Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christ Mass!

What a beautiful but cold morning it was.  I had the majority of the wrapping done beforehand, but stayed up until after midnight sorting the stocking loot.  My daughter couldn't sleep, so made sure I couldn't sleep.  My youngest son woke up around 2 AM soaking wet and I had to help him change his clothes.  Of course, the older kids got up in the wee hours of the morning.  Consequently, I got very little sleep. 

We let the kids open their presents before Mass, since their was plenty of time.  My third son signed on to serve at the Christ Mass, so we all went this morning.  I, too, volunteered to participate afterwards, and read the second of the readings.  However, I practiced the readings for Christmas Day.  As the first reader read, I realized that we were reading the Christmas Eve Mass readings.  Well, I whipped out my hymal/Mass book and looked up the second reading and rehearsed under my breath.  I was actually kind of glad because the reading from Titus was much shorter than the one from Hebrews and didn't include the word refulgence in it.  I had never heard the word before and spent a lot of time last night saying it over and over--that you Merriam-Webster online.  The reading went well; I didn't embarrass myself. 

After Mass, it was a rush home to get back to serious play.  Of course that means for me, picking up boxes, wrappings, bows, ribbons, cutting toys out of boxes, loading batteries into various devices, reading instructions and game rules, stopping fights, keeping the dog from eating things (we have one that eats litterally everything; the other day we found a half eaten aluminum can in the back.  One of her favorite snacks is charcoal), helping my daughter sew her Hello Kitty pillow together, looking at videos online that my husband thinks are funny, and generally being talked to like I'm 5 by everyone who is talking at me all at the same time.  Dinner is cooking.  The kitchen is half-way clean.  The dishwasher is running.  All is well at the moment.

We missed our friends from the other side of town at Mass this morning.  They called last night to ask if one of our other sons could substitute for theirs at the altar if they didn't make it.  Many in their family are sick this weekend and they didn't know if they could make.  If The Mom sees this, it is okay, it was covered.  I hope all are doing well. 

Today's readings from our Mass (the first 2 and the Psalm from the Christmas Midnight Mass readings and the Gospel for today):  Isaiah 9:1-6, Psalm 96, and Titus 2:11-14

The Gospel was John 1:1-18

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.  All things came to be through Him, and without him nothing came to be.
What came to be through Him was life, and this life was the light of the human race;
the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

A man named John was sent from God.  He came for testimony, to testify to the light,
so that all might believe through him.  He was not the light, but came to testify to the light.
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and the world came to be through Him, but the world did not know Him.
He came to what was His own, but His own people did not accept Him.
But to those who did accept Him He gave power to become children of God,
to those who believe in His name, who were born not by natural generation
nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God.

And the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us, and we saw His glory,
the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.

John testified to him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘The One who is coming after me ranks ahead of me because He existed before me.’” 

From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace, because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.  No one has ever seen God.  The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed Him."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Thin Man and Another Popular Misconception

Recently, I watched one of my favorite movies:  1934's "The Thin Man" starring William Powell and Myrna Loy.  Few people know, and I just recently learned, that the "thin man" is *not* William Powell's Nick Charles.  The "thin man" is the man whose murder Nick solves in the first movie.  It was so popular a movie that they kept the "thin man" in the title of all five sequels.
    
Why do I bring this up?  It was and is a popular misconception that the "thin man" was Nick Charles.  It reminds me of the myriad of misconceptions about Catholicism.  One of the biggest, even among Catholics, is that the Immaculate Conception refers to Our Lord Jesus' conception.  This is not true.  The immaculate conception refers to St. Mary's conception, always has. 

"We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful." [Ineffabilis Deus (The Immaculate Conception) Pope Pius IX] http://www.ewtn.com/library/papaldoc/p9ineff.htm

St. Ann and the Immaculate Conception

A dogma "...according to a long-standing usage...is now understood to be a truth appertaining to faith or morals, revealed by God, transmitted from the Apostles in the Scriptures or by tradition, and proposed by the Church for the acceptance of the faithful. It might be described briefly as a revealed truth defined by the Church..." [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05089a.htm]  In other words, in order to call yourself a Catholic, you must believe a dogma.  If you don't even know what that dogma is, how can you believe it?  How do you know you believe it?  The Immaculate Conception is an official dogma of the Church.  You must believe it.  If you don't, call yourself a protestant because that is what you are--you are protesting the teaching of the Church.


St. Mary & Our Lord Jesus
 So, next time someone asks you, 'What is the Immaculate Conception?" simply answer, 'It is the belief that the Blessed Virgin Mary was preserved of all stain of original sin from the moment of her conception in her mother's womb.'  St. Ann conceived St. Mary in the usual way with her loving husband.  But, St. Mary's Son, God the Son, gave her a special gift; She was to be the new Eve and received the same gift, no original sin on the soul.  The difference between St. Mary and Eve is that St. Mary always obeyed God, and said "Yes!" to Him when He sent the angel to her.  She thus became the spotless vessel into which Our Lord Jesus Christ, Immanuel (God with us), was born.  What a wonderful miracle to remember at this time of year.  The spotless Ark bearing the Word of God. 

So, now you know.  Don't mistake the "Thin Man" for Nick Charles.  And, don't mistake the Immaculate Conception for the Virgin Birth.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Fourth Sunday of Advent

     Today we light the fourth candle on the Advent wreath.  To tell the truth, I paid little attention to the readings at Mass.  I was thinking so much about our RE children's play and caroling that I was kind of in another place. 
     The play and caroling went well.  The kids all had fun and we had a better participation than in the past for our last class of the calendar year.  Last year, and for the past few years, we've had a loud Christmas party, video, craft day.  I never like that class day.  It was chaotic, messy, noisy, and completely without much purpose.  Our newest RE director decided to have caroling because in the Catholic Church we don't celebrate Christmas until Christmas Mass.  So, we sing very few actual Christmas carols.  She wanted to have a caroling day for the kids and their parents.  Then it evolved into a short Christmas play with caroling between scenes.  It went off beautifully.  I hope we do it again next year.  I think it helps the kids remember the "Reason for the season" better than that noisy, pointless party we had before. 

Merry Christ Mass!

Readings for the fourth Sunday of Advent:  First reading:  Isa. 7:10-14; Psalm 24; Second reading:  Rom 1: 1-7

The Gospel reading for today: 
 
"This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.  When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,  but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.  Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.

Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.  For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:  Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.”

When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home."
Matthew 1:18-24
http://www.usccb.org/nab/today.shtml

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Rant

Christmas used to be my favorite time of year.  Now it is just full of frustration and stress.  I hate being a wife and mother at Christmas.  I usually get few if any presents.  I never get what I want.

What I don't enjoy:
1)  A messy house.  Not one person cleans up after themselves, not one.  Chore chart you say?  It's on the wall--now what?  It is my responsibility to remind everyone? 
2)  The School schedule ignored.  I've tried very hard to stop being angry all the time.  Consequently, the kids no longer take me or their school work seriously.  We are one week from Christmas Day and not one of them is done with their semester's work.  Today, on my schedule, would have been the last day of school until the New Year.  Sigh.  Now I can't enjoy baking and decorating next week.
3)  The fact that I cannot do housework and have any of the children do their school work at the same time.  Even when I am cleaning in the same room, they stop working.
4)  My husband who gets up at o-dark-thirty, wakes me up every time--even on SATURDAY, the only day I could sleep in, but can nap anytime he pleases.
5)  The fact that I am about 30 pounds over weight (since about 17 years ago, when I started having kids).  I am so stressed and tired, I cannot motivate myself to exercise.
6)  Feeling guilty about feeling stressed and angry.  I sure have a lot more than most in my situation in life. 
7)  Have almost no friends at this time of year.  My sister was once my best friend, now I never even hear from her.  Their was someone who I thought was a friend who, apparently, has no time for me.  I have been cultivating a relatively new girl friendship but we're so busy, it is hard to get together. 

Now, I'll see if I can count my blessings:
1)  I can receive Christ in the Eucharist.  In this way, Christ is always with me in a very tangible and real way.
2)  I have become involved in Catholic Apologetics in the last year or so.  And, even though he was condescending, one prot 'apologist' actually called me (well, not me personally but a group I belong to) one of the "new crop of Catholic apologists."
3)  I completed my first class on my way to receiving a Bachelor's degree in Theology.  I have yet to receive my final grade, but I'll just be happy to pass.
4)  My oldest son is still with us.  My son has survived four St. Nicholas Days after he was hospitalized in a near coma.  Type 1 diabetes is a serious illness not taken very seriously any more, mostly because the treatment usually results in a lifelong treatment.  Only a few short decades ago it was a death sentence.  Praise God for the timing.
5)  My five year old is learning his letters.
6)  A couple of my kids have problems in school but none have learning disabilities. 
7)  My oldest got 162 on his PSAT.  Yeah!  A full 30 points higher than on his practice test at home.
8)  My parents are still alive.  I should call my mother more often.
9)  I have lovely new white counters in my kitchen.
10)  I will enjoy making the planned gingerbread village this year. 
11)  There's a beautiful $20 Douglas fir tree in my living room.
12)  We can get the kids at least one thing they really want for Christmas.
13)  I have a long distance friend who trusts me enough to be a contributor and an editor on his blog.  Thanks S.W.  I appreciate the trust.
14)  One son will be an altar boy at Christ's Mass on December 25th.

Second list outweighs the first.  Praise the Lord!  I've got nothing to complain about.  Rant done.

Let us remember the "Reason for the season"--Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Third Sunday of Advent

My apologies to any readers who may have been awaiting my 3rd post on Advent.   The rose colored candle is lit for our joy of the imminent coming of Christ.

First, Sunday:  1st reading was Isa. 35:1-6a, 10.  The Psalm was 146.  The second reading was James 5: 7-10.  The Gospel was:

When John the Baptist heard in prison of the works of the Christ,
he sent his disciples to Jesus with this question,
“Are you the one who is to come,
or should we look for another?”

Jesus said to them in reply,
“Go and tell John what you hear and see:
the blind regain their sight,
the lame walk,
lepers are cleansed,
the deaf hear,
the dead are raised,
and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.
And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”


St. John the Baptist by Titian
 As they were going off,
Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John,
“What did you go out to the desert to see?
A reed swayed by the wind?
Then what did you go out to see?
Someone dressed in fine clothing?
Those who wear fine clothing are in royal palaces.
Then why did you go out? To see a prophet?
Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.
This is the one about whom it is written:
Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
he will prepare your way before you.
Amen, I say to you,
among those born of women
there has been none greater than John the Baptist;
yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”
Matthew 11:2-11 
http://www.usccb.org/nab/121210.shtml

Monday, December 6, 2010

Happy St. Nicholas Day!

It is a special day of rejoicing for this family.  It is the fourth anniversary of my eldest son's trip to the ER and the begining of  his journey as a diabetic.  The nurses in the PICU asked him what day it was (in this way they can measure the patient's cognizance--he was in and out of consciousness that first day) and he said, "Saint Nicholas Day."  Of couse, it being a Baptist hospital, they did not understand.  They thought he was confused and thought it was Christmas.  We laughed a little and explained that today was indeed the feast day of St. Nicholas, the man who's image and generous deeds would evolve into Santa Claus. 

We rejoice on this day and say a special thank you prayer to this special saint in heaven who watched over our son that year.  Today, we set out the kids shoes like we did when living in Germany.  The kids receive candy and one small toy to enjoy this special day in Advent.  In the words of Tiny Tim, "God bless us, every one." 

"Who is St. Nicholas?"
"The true story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century in the village of Patara. At the time the area was Greek and is now on the southern coast of Turkey. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus' words to "sell what you own and give the money to the poor," Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to the those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.


"Under the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who ruthlessly persecuted Christians, Bishop Nicholas suffered for his faith, was exiled and imprisoned. The prisons were so full of bishops, priests, and deacons, there was no room for the real criminals—murderers, thieves and robbers. After his release, Nicholas attended the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. He died December 6, AD 343 in Myra and was buried in his cathedral church, where a unique relic, called manna, formed in his grave. This liquid substance, said to have healing powers, fostered the growth of devotion to Nicholas. The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration, St. Nicholas Day, December 6th..."

"Through the centuries many stories and legends have been told of St. Nicholas' life and deeds. These accounts help us understand his extraordinary character and why he is so beloved and revered as protector and helper of those in need."

"One story tells of a poor man with three daughters. In those days a young woman's father had to offer prospective husbands something of value—a dowry. The larger the dowry, the better the chance that a young woman would find a good husband. Without a dowry, a woman was unlikely to marry. This poor man's daughters, without dowries, were therefore destined to be sold into slavery. Mysteriously, on three different occasions, a bag of gold appeared in their home-providing the needed dowries. The bags of gold, tossed through an open window, are said to have landed in stockings or shoes left before the fire to dry. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas. Sometimes the story is told with gold balls instead of bags of gold. That is why three gold balls, sometimes represented as oranges, are one of the symbols for St. Nicholas. And so St. Nicholas is a gift-giver." 
http://www.stnicholascenter.org/Brix?pageID=38

Second Sunday of Advent

This second Sunday promised to be like any other Sunday, but I don't think there are many "ordinary" days in this family.  Our second son is now in Confirmation class.  Sunday was supposed to be a special entrance rite for him and the other Confirmandae (sp?) entering the first of their two year journey.  However, a last minute scheduling conflict caused the rite to be rescheduled but not all of us were informed.  Since we were not told not to invite the sponsor we did.  I hope their 1 1/2 drive each way from Tulsa was worth going to Mass at our Church.  My son's sponsor's wife is a college professor and this is one of the busiest times of the year for her.  She has to grade papers and turn in grades and then turn in all her syllabi and plans for next semester.  They couldn't even stay for lunch.  It was nice to see them, anyway.  God bless you, Paddy and Mark!

The second Sunday of Advent readings:  Isaiah 11: 1-10; Psalm 72: 1,2, 7,8,12,13, 17; Romans 15:4-9

The Gospel: Matthew 3:1-12
John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea
and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said:
A voice of one crying out in the desert,
Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.
John wore clothing made of camel’s hair
and had a leather belt around his waist.
His food was locusts and wild honey.
At that time Jerusalem, all Judea,
and the whole region around the Jordan
were going out to him
and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River
as they acknowledged their sins.

When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees
coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers!
Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?
Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance.
And do not presume to say to yourselves,
‘We have Abraham as our father.’
For I tell you,
God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones.
Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees.
Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit
will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
I am baptizing you with water, for repentance,
but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I.
I am not worthy to carry his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
His winnowing fan is in his hand.
He will clear his threshing floor
and gather his wheat into his barn,
but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

Let us wait, rejoicing!

Monday, November 29, 2010

First Sunday of Advent

Wow!  I can't believe it is that time of the year already.  It is actually the new year of the Church calendar.  We start cycle A this year.  Due to illness I did not post this in time.

The readings for the day were:  Isa 2:1-5; Ps. 122: 1-9; Rom. 13: 11-14

Gospel -- Matt 24:  37-44
Jesus said to his disciples:
“As it was in the days of Noah,
so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.
In those days before the flood,
they were eating and drinking,
marrying and giving in marriage,
up to the day that Noah entered the ark.
They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away.
So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man.
Two men will be out in the field;
one will be taken, and one will be left.
Two women will be grinding at the mill;
one will be taken, and one will be left.
Therefore, stay awake!
For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.
Be sure of this: if the master of the house
had known the hour of night when the thief was coming,
he would have stayed awake
and not let his house be broken into.
So too, you also must be prepared,
for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

Pope John Paul II in his address on Dec. 18, 2002 said, "The liturgy of Advent…helps us to understand fully the value and meaning of the mystery of Christmas. It is not just about commemorating the historical event, which occurred some 2,000 years ago in a little village of Judea. Instead, it is necessary to understand that the whole of our life must be an ‘advent,’ a vigilant awaiting of the final coming of Christ. To predispose our mind to welcome the Lord who, as we say in the Creed, one day will come to judge the living and the dead, we must learn to recognize him as present in the events of daily life. Therefore, Advent is, so to speak, an intense training that directs us decisively toward him who already came, who will come, and who comes continuously."  http://www.appleseeds.org/christmas-quotes.htm

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving

I hope everyone had a wonderful, safe holiday. 

                                     "Come, Lord Jesus, our Guest to be
                                      And bless these gifts bestowed by Thee.
                                      And bless our loved ones everywhere,
                                      And keep them in Your loving care."




"Give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you"  (Thess. 5:18)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Catholic Church, named in AD 110

One of the things that made me laugh when I visited an Antiochian Orthodox Church last weekend was the silly statement our ignorant (e.g. Lacking education or knowledge) tour guide made.  He actually stated that the Catholic Church "made up their name" after it had "split from the True Church in the 11th century, and that at that time they had to make up their own name--Orthodox (from the Greek words meaning "correct" "faith").  I have guess, since he is a convert from the Methodist faith, that he was either not taught actual history or was taught bigoted history.  Even the Orthodox churches recognize St. Ignatius as a saint and Father of the Church, and he said:

St. Ignatius of Antioch and the Lions Icon
See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as ye would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution [Or, “command”] of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper [Or, “firm”] Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid.  [St Ignatius, Letter to the Smyraeans, Chapter VIII, AD110 from The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus by Philip Schaff, 1885, posted on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library, Calvin College  http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.v.vii.viii.html]

St. Ignatius dubbed the Church the Catholic Church a millennia before the split of the Church.  To claim that the Catholic Church made up her name in the 11th century is, as I stated before, to be ignorant of history.  The mutual split between the East and the West in the 11th century has only deepened over the centuries.  We need to be talking and communicating more on our similarities and commonalities rather than purposely pushing each other away.

"The two forms of the great tradition of the Church, the Eastern and the Western, the two forms of culture, complement each other like the two "lungs" of a single body."  —Pope John Paul II, Euntes in mundum, 1988. http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=3700

One final thought:  ""We have not only to be called Christians, but to be Christians." -St. Ignatius of Antioch

Friday, November 12, 2010

Hallelujah!

So, I watch the "Random Act of Love" that was put on by the Philadelphia Orchestra at Macy's and start to cry. I am so tired and feeling a little down on this rainy Oklahoma day. I feel so stressed about getting bills paid, about keeping school on schedule, I'm upset that, yet again, I missed an opportunity for the kids (a VFW essay contest that would be good for College apps), flunking college Latin, and trying to get my sty of a house clean. I just forget about enjoying life most of the time. That video really is lovely, If you haven't watched it yet go here to the CathApol blog where I make a contribution from time to time.  The video has been floating around the internet.  I just wish I'd been there.  ...and I need more sleep.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Veteran's Day

To all my fellow veterans:  As your nation honors and thanks you today, have a great day!  I am so happy that our nation sets aside a day to remember all those veterans who are still with us and that we honor them with praise and parades for their sacrificial service to our country.  God Bless all of you, Brothers and Sisters!

Monday, November 8, 2010

God Works in Mysterious Ways

St. Mark, the Evangelist
Last night I went to a Byzantine Rite Divine Liturgy (and yes it is a Catholic Mass!)  It was so powerful and so beautiful, I wish I could belong to an Eastern Rite Church.  The reverence of the Eucharist, the reverence sung in chant, the reverence shown to the Theotokos touched my soul in a way I haven't experienced in a long time.  The Byzantine Rite community here is very small and they only perform the Divine Liturgy once a month.  It is about a 40 minute drive but I may go again some time.  My love for the Eastern Tradition of our Church has renewed my love for our Sister Church.  I had just written a post about the bad taste in my mouth after visiting a bigoted Orthodox Church the day before.  God knew I needed to experience the Divine Liturgy for myself to appreciate our Eastern brothers and sisters.   God really does work in myserious ways.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

I Can't Believe the Hostility


Elijah passing his mantel to Elisha
Wow!  What a beautiful church we visited today.  A beautiful example of Byzantine architecture and art.  Boy, what anti-Catholic hostility we encountered.  We went to a Antiochian (Lebanese) Orthodox Christian Church (yep, that was in the name) today.  I will not mention the name of the parish out of my deep respect and love for our sister--the Orthodox Churches.  But, wow, is the respect and love so far from mutual.   Frankly, why all the open hostility for Catholics and our Faith?  Was it necessary to present us a rewritten, pointedly anti-Catholic, pamphlet on the "history of Christianity" when we entered the 'chapel' for the tour of the Church?  A false picture of how the Catholic Church split away from the "true church" as the pope asserted his "power"?  Was it necessary to point out that they are not Catholic?  Many times?  Was it necessary to falsely claim that the Church 'made up' the name Catholic after "they split from' the Orthodox, who, according to our bigoted tour guide, had to then 'find a name for itself' to distinguish them selves from the newly named Catholic Church?  Was it necessary to laugh at someones question about whether or not Orthodox believed in the Immaculate Conception? 


Theotokos--Mother of God

I was looking forward to a nice tour of a beautiful Church.  I couldn't keep my mouth shut any longer.  I was fuming.  But I wanted to be respectful and polite in the house of God despite not receiving respect in kind.  The 'tour guide' was deliberately, knowingly, and pointedly making sure he pointed out not only the differences in our churches but also how the Catholic Church was wrong.  I'm sorry BUT YOU'RE WRONG!!!  I used the excuse that my 5 yo needed the bathroom to leave the group as it went into the sanctuary.  If you have nothing good to say, say nothing at all, right?

It makes me wonder why the Catholic Church is trying so hard to reach out to our brothers and sisters in Christ for unity, only to be spat in the face with such open contempt.  Why do so many of the lay Orthodox feel that Catholics reaching out to them for unity against Satan and all his army is a sign of weakness in Catholics?  Why do they embrace all other religions in the area, call them fellow Christians, but scorn their sister Church?  I just do not understand.  On the one hand they're all 'let's preach love and peace,' but on the other hand spew hatred and bigotry at other Christians?  Really?  That is what Orthodoxy is?  I sure hope not.  Because bigotry and hatred for fellow Christians is not how you persuade your (supposed) foe that you are right, and you're hostility is not going to win converts.  Word to the wise:  Converts to are not attracted to a church that preaches the love of Christ but spews hatred toward their fellow Christians.  It only fuels the flames of the ant-Christian (of any 'flavor' including Orthodox) faction.   I pray that this 'tour guide' was not typical of the attitude of the patriarchy of the several branches of the Orthodox Church--or at least not all of them, as they are NOT in union as (also) falsely claimed by our 'tour guide.' 

It left a very bitter aftertaste in the mouth.  I pray for the restoration of my respect and love for the other "lung of the Church" as Pope Blessed John Paul II called our Orthodox sister churches.  BTW, I still love seeing the art and architecture of the building but I will have a hard time removing the memory of that bitter, bigoted, awful visit to that wonderful house of God.  I will continue to pray the Rosary for the unity Christ so desired for His Church.  If that makes me weak, so be it. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Vote!

Happy All Souls Day!

Don't forget to vote today!  Be responsible Catholic citizens and vote as Catholics (ie, pro-life).

No on SQ 744!!!
Praise God SQ 744 was defeated!  Now, can we get an actual bill that will ACTUALLY improve our schools--not school spending.



Happy birthday Becky!!!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Is it just Me?

(Not a post for kiddos)
We really like where we live right now.  It is about a five minute walk to the church.  We love walking to church.  The house is nice.  It is a fairly nice neighborhood, but like all neighborhoods it has its problems. 

One is neighbors who do not clean up after their dogs.  It is sooo aggravating to find dog piles in the front yard.  When I take our dogs for a walk, I always carry a bag.  I always clean up the dog product if there is any.  I guess I can feel superior for being a responsible and considerate pet owner.  I resent those who think it is okay to let there dogs go anywhere. 

Another is a next door neighbor that won't give us the time of day.  The one and only time I have spoken to them is when I caught them getting out of their car in the drive way.  While trying to introduce myself and ask them about overhanging tree limbs, they were rushing toward their front door like cornered animals.  When I did get a tree guy to come cut off the limbs from their pecan trees (my daughter is allergic to pecans) they would not answer their door.  So, I left a note on the door and let the tree guy go at it--in their yard.  Not a word came from their side of the fence.  They are not hermits though.  We know that from the half dozen cars parked in front of our house for their occasional Sunday get-togethers.

My not-so-favorite thing though is what happened yesterday.  After our lovely stroll home from church, I spotted something gold on the lawn.  I thought, "Great more litter on the lawn."  As I bent to pick up the gold thing, I saw exactly what it was--an opened condom wrapper.  I don't know if it was carelessly tossed out some one's car window (this happens frequently, as we live on a corner with a stop sign) or if someone threw it in our yard on purpose.  We don't hide the fact that we are Catholic.  We have a very old statue of Our Lady of Mercy in the front garden.  Were we a target?  I don't know.  But finding such a disgusting item in my front yard on a Sunday coming home from Church is almost too disturbing for words.

Is it just me or are people less considerate than they used to be?  I guess I am too used to living on Air Force bases, and the German countryside, for the 23 years before we bought this house.  I am not used to all the trash, or kids walking through my yard, or some jerk stealing a CD player from my van.  Living in the "real" world takes some getting used to.  I don't like it at all.   

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Catholic Voters, Stop Being Stupid!

"Catholics, even though we live in a country and are citizens of that country, have a higher calling and responsibility to God and to our neighbor to promote God's truth even when others hate it, reject it, and hate us for proclaiming it. We are citizens in an earthly realm, but more importantly we are citizens of the new kingdom of heaven with Jesus as the Lord, His laws as our prime way of life, and called to live them and to promote them even to unbelievers."  --Father Richard Perozich

From the article "Priest to Catholic Voters:  Stop Being Stupid" by Matt C. Abbott for RenewAmerica.com.  Please go to his web/news blog and read the entire article.  I wish more priests spoke up like Fr. Perozich.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Circle of Grace

This weekend several DREs and catechists met at the Archdiocesan center to learn about a new program called "Circle of Grace."  They were/are very close to the chest so-to-speak about the whole thing.  They did not let us look at any of the material before hand nor did they answer any questions.  I guess that is a way to get people to come to the training. 

"Circle of Grace" was developed by a committee in the Archdiocese of Omaha to meet their child safety education needs.  They developed the program with DREs, catechists, and even consulted child psychologists.  They've implemented it in their Catholic school programs as well as their RE programs.  It has been so well received by the schools, churches, and parents that some protestant churches in the Omaha area have adopted it to their programs.

"Circle of Grace" is a new child safety education program and I am proud to say that I am excited about it.  I tell you what, I was very dubious before the meeting.  I am not now.  Frankly, the Archdiocesan program we have now is pretty dismal.  It's boring, it's not well written, and it has nothing for the kids to get excited about.  This program is everything that program isn't.  It is exciting, fun, and interactive.  The program is all set up for the catechists, and they can integrate it into their existing programs.  They emphasize that this is NOT a sex education program and it is not a 'stranger danger' program.  It integrated our Catholic Faith and keeping one safe and healthy. 

The Program Goal
The goal of the Circle of Grace program is to educate and empower children and young people to actively participate in a safe environment for themselves and others.
 
PROGRAM OBJECTIVES

Children/young people will understand they are created by God and live in the love of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
• God is "present" in everyone's Circle of Grace.

Children/young people will be able to describe the Circle of Grace which God gives each of us.
• God is “present” because He desires a relationship with us.

Children/young people will be able to identify and maintain appropriate physical, emotional, spiritual and sexual boundaries.
• God helps us know what belongs in our Circle of Grace.

Children/young people will be able to identify all types of boundary violations.
• God helps us know what does not belong in our Circle of Grace

Children/young people will demonstrate how to take action if any boundary is threatened or violated.
• God helps us know when to ask for help from someone who we trust.

The program and sample curriculum can be viewed here: http://www.archomaha.org/pastoral/se/circle.html

Our Archdiocese has decided to implement the program here, and I am happy for it.  This year it is optional.  A catechist can use the old 'curricula' or implement the 'Circle of Grace' curricula this year.  Next year, it will be taught in all the parishes in the Archdiocese.  As a catechist, I am excited to see a program that implements child safety in a child-friendly, Catholic faith-based manner that is relevant and, honestly, easy to implement.  I, for one, will be implementing the program this year.  I wish I had had it at the beginning of the year.  I could have integrated the first Circle of Grace lesson with another lesson I taught at the beginning of the year. 

I'm excited about the program and I hope that it will excite and prepare the children for life in this world, as well as, preparation for the next.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Growing Pains (On a ligther note)

Black Lab-Not D
Wednesday evening we got a new dog.  Boy is our old dog confused!  He just doesn't understand why he is being replaced.  M, our dog, is a purebred, piebald miniture dacshund.  He is 3 years old and extremely laid back.  He is used to sleeping all day during school hours and plays with the kids once or twice a day for about 10-15 minutes, then sleeps some more.

D, our new dog, is a six-month-old, black labra-dacshund puppy.  She has had no training or discipline.  She is rambuncuous and jumps up on people.  She whines to go out and whines to come in.  She had gotten away with this at her old house.  So far she has weed once in the car and once in the house, chewed on a glue stick and a crayon, ticked off M, and jumped on the furniture.


Piebald dacshund-M. lookalike
 M is trying to keep up with D.  M gets between her and anyone else.  He is very jealous and confused.  She (D) will not stay still long enough for him to get a good sniff.  I don't think he's ever had so much exercise in his life.  We let the two out in the back yard.  D just runs and jumps and loves life.  M tries to chase her and assert his 'manhood' but she doesn't care.  D chases M around to get a good sniff of his behind.  M keeps tripping as he tucks his rear end under to keep it away from D's nose.

By Friday, both dogs were exhausted with the effort to play and to assert their place in the "pack."  They are starting to at least tolerate each other.  M still has his own day bed and D lays anywhere she feels like it.  Wednesday night we put her in fenced off section of the garage with a blanket, a training pad, and some water.  She actually behaved herself very well that night.  I was having "Marley and Me" flashbacks, but all went well.  Whe now has a proper kennel bed.  She hops into the kids laps but then hops back off again.  She can't seem to alight anywhere for more than a minute or two.

M has always been Daddy's boy.  D is definitely Mamma's girl.  She is a help to me, too.  She has motivated me to take her for a daily walk.  Hopefully that will kick start my dreamed of weight loss.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Celebration of the Feast of the Archangels


St. Michael battles Lucifer
 St. Michael, the Archangel - Feast day - September 29th.  The name Michael signifies "Who is like to God?" and was the warcry of the good angels in the battle fought in heaven against satan and his followers. Holy Scripture describes St. Michael as "one of the chief princes," and leader of the forces of heaven in their triumph over the powers of hell. He has been especially honored and invoked as patron and protector by the Church from the time of the Apostles.

Although he is always called "the Archangel," the Greek Fathers and many others place him over all the angels - as Prince of the Seraphim. St. Michael is the patron of grocers, mariners, paratroopers, police and sickness.
http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=308



St. Raphael with Tobiah
 St. Raphael is one of seven Archangels who stand before the throne of the Lord. He was sent by God to help Tobit, Tobiah and Sarah. At the time, Tobit was blind and Tobiah's betrothed, Sarah, had had seven bridegrooms perish on the night of their weddings. Raphael accompanied Tobiah into Media disguised as a man named Azariah. Raphael helped him through his difficulties and taught him how to safely enter marriage with Sarah. Tobiah said that Raphael caused him to have his wife and that he gave joy to Sarah's parents for driving out the evil spirit in her. He also gave Raphael credit for his father's seeing the light of heaven and for receiving all good things through his intercession. Besides Raphael, Michael and Gabriel are the only Archangels mentioned by name in the bible. Raphael's name means "God heals." This identity came about because of the biblical story which claims that he "healed" the earth when it was defiled by the sins of the fallen angels in the apocryphal book of Enoch. Raphael is also identified as the angel who moved the waters of the healing sheep pool. He is also the patron of the blind, of happy meetings, of nurses, of physicians and of travelers. His feast day is celebrated on September 29th.
http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=203


St. Gabriel at the Annunciation
 The name Gabriel means "man of God," or "God has shown himself mighty." It appears first in the prophesies of Daniel in the Old Testament. The angel announced to Daniel the prophecy of the seventy weeks....He was the angel who appeared to Zachariah to announce the birth of St. John the Baptizer. Finally, he announced to Mary that she would bear a Son Who would be conceived of the Holy Spirit, Son of the Most High, and Saviour of the world. The feast day is September 29th. St. Gabriel is the patron of communications workers.
http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=279

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Another Anniversary but NOT a Celebration

Unfortunately it is the tenth anniversary of the approval of the dangerous and deadly RU-486 "abortion pill" (mifepristone) by the FDA under the Clinton administration.  A Lifenews.com article on the drug and its unfortunate effects can be read here.  I read some of the research and statistics on its use in Europe before it was approved in the US.  I could see the disaster coming, but the government doesn't care about the health of individual women or their unborn babies, just their agenda.

Here is moving blog post by a pro-life friend of mine and her experience with RU-486. 

Proverbs 24:11,12 "Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter.  If you say, "But we knew nothing about this," does not He who weighs the heart perceive it?  Does not He who guards your life know it?  Will He not repay each person according to what he has done?" (NIV)

Image from Christian World Shirt Shop from a tee shirt that can be purchased here.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Feast Day-Blessed Herman the Cripple

Ever heard of the Salve Regina or the Alma Redemptoris Mater?  Then you know just some of the work produced by Blessed Herman the Cripple (1013-1054).

"Born with a cleft palate, cerebral palsy, and spina bifida to a farm family.  His parents cared for him until the age of seven, but in 1020 they gave him over to the abbey of Reichenau Island in Lake Constance in southern German; he spent the rest of his life there.  He became a Benedictine monk at age twenty.  A genius, he studied and wrote on astronomy, theology, math, history, poetry, Arabic, Greek and Latin.  He built musical instruments, and astronomical equipment.  In later life he became blind, and had to give up his academic writing."  He was the most famous poet of his day.
http://saints.sqpn.com/blessed-herman-the-cripple/

Feast Day:  September 25.

Picture:  http://catholicfire.blogspot.com/2008/09/blessed-herman-cripple-monk-1013-1054.html

Salve Regina:
Hail holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us. And after this our exile show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.


O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary. Amen.

V. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
http://www.secondexodus.com/html/prayers/salveregina.htm

Alma Redemptoris Mater  can be read here.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Controversy on St. Augustine

Here is an article on a friend's blog about St. Augustine.  I find it amusing that a small controversy stirred up around it.  Only proving to me that protestants are indeed trying to hijack St. Augustine.  Many try to say that Sl. Augustine was not Catholic nor supported the Catholic Church.  The facts that St. Augustine was a priest and bishop of the Church, that his great works "Confession" and "City of God" are Catholic apologetic works through and through, that St. Augustine supported the magesterium and the papacy, seem to escape them time and time again.  St. Augustine was a passionate supporter of the Church founded by Christ on the Rock, Peter.  No matter how protestants try to rationalize what he said, they cannot seriously prove that St. Augustine was anything but Catholic.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Best Pro-Life Blog to Date

Baby eight weeks after conception
Please all pro-lifers who might read my blog and have never discovered "Little Catholic Bubble", please read Answering Sophie: Mother Teresa vs. Margaret Sanger.  Her answers are wise.  Stop reading and go over there now. 

God Bless.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Catechetical Congress

Archbishop Aymond
Today I attended a catechetical congress with several catechists of my parish.  In fact, there were 13 people from our little church.  I attend the conference every year.  Every single time I come home with a new sense of purpose, and a new goal in mind.  This year my goal is to give the children the best I can give.  They deserve the best.  Many don't have anyone at home to nurture them or to listen to them.  Some don't get much attention.  Many come from broken homes.  Even though we catechists only see them for about an hour on Sunday, we must make it clear that we are open to them and that we care.  We must be their source of hope, and they must see God's love in us.

This is the message I brought away from hearing our keynote speaker Archbishop Greg Aymond of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.  He gave us renewed energy about our ministry as catechists.  It is a ministry he said, attested to by the church's choosing us.  He pleaded with us to continue our education as catechists, then chuckled that he is probably "preaching to the choir" since over 200 of us were there on a Saturday morning listening to him.  He gave us good advice on understanding our students' world, and adjusting our teaching style, approach, and vocabulary accordingly.  We have a lot riding on what we say and what we model for those children.  It is up to us to build up our relationship with God, so that we can be a good example for the children's relationship with Him. 

If you are a catechist, and your diocese offers such conferences, I encourage you to go.  Don't miss this wonderful opportunity for spiritual growth and networking with other catechists.  I also enjoy seeing what the vendors have to offer.  I always come away with some gems for my class.  I must finish up my preparation for class...

Friday, September 10, 2010

Disappointment

Last night I went to a meeting of a "club" to which I belong.  (I won't mention the name because it is a good organization with really good people in it.)  The man in charge just quit.  The "club" is one year old.  He was so excited to get the "club" going (he's been trying for years) that he had about 20 projects going all at once.  We only have 28 members, with only about 8 of them active.  All of us have job, family, and Church obligations as well.  I can absolutely understand why he feels burnt out and his health is deteriorating, but I don't feel sorry for him.  He did it to himself.  If you know you have a handful of people that help you with projects but can't run one of the programs you installed, why would you take it on?  No one has ESP and no on is going to take on more than they can handle--except him.  A new "club" with few active members can't do a couple of dozen projects and programs all at once.  You can't just throw a baby tantrum, especially in front of a new member who you're trying to talk into bringing in new members, and expect sympathy. 

I am a Catholic mother of five children whom I home school .   Two of my children are in High School this year.  We have appointments and trips.  I teach religious education.  I just transitioned to second grade first sacraments class, which took a lot of time in planning this summer.  I have children with health concerns.  I am now taking a course to complete my Bachelor's degree.

I have participated in "club" meetings and activities as I can.  Have I made every activity?  Of course not.  But I am a trustee of the "club".  I've been to all but one regular meeting, every officer's meeting, and 2 of the 3 special meetings this year.  I've been in a parade, gone to Tulsa for an award ceremony, been to one funeral, all the memorial day activities, and participated in several flag ceremonies.  I've folded hundreds of flags, placed them on graves, and helped pick them up again. I refuse to feel guilty because the head of the "club" feels put upon.  I did, however, control my feelings.  I came within a hair of quitting myself.  Our leader is angry that he didn't get enough help.  Well, I feel that I didn't get enough thank yous for my time either.  I don't believe he reads my blog, and I'm still deciding if I should say anything.  If the "club" falls apart because of this, I won't feel one bit regretful of my actions and I will try my best not to be bitter.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Adventure Begins

Well, we are now in our third week of the home school year.  One of my five students is up where he should be.  I can't keep my Freshman busy.  My Junior is about 3 days behind schedule already.  I'm pushing him to catch up because once you get behind on High School work it is impossible to make any semblance of a schedule work.  I have high hopes that my fifth grader will be 90% caught up by tomorrow.  My sixth grader is going down in flames.  He pays too much attention to his kindergarten brother's work and not his own.  I got fooled last week into thinking he was doing work.  He pulls out a book, shuffles pages, waves his pencil around, and makes me think he is doing his work.  Well, mom is on to him now.  He is more than a week behind in two of his subjects, and a couple of days behind in most of his others.  I have hope that he will be about 75% there by tomorrow.  My goal is to have him back on track by next Friday.  Now, my kindergartner is not as big a deal, except that I can already see that he is bored.  I can't keep him busy and I can't keep up with the other kids' questions and help requirements while I spend more time with the Kindergartner.  How did those in the one-room school house do it?  I really admire them greatly, now.

In the meantime, I have started my new odyssey in degree completion.  I have an Associates that I earned over 15 years ago.  I started my skills course and my Latin course this week.  My first written assignment for Latin is due Tuesday.  I almost turned in a written assignment for my skills class last night, but didn't trust my bleary brain to make my 2-4 paragraph assignment make sense.  The teacher was really grilling the students' work and I got a little intimidated.  As a Latin course, I'm having my Freshman "shadow" my college course.  He will be reading the same text and doing the same exercises along with me, but I will give him the "school" tests for his High School course.  I hope in that way to fulfill both our requirements.  My older son missed out.  He only completed one semester of Latin.  I have no knowledge of Latin and couldn't help him.  No one I knew could help.  Hopefully, my learning Latin, will help me, help my kids.  Yes, it is a requirement for my degree completion--I have to have a year of foreign language and the school just happens to offer Latin.  However, my main goal for taking the class is to be able to teach my kids.

Math is not a problem for anyone this year.  Praise God for Life of Fred!  I love Stan Schmidt's books.  I can't praise his High School Math series enough.  My son has learned Algebra I, II, Geometry, and is now on to Trig--in 11th grade.  They are wonderful, almost self-taught books.  I've had to help him with a few hurdles along the way, but very few.  My Junior, as I said, is learning Trigonometry this year.  My Freshman is in Algebra I.  My other three are too young but I plan on using Life of Fred Fractions and Life of Fred Decimals and Percents for 7th grade next year, and Pre Algebra for 8th grade.  Looking for a good upper-middle school to High School mathematics program?  Look into Life of Fred.  You won't regret it.

Keeping up with the chores and outside activities becomes the hard part.  I have gotten my lesson plans in for my R.E. year already.  Yay!  All the credit cannot be mine though, as I relied heavily on the Faith and Life Parish guided lesson plans on their website.  It helped me tremendously and got the job done in time and off my shoulders.  I can't wait to get started with class.  I have to contact my assistant teachers and go over all the material with them so they know what is going on and will be able to help me teach.  I also like to consider their ideas.  Fresh perspectives always bring new ideas.

Anyway, that is just the beginning of this year's adventure.  I hope and pray that anyone who home schools and reads this humble blog is also having a great beginning to their school year. 

Sunday, August 29, 2010

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross
1891-1942 Nun, Discalced Carmelite, Martyr
Memorial:  August 9

There are many Catholic saints who were converts and many who died in the concentration camps of World War II.  One of the most "famous" is St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.  Well known? you say.  Never heard of her?  Of course not, because, for some reason in her case, people keep using her non-Christian name--Edith Stein.  Even Catholic publishers keep publishing the "Works of St. Edith Stein" or simply have the by line "Edith Stein."  Out of respect for this wonderful, intelligent saint, why do we not use her Christian name?  It has really been puzzling me for quite some time now.  Let me make this point clear, the lady's name is Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

She was "A brilliant philosopher who stopped believing in God when she was 14, Edith Stein was so captivated by reading the autobiography of Teresa of Avila (October 15) that she began a spiritual journey that led to her Baptism in 1922. Twelve years later she imitated Teresa by becoming a Carmelite, taking the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross."  (You can read the rest here.)  She changed her name out of respect for St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross (of and for whom she wrote "The Science of the Cross", one of her many great works.)  You can read more about her here

I know there was some controversy about her Jewish heritage when the Church contemplated the process for sainthood.  But really, why should her Jewish heritage be a problem any more than say, St. Martin de Porres, or even St. Augustine?  She became a Christian, a discalced carmelite (the order founded by St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross), and then a martyr.  Was it her Jewish heritage or her Christianity that made her a target for the Nazis?  The simple answer is both.  The good sisters and brothers of the Church had been hiding Jews in their abbeys and monasterys so, Nazis were targeting Jews while searching abbeys in Northern and Central Europe.  St. Teresa was eventually found and sent ultimately to Auschwitz, where another well-know Catholic saint lost his life--St. Maximilian Kolbe.  He was imprisoned because he was a Catholic priest, not a Jewish convert, and died a very painful, lingering death in someone else's place.

The Vatican web site's biography on St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross can be read here.  She was a fascinating woman.  And, though I am not of Jewish heritage, I can identify with her spiritual journey to the Church founded by our Lord, Savior, and Messiah that was so foreign to my upbringing.  The Church was a mystery to me growing up but a wonderful discovery and a blossoming joy to me now.  If a woman so intelligent can find her way to His Church, we all can. 

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross......pray for us.