Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I found long-lost Old Testament videos.

About ten years ago, I taught 6th grade CCD for three years and the kids (and I) really liked these videos. I have searched the internet a few times looking for them. A couple of days ago, I found this link over at my friend Sara's blog. It is about the Jesse Tree....but there within lies a link to Isaac and Jacob and Joseph and the Judges, Samuel and Hannah, Saul and David, and so many inspiring people and stories.

A link for prayers and candles for Advent 2008

I am trying to get organized and make sure we light our first Advent candle this weekend, after we return from our trip to Kentucky. Look at this good visual to help the children see the meaning behind the candles and prayers.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A simple, yet regal, family dinner for Sunday

Was just visiting over at Catholic Cuisine and hope to make this dinner and dessert for us on Sunday to celebrate the feast of Christ the King -- may He reign in our hearts and homes!

Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

I am glad to report that the children and I are out the door soon to Mass and our final presentations for TORCH fall coop 2008. I glanced at the news, and really want to read this important story, later. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and that the hour of our death, Amen!

p.s. thanks to all those who took a little time to pray for our health-- prayers answered!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Keeping the Home Fires Burning

Sickness has come to visit; and we've decided to welcome him in. Did the "flu snorts" work? I think so. Usually, I am laid out for at least 2 or 3 days. Sunday was bad for me. It felt like the flu, but, mercifully, I was up and about the next day. M and Dad did not get it too bad. JB is like me and experienced near total collapse, yesterday. Little man, so far, is the only one not to get acquainted with the visitor that we've decided to welcome. This is from my Magnificat, "Prayer for the Morning," Jesus said: I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. (cf. Jn 10:9)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Thank you for continuing to heal me, Lord!

Healing is seldom as straightforward as some would have it seem. Here is a lovely depiction of the thankful leper of today's Gospel. I am drawn to it because it expresses a grateful humility. I want to try harder to be more prayerful, quieter and more humble. I pay alot of lip service to redemptive suffering, and am living proof that it is hard to really, truly offer up our sufferings for the salvation of souls. These words of our Lord, from Luke 17, are medicine to our world-weary souls:
Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Ideas Matter

What with the election just behind us, I have been blessed to have so many fruitful discussions with friends and family regarding the challenges and opportunities in this country. A couple of years ago I read Mother Angelica's biography, written by journalist Raymond Arroyo. This is an inspiring story, if ever there was one. Mother loved Sacred Scripture and was devoted to the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. She saw the power of our Savior, through the sacramental life of Mother Church, to strengthen lives and bring peace, holiness and joy. Morever, she saw the potential for an enlivened Church to transform society. The idea of the Incarnation is the most powerful idea ever formed and it was, of course, formed in the mind of our Maker. Mother Angelica had an "Ideas Matter" bumper sticker made in the 1970's. I'd love to have one of the originals. I heard someone has recently made a bumper sticker, "Think first, talk later." I'd add, "Pray first, act just thereafter." My friend Rachel and I were discussing the fact that too many Americans have very nebulous beliefs. For belief to really do good it must come from a pure heart. Here are some ideas that recur in my thoughts and prayers:

I believe, help my unbelief. If our lives and our prayers begin with humility, then, possibly, they will end so. We are not nearly troubled enough by assaults on human dignity. We are not nearly troubled enough to go on our knees, in public, and pray to our Lord for His intervention. This intervention starts first in our own hearts. We (including me) are so prone to idolatry. For centuries, Mother Church has held up the three evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience as the weapons against pride, the root of all idolatry. The cry for help is a cry for sanctifying grace. Unfortunately many do not acknowledge that we must avail ourselves to the fullness of Christian religion, all seven sacraments. The sacraments are instituted by God, not by man. Weak and fallible man is called to participate in the sacramental life of the Church. When sin creeps in, as it always does during this earthly pilgrimmage, all manner of revolt, disobedience and heresy result. The Church raises up great saints who relied (and still rely today) on the Holy Mass, the greatest prayer, to combat revolt, disobedience and heresy.

The devil doesn't bother someone he already has. In other words, if you are not experiencing a great deal of turmoil, which is the reality of those working to spread the Kingdom of God, you are probably off track. I tell myself this often as I am very prone to seek my own pleasure and comfort over the quiet whisper of my conscience. Turmoil and Peace run together. Like Jesus, we must be tender with others and hard on ourselves, spending much time fasting and praying. Fasting, praying and giving alms are the actions of the life bound to the three abovementioned counsels. Over these good works, the bad angels swarm, seeking to derail such potent efforts. As is seen in numerous lives of the saints (Padre Pio comes to mind in recent times.), Mary and Jesus never leave their children alone, even during the worst spiritual warfare. Our suffering is redemptive. We should seek it out.

"Be who you are and you will set the world ablaze!" St. Catherine of Sienna. Matthew Kelly, more recently, has preached this timeless idea. He exhorts people to be the best version of themselves, to be the person who God created them to be, what he calls our "authentic self". We need others to help us be the person we ought to be. The first person we need is Jesus, as He is present in the Eucharist. If we allow Him into every corner of our being, He will give us His Cross. It is true that "they will know they our Christians by their love." This love will often be unappealing to persons steeped in worldly pleasures. If we want this country to be a place where creativity, beauty and truth flourish, then we have to be willing to set most of our own desires aside.

Desiring holiness is desiring true love; it is the one desire to honor. We are to run the race for this. We are to beg God to change us; we must go at least once a week to quiet ourselves in front of Him in the Blessed Sacrament. We are to ask our Lady to pray for us. Devotion to her will lead us to frequent the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) more often, in order for God to change us. We are to bless each other tenderly. Love is not always painful, yet love is always holy, giving glory to the One who made us. Praise Him from Whom all blessings flow. Praise Him, Father, Son and Holy Ghost!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

O Night Divine!

This morning we watched some home movies and, what with building a new house, this will be our last Advent and Christmas in this house. Each box I pack up and drawer I de-clutter brings so many good memories. Go to the "O Night Divine" blog and get lots of good ideas. I do not know if it will happen this year for us, but I really want to put a homemade Nativity scene, with an uplight, on our front lawn. I love Advent and the Christmas season.

Stress and Swelling and Shortness-of-breath, oh my!

Often in the course of my lupus-like condition, I have thought of the moment in the film The Wizard of Oz, when they fear they are lost and that reality is pressing, is closing in around them. For anyone who suffers a recurrent, inflammatory condition, like asthma, ra, fibro, lupo, etc..., the world shrinks, the body closes in and all's you can do is slow down and wait to get out of the dark, scary forest. Well, as I was telling some of my dear sisters in Christ today, for the most part, I offer it up and keep it between me and my loving Savior and His Holy Mother....that way I receive the privilege of helping Jesus and Mary save souls. I do not believe I deserve such a privilege. It makes the ills of the body more than bearable. "Redemptive suffering" is a blessing beyond description. I know this, though my feelings may be fickle. So, Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day -- Lord, hear our prayer!

Our pastor entertained a question-and-answer-stump-the-pastor format during his homily this past Sunday. One comment he made hit me hard. He said that prayer is not our changing God; but, rather, God changing us. So, we petition. We should repeat our petitions. It reminds us that we need to constantly turn, and return, to God to focus on what is important. I hope to put this blog on my right sidebar. The Acton Institute is a space filled with prayerful, common-sense people. I want to do more to make this country the country it ought to be. The children and I are off to Noon Mass. I am confident that grace will change this country, one heart at a time.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Day You Have Just Lived

"You will be judged on the day you have just lived," came as an exhortation from a good and active priest one morning this past spring. A group of mothers had gathered to pray and reflect. I wrote this in my notes, and, since then, it has become a simple, yet powerful, prayer.

This morning my husband and I rose before our children and had a little quiet time. I was reading my Magnificat. There is a lengthy quote from Pope Benedict XVI on the souls in Purgatory and here is a good part of it:

With death, our life-choice becomes definitive -- our life stands before the judge. Our choice, which in the course of an entire life takes on a certain shape, can have a variety of forms. There can be people who have totally destroyed their desire for truth and readiness to love, people for whom everything has become a lie, people who have lived for hatred, and have suppressed all love within themselves...In such people all would be beyond remedy and the destruction of good would be irrevocable: this is what we mean by the word Hell. On the other hand there can be people who are utterly pure, completely permeated by God, and thus fully open to their neighbors -- people for whom communion with God even now gives direction to their entire being and whose journey towards God only brings to fulfillment what they already are.

Yet we know from experience that neither case is normal in human life (emphasis mine). For the great majority of people -- we may suppose -- there remains in the depth of their being an ultimate openness to truth, to love, to God. In the concrete choices of life, however, it is covered over by ever new compromises with evil -- much filth covers purity, but the thirst for purity remains and it still constantly re-emerges from all that is base and remains present in the soul. What happens to such individuals when they appear before the Judge? Will all the impurity they have amassed through life suddenly cease to matter? What else might occur?...[Saint] Paul [says] that Christian life is built upon a common foundation: Jesus Christ. This foundation endures. If we have stood firm on this foundation and built our life upon it, we know that it cannot be taken away from us even in death. Then Paul continues: 'Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw -- each man's work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire" (1 Cor. 3:12-15). In this text, it is in any case evident that our salvation can take different forms, that some of what is built may be burned down, that in order to be saved we personally have to pass through "fire" so as to become fully open to receiving God and able to take our place at the table of the eternal marriage-feast.

Sin is at the bottom of the most profound Mystery of Faith, the Mystery of the Holy Eucharist. So many people do not believe they are in need of salvation. Our Savior is both our hero and our best friend. The doctrines of Mother Church are merciful because they come from the Son of Mercy, our Lord, the Christ. The fires of Purgatory purify us, and we need purification. I think often of the famous quote of St. Catherine of Sienna, "Be who you are and you will set the world ablaze." Our Lord calls us to be grateful for the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit (Fear of the Lord, Knowledge, Fortitude, Piety, Counsel, Understanding and Wisdom) and to use them all at all times. Yet, we are weak and we fail. Then, we stoke the dying embers by our faith in the Sacraments; and, thanks be to God, He, by the request of Our Lady, fans our flame. Father, thank you for giving us Jesus as real food to enflame the fires of our love. Help us to love others as your Son has Loved us.