Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Leaving the Lexicon

Happy Advent!

Advent, the time leading up to Christmas, has become a bit of a hazard these past few years. All the talk about Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays or someother such tripe, Nativity Scene or Nativity Unseen, to shop or not to shop...the list goes on.

Recently, I have been searching out Youtube clips of classic cartoons. These are the ones I remember watching on TV as a child, but would have been seen by a previous generation, or two, on the Big Screen...Steamboat Willy, Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig and many others. I am collecting these for my little fellow to watch, instead of the mind-numbing fare that passes for entertainment these days. Actually, he no longer sees much of that anyway as we disconnected our satellite service last summer.

These cartoons are generally not politically correct on many levels, but some of them are just fun, without attempting social engineering, or some deliberate teaching. So I am weeding out the most violent of the lot, as our son gets rather overstimulated, and letting him enjoy the variety of music, characters, animation (some of which is in...horrors!...black and white!) and energy levels.

One thing I have noticed is how common were religious references in these cartoons whether it is a character saying grace before a meal, or such adaptations as referring to a character "casting his shortnin' bread upon the water" (from "The Whale Who Sang at the Met" pt. 1). The Christmas cartoons often had pictures of people attending church services, and singing real Christmas carols (ie. religious carols!).

Television is nearly devoid of any respectful and/or accurate religious references anymore. Thus goes society. But I think that's been said before.

A couple of years ago, I met a young woman who came to my booth at a local market. She saw my display of Catholic books and came in to share a divine intervention (as she saw it) and ask about prayer.

In talking to this gal, I realized she had no idea what I was referring when I spoke. At all. I asked if she knew the Our Father? Nope. Did she know who Mary was? Nope. I went more basic, and she was still lost. This was a challenge indeed!

My husband and I went to speak to her at her home a short time later. I'm afraid we left them bored and befuddled. We did, however answer her one direct request. When I first met her at my booth, she pointed to a Rosary and said "I want to learn to pray THAT."

I think of her often when I hear about efforts to expunge the last vestiges of public Christianity. I believe that we are developing a language that will have no common reference points, if we haven't already.

Will anyone understand if someone refers to shaking the dust from ones sandals? Going up a mountain? Meeting ones Maker? Casting bread upon the water? The Pearly Gates? Going to Hell? Pearls before swine?

I know there are many others, too.

I think this is posing a huge challenge with regards to evangelisation.

I'm not sure I'm ready!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Projected Blog Improvement!

Happy Advent!

I am working on finishing a book I started several years ago.

I am hoping that the work I do on this blog is practice for larger projects. One of the problems I have been having, and I'm sure my astute readers have picked up on this but have been too polite to say anything, is knowing when to (or not to) capitalize religious terms like baptism, sacrament, mass...

I know I am not consistent in this. I have had nothing to refer to.

I think I have made a discovery which will help me tighten this up. It is called the CNS Stylebook on Religion.

It looks like a gem that should be in every Catholic resource library.

It contains Catholic terms as well as other religious terms and organizations, historical notes.

The only thing holding me back from ordering it right now is my inquiry regarding a Canadian equivalent.

So maybe someday I'll know if it's Mass or mass...

God Bless

Thursday, November 19, 2009

How are we Valuable?

Hi Folks

Over this past summer, we changed our telephone and internet carrier to a local company who could also save us a considerable amount of money.

The company we jilted (or at least that seems to be how they see it) has sent lovely cards telling me how much they miss me. We have also been getting phone calls.

I received another one today. As soon as the caller got to "We have a special offer..." I cut him off and told him I was not interested. He asked me why.

I told him that if they valued my patronage so much, they should have given me these fabulous offers while I was still their customer. He actually admitted I had a point. No kidding.

It is not like that with God.

God loves all His creation. He loves us more than we can imagine. We are made, after all, in His image and likeness. He also loves us enough to let us go, if that is what we choose. Look what happened to the Angels who proclaimed that they would not serve. They went to Hell.

Jesus shows us this in the Gospel of John. When He proclaimed that it was necessary to eat His flesh and drink His blood, many of his followers said that He was speaking harshly and that they would no longer follow Him. Jesus let them go.

We can also be confident that if we wish to repent, while we are alive, and come back to God, He will take us back. We see this expressed in the Parable of the Prodigal Son in the Gospel of Luke.

In the latter case, we are told that a party was held to celebrate the return of the lost son. Would this actually make up for what is lost during our time without God's grace?

I am fairly certain that God longs for us, if we choose to be away from him. Parents long for children. The woman who loses the gold coin, again in the Gospel of Luke, turns the house upside down until she finds it. So does the shepherd search for the lost sheep.

God will not usually hound us though. Or perhaps He IS hounding us...but sin clouds our perceptions and we do not hear. Hmmm.

I told the telephone company to leave us alone. I cannot imagine that I would want to do that to God...ever. But if I did, I think He would honour my bad choice and leave me to my own devices.

Fortunately, when I changed phone companies, most of the devices stayed exactly the same.

God Bless

Saturday, October 31, 2009

All Hallow's Eve

My Friend S sent this to me, I think it appeared in their church bulletin.

I hope the authors don't mind me borrowing it. I thought it was very good.



(In this weekly column, Tom and April Hoopes share family-friendly ways of
observing the liturgical year and celebrating the Sunday readings.)

Halloween and All Souls

Last year, we attended our Connecticut parish’s “Holyween” party,
where the kids dressed as saints and Dominican Father Bernard Confer guessed
with astonishing accuracy who each was. This year we’re in Atchison, Kan.,
a town that has a cottage industry of promoting haunted houses.

Catholic parents often debate the merits of Halloween as it’s celebrated
in America today. Is it too macabre? What message does it send?

We will remind the kids that “All Hallows Eve” — the vigil of All
Saints’ Day — dates back to the time the Church took over the Pantheon
in Rome in the 600s. The “gods” were removed from altars which were
reconsecrated to the martyrs. So, on the first “All Hallows Eve,” the
streets of Rome were literally lined with carts of bones — martyrs’
relics. Yes, other pagan practices have been mixed in, but we will focus on
that first mix of skeletons and saints.

We’ll pray to the folks in heaven and celebrate their victory with fun and
candy. And on All Souls’ Day, Nov. 2, we will round out the experience by
visiting a cemetery to start the month of prayer for the dead.

Readings

Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14; Psalm 24:1-6; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12

Our Take

The beatitudes — today’s Gospel — are more relevant than ever. Let us
count the ways.

1. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of
heaven.”

Those who aren’t poor in spirit — those whose hopes are in wealth,
health or material pleasures — have had a tough year. But those who look
to spiritual realities for fulfillment needn’t be fundamentally disturbed
by market crashes or tough times. Their investments are in good hands.

2. “Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

In order to mourn, you have to be sensitive to the value of life. In a world
with 42 million elective abortions each year, this beatitude is as needed as
ever — and as powerful as ever. The most effective new voices in the
pro-life movement are the mothers of aborted children.

3. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”

To be meek means to allow God’s will to dominate your own will. The meek
don’t abuse the earth; and the meek don’t see mankind as a blight on the
earth, either. The meek take God’s creation on God’s terms, and truly
inherit the earth by appreciating the beauty of nature and the dignity of
human life.

4. “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they
will be satisfied.”

“Be nice” is a fine philosophy of life, as far as it goes, but it
doesn’t go far enough. To “hunger and thirst for righteousness” means
to refuse to tolerate the destruction of social values. Such a hunger
won’t stand for the destruction of marriage and the family, pornography,
embryo-killing research, or other intrinsic evils. However …

5. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

“Not tolerating evil” can’t mean “rejecting those we disagree
with.” Christ said, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” We
can have that same merciful attitude toward sinners — especially since
we’re sinners, too — and seek to better them, not just denounce them.

6. “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they will see God.”

Pope John Paul II said to be “pure of heart” is to see the true value of
other people, and not make them objects. People describe how a glance from a
John Paul or Mother Teresa made them feel like they were in the presence of
something great. If we are pure of heart, we’ll see Christ in those we
meet — and that will help them see God, too.

7. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”

Ours is an age where escalating violence is seen as an answer to problems.
Though self-defense is sometimes necessary, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John
Paul II both pointed out that even that necessary and noble war, World War
II, left Europe on a path to secularization and the culture of death.
Solidarity, not war, is the path to peace.

8. “Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for
theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.”

There are today more persecuted Christians than ever before — Christians
are being harassed and killed in India, Africa, the Philippines, China,
Myanmar, Iraq, the Middle East, and on and on. We can pray for the
persecuted — and pray to the martyrs of our time for the building of the
Kingdom of heaven on earth.

—This article originally appeared in our sister publication, the National
Catholic Register.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Natural Family Planning Misunderstanding?

Hi Folks

Pondering again.

The issue came up in one of Danielle Bean's blog articles...in the comments at least. More recently it has come up in an email group to which I belong.

Are 'poor' (as in financially challenged) people being irresponsible if they do not actively use NFP to limit their family's size, as opposed to leaving the whole thing up to God?

First, I will define a couple of terms:

Natural Family Planning is a method of fertility awareness by which a couple may choose to space, or to avoid, a pregnancy, by avoiding sexual relations during the woman's fertile period. This method is approved by the Roman Catholic Church for married couples who for serious reasons (ie not to be able to afford a bigger boat) wish to space children. The method properly used is sort of like saying to God "We'd rather not have a child (right now) but we're open to your will."

Another licit option for Catholics in family planning is to simply let God decide when and whether babies arrive. By inference, I call this 'hands off' family planning. Which is not to be confused with complete abstainance.

Complete abstainance can also be practiced by a couple who feel they must not have any children.

What I have read is what I previously stated: if a family is materially poor, they are being irresponsible if they do not actively avoid pregnancy, and just allow God to decide if and when they become pregnant.

I do not understand this line of thinking. If the proper mindset for the use of NFP is to be open to life, even if it should begin when we would rather it did not, we are leaving it, ultimately, up to God.

If a couple chooses to leave it entirely up to God, who knows everything, how is this being less responsible than if they signalled God that be co-creators at this time is not desireable, but ultimately agreed to follow his will?

I think that the irresponsibility argument is removing credit from God to be able to decide when and where he wishes to begin a life. God has been known to work around contraception when he's forced to. There was even a case of a Virgin becoming pregnant...but God asked permission of her to do this!

A life begun is always a blessed event, regardless of the circumstances of conception.

I do not disagree with the use of NFP. I wonder though that those who demand its use from certain sectors of the population are not really wanting to demand abstainance? This seems to me to be one step away from demanding sterilization.

No one has been able to explain the irresponsibility argument to me in a way that does not end up sounding like "I don't wish to care for the children of poor people". Okay, but what if God decides that these poor people should have children? Is it not possible that we are being called to assist these people?

So, explain it to me, please!

God Bless

Monday, October 19, 2009

St. Teresa, Pray for Us

Hello again

I've had one of those weeks where I feel God is trying to send a message.

Early in the week, I picked up a copy of St. Teresa of Avila's "Vida", her autobiography. I am not so sure about the translation, as it seems to have some 'new age' potential...but I've paid for it, so I'll read it.

I neglected to remember that her feast day was October 15, which coincides quite well with my starting the book!

I have read some of this Doctor of the Church's work before. I think I may have an affinity with Carmelite spirituality.

This Sunday's homily brought a mention of St. Teresa, which I think is the first time I've heard her mentioned at Mass. Apparently Father is a fan of hers as well. I was pleased to find this out.

During Mass, I noticed the presence of a friend whom I have not seen in several years, as she moved away. Four years back, she borrowed a book from me, St. Teresa's "Interior Castle". When I went to give her a hug after Mass, she said "I have something for you!" It was my book!

So I've come to the conclusion that it is time for me to do some more reading of Saint Teresa. I don't think it could be more obvious.

God Bless

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Reflections on the Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Good Morning

As I was lying in bed last night, not sleeping (if anyone cares to say a prayer for me regarding this vicious worsening of my chronic insomnia troubles, I would be greatly appreciative) I was thinking about children.

Last Sunday's Gospel, Mark 9:30-37 was about people receiving a child in Jesus' name, also receiving Jesus.

Father delivered a delightful homily which was a bit of a variation on what is often presented as the message of this Gospel passage.

One often hears that this reading is talking about being open and welcoming as a child is in order to receive Jesus. Father's perspective was that it might also mean having a good sense of humility. After all, welcoming a child is not always convenient...his illustration of this was humourous and, to me, familiar. Parents go into the room of a child who was sleeping only to discover that the child has been quietly creating a disaster which can sometimes be unsanitary. Think: paint by numbers, where the only number is "2". Having to deal with child disasters can happen when one is all set to go out for an evening. I envision an old "Family Circus" cartoon which shows the mum, dressed up in a long elegant evening gown, plunging out a plugged toilet and opining "For this, I went to college?". Parents must be willing to change plans at a moment's notice.

I suppose that welcoming a child could also go back to the child's very birth...or conception.

I had another thought about children and faith. We who have been involved in religious education have often heard, or said ourselves, the importance of "understanding" in preparation for sacraments. This is particularly said for First Communion. The implication is that a child shouldn't be too young.

I would first ask if any of us really understand what it is that happens during the confection of the Eucharist (Communion). By some God-powered miracle, Jesus becomes the bread which we later consume.

But, to a young child, everything is a miracle and most things are hard to explain. How does a car work? Why does rain fall from the sky... sometimes even when the sun is shining?

Might it not be that a child is actually more likely to "understand" what is happening when Jesus gives His body to us in the Eucharist? After all, a youngster's mind may not yet be bound by the rules life imposes...laws of nature and all that.

As I think a little more, I realize that my thoughts also focus on humility. We grown-ups often do not like be taught. We think we know it all already. It can be hard for us to accept miracles; things we cannot explain or understand. Children are accustomed to not understanding things, so they accept what they are told by people they trust. It is sad if we grow and become jaded to truth. The Gospel of Luke 18:16 comes to mind.

We should become like children, to accept and be accepted by Jesus. For such as these is the Kingdom of Heaven!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Comment worthy?

HI Folks

I have recently been informed that I had created no way for people to comment on my blog.

I have attempted to remedy this so please let me know (I know some people have my email address) if you are still not able to comment.

There is a little pencil at the end of the posts...beside the envelope for emails.

Thanks!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Behold Your Mother

Well, I've again been reading "Plain Reasons Against Joining the Church of Rome" by Richard Littledale.

Some of the arguments (and we still hear this ALL the time) made against the Church are with regards to our veneration of Mary, Mother of God.

I think I've already discussed some of our treatment of Mary, but this time I am going to address our belief that Mary is not only the mother of Jesus, but also the mother of all believers.

In the Gospel of John (19: 26-27) Jesus, while dying on the cross, speaks to the Beloved Disciple (John)and tells him that Mary is his mother. He turns to Mary and tells her that John is her son.

This is a practical move. If Mary had children other than Jesus, and the Church states that she did not, Jewish law would insist that she be cared for by them. John was now tasked with her care, in lieu of other family for her.

The Church also teaches that this gives Mary to all of us as our mother. For me, this is not a hard thing to get my mind around.

We are told that the Church is the Body of Christ. After all, we do Christ's work in the world. Mary is the mother of Jesus. Jesus is the Christ. We are the Body of Christ. Therefore, is not Mary our mother, too? I do not see where the problem lies.

Mr. Littledale's book is giving me much fodder for research. He mentions names and makes arguments which I have not heard before. Some of his arguments are based on fallacy, which amazes me for someone who was apparently a lawyer. Perhaps saving souls entitles one to fabricate a little? Nah.

I have just found the reply which John Henry Cardinal Newman wrote to the work of Littledale and look forward to reading it.

(edited insertion) The article I linked to above is not actually by Cardinal Newman. Sorry about that. It would seem I have not yet found his article, if it even exists, as other sources indicate it should! (end of insertion)

I am not yet familiar with Newman's works (shame shame!) but from a quick reading of the introduction of the reply, I think I will enjoy his style. Already it reminds me a little of GK Chesterton.

I spoke to my father a couple of weeks ago. He gave me "Plain Reasons" a couple of years ago when I saw it on his bookshelf. I have since found out that this book was from the library of his father, who was never Catholic. This really piqued my interest.

Kinda gives me a connection to the Oxford Movement!

God Bless

Friday, September 04, 2009

Motherhood and the Environment

Good Evening

It occurred to me today that stay-at-home motherhood might be beneficial to the  environment.

I hope no one goes "Duh" at this personal revelation. Maybe I haven't been paying attention.

So, where has this come from?

Well, I was collecting clothes off the clothesline, which I've been using as much as possible during our wet summer. Why do I do this? Well, it saves money by not using the electricity that the dryer would. I have the time to do this because I do not work outside the home.

We don't have a vegetable garden for a lot of reasons, but next year I would like to try a small one. Maybe we'll get it right this time! I do know that other people have gardens. I do not know anyone who keeps a big garden while also working full-time. Growing our own veggies would save money and also provide produce which would, hopefully, be of better quality than that which we've been invited to purchase this season. If we grow things we can preserve, we can eat some of the produce through the Winter, too, when food is even more expensive.

We will not be able to produce all our own food, but the time I can put into growing our own food will help.

How is this an environmentally sensitive practice? Well, I would not likely be using chemicals, so that footprint would be smaller. There would be no fuel involved in shipping the food. If I preserve, the food will quite possibly end up in glass bottles which have been used and re-used many times.

I can often go days between trips into town. If I worked, I might need another vehicle, and would definitely be burning more fuel getting to work and back.

As an at-home mum, I have the "luxury" of choosing cloth diapers, cloth dinner napkins, and rags instead of paper towels, without having to worry about the increased laundry load.

I also think I can get by with a smaller wardrobe, so fewer resources used there, too.

This would be stewardship, I think. Not only can I care for my family in person, but I can use fewer of the resources God has given us.

That many of these practices also save money, it helps extend the single income on which we rely. Money saved not earned is money not taxed.

I realize that working or not working is not a choice some have the option of making for themselves, and the Church does not, as far as I know, have a position on this. But I think the ideas I present might be new to some people.

God Bless.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A Song for Nagasaki A Song for Nagasaki by Paul Glynn


My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book was a rare gem. It is the story of the life of Takashi Nagai, who becomes a Catholic Christian. His faith survives and maintains him through the bombing Nagasaki, which kills his wife, who dies with a rosary in her hand, and ultimately brings about Nagai's death. Aside from Nagai's personal story, we learn of the history of Christians in and around Nagasaki. The first time I read this book, it had been loaned to me with strict admonition for its return. My father had been led to hunt it down (it was out of print) and purchase it after reading a borrowed copy. I ultimately hunted down and purchased a copy myself. I just learned that this book has been reprinted! Thank you Ignatius Press.

Please read an earlier entry on this book here: Catholicanuck: Where did the Summer go?

View all my reviews >>

Sunday, August 09, 2009

A Perspective on Purgatory

I was pondering the other day. I do this from time to time.

I am always amazed at the number of practicing Christian who are on medication for disorders such as depression and anxiety. I say this completely without malice, as I have long been one of these people.

I suppose it could be said that mental/emotional/psychiatric issues aren't substantively different than any other health issue requiring medication. Some Christians will actually tell you that if you really believe in Christ's redemption for us, you will be healed. Catholicism does NOT hold to this. They certainly think that if it is God's will that you be healed, you can be healed of anything.

To me though, depression/anxiety is different. Christians have every reason to hope. We know that we are loved and that God has given us what we need to get to heaven. In the Catholic Church, I think we have it easiest of all. We can seek forgiveness in the sacrament of Confession and know that we have been forgiven, as Jesus speaks the words of absolution to us, through the priest. We have the Church Jesus founded, which has actively been observing and engaging humanity and maintaining the Body of Christ for over 2000 years. Why is it that so many of us fall under the impenetrable clouds of things like depression?

Of course for some, it is a chemical imbalance. To me this would be a bit like someone who has to take a thyroid supplement or insulin in order to make the body function as the body is supposed to function.

For those who do not have a chemical problem it's a bit different.

Our bodies, created before the Fall (that is, Adam and Eve disobeying God and being sent from perfect existence which was the Garden of Eden) were created perfect. When the Fall occurred, we became heir to the sin of Adam, and subject to death.

It came to me the other day that emotional illness, perhaps any illness, is part of the stain of sin.

We can know that we are redeemed. We can know that we are loved. If our 'receptors' for this knowledge are damaged due to sin, our own or someone's to which we have been subject, we can't feel the love and joy the way we were designed to feel it. So we suffer. This also seems to me similar to what happens in illnesses such as diabetes...the body's receptors are damaged, so as not to be properly affected by body chemicals, in this case insulin.

I wonder if this is one of the things with which Purgatory is supposed to affect.

Purgatory is the place for purification before the soul enters heaven. If a person dies in friendship with God, but still maintains some stain of sin, Purgatory is where this imperfection can be dealt with. Scripture tells us that nothing imperfect may enter heaven (Revelation 21:27).

Does everyone enter Purgatory? No. Those who die in a state of mortal sin will go to hell. Some rare souls may actually go directly to heaven because they have perfect contrition and have somehow managed to completely detach from the power of sin AND have had the residual stain of sin removed from their souls.

So what is this stain of sin? You can imagine someone deliberately throwing a rock through a window. Saying sorry is part of the aftermath, which also involves a trip to the confessional. But that does not repair the window, regardless of how truly sorry the rock-thrower may feel.

The needed repair is like the stain of sin. That is what Purgatory removes. We will be tested, as if by fire. Our impurities will be removed.

So, illness is definitely an imperfection. It isn't exactly like sin because it is not (at least not always) directly caused by sin. I don't think any sin of my own caused my arthritis, but it is something I am heir to because of Adam's sin. Will Purgatory remove my arthritis? Depression? I suspect it might.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Chesterton, Renaissence Man

In the past few years, I have been trying to read and find out more about GK Chesterton. I knew him from a little of his his fictional work. My parents had a copy of "The Man Who was Thursday", which I did not actually read until relatively recently, and some of the Father Brown Mysteries.

What I appreciated immediately was GK's use of language. Although it is frequently challenging, it is rather like dark chocolate to one who loves language.

Chesterton never seemed to leave much doubt about what he meant, but he also was said to have had no enemies. He was masterful at saying exactly what he meant, even about specific individuals with whom he vehemently disagreed (such as George Bernard Shaw, HG Wells, and Bertrand Russell) without alienating people. Wells, Shaw and Russell were all friends of GK.

I recently heard of the debate between Chesterton and Clarence Darrow. A comment after that debate was 'It was billed as the "Clash of the Titans", but only one titan showed up'. It is a pity that no transcript of the debate exists. The media was unanimous in declaring GK the winner. They were debating Genesis and Creation. Darrow was the favourite before the debate, partly, I suspect, because he was the American (the debate took place in New York) but also because he was the "man of science".

What seems to come to me is that Chesterton was one of the last "Renaissance Men". He was knowledgeable about nearly everything. Another comment after the Darrow debate was that GK came off much more the man of science than Darrow.

I suspect that GK's broad topic base is a large reason why we do not read him in schools. He is really tough to categorize. Religion, Politics, Sociology, Fiction, History, Poetry...he's written it all. He is popular among homeschoolers, particularly the Catholic because of his religious writing, because of his exceptional use of language, and reason.

I think it could be said that he sought truth wherever it might be and did not limit himself to just religion or just science or whatever.

I am perhaps bold in labelling GK Chesterton a Renaissance man because so many of the original period chose to disavow religious faith, and to proceed as if religion and reason were incapable of co-existence. Chesterton did not in any way do this. He, like Blaise Paschal, showed handily that the two not only could, but perhaps should co-exist.

I would love to know what he would have thought about the environmental movement.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Reality...

Our eldest daughter has been home from university for the summer. She watches a lot of television.

I do not watch television, as a rule, and when I do I usually find it intensely irritating after a short time. Our daughter doesn't just watch television. She watches reality television. It makes me shudder.

I do not care much if a person is stuck in a house (with a full quiver, models, or otherwise), on an island, in a kitchen, or trying to lose weight. What is the attraction of having one's every move tracked by a camera team? What is the attraction of watching someone's every move?

As dd watches her "television" on the computer, I am frequently in a position to overhear. Dd cooks supper nearly every night. Her Dell, Pickle, keeps her company.

Listening to these people interact reminds me of rats in a cage that is getting smaller and smaller. Eventually they attack each other. Most of the reality shows I've 'seen' (heard?) have some sort of elimination process involved. These people are competing against each other. Their potential elimination from the competition is just the cage getting smaller.

This is not reality. At least not MY reality. My most frequent contacts are my family. We're a pretty clean living bunch, I think (not that there isn't much room for more virtue!), but I do not want my "moments"...private, inspirational, less-than-proud, paraded for all to see. Not for any money.

I need "dark". God tells us that what we hear in the dark, we must speak in the light (Matt 10:27). To do that, do we not need dark? I am not at all sure that God's "still, small voice" can be heard through the din of so much media.

I've gotten to the point where I like quiet. I don't usually follow the news. It causes me stress, as 98% of what I hear I am incapable of affecting. Sure I can pray about it, and probably should more than I do, but I do not need the details to be able to pray. God already knows all that. i don't need the mental and emotional clutter.

Another note:

As I was walking, alone, tonight (no i-pod or any other such device...although I should have brought my rosary) along the river, it occurred to me that at this time last year, I was confined to a wheelchair. Now, I'm moving on my own, and picking up speed. Several people have called my recovery a miracle. Now, I did have surgery, so the direct source of the healing is no secret, but I still have a powerful sense that God was guiding the process. It is a rare gift to know that there are people who see me as the recipient of a miracle.

I know that along the way, extraordinary steps were taken to get me 'fixed up' in a shorter than usual time. A nurse speaks to a doctor who finally makes the right referral. One specialist attaches a note to the referral to another specialist recommending quick action. And that last specialist, the surgeon, follows the request. And I can walk again. Thank you!

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A strange evening

Last night found me driving on black asphalt, in driving rain and total darkness...except for oncoming traffic which merely showed that the detailers at the dealership had put something on the windshield which became smeary when wet. Lovely. It was so dark otherwise that the light from my headlights seemed to be absorbed. We were returning from a neighbouring community where we'd been watching a play.

Then I noticed things on the road. My first thought was leaves...but it was raining hard and the leaves were moving. Shoot! Frogs! They were all over! Avoiding them really wasn't a realistic (or safe) option, unfortunately. Ick.

We even hit a bit of fog, just to complicate things further. Did I mention that I don't like driving at night at the best of times?

What made me think of Scripture though (well, other than little prayers muttered while trying to make out the edges of my lane) was when I was undressing at home. I looked at what should have been my clean blouse. I had only been wearing it a couple of hours.

On the back was a squashed grasshopper. Just a little one. Ick again, but how? Then I remembered. As I approached the exit of the theatre where we'd been watching a play, people were around the door. Some were preparing to go out into the torrent, but someone said "Is it snowing?". It was far too warm to snow, even up here, but there was definitely something, other than rain drops, in the air. I was trying to find my kids so I didn't think anything of it until I got to the car and noticed people standing inside the building staring at the door. After confirming this with my daughter, I realize they were watching the tiny grasshoppers that seemed to be attacking. As I suspected, I found the rest of the insect, and part of another one, pressed into the upholstery of our new vehicle, as we got in for Mass this morning.

My daughter commented that we had better buy a lamb and sprinkle our doorpost or she might be out a brother!

It would seem we went from play to plagues!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

God's Big Blue Marble

Here's something fun a friend sent. My score wasn't great but I will try again!

Friday, July 03, 2009

Heaven and Earth Shall Pass Away...

...but my words will not pass.

Sayeth the Gospel of Matthew (24:35).

You would never know that this has been pre-ordained by listening to some environmentalists.

Once again, I have been assaulted by all the hype on Global Warming (sorry...yet another season is passing here which is making me wonder if some warming couldn't benefit us). I read more on carbon credits which are, if I understand correctly, a way of buying the ability to burn more resources. I gather if you pay some environmental service enough, you can assume that whatever carbon you produce has been 'covered' or accounted for (environmentally speaking). No guilt, and it seems to me, no responsibility.

Funny...this is how some people see the practice of Indulgences in the Catholic Church. While this is a misunderstanding of Indulgences, the Church has been raked over the coals for years for this supposed practice. Apparently Environmentalists such as Al Gore feel "enviro-dulgences" are okay for them.

Yesterday, I decided that our electric kettle is pretty much done its useful life. This life has been less than five years. It's not really a cost issue that bothers me here. It's that it was such a short life...and now the kettle will be landfill.

Both dh and I remember our mothers having electric kettles that lasted our entire childhoods. This seems to me to be right in line with the first of the three 'r's...REDUCE, reuse,recycle.

I honestly think that this is another sign of the disconnect between the environmental hype and actual practice. The sign would be built in obsolescence. Things seem to be made to wear out. Imagine how much less garbage we'd produce if our furniture, appliances, i-pods, shoes, etc were built to last, rather than being built to break down.

To me, this is at least as nonsensical as by-laws prohibiting line-drying clothing, or the drive of increasingly small families to have increasingly large homes.

Large homes mean large amounts of money. Yet we squawk if we have to pay for something that will last...like a durable kettle.

We really do need to examine our priorities. God's word and graces are freely given. FREELY given and they don't pass away. Yet we refuse them. We balk at what embracing those words causes us to do...shun sin (and no, we are not always successful at that), spend time talking and listening to God, our creator (wow...quiet time! People pay big bucks to find that peace, too). Our Creator has our owner's manual. We run better when we consult the manual and follow its recommendations!

Despite all the doom and gloom environmentalists try to throw our way, they are correct about something. The Earth WILL pass away. Are we ready for what happens next?

God Bless

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Women of the Bible...

I was recently presenting my books and gift items at a conference of the Catholic Women's League, which is an organization of Canadian Catholic Women.

Over the past three years, I've had the pleasure of presenting my wares at three other conferences for the CWL, representing various districts.

I've been around CWL women most of my life. My mother belonged, even though she was not Catholic (they have associate memberships), as did my future mother-in-law, and many of the adult women I remember from my childhood were also members.

My mother always seemed to enjoy the company of these women although I do not recall, as a child, really knowing why they met.

Over the years, I joined a couple of times. My experiences with the local groups I connected with were not always positive and with time I got the idea that the CWL was really wandering away from what I thought should be their mandate of being Godly women.

I think that, gradually, I am beginning to see that there are many Godly women within the CWL and that they belong there. The speakers I had the pleasure of overhearing (I was not actually inside the meeting room) were very strong in their faith and very encouraging to the women to keep strong in the Faith.

This is consistant with what I have seen at the other conferences.

I do my best to sell only books and materials which support Church teaching. Where there have been other displays present with me, they seem to be in this mind-set as well.

What I sell and am asked about often leaves me in awe of these women.

Celebrating Mass when there is a CWL conference in town is a joy, as the women SING! This time, the Bishop was present. His homily exhorted the women to continue in their mission. He told them they were "engaged". I guess the homily might have been a little long. As the Bishop said "engaged" I happened to look up at the priests. They were not engaged. They appeared to be dozing. Well...it was getting late in the evening!

Keep up the good work, all bible-believing Catholic women out there!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Good Reading

Happy Easter

I've been trying to do more reading of late, now that the Octave of Easter has passed, and thespian activities in the household have subsided. It irritates me greatly when such things coincide, as they did this year, with opening night happening exactly one week from the beginning of the Triduum.

I like my holidays to be something I can focus on.

At any rate, I have had time for some reading.

One book is a children's book I have been reading to my son. It is a reprint by Sophia Institute Press of a title originally published by Benziger Brothers in 1882, and is called "Bible Stories for Little Children".

This is not the brightly coloured, padded cover type of children's Bible story book, but a little paperback with pen and ink drawings. This does not for a minute deter my son, who is five and developmentally delayed, from wanting to look at them!

The stories are succinct, but what has really grabbed MY interest so far is how brief commentary on some stories is used to point out where Old Testament stories are 'figures' (the word they use) of events in the New Testament.

I think the word we might be more familiar with is 'prefigurement' (perhaps too difficult a word for the younger reader!). Two examples I have come across so far are the passage through the Red Sea being a 'figure' of Baptism, and the manna in the desert being a figure of the Eucharist.

This impresses me greatly and at the same time illustrates how far Catholic Education has suffered. This book, I would guess, was originally intended for children from about 5 years of age and up.

I am a 45 year old Catholic who attended 11 years of Catechism classes, and attended Mass nearly every Sunday of my life, and it was not until about 8 years ago that I learned about the prefigurements in Scripture. IF I was ever taught, I certainly did not retain it! And here is this critical information being given to "Little Children" according to the book's title!

So why are these prefigurements so critical, anyway?

Last week, the Religious Ed session I had with the candidate I am teaching focused on Mary, Mother of God. There is little written about Mary in Sacred Scripture...at least on the surface. If one is aware of the prefigurements and types (another term used for prefigurements of a human sort) presented in the Old Testament, the story of Mary gains depth and breadth, and what is often dismissed as merely tradition by those who put no stock in Sacred Tradition, gains a great deal of credibility.

So, yes, I am pleased with this book and look forward to finishing it. I hope also to be finishing up "Everlasting Man" by GK Chesterton, which I am enjoying greatly, and "Remaining Catholic", published by ACTA which was loaned to me at Mass this morning.

More soon!

God Bless

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Ask Sister Mary Martha: Some Bird in a Coal Mine

Hi Folks

This is a blog I have long enjoyed and have not shared. Enjoy!

Ask Sister Mary Martha: Some Bird in a Coal Mine

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Strangers and Sojourners

Be not silent: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner as all my fathers were. Psalm 38:12

Today I definitely felt more like a stranger than a sojourner in our chapel.

We walked in to be greeted by both our priest and a minister from a Protestant denomination. As it was Christian Unity Week, the minister was to give the Homily.

We could not stay. It is bad enough when Catholic lay-people are called on to give "homilies" but to have clergy from a denomination preach lays us wide open to difficulty. In the past we have had "homilies" which were historically incorrect and insulting. Today's apparently had the congregation learning about three Jesuses (is that how you pluralize God's only son?).

Because of a break in apostolic succession, even ordained ministers of non-Catholic communities are lay-people, as the Church teaches.
What is the big deal about a non-priest giving a "homily"? First, understand that there is a legitimate place for a lay-person to speak at Mass. It is after Communion but before the Final Blessing. THAT is not the problem.

I think people do not understand that being a priest is not just a 'job'...something someone else can pinch hit for. An ordained priest is changed in his essence. His unique tasks are "to teach, to govern, and to sanctify" Homilies are liturgical teaching, just the sacrament of Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick (both of which are also to be performed only by a priest) sanctify.



We are increasingly feeling like strangers in the chapel to which we have belonged for over ten years.

Fortunately, we can always sojourn in the Catholic Church. Even in our imperfect little corner, we can pray and work for change. As long as the Mass remains valid, and that has not been a problem, despite these liturgical shenanigans, Jesus is there: In the Word, in the people, in the priest, and most emminently, in the Eucharist.

If a parish existed, and I don't think it does, which had perfect liturgy, we would still be strangers to an extent. We cannot fully know God when we are on earth. Mass is however, our chance to 'play heaven', according to Pope Benedict XVI in his book The Spirit of the Liturgy. It is there to help us get as close to heaven as we can ever be while on earth. It is, I think, a 'thin place' as is referred to in Celtic lore.

I hope to continue to work (pester?) for change, but sometimes, one gets weary...


Friday, January 09, 2009

Happy New Year!

I am reflecting on a few things in the early days of 2009.

In Canada, we have only Two Holy days of Obligation. These are non-Sundays (not always the case depending on the holy day) on which Catholics are obligated to attend Mass. Catholics are obliged, under normal circumstances, to attend Mass (where Mass is available to them) on any Sunday as well.

Our two holy days are Christmas Day (or the vigil Midnight Mass or even the anticipated Mass which may happen earlier in the evening of Christmas Eve.) and the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God, which falls on January 1st.

An aside here is that Good Friday is not a Holy Day of obligation because no Mass is celebrated. Easter Sunday is automatically an obligation as it is on a Sunday. As with Christmas, the Vigil Mass fulfills the obligation.

Our January 1st Mass was surprisingly well attended. For very predictable reasons, namely New Year's Eve parties, people often choose to ignore the January 1st obligation.

Perhaps less surprising was that this congregation contained a great number of children. Our chapel tends to be a younger than average congregation due to our military nature, but even for us, this was rather remarkable.

What a joy it was to see these little people bouncing around. I found it reminded me that as they have most of their lives to look forward too, I have a new year to look forward to. Oh, that I should have half their enthusiasm!

One of the not-joyful notes was that one of our parishioners had recently been killed in a military 'situation'. I was very impressed to see his widow and their children at Mass with us that day. To me, this spoke volumes about her faith. So many would hide at a time like this.

It became evident that this remarkable woman was relying on her faith and on the prayers of those around her for strength during what could only be a horrific time...at least from an earthly perspective.

I saw a lot of people looking ahead...to life, to the new year, to a radically changed life. All here were looking to (or were being guided to) Christ as their beacon.

Although in our case I regret that the role of Mary was not really commented on at all, I do think that the Church is wise in declaring January 1 as a day of obligation. What a grand way to start off the New Year!

God Bless