Today, I send my condolences to those who lost loved ones and friends in this tragedy, to those who suffered unimaginable pain and those still suffering. My heart is with you. I thank those who gave their lives for others. And I pray to the Blessed Mother to give us peace in the world. I ask her for the conversion of hearts and souls so that the Earth can be blessed with a peace that can only come from Above.
Well, yes I am alive. Thanks for asking. I haven’t posted for at least a couple of weeks and the guilt follows me. My kids started school a few weeks ago and it has been a real adjustment for me this year. I have a freshman in Catholic high school and another in elementary school. Mornings are now much more stressful. Our wonderful high school is at least 20 minutes away and we need to leave at 7am in order to beat traffic and have me back home in time to get the little one ready. I’m having trouble getting a carpool together to help, but our routine is down now. I’m in the car during the day almost 2-3 hours though, and it really cuts into my available time during the day. My husband helps when he can, but all bets are off if I get some freelance work. I’m trying to figure out when my prayer and meditation time will fit. I’ve come to the conclusion I just have to get up at 5:30am to pray because I just can’t seem to get it in once I get home from driving around.
One of the things I have been doing in my off time is cooking. I love to cook and I consider food to be a blessing from God for sure. There is no way you can talk about living Catholic without discussing food. As long as we are not talking about gluttony (which I’m sure is a topic for another day,) enjoying food and wine is part of the celebration of the life the Lord has given us. He has blessed us with so many, many wonderful foods there is no way He would not want us to enjoy them. He did give us taste buds after all.
Now, so many times the discussion of food on Catholic websites always leads to some sort of bean soup for Lent. Not here. While many of my recipes are meatless, it is not on purpose. They just happen to be. I love meat and figure that we were designed to eat both plants and meat. Look at our teeth. We were given teeth for both grinding (molars) and ripping (canines) and I definitely use both.
This week I made a recipe my mother received from a friend years ago, and while only my husband and I will eat it because it has zucchini, I do make it occasionally, serving pasta with sauce on the side for those who are vegetable averse. I have updated it a little to make it more healthy. It is good as a main dish or a side.
3 Cups Zucchini with skin, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic chopped
1/2 onion chopped
1/2 cup grated parmesan, romano or cheddar cheese (I use parmesan)
4 eggs beaten (I use Egg Beaters)
1 cup Bisquick (I use the Bisquick Heart Smart kind – white box)
1/2 cup oil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon parsley
1/8 teaspoon salt (I omit it)
Slice zucchini very thin (I have a very cheap little mandolin but a food processor is good too). Chop onion and garlic. Mix remaining ingredients together, add onion, garlic and zucchini. Pour into greased 9 x 9 square pan and cook 50-60 minutes at 350 degrees until golden brown.
I does not come out like bread, but like a casserole. The original recipe called for it to be cooked in a loaf pan, but I find it cooks better in a square pan. I have been also taking this to ladies breakfast or brunch meetings, like bible studies, etc. and it is very popular. Enjoy.
Several years ago, I was privileged to attend a Melkite Rite Mass. There are other rites besides Roman, and this Catholic Mass (completely in accord with the Pope) was just beautiful. It was at an evening retreat in a retreat center. I almost cried it was so beautiful. All I could think of was, “Why can’t we have that?” “Why do we have to suffer through such irreverent Masses?” “Why can’t we have such beautiful language?” The wording for the Mass could be so much more reverent and special…holy.
Of course, a lot of this has to do with the priest. If a priest is holy and takes his time with the Mass, and is reverent, then the mass will be too. I have attended Latin masses before and they were beautiful, if confusing. I had a lot of trouble following along, even with an English/Latin missal. But one question I have is why didn’t they just use the translation in that missal? The powers that be could have just have used that. There was no need to dumb it down or make it simpler, the average Mass goer is not that stupid. (OK, don’t say anything…)
There has been quite the buzz in the blogging community for a long time about changes in the Mass that will be coming. Otherwise known as “Liturgical Reform.” I’m excited because anything that makes the Mass more reverent and beautiful I’m for. Recently, there was the unveiling of the US Bishops website devoted to the changes coming in the Roman Missal. It shows the changes in wording that will happen in the future.
Now, when we talk about the future, the first thing that comes to our minds is exactly WHEN this will happen. Some people say that Advent of 2011, but we just don’t know. Lots of things have to happen first. Things have to be approved at the Vatican. Priests and deacons have to be trained, the faithful have to be catechized, music has to be revised, among other things. A most important reason also, is that the publishers of liturgical books and personal missals have to have finalized revisions so they can print, publish and promote the books that will be used. All of this takes a great deal of time. So, don’t look for the changes to be too soon.
Do check out the Committee on Divine Worship’s website for a comparison of current and proposed changes to the wording of the Mass. It has a lot of good information. If you have an interest in Liturgical Reform you might also find the Adoremus website interesting as well. Also, take the time to pray for all concerned.
The Eucharist is a gift Jesus gave us to nourish us and join us to him. It is His body and blood, His very soul and divinity. We should not take Communion if we are not properly disposed to receive it. Instead, we should make a Spiritual Communion, in which we ask the Lord to come into our heart as if we had actually partaken in His sacred meal. The folks at New Advent posted a wonderful guide by Fr. John Hilton in Westminster, CO that describes when you would need to make a Spiritual Communion and how to do so.
If you are not Catholic (yet!), have been away from the Church for a long time and have not been to Confession, or are in a state of serious sin, this could be a big help for you to further your relationship with Christ, while you are trying to overcome your sin. Common serious sins that keep many people from the Eucharist include such actions as: using contraception, marrying outside the church, other sexual sins, such as adultery. Of course, any serious sin (mortal sin) separates us from God and being able to receive Christ into our body.
If you are able to go to Confession and receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, that is the first place you should go. If you are not able to go to Confession then make an appointment with a priest you can be comfortable with anyway. He can help you. In the meantime, a Spiritual Communion is an excellent way to begin. If you are serious about changing your life, Christ is serious about helping you.
This is an amazing story and a tribute to all the women who agonized over whether to tell their stories of pain after an abortion. A life has been saved. Reality TV star Kourtney Kardashian, who recently discovered she was pregnant, decided to keep the baby after discovering the experiences of other women who have been seriously affected after an abortion. She told People Magazine in a recent interview that she went online to find out the risks of an abortion.
“I looked online, and I was sitting on the bed hysterically crying, reading these stories of people who felt so guilty from having an abortion,” she recalls. “I was reading these things of how many people are traumatized by it afterwards…” After scouring the Internet, Kardashian says she started to realize that an abortion wasn’t an option for her. “I was just sitting there crying, thinking, ‘I can’t do that,’ ” she says. “And I felt in my body, this is meant to be. God does things for a reason, and I just felt like it was the right thing that was happening in my life.”
While many people she knows say ‘Oh, get an abortion.’ Like it’s not a big deal.” Kardashian realized that the only reason to have an abortion would be selfish. Her doctor also counseled her by telling her that she would never regret the baby, but might regret it if she had an abortion.
Think of the lives that might be saved when other women who are in this situation stop to think about the consequences that could happen if they go through with the abortion. Few people tell them of the other options open to them, such as their local Respect Life office, or the wonderful charity The Nurturing Network among the other wonderful organizations dedicated to helping women in need.
I urge you to make a resolution to help a local charity in your area that is dedicated to helping women who really need help, and their babies, both for keeping the baby and for adoption. And let’s pray for Ms. Kardashian, her baby, her family and the baby’s father. A rosary would be a great idea.
I discovered Robert Novak just a few years ago. I’m not one for watching cable news shows (I’d much rather watch the Discovery Channel) and was not exposed to his newspaper columns. He caught my attention when he released his book The Prince of Darkness: 50 Years Reporting in Washington. What perked my interest was the section in his book where he discusses his conversion to Catholicism. Mr. Novak was raised Jewish, but lived most of his life without God. His life was his career. Over time as he grew older, he and his wife started to attend church and occasionally attended a Catholic church. The teachings of the Church drew him in, but he never took the big step of conversion until the Holy Spirit used a lowly student to bring him in when he was ready.
I loved his recounting of how he was invited to attend a university dinner and a student asked him a question about his faith. (I’m going on memory here – you’ll have to read it for yourself.) He told her he occasionally attended a Catholic Church. Her answer changed his life as she challenged him as to why he was waiting, life was short. The Holy Spirit spoke him and he converted.
I salute you Mr. Novak and pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet especially for you. Rest in Peace.
Thank you Lord for a blessed life. Thank you for my family and good friends. Thank you for faith in times of confusion and troubles, sorrow and pain. Thank you for my home, the strong roof over our heads, the abundance of clothes our family has, and shoes. So many children walk over dusty roads, rusty garbage and sewage, but my children have shoes to protect their feet.
Thank you for our family’s health, our doctors and a hospital 10 minutes away. Many have to travel hours or days to get to a hospital. We have a rescue squad 3 blocks away and an excellent hospital, in fact several. Thank you for medicine, both cheap and expensive – so, so many don’t even have an aspirin.
Thank you for my education so that my intellect is fostered and broadened, my curiosity fed, and my family enriched. Thank you for the ability to send my children to school. So many sit in the dust with a tiny blackboard and chalk to learn their letters. Many children don’t even have that. Girls all over the world are denied even a rudimentary education, but I went to college. I can teach my children at home if I would so choose. Many countries deny this. I can take my children to museums, aquariums, parks and zoos, others don’t even know these things exist.
Thank you Lord for books! Oh, Lord what would I do with out books? Today, I can learn to make bread or fix a faucet, learn about quarks or black holes, enjoy a novel or enrich my soul. Thank you Lord. I can take my children to the library. Many in the world cannot even comprehend that such a thing exists – and for free!
Oh, Lord – thank you for my computer where I can learn anything in the touch of a fingertip, in microseconds. I can talk to others with the same interests across the world and know that we are not alone – when we thought we were before. Thanks for the TV too, where the whole world is opened in front of our eyes. Good and bad, just like people, but a blessing nonetheless.
Thank you Lord for my husband, wise and strong, yet gentle and loving. So many women have been abused, abandoned or ignored. Thank you Lord for loving, kind in-laws, too.
Thank you for air conditioning and indoor plumbing! Thank you for washing machines! I don’t have to beat my clothes on a rock in the river, or get my hand caught in a wringer. I don’t have to do more than sort, load and throw in the dryer. Thank you God for dryers! I can do my laundry at midnight or if it is raining. I don’t have to haul loads of clothes in the car and wait for hours at the laundromat since my washer & dryer are steps away.
Speaking of cars, thank you Lord for cars. We can transport our whole family across town or across the country with nary a thought. Many people have to walk miles to go to church, each way. I can jump in the car and be there in 6 minutes. Many people never leave their village or town. Many never go farther away than 10 miles from their homes. We may go more than 10 miles to visit a friend or go to work. Thank you for airplanes too, so we can even see the world.
Thank you Lord for employment, for every paycheck, for we can eat and eat well. Too, too, many places in the world families have only a bit of bread and beans, if that. In some places Lord, people eat cakes made of dirt to fill their bellies. They have to watch their children starve to death, women carrying dead babies to their graves. We have an abundance, and whine if our particular brand is out of stock. Thank you for refrigerators for the food we have will not spoil and make us sick. Thank you that my family does not know what real hunger means.
Thank you Lord for the garden my family grows. For sprouting seeds and luscious produce. Thank you for inventing the beautiful, red bursting strawberries, the incredibly fast beans, and the prolific indescribable tomato. Yes, thank you for tomatoes, they are truly a gift. And garlic. And onions too! You had a good day Lord when you invented tomatoes, onions and garlic. Thank you too for the fruit trees, bursting with nutrition and flavor, to fill our stomachs.
Thank you for the rain and the sun to drench the soil with the good things it needs. I even thank you for the hurricanes and the earthquakes, for they are part of your plan for Earth. They are minor inconveniences compared to the grandeur of the building of mountains, and the workings of the oceans. Ah, the deep, deep oceans, Lord. How wondrous are your creations, your waves, your sea creatures, the saltiness of the sea, the bounty of the sea, the sound of the sea.
Dear Lord, I thank you for the delicate child in the womb, floating in a sea, drifting to sleep by the rocking of its mothers voice and steps. Thank you for the kicks of life I was privileged to feel. The groans of childbirth and the sweet, sweet breath of a child on my cheek. The glorious privilege of watching my child nuzzle and nurse at my breast, his hand delicately placed upon it.
I thank you so much for being born at this time, in this wonderful country. Where there is freedom. Where I can speak my mind and not worry about a knock at the door in the middle of the night. Where we are safe. Yes, bad things do happen here, but nothing like other countries. War is not here. Machine guns carried by thugs do not roam my streets. Bombs do not explode in my supermarket. I thank you. We have laws and courts that, while not perfect, are the envy of millions.
We are truly blessed. Blessed to have this Earth. Blessed that you gave us your son. Blessed for his sacrifice. Blessed to have your Church guide us. Blessed for your overflowing, never-ending love. Thank you.
It’s hard to believe, but in France Muslim women who choose to dress very modestly are not allowed in the public pools. Apparently, the French authorities think that the women’s “burquinis” are a health hazard since they could be worn on the street. France, it seems, has very stringent rules for swimmers.
An article by the AP gives a bit more detail on what the French are afraid of: “These clothes are used in public, so they can contain molecules, viruses, et cetera, which will go in the water and could be transmitted to other bathers.
Don’t they use chlorine in their pools? So the average French woman is probably walking around the pool topless or almost naked but this woman, who chooses modesty is a health hazard. I guess the bikini clad ladies would be considered to be practicing “secular modesty.”
My town, which has pools everywhere and no one seems to mind if you go swimming in a T-shirt and shorts, also does not seem to mind this style of dress. Last month, my 6 year old had swimming lessons at our city pool and one of the girls in his class, who is Muslim, wore what looked like a jogging suit. It was very attractive and comfortable looking. She did not have head covering as she was probably only about 8 or 9 years old. You can’t wear “floaties” in the pool, but this outfit was just fine. No one was worried about viruses. I’m sure there are a few very modest Orthodox Jewish and Christian women who would like a similar swim suit. It seems that there are several businesses online that are filling this niche.
It is astonishing, but not surprising to me at all anymore, that people would be willing to ban modest dress by labeling it dangerous. The world is really turned around. Of course, the French are the same people that ban religious jewelry or headcovering in public schools and offices, to the point that the Catholic schools are filled with Muslims fleeing the public schools
What we need is more modesty not less.
UPDATE: If you find the French policy troubling perhaps you would rather go to England. Apparently, there are swimming lessons in public pools that will only allow you to attend if you wear a burquini.
Swimmers are Told to Wear Burquinis or not attend. Classes are for Muslims, separated by sex, and even men must wear trunks that cover from naval to knees. Others, including non-Muslims, cannot use the pool unless the required swimsuit is worn. Non-Muslims are outraged when they are told they can’t swim. I don’t know which is worse, but perhaps the French policy is better. It is one thing to inconvenience that one person, then the whole populous. What is the answer? Should the Muslims try to rent the complex when there are no public hours if they are planning on enforcing this policy? Should they build their own pool?
First, to be holy you need to take advantage of the aids to grow in holiness God gave us. Make an effort to read the Gospels, a little every day. You can’t learn how to imitate Christ if you don’t know what he did or how he acted.
You need to partake in the Eucharist as often as you are able. If your church does not have a convenient Mass, find one that does. Maybe it is just a noon Eucharistic service, but that will do.
Next, try to go to Eucharistic Adoration, an hour a week if possible. You can start by stopping at a church for short visits. Do some research as to what parish has the times you need. What a lovely time it is to spend an hour with Christ. It is very refreshing and a great way to grow in holiness.
Mother Teresa’s had her nuns pray in adoration one hour every day. While this is unrealistic for most people, you can make the effort once a week. If you have little children, try to get someone to watch them, or go after they are in bed. Try also to take your children to visit the Lord in the Eucharist. It can be difficult, but God understands. Even five minutes will help teach them to adore the Lord. Having the Eucharist exposed in a monstrance is the ideal situation, but many churches do not have this, so understand that any chapel or church with a tabernacle will be just fine. You can look up Mass and adoration times at MassTimes.Org
Go to Confession. Go at least once a month. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is nothing to be feared. It is a way to reconcile with God. Tell your worst sins first, and it won’t be so bad. In order for you to grow in holiness you need to face your sins head-on and fight them. A good way to get ready for Confession is to reflect ahead of time with a good Examination of Conscience. Here is a great Examination of Conscience from Catholic Parents Online Once you get in the groove, bring your kids with you to encourage them to partake in this life giving sacrament.
You have to learn to Accept Your Cross. Accept the problems and the challenges of life. The difficult people. The health problems. The financial problems. Losing your job. The death of a loved one. And we have to do it with a loving, Christ-like attitude. When you accept your crosses you grow in faith, and God uses the times of trial in your life to bring you closer to him. He doesn’t cause those trials, he just uses them to help you grow in holiness. When you step back and look at your crosses you will realize that they are not as big as you thought.
Recently, I watched a documentary of the moon landings on Discovery Channel. We love everything NASA at our house so I couldn’t wait to see this one. The producers of the documentary interviewed many of the twelve men who walked on the moon, and you could tell – they were different. Many of them were changed by the experience, and they knew they were changed. Standing on the moon, seeing our great Earth, seeing space, they knew it was not an accident. The universe, the Earth, it was all planned. It had a creator. And a couple of them talked about HOW it changed them. That looking down on the Earth…petty problems, politics, squabbles…none of that mattered. It was petty stuff in comparison to the greatness and immenseness of the Earth. None of that mattered.
I think about this a lot. We are part of something big. Something great. Our problems, our daily stumbling blocks, are NOTHING in comparison to the immensity of God. HIS greatness. His plan. When we think of his cross…Can’t I accept this little hardship if Christ was so willing to suffer for me? Can’t I be more forgiving if Christ forgave his executioners even when dying.
Of course, one of the most important parts of gaining holiness is….Prayer
The main thing about prayer is to just pray. The biggest hurdle is simply sitting down. Pick a time and do it. Be consistent if possible. Start with 10 minutes and work your way up. In the morning, before everyone else gets up, take a book of spiritual reading or the Bible. Use the readings of the day perhaps. Read it slow and see what strikes you, that is the Holy Spirit leading you. Try to learn what he wants you to know today, and make a resolution for the day. I’ll call that sick friend… or write that letter to my good friend that is having a hard time… or bring those soup cans to the St. Vincent de Paul… or go to Mass or Confession today. The Lord will lead you if you are sincere and open. He will teach you.
There are tons of great Catholic books about prayer and they are helpful, but it really comes down to doing it. Today you do it one way, tomorrow you might feel called to do it a different way, but in essence, find a private, quiet place and talk to the Lord. Just talk about your day, your problems, your concerns, praise Him, thank Him. He is your friend, talk to him as a friend. A Friend that loves you. And leave time to listen. That is very important.
You have to love Christ. You have to learn to know him. It is not enough to learn ABOUT him. I can read a biography of Pope Benedict but to really know him, I would have to meet him and spend time with him. Learn his likes and dislikes. The same with Christ. I can read about him in tons of books BUT to KNOW him I need to meet with him, spend time with him and THAT is prayer.
Then throughout the day, think of Christ. Turn off the TV. Turn off the Radio. Silence is important to hear God. This will clear your mind and allow you to focus. That can be uncomfortable… to be silent… but after awhile you realize what a gift silence is today when TV’s are even in the check-out line at Wal-Mart.
Now that you have silence, offer what you are doing to him. Talk to him about the days events. Laugh with him. Talk to his mother, Mary. Maybe say a rosary. You will learn. And resolve to pray always. And don’t worry if you don’t feel anything. Feeling something is unimportant, it the time you give to Christ that is important.
Next, you have to Go Beyond Yourself. Remember – it is not about you. You have to give of yourself. You have to help your neighbor. God will bring you the opportunities. Remember that the Lord has a plan for your life…a mission that you need to fulfill. You may not ever know what it is, but you are part of his plan. You have to comfort the hurting, the lonely, the sad. You have to dust off the Beatitudes found in the Gospel of Matthew and do them. Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, teach the ignorant, etc. By doing this you learn to forget yourself and think of others. It is this that will help you grow in leaps and bounds toward union with Christ.
You will know over time if you are growing in holiness by seeing if you are growing in love. Do you think less about yourself and more about others?
Holiness is a life long project. We will never be done. We will always be striving to reach the goal, because we can always be closer to Christ. Even the great saints continuously tried to be closer to Christ. The great 20th century saint, Padre Pio always asked people to pray for his soul because he was not sure he would make it to heaven! Every one who knew him thought… “he was WORRIED? If HE was worried, I’ll never get in!”
We should never stop trying. Never stop trying to be close to Christ. Yes, we may stumble. Yes, we may really screw up and fall seriously. But we should never stop trying. Fall and get up again. Other people may have an easier time of it. They seem to just get it easily.
But think of how Christ looks at it… Imagine you are in a field, and far away across the field are two of your children. They are small children. You call them to come to you. One gets up and just sings happily, and in delight she runs to you. She may stumble a little, but runs right into your arms…. But your other child… He gets up to come to you but he trips and falls. He runs a little and then he falls again and hurts his knee, but gets up again and toddles along. He stumbles once again and falls deeply into the mud. His clothes are filthy. He has mud on his face and in his hair. Tears are coming down his face in frustration, but he continues to come to you. He does not give up. By this time you are crying. Weeping.
Finally, he arrives sobbing but happy and jumps into your open arms. You grasp him tight and kiss him and comfort him and love him. How much more do you appreciate his journey? You are happy your daughter came, but how much more do you celebrate your son’s almost heroic journey. How hard he tried. How much he loves you. That is what it is like for Christ. DON’T GIVE UP! He will always help you. He looks at how much we struggle to get to him and no matter how much we fall, No matter how long it takes us to get to him, he will welcome us with even more love.
This series is adapted from a meditation that I gave in September 2008 for a Women’s Morning of Reflection. Quotes from the book Spiritual Progress: Becoming the Christian You Want to Be
by Fr. Thomas Williams, LC are used with permission.
SO…now that we know what holiness is NOT, what is it?
First of all, Holiness is a GIFT. A free gift from God that allows us to “taste the infinite goodness and happiness of God.”
Holiness is LOVE. It is being UNITED with God. Intimacy with God. When we are in love with God, when we have a vibrant friendship with him, our love overflows into true self-giving to our neighbor. We want to help others. We reach our full perfection… our true human fulfillment. AND we are happy.
So, How do we get there?
Well, lets go back to the fact that he provides us with all we need to attain holiness. Wives and mothers often say…”If I could just be in a convent like the nuns, I’d have plenty of time to pray.” But we have to find God where we are. We find holiness in our everyday lives. Our children, our husbands, our jobs, are not obstacles to holiness, but the means to attain it. If we are called to the vocation of marriage, the vocation to being wives and mothers… If he CALLED us to this life wouldn’t he be a very strange God, a very unreasonable God, to command us to do two contradictory things? “Why would he ask us to fulfill certain responsibilities if they served only to draw us farther from him?”
He wouldn’t. Dom Hubert van Zeller, a popular spiritual director in the last century, wrote a book called Holiness for Housewives: And Other Working Women He wrote: “God does not issue two lists of professions: on the one side – those that are conducive to holiness, and on the other – those that are not. Unless the work attempts to oppose faith or morals, it may be assumed to be a work that is capable of promoting sanctity….Through it, and not spite of it, you achieve your purpose of serving God perfectly.”
Your goal is to look for God in the midst of your life. You WILL NOT FIND HIM ANYWHERE ELSE! We have to make time for prayer, but we cannot ignore our family’s needs so we can pray. Van Zeller says
“If you leave your dishes, your housekeeping, your telephone calls, your children’s everlasting questions, your ironing, and your invitations to take care of themselves while you go off and search for our Lord’s presence in prayer, you will discover nothing but…SELF.”
You have to turn your work, your struggles, your pain, into an expression of love for Christ. Everything you do, every dish you wash, every diaper you change, every spreadsheet you create, is an opportunity to grow in holiness if you do it with love. If you offer it to Jesus Christ. One Christian brother would bless himself before every task he did, in order to offer it to God.
You may have had a bad day yesterday, but today’s a new day and this present moment is the most important. You can’t give up. That is a big temptation the devil gives us. He tells us we can’t do it. But God tells us we can, and gives us all we need to do it. It takes courage, but you can do it.
Tomorrow in Part III we discuss what exactly we have to do to achieve holiness.
This series is adapted from a meditation that I gave in September 2008 for a Women’s Morning of Reflection. Quotes from the book Spiritual Progress: Becoming the Christian You Want to Be by Fr. Thomas Williams, LC are used with permission.