23 Jul 2014

Singing at Mass - Make a Joyful Noise? What do I hear? Silence!

It doesn’t seem to matter which Catholic Church I attend on Sundays, the one thing I hear most often during the liturgy is the organist playing the organ or the pianist playing the piano and the cantor singing——alone.  Once in a while, I do hear other voices joining in song, but most of the time, what I hear in the congregation is silence.  There might be a rustling of pages as someone tries to find the song, but when I look out at the congregation, I see mouths closed and books put away.

The most common reasons given are::

I can’t sing.
I don’t know the songs.
The songs are too high for me to sing.
I sing off key.
I can’t carry a tune.

Psalm 100 says::  “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.”

Read More at:: His Unending Love

NFP for the Win (@ Melody's Harmonies)

This post continues our celebration of NFP Awareness week, if you haven’t checked out Monday’s post: Best of the Best of NFP then you definitely should. I’ve even added a couple more resources that have just been posted in the last couple days cause there are just so many good ones!

A lot of what you’re reading this week is based from a Catholic viewpoint and while that’s part of the reason I certainly practice, it’s not the only one. NFP isn’t just for the Catholic woman or couple and the reasons to use it instead of artificial methods of contraception are abundant. So I’ve put together a top five reasons why NFP wins.

Read the reasons here.

Jesus rejoiced

Jesus rejoiced is one of those phrases we don't often dwell upon.  More than likely, it would be Jesus suffered or Jesus' suffering.
In Fr. James Martin's Book, Jesus:  A Pilgrimage, he lists from the Bible some of the many times that Jesus, his disciples and those around him rejoiced.
To read the rest of the article, go to Being Catholic ... Really.

The Catholic Vaccination Dilemma

The debate rears its ugly head even in the safest of places.

A mom posts in my local homeschool group that her family is going through pertussis - all of them - including her vaccinated husband and vaccinated public school child. First there are posts back showing support and advice on how to soldier through with a household of sick children. Then the accusation, "Weren't your children vaccinated?"

My finger hovers over my mouse, strategically positioned between the delete and the moderation button.  This is the type of discussion that can get heated quickly, and the relationships and camaraderie of this group of woman could be broken with one harsh word or a misinterpretation of intentions.

What breaks the camels back and causes me to hit delete and then quickly put us into moderation mode was a comment like this. "The Pope says that everyone should vaccinate their kids for the common good and it's a sin not to vaccinate."

Nothing is going to kill off a Catholic support group faster than a decree from the pope!

The thing is - it wasn't the pope.

But let me start back at the beginning.

Read more at My Domestic Church

Angels, Guardian Angels, Cherubim, Seraphim, and Other Holy Spirits

This week my new book, The Catholic Companion to Angels, will be out. In honor of the occasion, for my blog I posted the introduction to the book:
A Catholic women’s group once invited me to give a talk on angels. My first reaction was, Why angels when there are far weightier topics the Church should be concerned about today? The women’s request reflected our culture’s fascination with those mysterious creatures, a fascination that some would say borders on angelmania.
We are surrounded by angels in more ways than one. Their representations, ranging from muscular warriors to plump, rosy cherubs, are found just about everywhere. Statues of angels stand in mute adoration in churches, watch over our loved ones’ graves in cemeteries, and entice us in gift shops. Angels appear in paintings and on Christmas cards, posters, lapel pins, t-shirts, and magnets. A baseball team is named after them, and a long-playing television show was about people who were “touched by an angel.” Click to continue.

22 Jul 2014

St. Mary Magdalen in Art: She Loved Much

 Dolci Carlo 
 Today is the feast of St. Mary Magdalen
Luke 7:47 “For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little
frederick sandys
 Mary Magdalen was so called either from Magdala near Tiberias, on thewest shore of Galilee, or from a Talmudic expression meaning “curling women’s hair,”  which refers to an adulteress.
In the New Testament she is mentioned among the women who accompanied Christ and ministered to Him (Luke 8:2-3), where it is also said that seven devils had been cast out of her (Mark 16:9). She is next named as standing at the foot of the cross (Mark 15:40;Matthew 27:56; John 19:25; Luke 23:49). She saw Christ laid in the tomb, and she was the first recorded witness of the Resurrection. Most of the Latins hold that these three were one and the same.        see more>
botticelli lamentation

Touring Chicago's beautiful churches: St. Michael in Old Town

St. Michael in Old Town is the fifth in my series of touring Chicago's beautiful churches.  My husband and I have been there once before and we were looking forward to our second visit.
I also have a personal connection to this very old and historic church.  My maternal grandparents were married here sometime in the early 1900's.  The writing on the back of some of the photos I have is a bit faded.

You can read the rest of the article at Being Catholic ... Really.

Mayaysia Airlines Flight MH17: Death and Life

Nearly three hundred people died in Ukrainian airspace last Thursday. They were in an airliner on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

Nearly two thirds of the passengers of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 were Dutch. They included folks on their way to a conference and families traveling. Some were "important," others not, by societal standards.

News services have been focusing on those among the dead who were most likely to be of interest to their viewers and readers. That's understandable.

Five days after this tragedy, we still don't know exactly why a Boeing 777-2H6ER fell out of the sky. Since it was in airspace over a war zone, it's very likely that the airliner was shot down....

...I'll explain why I'm not ranting about these deaths being the fault of folks I don't like toward the end of this post. First, and no pressure: I suggest that praying for those who died on flight MH17, and everyone connected with the incident, couldn't hurt....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Edith Stein on Femininity

“Our guiding star is not the liberal idea of humanity and femininity conditioned by time. Rather, our ideal is one which exists prior to all time and which will endure for all time. Woman is created by God to stand by her husband’s side, to stand with him over and above all other creatures; she is bound to him as the helpmate who corresponds to him in an enduring, indissoluble coexistence.”
-Edith Stein, Mission of the Catholic Academic Woman
To see more quotes from Edith Stein, visit the True Dignity of Women

The Universal Monk, The Way of the New Monastics by John Michael Talbot (reviewed by Nancy Ward)

The call to “the universal new monasticism . . . is an almost irresistible urging of the Spirit to a life beyond the status of quo of any religion. But it fulfills every religion,” writes John Michael Talbot.  Jesus restores the authentic personality we have lost touch with. He restores us to “the deepest ‘us’ that makes us who we really are, ” a relationship of selfless and self-emptying love.
Unlike the traditional call from the world, the new monastics are not called to leave families, jobs and their homes for a completely new environment within the monastery walls. In midst of the secular world they renew it by embracing this hidden monasticism. In the world but not of the world, they live in a personal relationship with Jesus, trying to live as Jesus with those here on earth. 
The new monasticism leads people of every state of life into relationship with God in a specific, unique way by the power of the presence of God living within us in the Spirit. “As St. Paul said it is no longer I but Christ who lives within me! This is the reason and the goal of the new monasticism and the universal monk and within us all.”

Dear Friend, Pregnant and Conflicted

Dear Friend,

You are pregnant. Married just over a year and working steadily at your career, you were hoping to wait a while longer before this day arrived. But here it is.

You wish this pregnancy felt more like a deliberate choice rather than a shock. But let me propose something, something you already know, which is worth considering now in a new way: with this pregnancy, God is visiting you. You might quickly object--and rightly so--that God was already a frequent visitor in your newlywed home; there was no rush for God to send a baby at this particular moment. In truth, God has been your constant companion, accompanying you in your first year of marriage, in your engagement, in your courtship, in your college years, in high school, in your childhood . . . in your own mother's womb.

Read more at Praying with Grace.

How to Stay Married 10 Years & Then Some: Karee and Manny

The kick-off to this great new series How to Stay Married 10 Years & Then Some is written by yours truly, me and my husband Manny. Here are our prime bits of advice gathered over the years, and a few of our most cherished stories.

1. How many years have you been married and how many kids do you have?

Manny & Karee: We've been married 14 years and have 6 kids: Lelia, age 13; Miguel, age 11; Maria, age 9; Marguerite, age 7; Cecilia, age 5; and Elisa-Maria, age 3. Yes, we know that's a lot of girls.

2. Name 3 things that have helped you to stay married this long.

Manny: “Not staying married” was never really an option in my mind. So I would say that the first thing that has helped me stay married is a proper understanding of what marriage is -- a promise of forever. The second thing that has helped me stay married is that I meant what I said on my wedding day. The wedding vows I spoke were not flowery or cute, but rather simple and direct. They were spoken before God Almighty for all to hear, a promise that no force on earth could sever, save death. The third thing that has helped me stay married, and not just stay married but stay happily married, is a piece of advice a neighbor once gave me. Tony Imbarrato, who lived together with his wife Vicky next door to my parents, told me that marriage was like a delicate flower, responsive to love and care yet capable of wilting away if neglected or mistreated. That inspires me to nurture my marriage.

Karee: First, focusing on the positive things about my husband, my marriage, and my family. Focusing on the negative things doesn't make anyone happy, including me! Second, trusting that God has a purpose for our marriage and for our family. Manny told me when he proposed that there would come a time when he would let me down, not intentionally, but because he was human and he would fail. (The flip-side of that coin is that I would fail him, too, of course.) Only God never fails, and he will always bind up the little hurts we give each other. Third, allowing myself to become dependent on my husband. Total independence makes it too easy to walk out the door.

21 Jul 2014

The Eucharist and the “Ghost in the Machine”

As an autistic, I have the unenviable ability to almost completely compartmentalize my intellect from emotions. I go into a “machine mode.”

My friends often have a very unfortunate experience with that. They talk to me while I am in the middle of “implementing my agenda,” and they see that I do not acknowledge their feelings at all. Friends who know me well stop me and say, “Hey, I just poured out my heart to you,” or “I just disclosed something hard for me to say,” and of course, I collapse into a sea of apologies. I don't realize what I did, but of course I want to acknowledge the feelings of my friends!

My autistic reality is not all that different from neurotypical reality. Humans minds work very much like computers, which is why computers are designed based on how our logical intellect works. Our minds are different from computers because emotional drives can dominate our experience. I know all about that too! I have been known to immerse myself in emotion and the “lever” that makes my brain work seems to snap completely off, while emotions drive my life. Whether we are emotionally driven or intellectually detached, we are all divided, unintegrated and crippled in our human experience.

Feet, His and Mine

“Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from
God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself.  Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.  He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”  Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.”  Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!”
John 13: 3-9

Feet  are the body parts that support the weight of the whole body.
Feet, for the most part, not very pretty because of the work they must do.
Feet take us from one place to another.
Feet need washing because they lead the way when we walk.
Feet go through puddles.
Feet often hurt.  They are a source of suffering.

Read more at:: His Unending Love

Best of the Best: NFP (@ Melody's Harmonies)

In celebration of NFP Awareness month, I've put together a best of the best of NFP, including books, apps, websites and blog posts.

Read the NFP Best of the Best here.

Sorry. Not Sorry. (@ Melody's Harmonies)

So Pantene has come out with a new ad where it suggests that women apologize too much and should not say “sorry” and instead be “strong and shine”. The suggestion is that apologizing is something women do unnecessarily and it makes them appear weak and powerless. Instead women should stand up and stop being sorry for being women.

Read the rest here.

3 Ways to Keep Faith Alive Between Sundays (with Kids)

The Edel Gathering is this weekend and there were some of us who couldn't attend, as much as we would have loved it! Rita over at The Catholic Review: Open Window thought it would be great to host a blog hop wherein we'd have a virtual conference! I loved the idea and thought to share how I keep the faith alive between Sundays, with kids. I'll admit, I don't always do a bang up job each week. Because work.You'll see what I mean.
Finding the time to share the Catholic faith with my children isn’t easily done during the summer months especially when they’re not in school. I work full time from 8:30AM - 5PM Monday through Friday. The time I have with the kids is limited, but I make the best of it. Here's what we do to keep the faith!
    Full of Grace: 3 Ways to Keep Faith Alive Between Sundays (with Kids) @fillpraycloset
  1. Check in with them about their feelings about their prayer life. Little ones can struggle too and experience spiritual dryness just like adults. Let them know that they’re being heard and share with them how you work through these harder times. For example, I know for sure that Gabriel hasn’t been praying as much as he used to. I asked him why and he gave the usual answer “I don’t know”. Don’t leave it at that, or get discouraged, Mom. I followed up with, well I know that Mary misses talking with you so how about we say some prayers, I’ll do them with you. I showed him the rosary and chaplet in my car, and said that I pray them every day even when I don’t feel like it. A look of shock came upon his face when he heard that Mommy didn’t like to pray all the time. Then I got a little lashing, “You know Mom, it’s important to pray every day and Mary can help because she speaks the heart language. Don’t you know?” You’re right Gabriel, you’re right.
Read suggestions 2 and 3 over at Filling my Prayer Closet ...

Baby Catholic Answers All the Things, Volume 4 - Confession

I think it's a fairly common belief of people who are not Catholic (and also some who are) that the sacrament of Reconciliation, or confession, is totally unnecessary. I know that I used to think, "Why do I need to confess my sins to a priest? I can just confess directly to God and ask forgiveness." I also kind of thought it was creepy and weird that priests would encourage people to tell all of their deepest, darkest, secrets (says the woman who used to be a clinical psychologist) and then give them a penance to complete afterwards.
Read the rest HERE.

But Why Do They Get it When I Can't? - Parable of Weeds Among Wheat

Ever listen to five boys who feel an injustice has been done to them?

Know the meaning of the word cacophony? 

HA! It's one of my favorite words, has bee since Sister Alice taught it to back in freshman year, but I doubt Sister Alice could have understood the meaning of cacophony quite the way I do.

Of course, Sister Alice taught at my all girls' Catholic high school for more years than I've been on the planet.

Come to think of it, I may not have the monopoly on the word cacophony.

But still, ever hear those kids when they think their brother has gotten something they have not?


As a Mom, that kind of complaining drives me crazy. I really do Love each of my different Boys 100%. Admiring each of their strengths and laughing at their peculiar little quirks, I try to make sure everything "evens out in the end."

To read more about my reflection and whether God will even everything out in the end on the Parable of Weed Among the Wheat and whether God will "even everything out in the end," please go to Single Mom Smiling. 

God Bless...

20 Jul 2014

From Mystical Premonition to Contemplation

Sometime ago I was speaking about what I called Mystical premonition or touches of God when one of the audience asked “Are we talking about something that is a particularly Christian experience, or does everyone experience God’s touch?”
“It’s for everyone,” I replied emphatically. “God loves everyone, not just Christians, but Christians do respond in a unique way.” Let me explain what I mean. Long before he became a saint, when he was still a pagan, St Augustine experienced those ‘touches of God’. In writing about the way he reacted to them in his Confessions he gives us a perfect example of how we should react too, in order to deepen our spiritual life. read on....

The Dead Files

Someone was very adamant that I should watch "The Dead Files".  I will be honest, I used to have an interest in these types of shows, but not anymore.  My eyes have been opened, but eyes being opened to the truth do not good unless we speak that truth. ....CLICK HERE FOR MORE!

By Deed of Gift

The thing that draws me most about monasticism is its absolute totality.  The person entering such a life gives ALL. 

As I've written before, a potential postulant does not stick her head inside the enclosure and leave her arms and legs dangling outside.  It just won't work.

Yet how often do I give God "only so much," holding little corners of my life in reserve for myself.... (continue)

"Those Who are Just Must be Kind"

(From John Martin, via WikiMedia Commons, used w/o permission.)
('Now that I have your attention ....')

God is occasionally presented as violence-prone, with serious anger management issues.

Some folks who describe the Almighty this way seem to think that we should worship God because the alternative is getting squashed like bugs. Others claim that God is a make-believe bogeyman, invented by charlatans to frighten people.

I think both claims are missing an important point.

God is just, God is merciful: and sometimes God has to get our attention.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

19 Jul 2014

Finger-pointing: The “Sins” of Pope Francis

I  am appalled  by commentators  and writers who quickly denounce Pope Francis, often  misinterpreting or twisting  the meaning of his comments by taking them out of context.  These critics are acting like the‘ the accuser of our brethren… which accused them before our God day and night’.  [Revelation 12:7-12]  They seem poised, ready to  pounce on any hint of  his supposed sin against tradition. Pope Francis’ detractors  condemn him as a modernist heretic who is selling out to secular opinion by refusing to stand up for traditional  Roman Catholic Church teachings. The pope’s critics seem determined to over throw this Spirit-filled man of God.  I am truly baffled.
What are these self proclaimed champions of religious purity doing?

The most important point in this whole issue is that Jesus never commanded his followers to go around pointing out sin, faults, shortcomings or failures of others, never mind tearing down the pope.  The only role that pointing out sin plays is to point to Christ’s redemptive act, because sin no longer has any power over us. God’s chosen ones had 5,000 years of pointing out sin under the law of Moses and it didn’t save anyone.  It’s awareness of God’s love and salvation for all that saves man. If Pope Francis is in error or sin, the attitude  of his critics is completely contrary to basic, Christian values. In contrast to his detractors, Pope Francis humbly lives out the gospel values of mercy and forgiveness, reaching out to those who have been marginalized, just like Jesus did when He lived on earth. Yet, it is these very gestures of reconciliation and bridge building that infuriates those with a self righteous .  read more>


Have you sinned well lately?

Sins worthy of a good Confession?

18 Jul 2014

"Are Their Souls Not Worth $200?"

Some time ago on Facebook, I got a message from (what I thought was...) my Bishop.  He was very kind and ministering to me, asking about my walk, quoting scripture, and even giving me the link to his blog to read.  These messages happened over several days, and I was rather enjoying our little private conversations....  CLICK HERE FOR MORE

7 Quick Takes This week:: Better Late than Never

--- 1 ---
Summer has come into full maturity.  As I walk, I see mature gardens.  I see butterflies landing on the milkweeds that are maturing now into pods.
I love the milkweed.  It's really one of my favorite plants, but because they multiply so quickly farmers are getting rid of them.  What this means for our environment is that the butterflies who feed off the milkweed and lay their eggs on these plants are becoming endangered.  I plan to let these beautiful plants grow wildly in my yard.  My neighbor comes over and takes the eggs to her home and lets the butterflies mature and fly away. They are beautiful to watch as they spread their wings to dry.  Truly one of God's miracles!

--- 2 --- I've been trying to save money and the environment at the same time by making my own household cleaners, weed eliminators, etc.  Here are some of my recipes::

Vinegar:: Good for almost any job alone or combined with any products.

Rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle = one great ant killer (I don't know if they get drunk and die or if the alcohol just kills them on the spot. However, they die.)

1 c blue dawn dish wasing liquid + 1c vinegar = best bathroom cleaner ever!

1 gal vinegar + 1 c Epsom salts + 1 T Dawn = an amazing weed killer.  I've tried vinegar alone.  I've tried this recipe with table salt.  These do not work.  Epsom salts seems to be the ingredient that makes this an effective weed killer. 

1c vinegar + 1 c rubbing alcohol + 1 c water + 2-3 drops Dawn = excellent kitchen cleaner

Read More At:: His Unending Love

The Splendor of the Ocean by Nancy HC Ward

More powerful than the roar of many waters, more powerful than the breakers of the sea, powerful in the heavens is the LORD. (Psalm 93:4)
My first glimpse of the ocean was at crowded Mission Beach in San Diego as a young bride. Once I saw the breathtaking splendor and power of God’s creation where waves meet sky, I was hooked. Now I look for every possible opportunity to relax on any beach, anywhere. In Maui, the most gorgeous native natural habitat surrounds the almost endless beaches. I have even seen this panorama from a parasail 500 feet above Kauai, Maui and Molokai.
In Hawaii or Texas, I enjoy the waves pounding the sand and the circling gulls awaiting my every crumb. Walking on the beaches from Coronado Island to Cape Cod thrills me. Even January in Oregon, the foggy skies overhead, gusty wind on my face and freezing water lapping on my timid toes, bring me incredible joy. 

Are your fears, doubts, and frustrations keeping you from intimacy with God?


How is your spiritual life going? Are you feeling frustrated with yourself? Are you distraught over your lack of progress? Do you keep falling into the same sins repeatedly?
Welcome to the human race!

No, I’m not trying to dismiss your concerns flippantly. Sometimes we just need a reminder that we are, after all, fallen. Adam’s sin affects us all. But here’s something you may not have realized:

Your sins do not shock God!

God is used to sinners. He has centuries of experience with them. He even came down from Heaven to live among them. Then people criticized Him for eating with sinners instead of the “righteous.” Yes, He loved to hang out with people like you and me.

God delights in showing mercy. He delights in lifting our burdens. He delights in carrying our yoke with us, comforting our sorrows, calming our fears.

Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.

What Are You Willing To Do For "love"

An imperfect, but lovely, picture 
of an imperfect, but Lovable, me!
As a little girl I remember just wanting to be Accepted, to be Valued, to be Loved.

Was it the child abuse I suffered or the uncertainty of how to handle that abuse, was it the denial, or the get-over-it attitude that so many seemed to express even though they didn't always use words?

What was it that made me feel less than God had intended me to be?

What was it that made me sacrifice so much of myself, to compromise my values, to put myself in positions of risk in high school, in college, in married life so that I lost who I was, that I gave up dreams, that I believed false promises?

What was it that made me less?

I see so many others today sacrificing, compromising, risking who they were meant to be in the name of "love," especially victims of abuse, abandonment, divorce, those who have forgotten or who never knew their worth, the Perfect Love that is offered to them through God the Father.

My message to those still sacrificing, compromising, risking is to take a Real Risk, a worthy risk, take off your mask - the mask you wear for yourself.

Discover who you were meant to be.

You Are Beautifully and Wonderfully made.
     You are Special.
You are Unique - and that's a Good thing! :D
     You are Never Alone.

You are Loved.

To read the rest of the post and to see the video that sparked this reflection, please join me at Single Mom Smiling.

God Bless...

Kapteyn b, Habitable Zones, and Using Our Brains

Some scientists say that a star's habitable zone may be wider than we thought. Others found a planet that's only a few times more massive than Earth, nearby: and about 11,500,000,000 years old....

...As I said two weeks ago, I don't think that we're alone in the universe: or that we are not alone. Right now, we don't know....

...Using Our Brains

Whatever, and perhaps whoever, we find: I'm not concerned that we will learn 'things which man was not supposed to know.'

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

17 Jul 2014

'Let both of them grow together until the harvest . . .' Sunday Reflections, 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

The Sower, November 1888, Arles; Vincent van Gogh Rijksmuseum Vincent van Gogh, Amsterdam [Web Gallery of Art]
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa) [This link is to the readings for the Vigil Mass and for the Mass on Sunday]
Gospel Matthew 13:24-43 (or 13:24-30)  (New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, Canada) 

Jesus put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’  But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”
read more of the Gospel
BurningWeeds, July 1883, The Hague; Vincent van Gogh
Bibliothèque de l'Institut national d'histoire de l'art, Paris [Web Gallery of Art]

In 1997 while on a visit to Toronto I read in a newspaper about a woman from the Philippines  who had been found guilty of embezzling about Can$250,000 over a period of time from the company for which she worked. The judge had no alternative but to send her to prison. However he was a very compassionate man. 
Full post here.




16 Jul 2014

Touring Chicago's beautiful churches: St. John Cantius

St. John Cantius is the fourth church my husband and I have visited in my series, Touring Chicago's beautiful churches.  This exquisite church was very near the wrecking ball not that long ago and now it is a thriving parish.
My husband and I had not been to St. John Cantius in many years.  The thing I remembered most back then, was the flooring was in very bad shape.  As you can see from the pictures, not only has the floor been repaired, but the rest of the church has been restored.
You can read the rest at Being Catholic ... Really.

Talking to God like a Friend

Usually when I'm on retreat as I walk around our province center property, I encounter beautiful works of creation like a blue heron or a deer resting in a field. This past week on the day of our retreat when we were to go outside and enjoy "God's Playground," I expected similar treats and hoped to capture them with my camera. As I walked all the way up the hill what did I see? Nothing! Then as I made my way to our cemetery, there on the path was a big, ugly toad basking in the sun. I said to the Lord, who clearly has a sense of humor, "Aw, c'mon! A toad?"  Now I felt comfortable speaking this way to God in light of what Pope Francis recently said about praying like Moses:Click to continue

Win a signed print copy of Trusting God with St. Therese!

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the day! Happy Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Trusting God with St. Therese is now available on Amazon for the Kindle and in print.  For the time being (at least the next 90 days) the ebook will be exclusive to Amazon. However, the paperback should be available soon at Barnes and Noble and other online retailers. I hope to see it in some Catholic bookstores as well. And those of you who are local or who know me personally are always welcome to purchase the paperback directly from me as well.

The last 14 months writing and publishing this book have been busy but rewarding. I pray you will find them rewarding for you too. I really believe it will help almost everyone but those very advanced in the spiritual life to come closer to Christ.

Now for the fun stuff!
Visit Contemplative Homeschool to enter the contest and see the other contests and events marking the release of  Trusting God with St. Therese.

15 Jul 2014

"You know I Conquered Sin and Death."

During prayer one day, the Lord spoke to me.

"You know I conquered sin and death."  

I don't why I knew it, but I knew this was instruction about my prayer, about how to pray. 

"Yes Lord".  Thinking: What is He trying to tell me?...CLICK HERE...

Imaginative Prayer: Switching Up the Prayer Routine

Does your summer bend the rules a bit? In our house, bedtimes become a little fuzzier, trips to the pool cut piano practicing short, and french fries count as a vegetable at cookouts. The ambling summer months feel expansive, and spending time outside on long sunny days gives one plenty of "scope for
imagination," as Anne of Green Gables would say.

Imagination is always available, of course, but sometimes the leisure of summertime reminds us how creative we can be. Slow days ease the rigidity of lock-step schedules, and imaginative play breathes life into our family activities. Suddenly that pile of leftover mulch becomes a human ant hill. A bucket of water becomes a stew, flavored with rock-onions, twig-carrots, and maple-leaf-spices. My brothers and I always pretended the cracks in our driveway were cavities in a giant's tooth, and we (newly appointed dentists) had to clean out all the gravel with sticks before the giant's anesthesia wore off. Ah, summer!

Call me crazy, but one of my favorite summer activities is hanging laundry out on the clothesline. While I do hang out some things in the middle of the Wisconsin winter, I delight most heartily in airing summer laundry. I love cleaning out closets and watching all the freshly washed clothes playing lazily in the wind. Maybe this summer, maybe this very day, our prayer lives could use a similar freshening up.

If we clean out the closet that is our prayer life, we can bring all our prayer habits out into the sun for inspection. Surely we'll find some beautiful memorized prayers we call to mind daily, like the Our Father or the Morning Offering. Many of us also like to pray spontaneously, in our own words, at random moments throughout the day. Maybe some of us like to pray with Scripture, or with music. Some talented people I know pray while creating beautiful things: art, beadwork, furniture, handbags. But how many of us use our imagination to pray?

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Me, My, Mine!

I was shocked when I discovered that I functioned as if I was the centre of the universe.
Shocked because I  really did not grasp that my whole paradigm was skewed.
Shocked because I thought I had given my life to God.
Shocked to understand just how much inner transformation it takes to say with St. Paul,
 ” No longer I that lives but Christ that lives in me.”

Forget Free Sex. We Want Free Chocolate!

The Supreme Court decision in Hobby Lobby allowing corporations not to pay for abortifacient contraceptives on conscience grounds infuriated many. Some activists responded by rearranging the goods on Hobby Lobby shelves to spell out slogans such as "Pro-Choice" and "All Women Deserve Birth Control" in order to demonstrate their mature femininity  fitness as sexual partners  political savvy  anger. (For more equally emotional responses, click here.) The battle cry seemed to be "We want our non-procreative sex and we want it for free!"

"There is this new attitude that 'if my pleasure is something I deem good, then you should pay into it and enable me as well,'" commented one of my friends on Facebook. With utterly inescapable logic, she concluded that, based on this reasoning, the government should subsidize her daily ration of dark chocolate as well. The argument is as follows: