27 Jul 2015

The Toilet Roll



Giver? Me? What's in it for Me?

Why be a giver?

You might be thinking, “Why should I part with my hard earned money and give it to someone else? No one’s done any favors for me?” The short answer is that you do it because Jesus commanded you to when He said “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). How can you love your neighbor as yourself, if you allow your neighbor to do without while you live comfortably? You, in essence, love yourself more than your neighbor.

We are all in this together. We are all on the same journey, heading hopefully to the same place – eternal life with Christ. Are you ready to stand before Christ for your particular judgment and answer these questions?


Touring Chicago's beautiful churches: St. Thérèse Chinese Catholic Church

Touring Chicago's beautiful churches continues with  St. Thérèse Chinese Catholic Church.  It is a church close to my heart as our choir has been singing there since September 25, 2011.

You can read the rest of the article and view the photo gallery at Being Catholic ... Really.

And then, there is Love

In my life-long journey with God, I v grown from,
 innocent faith (inheriting it from mom and grand dad as a child)
teenage liberal-Christianity (when I figured out my own convenient brand of Christianity-meets-new age-secular  theology)
reaching a point where my new-age-theology failed me miserably
seeking to know Him
busying myself with activities for His kingdom
a genuine realization that actually I didn't know the person of God
And then,
there is love:)

Read the complete post at J.A.M.

26 Jul 2015

'The young boy consented to give Christ his poor offering, not realizing that he would feed the multitude.' Sunday Reflections, 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

John 6:1-15, from The Gospel of John (2003) Directed by Philip Saville. Jesus played by Henry Ian Cusick; narrator, Christopher Plummer.

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)

After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick.  Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?” Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.”
When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

San Alberto Hurtado SJ (1901 - 1951)

St Alberto Hurtado SJ is a man who took today's gospel very seriously, He established the first Hogar de Cristo, Home of Christ, in Chile in 1944 to care for the many in Santiago who were homeless or had little to eat. There are now many such homes, not only in Chile and in other countries in South America but in the USA. Canonised in 2005 by Pope Benedict, he is still venerated in Chile as he was loved in his lifetime by the simple title of 'Padre Hurtado'.

Full post here.

Apply For Sanctity

Why Make a Universe?

(From NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA); ESA/Hubble Collaboration; used w/o permission.)
"The heavens declare the glory of God; the sky proclaims its builder's craft."
(Psalms 19:2)
Genesis 1:1-31 says that God created the universe, and us, and found everything "very good."

Psalms 19:2 says that the celestial light show declares the glory of God.

Who is this message being directed at?

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

25 Jul 2015

Prolife: Using Humour Not Horror

I understand modern man often glibly, glosses over the atrocity of abortion, justifying it by focusing on the mother and not on what really happens during abortions. There is a place for shock tactics in the battle to save our unborn children. 

Yet our society is bombarded by grotesque images of war, starvation and torture; it is almost immune to the  most horrific scenes flashing across the media. Sometimes humour, warmth and humanity gets the point across.  

With this thought in my mind. I have collected or created a few pro-life memes which use humour rather than horror to celebrate the miracle of life and birth.


24 Jul 2015

The Truth About Truth

Pluto's Unexpected Terrain; SETI, Radio, and Drums

Pluto's still in the news, as New Horizons starts sending data from its July 14 flyby. That will take more than a year, but there have already been surprises: including "not easy to explain terrain" near Pluto's equator.

Meanwhile, the DSCOVR Solar weather monitor sent back a snapshot of Earth; and Professor Stephen Hawking is supporting a new search for intelligent life in the universe.

I think the Royal Society in London's Breakthrough Initiatives group will collect interesting facts while listening for extraterrestrial radio broadcasts. But I also think that our neighbors could easily have been using wireless telegraphy when Oldowan tools were our high tech.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

22 Jul 2015

My Journey in NFP

In honor of NFP awareness week I thought I'd share my journey in NFP. Not an easy one. You will find real honestly here.

Centering Prayer's errors about God


I recently decided to dig deeper into understanding Centering Prayer, so I could advise readers on it. I bought Fr. Thomas Keating’s book Open Heart, Open Mind and wrote a review that will appear at SpiritualDirection.com in September.

But one blog post was not enough. The errors in this book were so many and so serious, I decided it needed a more thorough response. So I am writing a quick ebook called Teresa of Avila Debunks Centering Prayer. It should be ready for publication in a couple of weeks. Here is an excerpt, on Centering Prayer’s errors about God. It still needs to be edited, so please excuse anything my editor/husband would refer to as “infelicities.”

The first error concerns the distinction between God and man.

Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.

Can You Imagine?

As a child, I had a record that played the song, “Mr. I. Magination.” I believe the first line continued, “the man with the magic reputation.” Our imagination truly is magical.  We thank God for our gifts of sight, hearing, and—especially after a scrumptious meal—taste, but how many of us thank for the gift of imagination?  Recently I heard a homily in which the priest pointed out that imagination is a power of our soul that we share with God. After all, God first imagined the world and us—conceived it in his mind—before he brought it into being! Our imagination helps us to create too. Author Jules Verne imagined things like lunar modules, diving bells, and tasers before they became realities. As Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” No doubt Michelangelo, Monet, and Van Gogh first visualized their masterpieces in their mind’s eye. Click to continue

21 Jul 2015

Touring Chicago's beautiful churches: St. Viator

Touring Chicago's beautiful churches brings us to St. Viator located at 4170 W. Addison.  St. Viator was established in 1888 by the clerics of St. Viator and the original site was at Belmont and Crawford (Pulaski).

You can see the photo gallery of St. Viator at Being Catholic ... Really.

Joy is Prayer

As a Christian, living in the Mystical Body off Christ, I can choose to live in the joy of the Lord or stay in my misery, isolated from the Spirit of God who dwells within.
When I live in my head, I live in a prison of whirling thoughts cut off from others and God.
If I go deeper into my being and live in my human emotions, in pain or in self-manufactured “happiness”, I end up stuck as a victim of others and in my sinful, independent self.
However, if I allow God to draw me even deeper into my core, united to Him, joy springs up automatically. Now I exist in a state of effortless prayer connected to God. Living in my spirit , as a child of God, I am in my true self. 

20 Jul 2015

Give Freely: Munificence, A Little Known Virtue

Give freely from your wealth to alleviate the suffering of the poor; that is the easiest way to define the virtually unknown virtue of Munificence. A person truly practices Munificence when he/she uses his/her wealth to alleviate the suffering of the poor, while acknowledging the merit of poverty for oneself in regards to eternal life. Remember, you can’t take it with you!

As with the virtue of Magnanimity, with Munificence, intention matters. The primary purpose must be to alleviate the suffering of the poor; to address poverty. If the primary purpose for donating from one’s wealth was for a tax deduction, then the person would not be munificent, albeit generous.

As a society, we should be...

Your Work and Vocation (as you blog)

Michele, over at My Domestic Monastery, had a really nice post the other day, I'm Wasting My Life (and So Should You), about the purpose for motherhood, and the transition of going from a working Mom to a stay-at-home, writingMom.  She wrote about working and then choosing to stay home, as well as the link between the monastic vocation and the vocation of motherhood... and plus, why it matters.
It really resonated with me. 

oh, ya know... just wasting my life... on this preciousness. 
just two of the sweetest little munchkins ever.... nothing special. ;)

I did the whole working wife/working Mom thing for about 3 1/2 years. I was a (Pre-School, Classical School Co-op/Dance) teacher and a nanny in Maryland, helping put my hubby through grad school and helping to pay the bills. I then transitioned to stay-at-home Mom turned Homeschooling mom, which was its own vocation, surely. ;) Now that I am a writer and mostly a stay-at-home Mom, I've had to rethink my vocation a bit.  In fact, I had a long phone conversation with my sweet and dear friend Rhonda last week, and we talked about our reasons for blogging, along with a laundry list of other things... like writing, creativity, and yes, how to make money doing this and other side projects.

read the rest at {picture a skyline}

Gender Issues

Congratulations to Jared Zimmerer for his Honorable Mention win in the Gender Issues category at the 2015 Catholic Press Awards! Jared's book Man Up! Becoming the New Renaissance Man is a gathering of twelve voices who speak to a variety of topics.  They include: Fr. Dwight Longenecker: Foreword; Jared Zimmerer: Where Have All The Good Men Gone?; Jesse Romero: Do Not Be Afraid of the Culture of Death; Marlon De La Torre: Theological Manhood; Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers: Biblical Manhood and many more! Author Zimmerer is an avid weight lifter and sought-after conference speaker whose first book is the popular Ten Commandments of Lifting Weights

19 Jul 2015

The World and Your Everyday Life

The 'Communist Crucifix' and Other Offbeat Gifts

I'm pretty sure that the current Pope's 'communist crucifix' will be as well-remembered in the mid-22nd century as Leo XIII's tricycle is today. Pope Francis called it "protest art," said he understands the idea behind it, and isn't offended by the gift. I think that's reasonable.

(From PA, via The Telegraph, used w/o permission.)
("The table, which is called an EVO 8000, came with customised bats painted with the Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes flags"
(The Telegraph)

Sometimes diplomatic gifts aren't very diplomatic. For example — the pingpong table British Prime Minister David Cameron gave the American president was a great idea, with just one problem: it was made in China. That was in 2012, so maybe the fuss about a "best of Britain" being made in China has stopped.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

18 Jul 2015

'I will raise up shepherds . . .' Sunday Reflections, 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Akademie der bildenden Künste, Vienna [Web Gallery of Art]
Gospel Mark 6:30-34 (NRV,Version, Catholic Edition, Canada)  
The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. 

Fr Ragheed Aziz Ganni 
(20 January 1972 - 3 June 2007)
I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the Lord (Jeremiah 23:4. First Reading).
On at least six occasions during his recent nine-day pastoral visit to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay, Pope Francis asked the people to pray for him, as he did when he addressed the people in St Peter's Square for the first time as pope in 2013. 
Full post here.

New Anthology Encourages Mums

5 Catholic mum bloggers challenge today’s culture on the value of motherhood5 bloggers

Ontario, Canadian mum Melanie Jean Juneau is a love rebel— one of 5 moms who have chosen to pursue the vocation of motherhood over their careers or personal goals. Along with four other Catholic moms, she shares her stories of mothering despite living in a culture that belittles their efforts in Love Rebel: Reclaiming Motherhood.
Compiled and edited by Roberta Cottam, this slender anthology aspires to encourage today’s moms in their vocation of motherhood. From inspiring poetry to practical tips, essays that capture the small moments of motherhood and reflections on mothering in today’s world, this anthology brings together a wealth of wisdom from five ordinary yet inspiring moms.
ebook Coming out July 21, paperback available now on Amazon

17 Jul 2015

New Horizons: Past Pluto, Outward Bound

New Horizons has started sending back data from its Pluto flyby on July 14, 2015.

Pluto and Charon don't have nearly as many craters as scientists expected. One patch, at least, seems to be very new, on the cosmic time scale. Something, maybe Pluto's equivalent of volcanic eruptions, resurfaced that terrain in the last 100,000,000 years.

There's something odd about Charon's north polar region, too. Interesting, anyway.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

16 Jul 2015

Worry, Mental Kung-Fu and Trust in God

All about  ingrained anxiety and growing in trust.
Anxiety  makes us ill in body, mind, and spirit. Yet worry is ingrained in our nature from the moment we are born, part of original sin.
Babies are not simply empty slates; they are complex little people who just happen to be preverbal. Babies are born with more than simply inherited physical characteristics but personalities and even inherited blessings and curses passed down through the generations.
 I must let go of worry and control, even though it goes against every fiber of my being. My Lord is God and I am not. I am simply His child.  I love to control so God often must shatter my safe little world because this is the only way I would step out of my comfort zone.

Heavenly Dolls!

I was recently asked to do a post about a new doll company and thought, "Why not make it into a {p, h, f, r} post?  I am a doll lover!!! ( I know, technically, I cannot love a doll because it is incapable of sharing emotions, but the English language is so limited in this capacity).  So I am pleased to introduce Dolls from Heaven and their heavenly dolls


The picture speaks for itself as far as beauty, but let me add a little information.  This is the first prototype doll.  She is St Therese.  Who doesn't love St Therese?  (Yes, I know I used the same word, and this time it was genuine, lets come up with a new, useful word to add to our lexicon instead of all these texting abbreviations, please!) She is gorgeous.  Her habit is well designed with much attention to detail.  At $100, she easily competes with those other 18" dolls that are quickly losing their appeal in my opinion.  This is a doll that can be treasured for many years and speak to a child's heart!

Continued on Veils and Vocations.

Twenty years ago this week Chicago experienced the worst heat wave

Twenty years ago this week, Chicago experienced the worst heat wave in recent history.  According to the Chicago Tribune, the temperature was 106 degrees on July 13, 1995.  Over 700 victims were claimed by the intensity of that heat and our city was left reeling.

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

Works of Mercy Bouquet: Shelter the Homeless

The statistics on homelessness is staggering--while it is hard to get an accurate number, all told it is in the millions just in the United States.  Sadly, the fasting growing population of homeless is children.  Here are five ways that you and your family can help in five really quick bites.
Support Habitat for Humanity.  It is an incredible organization, changing the lives of homeless people and families, one simple house at a time.  In high school, I did a lot of fundraising and publicity for Habitat for Humanity.  At that point, it was not as well known as today.  I have never gotten to actually work on a Habitat house, but I think I am going to try to find a project near by that Buddy and I can support with a little elbow grease.  He loves to build and I miss getting to, wood shop was my favorite class in middle school. Even if you can't swing a hammer, you can help out and save money at the same time.  Check out one of their Re-Store thrift shops selling all kind of household goods and building supplies. We have one about an hour away that I plan on visiting for our next home improvement project.

Continued on Veils and Vocations.

15 Jul 2015

Longing, the Holy Spirit, and St. Bonaventure

The Church celebrates the Feast of St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor on July 15 with a beautiful selection in the Office of Readings from his book The Journey of the Mind to God; a treatise about the ascent of the soul to the Lord.

St. Bonaventure describes this ascent, this longing for the Lord as something that is possible only with the assistance of the Lord himself. The key to unlocking this flood of grace - of divine assistance, is prayer.  St. Bonaventure tells us, "This divine aid is available for all who seek it with a truly humble and devout heart, that is by sighing for it in this vale of tears by fervent prayer. Prayer is the mother and origin of every upward striving of the soul."

The enemy #1 of this ascent to God is sin. "Sin", according to St. Bonaventure, "deforms nature." Once again, the antidote to sin that he prescribes is prayer and the living of a holy life. He encourages detachment in order to pursue this journey towards God saying: "Let us silence all our cares, all our desires and all our imaginings." 

YIKES! is what I have to say to St. Bonaventure. 

Read more here....

Reflections for the Soul


Good to Great: Actions Give Praise to God

Going from good to great sounds daunting, doesn’t it? It need not be so. To be magnanimous or noble-minded, to be great, simply means that we need to recognize the talents that God has given us and use them to the best of our abilities for the benefit of others. That added extra phrase, ‘for the benefit of others,’ marks the clear distinction of intention between self-sacrificing love for one’s neighbor and self-serving love. Where do you start?

Take an honest assessment of your talents. Perhaps you are a good listener. If so, be magnanimous with your time and give a listening ear to those in need. Perhaps you are a good communicator/teacher. If so, share your knowledge with others. God gave each of us talents, differing talents, which is a good thing. Read more...

Why Remain Catholic Through Divorce

An Empty Catholic Church

I crawled literally on my hands and knees in the dark. The grass was cool beneath me; the tears were hot streaming down my cheeks. I searched for the Crosses I'd flung across the backyard earlier. I was hurt. I was terrified. I was mad at God. What had happened to my life? To the lives of my children? To my family? To our whole world?

So often during those first couple of years I'd run images in my head trying to figure out what had happened. My husband and I had been best friends and had renewed our vows on Valentine's Day 2009. What had happened to change him so drastically? Had he changed or had I misjudged him the entire time? I couldn't know. What I did know is that shortly before we renewed our vows, he reconnected with an ex-girlfriend on Facebook and that on Mother's Day of that same year he suddenly announced he was leaving, moving out just a week later.

I was also five months pregnant with our fifth little boy.

I went to church Sunday after Sunday. I faced the whispers around me. I faced those who asked how I was even though I was too tired to tell the story again and knew they were more interested in gossip than in how we really were. I faced those who didn't dare ask even though I desperately wished  I could seek their help. I faced those who stayed away because, as one woman put it, if it happened to our family it could happen to anyone's. I faced those who told me divorce was contagious and they now worried for their own families.

I spoke to the other woman's brother, a priest at a nearby parish. "Please help me," I begged, "Your sister is having an affair with my husband." I realize now how unfair it was to go to him, but I was desperate and hoped someone who shared the faith and loved this woman would help her see what she was doing. I didn't want to hurt the other woman. I thought she had probably made a mistake, that she didn't know about our family, the private jokes my husband and I laughed at, the love we shared. I wanted someone to understand and explain to her. A few days later, the priest left me a voicemail telling me to talk to my parish priest. My life was falling apart, and I was left with an understandable, but painfully dismissing, voicemail from the one person I hoped could help.

To read the rest of Why I chose to remain Catholic Through Divorce, please join me at Single Mom Smiling.

God Bless...

Pluto, Our Tongue, and God

Pluto is the brightest of many objects orbiting the sun in what is known as the Kuiper Belt. Yesterday, the NASA probe New Horizons  going 31,000 mph passed Pluto, snapping pictures and recording data. The 3-billion-mile journey there took nine years. This is an awesome feat for the human race. When Pluto was discovered in 1930, it was hailed as a planet. Now that we know more, it has been re-dubbed as a “dwarf planet.” Pondering the immensity of the universe beyond earth gives me vertigo. It’s impossible to fathom the mind-boggling distances and seemingly endless number of extraterrestial bodies—stars, asteroids, planets, and black holes—surrounding our little blue and green Earth hurtling through space. No wonder some Jewish man ages ago gazing at the breathtaking night sky exclaimed, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?” (Psalm 8:3-4). Click to continue

14 Jul 2015

Beyond the Law

Dozens of times in the Gospels, Jesus "amazes" his listeners. Here are a few of my favorites:
  • They were amazed, saying "What sort of man is this, whom even the winds and the sea obey?" -Matthew 8:27
  • They were on the way, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus went ahead of them. They were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. Taking the Twelve aside again, he began to tell them what was going to happen to him. -Mark 10:32
  • And all who were with him were amazed at the catch.  -Luke 5:9
Does Jesus amaze us?

Is he so shockingly unique that we, his followers, are sometimes a little afraid of him?

Read on at Praying with Grace!
Gold Aurei of the Twelve Caesars. Gift of C. Ruxton Love Jr., 1967. www.metmuseum.or

Touring Chicago's beautiful churches: Holy Family

The next stop on my Touring Chicago's beautiful churches is Holy Family.  Holy Family began its journey in 1857 when Fr. Arnold Damen began it's construction.

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

13 Jul 2015

Dolls from Heaven

In a society where secular values bombard our children, Catholics must encourage those who create Catholic culture so we can introduce our children to their rich heritage.

 Of course we should become aware of great Catholic artists, authors, bloggers and columnists but we must actively support those artists who craft beautiful toys for our kids, toys which promote Catholic values in a way which appeals to real kids.
 I am  personally delighted with the look of a doll created by Kiczek Family, Their first doll is  the young and beautiful St. Theresa.
As a mum, I just know she will appeal to little girls, inspiring them to identify with her. St. Theresa’s story is a wonderful springboard for imaginative play.

Generous to a Fault: St. Francis of Assisi

Generous to a fault – Have you ever heard that phrase? It describes a person who gives until he has nothing else to give; he gives from the heart for the benefit of others. He gives in a self-sacrificing manner, making the gesture magnanimous. The saints are great examples of people who do things for the right reason, with the right intention – that of self-sacrificing love. Saint Francis of Assisi is one of the most magnanimous saints, according to Father Romano Guardini:

The perfection of expression can be seen in the saints. God appears in them. But since man is the image of God, and God is the model of man, this manifestation also reveals the essential nature of man, of every man. He becomes truly himself. How did St. Francis of Assisi become truly himself? By not... Read more... 

The Difference Between Leverage and Spoiling

Early in the second season of Parenthood, there is a situation where we see a struggle for power between parents and child. The characters Joel and Julia's six year old daughter, Sydney, all of a sudden becomes a self-declared Vegetarian. She can, therefore, justify refusing the chicken on her plate that night at dinner, especially since a friend at school has convinced her that eating meat is morally wrong, and disgusting. 

After her parents struggle a bit with how to respond, and after telling her she needs her protein and the whole bit, they decide to be completely supportive of her position, for various reasons. However, the next night, her Grandparents are slated to babysit her, and they bring a big pan of lasagna along.  The parents- feeling greatly defeated- explain her decision, and say that they desire to be supportive. 

12 Jul 2015

Christ's wobbly table

What is the difference between your job, whatever it may be, and Christ making a wooden table?

Find out HERE