Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Everyday Holiness for Ordinary Lives

What the Saints Can Teach Busy Catholics by Lisa Socarras is a great reminder of the many paths to holiness and the value of our lives:

Most of the years the saints walked the earth were much like our own: hidden, spent in quiet, ordinary duties of serving others and working. Jesus himself spent most of his earthly life — the first 30 years — working alongside St. Joseph as a carpenter before his three greatest years of ministry and mission of salvation.

The majority of our lives are spent in humble service through our daily duties. Why are these years so important in our spiritual formation? How have some used these mundane experiences to become saints? They looked beyond the everyday toil toward eternity.


Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/everyday-holiness-for-ordinary-lives1#ixzz1npGghYRv

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Catholic Child Website

Looking for Catholic gifts for your children? I recently received a catalog in the mail from Catholic Child. I was very impressed by their selection of gifts for children from newborn through teen.

In addition to more traditional religious items such as statues, wall decorations, medals, etc, they also offer games, puzzles, dvds, and books - all with Catholic themes.

According to their website, they have been in business for 16 years. They offer this explanation of how the business got started:

It's been 16 years since we put our first catalogs in the mail. It was the autumn of 1996. That time of year found our sons returning to elementary school and their little sister "playing school" as she spent her days with her dad and I at work. Athttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif that time we were busy processing and packing orders for our Angel Book Club company (now found at angelbookclub.net.)

We mention the book club because that's where it really all started. We'd begun Angel Book Club 16 years earlier to fill a need for the kids at Catholic schools: we understood that those children deserved a faith-based alternative to what the secular book clubs were offering. While filling those student book orders for Catholic school teachers we began to hear from more and more parents. And what we heard was that they wanted more!

More books on the saints and the sacraments, the Rosary and Church teachings; more faith-based movies and games; more storybooks to teach and celebrate their Catholic faith. These parents from across the nation seemed to be echoing our own thoughts: Why was it so difficult to find appealing, fun, doctrinally sound Catholic-based resources for our children?

Over the years we found our own collection of favorites growing - picture books our children were drawn to day after day, audio stories that took the "are we there yet?" blues out of a long journeys, story books we never tired of reading aloud to them, faith-based games that were actually fun and educational, and movies that nurtured our family faith, reflected our morals and held our children's interest. It was when we realized we had a collection worth sharing that our "fourth child" was born!

Joseph and I used to joke that our Catholic Child project was like our fourth child; it required our love, prayers and attention; demanded that we trust in our Lord as we journeyed into unknown territory; reminded us to keep a sense of humor and, gave us a sense of hope.

Since mailing the first issue of Catholic Child Catalog we've nurtured it and watched it grow right along with our children, who as kids were eager to be our #1 product testers. Today our eldest is a college grad, our second in finishing up his final college year, and that baby who used to love "playing school" is now thriving in high school. We appreciate their opinions now more than ever, only these days we have to bribe these busy young adults into reviewing peer products!

Like our kids, Catholic Child Catalog has grown up. What you see here is the third launch of our web site over the last decade. Our looks may change but our commitment to you will not. Each one of the hundreds of items you find here has been chosen by us with care, reviewed for faith and quality, and has been child and parent approved. When you buy from us you are supporting an independently owned, personally run business that remains committed to searching out products to guide, inspire and delight the young Catholics in your life.

Our goal is to help you find products to nurture the faith of your Catholic child. We'd love to hear how you think we're doing.

Sincerely,

Leane and Joseph Ambrosio,
Founders, Catholic Child Catalog
Since 1996

Monday, February 27, 2012

New Class for Permanent Deacons in the Diocese of Springfield

Permanent Deacons are one of the greatest gifts our Church has today. I've been blessed to know several of the men serving our diocese in this capacity and they do so with such a spirit of service and love.

The Diocese of Springfield will be starting the formation of its 13th class of deacons. Men from the Diocese, age 31 and over, are invited to attend to find out more. On Sunday, March 4th, from 2 - 4 pm, the diocese will hold information sessions at three locations: The Bishop Marshall Center in downtown Springfield, the Newman Catholic Center at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and at St. Joseph Church in Pittsfield.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

How to Homeschool Your Preschool Child

A new homeschooler recently asked me, “How do you homeschool a preschooler?” Time was, keeping a child home for his or her preschool years was a perfectly normal thing to do. Children went to school when they were five (or even six!) and somehow still managed to learn to read and write and maintain friendships. Today, if you tell someone your child is not going to preschool, you are likely to get some very strange looks.

Keeping your child home for preschool, even if you plan to send that child to traditional school for kindergarten, makes one a radical, out of step with the rest of the world. For those who plan to homeschool all the way through, preschool is the first step, the testing ground for all that will come later. Either way, it seems like an awful lot rests on the success of that first year or two. Please allow me to put your fears to rest.

I, too, was once a nervous homeschooler of a preschool child – actually two preschool children. I kept a notebook of what we did each day, assigning each activity to a subject area, just to reassure myself that yes, we were covering a great deal of learning in the midst of going about our daily lives. I also wanted to have that record, just in case that someone ever asked “What has your child done for preschool?” I assure you, no one ever asked.

If you have decided to take the plunge and teach your child at home for preschool, here are some basic tips to get you started:

1) You can do this! You have been educating your child since birth.
Parents are a child's first teachers. Think back to all the things that your child has learned in the past three or four years. You have been right there with your child, helping and encouraging him to reach every milestone. Homeschooling your preschooler is merely a continuation of the process. You can do it! You have been educating your child all along.

2) Play, play, and more play
At this age, exploration and play are the main tools by which children get to know the world. Respond to your child's questions and follow where they lead. Play with your child, and allow plenty of time for independent play. An imagination can only be formed in childhood. Allow it to blossom.

3) Integrate learning into everyday life.
The world is a wonderful classroom. Math is learned by counting objects around you, measuring ingredients for a recipe, talking about what time it is, or finding today's date on the calendar. Scientific exploration takes place in the great outdoors observing different plants and animals. During the winter, a kitchen or bathtub can be the site for experimentation. What types of items float? How are things put together? What happens when you cook different ingredients?

Letter magnets on the refrigerator are great for learning the alphabet and spelling simple words. Point out words on signs. Have your child practice writing her name on greeting cards. If you are taking a trip, plot out your route with your child in a road atlas. Look up places where relatives live on a map or globe. Just as you remember best those things that have some practical use in your life, so will your child.

4) Read to your child
Reading to your child is one of the most important things you can do for your child's education. Set aside some time every day to curl up with your child and read. As your child begins to recognize some words, he can help you read.

5) Nurture your child's creativity
Little children love to create and should be encouraged to do so. Crayons, markers, paints, clay, blocks, paper towel tubes, and just about anything else you can think of are all tools of the trade. This is no time to be critiquing your child's artistic development. It is all about the process at this stage. Give them the raw materials and then get out of the way!

Music is another important component of education. Expose your child to a variety of recorded music. Dance with him to help him feel the rhythm. Sing silly songs as your child gets dressed or takes a bath. Use pans and kitchen utensils as musical instruments. Let your child know that music is part of life!

6) The library is your best friend
The library is an amazing resource. Where else can you go and discover whole new worlds for free? Take your children often so that they can help pick out their books. The library also has media resources such as DVDs and computer software that you may want to incorporate into your child's education. Most libraries also offer storytimes and other activities for preschool children. Take advantage of them!

7) Find one or two social outlets for your child
The biggest argument people will give you for not homeschooling is socialization. "How will your children learn to get along with others?" Just being in a family teaches children how to cooperate and negotiate with others. However, it is important for your child to have some peer interaction. Taking your child to the park, signing up for your library's story-time, or attending a playgroup are all ways of making sure your child knows how to play well with others.

8) Enjoy your homeschooling journey
Homeschooling your preschooler is a wonderful opportunity to bond with your child and help him or her grow. While there will obviously be moments of frustration (just like parenting in general), it is amazing to watch your child's eyes light up when she finally figures something out that she has been working on. It's great to be there when your child recognizes his first written word, learns how to write his name, or can add 2 + 2! Whether you decide to send your child to kindergarten or continue to homeschool, you will have gotten your child off to a wonderful start and created memories that will last forever.

Friday, February 24, 2012

An Interesting History of Lent

Joshua LeBlanc has penned a very interesting history of how the Lenten days have been calculated throughout the years: The Forty Days and the Fortieth Day.

He reiterates the fact that Sundays are NOT Lent: "Sundays have never been considered days of fast (and still aren’t) and we can see in the Early Church an Apostolic Constitution3 which tells us that a man who fasts on the Lord’s Day is guilty of sin. Sundays were, and have always been, a celebration of the Resurrection of Christ and as such were never counted among the days of fast."

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Write to Your Members of Congress Today about the Rights of Conscience Act

The USCCB is asking all of us to write to our members of Congress and ask them to co-sponsor and support the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (H.R. 1179). They are also making it very easy to do so - with a preset form you can customize that is automatically sent to those who represent you once you put in your address. You can find out more at their website:Conscience Protection

Lenten Promise Leads to Award-Winning Devotional, Why God Matters

I had the pleasure of reviewing Why God Matters: How to Recognize Him in Daily Life a while back. You can read my review here: Book Review: Why God Matters

In 1996, Karina Fabian, mother of toddlers, made a Lenten vow that launched her career as a writer. Years later, it led her to share that joy of writing with her father, as they collaborated on an award-winning devotional, Why God Matters: How to Recognize Him in Daily Life. This year, she hopes to share the joy of Lent through her book and the Why God Matters website.

Deacon Steve Lumbert and his daughter Karina Fabian share their stories of how God led them from casual belief to deep devotion, and offer tips and exercises to help you see God's hand--and take it. Why God Matters: How to Recognize Him in Daily Life is published by Tribute Books and won the Christian Small Publisher Award for best book on Christian Living. It has over 40 reviews from readers of many Christian faiths who recommend it not only as a book to read, but to go through slowly, doing the exercises to strengthen their relationship with God and to be more aware of His presence in her life.

This year, Fabian and Tribute Books are opening the Why God Matters website to faith stories by others, especially Lenten faith stories. “I believe that Lent, and Lenten vows, can change lives,” Fabian said. “I’d like to share that hope with others, and the best way is through sharing our stories.”

Fabian credits her 1996 vow with giving her life its direction. She had always enjoyed writing, but it wasn’t until the Lent after leaving a career in the Air Force that she took it up professionally. “I was home with the kids, and getting a little stir crazy as Lent was approaching. I try to not only give up something for Lent, but to take up something to better serve God as well. So that year, I decided to give up reading fiction and take up writing.”

By Easter, Fabian had a job with the Wyoming diocese newspaper, and freelanced for several parenting and local magazines. She also wrote some slice-of-life stories, but seldom sent them out, and eventually moved more into writing fiction. However, in 2009, when Tribute books was seeking someone to write a short devotional of personal stories, tips and quotes, she felt God calling.

“I was a little intimidated by the project, though. I felt something of this magnitude needed someone with a theological grounding, too. Then I realized, my father is a deacon—and he is full of terrific stories.”

Deacon Steve Lumbert, who came to faith while Fabian was in college, had never written a book, but was excited to collaborate with his daughter. Working on this book brought a new level to their relationship.

“God continues to bless me through that Lenten vow,” Fabian said. “Not only will I cherish having worked with my father, but the book itself has touched so many lives. People have written to us that it’s helped them understand their faith better , brought them closer to God, or touched them when they really needed it. I hope this Lent, through the website, we can do this some more.”

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

40 Days for Life Campaign

Since you are sacrificing during Lent anyway, why not offer it up to help end abortion? Find out more here: 40 Days for Life

Ash Wednesday

Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lenten Regulations

Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fast, when only one full meal is allowed.

On days of fast two other meatless meals may be taken according to one's needs, but together they should not equal another meal.

The other Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence from meat.

The obligation to abstain from meat begins at 14 years of age.

The obligation to fast begins at 18 and ends at 59 years of age.

Although the faithful may excuse themselves for a just cause from these laws of fast and abstinence, there is an obligation to substitute another penance and no Catholic should lightly excuse himself/herself from this obligation in the Lenten Season.

100 Ways to Encourage a New Mom

One of my friends posted a link to this article on Facebook. Those days of new motherhood can definitely be tough. Here are some concrete ways to help make it better: 100 Ways to Encourage a New Mom

Monday, February 20, 2012

Poisoned by the Pill: Truths about Chemical Contraception

This is one of those articles that every woman should read: Poisoned by the Pill: Truths about Chemical Contraception

Book Review: My Other Self

My Other Self: Conversations with Christ on Living Your Faith
by Clarence J. Enzler
Notre Dame: Ave Maria Press, 2010

“My Other Self: Conversations with Christ on Living Your Faith” was originally published in 1957. It has been reprinted as part of Ave Maria Press’ Christian Classics line. The author, Clarence J. Enzler was a father of thirteen children who was ordained to the deaconate in 1972, four years before his death. He is best known for his “Everyone’s Way of the Cross.” In the introduction to “My Other Self,” his children bear witness to the fact that he was a man who truly lived his faith. They write, “he was a model Christian, an outstanding Catholic, a defender of the faith, a gifted and skilled writer, a fabulous husband and an unparalleled father. But most of all, he was a man of God.”

“My Other Self” was modeled after “The Imitation of Christ” by Thomas à Kempis, but updated to include more modern theological ideas – for example, the writings of St. Therese, the Little Flower. Enzler writes as if Jesus were speaking directly to the reader, instructing him on the way he should go. In reading these pages, it is easy to believe that it is, in fact, Jesus speaking to you, inviting you to turn your whole life over to Him. He does not promise that the road will be easy. In fact, it will involve suffering. But, it is the only way to true happiness. Those who seek happiness in sinful pursuits will be bitterly disappointed, because such happiness can never last. “A saint is a person who is happy – forever.”

Enzler speaks of the need for surrender and detachment, prayer, and developing virtue. His directions are simple and straightforward, always loving and very practical. Enzler makes holiness seem possible, even in the midst of our brokenness. Every page of this book contains wisdom and offers much to reflect on. “My Other Self” is the type of book one should refer to again and again as one progresses (or perhaps takes a step backward) on one’s spiritual journey and is in need of encouragement.

There are so many wonderful quotes in this book (I literally took pages of notes while reading), but here are a few thoughts to carry with you:

“If you would be holy, surrender yourself to me.”

“I send you nothing that is too heavy for you to bear. Everything is fitted precisely to your strength.”

“You must faithfully perform all your daily duties, big and little, out of love for me.”

“Strive to love me equally in all things: in sickness or health, life or death, wealth or poverty, pleasure or pain, consolations or desolations.”

“Do not complain, but do not hesitate to ask the Father for aid to bear your cross and your sufferings.”

“Patience with me is simply trust in me. To trust me completely is the utmost in patience.”

“I require action, but I must have action firmly founded on prayer. The more you lead a life of prayer, the more fruitful your work must inevitably become.”

“Sin is turning away from your King toward some other creature, living or inanimate.”

“Give your present and your future completely into my hands. Accept here and now all that my plan for you entails. This is a great sacrifice, but it is also a great joy.”

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Looking for a Lenten Resource?

Are you looking for a little help on your spiritual journey this Lent?

Here are a couple of resources you might find beneficial:

Pausing To Pray Lenten Meditations for Busy People


"Pausing to Pray: Lenten Meditations for Busy People" offers short reflections for each day from Ash Wednesday through Divine Mercy Sunday. Each day features an excerpt from St. Faustina's Diary which focuses on Divine Mercy and then a short meditation from one of the Marian Fathers. The contributing Fathers include such notables as Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, author of "No Turning Back: A Witness to Mercy," Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC, Director of the Association of Marian Helpers and author of the "Consoling the Heart of Jesus," and Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, world-renowned authority on the Divine Mercy Message and the life of St. Faustina.

The reflections are short and thought-provoking and will aid in devotion during the spiritual season of Lent. The booklet can be used year after year. It also features an examination of conscience, St. Faustina's Way of the Cross, the Novena to Divine Mercy, and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

This is the reflection for the First Saturday of Lent:

Jesus, I accept everything that You wish to send me; I trust in your goodness. (Diary, 190)

Meditation

Dear Jesus, I am afraid of what I would have to give up if I gave You my unconditional 'Yes.' I guess I don't trust you enough. How did St. Faustina come to a complete surrender to You? She knew You better than I do. Help me to come to know You more deeply, Lord. I don't want to be afraid of the path that You have picked out for me. Help me to believe that You will be with me every step of the way and that my surrender to You won't lead to misery, but is the key to my happiness.


Mindful Meditations for Every Day of Lent and Easter: Years A, B, and C

Based on the daily scripture readings for Lent, this book helps you explore the depths of your being, your relationship to Christ, and your association with others during this time of spiritual preparation.

Each day you focus on one scriptural theme through breaking open God's Word. The reflection then reaches out to us in our busy lives to consider what the Word has to offer us during the holidays. Next, a thought to ponder brings home the message for you-to really apply the reading and reflection to your life.

Now say a prayer, an offering and petition to the Lord; finally a practice, a chance to change your daily routine in simple ways to bring God's love to your life and prepare for the paschal mystery and Easter season.

About the Author
Rev. Warren J. Savage is a well-known Mission, Retreat, and Revival Preacher. In addition, he preaches for the Mission Cooperatives on behalf of the Catholic missions in Haiti sponsored by Hands Together, Inc., Springfield, Massachusetts. A graduate of the Gregorian University in Rome, Italy and Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts, he is a program leader at Genesis Spiritual Life Center, Westfield, MA, an instructor for the Permanent Diaconate Formation Program, and a lecturer for the Religious Studies Department at Elms College in Chicopee. He also completed a three-year Pastor-Theologian Program at the Center of Theological Inquiry, Princeton, NJ.

Mary Ann McSweeny lives in Medway, Massachusetts and is a member of St. Joseph Parish in Medway. A writer and educator, her work has appeared in Highlights for Children, Queen of All Hearts Magazine, Pastoral Life Magazine, and Holy People of the World: An Encyclopedia. Her relationship with Liguori Publications began in 1997 with the publication of Behold the Star, co-authored with Rev. Warren J. Savage. With degrees in French and Spanish from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts and Boston College in Chestnut Hills, Massachusetts, she has studied and worked in France and Spain. She earns a living designing and writing web-based training.



Thursday, February 16, 2012

October Baby

The National Right to Life News has a wonderful review of October Baby, which will be in theaters next month.

October Baby begins with Hannah (Rachel Hendrix) about to step on stage for her theatrical debut in college.

In the audience is her overly protective physician dad, Jacob (John Schneider); Jason, the boy who has been her closest friend since childhood (Jason Burkey); and Jason’s girlfriend. You know about 10 seconds in that Hannah, a 19-year-old freshman, is head over heels in love with Jason.

After just a couple of lines of dialogue, she collapses on stage. Following a series of medical tests, a family secret is revealed by the attending physician. All the many physical problems, including epilepsy and asthma, that Hannah has suffered from point to one source, he says: Hanna’s premature “traumatic” birth.

After an awkward, eyes-averting pause in one fell swoop Hannah first learns her parents are not her biological parents. She is angry she was never told. Then, worse yet for the emotionally fragile Hannah, she learns she was adopted ... after a failed abortion attempt!


Read more here: October Baby: A Pro-Life Film You Must See

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Getting Ready for Lent

I'm finding it hard to believe, but the calendar assures me that Lent starts one week from today. Which means . . . it is time to start getting ready. What are you going to do to get your spiritual house in order this Lent?

St. Anthony's Messenger features a great article on Cleaning our Spiritual Closets by Jeanne Hunt.

I especially like these nontraditional ideas of ways to make your Lent more spiritually transforming:

1) Proclaim an electronic fast on weekends - spend the time with those you love instead.

2) Stay out of unnecessary stores - instead of buying more stuff, throw (or give) away three things a day.

3) Go green - perform a random act of kindness for the earth each day (I would think performing random acts of kindness for people is pretty good, too!)

4) Fast from media - give up TV, the internet, radio, etc.

5) Walk everywhere you can - good for the environment and your body!

As Hunt states, we need to look at our own lives and our own weaknesses. What is it that we need to work on in yourselves. "Most of all, don't do something that comes easily. Your Lenten workout should hurt a little. We will know when we are changing for good when it takes effort to do the deed."

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Little Sisters Disciples of the Lamb

I have Leticia Velasquez to thank for letting me know about this wonderful religious community for women with Down's Syndrome. Right now, they are only in France, but I hope that they spread worldwide!

The Little Sisters Disciples of the Lamb are a contemplative community that enables girls with Down’s syndrome to respond to a religious vocation.

To Offer Oneself to God in witness to the Gospel of Life

Together for a contemplative life

To consecrate one’s life to God, offering it for love of the weakest and most deprived of our neighbours, this is our vocation! By accompanying them, we want to enable young, intellectually disabled girls to offer a consecrated life to God and to the Church.


Find out more: Little Sisters Disciples of the Lamb

Monday, February 13, 2012

Love is Patient . . . Wedding Cross

2012 is apparently the "Year of the Wedding" in my family. There are three weddings coming up - one next month, one in June, and one in July.

Today, I ordered three of these wedding crosses as part of our gift to these couples. It is available from The Catholic Company. I thought I would share it in case some of you are also searching for a meaningful wedding or anniversary gift.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

What is True Love?

This week a lot of tokens of affection will be exchanged. There is certainly nothing wrong with that. I’m not going to begrudge anyone their cards, candy, and flowers. There’s even a time and place for diamonds. I’m quite fond of gifts that involve chocolate myself! But, it is important to realize that love, true love, goes far beyond anything that can be given in a box.

One of the most beautiful expressions of love I’ve ever seen took place at a soccer game. It featured an older couple I had come to know through my parish. I had the pleasure of serving with them on our pre-cana team. At the time, they had been married thirty-five years and they were responsible for giving the talk on sexuality. I’m sure many of the young couples in the audience walking in wondered what a couple older than their parents could have to say about sexuality, but their fears were quickly allayed.

I’m sure that they had their share of struggles, but this couple was so in love, even after all those years, and their talk was always one of the most appreciated of the day. He still looked at her like she was the most beautiful woman in the room and she referred to him as “the cream in my coffee!” They were full of romance, and held hands and stood as close as the young engaged couples.

One of the stories they shared took place on a holy day. They had met each other for noon Mass at a downtown chapel and then went to a restaurant for lunch. The following weekend they were at a party, and a woman came up to them and said, “Wow, you are really his wife?” Apparently, this woman had seen them when they were leaving the restaurant. They had kissed twice before getting into their separate cars, and she just assumed that they were having an affair! They also shared stories of having candlelit dinners and slow-dancing in their living room, even during the years when it embarrassed their children.

Fast-forward ten years. The husband was suffering from dementia and assorted physical ailments. On a chilly New England Fall day, his wife had brought him to the soccer field to watch their grandson play, helped him into his wheelchair, and pushed him to the field. During the game, I happened to look over at them. She was standing behind him, leaning on his wheelchair, her face tired and worn from worry and exhaustion. I offered a prayer. And then, she covered his ears with her own mittened hands to keep them warm. That simple gesture represented a lifetime of true love and was worth more than a hundred diamond rings. He died a few months later, but the witness of their love was a blessing to all who saw it through their nearly fifty years of marriage.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

I wish you all a Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Baby's Hope Footprint

As the mother of a small family with friends who have large families, I am a firm believer that it's no one's business but the couple and God's how many children a couple has. However, I definitely feel that each child is a gift from God. I especially like this excerpt from Jennifer Fulwiler's article: Why My Big Family is not Overpopulating the Earth.

There’s a tendency to judge our fellow human beings by the amount of resources they consume, and not factor in what they can give back to the world. Johann Sebastian Bach was the youngest of eight; Celine Dion was the youngest of 14. Thomas Edison was a seventh child, and Benjamin Franklin was his father’s fifteenth. If the brave bystander who pulled you out of a burning building was an eighteenth child, would you still wish that his parents had stopped at fewer kids? If the scientist who invents an energy source that renders fossil fuels obsolete was baby number 10 in her family, would she still be considered “overpopulation”? Yes, each new human will consume the planet’s resources; but each new person also carries infinite potential to change the world for the better. And I believe that every new baby’s Hope Footprint far outweighs his Carbon Footprint.

Read more: Why my Big Family is not Overpopulating the Earth

The Waiting Womb: Infertility Solutions Prescribed by the Church

Infertility is one of the most painful experiences a couple wanting a child can go through. As Catholics, however, it is important to understand what types of infertility treatments are allowed by the Church. This article by Melissa Foley discusses this and offers some hope for those who are struggling with this issue: The Waiting Womb

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Abortion at a Vending Machine

I posted this article on Catholic Lane and it truly made me ill. Is this what our world has come to? It is just so sad. Abortion: A Private Matter Between a Woman and Her Vending Machine

New Mary App

The Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, creators of the popular DIVINE MERCY APP, are pleased to release the MARY APP.

This FREE app offers a complete resource for information on the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus, in an easy to navigate format. The app has three main chapters with these features:

DOCTRINE

Introduction to Mary
Marian Dogmas
Titles of Mary
Marian Timeline
FAQs
Resources

DEVOTION

Interactive Rosary with an audio option
Marian Consecration
Marian Sacramentals
Marian Feasts
Marian Chaplets
Marian Prayers

MARY PLUS

Images of Mary
Apparitions
Pilgrimage Sites
Information about the Congregation of Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception
Introduction to the Association of Marian Helpers
Link to online religious catalog

Mary’s whole task is to lead people closer to Jesus. The more we get to know her and have a fervent devotion to her, the better she can lead us to her Son. For this reason, the Second Vatican Council states, “Everyone should have a genuine devotion to [Mary] and entrust his life to her motherly care.”

Download here: http://www.marian.org/app/?em=nl201202

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

A Moment of Beauty

A good friend of mine brought me these flowers almost two weeks ago. I was having a very bad day and it was such a kind gesture!

They have been brightening up my windowsill ever since and every time I see them I smile. They are dying now, but even in that, they are beautiful - they almost look like porcelain. I wanted to share them with you, and by photographing them, help them live longer. Enjoy :)

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Giving Everything to God

I'm currently reading My Other Self: Conversations with Christ on Living Your Faith by Clarence J. Enzler. It is a reprint of a book originally published in 1957. In the tradition of "The Imitation of Christ," it encourages Christians to "take on Christ" - to imitate him in all things. It is written as if it is Christ himself talking to you. It is truly a powerful book and every page has me reflecting.

One of the passages I read today talked about giving everything to God, even our sins and failings (which are the parts of ourselves we most try to hide.) It offered this prayer:

Take my sins, dearest Lord, as you desire, . . . Take my impurities, my quarreling, my disobedience, my laziness, my unkindness, my impatience, my thefts, my lies, my angers, my intemperance, my avarice, my horrible pride.

Take all these sins and faults and cleanse my soul with a single drop of your precious Blood - and teach me to love your will.

I am yours, Lord, and I belong to none but you; I love you more than my own being, more than myself. I am not my own. I am wholly yours, your other self.


Monday, February 06, 2012

Book Review: Streams of Contentment

Streams of Contentment: Lessons I Learned on My Uncle's Farm
by Robert J. Wicks
Notre Dame: Sorin Books, 2011


Streams of Contentment: Lessons I Learned on My Uncle's Farm is a series of short essays on making the most out of life. Robert J. Hicks, who is a Doctor of Psychology working in Amish country, offers lessons he has learned from his professional work as well as from living in the country to offer some commonsense wisdom. These lessons are simple - there is nothing groundbreaking in these pages, but they are truths often lost in our busy, technology-driven world.

Wicks doesn't reject the desire for us to continue trying to be more, but he encourages us to take the "counter-cultural risk to appreciate who and what is already in my life . . . to be content with who and what I already am." He emphasizes the importance of self-knowledge, pruning, and transformation. At various times in our lives we are called to use different gifts. We also need to to decide what is truly essential when we are making decisions about what to do. He offers a five-step hierarchy with "very critical in life" at the top and "critical not to do" at the bottom.

How we treat others is of utmost importance. We may never know what our kindness or willingness to listen may have meant to another person. Even when we ourselves are hurting, we can still reach out to others. In dealing with others, he advises us to have "low expectations and high hopes." Sometimes, people just aren't able to be all that we would have them be at this moment. If we accept people as they are, they just might surprise us!

Wicks also addresses how to cope with criticism. While it is always hard to take, there is usually some truth in it that can help us improve if we let it. Having humility and being able to see ourselves honestly is important. And, while most of us fear it and hate it, failure can also be a very good teacher.

The last part of the book offers a thirty day retreat to help cultivate greater contentment. Each day offers a short reflection and a task to put into practice. Honestly, focusing on all thirty would be overwhelming. Choosing a few to implement in one's life would be greatly beneficial.

Streams of Contentment encourages readers to embrace a simpler way of living and to focus on what is important. That is a reminder all of us in this crazy world can benefit from.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Quote of the Day

"God has promised us forgiveness for our mistakes; he has not promised us tomorrow for our procrastination." - St. Augustine

And, on that note, I need to get back to work!

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Letter from Bishop McDonnell on the HHS Mandate

I write to you concerning an alarming and serious matter that strikes at the fundamental right to religious liberty for all citizens of any faith. The federal government, which claims to be “of, by, and for the people,” has just dealt a heavy blow to almost a quarter of those people—the Catholic population— and to the millions more who are served by the Catholic faithful.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced on January 20 that almost all employers, including Catholic hospitals, Catholic colleges and Catholic institutions, will be forced to offer their employees health coverage that includes sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraception. Almost all health insurers will be forced to include those “services” in the health policies they write. And almost all individuals will be forced to buy that coverage as a part of their policies.

In so ruling, the Administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our Nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty. And as a result, unless the rule is overturned, Catholic entities will be compelled either to violate conscience, or drop health coverage for employees (and suffer the penalties for doing so). The Administration’s sole concession was to give our institutions one year to comply.


We cannot—we will not—comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second class citizens. We are already joined by our brothers and sisters of all faiths and many others of good will in this important effort to regain our religious freedom.

Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America’s cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture, only to have their posterity stripped of their God-given rights. In generations past, the Church has always been able to count on the faithful to stand up and protect sacred rights and duties. For the sake of future generations, I hope and trust she can count on this generation of Catholics to do the same.

And therefore, I would ask of you two things. First, as a community of faith we must commit ourselves to prayer and fasting that wisdom and justice may prevail, and religious liberty may be restored.

Without God, we can do nothing; with God, nothing is impossible. Second, I would also ask you to visit www.usccb.org/conscience, to learn more about this severe assault on religious liberty, and how to contact Congress in support of legislation to reverse the Administration’s decision.

You are in my prayers; please keep me in yours.

In Christ,
Most Reverend Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell
Bishop of Springfield, MA

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Watch a Live Traditional Latin Mass

On my list of things I'd like to do someday is attend a traditional Latin Mass. I have no desire to give up attending the Novus Ordo, but I am curious about the Extraordinary Form. I think it would be interesting to see.

Tomorrow (February 2nd), His Excellency Archbishop Wenski of Miami will celebrate a Solemn Pontifical High Mass for the Feast of Candlemas at 7:30 p.m. It will be streamed live at www.LiveMass.net and on iMass.