. Furthermore, suppose that you had an infinite power to make your mother anything that you pleased, just as a great artist like Raphael has the power of realizing his artistic ideals. Suppose you had this double power, what kind of mother would you have made for yourself?
Would you have made her of such a type that would make you blush because of her un-womanly and un-motherlike actions? Would you have in any way stained and soiled her with the selfishness that would make her unattractive not only to you, but to your fellow-man? Would you have made her exteriorly and interiorly of such a character as to make you ashamed of her, or would you have made her, so far as human beauty goes, the most beautiful woman in the world; and so far as beauty of the soul goes, one who would radiate every virtue, every manner of kindness and charity and loveliness; one who by the purity of her life and her mind and her heart would be an inspiration not only to you, but even to your fellow-men, so that all would look up to her as the very incarnation of what is best in motherhood?
Now if you who are an imperfect being and who have not the most delicate conception of all that is fine in life would have wished for the loveliest of mothers, do you think that our Blessed Lord, who not only pre-existed His own mother but who had an infinite power to make her just what He chose, would in virtue of all the infinite delicacy of His spirit make her any less pure and loving and beautiful than you would have made your own mother? If you who hate selfishness would have made her selfless and you who hate ugliness would have made her beautiful, do you not think that the Son of God, who hates sin, would have made His own mother sinless and He who hates moral ugliness would have made her immaculately beautiful?
Today's blog entry today brought to you by the Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen. :)
Enjoy some more of his love for Christ's Church:
So I've seen a lot of my blogger friends take part in Conversion Diary's Quick Take Fridays. I've also been an avid follower of Jennifer Fulwiler's for a while. I'd considered taking part in the past, but my life is honestly not interesting enough to do a weekly "catch-all." Maybe a quarterly one.
Anyway, today I lucked upon some great articles that totaled seven in number. I thought Hey now! That's just enough to make an actual Quick Take Friday post! Then I wondered, Is it cheating to use articles for my quick takes as opposed to using items about my actual life?
The answer I arrived at was "Yes. Yes, it's cheating, but who cares? Doubtful anyone's gonna come after me with some sort of blogging demerits."
So, my 7 Quick Takes:
From Esquire Magazine comes an open letter to the world from a Christian who aims to correct the negative perceptions of an anti-Christian world. My favorite quote:
"... at one point God even speaks to a guy named Balaam through his donkey. Some say God spoke to Balaam through his ass and has been speaking through asses ever since. So if God should choose to use us, then we should be grateful but not think too highly of ourselves. And if upon meeting someone we think God could never use, we should think again."
NBC reports that some yahoo decided to drop raw bacon in the field where Muslims were celebrating the close of Ramadan. This person (people?) also left a note and police are investigating it as a hate crime.
I'm all for investigating this as a hate crime because it's obvious this person (or these people) was attempting to bully others on the grounds of their religion, but I find it interesting that this had no effect on their celebrations and this wasn't even done on sacred grounds / with sacred objects. It's rightly being investigated as a hate crime, but folks are still indignant that the Russian women - who desecrated the main altar of a Cathedral - were convicted of religious intolerance. Color me incredulous.
A high school valedictorian has been denied her diploma by her school because of the use of "Hell" in her speech. They haven't denied her transcripts (which she needs for college), but the diploma is symbolic of her achievements.
I think the approach is heavy-handed, but I do believe she owes the school the written apology it asked for in punishment for her misstep. Her reaction and continued "I'm right, I'm right, I'm right" when she is CLEARLY in the wrong only serves to show how arrogant she is. She provided them with an approved speech, then she decided to throw unnecessary vulgarity in there. As punishment, they with-held the diploma and simply asked for an apology.
I'm sorta bothered by everyone coming to her defense in saying this is an attack of freedom of speech. It's a SCHOOL SPEECH that everyone knows must be approved first by the board (or whoever is in charge of the ceremony). It's to both protect the school and the student from embarrassment. This girl simply thought she was above the rules because of her intelligence and achievements.
Sorry, honey, but you've still gotta play by the rules. This has nothing to do with freedom of speech. It has everything to do with following procedure during a solemn ceremony. Get over yourself. If this is how you respond to situations that call you out for trying to place yourself above authority, you're in for a rude awakening when you make it to the real world.
Fr. Levi over at The Way Out There came across the last words of St. David Lewis, a martyred priest whose story is incredibly touching.
After reading both his life overview and then his final address, I couldn't help but thank God for granting us so brave and faithful witnesses to His Love. Bless our priests.
God certainly knows how to choose them!
This is for all my fellow educators out there. In a special way, it's for those who are part of the unique group of people who work with children who have speech delays (my son being one of those children!).
I have no words to properly express the appreciation I have for your dedication and your love. Michelle at Liturgical Time does a fabulous job of expressing so well just how much we love the children we're blessed to work with, and I think being an educator myself, knowing that love on a personal level and seeing it doled out to my son just makes me that much more appreciative and awe-struck. Those who work with children are special, special people.
By Erika V of CS!
This is almost another cheat, but CatholicSistas has absolutely been on a roll this week. It's like someone swapped their coffee for Red Bull and they've been hammering out gold on a daily basis. Two of their articles REALLY touched me this week and I wanted to highlight them for you.
The first is Infant Death and Scared Parenting. A perinatal loss nurse is interviewed and she gives an inside look into this oft-overlooked area of holistic medicine. Incredibly inspiring and moving.
The second is titled The Trauma and Pain of Abortion After Rape and is written by a woman who conceived through rape. Exceedingly well-written, honest and poignant.
Finally, and maybe this isn't an article so much as a Book Release, but a mystic I've been following for a while, Maria Divine Mercy, has finally had the messages bundled into a book.
However, you don't need to purchase the book to read the messages. You can simply go to the website dedicated to collecting them all and download the PDF.
Again, typical warning goes into effect with mystics. Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance as these are all considered personal revelations. Also, try to forgive the horrific formatting of the website. It's set up very much like a yellow-journalism rag and whoever is in charge of it is definitely trying to capitalize off fear and panic. I don't approve of that. Ignore the terrible formatting and focus on the messages and the Crusade Prayers. I promise you'll thank me later for it.
For more Quick Takes, check out Conversion Diary (who hosts this entertaining weekly blogroll!
Written by a Muslim professor who was friends with this saintly priest, a call for victory comes... but not through violence or retaliation. Instead, this wise man understands that victory comes through prayer... through the unflinching dedication to truth and love.
Bless not only this man and this priest, but all those in Iraq - Christian or otherwise - who cling fast to this hope.
Read the brief letter here, and remember to pray for our Suffering Church in Need.
Vince's face says it all.
I'm going to try really hard to remain civil. I apologize in advance if If am less than perfect in my attempt.
Some of you may have been following the deplorable media frenzy over a certain Russian 'band' that decided to stage a blasphemous protest inside the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. For those of you that haven't, do yourselves a favor and simply skip this particular entry so you can remain blissfully unaware that such disregard for common decency exists in the world.
A couple months ago, members of this feminist group trespassed on sacred Cathedral grounds and brassly went up to the main sanctuary to the soleas (the platform in front of the gates that enclose the altar) and shrieked out an incredibly offensive string of lines aimed at denigrating Christians under the guise of opposing Putin.
Judging from the lyrics (and really... don't search them out unless you really want to upset yourself), they were mostly looking to humiliate Christians and drag our beliefs through the mud. To do this in front of the main altar where Christ is present... oh Heaven! Forgive us this travesty.
When these yahoos were finally brought before a judge, they were found guilty of hooliganism and sentenced to two years in prison.
Of course everyone and their brother cried foul over this. The media kicked into high gear blasting the government for stifling freedom of speech. Instead of being viewed as a hate crime aimed at humiliating Christians, folks painted the picture of innocent women who just wanted to speak out against the injustice of Russian big-wigs.
How anyone could possibly write this off as simply the government trying to stifle free speech is beyond me - especially given that these same women have landed themselves in prison before. The ONLY reason they've attracted so much attention this time around is because of where they staged their antics.
They chose the central Cathedral of Moscow because it'd garner the most publicity. And instead of just staging this in front of the cathedral (where I doubt I'd've had an issue with it), they chose to go INSIDE the church and dare to go up to the sanctuary.
I won't even go near the sanctuary, and I'm a practicing Catholic!
And yet everyone who I've spoke to about this defends these women because the media is portraying this as an issue of free speech. Instead, the media completely neglects the incredibly horrible injustice done to the Christians of that community. Because most folks don't care about the beliefs of these people, they don't CARE that this injustice has been done.
*Shakes head* That really worries me.
An incredible article that details just how distrurbing this is was written by Janice Shaw Crouse of The American Thinker.
In attempting to explain this to atheist / agnostic / disagreeing friends, I likened it to a stunt orchestrated by a Christian in the middle of a homosexual support group. Let's say Bob wants to protest President Obama because he believes President Obama is in bed with the homosexual lobby. Instead of protesting someplace normal and open to the public, he decides to break into a homosexual support group meeting (or support community home) and yell anti-homosexual things.
Should Bob be arrested? YES! For goodness sakes, he trespassed with the willful intent to denegrate homosexuals! He'd be immediately labeled a homophobe, would probably be arrested and charged with a hate crime, and face an extremely publicized trial that would laugh at his attempt to use "freedom of speech" as a defense for his actions.
This is because most folks are in agreement with the homosexual lobby. Most folks would rightly be offended that anyone would THINK to enter such a safe, sacred spot and begin bullying homosexuals in so offensive a manner - even under the guise of raging against the President.
Why, then, is this same outrage not shown to the Christians who are now left with months of restitution to serve in atonement for the treachery committed against their community by these women?
Ah yes - because it's perfectly acceptable to bully Christians. It's perfectly acceptable - respected, even - to humiliate and denigrate Christianity.
Again - this should be HIGHLY alarming to folks. It certainly is to me.
Brace yourselves for one of the nerdiest "fan-girl" type entries ever.
And yes, it's about a homily.
I'm not even sure where to begin as I'm so giddy over the brilliance and no-nonsense approach this retired priest (who is filling in for Fr. Atlas while he's away). It was his mission to defend the Eucharist and educate parishioners on the importance we should place on the Real Presence of Christ - what a gem! If I didn't have Vince on my lap, I would've taken a pen and paper out for notes!
To begin, this weekend's readings were very much Eucharistic in nature. The first reading dealt with the manna from Heaven that nourished the Israelites as they wandered through the desert. The psalm was a reflection of this reading and also foreshadowed the joyful thanksgiving we ought to sing in praise of His gracious institution of the Holy Eucharist.
The second reading reminds us that the bread that nourishes us it not only physical but spiritual. Christ, the Word, is our sustenance. His teachings and example are the gateway to Heaven.
Finally, in the gospel, we hear Jesus, Himself, affirm that He is the Bread of Life. This is not some spiritual manner of speaking. He is affirming His Presence in the Holy Eucharist - the greatest of all Sacraments. He is preparing His followers to understand and accept this unfathomable mercy.
Upon walking out amongst the congregation, Fr. Eucharist (as I'll call him henceforth) spoke of several mystics who lived solely on the Body of Christ in the Eucharist.
He didn't specify a particular mystic, but considering the scientific evidence he spoke of regarding the validity of these miraculous signs, my mind jumped to Blessed Alexandrina who subsisted on nothing but the Holy Eucharist for 13 years (to the astonishment of the many doctors and scientists who examined her).
Fr. Eucharist wanted to highlight that the Blessed Sacrament is not just symbol of Christ. This Sacrament of Love is the fullness of Christ's Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. When we say "Amen" in response to the priest's offering, we are saying "Yes, I believe!" that the consecrated Host we receive is, in fact, God. He has chosen to use some of His saints to hit home this point through allowing them the grace of existing solely on His Body. As He said, "My Flesh is true food, and My Blood is true drink." Amen, indeed.
As such, the Eucharist is to be the most important thing in our lives. It is the banquet that supercedes all other banquets.
Upon this reflection, Father Eucharist then went on to describe some key elements that build up our Mass towards this miraculous banquet.
The procession and readings - our Liturgy of the Word - is like a cocktail hour. I loved that comparison! At a wedding cocktail, for example, we gather together with joy to catch up with family and friends we haven't seen in a while. We see how the kids are doing, we find out what so-and-so's been up to, and we bask in the filial love present amongst us all.
During the cocktail hour, we also get tiny samples of the greater meal awaiting us at the main banquet. For us, those morsels are the various readings and responses. As Catholics, we believe that Christ is the Word, so we are blessed to receive Him with our ears before we partake of the "main course" of the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
And oh... the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Pardon me as I 'squee' ridiculously for a few moments. He really took off running as he reflected on the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
Once again he discussed the spiritual reality of our physical presence at Mass.
As St. John Chrysostom once said, "When Mass is being celebrated, the sanctuary is filled with countless angels who adore the divine victim
immolated on the altar."
Amen, St. John!
Fr. Eucharist reminded of this in such a reverent, direct way that I could have stood up to applaud him. He said, "Yes! There is truth beyond what we can see with our physical eyes. At the words of consecration, Jesus is standing behind the priest! God the Father and Holy Spirit are with Him. Mary, His mother, is there with St. Joseph. And filling the sanctuary are the angels and saints who, together with us, adore and praise Him."
How I managed to stay in my seat and not jump up to hug him is truly beyond me. I felt as if my heart had doubled in size just so it could sprout arms and embrace him.
Yes, Fr. Eucharist, yes! TELL US! TEACH US! REMIND US THAT THE EUCHARIST IS GOD TRULY PRESENT! Shine as an example to all other priests that THIS is the type of truth so desperately needed in the world today. THIS is what Catholics must be reminded of so that we can properly appreciate the gift that is the Eucharist.
Did he stop there? No no, folks. My giddiness erupted as he went on.
Catholics, when they present themselves for the Eucharist, must make a throne with their hands with which to accept the Body of Christ. Not with one hand. Not with two haphazardly placed together. Reverently accept Him as the King He is!
*He then proceeded to show us what that would look like.*
And, bless him, he also gave a nod to acceptance on the tongue (which is how I receive anyway).
And to boot, he called out folks who leave after receiving the Eucharist. He said, "And to those of you who leave after Communion, you're missing a lot of stuff! From Consecration until the Recessional, the Blood of Christ covers the congregation, filling us with untold graces!"
He again didn't mention a specific mystic, but I'm about 99.9% sure he was referring to the revelations made by the Blessed Mother to Catalina Revas of Bolivia. I'd only recently learned of her (I would guess in the last 8 months or so), but the insights and revelations made to her by Christ and Our Lady have forever changed my participation in the Mass. I would encourage all of you to read more about her! But again, use the typical caution regarding private revelations. Though not forbidden / approved by the Church, it us up to the individual to request guidance and discernment from the Holy Spirit.
Back to the wonderful priest, however, he closed his homily with a reminder that after reception of the Eucharist, we would do well to remember that God, Himself, dwells within us. So as we walk back to our seats, it's not the time for saying "Hi" to friends, nor is it the time to get one's self ready to leave. The time after Communion is meant for prayful reflection... a true and intimate conversation between us and God.
And don't you know after Communion, he graciously allowed us time to sit in silent contempation.
Hmmmm... I've got a big old stupid smile on my face, and it's all because of this wonderful representative of Christ. My prayers are with him and with all priests. May they all have such ardent love for Him, and may they all seek to spread that love and understanding to others. Bless him, and bless them!
So a wonderful friend of mine left a link on my wall this morning regarding the proposed boycott of Chick-Fil-A that has now extended down to my hometown of Philadelphia.
I had read about it here last night, but it was about 2am and I didn't have the energy to find words for the irritation I felt.
Luckily, Nicole found someone who did it for me and was kind enough to share his words this morning. I'm returning the favor by sharing it with all of you.
Please take a moment (especially if you appreciate Mr. Mendte's common sense) to drop him an e-mail at Mendte@aol.com to let him know. I certainly did.
And remember - this is NOT just about gay rights, this is not about a chicken place, and this is not about our righteous indignation regarding either side of the issue.
This is about our freedoms and how politicians, pundits and yes, even some journalists, are going out of their way to cloud the fact that our liberty is being threatened. Not only is it being threatened, but it's being bullied, battered and spit upon - all in the name of "tolerance."
Again... the hypocrisy... it hurts.
Dear Mr. Mendte,
I'm typically ridiculously verbose - pointlessly so. However, your article in the Philly Mag regarding the proposed Chick-Fil-A boycott has left me absolutely speechless.
You, my good sir, are brilliant.
I've thought this many times about your reporting, but I've never felt compelled to reach out and actually tip my hat your way through an e-mail. Now, I am compelled. Your poise, fairness and clarity are so necessary in this confused climate of rhetoric and indignant anger. Thank you for being a voice of reason. Thank you for having the brass tacks to confront the tide of folly and for calling others to do the same.
We need more men - real men - like you in the world (and ESPECIALLY in the field of journalism). May you be blessed immensely in all you do.
The Name of Christ is mighty
Apparently the Name of Christ is more dangerous to the public than concealed weapons (which are perfectly legal) in N. Carolina.
I found a seed on Father Z's blog this morning detailing a new policy enacted in N. Carolina regarding police chaplains' ability to use Christ's name while praying at public events.
One chaplain's response was like an arrow to my heart... a beautiful, wonderful arrow of integrity and wisdom.
Pastor Terry Sartain, upon learning of this change, withdrew from the event because, "Jesus is the only thing I have to bless people with."
This man understands what so many others do not. The Name of Christ is one of our greatest blessings. It's why we always ask for everything "in Jesus' Name." Christ left us even the grace of His own Name to help shield us from harm.
Other religions treat the names of their gods / prophets as unspeakable or curse-inducing utterances. Not Christianity. We were blessed to understand that our God is a loving God who WANTS a personal relationship with us. He WANTS us to know Him intimately. Thus, He blesses us with the comfort of His Holy Name.
To remove our ability to call out His blessing through using His Name, this policy effectively steals from us our ability to properly pray. It also forces us to deny the God who gave His Life for our salvation.
And I can't help but know with certainly that the developers of this policy fully understood that. I believe Satan and his demons coated this with the sugar of tolerance and unity, but in reality, this is just one more step towards a global "religion" that is no religion at all.
It is a dismantling of Christianity in lieu of agnosticism. It is a stifling of our faith... another gentle inoculation to prevent the spread of Christ's Name to new generations of souls. This has nothing to do with tolerance. It is INTOLERANCE that has paved the way for this desecration of religious liberties.
But few will see it this way because so many are grateful for the chance to cast aside the trappings of religion. Their own opinions on religion cloud their ability to see beyond the "Don't use Jesus' Name" and realize that it is a tiny cog in a bigger machine that is shooting down a person's individual right to practice their religion as he or she sees fit.
Chaplains are VOLUNTEERS. They are volunteering their time to give comfort to the men and women who serve. At a prayer service (if one is requested by the police force), folks EXPECT to hear names like Jesus, God, Buddha or Mohammad. These words do not point a finger at atheists, Jews or Spaghetti Monster believers in an attempt to say "You're going to a naughty place for not believing!" If you invite a volunteer chaplain to one of these prayer services, you're inviting their brand of religion. If you don't want to be stifled by Christianity, find a volunteer who will speak what you're looking for. But do NOT, NOT, NOT attempt to tell someone how they can and cannot pray (publicly or otherwise!).
These chaplains (whatever their religion may be) are looking to offer comfort in the form of a universal blessing. Christ does not just bless Christians. He blesses all, regardless of their belief in Him.
If someone were to say to me, "May the Spaghetti Monster's blessing be upon you always" I'd say, "Right on, good sir. Thanks for having my back with the warm fuzzies."
I would not respond, "Dude, I believe in JESUS, okay? Stop insulting me with your well-wishes!"
And yet that's exactly what is being done by this policy. It is ludicrous and is once again an attempt by policy makers to stifle the religious freedoms of folks... folks who are VOLUNTEERING THEIR TIME for goodness sake!
It reminds me of this yearly mess... Will this sort of foolishness have no end?
This is a perfect time for the Golden Arrow Prayer. It was given to St. Gertrude the Great by Christ, Himself, who said, "It will wound My Heart delightfully and heal the wounds inflicted by blasphemy."
As I said on Fr. Z's wall, I hope in this case it will heal the wounds inflicted by arrogance, silence and betrayal.
May the most holy, most sacred, most adorable, most incomprehensible and ineffable Name of God be forever praised, blessed, loved, adored and glorified in Heaven, on Earth, and under the Earth by all the creatures of God and by the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Amen.
Judge a tree by it's fruits, man!
I got an e-mail last night from a friend of mine. We had been discussing the current LCWR review. He was under the impression (as so many are) that the Vatican was trying to stamp out the personal freedoms of poor, innocent nuns just trying to live our their vocation serving their communities.
I admit I got rather heated at the thought of these women being pitied as a result of the media's false stories of heroism in the face of the big, bad Vatican. These women should never - EVER - be held up as the gold standard for Catholicism. The women in question shouldn't even be held up as a bad example of Catholicism. Many have given up being Catholic long, long ago and just haven't 'fessed up to it yet. Thus, use them as a bad example of Protestantism. Please leave the word "Catholic" out of their mess.
Anyway, this friend chided me for my harsh words. He quoted the oft repeated (and incredibly misunderstood) line from Matthew 7: "Judge not lest you be judged."
I've already sent this friend an e-mail detailing my feelings on the matter (candidly as I'm apt to do). However, I felt this a topic very necessary to broach with the general population as this quote is so often used by people in an attempt to bow out to political correctness.
In my opinion, it's nothing more than an excuse to hide one's insecurities behind a veil of false nicety.
Let's say my mother is driving a car. We're about to take a curve too harshly. Considering there's a canyon to the left of us, if she continues speeding, we're likely to tumble into the abyss.
Do I refrain from telling her to slow down because I'm afraid I might hurt her feelings for criticizing her driving?
No. I like my life.
Instead, I'd say, "Hey Mom, you need to apply the brakes because if you don't, we're likely to take a tumble neither one of us will enjoy."
Would I be judging my mother to be a bad driver? No.
Would I be judging her behavior to be bad? Yes.
Might she feel as though I'd judged her to be a bad driver? Yes, it's a possibility.
If she feels as though I've passed a negative judgement on her, does that mean I have? No.
Even knowing that she might have her feelings hurt as a result of my criticism, should I refrain from suggesting she slow down? NO.
As I've said in previous entries, I simply do not have the personality to sit on the sidelines while someone is acting in a way that is either harmful to self or others. I can't. I automatically put a familiar face on these folks and my decision is made - political correctness be damned.
That is exactly what we are asked to do as Catholics. The quote "Judge not, lest ye be judged" is often given as a means to stifle this responsibility. However, if we read juuust a little bit further, we'll come to understand that this misrepresented quote (found on everything from billboards to memes to T-shirts) means something much different than the sound byte it's utilized as.
Here is the quote in its entirety (from the New American Bible, so the wording is slightly changed):
Jesus said to His disciples: “Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.” Matt 7:1-5
In other words, use your God-given intellect to discern judgement. It isn't necessarily meaning we should condemn, but it's certainly charging us with the responsibility of properly judging all things with equality.
In fact, there are quotes all over the Bible specifically commanding this of us.
In the gospels, Luke echoes Matthew in Chapter 6 with "Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven... For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you."
John (7:24) relays Jesus saying "Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteously."
In Proverbs (3:21), "Preserve sound judgement and discernment."
In the Letter of St. Paul to the Phillipians (1:9-11), "And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God."
And my favorite (also from Luke 6) stating, "A good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For people do not pick figs from thorn bushes, nor do they gather grapes from brambles. A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil; for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks."
"See the good that we do and give glory to God."
That being said, we have a Christian responsibility to judge that which is presented to us in this world... ESPECIALLY when that which is presented wreaks of evil. We must not allow such evil to continue spreading as a cancer. The Body of Christ - OUR spiritual body - must be protected. If we remain silent as these "religious" continue to misinform, polarize and confuse the general population, we commit a sin of commission. We allow a greater evil to exist both within our ranks, and within ourselves through our silence.
This is exactly how the atrocities of WWII were accomplished. Sure there were plenty of folks who disagreed with the Nazi ideals. However, too many were silent for too long.
First they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.
I, for one, cannot endure such silence. I cannot wither away behind a false veil of "live and let live" when that includes allowing misinformation to fester and spread to my friends, family and children. No. It is my duty as a Christian to call evil out where it is and shed the light of truth upon the dishonesty and willful desecration of the Faith.
And those Christians among you who read this (be you Catholic or otherwise), this is your duty as well. We must work together to bring the light of Truth to others. We must not allow the lies, the half-truths, the confusion to tear souls away from Christ.
Posted on Philadelphia Archbishop Chaput's Facebook page:
It was announced in Rome this morning that Philadelphia's Msgr. Nelson Perez, Pastor of Saint Agnes Parish in West Chester, has been appointed Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre.
As Bishop-elect Perez prepares to begin his episcopal ministry, I offer him heartfelt congratulations and pray that the Holy Spirit will strengthen him as a successor of the Apostles. I’m confident that he will be of great service to Bishop William Murphy and all of God’s people in the Diocese of Rockville Centre. They are fortunate to receive such a gift from the Holy Father in the person of Bishop-elect Perez. He has a joyful and down-to-earth personality, an obvious love for the priesthood, and a tireless devotion to his ministry.
Please join me in offering him prayerful best wishes. May God bless you.
I'm so happy I could cry. Msgr. Nelson has to be one of the sweetest, most joyous and genuinely loving people I've ever met. Rockville really is incredibly blessed to have him. Please say a prayer for him in his new role. May Our Lady ever shine her smile down upon him and his people. He's in for a bumpy road given the turmoil our Church is now facing. God certainly knows how to pick His warriors. Bless him!
Laws no longer protect but intimidate.
Thanks to Catholic Vote for seeding. This article details the plight of a young photographer who refused her services to a lesbian couple looking to have photos taken of their commitment ceremony (since homosexual unions aren't recognized or legal in New Mexico).
Instead of simply finding another photographer, these miscreants took Elaine (the photographer) to court. Apparently their poor little feelings were hurt because Elaine didn't want to take pictures of their ring-exchange. So what's any rational couple to do?
Silly me, if faced with such a decision, I'd simply type "photographer" into Google.
Apparently it's way more entertaining to sue the person. With this being the great country of America, it's incredibly easy to do considering we don't understand our own Constitution!
*Grumble grumble grumble*
As I said, the homosexual lobby is attempting to manipulate laws into forcing folks to accept their lifestyle choices. Instead of simply finding another photographer to take photos of their "special day," they wanted to drag this woman through the mud to make an example of her in order to put pressure on others who would deny services to protect their consciences.
Since when did people become so entitled to having the world conform to their opinions? Are they so really so insecure and desperate for acceptance that they're willing to stoop THIS LOW in order to intimidate folks into a false posturing of agreement?
For shame. For absolute shame.
Our 1st Amendment rights as US Citizens... for now.
I'm successfully irritated. My charity level is low to non-existent right now, so I apologize in advance.
There has been yet another striking blow to religious freedoms today... this time in Denmark. All over the world, governments are attempting to put religious freedom to death, and no one is any the wiser. Why? Because it's all being done under the guise of social justice.
Danish parliament has just passed a law making it MANDATORY for all churches in Denmark to provide homosexual marriage ceremonies.
Take a second and let that process (if you're not too busy hurling).
A government is attempting to FORCE entire religious communities to utilize their sacred houses of worship for a ceremony that goes directly against their religious beliefs as a people.
I'm beyond disgusted.
Once again the issue of religious freedoms is ignored because folks are too busy crying foul over the issue of homosexuality.
I don't care if two men want to get hitched through civil unions. Be my guest. I draw the line, however, when those two men attempt making a mockery of our Sacrament by committing such a sacrilege in front of the Blessed Sacrament in a Catholic Church.
As I said on Facebook, welcome to the reason I refuse to vote in favor of anyone trying to push this through our court system.
As I said in a previous entry, Australia is quickly following suit. The US won't be far behind.
I'm all for homosexuals getting hitched in churches that condone it. I am NOT okay with a government stepping in to force ANYONE to accept a union that cannot be recognized by aforementioned religion.
Catholic priests cannot "consecrate" a union that is considered abhorrent and inherently sinful. No matter how much a government wants to kick, scream and cry, a faithful Catholic priest cannot (and will not) call a blessing down upon that which is mortally sinful.
Even if one tried to, do you think God would say, "Ya know what? Alright... since you asked so nicely, I'll be sure to go against that which I've stated - repeatedly - and reward you for your impressively arrogant disobedience."
Again, Lord, mercy.
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