Friday, October 31, 2008

NaNoWriMo or Write 30,000 words for Christ

November is National Novel Writing Month. It is celebrating its 10th year this year. The idea behind it is to write 50,000 words under an impossible deadline. The emphasis is on quantity not quality, although hopefully in the process some quality comes out, too. The idea is to work without listening to your inner critic - just get out all the thoughts in your head. At the library last week, I picked up No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days by Chris Baty, the young man who came up with the idea of NaNoWriMo in the first place. It is great book and I know many of his points are valid. Of course, I had to laugh when he talked about ways to find the time to do this. There was a line about most people having 10 - 14 hours a week of leisure time in their week. This is definitely not me (or most of the other moms I know). I pretty much squeeze every ounce of life out of my day and I'm not someone who does well with less sleep, so I think I'm pretty much out of luck even though I'd love to try the creative experiment.

The Catholic Writers Guild is sponsoring a similar project - write 30,000 words for Christ. This doesn't need to be a novel, but rather serves as an incentive to get to work on whatever project you have been putting off.

For those of you who are pursuing either project, I wish you the best of luck. May your writing be fruitful!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hook-Up Culture

There are things that strike fear in a mother's heart. Thinking about my boys starting college and the "hook-up" culture that is so pervasive is one of those things. Ok, honestly, thinking about the things that go on in the middle school years strikes even more fear, especially since that is only a few short years away. I was propositioned for the first time when I was eleven years old by a twelve year old boy. Thankfully, I had the moral fiber to say "No." I'm trying to instill my children with the same moral fiber, but I know it is an uphill battle. Moral fiber vs. surging hormones. The hormones often win.

The November issue of "US Catholic" offers an interesting article on

Sex, lies, and hook-up culture. It is an interesting interview with Donna Freitas, author of Sex and the Soul: Juggling Sexuality, Spirituality, Romance, and Religion on America's College Campuses. She surveyed 2,500 students and interviewed 111 about religion and sex at seven colleges - Catholic, evangelical, public, and private. Interestingly enough, the evangelical colleges lacked the casual sex culture. So, what can we learn from them? Frietas states that "To be young and evangelical is really to be immersed and participating in or creating a youth culture. They are interpreting scripture, writing books on dating, overseeing their own faith lives, and holding their peers accountable." In contrast, young Catholics feel that they aren't allowed to have such ownership of their faith and sexuality. They feel if they wrote books on Catholic dating, they would be censured by the hierarchy. They don't feel that they have the ability to speak authoritatively about their faith and experiences.

Frietas suggests beginning discussions about sex with young people with a discussion on respect for the human person. Young people need to reconsider what they want out of their male-female relationships. Most do not want or enjoy the hook-up culture, they just don't know what to do about it. They need to have safe places to have the conversations and begin to change expectations.

The Birth of Jesus: Two Gospel Accounts

Hard as it is to believe, Advent is right around the corner. Boston College is offering a free on-line mini-course for Advent reflection.

Check it out at:

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Book Review: The Popes of Avignon

The Popes of Avignon: A Century in Exile
by Edwin Mullins
Bluebridge, 2008

The Popes of Avignon: A Century in Exile
is a must-read for anyone interested in Church history, especially that seventy-year period (1308 - 1378) in which the papacy took flight from Rome and set up residence in Avignon. Edwin Mullins does a tremendous job of explaining the many factors at work during this period including the late medieval feudal system, shifting political tides, the Hundred Years War between France and England and the scourge of the black death. He describes the reasons for the move to Avignon and the effect on the town as it grew exponentially in wealth and population. Mullins also offers very balanced portraits of each of the popes (and anti-popes) who would attempt to reign over the Church during this tumultuous period.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

One Quarter of Homeschooling Done!

I just finished my 1st quarterly report for Kolbe Homeschool. (This is by choice - the city only requires me to submit a plan and then submit evidence of progress at the end of the year.) I know a lot of people have been watching me, wondering how exactly I would cope with this new venture. I am happy to say that I am alive and well. Of course, there have been a few difficult days, but overall, I know that this was the right decision for our family. The stress level in our house has been greatly reduced, the boys (and I!) are learning, and we all get more sleep. These are all good things!

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Song of Bernadette

My whole family just finished watching "The Song of Bernadette" - the great classic movie staring Jennifer Jones which tells the story of St. Bernadette, a young peasant girl who was chosen by God to see the Blessed Mother at Lourdes. I had read the story of St. Bernadette to the boys a while ago so they knew the general plot and they really did enjoy the movie. Isaac even cried at the end when she died. My husband and I had seen it before, but it had been a long time. It was definitely worth a second look. It is a great, faith-inspiring story.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Loving our Fellow Mothers: How to End the Mommy Wars

This is my 1000th post on this blog! I think that is pretty good considering when I started blogging a little over three years ago, I wasn't sure what I would write about. Thank you for joining me on the journey!

The greatest commandment tells us to “Love God and Love Your Neighbor as Yourself.” Sometimes it seems that the hardest “neighbors” for us mothers to love are our fellow mothers. The “mommy wars” are so much a part of life. If a group of mothers gets together and any parenting subject comes up, chances are there will be a debate on the “correct” way to parent. The battles start even when a child is still in the womb. There are the big topics of course such as working vs. staying-at-home or breast-feeding vs. bottle feeding. There are many other smaller hot-button topics as well: natural vs. medicated childbirth, public vs. private vs. home education, whether to celebrate Halloween or not, the proper way to feed one's family, co-sleeping vs. having a child sleep alone, comforting a child at night when he is crying vs. letting him cry it out, how to discipline, the correct way to bring up a child in the faith, and the list goes on.

We mothers don't necessarily intend to be mean or critical of other mothers. Rather, we simply want to do the best for our children. Parenting can be so hard and we don't know how things will turn out for at least twenty years. There is always the element of uncertainty. We each make the decisions that we feel are right. We get so invested in the choices and sacrifices we make. It is easy to think that if we have made the right choices, than different choices must therefore be wrong. We also sometimes feel so certain of our choices that we try to convince others that they should follow the same path.

So, then, what is a mother to do? How can we be comfortable with our own choices, while respecting the choices of others? The answer does lie in that great commandment to love one another. There is an old adage not to judge another person until one has walked a mile in her shoes. While mothers have many things in common, the journey each mother takes is unique. We each come to parenting with different backgrounds and experiences. We each have different levels of support from our spouses (or lack thereof), our extended families, and friends. We have different health issues and personal abilities. We have different economic realities that we need to deal with. Perhaps most importantly, we have different children. Parents with more than one child know that what works for one child doesn't always work for a different child, even when those children come from the same gene pool. The “right” decision for one child isn't always the “right” decision for another child. Different stages of life also can require different choices.

Perhaps the next time we are tempted to judge another mother or the decisions she has made, we can step back and take a moment to reflect. We can remember that we don't want our parenting to be judged and that we should give others the same curtesy. We can also remember that motherhood is hard and we don't know what challenges the mothers we encounter are facing. We can recall that Jesus told us to love one another. We need to respect and support our fellow mothers on this difficult journey. We need to stand by each other and encourage each other, not tear each other down. Hopefully, then, the “mommy wars” could come to an end.

Friday, October 24, 2008

What is Love?

I'm sure you have probably seen some version of this before, but it was emailed to me today and it is one of things we can always use a reminder of now and then. I hope it makes you smile (and maybe even tear up a bit).

Slow down for three minutes to read this. It is so worth it. Touching words from the mouth of babes. A group of professional people posed this question to a group of 4 to 8 year-olds, 'What does love mean?'

The answers they got were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined See what you think:

'When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That's love.'

Rebecca- age 8

'When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different.
You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.'

Billy - age 4

'Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.'

Karl - age 5

'Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.'

Chrissy - age 6

'Love is what makes you smile when you're tired.'

Terri - age 4

'Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.'

Danny - age 7

'Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that.

They look gross when they kiss'

Emily - age 8

'Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents

And listen.'

Bobby - age 7 (Wow!)

'If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate,'

Nikka - age 6
(we need a few million more Nikkas on this planet)

'Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday.'

Noelle - age 7

'Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.'

Tommy - age 6

'During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling.

He was the only one doing that. I wasn't scared anymore.'

Cindy - age 8

'My mommy loves me more than anybody
You don't see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night.'

Clare - age 6

'Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.'

Elaine-age 5

'Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford.'

Chris - age 7

'Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.'

Mary Ann - age 4

'I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones.'

Lauren - age 4

'When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you.' (what an image)

Karen - age 7

'Love is when Mommy sees Daddy on the toilet and she doesn't think it's gross.'

Mark - age 6

'You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.'

Jessica - age 8

And the final one

The winner was a four year old child whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife.

Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman's yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there.

When his Mother asked what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said,

'Nothing, I just helped him cry'

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Failure Rates of Contraception

Here is an interesting article on the failure rate for the pill by Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse: Now You Tell Us. We have all heard of people who have gotten pregnant while on the pill, but I never realized that the failure rate is actually as high as it is. One of the problems with easy contraception is the false sense of security that it provides. People are willing to be intimate with people in casual relationships, people with whom they would never plan to have a child. People (especially teenagers) need to be educated about the responsibility of sex. Saying "yes" to sex means saying "yes" to a possible pregnancy.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Angel of Learning

I love Willow Tree Figures. My sister gives me one each year for my birthday, so I was very excited to see this offering:Angel Of Learning by Willow Tree
I love to learn, and I always have a book with me (just in case I have to wait somewhere). This could be a portrait of my guardian angel!

I was surprised to see that Amazon does sell Willow Tree Figures, so if you are thinking of giving one as a gift (or buying one for yourself), please consider clicking through from this site - every purchase helps support this blog.

Happy Day in My House

My boys were so excited to get the Lego catalog in the mail today. They have spent hours poring over the pages circling pictures of things that they would like for Christmas. If only I could get them that excited about their spelling :)

Time to Register for the 2009 Catholic Writers Conference

The Catholic Writers Guild has opened up registration for the 2009 Online Catholic Writers Conference to be held February 2 - 9, 2009. It's free and you can attend from the comfort of your own home!

Visit to learn more and register! I already submitted my registration :)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Just Say No to Mommy Guilt

Here is a great article over at the "Extraordinary Moms Network" :

Just Say No to Mommy Guilt

As moms we all feel guilty and while it may not be the same things that this writer was concerned about, we all have things that we wish we would have done differently. It isn't particularly productive. The best thing we can do is learn from our mistakes and try to do better in the future.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Learning to Love

It would seem that love just comes naturally, and so it does. Babies come into this world hard-wired to attach to their mothers. We also have a natural drive once we reach puberty to search out a mate. Yet, for many, the ability to feel and/or show true healthy love has been diminished due to growing up in an abusive home or one in which love simply wasn't expressed as much as it should have been. Many people need to learn how to show love to those nearest to them.

Dr. Gary Chapman has written several books focusing on five love languages. His main premise is that there are five primary ways that people communicate their love to those close to them. Each person has one of these languages that helps them feel the most loved, but most people do appreciate all of them to some degree. Making the effort to express all five to those close to us will help to make sure that those we care most about go through life feeling loved. It will also help our homes be happier places to live. The five love languages are: verbal affirmation, spending quality time, giving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch.

Verbal affirmation means to offer praise and appreciation for the things that our loved ones do. It can also mean to offer encouragement when someone is going through a difficult time. Parenting books and magazines have been preaching the value of positive discipline for years. While one certainly needs to use negative consequences for bad behavior, it is of vital importance to praise and reinforce good behavior. Children need to know that they are good (at least most of the time), that they have God-given gifts, and most of all, that they are loved for the special person that God has made them to be. Our spouses need that type of praise as well. It is often easy to take our spouses for granted, to overlook the things that they do every day. Going to work each day or doing the laundry for the hundred and second time may not be glamorous, but a simple “thank you” goes a long way to helping someone feel appreciated for all the effort that he or she puts in. Also, never underestimate the simple power of saying “I love you.” Both our spouses and our children need to hear it.

Spending quality time with those we love is another way of demonstrating how much they mean to us. Quality time means focusing one's full attention on the other. Yes, many times during the course of a day we need to divide our attention. We may need to talk to our children or our spouse while we are making supper or folding laundry. Every day, however, we should make an effort to really focus on the other person for a while, without multi-tasking. Perhaps that means doing a fun activity together. Playing a board game or participating in sports can be a great way to spend time with those we love. Taking a few minutes during the day, perhaps at night right before bed, to actually talk to and connect with one's spouse can go a long way in helping a marriage be more harmonious.

Some people respond best to being given a gift. Everyone likes to know that they are thought of and a gift can be a physical expression of your love. These gifts need not be expensive or overly frequent, but a gift can be seen as an investment in the relationship especially for those who do not feel loved without them.

What acts of service help your spouse or your children feel most loved? Perhaps they appreciate having their lunch made each day for them. Perhaps knowing that you always fill up the gas tank helps them feel cared for. Having the coffee maker going in the morning can be a sign of love. There are so many opportunities throughout the day to serve those we live with. While many may go unnoticed, there are certain actions that are definitely appreciated. Take the time to find out what those acts are and make those a priority.
Physical touch is also a very important way of showing love. Hugs and kisses for our children are vitally important. While they may reach an age when they no longer appreciate this type of contact, a hand on the shoulder or gentle squeeze of the hand can still convey our love. Our spouses may have different types of touch that they feel most comfortable with. Some like frequent hugs and kisses. Others may be more reserved in their affection. Once again, it is necessary to discover what makes one's spouse feel loved, as well as to communicate one's own needs. This is important with more intimate expressions of love as well.

These five ways of loving provide a strong blueprint for learning how to demonstrate our love to those around us. While for many people these acts just come naturally, most of us can use the gentle reminder to make sure that those around us do feel loved. It is easy to fall into old routines and to stop paying as much attention as we should to those we live with. Having concrete ways to show our love can be a tremendous help in improving our closest relationships. To find out more about Dr. Gary Chapman and the Five Love Languages, please visit:

Review of "The Secret Life of Bees"

Lisa Hendey has posted a great review of "The Secret Life of Bees" on her Catholic Mom Moments Blog:

Friday, October 17, 2008

All the Time I Need

I came across this very inspiring quote today in "Graced and Gifted: Biblical Wisdom for the Homemaker's Heart" by Kimberly Hahn:

I remind myself daily, "There is all the time I need today to do God's will today." Prayer is an essential part of that reminder. We are not coming to God and telling him our agenda; rather we are coming to share our hearts and hear his.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Mary Image in Window of Springfield, MA Hospital Removed

Mercy Medical Center has removed the window that has the image of Mary in it. The window was always slated for removal, even before the image was discovered. It has been removed to an undisclosed location so that it can be studied further. Whether the image was a miracle or people were just seeing what they wanted to see, I can't say. For a while, though, people of different faiths and races were gathering together publicly to pray. Many went out of curiosity I'm sure, but everyone I have spoken to was touched by the experience. Even if there was nothing miraculous in the image, there was still something miraculous in the result.

Read more here:

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Helping others feel loved

For in Christ Jesus, [what] counts . . . [is] faith working through love. Galatians 5:6

Msgr. Stephen Rossetti writing in Living Faith reflected on this passage: "Conflicts and challenges abound in all relationships, but especially in marriage where emotions run deepest. But there is a common problem. perhaps the problem that surfaces most often. It is simple: people desire to be truly loved and wanted by the other . . .when a spouse does not feel wanted, troubles begin."

I'm a firm believer that we can't change other people - we can only change our response to them and how we treat them. So, we may not be able to control how much our spouse loves us, but we can show our spouse how much we love them. The same thing goes for our children. We have the opportunity every day to show those around us how much we care. We can always help those around us feel loved.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

In Search of Grace

“Grace” is one of those terms we often use without being quite sure of what it means. As a child, I was taught about being in a “state of grace” which meant that one hadn't committed a mortal (a.k.a. serious) sin. As an adult, I've heard grace described as something we can tap into whenever we need help, a force just waiting for us to align ourselves with it. In the mothers' Bible Study/ Book Club I attend, we are discussing Graced and Gifted: Biblical Wisdom for the Homemaker's Heart by Kimberly Hahn. For the first chapter, Hahn offers the following discussion question: “How can you get the grace to do God's will in his strength? Name practical and spiritual strategies for receiving that grace.”

I admit at times I have had the image of grace as water coming out of a faucet. Turn it on and grace appears. Turn it off and it vanishes and we are once again left to our own devices. Surely, there has to be more to it than that. In search of answers and clarification, I turned to the Catechism of the Catholic Church: Second Edition (CCC). The CCC defines “grace” in several ways:

Grace is first and foremost the gift of the Spirit who justifies and sanctifies us. But grace also includes the gifts that the Spirit grants us to associate us with his work, to enable us to collaborate in the salvation of others and in the growth of the Body of Christ, the Church. (CCC 2003)

Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God . . .partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life. (CCC 1996)

Through baptism, we receive “sanctifying grace” which “enables [the soul] to live with God, to act by his love.” (CCC 1999-2000)

“Sacramental graces” are “gifts proper to the different sacraments. “Special graces” or “charisms” are “intended for the common good of the Church.” (CCC 2003)

Grace . . . cannot be known except by faith . . .reflection on God's blessings in our life and in the lives of the saints offers us a guarantee that grace is at work in us and spurs us on to an even greater faith. (CCC 2005)

What does all this mean for those of us struggling through life? First of all, grace is a gift from God, freely given. We cannot earn grace, although we can certainly pray for it. Through our prayer, we help align ourselves with God's will. God will certainly provide us the help we need to do what He wants us to accomplish. Through the sacraments, God extends His gift of grace in a special way. We have the assistance we need to live out our own vocation and our part in the life of the Church. Grace seems much like the wind – we can't see it, but we can see what it does. We have to trust that it is there, helping us along when we need it most.

The CCC offers a quote by St. Joan of Arc to illustrate what it means to trust in God's providence. Joan was on trial and she was asked if she knew she was in God's grace. She replied, “If I am not, may it please God to put me in it; if I am, may it please God to keep me there.” (CCC 2005) That seems like a good prayer for all of us. May God keep all of us in his grace.

Friday, October 10, 2008

My weekly lesson in humility

I've been very fortunate to hook up with a great local group of Catholic homeschoolers. We get together on Monday for a homeschooling co-operative in which our children take classes (and we take turns teaching). On Fridays we get together for a group play date - all the kids get to play and the moms do a Bible Study / Book Club where we get to discuss things important to our homeschooling and mothering lives. I love getting together with them and my children love getting together with the other kids, but I am always faced with the fact that I have nothing to add to the conversation. They all have more children than me so it isn't like I can offer any parenting suggestions. They are better Catholics than I am. And, they have been homeschooling longer. So, every now and then, I try to interject a comment to illustrate that I really am listening and trying to contribute, but I know that I'm coming up horribly short.

I learn so much from their experience and wisdom, and at the same time, I get my weekly lesson in humility. In a lot of ways I feel like I did when David was a baby and I first joined the playgroup at my parish. There were all these older moms who actually knew what they were doing with a child! It took a good two years and a few new members with children younger than my own before I felt like I could help anyone out. Perhaps in time, it will be that way in this group as well. Until then, I am the new girl who doesn't have a clue! :)

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Keeping Kids Safe Online

This was an email forwarded to me by my sister. It is a good reminder for all of us:

Dear Family & Friends:

This is not meant to scare you, but worth the read and a caution for children.

After tossing her books on the sofa, she decided to grab a snack and
get on-line. She logged on under her screen name ByAngel213. She
checked her Buddy List and saw GoTo123 was on. She sent him an instant
message: ByAngel213:
Hi. I'm glad you are on! I thought someone was following me home today.
It was really weird!
LOL You watch too much TV. Why would someone be following you? Don't
you live in a safe neighborhood? ByAngel213:
Of course I do. LOL I guess it was my imagination cuz' I didn't see
anybody when I looked out.
Unless you gave your name out on-line. You haven't done that have you?
Of course not. I'm not stupid you know.
Did you have a softball game after school today?
Yes and we won!!
That's great! Who did you play? ByAngel213:
We played the Hornets. LOL. Their uniforms are so gross! They look like
bees. LOL
What is your team called?
We are the Canton Cats. We have tiger paws on our uniforms. They are
really cool. GoTo1 23: Did you pitch?
No I play second base. I got to go. My homework has to be done before
my parents get home. I don't want them mad at me. Bye! GoTo123:
Catch you later. Bye Meanwhile.......GoTo123 went to the member menu
and began to search for her profile. When it came up, he highlighted it
and printed it out. He took out a pen and began to write down what he
knew about Angel so far. Her name: Shannon
Birthday: Jan. 3, 1985
Age: 13
State where she lived: North Carolina
Hobbies: softball, chorus, skating and going to the mall. Besides this
information, he knew she lived in Canton because she had just told him.
He knew she stayed by herself until 6:30 p.m. every afternoon until her
parents came home from work. He knew she played softball on Thursday
afternoons on the school team, and the team was named the Canton Cats.
Her favorite number 7 was printed on her jersey. He knew she was in the
eighth grade at the Canton Junior High School She had told him all this
in the conv ersations they had on- line. He had enough information to
find her now. Shannon didn't tell her parents about the incident on the
way home from the ballpark that day She didn't want them to make a
scene and stop her from walking home from the softball games. Parents
were always overreacting and hers were the worst. It made her wish she
was not an only child. Maybe if she had brothers and sisters, her
parents wouldn't be so overprotective. By Thursday, Shannon had
forgotten about the footsteps following her. Her game was in full swing
when suddenly she felt someone staring at her. It was then that the
memory came back. She glanced up from her second base position to see a
man watching her closely. He was leaning against the fence behind first
base and he smiled when she looked at him. He didn't look scary and she
quickly dismissed the sudden fear she had felt. After the game, he sat
on a bleacher while she talked to the coach. She noticed his smile once
again as she walked past him. He nodded and she smiled back. He noticed
her name on the back of her shirt. He knew he had found her. Quietly,
he walked a safe distance behind her. It was only a few blocks to
Shannon 's home, and once he saw where she lived he quickly returned to
the park to get his car.
Now he had to wait. He decided to get a bite to eat until the time came
to go to Shannon 's house. He drove to a fast food restaurant and sat
there until time to make his move. Shannon was in her room later that
evening when she heard voices in the living room.
'Shannon, come here,' her father called. He sounded upset and she
couldn't imagine why. She went into the room to see the man from the
ballpark sitting on the sofa. 'Sit down,' her father began, 'this man
has just told us a most interesting story about you.'
Shannon sat back. How could he tell her parents anything? She had never
seen him before today!< I> 'Do you know who I am, Shannon ?' the man
asked. 'No,' Shannon answered.
'I am a police officer and your online friend, GoTo123.'
Shannon was stunned. 'That's impossible! GoTo is a kid my age! He's 14.
And he lives in Michigan !'
The man smiled. 'I know I told you all that, but it wasn't true. You
see, Shannon , there are people on-line who pretend to be kids; I was
one of them. But while others do it to injure kids and hurt them, I
belong to a group of parents who do it to protect kids from predators.
I came here to find you to teach you how dangerous it is to talk to
people on-line. You told me enough about yourself to make it easy for
me to find you. You named the school you went to, the name of your ball
team and the position you played. The number and name on your jersey
just made finding you a breeze.' Shannon was stunned. 'You mean you
don't live in Michigan ?'
He laughed. 'No, I live in Raleigh It made you feel safe to think I was
so far away, didn't it?' She nodded.
'I had a friend whose daughter was like you. Only she wasn't as lucky.
The guy found her and murdered her while she was home alone. Kids are
taught not to tell anyone when they are alone, yet they do it all the
time on-line. The wrong people trick you into giving out information a
little here and there on-line. Before you know it, you have told them
enough for them to find you without even realizing you have done it. I
hope you've learned a lesson from this and won't do it again. Tell
others about this so they will be safe too?' 'It's a promise!'
That nigh t Shannon and her Dad and Mom all knelt down together and
thanked God for protecting Shannon from what could have been a tragic

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

A Difficult Voting Choice

The election is less than one month away and I think that many, myself included, are finding it to be a difficult choice. I am a pro-life Democrat. If only Obama would change his position on abortion, life would be so much easier. In fact, both my husband and I signed a petition yesterday sponsored by the National Right to Life Organization asking Obama to rethink his position. I have been supporting McCain throughout this election season, but have done so with a heavy heart. I take voting seriously, and I know that so much is at stake for our country. It is indeed a very difficult decision. At this point, I will probably vote for McCain, but I will continue to pray that the right man will win because I truly do not know who that is.

Here are two takes on the issue:

As an institution, the Roman Catholic Church does not tell believers for whom or against whom they must vote, despite what some politicians, pundits, and pastors suggest. Rather, as the U.S. bishops write in Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship (2007), “the responsibility to make choices in political life rests with each individual in light of a properly formed conscience.” Certainly Catholics must seriously consider any candidate’s stance on “intrinsic evils” such as abortion, racism, and torture. Catholics may not vote for a candidate who supports an intrinsic evil “if the voter’s intent is to support that position.” Yet Catholics may choose a candidate who does not unequivocally condemn an intrinsic evil for other “truly grave moral reasons.” Catholics ought to choose the candidate who is least likely to promote intrinsic evils and the most likely to promote “other authentic human goods.” So the question becomes: Are there “grave moral reasons” that permit Catholics to vote for Obama, or any other candidate, despite his or her prochoice stance, or would such a vote be “intellectually careless or downright disingenuous,” as Carlin asserts?

In the U.S. political context, where no candidate perfectly mirrors Catholic teaching on issues such as abortion, war, stem-cell research, poverty, discrimination, gay marriage, and immigration, voting should be a difficult matter of conscience for Catholics. Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship argues that these issues “are not optional concerns which can be dismissed.” While John McCain’s voting record on antiabortion legislation may be more consistent than Obama’s with Catholic teaching, he supports federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research—an intrinsic evil that Catholic teaching unambiguously condemns. He supported and promises to continue a war that the members of the Roman curia and the U.S. bishops deemed unjust.

Once again the bishops of the United States have provided important guidance through their statement on "Faithful Citizenship." This is especially important since Catholics often confront a dilemma in deciding how to vote: Can we support a candidate who may be attractive for many reasons but who supports abortion? Some partisan advocates have sought to excuse support for pro-abortion candidates through a complex balancing act. They claim that other issues are important enough to offset a candidate's support for abortion.

But the right to abortion mandated in the United States by the Supreme Court's "Roe v. Wade" decision is not just another political issue; it is in reality a legal regime that has resulted in more than 40 million deaths. Imagine for a moment the largest 25 cities in the United States and Canada suddenly empty of people. This is what the loss of 40 million human beings would look like. In fact, 40 million is greater than the entire population of Canada.

What political issue could possibly outweigh this human devastation? the answer, of course, is that there is none. Abortion is different. Abortion is the killing of the innocent on a massive scale.
From "Columbia" magazine October 2008 - a publication of the Knights of Columbus.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Book Recommendation: "Don't Chew Jesus"

I haven't read this book, but it looks like a great one, full of laughs and great memories of nuns. Plus, a portion of the proceeds are being donated to help aging religious. Here is the official description:

Lighthearted and nostalgic, Don't Chew Jesus!: A Collection of Memorable Nun Stories is a look back at Catholic nuns and the impact they had on millions of Americans. Nuns of yesteryear were amusing, enthusiastic, devoted, strict and often single-minded in purpose. Sisters touched millions in a variety of ways, all of them memorable.

Based on nearly 400 firsthand anecdotes and recollections, the book pays tribute to nuns and recalls them with a mix of fondness, respect, awe, and fear. Brief, descriptive anecdotes cover subjects ranging from religious training, habits, and devotion to discipline, pranks, and the always-dicey sex education.

Readers are introduced to such legends-in-the-making as baseball-playing nuns, telepathic nuns, gun-toting nuns, and even skinny-dipping nuns. These nuns have seen it all—the silly or the sad, the frightening or sublime—and always keep their gazes directed upward.

Pride and Humility

As pride is something that I know I struggle with, I greatly appreciated this post:

Pride and Humility

Monday, October 06, 2008

The Image of God

Guest post by Janet Cassidy:

I read this beautiful quote by Pope Benedict XVI, published in the National Catholic Register. It is taken from his weekly general audience, September 17, 2008.

“Just as Caesar’s image was stamped on Roman coins in order to indicate that they were to be given back to him, the image of the Creator—the only Lord in our life—is stamped on the heart of man.”

The Holy Father was addressing the problem today where secularism attempts to extricate the spiritual dimension of our lives when speaking of freedom. He pointed out that it is the spiritual dimension that fundamentally guarantees our freedom.

But what does it mean to you to know that the image of God is stamped on your heart? So woven into our very being from the time of our conception, God’s image defines us. These are very powerful words worth contemplating . . .

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Sunday, October 05, 2008

Video of Window at Mercy Medical Center

View video of window with Mary image at Mercy Medical Center here:

Spending Time with the Church Fathers

A couple of years ago, I picked up a book on the Church Fathers, those leaders of the early Church who came within the first few generations after the Apostles. It was a heavy tome with small print; it seemed very intimidating and I never did get around to reading it. That is why I was so excited to get my hands on a copy of “The Fathers” by Pope Benedict XVI (Our Sunday Visitor, 2008). The material in this book is a slightly edited record of the weekly general audiences Pope Benedict gave on this topic from March 7, 2007 to February 27, 2008. It is incredibly readable and very interesting.

The Church Fathers are fascinating to learn about. Many were converts to the faith and arrived at the Church through a variety of spiritual journeys. They were highly educated and several worked to integrate Greek philosophy with the Christian faith. They also struggled with many of the theological questions that now form the foundation of our faith: Christ as both God and man; the Trinity, and what it means to be a baptized Christian.

Pope Benedict began his treatment of this subject with St. Clement, the third successor of St. Peter who led the Church in the last years of the first century. He intervened in the Church of Corinth in what was the first exercise of Roman Primacy after St. Peter's death. In his letter to Corinth, “he clearly explains the doctrine of Apostolic Succession. . .The Father sent Jesus Christ, who in turn sent the Apostles. They then sent the first heads of communities and established that they would be succeeded by other worthy men. . . .The Church is above all a gift of God and not something we ourselves created.”

Pope Benedict then devotes his attention to St. Ignatius of Antioch who was “the first person in Christian literature to attribute to the Church the adjective 'catholic' or 'universal'.” St. Justin did his best to both defend the faith and explain it. He believed that both the Old Testament and Greek philosophy were two paths that led to Christ. St. Irenaeus of Lyons wrote the first catechism of the Catholic Church. Origen of Alexandria preached a message of love, as he was convinced that “the best way to become acquainted with God is through love.” Tertullian would eventually join the Montanist sect but he gave the Church the terms “one substance” and “three persons” for help in explaining the mystery of the Trinity. Cyprian reflected on the communal message of the “Our Father”: “Our prayer is public and common; and when we pray, we pray not for one, but for the whole people, because we, the whole people, are one.”

Other Church Fathers Pope Benedict invites us to spend time with include St. Cyril of Jerusalem who emphasized the Christian's rebirth through baptism. St. Basil was one of the Fathers of the Church's social doctrine and encouraged interaction with the culture at large. St. Gregory of Nyssa reflected on the beauty of man as being created in the image of God. St. Hilary of Poitiers defended the divinity of Christ by quoting from both the Old and New Testament. St. Jerome translated the Bible into the Latin vernacular. St. Paulinus of Nola wrote beautiful poetry and made use of religious art to instruct pilgrims. Lastly, Pope Benedict focuses on St. Augustine of Hippo, perhaps the most famous Father of them all, who maintained that “faith and reason . . . must always go hand in hand.”

Pope Benedict is a gifted teacher, speaker, and writer, and “The Fathers” is more evidence of this. He is able to take a complicated history and make it accessible to all. “The Fathers” provides a great introduction into the lives and works of many of the great men who helped to form the early Church. It is a valuable resource for anyone who wants to learn more about Church history.

This review was written as part of the Catholic book Reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on The Fathers.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

The Latest News on the Image of Mary in Hospital Window in Springfield, MA

Here are the latest articles on the image of Mary on the window of Mercy Medical Center:

Image on office window draws crowds

Engineers explain what may have caused the image of the Virgin Mary

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Mary Image in Window of Springfield, MA Hospital

Hundreds of believers have been gathering outside of Mercy Medical Center in Springfield, MA to pray and gaze upon an image of Mary that has appeared in a hospital window. No, I haven't gone to see it. I'm naturally more of a skeptic. However, I admit that there is room for miracles, and if God or Mary chooses to use a window to help inspire prayer, who am I to question it? People are gathering to pray. That is certainly not a bad thing. Our world and our country can desperately use more prayer.

Read more here:
Image on office window draws crowds to local medical center

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Life after Miscarriage

Heidi Hess Saxton posted an article on her blog today on Life after Miscarriage. It is a strong article, full of pain and raw emotion. I think most of us can probably relate to both sides of the story - the painful grief of the mother who has lost her child who views every word and action as thoughtless, and the challenge of those around her to try to say and do the right thing and come up short.

I know I'm one person who does struggle to say and do the "right thing" when someone is hurting. I'm often at a loss for words when life is good, much more so when the situation involves grief and deep pain. I say "I'm sorry" and "I'm here for you" and I mean it, but after that, I'm not sure what to do. I'm always ready to listen, but I'm sure I've stuck my foot in my mouth more than once trying to be helpful and failing miserably. In this article, it had been two months since the woman had miscarried. At what point is it OK to have a "normal" conversation, and not focus on the grief? I don't know the answer to that.

I know everyone grieves differently and for different lengths of time and that true grief, while the pain lessons, never truly goes away. It has been 40 years since my mother miscarried two children. She hasn't forgotten and looks forward to meeting them in heaven.

Making the Most of <i>Menopause Moments</i>

  When I unexpectedly got in a review copy of Menopause Moments: A Journal for Nourishing Your Mind, Body and Spirit in Midlife , I must adm...