Thursday, January 31, 2013

Explaining Hell to Children

Talking about heaven and hell is never easy with children. Even heaven, which is the most wonderful place anyone could ever imagine (beyond what we can imagine), is scary because we have to die to get there and it is a great unknown. Purgatory and hell are much less appealing options. Yet, we do have a responsibility to teach out children about these realities. God has revealed them to us. We can't pretend that they don't exist. There are consequences for how we choose to live our life in this world, and while we trust in God's mercy, we also believe that He is just.

Mary Lou Rosien has a good way of teaching about hell which she describes in Catechist Know-How in Our Sunday Visitor (You need to scroll down the page to find the article): https://www.osvparish.com/ResourceLibrary/FaithatHome/TeachingCatholicKids/Article/tabid/393/itemId/527/A-Lively-Lent.aspx

We talked about what it would feel like to permanently 'lose' God. I explained to them, that the pain would not fade, that time would not heal that loss and that hell would be that intense loss forever! They seemed to gain a new understanding of what hell might be like, without the scary images that are often associated with it. It became an idea that they could relate to and they expressed a healthy fear of the loss of heaven though sin. We then talked about how blessed we are to have the sacraments to bring us back into a strong relationship with the Lord. We discussed Baptism, Communion, Confirmation, Anointing of the Sick, and especially Reconciliation as an avenue to Grace. We rejoiced at God's mercy and how much He wants each of us to live with Him forever in heaven.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

How to Survive Change

This is another one from the Spiritual Woman website archives. This one is from 2005. Reading it made me think that maybe I need to take some advice from the younger version of me!

It has been said that the one constant in life is change. Most of us, however, don't exactly welcome change with open arms. In many cases dealing with change can make us want to stay in bed with the covers pulled up over our heads. The odd thing is that we may have the same reaction whether the change is positive or negative. While everyone expects someone to go through a difficult period of transition after a death or divorce in the family, it can be surprising to find that adjusting to a new career opportunity, or a new child, or the new-found freedom an empty nest or retirement provides can sometimes be just as hard.

There are times when change is not that profound. We may not even be able to put our finger on what is different and yet we sense that change is occurring. We often just want things to go back to the way that they were, when we had our comfortable routine and knew our place in the world. Eventually, we know that we will adjust and develop a new routine. Until one day, out of the blue, when we are back to feeling quite comfortable with life, a new change will come and once again turn our life upside-down!

How, then, can we attempt to make change a little less stressful? Here are four ways to help make transitions somewhat less frightening.

1) Pray for Guidance. One of the scariest things about change is the "unknown" factor. We do not know where the change will lead us. We can often feel like we are being swept away by the current with no control over the voyage. Sometimes, however, there are choices to be made. Those choices can be frightening due to their life-changing implications. Should I take a new job? Should I move to a new city? Which house should I buy? How should I best care for my aging parents? Any one of those questions (and many others) can have you lying awake at night counting the ceiling tiles. Turn over your concerns to God. It's helpful to know that even though it may seem that way sometimes, we are not alone in this life. God will help you to find the answer. It may not come as quickly as you might like, but be patient and the answer will come.

2) Acknowledge your emotions, but prepare to move on. Some changes in life, such as the death of a loved one, an illness, or being laid-off from your job, come without any warning. It's okay to be angry, sad, grieving, and confused. It's also okay to let God know your displeasure. God already knows your anger and frustration. God knows the depths of your heart. Why try to hide? Share your feelings with God and offer them to Him.

The time will come, however, to accept the cards that you have been dealt. After praying for guidance, take concrete steps to move forward with your life. If you are grieving, attempt to rejoin the world in some small way. Perhaps do a kind deed for someone else to reconnect with the positive in life. If you are ill, take steps to heal or to manage your illness as best as possible. If you have lost your job, begin to search for new employment. Taking even small steps will help you feel more in control of your situation and provide some hope for the future.

3) Create a Ritual.
There is a reason we have rituals for significant events in life. Rituals are an outward sign of an inward reality: baptisms mark a spiritual new life, confirmations and graduations mark entry into adulthood, weddings celebrate the beginnings of a new family, and funeral rites help us to grieve. Some events are no less profound to the life of an individual but are not acknowledged by a formal ritual. In these cases, it may be appropriate to create one. Marianne Williamson encourages the use of ritual in "The Gift of Change: Spiritual Guidance for a Radically New Life." "If things are good, perform a ritual to praise and thank God. If things are sad, perform a ritual to call the angels to help you endure. Either way, a ritual will envelop you in a light that no material force has the power to bestow."

4) Acknowledge that God has the Master Plan. If you look back on your life, you may see a pattern emerge. A set of circumstances that was inexplicable a few years ago may now have greater clarity. What seemed like a devastating loss may have led you to a greater good. God has a strange way of working in our lives. We desperately want to feel in control of our lives, and indeed God has given us free will to make decisions. But so many things are truly beyond our control. We need to trust that God is indeed leading us somewhere. We are the lump of clay in His hands and only the potter knows the beauty of the vessel we will become. Sometimes when we are in the wilderness of change, we need to simply trust in God's goodness that, eventually, all will indeed be well.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Nicholas Sparks in St. Anthony Messenger

It's no secret that I am a huge Nicholas Sparks fan! I fell in love with The Notebook fifteen years ago and have read just about every book he has written since. I was downright giddy to see him on the cover of the February 2013 issue of St. Anthony Messenger. Between the Lines with Nicholas Sparks by Susan Hines-Brigger tells a bit about his background and how he got into writing and the role faith plays in his career and his life. If you are a Sparks fan, this is definitely worth reading!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Set the World on Fire

Every now and then, I'll come across a quote in more than one place within the matter of a few days. I usually take that as a sign that God is trying to tell me something. Last week, this was the quote that kept finding me:

"If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world on fire!" -St. Catherine of Siena 

Ok, so obviously I am doing something wrong, because I haven't set anything on fire. At best, I'm a little candle with my little light flickering, and I'm fighting hard to keep it lit. But, still I feel like I'm where I'm supposed to be at the moment and I do the best I can. 

If you are struggling to figure out what God wants from you, Catholic Digest has some recommendations in their January 2013 issue on books to aid discernment. 

These books are: The Messy Quest for Meaning: Five Catholic Practices for Finding Your Vocation by Stephen Martin. It focuses on the questions, "What was I put here to do? And how do I do it?"

 Surrender! The Life Changing Power of Doing God's Will by Fr. Larry Richards. Fr. Richards teaches readers how to hear God's voice and discover His will. 

LAST CALL Twelve Men Who Dared Answer by Ronda Chervin shares the vocation  stories of twelve men who entered the priesthood later in life. 

Tuning In to God's Call by Fr. Andrew Carl Wisdom and Sr. Christine Kiley is filled with reflections, prayers, and tasks to help readers determine if God is calling them.

 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Marquette Method of Natural Family Planning




All methods of modern Natural Family Planning (NFP) rely on observation of changes in a woman’s body as it makes its way through the monthly menstrual cycle. These observations determine when sexual intercourse can/should take place – depending on whether one is trying to achieve or postpone pregnancy. Two of the primary signs are cervical fluids and basal body temperature. Commonly known formal methods include the Billings, Sympto-Thermal, and Creighton Methods. All of these methods rely on human observation and charting of one or more of these fertility signs.


The Marquette Method of NFP created by Marquette University Institute of Natural Family Planning makes use of modern technology in helping women determine their time of fertility. Use of the Clearblue Fertility Monitor can help take human error in charting out of the equation when using Natural Family Planning. 




The instruction manual for using the Marquette Method can be found online at http://nfp.marquette.edu/pdf/nfp_user_manual.pdf . This manual offers a basic introduction to NFP and the reasons to use it as a family planning tool, a review of the basics of human reproduction, and instructions on how to use the Clearblue Fertility Monitor. This monitor offers “fast, accurate, objective, and very clear information about fertility.” While the Clearblue monitor and LH test kits were originally designed to help women achieve a pregnancy, they can also be used to help avoid a pregnancy as well. The Marquette Method User Manual includes instructions for how to use the Clearblue Monitor to do just that. It is recommended that users consult with a trained NFP instructor for help in learning to chart and track one’s fertility.




Whereas most methods of NFP are free (there may be some cost associated with training and/or ongoing consultation with an NFP professional), this method requires the cost of the fertility monitor and the ongoing cost of testing strips. For many people, human observation works very well in determining fertility. However, one can understand how a positive confirmation of a fertile period would be very helpful for those who have difficulty determining when fertility is occurring. The additional cost may very well be a worthwhile investment. 




For more information on the Marquette Method of Natural Family Planning, please visit http://nfp.marquette.edu/definition_nfp.php












Friday, January 25, 2013

Lord, Teach Us to Love

I came across this prayer in a sidebar on an article, "Falling into Forgiveness" by Mary Hallinan in the January 2013 issue of St. Anthony Messenger

Lord,
Teach us to love as you love.
Give us hearts that forgive,
Minds that perceive,
Ambition to grow.

Loosen our bonds!
Liberate our lives!

Help us to be born again,
And again,
In loving you,
In loving our neighbor,
As you would have us love.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Pope's Message for World Communication Day 2013

The Pope released his annual message for World Communication Day today: Social Networks: Portals of Truth and Faith; New Spaces for Evangelization

The whole letter is well-worth a read for all of us who engage in social media, but this excerpt offers a brief taste:

For those who have accepted the gift of faith with an open heart, the most radical response to mankind’s questions about love, truth and the meaning of life – questions certainly not absent from social networks – are found in the person of Jesus Christ. It is natural for those who have faith to desire to share it, respectfully and tactfully, with those they meet in the digital forum. Ultimately, however, if our efforts to share the Gospel bring forth good fruit, it is always because of the power of the word of God itself to touch hearts, prior to any of our own efforts. Trust in the power of God’s work must always be greater than any confidence we place in human means. In the digital environment, too, where it is easy for heated and divisive voices to be raised and where sensationalism can at times prevail, we are called to attentive discernment. Let us recall in this regard that Elijah recognized the voice of God not in the great and strong wind, not in the earthquake or the fire, but in “a still, small voice” (1 Kg 19:11-12). We need to trust in the fact that the basic human desire to love and to be loved, and to find meaning and truth – a desire which God himself has placed in the heart of every man and woman – keeps our contemporaries ever open to what Blessed Cardinal Newman called the “kindly light” of faith. 

Social networks, as well as being a means of evangelization, can also be a factor in human development. As an example, in some geographical and cultural contexts where Christians feel isolated, social networks can reinforce their sense of real unity with the worldwide community of believers. The networks facilitate the sharing of spiritual and liturgical resources, helping people to pray with a greater sense of closeness to those who share the same faith. An authentic and interactive engagement with the questions and the doubts of those who are distant from the faith should make us feel the need to nourish, by prayer and reflection, our faith in the presence of God as well as our practical charity: “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Cor 13:1).

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Prayer Request

I found today that a member of my extended family who is 17 weeks pregnant was just diagnosed with breast cancer. Please pray for her and her family. Thank you!

Respecting Women is Respecting LIfe

I'm currently reading an advanced copy of Blessed, Beautiful and Bodacious: Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood by my friend and colleague Pat Gohn and was excited to see an article by her on the Washington Post website: Respecting Women is Respecting Life. Sadly, some of the comments are quite angry, especially in light of the fact that Pat advocates respect for women.



Here is a brief excerpt:

A woman’s womb, her uterus, signals that she is made for something and someone more than herself. This reality touches a woman at her very core -- physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The womb’s raison d’etre illuminates this gift that welcomes and receives the life of a child, sheltering and nurturing it, until finally, a woman gives birth. We even use the expression -- giving birth -- denoting the gift that it is. The maternal gift ought to be honored and celebrated.

What’s more, a pregnant mother is entrusted with carrying an immortal soul besides her own -- a soul that is destined for eternity. That’s why a woman really needs to be aware of the dignity of her feminine creation, and the sublime gift of her maternity, so she can confer that dignity on her child, and upon others through her love of life. 

The gift of maternity is inherent in all women. They are predisposed to motherhood by their design. Yet, as we know, not all women bear children. Even if a woman never gives birth, a woman’s life is still inclined toward mothering. All women are entrusted with the call to care for the people within their sphere of influence. This broadens our ideas of maternity beyond gestation and lactation. 

A woman’s relationships with others, even though they may not be fruitful biologically, can be fruitful spiritually. Therefore a woman’s life--her feminine genius--is characterized by physical and/or spiritual motherhood. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

40 Years Too Many

January 22nd marks 40 years since Roe v. Wade made the right to abortion the law of the land. Columbia Magazine reported that

Although the violence that the decision has wrought is largely hidden from public view, abortion has claimed more than 55 million innocent lives - and has wounded countless more hearts - in the United States since 1973. On average, more children are killed through elective abortion every year under Roe v. Wade than the American death toll of every war in the nation's history combined and more innocent lives in America are lost to abortion every day than perished in the attacks of 9/11. Acknowledging this fact does not diminish the horrors of wars or terrorist attacks, but simply illustrates how utterly incomprehensible abortion's impact really is.

Where are the flags at half-mast, the public-outcry, the horror at the atrocity? How can people stand by and allow this to continue? Please pray and work to end abortion.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

My Fertility MD App Review

Over on CatholicLane, Sarah Reinhard has offered a review of the MyFertilityMD App: http://catholiclane.com/myfertilitymd-app-review/.

This looks like a great resource for all of us who practice NFP or for those seeking to try it out. It's wonderful to see these technological resources to help with charting and interpreting fertility signs.

As Sarah writes,
Not sure if this sign you’re having is normal? Worried about something? Just confused by your body?
Or any number of other things…there are real doctors (people with MD after their name, not theologians, mind you) on hand. They’ll look at your charts, answer your questions, pass you the coffee–oh, wait, I’m getting my apps confused…
The FAQs and instructional videos are very good, too. (Yes, I already mentioned that, but it bears repeating.)
In the event that you want to share your chart with your own medical professional or someone else (like your spouse?), you can easily export them.

Inexpensive

The cost of classes? Between $100-200. The cost of ongoing learning? I don’t know.
Right now, the app costs $4.99 in iTunes. That’s a special introductory price, and I think this app is worth at least three times that (or more).

Friday, January 18, 2013

Homeschooling Support

Each Friday, my children and I get together with our local Catholic homeschooling group. The children play while the moms pray, vent, exchange ideas, do some spiritual reading, and support each other through whatever challenges or blessings we happen to be experiencing at that moment. I don't know what I would do without the friendship of these remarkable women.

Today we were discussing HSLDA - The Homeschool Legal Defense Association. Some of us are members; some are not. I am - as I told my friends, I consider my membership as "homeschooling insurance." In the event I ever need some legal support, they are there for me. But, HSLDA also offers some wonderful support services and information. A full list of their resources can be found at www.hslda.org/resources.  I enjoy the email bulletins that they send out as well as their quarterly publication: The HSLDA Court Report. While it includes information regarding recent legal issues surrounding homeschooling, it also includes general information and encouragement about homeschooling. 

The Autumn 2012 issue, which came in the mail yesterday, featured an article by J.Michael Smith, HSLDA president: The Strength to Homeschool is Found in Weakness.

This is an excerpt:

Homeschoolers need to remember that homeschooling is not a sprint - it's a marathon. In the race, you'll be confronted with problems such as children who refuse to do schoolwork, children who don't like homeschooling, husbands who don't help much, running out of money, opposition from in-laws, out-laws, and friends and church, illness or injury, difficult pregnancies, complicated school subjects, special needs and learning struggles, legal challenges (that's where HSLDA comes in!) and finally, feelings of inadequacy and doubt. And why wouldn't we have those feelings with all the changes that we face in homeschooling? . . 

Perhaps the greatest thing that we can do as homeschooling moms and dads is admit we can't homeschool without God and simply ask for His help. 

God did not design man to be self-sufficient, but to be dependent on Him. In some ways I believe that homeschooling moms and dads are tremendously blessed because they have to live out this dependence upon God.

So, if the challenges of this school year are overwhelming you - and they probably are! - take comfort in knowing that if you persevere and call out to God, you're going to see some great things happen in your family.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

How to be Beautiful

Every woman longs to be beautiful, and while some beauty is certainly external and subject to personal preference, the most important and lasting kind of beauty comes from within.

Rachel Zawila offers some great tips on how to have an interior beauty that can't help but be reflected on the outside in this article from St. Anthony Messenger: True Beauty Lies Within

Zawila writes: “Every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit” (Mt 7:17–18). Matthew was on to something. In these days of fast fixes, our society jumps at any lotion or potion that promises smoother skin and shinier hair in an instant. 


But those quick cures are just that—temporary. The long-lasting glow you’re going for isn’t found in any bottle; it lies inside of you.

Your body is a mirror to your mind and soul: what you’re feeling on the inside is reflected externally. We all know the effects lack of sleep, stress, or anxiety can have on our bodies. Studies routinely link high levels of stress to dullness and dryness of skin and hair, wrinkles, and lethargy. But the opposite is also true. A calm and peaceful mind and spirit radiate outward in the form of dewy skin, sparkling eyes, and higher levels of energy.

Who we are is an intricate system of mind, body, and spirit. When all are rooted firmly in faith and nurtured with care, the tangible results are bound to be good.

Please read the full article here (which includes Zawila's tips for achieving this beauty): True Beauty Lies Within.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

This Life vs. Eternity

My aunt died Christmas morning, and as often happens when someone I care about leaves this earth, her death has had me thinking about life - its purpose and its brevity. My aunt was a wonderful woman - hard-working, full of joy and with a big heart - who lived 78 good years on this earth. She had a life well-lived.

Any one familiar with the Baltimore Catechism knows that we were made to know, love, and serve God and to share eternal life with Him in heaven. Regular readers of my blog also know that I do have a fascination with life on the other side. I like to read stories of those who have had near-death experiences -to have a glimpse of what the other side might look like. After all, in terms of eternity, the amount of time we spend on this earth is like a grain of sand on the beach. We are going to be spending a lot more time there than we are here.

In that light, probably 99 % of what we worry about or concern ourselves with here on earth doesn't matter at all. Think over your life. What were your concerns 10 years ago, 5 years ago, last year? Do they still matter? Will they matter when you are on your deathbed? Yet, we spend so much time and energy on them.

I do try to make the most out of life. I do believe (at least on my good days) that life is a gift. I also believe it is a test - that a great deal is riding on how we live out our life. Suffering has a purpose. Sacrifice out of love is often the order of the day. I also think that life is meant to be enjoyed a bit - that God created this wonderful, beautiful world for us to appreciate. I often struggle to find a balance between the sacrifice and the enjoyment.

Trying to figure out what matters in the long haul isn't easy. Even though we are eternal beings, destined for something better than this existence, for the time being, this is where we are. God has a reason for creating us and putting us here. We have daily duties and responsibilities. We have vocations to live out, jobs to do. We have been given certain gifts and the responsibility to use them. We have been given the commandments to follow.. Sometimes, it is all too easy to get caught up in the nitty-gritty of life and lose sight of the big picture.

I'm most likely at least half done my life. I hope that when God decides to bring me home, I will have fulfilled my purpose on this earth. There are so many things about life and death I don't understand. I just get up every day and try to do the best I can. When I fail, I get up the next day and try again, even when I don't want to. I hope that what I do each day and how I choose to live my life matters, but I'm really not sure. I hope in the promise of eternal life, even though I don't know what it holds. Life and death are both such a mystery. All I can do is take things on faith, trust in God, and hope for the best.


Monday, January 14, 2013

Book Review: Frozen Footprints

Frozen Footprints
by Therese Heckenkamp
Arcadia, CA: Tumblar House, 2012

"Frozen Footprints" is the latest contribution to Catholic suspense by Therese Heckenkamp, author of "Past Suspicion." I freely admit, suspense is not my genre of choice, but Heckenkamp once again managed to keep me interested and invested in this story. Charlene and Max Perigard are twins, raised by their grandfather, a wealthy oil tycoon who wants little to do with them. When Max is kidnapped, their grandfather thinks it is all a scam and wants nothing to do with it. Charlene then goes after Max on her own and soon becomes trapped as well.

The vast majority of the story takes place in a cabin in the woods and centers on the relationship among Max, Charlene, their captor Abner and his brother Clay. It also, as one might expect given the Catholic fiction designation, focuses on each of the character's relationship with God. Each struggles with God in his or her own way.

Abner, the evil one, is a former seminarian who has since rejected God and now worships the devil. He is truly terrifying. Clay would like to believe in God but, after he accidentally caused his father's death when he was seven years old, feels that God has abandoned him. Max and Charlene have both been turned off of religion by their grandfather, yet in their hour of need turn to God and ask for help, even when it seems God is ignoring their pleas.

Interestingly, I found a very minor character in the story - the mother of Abner and Clay - to be the one that intrigued me the most. She is a devout Catholic, and has remained faithful despite a rash of horrible events in her life. She also teaches Charlene an important lesson at a time when she needs it the most. I think that a story from this mother's point of view would be very compelling.

Overall, if one enjoys Catholic suspense, this would be a good read. It is especially well-suited to teens and young adults.


Sunday, January 13, 2013

"You are Mine" . . .

I had a whole stack of things to pick from to write about tonight, but then getting the little ones to bed proved to be one of those frustratingly long experiences, and those plans went out the proverbial window.

Instead, what spoke to me tonight was this post from Heidi Hess-Saxton's blog: You are Mine: The Love Project - Day 13

Heidi writes: Before we can do anything, we must first be. In particular, we must be secure in our identity as a child of God.

But what do you do when the circumstances of your life have conspired against you, and you feel as far from God as you could possibly be?

What do you do when … you feel angry with God? What then?

First, you tell him how you feel. If you don’t, the distance increases.
Next, you acknowledge the mystery of suffering: God has not caused your pain — rather, he identifies with it.
Then, you wait with expectation.

“When we are angry with God, he comes to us not in great and mighty ways — that would be too scary. Instead, he comes to us in the still, small voice. In small ways.”


Please read the full article here: heidihesssaxton.wordpress.com/2013/01/13/you-are-mine-the-love-project-day-13/

Friday, January 11, 2013

Quote of the Day

"Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world." - Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Prayers and Support for Cassandra Poppe

Cassandra Poppe is a fellow Catholic writer. This past week, her husband and little boy were badly burned in a fire.

The most recent update about her son is as follows:

In summation, Fulton received 2nd and 3rd degree burns to his entire face and head, patches on his arms and left leg, and most of his back and chest/abdomen. So many angels have been with us over the last 36 hours, I could write a book on all the graces we have already received, which has fortified my faith and hope for the several grueling months we have ahead of us here in Galveston, TX.

His first surgery was today, where they scraped off many layers of skin on his hands, leg, arms, back and front. These wounds were then covered with 'fake' skin (more on that later). They decided that they would not touch his head and face yet, as they needed the operating room for 2 other children today, and the severity of his wounds were such that they decided it was best to wait. That surgery will come over the next 3 days - whenever they decide it should be done. HIs sweet angelic face is swollen and charred deyond recognition and I cannot believe the monstrosity of damage and pain my little buddy is enduring.

We are in desperate need of prayers - I will not lie. I have been entrusted with a task far beyond my capabilities and we will be here for several months, far away from home. All my trust has been placed in the hands of Our Lord and Our Lady, as only they will get me through this.

Please, please pray for Fulton! And pray for my dear sweet husband Jay who wants nothing more than to be here with us, but can't due to his own injuries.


I will attempt to get through the hundreds of messages, posts and emails that have been sent to me - forgive me if I do not respond to them all! But please know that every word of every prayer is cherished.

God is good! Always! God bless!"


Prayers are much needed. In addition, a website has been set up for fundraising to help them. Please spread the word and donate if you are able to do so: http://www.giveforward.com/PrayForFulton

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

U.S. Bishops Recommend Prayers for Year of Faith

The U.S. Bishops have recommended the following Prayers for the Year of Faith. As Bishop David Ricken of Green Bay, Wisconsin, who heads the US Bishops' Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, stated: "The Year of Faith is about returning to the foundational teachings of the Church and drawing strength from them."

The Nicene Creed is the official prayer of the Year of the Faith:

I believe in one God, the Father almighty,
    maker of heaven and earth,
    of all things visible and invisible.
I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
        the Only Begotten Son of God,
        born of the Father before all ages.
    God from God, Light from Light,
        true God from true God,
    begotten, not made, consubstantial
       with the Father;
        Through him all things were made.
    For us men and for our salvation
        he came down from heaven,
        and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate
        of the Virgin Mary,
        and became man.

    For our sake he was crucified
      under Pontius Pilate,
        he suffered death and was buried,
        and rose again on the third day
        in accordance with the Scriptures.
    He ascended into heaven
        and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
    He will come again in glory
        to judge the living and the dead
        and his kingdom will have no end.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
        the Lord, the giver of life,
    who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
    who with the Father and the Son
        is adored and glorified,
        who has spoken through the prophets.
I believe in one, holy, catholic,
     and apostolic Church.
    I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins
        and I look forward to the resurrection
        of the dead and the life of the world to come.
Amen.

The Our Father

Our Father, Who art in heaven,
Hallowed be Thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen.


The Hail Mary

Hail Mary, Full of Grace, The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit
of thy womb, Jesus. 
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners now,
and at the hour of death.
Amen.


The Glory Be

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.

Act of Contrition (there are variations of this, but this is a traditional one.)

O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended You and I detest all my sins, because I fear the loss of heaven and the pains of hell, but most of all because they offend You, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to confess my sins, to do penance and to amend my life. Amen.

Act of Faith

O my God, I firmly believe that you are one God in three divine persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I believe that your divine Son became man and died for our sins, and that he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the holy Catholic Church teaches, because in revealing them you can neither deceive nor be deceived. 

Act of Hope

O my God, relying on Your almighty power and infinite mercy and promises, I hope to obtain pardon of my sins, the help of Your grace and life everlasting, through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer. Amen.  

Act of Love

O my God, I love you above all things, with my whole heart and soul, because you are all-good and worthy of all love. I love my neighbor as myself for the love of you. I forgive all who have injured me, and I ask pardon of all whom I have injured.

The Memorare

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.
Amen.

Canticle of Zechariah

Blessed be the Lord,
The God of Israel;
He has come to His people and set them free.

He has raised up for us a mighty Saviour,
Born of the house of His servant David.

Through His holy prophets He promised of old
That He would save us from our enemies,
From the hands of all who hate us.

He promised to show mercy to our fathers
And to remember His holy Covenant.

This was the oath He swore to our father Abraham:
To set us free from the hands of our enemies,
Free to worship Him without fear,
Holy and righteous in His sight
All the days of our life.

You, My child shall be called
The prophet of the Most High,
For you will go before the Lord to prepare His way,
To give his people knowledge of salvation
By the forgiveness of their sins.

In the tender compassion of our Lord
The dawn from on high shall break upon us,
to shine on those who dwell in darkness
And the shadow of death,
And to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Glory to the Father,
and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning.
is now, and will be forever.

Amen. 

 
Guardian Angel Prayer

Angel of God, my Guardian dear, to whom His love commits me here, ever this day (or night) be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.

Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel

St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Prayer for the New Evangelization

Heavenly Father,

Pour forth your Holy Spirit to inspire me with these words from Holy Scripture.
Stir in my soul the desire to renew my faith and deepen my relationship with your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ so that I might truly believe in and live the Good News. 
Open my heart to hear the Gospel and grant me the confidence to proclaim the Good News to others.
Pour out your Spirit, so that I might be strengthened to go forth and witness to the Gospel in my everyday life through my words and actions.
In moments of hesitation, remind me:
If not me, then who will proclaim the Gospel?
If not now, then when will the Gospel be proclaimed?
If not the truth of the Gospel, then what shall I proclaim?
God, our Father, I pray that through the Holy Spirit I might hear the call of the New Evangelization to deepen my faith, grow in confidence to proclaim the Gospel and boldly witness to the saving grace of your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.


Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Reject a Hit: A Fun Writing Activity

As a writer, I look forward to reading every new issue of Writer's Digest that comes out. I eagerly study the pages in the hopes of improving my craft. Writing has always been like breathing to me and I can't remember a time when I wasn't putting words on paper, but one can always improve, and of course, one can always use some inspiration and encouragement.

One of the great ironies of life is that my children really struggle with writing. While we have made some progress the past couple years, we have a long way to go. Therefore, I am always searching for activities for them to work on that will help them enjoy writing, thereby making the process a little less painful. One of the articles that they always enjoy reading from Writer's Digest is "Reject a Hit." In that column, someone gets to pretend that they are the publisher rejecting a "hit" - a well-known book that went on to become very popular. You can read an example here - a rejection of The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Suess.

So, this week, my children are working on rejecting a hit. Isaac is rejecting "Moby Dick" - a book he has spent most of this year trying to make his way through. As he says, he is on Chapter 93 of this book and he has yet to meet "Moby Dick" - what was Melville thinking? David is rejecting "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows" - a book he actually enjoyed very much.

They are having a bit of fun with the project and it makes a creative alternative to a book report. If you are searching for a new writing project for your students, this might be a fun one to try.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Paying Grace Forward

My friend Karen Ford offers a great take on Paying it Forward in this article on being salt and light to the world: Salt and Light

She writes: How can we be light? Simple kindness and charity (true love) are the best place to begin.  Likewise, reflect Christ's light when others don't see it in themselves.  In our world of instant information, we risk losing the ability to look into another's eyes and recognize Christ in our brothers and sisters.  Make eye contact with those around you.  Listen to their voices.  Notice their pain, their joy, their needs.

In 2013, will you join me to be "Salt and Light," to
pay forward the graces and gifts our Lord has granted us three-fold each day, in honor of the Most Holy Trinity?



Where Love Shines: An Epiphany



Guest post by Heidi Hess Saxton


Love can take many forms.
A gentle hand on a feverish brow.
A knowing smile across a crowded room.
A deep breath that swallows a word best left unsaid.
And once, in all of human history, love took the form of a star.
And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them,
until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Then they opened their treasures
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
From Matthew 2

In the darkness of the world, love shone through even brighter. That, too, is the nature of love – the darker the night, the brighter the star. With that in mind, I would like to invite you to join me in “The Love Project” (http://heidihesssaxton.wordpress.com/the-love-project/), a series of posts, quotes, and stories that showcase the many kinds of human love, and how that love images the love of God in the world. If you have a favorite quote or story that you would like to contribute, please either post a link on the website, or send it to me at Heidi.hess.saxton@gmail.com.

This project will continue every day through Valentine’s Day – and possibly after that, if enough people want to participate.  Each day I include a little “Today’s Love in Action” step to help you shine a little brighter in your corner of the world. I hope you find time to join us . . . and maybe leave a comment!

God bless you!