Friday, March 30, 2012

Spiritual Journeys

One of the first things I learned when going to graduate school studying theology was that everyone is on his or her own spiritual journey. There is no one right path to God and God can certainly work with the messiness of life and bring some amazing things out of it. I'm doing a project that involves researching thousands of saints. While there are some similar stories among them, each one followed God in his or her own way, in the midst of different vocations, and in spite of some rather colorful pasts. Some of the greatest sinners have gone on to become the greatest saints. With God, all things are possible.

Of course, as parents, we have the responsibility to raise our children in the faith. Going to Mass is NOT optional. Instructing them in the faith and forming their consciences is an important duty not to be neglected. Yet, even with children, the day will come in which they choose to make the faith their own, or even though it will totally break my heart, choose not to. At which point, all I will be able to do is pray and entrust them to God.

The same goes for other adults I love, whether they be family members or friends. I want all of them to be the people God wants them to be and to ultimately find joy with Him in heaven. Yet, I do not have the ability to "force" any of these people to obey the commandments or have a personal relationship with God. All I can do is live my faith as best I can and pray and pray and pray for those I care about to make good decisions.

I know I am far from perfect. I need God's mercy as much as anyone. I trust in God's mercy for those I love as well. In the end, it is all in God's hands. He can work miracles. I only see one tiny piece of the puzzle. He sees the whole picture. I need to trust in Him.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Summer Programs at The Thomas More College of Liberal Arts

Someday, I really want to go to one of these! Find out more here:

Way of Beauty Summer Retreat

July 6 - 8 or August 3 - 5

This residential course in prayer and culture will transform the spirit and direct you to the via pulchritudinis, the “way of beauty” – the divine path to creativity, love and joy.

Through this Retreat, you will learn about traditional culture – art, architecture, music – and how it reflects the rhythms and patterns of the cosmos. You will also explore how the cycles and rhythms of the liturgy – the formal and public worship of the Church – participate in the same heavenly standard.

In the chapel, you will learn to chant the Liturgy of the Hours. The Liturgy of the Hours is a simple and beautiful prayer that enables you to “breathe” with the Church. It is so simple, in fact, that you can take it back to your family or your choir so they can chant it too. Apart from the Mass, the Catechism tells us, the Liturgy of the Hours is the most powerful and effective prayer.

You will also receive an introduction to the traditional ‘quadrivium’, or ‘four ways’, of studying the pattern, harmony and order in nature and mathematics, viewed as a reflection of the Divine Order and perceived by us as beauty. They provide the basis for a tradition of harmony and proportion in design and for a tradition of beautiful geometric art used, for example in tiled floors. Along with Church Tradition, these principles also provide the model for the rhythms and cycles of the liturgy.

Christian culture was patterned after this ‘cosmic order’. Literature, art, music, architecture – all of creation and potentially all human activity – are bound together by this common harmony and receive their fullest meaning the Church’s liturgy. Tradition tells us that when we apprehend beauty we do so intuitively, so an education in beauty is also an education in intuition and creativity. This results not only in more ideas, but also better ideas.

Previous training in art or music is not required for the Way of Beauty Summer Retreat.

July 23 - 28

Forty-five years ago, Pope Paul VI said to artists from around the world, “You are masters. It is your task, your mission, and your art consists in grasping treasures from the heavenly realm of the spirit and clothing them in words, colors, forms—making them accessible.”

Through the Thomas More College’s Iconography summer program you can enter into this tradition of beauty that is so central in the Church. You will begin to learn the skills of a master painter giving you the ability to make the truth accessible through the beauty of your masterpieces.

During the week long course you will come to thoroughly understand how the theology and philosophy of the Church gives iconography its form and how that is reflected in its stylistic elements. After achieving some knowledge of the iconographic tradition, you will be instructed in creating them: drawing the icon, transferring the drawing to a panel, making the paint with pigment and egg yolk, and finally, the painting process itself.

As icons are religious art, the process of creating them is not only artistic, but also spiritual. Icons, when worthy of veneration, are like sacramentals. Although they are not themselves a channel of grace, their value is that they predispose us to grace. As you learn to paint icons, you will grow artistically, intellectually, and spiritually.

Thomas More College’s artist-in-residence, internationally acclaimed and Oxford educated Professor David Clayton, will carefully guide you through the entire iconographic process, and you will graduate with a certificate of completion—and an icon you produced with your own hands.

Previous training in art is not required for the Iconography course.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Places where the Catholic Church is Booming

I live in New England, where the Catholic population is declining. Schools and churches are closing because there simply isn't the economic support to keep them going. Looking out my narrow window, it would be easy to claim that the Church as a whole is in decline. But, there are places in this country that have the opposite problem - the churches are overflowing!

U.S. Catholic ran an article on Catholic megachurches in the April 2012 issue: Where 20,000 or 30,000 are gathered

Book Review: Catholicism

Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith
by Fr. Robert Barron
New York: Image Books, 2011

“Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith” by Fr. Robert Barron is a book to accompany / complement the series by the same name. Having not seen that series, this book is being judged on its own merits. Fr. Barron states that, in writing this book, he wanted to show “how God uses Catholicism to utter his Word.” In very poetic language, he describes how God has spoken through the pages of Scripture, the sacred liturgy, missionary travels, the lives of the saints, the beauty of cathedrals, in Catholic writing and art and theater, and most importantly in the person of Jesus Christ.

In many ways, this book could function as a Catholicism 101 text, although there are many items within its pages that even those well-versed in the faith will find valuable. Fr. Barron examines the teachings of Jesus, explores proofs about God, the problem of evil, the person of Mary, the beginnings of the Church, the mystery of the Church, the communion of saints, prayer, and the last things.

“Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith” goes beyond a traditional exploration of Catholicism in that it not only explores the person of Jesus Christ and the tenets and roots of the faith, but also its integration into the life of its followers. Barron shows how the faith has influenced culture and changed the lives of those who have chosen to give their lives to Christ. While no one book could ever hope to encompass all of the Catholic tradition and influence, Fr. Barron has provided interested readers with a highly-readable overview. Readers will come away with either a new-found or renewed appreciation for the Catholic faith.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Vatican approves new "Blessing for a Child in the Womb"

How great is this!

The Vatican has approved the publication of the "Rite for the Blessing of a Child in the Womb," which will be printed in English and Spanish in a combined booklet and should be available for parishes by Mothers' Day. The U.S. bishops who collaborated on the development of the blessing welcomed the announcement of the recognitio, or approval, by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in Rome.

"I'm impressed with the beauty of this blessing for human life in the womb," said Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). "I can think of no better day to announce this news than on the feast of the Annunciation, when we remember Mary's 'yes' to God and the incarnation of that child in her the womb that saved the world."

Read more here: Vatican approves new "Blessing for a Child in the Womb"

New Information on October Baby Showing in Springfield

October Baby
will be opening Friday, April 13th at the Entertainment Cinemas at the Springfield Plaza (Can be accessed via Liberty St. or St. James Ave.) in Springfield, MA.

Bulk tickets are available from the cinemas - 50 tickets at $5.75 each. Call the cinema at 413-858-8800. These tickets may be used at any showing. Single tickets will also be available at the theater when the movie is showing. Movie times for the first week will be at 1:10, 4:00, 7:05, and 9:35 p.m. Single ticket prices are $5.75 for matinee and $8.75 for evening shows.

If you need more information, please contact Karen at

Thank you!

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Great Courses on Sale Now!

I recently got a sale catalog in the mail from The Great Courses. My local library has a few of these available for take out, so this was the impetus I needed to actually check them out for preview to see if they were something I was interested in purchasing for my children. I checked out two: The Foundations of Western Civilization and A History of European Art.

My children and I watched one lesson of each just to try them out. They did not appreciate The Foundations of Western Civilization. It was straight lecture with an occasional map thrown in. At 11 and 9 1/2, this is not their idea of a stimulating lesson. A History of European Art fared better. Being as it is art, it featured lots of illustrations and the lecture was explaining them, so all was well! I have ordered that one for school next year, along with The Secrets of Mental Math as a "fun class" for my younger son.

I can definitely see many of these courses being wonderful for high-school aged homeschoolers, however. There are a wide variety of courses taught by some of the best college professors in the country. The courses come with a suggested reading list along with a money-back guarantee if you are not satisfied and free replacement if a disk gets ruined. They are pricey normally (although certainly less than actually taking the course at a college), but right now the sale prices are very reasonable. If you use the coupon code TVF4 (good through April 1st), you can get free shipping as well. Check out their full listing of courses here: Great Courses

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Annunciation

Today (March 25th) would normally be the Feast of the Annunciation, but because today is a Sunday, it gets moved to tomorrow. I searched through a number of images of the Annunciation, trying to find something different to use, but this one by Henry Tanner is always the one that speaks to me.

Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
Luke 1:30

Today, I invite you to reflect on your own "Annunciation" moments. While they might not be this dramatic, we all have them - the times when God comes in and disrupts our human plans and offers us a very different future. We are given a choice and our answer changes our lives forever. Like Mary, we may be very scared, but may we, like her, have the courage to say "Yes."

Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word."
Luke 1:38

Friday, March 23, 2012

Pro-Life Movie October Baby to come to Springfield, MA in April!

Please note: This info has been updated as of March 27th.

October Baby
opens in theaters across the country today, but it wasn't scheduled to come to my market here in Springfield, MA. My friend, Karen Ford, has changed that. She agreed to sell at least 750 tickets in exchange for (at least) a short run at a local movie theater. It will be opening Friday, April 13th at the Entertainment Cinemas at the Springfield Plaza (Can be accessed via Liberty St. or St. James Ave.) in Springfield, MA.

Bulk tickets are available from the cinemas - 50 tickets at $5.75 each. Call the cinema at 413-858-8800. These tickets may be used at any showing. Single tickets will also be available at the theater when the movie is showing. Movie times for the first week will be at 1:10, 4:00, 7:05, and 9:35 p.m. Single ticket prices are $5.75 for matinee and $8.75 for evening shows.

If you need more information, please contact Karen at

Thank you!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

It Took Nearly Two Years, But . . .

I finally finished the Amish quilt I had started after my trip to Lancaster, PA in 2010. The inner red and white part was a kit. I added the blue border to make it larger. I really do enjoy my quilting projects. I only work on them about an hour a week, but they are creative and relaxing and always serve as a reminder that even small amounts of time spent on a regular basis can add up to something!

I already have an idea for my next project, and I am very excited about it!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Natural Family Planning Doctors

This article on New Natural Family Planning Doctors made me happy. There is such a need for doctors knowledgeable in NFP and practicing treatment in keeping with the Church's teaching. The nearest such doctor to me is about an hour away, which isn't very practical.

Thankfully, my OB/GYN at least respects NFP and doesn't give me a hard time about it, but I've still had the pill recommended to me for various reasons just about every time I've gone to a doctor (both OB/GYN and primary care physician) in my adult life. It's hard to be the "difficult" patient who says "no" to what the doctor sees as an easy fix to the problems that plague me. I would be so happy to have a doctor who would help me in a way that was in keeping with my conscience.

Maybe one of these new doctors will move to Western Mass! (A woman can dream.)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

St. Joseph's Boxes

St. Joseph's day is behind us now, but any day is a good one to reflect on St. Joseph and his example. This week's reflection in Give Us This Day is about St. Joseph's Boxes. St. Joseph was a carpenter and as such, he no doubt constructed boxes - the physical kind for putting things in. But, he, like all of us, built metaphorical boxes as well. The boxes in which we put our plans for the future and the coping mechanisms we use to get through life. Yet, also like St. Joseph, God often asks us to get out of our comfort zone.

The unnamed writer shares:

Boxes of all kinds are still a necessity of life. We can learn from St. Joseph to make with care the boxes in which we store our dreams and expectations, our relationships and purposes, all that we value. They must be constructed of materials flexible enough to expand to hold the unexpected works of God but strong enough not to break when God is forced to tear them open to give us room to grow into the life he intends for us. Faith, hope, and love have proven to be worthy of the task. Ask St. Joseph.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Catholic Digest: A New Look at an Old Favorite

I grew up reading Catholic Digest. I was one of those children who would pick up and read anything that was lying around the house, and it was a magazine that my parents subscribed to. Honestly, I don't remember all that much about the articles. I'm guessing that, as a child, many of them probably went over my head, but I always enjoyed reading religious books and articles. What I do remember were the ads at the back - there would be pages and pages of ads for religious communities. I would read them and dream of which community I could be part of (this was before puberty hit).

I don't know at what point my parents stopped subscribing (probably the same time my Catholic school stopped having magazine drives), but I didn't see another issue for a long time. A while back, I had gone to Mass at a different church than my usual parish and they had a stack of free copies. I picked one up, read it and enjoyed it. I even queried them to see if I could have an article published (the editor declined), but I didn't subscribe.

Recently, though, with the news that Danielle Bean was taking over as editor, I sent in my subscription. The March 2012 issue arrived in my mailbox last week. I eagerly read it cover to cover. It has a new size and a new focus. Subtitled "Faith and Family Living," the articles deal with many aspects of marriage and family. There were practical articles on gardening and health and managing your children's screen time. There were spiritual articles on Lent and coping with spiritual dryness. There were two advice columns handing out helpful answers to troubling problems. One of my favorite articles was on male / female communication - it provided a humorous, but very true look at the way our communication styles differ and the challenges that presents. Overall, the magazine was a delight to read and I am looking forward to the next issue.

In today's world, when so much good Catholic information is available on line, one might wonder why she should subscribe to a print magazine like Catholic Digest. As a parent, I think it is important to have our children see us reading Catholic materials and continuing to learn about our faith. They don't see me reading the many Catholic blogs that I follow, but they do see me reading Catholic publications. While neither of my sons has ever picked one up and read it, that day may come. In the meantime, I'm setting a good example and subscribing to Catholic Digest is definitely money well spent.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Happy St. Joseph's Day

Tomorrow (March 19th) is the feast of St. Joseph. The Knights of Columbus have a very good article on how St. Joseph should be the model for all husbands and fathers. It also offers a new (old) take on Joseph's original decision to divorce Mary quietly when he found out that she was expecting Jesus:

A number of the early Church Fathers explained that Joseph did not decide to divorce Mary quietly because he suspected her of adultery or because he was perplexed by her sudden and humanly inexplicable pregnancy. Rather, knowing that Mary was pregnant "by the power of the Holy Spirit," Joseph was convinced that he was unworthy to be so close to the work of God and decided in his humility to step aside. . . .Mary, in her love for Joseph, had likely informed him of this fact before the arrival of the angel. Knowing Mary's goodness and holiness, Joseph believed what Mary had told him and made an act of faith. The angel instead came to assure Joseph that God wanted him to accept Mary into his house as his wife. In doing so, Joseph would legally adopt the child Mary was carrying in her womb and become the foster father of God's Son.

Please read the full article: St. Joseph, a Father for Fathers

Friday, March 16, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone!

St Patrick's Breastplate:

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me;
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's hosts to save me
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a mulitude.

Christ shield me today
Against wounding
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through the mighty strength
Of the Lord of creation

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Become a Patron of Catholic Art

Dorian Speed over at is looking to help patronize Catholic artists. She writes:

I’d like to explore how we can bring about a revival of the arts by coming to understand our own role as patrons – the value of supporting artists, the tradition that our Catholic artists can both maintain and add to, and how to tell a cornball from a Work for the Ages. It underscores the value of a liberal arts education even for those who enter other professions – the responsibility remains to invest some of our wealth in the renewal of the culture.

I’m going to be featuring interviews with various Catholic artists over the next several weeks, focusing on getting the word out about whatever their current works include and trying to learn how the Internet has helped them to connect with patrons. I know all this talk of patrons sounds like I mean Decorating Daddy Warbucks’ Home with Catholic Fountains (doesn’t it?). But really, $20 can cover a donation to an independent film, a graphic novel, a St. Patrick print (perfect for his upcoming feast day!), or…salad, pasta, and a drink at one of America’s many fine interchangeable restaurants. It doesn’t have to take One Special Patron for an artist to succeed, and I want to encourage us all to reclaim that responsibility.

To that end, she is looking to interview Catholic artists. If you are one, please fill out her info form at Art for the Sake of Grace. If you know one, please direct them to her site. And if you blog or on a social network, please share this information!

Thank you!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Changing the World by Praying

Praying is sometimes so hard. I pray, sometimes for years, for people, situations, etc. with no visible improvement. Do the prayers matter? I believe that they do. They may not change the physical realities, but I do trust that they change the spiritual ones.

I know that, at times, I have been the great beneficiary of prayer. There have been times when I have truly felt a peace that I know did not come from my own power. Prayer leads to acceptance of God's will in situations that are often completely out of our control.

So, I'm going to keep praying, even when it seems to my human eyes that the prayers are serving no purpose. God knows the prayers are there and He can do with them what He wills. The act of praying can change the world.

This passage from Pausing To Pray Lenten Meditations for Busy People for today was just what I needed to hear:

What can I do for you, Lord Jesus? What can I do? I am really a small one. How can my life change anything? And yet, in some mysterious way, my life can change the world. Through intercessory prayer, I can touch people all over the world. You are God and I am a creature, yet You ask me to seek You out, to converse with You, to ask You for anything. No petition is too small for You or too difficult for You. Today, Jesus, let me remember those I love who are far from You. I beg Your graces upon them. My trust is in You, O Lord.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

How to Be Happy for Other People in 4 Easy Steps

Envy is one of those things I've always struggled with. I've said it in confession more times than I care to count. That's why this article from Young and Catholic really caught my eye: How to Be Happy For Other People in 4 Easy Steps.

In the reactions she describes, I definitely fall into the second category. I never think badly about the other people or wish them unhappiness. Instead, I feel bad about me. My sense of self has never been that strong, coupled with a healthy dose of depression, and I soon go careening into a very deep pit. It isn't pretty. It is something I will most likely struggle with until the day I die. On the plus side, I'm better than I used to be, so there is always hope!

The author of Be Happy for People in 4 Easy Steps offers some very concrete ways to help the process. It is definitely worth reading if this is a problem that you struggle with.

Monday, March 12, 2012

New Guide to Daily Prayer

I was recently given a free issue of Give Us This Day, a new guide to daily prayer from The Liturgical Press. I have been using it this month and have found it to be very helpful. Each day features a morning prayer including a psalm, scripture reading, and intercessions. A saint biogr is included, as are the Mass readings for the day. These are followed by a one-page reflection. Evening prayer once again includes a psalm, scripture and intercessions.

Of course, one is not obligated to use all of the prayers/ readings included. I personally find it very helpful to have the Mass readings included. I had gotten out of the habit of taking out my Bible, looking them up, and reading them daily. This makes it very easy to have that daily helping of scripture!

Give Us This Day would be an asset to any Catholic's prayer life. You can find out more, request a free sample, or subscribe at

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Secret Lives of Women (Who Don’t Use Contraception)

Fellow writer and blogger Jennifer Fulwiler recently contributed to a new book: Style, Sex, and Substance: 10 Catholic Women Consider the Things that Really Matter. The description of this book is:

Who is to say who the authentic Catholic woman is?

And how do the perils and pitfalls of modern society impact that vision?

Here is a fresh look at life from the perspective of ten Catholic women who live in the spotlight of the Internet -- ten bloggers who keep it real every day with their personal posts relating their triumphs, trials, and temptations for all to see.

In the same way, nothing is off limits in "Style, Sex, & Substance." Each of these women brings a refreshingly open and humorous perspective to growing in faith and improving their relationship with Christ.

In her recent article, The Secret Lives of Women (Who Don't Use Contraception), Fulwiler writes:

On Monday Our Sunday Visitor released a book called Style, Sex, and Substance: 10 Catholic Women Consider the Things that Really Matter, its timing so fortuitous that I picture the staff at OSV filling a kiddie pool with champagne and throwing themselves into it in unbridled glee every time the title is mentioned. It’s a collection of personal essays by ten women, including me and fellow Register blogger Simcha Fisher, all of whom are practicing Catholics. Nine of us are married; none use contraception, and so the volume acts as a window into the life of this mysterious woman who rejects artificial birth control. A lot of folks have been speculating lately about what existence would be like for American women without contraception; now, they have an answer.

My copy arrived in the mail yesterday, and I read the whole thing by this morning. I had a lot of reactions: I thought it was funny. I thought it was thought-provoking. I thought the authors’ takes on their topics were refreshing. But the one thought that persisted more than any other as I peered into the lives of the nine other contributors was this: These women are having fun.

It reminded me of something I noticed when I was first exploring Catholicism. Back then I found myself in two different arenas of the online world: I spent about half my time reading secular women’s blogs, most of which were written from a decidedly atheistic/agnostic point of view. I spent the other half of my online time reading Catholic women’s blogs. Both groups of women were smart. Both were funny. Both were educated and articulate. Yet the Catholic women had something that nobody else did, something that was so evident that I would always notice if I had accidentally clicked on a secular blog when I’d meant to click on a Catholic one: They had joy. They had peace. And they just seemed to be having more fun than the rest of us.

That’s not to say that the Catholic women were always happy; happiness is different from joy. And when I say they had more “fun,” I don’t mean any kind of fun. I didn’t see nearly as much fun in the form of cynical ranting or amusement at the expense of others. What I saw was the type of fun you’d have on a voyage to an uncharted land, the kind of entertainment that can only be found from witnessing someone live a great story. And, no, the Catholics were not always perfectly behaved, and neither were they always the very image of Christ. Rather, what I saw was that their lives had a certain wholeness that I’d never encountered anywhere else. It was as if they had the secret owner’s manual to the human soul, and I didn’t.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Following Christ to Calvary

On Fridays during Lent, I pray the Stations of the Cross with my children. We use various sources for these. One of the ones we have used this year came from the March 2012 issue of St. Anthony Messenger. They feature photos of sculptures by Virginia Marksyowicz and text by Alfred McBride, OPRAEM, taken from his booklet The Challenge of the Cross: Praying the Stations.

You can view the stations here: Following Christ to Calvary

This is the text for Station 11: Jesus is Nailed to the Cross

In my contemporary world, I am called to adore a crucified God and not dilute the cross by smothering it with roses or pleasant thoughts, making its meaning and value vanish. I need the shadows of Good Friday to appreciate the full possibilities of the Easter mystery. The most distant object I can see on a clear day is the sun. But on a dark night I can see the stars, millions of miles farther away. Darkness has its spiritual value.

Lent: A Time to Say Yes to Following Jesus

This article by Maurice Blumberg is written for men, but I think it can apply to women just as well: Lent: A Time to Say Yes to Following Jesus. In the article, Blumberg is reflecting on Jesus' calling of the apostles and what it means for us to be called as well. I especially liked this passage:

Follow me. It’s true, you may not start out as an ideal disciple, but as you follow, your heart will begin to change. What you are now isn’t an obstacle to what you can become— not to the Lord. He has had a vision for your life from the moment you were conceived. And that vision is one of blessing, not of curse. It’s a vision of fullness, not emptiness. It’s a vision in which every part of your personality—all of your talents, your character traits, and even your unique quirks—is filled with his life and is used to build his kingdom.

Of course, Jesus won’t force us to follow him; he simply calls us and it is up to us to make the right choice. But what is this choice? The choice is to give our lives to Jesus, and follow him, or to try to live life on our own. It’s a choice between actively believing in Jesus or pas­sively accepting a kind of “default” life in which we just go along with the rest of the world.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

The Crucible of Conscience

What does it mean to follow the dictates of one's conscience? Why must we have a well-formed conscience? These are the questions Pat Gohn deals with in her article for today: The Crucible of Conscience

Ave Maria Press Gathers Experts Online for Free Professional Development Courses

Ave Maria Press is pleased to present its spring 2012 lineup of professional development webinars—all are free, live, open to anyone, and designed to meet the diverse needs of Catholic ministers and parishioners. Participants are invited to register online and enjoy access to presentations by experts in every area of parish ministry from the comfort of their home or office. These live webinars enable attendees to engage in question-and-answer sessions in real time following the presentation. Replays of the webinars are also made available online after the live broadcast.

The spring 2012 webinar topics and leaders are:

Catholics Going Green: Our Call to Stewardship and the Journey of Living Environmental Justice
Presented by Walter Grazer
Tuesday, March 20
3:00 p.m. EST

Infertility: Spiritual Care and Practical Support for
Catholic Couples

Presented by Angelique Ruhi-López and Carmen Santamaría
Thursday, March 29
3:00 p.m. EST

Sacred Heart Devotion Today
Presented by Fr. James Kubicki, S.J.
Tuesday, April 24
3:00 p.m. EST

How to Get Through the Bible in an Hour
Presented by Dr. John Bergsma
Tuesday, May 22
3:00 p.m. EST

To register, or for more information, please visit:

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Book Review: How to Read Churches

How to Read Churches: A Crash Course in Ecclesiastical Architecture
by Denis R. McNamara
New York: Rizzoli Press, 2011

"How to Read Churches: A Crash Course in Ecclesiastical Architecture" by Denis R. McNamara offers a fascinating look at the ideas behind the architecture of churches. In many ways, churches are meant to represent the connection between heaven and earth. McNamara, who holds a BA in art history from Yale University and a PhD in architectural history from the University of Virginia, makes what could have been an extremely complex topic very accessible to the interested reader.

He covers all architectural periods and styles, from classical to Romanesque, Gothic to modern and into the present day. He also explores the reasons behind the architectural choices (both design and material) and what each choice was/is trying to convey. Decorative elements such as stained glass windows and statuary are also examined.

The informative text is accompanied by line drawings providing examples of each architectural aspect from existing churches. While one may have wished to see actual photographs of these elements, the line drawings do help provide a unified feel to the book.

"How to Read Churches" is fascinating for anyone interested in theology, architecture, history, or art. It is small in size (6 1/2" x 5"), but offers a wealth of information. It would make a perfect travel companion whether one is exploring churches close to home or on pilgrimage in a foreign land. It would also make a fine text to accompany a class on church architecture.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

How do Busy Moms Manage to Do It All?

We have all met them - the supermom who manages to have eight kids, homeschool, run a business, and still take care of the house. How do they do it? And what can they teach the rest of us mere mortals?

Theresa Thomas reveals the answer in her article: How she does it

Monday, March 05, 2012

A Vocation Story: Sr. Jane Morrisey

My local newspaper, The Republican, recently ran a story on Sr. Jane Morrisey, a Sister of St. Joseph, who has done some very remarkable things in her lifetime. I always enjoy hearing how a religious person received her call from God. Here is her story:

Since childhood, I had an interior longing to give my life entirely to God. Yet, what did that mean to me as a child? I scarcely remember.

Romantic that I am, I believe that as a small child I pictured myself lighting the vigil lamps in some Greek temple. The Sisters of St. Joseph taught me in school, but I didn’t feel drawn to them. For one thing, I didn’t want to teach.

After graduating from the Elms, I was employed in the city I loved, the Big Apple, where at age 12 after a steamy stalled subway delay close to the Cloisters I had replaced my imagined Greek temple with a flowering medieval landscape in which I’d fallen in love with the Christ of the unicorn tapestries. As a newly minted graduate, I loved the vitality and opportunity of the city, but felt anonymous. Whatever my salary, my job at Equitable Life Assurance Society on the Avenue of the Americas felt sterile, I began applying for graduate school to study metaphysical poetry.

One summer noon at St. Patrick Cathedral after hearing the Gospel story of the rich young man who turned away from Jesus’ call and left sad, the call of my childhood emerged cloaked in immediacy. It gnawed at my plans to attend the University of Wisconsin.

Then one afternoon I left work in the company of my college friend Catherine Ormond and settled quietly into a bland sitting room near Columbia University. There I felt the vocational advice my former teacher Sister Patricia James Sweeney was giving her about entering the SSJs plunge into a void within me and lodge. On the trip to my Bay Ridge apartment, I missed the subway stop and ended up lost and bewildered at the end of the Coney Island line. Despite my resistance, that conversation created some new framework to the question of vocation. Why not try?

I started asking questions out loud. I began remembering all those who had suggested and lived the life of a Sister of Saint Joseph. Within weeks I started trying this life and I keep trying. It makes me happy.

Read the full interview with her here:

Learn more about the Sisters of St. Joseph:

A Good Reminder from Today's Scripture

Jesus said to his disciples, "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you." Luke 6:36-38

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Thoughts on Clutter

I recently received a free copy of the December 2011 issue of Practical Homeschooling Magazine. It is a Christian magazine about homeschooling and life lived with God. It was interesting to read through. One article that caught my eye was "Clutter will Cramp Your Style" by Don Aslett.

I'm still working on my "40 Bags in 40 Days" project - although this year, it seems to be more like 40 Bags in 6 months. That's OK. I'm still making progress, even if it is not as quickly as I might like. I've done 25 bags so far.

Aslett writes:

There's no escape from the toll clutter takes on our life. The most valuable "someday useful" junk will stymie our emotional freedom if we let it pile up on is. We can't hide our junk in a deep-enough hole or in obscure-enough corners to keep it our of our mind. Once physically discarded, it's also discarded from our mind and we're free from keeping mental tabs on it. But as long as we own it, we'll mentally tend it. We feel obligated to use our junk, whether we need it or not. If we don't or can't use it, then we worry about why we have it all! Junk will get you - don't sit and argue that it won't!

Let the bagging continue!

Thursday, March 01, 2012

What Women Want

I usually schedule the articles I post on Catholic Lane a day or two ahead, but this article by Colleen Carroll Campbell was just so good and so relevant that I had to post it immediately. What do women want? We want to be recognized as the intelligent individuals that we are - capable of making rational decisions that may or may not agree with the way another woman feels. We are not all the same. Please don't treat us as if we are.

Campbell begins:

In honor of Women’s History Month, I’d like to make a request of America’s political and media elites on behalf of America’s women: Stop lumping us together.

To be more specific: Stop telling us “what women want” in the next president, which political stands are sure-fire winners (or losers) of “the women’s vote” and what constitutes “the women’s view” in debates over everything from the morality of abortion to the limits of government and the best path to national prosperity.

Read more here: What Women Want

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...