16 Sep 2014

John 3:16 Carry Your Cross

Cross and candle vigil
We are each given a unique Cross to carry..

Ask a young Christian child what the most important verse in the Bible is and many will tell you John 3:16,
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.
Ask a young Catholic child how much Christ loves her and she will smilingly respond, "He Loves me this much!" As she throws her arms wide to show Jesus' sacrifice on the Cross.

And yet somewhere in between that trusting child and our cynical adulthood

     Life Happens

And we question the Crosses we are given.

I sat in church yesterday listening to this Gospel of John, looking around at my friends, and thinking of how every one of them is carrying some sort of burden. No matter how perfect they seem, many have shouldered painful, frustrating, anger-provoking experiences. Many have questioned why, and listening to their stories, I have questioned why too.

I still do.

These are Good people. Why does life have to be so hard?

To continue reading, please join me at Single Mom Smiling. Thank you.

God Bless...

15 Sep 2014

True Contemplation and its Counterfeit - Part two

I have never come across Christians, who belonged to 'The World Community for Christian Meditation Movement', inspired by Fr John Main, who have not been thoroughly good people. They don't just take the external practice of their faith seriously, but also put aside regular time for daily going into 'the inner room' to pray. I identified so closely with their personal sincerity and the sincerity of their search that I have until now found it difficult to make any criticism of them. Sadly they have been misled into thinking that methods of Eastern mysticism involving the continual repetition of mantras is not only in conformity with the Christian mystical tradition, but the high point at which Eastern and Western religion meet. However contemplative prayer is so important for the future reform in the Church, as it has been in the past that it must be protected from its counterfeit.  read on.....

What I did on my summer vacation

Summer has come to an abrupt halt here in Chicago.  We went from 90 degrees to a low 60 degrees in one day!
Now that the cooler weather has arrived, I started to reflect on what I did on my summer vacation.
You can read the rest at Being Catholic ... Really.

Comfort Our Children

“Everything will be fine…” How many times a mother says just this, with or without words… Are these spontaneous words empty of content? No! God guarantees the fulfillment of a mother’s promise! In fact, the words are a prayer, even when they are just a sigh or an ache we feel. When a mother consoles her children, God sees to it that her consolations become reality, in one way or another. Everything will be fine. Don’t worry. Don’t cry. Rest in my arms… Continue reading...

Our Lady of Sorrows, 15 September

The Crucifixion, El Greco, 1596-1600
Museo del Prado, Madrid


Gospel: John 19:25-27
Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

Simeon with the Infant Jesus in the Temple, Rembrandt, 166

Alternative Gospel: Luke 2:33-35

And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows, Adriaen Isenbrant, 1518-35
O.L. Vrouwekerk, Bruges, Belgium Paintings from Web Gallery of Art.

14 Sep 2014

Exaltation of the Cross: Reflections and Images

The only reason to exalt the cross is because of the work of salvation Jesus accomplished on that piece of wood and our unending, incredulous gratitude. If we really stop and think about it, this sacrifice  is ‘ mind blowing’  because the Almighty God of the Universe suffered agony and humiliation to save us from ourselves, our guilt, shame and utter failure to save ourselves.

read more and delight in more art>

Right Before My Eyes

Studying Art history in college, I wondered why we spent a good chunk of the semester concentrating on Catholic church architecture. This was especially puzzling because I was in a State University, and the teacher was outspoken about her own atheism.

In time, I understood. Churches are built to "speak." They are intended to offer, along with the printed or spoken words uttered within them, a special language of their own...(continue...)

Gamaliel and the Centurion

Between spending my teens in the '60s and stubbornness worthy of a mule, my attitude toward "authority" had been less than fawning.

Happily, I married a woman with a very low tolerance for nonsense. She pointed out that I had no problem with authority. It was pompous nitwits who claim authority that set my teeth on edge. (December 2, 2012; March 30, 2011)

That helped explain why I became a Catholic, and that's another topic.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

13 Sep 2014

Holy Cross Day

In the gospel of Luke, Jesus says that to be His disciple, we must deny ourselves, and take up our cross and follow Him (Luke 9:23). When Jesus took up His Cross, He knew He was on His way to die. Taking up my cross and following Him means I must be willing to die to myself in order to live more fully for Jesus.  It’s a call to absolute surrender. Read more...

Chain of Command and a Simple Choice

When I learned who currently held the authority my Lord gave Simon Peter, recorded in Matthew 16:13-19, I didn't have much choice: I had to join the Catholic Church.

In a sense, I 'knew too much.'

I could either claim to follow Jesus and acknowledge the Son of God's authority, passed along in unbroken succession through the rise and fall of kingdoms, empires, and civilizations — or not. As Simon Peter said, it's a simple choice....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Writing through the Grace of God

I have been told that I have "a flare for language", a "talent for writing", a "gift for the word."  For many years, family members and friends have at times "commissioned" a piece of writing from me.  In fact, my grandmother has told me that she has in her will that I must compose a poem for her funeral.  I have tried to explain that it doesn't work that way, that I can't just make myself write.  She will hear none of it, she says that she has it in writing and since it is her final wish, I must obey.  (She is a feisty one!)

However, it is true.  There is nothing that I have written that has come solely from me.  When I have attempted to force the gift, it has failed miserably.  That is because the gift, is not my own, but the LORD's.  I am only His instrument.  I never feel this more acutely than when an entire essay, poem, or story comes to me in an instant, like a stiff breeze blowing into my mind, yet I cannot nor will not write it down immediately.  Try as I may, if I seek to recreate that piece of writing later, I may be able to in some sense, but will never achieve the original level of eloquence and undoubtedly some of my favorite key points will be lost.

It is by the Holy Spirit that I write, it is by His intercession and grace that they words flow.  This past week, I began to wonder if my blessing of this blog had run it's course, if God had already decided that my work was done.

Read more at Veils and Vocations.

Heavenly Verdict



'So must the Son of Man be lifted up.' Sunday Reflections, The Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

Art Museum, Cincinnati, USA [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) 

Jesus said to Nicodemus: No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
NicodemusUnknown Master, Flemish
Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Ghent, Belgium [Web Gallery of Art]
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines has designated the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross this year as National Day of Prayer for Peace in Iraq and Syria. Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, President of the CBCP, wrote to his fellow bishops: In all our Masses on the feast of the Holy Cross, let us unite ourselves with our suffering brothers and sisters, commending to the God who is our hope their pains, their shattered lives and dreams, their bereavement and their loss. He also asked for a special collection at all Masses, the money to be sent by the CBCP to the charity aid of the Apostolic Nunciatures in Iraq and Syria.
Full post here.

12 Sep 2014

Strange Critters, a Dinosaur, and Early Permian Night Hunters

We're learning more about life on Earth: and finding that there's more to learn.

For example, those aren't mushrooms. Scientists think they're animals. Probably....

...God Thinks Big

If you've read other posts here, you probably know why I think God works on a cosmic scale, isn't overextended, and doesn't mind if we use our brains. (September 5, 2014; June 6, 2014)

If you haven't: here's what I think about God's universe....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Remembering 9/11, Thirteen Years Later

Our oldest son was a senior in high school on September 11, 2001.  In his valedictory speech on his graduation day in June of 2002, he mentioned the tragic event that forever scarred the hearts of  all Americans.  In part, here is what he said:

 ...this year we looked on in disbelief on September 11th as innocent lives were taken by the evil of terrorism.  The pain we felt...was acute, but strength is often forged in the fires of misfortune...through the 9/11 tragedy, I hope, we learned to respect and protect life, every human life. 

It is this that our society needs most today.  Our society's moral values have been in a downward spiral for quite a while, and this trend shows no sign of getting better unless there is a change in the way we think.  At the heart of this moral decline is a cheapening of human life.  Pope John Paul II has called this the "Culture of Death."  Choices once unanimously considered criminal and rejected by the common moral sense are gradually becoming socially acceptable.  One of the tragic consequences of this trend is abortion.  The amount of abortions performed in this country is truly staggering.  Each day, more pre-born human lives are lost to abortion than the total death toll in the 9/11 tragedy.  This moral conditioning has also spawned assisted suicide and euthanasia and now human cloning experimentation is a reality.  To quote our Pope, "conscience itself, darkened as it were by such widespread conditioning, is finding it increasingly difficult to distinguish between good and evil in what concerns the basic value of human life."

To see what else he said in his triumphant pro-life valedictory speech (and the surprising reaction of some listeners), you can read the full post.here.

11 Sep 2014

Ever Changing History

I changed history.  Actually, it wasn’t anything that I did, it was the gift my mother gave me.  She gave me life instead of an abortion.    I was born.  Even though she was an unwed mother, she knew that life was a gift from God.  She protected my life, and I was born. 

If I hadn’t been given the gift of life, history would have been different.  By being born, we change  “what could have been,” into what is.  There are no “what ifs.”

Abortion changes history.  We don’t know what might have been.  The “what if’s” are always there.  The “what could have beens,” we will never know.  All we have is the grief of not knowing.  The child who could have been is gone and will not be able to come back.  As opposed to many adoptions, there is no child who will be looking for their birth parents in 20 years where there might be a glad reunion.  The “what if’s” and “what could have beens” are empty words when an abortion is performed.

“A voice was heard in Ramah,
    wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
    she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.”  

Matthew 2:18

Read More at:: His Unending Love

Death Is Not "The Worst Thing About Life"

On this most difficult day I am thinking about death.

Last night, on my way out of my graduate class in Jersey City, a friend texted me to let me know our next door neighbor's infant son had died suddenly. I spent the long drive home talking to Ruth. When I got home at 11 p.m., I sat in my car in the driveway, crying and still talking with her and noting that all the lights were on in the family's home and all the shades drawn. My friend and I were grieving, trying to make sense of the unimaginable.

"There has been a lot of death lately," I told her.

Keep Reading...

Which is Better? The Masculine or The Feminine?

Saint John Paul II states in Mulieris Dignatem "Each woman inherits her femininity as an expression of the image and likeness of God that is hers."  We could say likewise about each man's masculinity.  

Therefore, when man or woman thinks that one is somehow "less than" the other, they are also showing disdain for that which is part of the essence of God.   

Masculinity and femininity, fully expressed, can teach mankind much about it's relationship to God and to each other.  Humanity suffers when women choose to squelch their feminine virtues in favor of masculine ones.   It also suffers when men feel they have to hide their masculine traits in our feminized culture.  The fact is, that the best of both  masculine and feminine virtues should be developed in both men and women rather than one in favor of the other.  Their expression, however, will differ.  St. Theresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) wrote  "Christ embodies the ideal of human perfection: in him all bias and defects are removed, the masculine and feminine virtues are united and their weaknesses redeemed; therefore, his true followers will be progressively exalted over their natural limitations. That is why we see in holy men a womanly tenderness and goodness and a truly maternal solicitude for the souls entrusted to them, while in holy women there is manly boldness, proficiency, and determination.”

To read more, visit The Sincere Gift

My 9/11 Story: The Day My Van Was Stolen

I wrote this post on the tenth anniversary of  September 11.
Ten years ago today, our country was viciously attacked like no other time in history.  Like the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, his brother Robert and Martin Luther King Jr., the day will ever be in my memory along with where I was and what I was doing.
You can read the rest at Being Catholic ... Really.

Remembering 9/11, Living in a Big World

About 3,000 folks died in attacks on New York City's World Trade Center and the Pentagon on this date, 13 years ago.

The death toll would almost certainly have been higher, if passengers and surviving crew of United Airlines Flight 93 had not attacked their hijackers. They died, probably because the Al Qaeda pilot deliberately flew into the ground.

Depending on their views, folks have commemorated the 9/11 attacks in many ways.

Some have declared that the attacks were justified, because America is a big meany. They usually express the idea in more sophisticated terms, of course.

Others say that Muslims are to blame: all Muslims. Still others take the more sweeping view that all religion is to blame.

I think there is a tiny element of truth in 'all of the above.'

Al Qaeda's leader at the time, Osama bin Laden, almost certainly had sincerely-held religious beliefs: and chose American targets in response to this country's profound lack of fidelity to his brand of Islam....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

9/11, Dreams and Second Chances

On the anniversary of 9/11 every year, when I am watching the footage of the twin towers being hit by planes on TV, I am reminded of a dream I had exactly three years earlier in September of 1998. At the time I had the dream and until 9/11 happended in 2001, I did not realize the dream was going to be somewhat literal. I even prayed about and came up with a symbolic interpretation. 

Continue Reading at Beautifulthorns >

Prayer for Lost Objects

Last week I lost my good umbrella, the compact one that pops upon immediately when you press a button. I’ve had it for many years, and I miss it. This is not the most valuable thing I’ve lost. I suppose the umbrella is in a special universe “lost and found” room along with my mysteriously missing driver’s license and my ID tag. Losing anything is annoying, not to mention sometimes expensive. Searching high and low for a lost item eats up valuable time. Click to continue

10 Sep 2014

Vision of Eucharist (Part I)

It's time.

This is what I saw.  The words underneath the vision of the Eucharist is what I heard.  A man's voice, gentle, but with authority to it that you did not question. 

Now the history....TO READ MORE CLICK HERE.

Coping with Change as a Family

It’s good to be posting again! I was in an unexpected blogging break because we moved on short notice from Iraq to the U.S. (Pittsburgh area). We aren’t fully settled in yet, and are still job hunting, hoping we find something soon so we know we can definitely stay in the area and start getting put together.
It’s been an absolute whirlwind of a month, with so many unknowns and unexpected changes, hopes and disappointments, sad goodbyes and happy hellos as we left our friends, family and community in Iraq, and have started making new connections and renewing old ones here in the U.S.
We are still praying so hard for the community we left behind in Erbil, and are so deified by the solidarity with which they have welcomed all the refugees that have come to the city from other places in Iraq. I think it’s going to take a long time to fully process everything that’s just happened (and still is happening as we try to keep getting settled on this end).
God was blessing us so much in Iraq; I’m excited to see what he has in store and how he blesses us as a family during this next part of our journey.
To continue reading this post, head over to Eyes On Heaven.

Trusting God with St. Therese by Connie Rossini

f721a3fecabdba499cc593d2d9b9ae80Looking for a spiritual read which is so interesting that you can hardly put it down but has the potential to change your life as well? Trusting  God with St. Therese  by  Connie Rossini more than satisfies both these prerequisites.
Connie delves not only into the biography of the Little Flower but also grapples with the ramifications of these facts as they affected her spiritually and psychologically. Connie then applies these in-depth reflections on the saint to her own struggle to trust God, applying the same magnifying glass to her life. The result is a unique book which  captures the reader’s curiosity, holds our interest and at the same time touches our heart and inner spirit, triggering a yearning for our own inner healing and spiritual growth.
Because Connie humbly reveals both her own and St. Therese’s weaknesses and struggles, she connects personally with the reader, helping us understand that sanctity is possible for everyone.  To make it easier to apply her insights to the reader’s daily life, Connie offers Questions for Reflection and Practical Suggestionsat the end of each chapter. continue reading>

Why Homeschool?

I have homeschooled my children for five years, and currently I have four eager students in my charge. The question comes up occasionally why we homeschool. The question comes from our children as well as from my husband and me. To a large extent the answer is a listing of pro’s and con’s, where the pro’s quickly outweigh the con’s. Sometimes this is sufficient for all of us, and we continue with renewed vigor. Sometimes, however, the question takes the shape of a doubt: are we doing the right thing, or does there exist a better option? One answer to this doubt leads thus: a homeschool is one integrated part of a family. It is a fruit of the life of the family, and will be there as long as there is a family, whether the children are formally enrolled in a private school, home-based or other-based, or they are enrolled in a public school. To whatever extent there is life in a family, there is a homeschool. Continue reading...

9 Sep 2014

Thoughts on Joy

Joy is spontaneous.
Joy is contagious.
Joy is courageous.
Joy is laughter.
Joy is sharing.
Joy is now.

Joy is the Hand of God reaching down to touch His Children.
Joy is the Love of His Sacred Heart.
Joy is knowing that my God is madly in love with me.
Joy is knowing that He offers forgiveness when I seek reconciliation.
Joy is knowing that I am forgiven.

 In my life,
A brisk walk, dodging ice, brings me joy. 
Making glass beads fills me with joy.

Read more at:: His Unending Love

Adapting for Disabilities

Photo Source
. . . Suffering and sin pressed on me heavily this morning, making me feel constricted, helpless. Feeling burdened and discouraged, I boarded the bus for work. Immediately I noticed something new on the bus: a PA system recently installed that announces every upcoming stop. I couldn't help but notice the new system, because it's loud and relentless. The computerized voice blared out each bus stop as we approached:

120th Street!
118th Street!
Watertown Plank Road and 116th Street!
Watertown Plank Road and Mayfair Road! Transfer to Route 31, State Street Branch!

Given how deflated I was feeling, my first reaction was to be annoyed by the new two-block warning system. And then, by God's providence, I started to imagine why the automated voice had been installed in the first place.

Read on at Praying with Grace

Our Marriage Book to Be Released by Ave Maria Press in 2016!!

As we announced last week, Ave Maria Press will be releasing our Catholic marriage help book in 2016. The working title (although publishers always change the title!) is Secrets of Turning Water into Wine. Why are we writing the book? What can you learn from the book? Read on to find out!


Divorce rates for Catholic marriages have almost tripled since the early 1970s, proving that Catholic marriages are not immune from the terrible epidemic of divorce. Catholic couples today desperately need a transfusion of spiritual truths combined with solid practical advice. Secrets of Turning Water into Wine offers a warm catechesis that illustrates how God’s plan for marriage can free us to experience deep, lasting, and soul-satisfying love in our everyday lives.

Weekend or one-day marriage preparation programs might not give couples all the information they need or want. Secrets of Turning Water into Wine shows how Biblical principles can provide trustworthy solutions to the most common problems facing couples today. The goal of Secrets of Turning Water into Wine is to inspire couples to stay in love with each other, in love with Christ, and in love with the wisdom of the Catholic Church. 

The prayer God always answers

Sunday Morning by Thomas Waterman Wood (Wikimedia Commons)
How can we know that God will hear and answer our prayers?
I learned a new word the other day that I want to share with you: impetration. Impetration is a prayer that God infallibly answers. The concept comes from such New Testament passages as this:
Ask and you will receive. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Mt. 7:7)
Now we know from experience that God does not answer every prayer. Or, as we like to say, He sometimes answers with a “no.” So where is the fulfillment of this verse?
St. Thomas Aquinas taught that there are four requirements for impetration:
  1. We must be praying for ourselves, since freewill is involved.
  2. We must be praying for something necessary for salvation (but theologians include in this all the goods that could help us grow in grace).
  3. We must pray piously–in Jesus’ name, with humility, trust, and attention.
  4. We must persevere in prayer when necessary.  

Another Myeong Sek: The Road to Emmaus

Columban Fr Noel O'Neill with Myeong Sek in Kore
The Universal Prayer Intention of Pope Francis for September is That the mentally disabled may receive the love and help they need for a dignified life.

Fr Noel O'Neill is a Columban priest from Limerick, Ireland, who has been in Korea since 1957. In this article from the September-October 2014 issue of MISYONonline.com, the magazine of the Columbans in the Philippines that I have been editing for 12 years now, he shows how he has been living this prayer intention - and how he himself has received love and help for a dignified life from two persons in particular, among others, whom he describes as 'differently abled' and who were on the fringes of society because others didn't recognise the gifts that God had given them.

With Myeong Sek at the grave of You Ha
Myeong Sek, Theresa, was special. She was special because she was differently abled.
She was special because it was she who accompanied me as together we first began to walk the Road to Emmaus.
Full post here.

8 Sep 2014

7 Sep 2014

God's Wrath.

Today was a rough one.  But I knew it would be, I had been warned ahead of time. 

I went to Holy Mass and as usual, I stay after and pray.  This situation is ideal, because no one sees me.  This is important.  If you are truly seeking the good of another soul in your petition to God, and nothing for yourself, then your petition, ideally, should just be between you and God.  Hidden from the eyes of everyone.  No guile, no hidden agendas, just you and God as you plead to Him for His mercy on those He has chosen you to pray for.  (Oh yeah, you usually don't get to pick whom or what you pray for.) ....to find out what happened when praying the stations, CLICK HERE!

What is Lectio Divina?

  František Dvořák, in US public domain due to age 
Just what IS Lectio Divina?  Is it something I can practice in my ordinary daily life?

The answer to the second question is "yes."

The answer to the first can be found here (continue) ...  


Morality isn't Just About "Morality"

Where I grew up, on the Minnesota-North Dakota border, quite a few folks said "morality" when they were talking about about ethics and sex.

Their "morality" apparently focused on some zipper issues, plus a few cultural values. That myopic view of morality helped inspire stories of Chickenman's battle against "crime and/or evil," and that's almost another topic.

"Morality of the Passions" — Emotions, Ethics, and All That

The Catechism of the Catholic Church doesn't have particularly catchy titles for the different sections. For example — Part Three, Life in Christ; Section One, Man's Vocation Life in the Spirit; Chapter One, The Dignity of the Human Person; Article 5; is is called Morality of the Passions.

Some of these "passions" might involve sex: but what the word means here is "emotions:"...

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

raqi MP's heartfelt plea for the Yazidi people and other minorities

Vian Dakhil MP,  is the only Yazidi member of the Iraqi parliament. Though she gave this speech on 5 August I came across it only yesterday. It speaks for itself.

The MP was injured a week later when an Iraqi helicopter on a mission to help the besieged Yazidi people crashed, killing the pilot.

6 Sep 2014

'If the member listens to you, you have regained that one.' Sunday Reflections, 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

The Repentant Peter, El Greco, c.1600
Phillips Collection, Washington [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) 

Jesus said to his disciples:
“If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one.  But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses.  If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.  Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.  Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.  For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”

Today's gospel looks at forgiveness, mainly from the point of view of helping someone to acknowledge a wrongdoing and thereby asking for and receiving forgiveness. During this week I kept thinking about a Christian Brother who taught me in Dublin and one incident involving him that I witnessed and another I heard about years later. I'll simply copy from a previous post, with one or two slight changes.
Full post here.