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Friday, April 16, 2010

Happy Birthday Papa!

Today is Pope Benedict XVI's 83rd birthday!

Looking forward to many more birthdays to come.

Pax Christi

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Interesting Thoughts

Father Larry's homily this past Sunday was a discussion on the doubting of Saint Thomas. I found his point that he hopes all doubters continue to doubt because they will eventually swing around and doubt their doubt and thus find faith. Very pivotal for many people, I'm sure.

During a daily Mass Father Larry mentioned that we have two things in life that we must have to survive. The Word and the Eucharist. The Word makes us hungry for the Eucharist. Refreshing!

Today the things Jesus said to the Pharisee, Nicodemus, were thought-provoking (From the Gospel of John, Ch 3):
Jesus said to Nicodemus:
“‘You must be born from above.’
The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes,
but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes;
so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Nicodemus answered and said to him,
‘How can this happen?”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“You are the teacher of Israel and you do not understand this?
Amen, amen, I say to you,
we speak of what we know and we testify to what we have seen,
but you people do not accept our testimony.
If I tell you about earthly things and you do not believe,
how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

What do you want in a Pastor?

Have you every thought about this question?

I can't say that I have thought too much about it, although I imagine all of us frequent church-goers have an idea of what makes a good one and what does not. We all can list traits that we wouldn't want, right?

Hmm, I'm going to have to think about this and keep adding or making changes to this list.

  1. I want him to love the liturgy and express that by making each Mass sacred and full of the mystery that should be there. I want him to respect rubrics and not to reshape the liturgy.
  2. In loving the liturgy, he'd have to love music and care about the music ministry and making it as reverent as possible with lots of Latin and Gregorian Chant and no contemporary music or inappropriate instruments like the tambourine or drum set.
  3. I would love a priest who suggests confession to his parishioners more than once a year and made if available several times a week. I want to hear it from the pulpit and I want to hear him advising it to people when they speak to him about their concerns in general.
  4. I want a priest who stresses that big families are good that they should bring them to church. I want him to encourage NFP.
  5. I want him to be strict during Mass and expect nothing but the utmost respect and reverence from parishioners. I want him to reprimand those that need it.
  6. I want him to respect sacramentals and the prayers in the Ritual. To have holy water and blessed salt available to parishioners and be willing and ready to bless sacramentals with the appropriate prayers that are said for different items.
  7. I want him to ignore a bit of crying from babies but at some point expect the parents to take the child(ren) out when they are disrupting the service.
  8. I want him to tell parishioners to leave their cell phones out of the sanctuary. God is calling them for 1 hour (or 80 minutes) and they either make the commitment or they don't.
  9. I want him to be available to visit with families to attend dinners and host them at the rectory for the elderly, families, and young adults.
  10. I want him to read everything the popes have written and to encourage others to do the same. I want him to recommend good books that every catholic should read.
  11. I want him to catechize! To host seminars for the diocese and to make sure we know why we are catholic.
  12. I want him to offer a Traditional Latin Mass at least once a month or maybe each week or find a priest who would come to do it for him.
  13. I would love for him to be a good homilist. It doesn't have to be long, just make a point and evolve from it! Respect for the readings and honing in on them would be prevalent. I detest it when priests give a homily that has nothing to do with the readings. Even current events can be brought into a homily properly with many of the readings. I would want him to do the homilies 3 out of 4 weeks each month and not expect the deacons to do most of the homilies.
  14. I want loads of (reverent, liturgy-loving, respectful) deacons and acolytes and lots of servers. I prefer all boys but Pope JPII made it okay for girls so I'm not offended when I see them. But I do yearn for the aspect of the server as a introduction to the priesthood.
  15. I would want him to have a strong prayer life and be an example to his parish by praying with them not only at Mass but in their homes, in the chapel and so forth.
  16. I do not have a problem with a priest stressing the importance of tithing and I encourage it. Many people don't even know what is expected of them and good catechesis would solve this. But when the parish is in need, the priest should speak and ask for more from his flock.
  17. More than one would be a blessing and a benefit to all. It would be nice to have a retired priest on hand to rotate through daily Mass, help out with confessions and overall be a part of pastoral care.
Whew, that is a long list. Maybe I am asking too much from a single man but one can dream, right?

Most of those who know me know that one or two priests already fit most of these tickets. I have been blessed to know many good priests who have set an example for me to expect.

Why am I Catholic?

With all of the horrible things being said in the media about the Pope, sex abuse scandals and corruption it is difficult as a Catholic to defend my Church when someone asks me what I think about such things.

For one thing, these people aren't Catholic and most of them aren't exactly God-fearing Christians either so they really don't understand. And just saying something like, "You can't believe everything you read," just doesn't seem to cut it. Although it is true, you get that look of, "Yeah, right."

There is a war going on. A war against Catholicism. And most catholics don't even know it is going on or even choose to acknowledge it. Acknowledging it is like..... believing that the devil really does exist. I think most people wouldn't deny that Satan exists, they just don't think he is truly present around us. It is much easier to think about him far away in a land called Hell than to think he is among us and is putting thoughts in our heads and encouraging us to be selfish and uncharitable towards one another. It is much easier to scoff than it is to think that my angry thoughts towards someone is being encouraged.

So why be a Catholic? Why not be some other religion that isn't being crushed by the popular vote? We live in a society where being religious is not cool. And what isn't cool gets stomped on. Of course, religion isn't cool. It is a way of life. It is striving to be virtuous and good. Who could be cool and good?

It is hard to be Catholic! No one ever quit being Catholic because it was just too easy. It is a trial. You bear a cross. You suffer. You pray and pray and often prayers go unanswered. You are tested to see if you truly believe! I actually feel uneasy a lot of the time because I have many blessings. I wonder what cross I will be asked to carry next. I want to ask God to give me a cross but at the same time I am scared of the cross he will give. I imagine crosses that I may have some day and how I would carry them.
  • Will I be infertile? Maybe so, but I have nothing against adoption. That isn't an easy process but I think I can handle it.
  • Will I be poor? Sure, why not? I'd rather be poor than wealthy, actually. Being rich seems stressful in a different way that I wouldn't want. I'm savvy enough to maintain a budget and a household on a low income (I hope).
  • Will I lose a family member? That would be very hard and I would suffer and grieve very much but I totally think I could suffer under it and still have my faith.
  • Will I die young? I would be sad for those who would grieve for me but I hope that I would find my resting place with Our Lord once and for all.
I'm feeling guilty because I know he wouldn't give me something I couldn't handle so I feel like I am admitting sin by writing this down. *sigh* We're all sinners right? The Church is not for the righteous, it is for the sinners. We want absolution from our sins.

Why am I Catholic?

Because I believe in the Truth. I believe that the Catholic Church is the One True Church, One Holy, One Catholic and One Apostolic. I believe that Jesus is true God and true man. That He died for our sins and was resurrected to show us the way, the truth and the life. I believe Jesus founded the Church with Peter and that means something. I believe in His Body and His Blood and that I need it to survive. I believe in the Sacraments that the holy waters of baptism washed away my original sin, that I received the gifts of the Holy Spirit upon Confirmation, that I receive absolution when I go to Confession. I look forward to the sacrament of Matrimony because being married in the Church is not the same thing as being married legally. I believe in eternal life and the resurrection of the body. I believe in the intercessions of Mary, the Mother of God and of the Saints. I believe in the power of prayer, particularly in the rosary. I believe in Christ's mercy for me and He shows me how to have mercy for others. I believe what the Church teaches and although I fail day by day I will continue to persevere in hopes of His love and by loving Him that He gives me His Most Sacred Heart.

Did Christ say that he founded a perfect Church? Hardly. When you draw sinners together you are bound to have a few that will lose face, will sin again, will not trust God to keep them. It is a simple message but a very hard one to follow. The Church shall prevail against the gates of Hell. So I encourage him, bring it.

My heart is restless until it rests in Him.

So, am I Catholic? Damn straight!

He is Risen!

Well another fruitful season of Lent has passed us. Sometimes I feel old...

Anyway, out of my six students in RCIC five of them were at the Vigil and all but one finished the sacraments of initiation. The one poor girl was sick and after throwing up twice her parents took her home before communion. We'll have to do something special for her, she was so looking forward to this experience! The sixth student is going to receive her sacraments later due to a family reunion.

Yet we are not done, there is catechesis to be taught and First Reconciliation to be made. I do love teaching the kids about the Church. Tomorrow we are going to pray the rosary in the prayer garden! One of my favorite experiences with the kids and they seem to enjoy it as well.

Holy Saturday was quite full of things to do as we had rehearsal with Father Larry in the morning, a nice lunch of vegetable soup and a retreat where the children received letters from family and friends telling them how much they love them. It is always a great experience to see the kids read their letters. We discussed what would happen at the Vigil and then they wrote their own letter to Jesus telling Him anything in their hearts and why they were becoming Catholic. These letters were carried up to the altar during the presentation of the gifts. The reception after Mass was quite lovely with lots of food and flowers. I took a dozen roses home to love on.

On Sunday I got up to make bunny shaped biscuits which were a total failure when they came out of the oven (they lost their bunny shape) but tasted excellent so I was happy about that. Matthew and I shared an Easter meal with his (soon-to-be-"our") parents and three friends were there to share it with us. It was the first time we have been able to spend time with an engaged couple from RCIA, Stephanie and Michael, and I think they had a wonderful time. A dear friend of ours, Mark, was present as well and he brought some food to share. We love spending time with Mark, it is hard to find such a wonderful friend who loves to talk about books and spirituality and almost anything! We played a game of dominoes after dinner and then we had to go feed and take Chewy on a walk. We returned to Dick and Karol's to pray the rosary together and watch the Discovery Channel's Life series. Overall a fun-filled day.

I missed my own families holiday filled with chatter and children hunting for Easter eggs and baskets full of candy. My wonderful sister, Melissa, did bring me these amazing Easter eggs called opera creams which my mother will store for me until I come home. These eggs are hand made and are such a treat!

I gave up playing on the internet for Lent and alloted myself one hour each day to check my email and look at blogs and things. So far I think I did a good job and even had days in there where I didn't get on a computer at all! I am happy to be able to read lots of Catholic blogs again. But that is for another post.
Blessed be God.
Blessed be His Holy Name.
Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true man.
Blessed be the name of Jesus.
Blessed be His Most Sacred Heart.
Blessed be Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.
Blessed be the Holy Spirit, the paraclete.
Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary most holy.
Blessed be her holy and Immaculate Conception.
Blessed be her glorious Assumption.
Blessed be the name of Mary, Virgin and Mother.
Blessed be Saint Joseph, her most chaste spouse.
Blessed be God in His Angels and in His Saints.
May the heart of Jesus, in the Most Blessed Sacrament, be praised, adored, and loved with great affection, at every moment, in all the tabernacles of the world, even to the end of time. Amen.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Have Faith

This gorgeous picture is being sent around the internet and I find myself awestruck. You never know when God is going to throw something right at you that you won't want to miss!

Genesis Humor

Today I read this over on the Musings of a Pertinacious Papist and must share:

There are a whopping nine faithful Catholics in Congress who oppose the public funding of abortion. That's really good news. Faithful, shining witnesses to the truth of the Gospel.Nine. Out of 136 Catholics in Congress. The rest of whom support the public funding of abortion.

Let me see ... When Abraham was negotiating with God on the number of righteous men in Sodom for the sake of which God would not destroy it, how many was the minimum, do you remember?

Genesis 18:32 --
Then [Abraham] said, "May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?" And [the Lord] answered, "For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it."
Oh, crap.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Fred McNair

We were astonished to find out on Sunday that a good and pious man at our parish had suddenly passed away. He was 64 and seemed to be in good health, we were caught by surprise at this news. Matthew and I did not know Fred McNair very well but we saw him every day at Mass. Fred and his wife, Evelyn, are Knight and Lady in the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, which is dedicated to supporting Holy Places, particularly in Jerusalem. They told us about the Order during one of the seminars on the Crusades last year.

The last few days daily Mass has been tearful because Fred was known to pray for vocations during the Intercessions. Now, someone different every day has said Fred's prayer for him. I'm sure many of us will add his prayer to our daily intercessions.

"For an increase in the response to God's call to the priesthood and consecrated religious life. And for the perseverance in all vocations. We pray to the Lord."

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Seven Storey Mountain

During the season of Lent I've been reading The Seven Storey Mountain which is Thomas Merton's autobiography. He was a Trappist Monk at Gethsemane which is located in Kentucky. Matthew and I paid it a visit in September of last year and found it remarkably full of peace and beauty. The brothers make cheese, fruit cake and bourbon fudge (yum!). Nothing was overblown, it was just beautiful in its simplicity. I can't wait to return for a weekend stay.

I'm not that far in the book, Thomas has just reached 17 and he is not Catholic (yet).

I read this passage this morning and it spoke to me. Something I think all of us can understand yet fall victim to from time to time.
People who are immersed in sensual appetites and desires are not very well prepared to handle abstract ideas.
This is why I think we Catholics pursue acts of penance, fasting and abstinence. When we starve our cravings and temptations then we truly can think clearly and think things through.

I am left wondering how we are to teach these ideas to our children. Is it that they must come to these conclusions by themselves? I suppose the best I can do is plant the seeds of these fruits multiple times.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Marriage Prep 4: Adjustments

So the fourth session of marriage prep was about adjustments and it was quite fun! I haven't written about it for a few reasons and none that I feel I can go into publicly.

Anyway, some of the highlights are:
- We met another family that goes to our parish and learned about their lives, marriage and children.
- We played the "Nearly Wed" game and every couple did quite well making the 8 couples' engagements look sound.
- The winners (not us) were rewarded with a cake-cutting ceremony and pictures of the event. It was quite cute.
- The topic asked us to discuss how we see our lives changing and what we will expect from each other on a daily basis from who does what to help out around the house to how we'd like to see holidays planned.

It is surprising to realize that we are halfway through and only have three more sessions left. We still have to take the FOCCUS test but I'm not really worried about running out of time. So, I'll update on what goes on this evening for #5.
O, Most gracious heavenly Father, thank You, for being present in our lives in every way possible. Thank You, for the restlessness that reminds us to desire to be with You at all times. Thank You, for St. Louis and the wonderful family of friends we have there. Thank You, for Father Larry, Father Oliver and Father Paul. Please, bless them and keep them close to You. In Your name, we pray. Amen.