Monday, December 9, 2013


Quite near our home there is an electronic outdoor advertising sign.  This particular sign has up to four advertisements on it that flash up one at a time for a number of seconds and then switch to the next.

There is usually a Christian message up there,  I LOVE YOU  signed ~GOD, or something to that effect.

Lately the Christian message has been:  LOVE ALL;  WORSHIP ONE.    Great message.  The sad part is the message that follows it:

GET THE BODY YOU WANT!   LIPOSUCTION!  With a picture of either a finely sculpted man or a bikini clad woman with a "perfect" figure.

Whom or what do we worship other than God?  Our culture demands that we spend lots of time in front of the mirror; literally and figuratively.   We compare ourselves to others: figures, makeup, clothing, even homes and cars.  Do we measure up? Are we good enough?

Good enough for whom?

We are made in the image and likeness of GOD! What more do we need?

Webster's defines idolatry as the immoderate attachment or devotion to something.  In other words, making something or someone (even ourselves) so much more important than they should be.   God wants our hearts.  He doesn't care about the brand name on our backside, or the year, make and model of our vehicle.  He wants our devotion to go to Him from whom all our blessings flow.

Here's an exercise:  name three things to which you are very attached (spouses and children excluded).  Can you live without one or more of these things for one day? One week? One year?  Are you willing to give it a try to see if it is an "immoderate attachment or devotion"?

The new year is coming fast.  I'm trying to come up with the one thing I will give up for the next year.  This year  (well most of it anyway), I decided not to buy any new or used books.  Trust me the desire to buy a book hits more than once a week so this was not an easy task-nor should it be.

In the past,  I've given up chocolate, which to be perfectly honest, I eat (or drink) EVERY day, peanut butter (almost every day) and some other things from which I needed detachment.

I have a few things I could give up this coming year:  Candy Crush, bread, negative thoughts, "spare" time that could be used for prayers.

I challenge you to pick one thing to give up. Pray about it. Trust me, God will show you what it should be!  If you don't think you can make it a whole year, start small; and a day is not too small for all big things start from small things.  This is not a New Year's resolution.  This is a gift to God and to yourself.

If you want to leave a note, I will add you to my prayers;  for courage to stick with your decision and for the growth that always comes with new ways of doing things.  Check back in a few weeks.  I'll leave a note about what God asked me to put aside for a year and then you can pray for me.


Ok. Here goes: For 2014 I will be giving up Candy Crush (it was first on my list above for a reason!) This will give me more free time for reading my Bible which I will be reading every day!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Are You Ready?

We have an army supply store down the road from us and this is the gigantic sign they have posted on the exterior wall of the building:

In my humble opinion, the guy in the gas mask is slightly terrifying!  That's not the kind of "ready" I want to be.  So, I offer other suggestions:

1) This beautiful confessional is in St. Peter's Basilica.  While all confessionals don't look the same, they do render the same grace; Sanctifying grace, the grace that makes us holy.  In John 20:23 we find the words of Christ: "If you forgive people's sins, they are forgiven." Jesus gave this authority to his disciples (who then passed it onto each ordained priest) precisely because he knew that after baptism we would fall into sin again.  He gives us this Sacrament to help us remain close to him.  

2) The Eucharist:  The source and summit of our faith because It is Christ!  Receive often!!

3) Adoration:

"He said to Peter, "Couldn't you watch with me even one hour?" (Mt. 26:40) The Eucharist does not have to be exposed for you to be in adoration. Just sit before the closed tabernacle, if you are not able to go during formal adoration time.  Jesus is there waiting to bless you.  Give Him an hour; He will give you so much more. 

Are you ready? 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Meek of Heart and Humble

After reading and reposting the blog  Marriage Isn't For You, where the writer makes the distinction between being selfish and selfless for love of your spouse,  I recalled that I had this prayer in my "pile".

I found it in the Meditation of the Day section in one of my summer Magnificats.  It was written by Blosius the Venerable who was the abbot of the Benedictine Abby of Liessies in France.

Every time I read it I realize how far I am from the goal. But, on the up side, I can feel God working on me so I keep trying.

Here is the prayer:

Denying Self and Following

Oh,when shall I perfectly die to myself an be free from all creatures?  Oh, would that I were truly meek of heart and humble; truly poor and naked in spirit.  Grant, O Lord, that by perfect self-denial, perfect mortification of my vices, I may arrive at perfect love of you.  You have commanded that I should love you: give what you command and command what you please.  Grant that I may love you with my whole heart, my whole mind, with all my powers, with my whole soul.  Deign to heal and reform the powers of my soul, broken and corrupted by sin by the powers of your most holy soul.  Free my soul from all distracting cares; strip from it the images and forms of perishable things. Grant me to dwell with you in the sanctuary of my soul; grant that by steadfast thought, clear knowledge, and fervent love, I may always be able to flow into you. Amen.

Have a Sonfilled day! 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Lessons From The Dog Trainer

Our daughter, Erin, has a dog.  Not a bad thing except that I'm not really a pet person, and since Erin still lives at home, the dog lives here, too.  So I guess you could say "we" have a dog.

With 11 people in the house, you can imagine the different ways Mayter has been "raised".  We have learned the hard way that most of them are wrong.

Poor pup is a nervous wreck, (lip licking and yawning) because he doesn't know who's boss.  He barks viciously at some people and some dogs (and all squirrels).  He "christens" one particular niece whom he loves, every time she comes over.

Erin knew something had to be done and so she hired a dog trainer.  This woman is an expert in the field of behavioral training for dogs.  She works with dogs who are one step away from being put down because of their aggressive behavior.  The nice part is she has given us hope that Mayter is rehab-able.

What she taught us, first and foremost is that dogs need to trust and respect the individuals in the "pack" before they will be calm and controlled.  Once they trust and respect, then they can give up control and be led and taught.

Isn't that just like a human?  To whom do we pour out our hearts?  With whom are we vulnerable enough to speak freely about anything?  Only with someone we trust and respect.

How much do we trust and respect God?  Are we so close to Him, because we do our part by making Him the center of our lives, that we run to Him with every joy, sorrow, need, want, praise, thanks, hope?

Not there yet?  Give prayer, true quiet-time, open, honest prayer a try.  God knows everything that is in us anyway.  You can't hide your anger, your guilt, your pain, or your joy, your hopes and your dreams from Him so you may as well offer it to Him in prayer, rather than clinging to it selfishly.

You, too, can be transformed by a little behavioral training.  First learn to trust Him, this will lead to deep respect and before you know it, you will be able to lay everything down before Him and allow Him to lead you. Isn't that the way He wants it?  Isn't that really the way we want it?


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

One Mother, Many Titles

The month of October is a special month in which we are reminded to pray the Rosary daily.   October 13 is especially important because it is the anniversary of the miracle of the sun at Fatima, Portugal.  For those who do not know the story of Our Lady of Fatima there is a ton of info on Google and several good movies about it. (I do not recommend "13 Days" however.  I found it very dark and grim.)

Traveling statue of Our Lady of Fatima.  This particular statue has been know to shed tears. 
In short, Mary appeared to three young children on May 13, 1917 in Fatima. She asked them to pray the Rosary every day and to offer their sufferings for the reparation for sins.  She appeared on the 13th of each month through October and on that day 70,000+ pilgrims watched the sun dance in the sky. One of the visionaries, Lucia Santos, lived until Feb. 13,  2005.

Since there are still a few days left in October, I thought I would share some of the many titles and pictures of Our Lady.  In Luke 1:48 Mary tells us through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit: "from this day all generations will call me blessed."   Not only do we call her blessed, we are blessed to have her intercession for us always.  Thank you, Mamma Mary!

The Our Lady of Good Counsel original fresco from Genazzano.
Our Lady of Good Counsel
"According to tradition, in the year 1467, in the midst of the festivities for the Feast of Saint Mark, the townfolk suddenly heard "exquisite music." A mysterious cloud was then said to have descended and obliterated an unfinished wall of the parish church. In front of the populace, the cloud dissipated and a beautiful fresco, no thicker than a carte-de-visite and no more than eighteen inches square, of the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child was revealed. It was widely believed that it had been miraculously transported from a church in Scutari, Albania." (Wikipedia) 
Black Madonna of Częstochowa, Poland.

 There are many legends surrounding the "Black Madonna".  This  image is not as dark as some I have seen.  This is the most important information I gathered: " 
The Virgin Mary is shown as the "Hodegetria" ("One Who Shows the Way"). In it the Virgin directs attention away from herself, gesturing with her right hand toward Jesus as the source of salvation. In turn, the child extends his right hand toward the viewer in blessing while holding a book of gospels in his left hand." (Wikipedia)

Our Lady of Lourdes.

Our Lady appeared several times to a peasant girl named Bernadette Soubirous in Lourdes, France from February 11 through July 16, 1858.  When she appeared, Bernadette asked for a name to give to the priest so he would know who spoke to her.  Our Lady called herself, The Immaculate Conception.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mary appeared to Juan Diego on Tepyak Hill near Mexico City.  The year was  1531.  Juan had a difficult time convincing his Archbishop that Our Lady had, indeed, appeared to him.  The Archbishop asked for a sign.  Juan presented Our Lady with this request.  Even though it was December and there was snow on the ground, she told Juan to go pick the roses she had left for him.  He brought her the roses and Mary arranged them in his tilma.  She told him to take the tilma to the Archbishop. When the Archbishop opened the tilma, the roses fell to the ground, but the image of Our Lady, just as Juan had seen her, remained on his cloak.

There are many more titles and many more devotions, and appearances.  Our Mother wants to be near us always.  I will leave you with one last image (ok, two).  It is one of my very favorites.  

The Madonna of the Streets by Roberto Ferruzzi

This is one rendition of the painting, It is very different from the original, but I found this information, again, on Wikipedia: "Although not originally painted as a religious picture, this painting became popularized as an image of the Virgin Mary holding her infant son, and has become the most renowned of Ferruzzi's works."

This is the image that hangs in our home:

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

How's Your Inner Peace?

Have you ever heard the saying, "If you want to make God laugh, make plans"? I know it well and this week has it played out many times and it's only Wednesday.

Last week the kids went back to school. I don't have to drive them this year because our Senior has his license and access to a vehicle.  What a relief!  So, last week went something like this: get up, do my morning routine, pack my gym bag, kiss the kiddos goodbye and head off to Mass and then to the gym.  After my workout, come home, clean a little, read a little, play that darn "Candy Crush" a little.  You know, "me time".

So, come Monday, I was ready for more of the same. I had my gym back packed, Magnificat at the ready, and then my driver came out of his room looking a little green around the gills and told me he was staying home from school.  Ho hum.  Back to last year's routine.  Thankfully I didn't get upset, I just readjusted.  I took the kids to school, went to a different Mass and came home ready to work.  Then I got a phone call from my dear one.  He forgot his glasses; would I please bring them to the office?  Sure thing. {sigh}

Over the weekend I happened to pick up a copy of the book, 'Jesus Calling' by Sarah Young.  On a whim, since I had purchased it to give to someone else, I opened to the page for August 26, Monday.  This is what I read: "Trust me in the midst of a messy day."  I had to laugh.  God knew I needed that.  It went on to say,  "Your inner peace in my Presence need not be shaken by what is going on around you."

Good thing, because next, two of our fleet of vehicles died (thankfully not on the same day), the vacuum died and another child got sick.  Chuckle, chuckle, chuckle? Or, come to Me? Lean on Me?

How often do we let the world and its issues effect our mood, our outlook, our peace?  I could have gotten upset, and maybe next time I will.  This time, however, my peace was not disturbed and God took the time to remind me that I need to be this way all the time, not just on a good mood day.

There are many instances where I could have used this reminder. Sunday night comes to mind.  I was thinking about an issue over which I had no control.  But, not having any control was frustrating me. In the midst of my internal frustration, one of the littles was being very needy, way past bedtime.  I found myself becoming less kind by the minute and so I had to leave the house.

Instead of handing my frustration over to God, and receiving His peace, I let it get to me.  I did the right thing by leaving, so as not to inflict pain on an innocent heart. I fled to the Adoration Chapel, where God refreshed me.  We can't always have it together, but we can always flee to the one who wants to give us His peace.

Every day before my dear one leaves for work he asks, "What can I pray for?"  Ninety percent of the time my answer is peace.  Those prayers are working.  If you find yourself lacking that inner peace, pray for it.   God loves to answer those kind of prayers.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Take Time to Listen

Sometimes it is hard to listen to the Holy Spirit (or your guardian angel-I have an impossible time telling the difference) but you'll always be glad that you did, so be open to hearing that voice.

One day, a couple of weeks ago, I was privy to an interaction between a mom and her young son.  The mom was late for work and the son was moving a little too slowly for her liking and so she was yelling at him.  Had this been the first time I had heard this happening I probably would have just let it go.  I was very tempted to do so even though it wasn't the first time.  But, the Holy Spirit kept nudging me, so I walked over to talk to her. Since our conversation was very short and she left for work almost immediately, I have no idea if I helped defuse the situation or not.  But, at least I did what I was told.

Yesterday was no different in that I did listen to what I was told to do, however this time I got to see the whole scene played out and so I benefitted from the obedience.

I was in the dining room trying, for the umpteenth time that day, to get the table cleaned off.  There was a box of spaghetti noodles that I picked up and stuck under my arm to carry down the basement.  Well, the box was open and the open end was pointed down and so all the noodles hit the floor.  Heavy sigh!!!  Which almost turned into a rant, until I heard the word, "laugh" in my head.  So, I laughed.

My tenacious one and her big sister were in the room when it happened and they heard the sigh. They immediately leapt into action to help me clean up, but with looks on their faces like they were ready for me to yell!  When I laughed instead they both smiled and became calm, though still willing to help.

Not five minutes later, my little helper was opening a bag of cheesy rice for supper and she dropped it, spilling half of it on the floor.  Given my reaction to my spill, she just smiled at me (and I at her) and got the broom.  I saved the other half of the rice, which we had for dinner, but my earlier laugh saved the day.

She knew that I would not be upset with her because I had just laughed at myself.

Thank you Holy Spirit, or guardian angel.  I appreciate your ever watchful care over me.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Note From Jesus

I often pray, and wish that God would answer with a letter or an email so I could know, without a doubt, that He heard me and was taking care of the situation.  I am excited to say, I got my note.

Last weekend I was blessed to be able to drive 5 awesome guys (2 sons, 2 nephews and a third "son") to a teen conference at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio and stay as a chaperone.

While the conference was specifically for the teens, the other chaperones and I likely came away with as much as the kids.

The point of the conference was to grow in our relationship with  Christ.  There were three Masses, times for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and many priests available for several hours over the course of the weekend to hear confessions.  All this, in an effort to help us put aside the world for a while and focus on getting to know the Lord a little better.

The teens rocked to great music, heard awesome speakers and got to know some new friends.

One of the ways to kids "communicated" with each other was with clothespins.  (The kind that pinch.)  The would sneakily attach a clothespin to a shirt tail or backpack to let the recipient know that someone was thinking of them.

The messages on the clips varied; some gave youth group names, some said a kind word, bolder kids left their phone numbers.

The highlight of the weekend was Adoration on Saturday night.  The monstrance was carried through the field house so the kids could have a close encounter with Christ.

The chaperones were alerted ahead of time to expect varied reactions from the teens and to be watchful in case someone needed extra prayers, a tissue, or just watching over as they encountered Christ on a very personal level.  I didn't expect an overwhelming reaction for myself;  no crying, no laughing, no physical feeling of anything different.

And yet, I was touched.  And my moment came before Adoration began.  I felt a slight brush on my arm, and for a second I did not turn around.  Knowing that I had been clothes pinned, I knew the person pinning me wanted to remain anonymous, and so I waited to take the pin off.

When I did, my moment came.  The clothespin had written on it, "I LOVE YOU" on one side and "pass it on" on the other.  To me, it was a message from Christ.  And try as I might, I could not re-pin it.  I could have reached out to several people over the last hours of the conference, but each time I was "told" to hang on to my message.

So, on the drive home, I pinned it in a prominent location:
on my picture of the Divine Mercy in the dashboard of my van.  Every time I read it, my heart thrills a little because it feels like Jesus is speaking right to me. After I read it, I say it back to Jesus.  As for passing it on?  I'm doing that right now: 
Jesus loves YOU!!

The weekend was wonderful.  I came home healed of a weakness of mine, and the Eucharist has become so much more intimate.  God is good, all the time.  All the time, God is good.  

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Corpus Christi

Today is the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ.  Given that the Eucharist is the source and summit of Catholic life, it's a pretty big deal.

On Holy Thursday, Christ instituted the Eucharist.

 Before that day, He told his followers:
"I am the bread of life.
Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died;
this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die.
I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us [his] flesh to eat?”Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.” (John 6: 48-58)

At the Last Supper, Christ gave us the priesthood and Himself in the Eucharist. Our priests continue to bring the Eucharist to us on a daily basis.  How often do you participate?

If you were told to go to a certain spot everyday at a specific time and you would be handed $1000, would you go? Every day?

If you were told that Jesus, Himself, was waiting to give you the gift of a lifetime, in many locations, at many different times throughout the day, would you make the effort to go and receive Him who gives you life?

He is waiting. He is at many locations, at many different times throughout the day. He wants to give you the gift of a lifetime, actually the gift of LIFE.  Eternal life. (see above!)

Come to the Feast! He awaits. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Train Up A Child

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

This verse popped into my head last night while I was lying awake thinking about my dad.  He is currently in the hospital, awaiting admission to a nursing home. 

He is facing surgery in the next few weeks and is suffering while he waits. 

He suffers from not understanding what is going on.  He suffers from being apart from my mom (his wife of 52 years).  He suffers from not remembering what he's been told several times already. 

He knows he's suffering. That part, he gets.  

I walked into his room yesterday to visit and the very first words that popped out of his mouth were:

"For all the souls in purgatory."  


St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Colossians, "Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church." (Colossians 1:24)

As Fr. John Riccardo so aptly put it, "what in the world could be lacking in the suffering of  Christ?"  And his most appropriate answer, "Our participation in it."

All our growing up years we heard, "offer it up!"  Which meant, if we were suffering anything, instead of complaining we were to offer it to Christ.  Fr. John suggests, rather, we "unite it" to Christ's suffering.  

My dad learned that as a very small boy and, now, as an adult, he has not departed from it.  He can't change any of his circumstances, but he can offer up his suffering, or unite it with Christ's, "for all the souls in purgatory."  

Even with Alzheimer's he is still teaching us and setting the example.  

Thanks dad.  I love you! 

This bible verse was in our associate pastor's column this past week. It is now stuck to the back of my phone, because, after all, we are all suffering along with my dad:

"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you to prove you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in so far as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed."  (1 Peter 4: 12-13)


Monday, April 29, 2013

Portrait Of My Mother

My mother is the dearest woman I know.  My dad has called her a saint for as long as I can remember.  The older I get, the more correct I know him to be in this assessment of her.  

My mom grew up in Detroit surrounded by love.  Her mom, a widow since my mom was 7, was a strong Irish Catholic woman who took care of everyone around her.  She helped raise her 8 siblings, she raised her own family and she raised her brother's five children after he and his wife tragically died two years apart.  

My mother witnessed all of this and became the same kind of care giver. She is a nurse and in her last job before retirement she worked in hospice. She is entirely suited for the role of caring for the dying and their families.  She raised the seven of us, and showed us great faith in every aspect of her life. The depth of her faith became even more evident after the death of our brother.  Never once did I hear a negative word come out of her mouth. She comforted and supported each of us as we mourned in our own way.  If possible, her faith grew ever more deep. 

Until recently she attended Mass daily and gets there as often as she can these days.  She prays for us constantly and taught us to trust the Lord in all things by her firm, but gentle manner.  

She has taken care of sick neighbors, often sitting by an open window in our home so she could hear if the next door neighbor needed help. She visited the homebound and delivered food with the Meals on Wheels program.

She never puts herself first as we are witnessing as we help her care for our dad.  One big example of this is the $5 she slipped to my brother  the other day, so he could tip the valet when he and I were leaving the hospital during an ER visit with my dad. 

She is heroic in her efforts to keep my dad peaceful and content (and right now that's a pretty big challenge for all of us.)  She has a peaceful countenance and a ready smile.  And always, she is concerned for our needs. 

Those who know her will be nodding and agreeing as they read this. 

I love you mom!  You are my rock!  

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Jesus In My Pocket

One of the loveliest things about being Catholic is getting to receive Jesus; Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, in the Mass.

However, there is a special way for the sick, elderly and homebound to receive our Precious Lord even though they are unable to attend the Sacrifice of the Mass.

Eucharistic Ministers, those individuals trained to distribute Communion at Mass, may also take Communion to the homebound.

By means of a pyx, the Eucharist can be properly transported to the people in need.

My parents are, lately, unable to go to Mass.  It is my honor to be able to bring Jesus to them each day.

I don't have a fancy pouch for my pyx so I have to slip it in my pocket.  It's lovely to receive our Lord in Communion and then to carry Him close to me for a few extra minutes until I get to my parents' home.

So grateful for the Church, its Sacraments and the ability to bring Jesus to those in need.

I love having Jesus in the Mass.  It's also kind of neat to have Him in my pocket!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Green Scapular Miracle

As Catholics we use sacramentals as a way to  "prepare us to receive grace and dispose us to cooperate with it." (CCC 1670)

Sacramentals come in many forms, from a blessing, to holy water and the Rosary, to a devotion to a favorite saint.  

They are used as a way to draw us closer to God.

The Rosary is my favorite sacramental. Not only do I have several; under my pillow, in my van, in most of my outerwear pockets, in my kitchen,  I meditate on the mysteries daily.  

Another of Mary's gifts to her children is the Green Scapular.  The green scapular is a piece of cloth with a cord for wearing around one's neck (although your pocket or in your purse or bedroom suffice.)  

On one side of the Scapular is an image of Mary. The other side shows an image of her pierced Immaculate Heart.   The prayer inscribed is "Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death."

On September 8, 1840 the Green Scapular was given for distribution to Sr. Justine Bisqueyburu.  It's main purpose is the conversion of sinners.  However many miraculous physical healing have been attributed to it as well.

My sister, Margaret, passes out Green Scapulars and keeps a record of miracles.  Last week, we got notice of another one.

My dear friend, Sooz, was told she had a brain tumor.  She was going to need a very intense operation that she told me about in graphic detail.  Scary!!  I mailed a Green Scapular to her and began immediately and several times each day to pray the above prayer.   I added to my prayers, "Lord, please let the doctor put her to sleep, do the MRI and find nothing, and wake her back up and send her home." 

THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED!!  The tumor had shrunk to a sliver of its original size and the operation was cancelled.  Today she is at work when she would have been in the hospital, with her shaved head bandaged and hurting.  

God is so good.  And Mary's intercession is so powerful before His throne.  Never fear to entrust your needs to the Mother of our Lord and Savior.  

Thank you, Dear Lord, for this miracle. May lives and hearts be changed in light of it. Thank you, Mamma Mary for your devoted intercession for our needs.  

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Welcome Home

Thirteen years ago, at the Easter Vigil, my dear one entered the Catholic Church.

This Saturday the Catholic Church will welcome more new members.  I don't know the exact number for the United States but I know our parish has 8 or 9 participants and a neighboring parish has 50!

Some will receive all three Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.  These individuals are now called the Elect or Catechumens.

Those who have already been baptized are called Candidates.

These catechumens and candidates have been preparing since early Fall in what is known as the RCIA-Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.

This months long preparation entails much instruction and reflection on the part of the participants.  There is so much to learn and this is not a step that is taken lightly.

Each catechumen and candidate has a sponsor who walks the journey with them and aids them in their preparation.

Baptism is the first step.  As explained by  , Guide

"Baptism has six primary effects, which are all supernatural graces:
  1. The removal of the guilt of both Original Sin (the sin imparted to all mankind by the Fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden) and personal sin (the sins that we have committed ourselves).
  2. The remission of all punishment that we owe because of sin, both temporal (in this world and in Purgatory) and eternal (the punishment that we would suffer in hell).
  3. The infusion of grace in the form of sanctifying grace (the life of God within us); the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit; and the three theological virtues.
  4. Becoming a part of Christ.
  5. Becoming a part of the Church, which is the Mystical Body of Christ on earth.
  6. Enabling participation in the sacraments, the priesthood of all believers, and the growth in grace."
For  Catholics baptized as infants, the next steps would be Reconciliation and Eucharist at around age 7 and then Confirmation in, or around, 9th grade. 

For RCIA candidates and catechumens, however, the order is reversed.  

After they are baptized, they receive the Sacrament of Confirmation.  Again I turn to , Guide
"The Catechism of the Catholic Church lists five effects of Confirmation:
  • it roots us more deeply in the divine filiation [as sons of God] which makes us cry, "Abba! Father!";
  • it unites us more firmly to Christ;
  • it increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit in us;
  • it renders our bond with the Church more perfect;
  • it gives us a special strength of the Holy Spirit to spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ, to confess the name of Christ boldly, and never to be ashamed of the Cross.
Because Confirmation perfects our baptism, we are obliged to receive it "in due time." Any Catholic who did not receive Confirmation at baptism or as part of his religious education during grade school or high school should contact a priest and arrange to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation."

These two Sacraments confer on the recipient's soul an indelible mark and are thus never repeated Sacraments.  The Eucharist, on the other hand, is a Sacrament readily available and can be received daily (much to my delight).
"The Sacrament of Holy Communion is the third of the Sacraments of Initiation.  It is called a sacrament of initiation because, like Baptism and Confirmation, it brings us into the fullness of our life in Christ.
In Holy Communion, we are eating the True Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, without which "you shall not have life in you" (John 6:53).
Receiving Holy Communion worthily brings us graces that affect us both spiritually and physically. Spiritually, our souls become more united to Christ, both through the graces we receive and through the change in our actions that those graces effect. Frequent Communion increases our love for God and for our neighbor, which expresses itself in action, which makes us more like Christ." (, Guide)
To all those coming in the Church this Easter, I say, Welcome Home! 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

After Confession

Now wasn't that refreshing?  Congratulations!  It's time to celebrate.

Our favorite celebration spot is anywhere that serves ICE CREAM!  We even go in the winter, although our tenacious one had to have her coat off for this shot.

May you have a Blessed Easter closely united with Christ.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

On Confession Part 4

Seeking out a priest to administer the Sacrament.

When choosing a priest for your Confession, especially if it has been a while, the very best advice I can give is to pray.

I was at a Lenten Symposium this weekend and I took advantage of the opportunity to go to Confession.  As I sat in front of the Blessed Sacrament examining my conscience (with the Divine aid of the Holy Spirit...remember I said ask Him and He'll tell you?  I needed a paper and pen), I also prayed for the best priest for me at that moment.  There were four priests available to hear confessions and quite a crowd waiting.   Since I didn't recognize any of the names,  I knew God would have to choose for me.

Earlier in the Symposium, a very holy, young priest was talking about that fact that "on occasion" God gives him the ability to read a person's soul and thus help them to make a much more honest confession.  I thought that would be awesome in that I would know for sure that my confession was complete.

Well, the priest God lead me to appeared able to do that.  I made my confession without mention of my husband or children.   During his advice portion he said to me, "with your husband and your children you have a very full plate.  Make sure to take alone time and pray everyday so that you can be a good wife and mother because you are so busy."  WOW!!

God uses the priest to get His message to us. Do not be afraid.

So, pray.  It may be a priest you already know that you really like.  It may be that you're driving down the road and passing a church and the Holy Spirit says, "turn in here and go to Confession." Or,  you  may be at a conference and be blessed as I was today.

Just do it!

Next up: After Confession

To be continued.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

On Confession Part 3

Now that I've discussed why we need Sacramental Confession,  I need to talk about how to prepare for it.

The first part of preparation is knowledge of and sorrow for your sins and contrition. There are two types of contrition and I am going to let the Catechism speak here:

CCC 1452 When it arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is called "perfect" (contrition of charity). Such contrition remits venial sins; it also obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible.

CCC 1453 The contrition called "imperfect" (or "attrition") is also a gift of God, a prompting of the Holy Spirit. It is born of the consideration of sin's ugliness or the fear of eternal damnation and the other penalties threatening the sinner (contrition of fear). Such a stirring of conscience can initiate an interior process which, under the prompting of grace, will be brought to completion by sacramental absolution. By itself however, imperfect contrition cannot obtain the forgiveness of grave sins, but it disposes one to obtain forgiveness in the sacrament of Penance.

In order to know your sins you must have knowledge of what God expects of us.  God has given us a blueprint to follow in the Ten Commandments.  Knowing the Commandments is a good way start to living them.  For a list of the Ten Commandments and how to memorize them with relative ease see my post, "Quick, What's the Sixth Commandment?"  (7/26/11)

There are many, many ways to examine your conscience.  Since you can Google search that information I won't list it here.

Find an examination that you like and go through it slowly and carefully.  Get out a piece of paper and write down what you come up with.

Once you've examined your conscience and are contrite you are ready to seek out a priest.

To be continued. . .

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

On Confession. Part 2

One of the talks I heard was given by  Fr. John Riccardo and I've heard him explain this more than once.  He always says this:  We confess our sins to any number of people everyday.  We tell a friend, a sibling, a co-worker, a spouse; "you won't believe what I did!"

We have a natural tendency to want to get it off our chest; to put it out there and see what someone has to say about it. We're confounded as to why we would do such a thing or how we could continue to be so weak in a particular area.  For example, yelling at the kids, being grumpy with your spouse,  telling a lie to save face, taking something that does not belong to us. The list could go on and on.

We are sinners.  A fallen people striving to do better.

So Jesus gave us the gift of Confession.  Some will say, "Why do I have to go to a priest?  Can't I just tell God my sins and be forgiven?"  The answer is "yes".  But there is so much more to it than just telling God.  He already knows.

Confession gives us some great gifts. Two of them are humility and grace.

How easy it is to say to God, in your head,  I did _________________.  (Fill in the blank).

How HARD it is to confess out loud,  "I did ___________________. " Though we may say it to a trusted friend, we tend to justify our behavior with an added "but" or "because".  How HUMBLING it is to walk into a confessional and lay all the blame on ourselves without excuses and admit that we have messed up.

But with that humility the floodgates of grace open and pour out on us.

With this grace we can move forward and try harder to sin no more.  This grace gives us peace.  It increases our hope.  It make us stronger.  What a gift!

To be continued . . .

On Confession. Part 1

As Lent approaches the topic of Confession is talked about more frequently.

During Lent we are called to repentance, hence the purple color associated with the season.  For 40 days we have the opportunity to really dig deeply into ourselves and weed out the weak areas and try harder to work on the side of us that is truly approaching life as Christ has taught us.

Confession is a sore spot for many people. Maybe you've had a bad experience; a priest who was less than kind, or was in a hurry. Maybe you've sinned big time and are too embarrassed to admit it,  or maybe it's been a while and you don't remember what to do.  Whether you've grown up with it, learned about it and experienced it when you came into the Church in adulthood, or are a Christian who has only heard it talked about by friends who are Catholic, there is so much mystery surrounding it that it becomes a scary thing.

I've heard two talks on Confession in the past two weeks.  I'm grateful that nothing in the talks was new to me.  While I may not be as eloquent as the speakers I've listen to, I'll give it a go and try to do some explaining.

The biggest question out there is "why go to confession?"  The answer is, "Jesus said so."

On the evening of that first day of the week, (Easter Sunday) when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
21Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22And with that he breathed on them and said,“Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (John 20: 19-23 parentheses and coloring mine.)

Two things about these verses:  1) "He breathed on them" is a reference back to Genesis when God created man: 7the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.  (Genesis 1:7).  (A new creation.)
By breathing the Holy Spirit into the disciples, Christ is making them a new creation.  They will no longer be the scared, hide behind closed doors, guys they were. They will go into the world and teach about Christ. 
2) 23If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”  Why would Christ give the disciples this gift if He did not anticipate them using it?  He knew that people would come to the disciples and confess their sins and seek forgiveness.  That was a huge part of the ministry of Christ and it needed to be carried on in the Church Christ established. 

To be continued . . .

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Friends in Christ

I have an amazing group of friends that I met when chat rooms were new.  Many of us "gathered" in the chat room named Moms of Four or More.

We'd chit chat about kids and family, what was for supper and who happened to be sick or in need of prayers.

One day Rhonda decided to make it a little easier for us to communicate with each other and she invited us to start an email group.

If I have the count correct, we started with 12 moms and added one at a later date.  We are now down to 8 full time emailers and one who pops in on occasion to let us know she's ok and that she's praying for us.

We are from Oregon, California, Michigan, Illinois, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Massachusetts.
We are moms with kids at home and moms with empty nests. We are grandmas and great-grandmas.  We are The Moms.

Most of us have met face to face.  I've been to Illinois, Pennsylvania and Oregon to Moms Reunions.

We've been the subject of a magazine article. :-)

Most of all, we're friends.  We help each other through the ups and downs of life. We rejoice over graduations, weddings, births and good surgical outcomes.

We lift each other in prayer and {{{{ hugs}}}} through deaths, physical pain, hard times with income and all the rest of what gets us down.

We are Mary, Barb, Sunnie, Kathy, Rhonda, Carolyn, Brenda, Linda and Sooz (coast to coast).

God brought us together as friends and sisters in Christ and I couldn't be more grateful.

Monday, January 14, 2013


I read this online the other day and it has been in my brain, almost constantly, since:  (Probably the point!)

"What would your today be like if you had only the things that you were grateful for yesterday?"

That great dinner your husband (or wife) cooked?  Maybe you were grateful for the dinner, but were you grateful you didn't have to cook it? Or grateful for the person who did?

That hot shower that warmed you up and helped you sleep better.

The warm bed and awesome pillow.

The smiling faces of your children, or grandchildren.

Your home.

Your computer.


What would be missing?

Now, let's look at it from a different perspective:

What would your day be like tomorrow if you had everything that you were grateful for today?

How many things can you do without tomorrow that make your life wonderful today?  Do you have a second to be grateful for everything as it comes along?

The smile of a stranger.

The mailman.


Your phone and the people who stay in contact with you, with it.



Your Church.

Your faith.

This could be the longest post in history, but you get the picture.

Just say "Thanks."