Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sunday Snippets- A Catholic Carnival

Here is a way to share some other Catholic bloggers. It's called Catholic Carnival and it will be displayed every Sunday. If you click on RAnn's link This, That and the Other Thing, you will see other Catholic bloggers who may be interested in reading. As a part of Catholic Carnival, I choose two of my posts from this week and list them here so that other readers can get a sample of my posts too.

Here are my contributions:
Can God Command Love?? Part II
St. Andrew Chaplet Bead

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Lenten Reflection # 8

I've been starting to think my personal Lenten reflections on the topic of love my not be in line with traditional Lenten reflections of prayer, penance and almsgiving, but then I saw something in my Magnificat Lenten Companion that made me think I'm on the right track.

In the very back of the book, there are prayers for a few specific topics of importance especially for Lent. When I saw the topic, "Prayer to Grow in Love," I knew I was on the right track with my Lenten theme. "The measure of our Lenten observance will be our growth in love," it says. In that case, I think I picked the right topic!

In the New Testament Jesus gives a challenge like no other. He says that if we do not our neighbor, we do not love God. “God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 Jn 4:16) He did not give conditions to statement either. He didn't say, we only have to love the neighbor who is nice to us, who talks with us, who is our family or friends, when we are in a good mood, or when we feel like loving. He even specifies that it is even a greater love if we love the person who doesn't talk to us, the person who rubs us the wrong way, who is rude to us, who we do not know, have never met, or who we do not like, or doesn't like us. Pope Benedict reiterates this challenge of real love in his encyclical Deus Caritas Est. He says that if we do have love for our neighbor (no matter what the circumstance) we do not have love for God. He even brings this challenge into the Church when he says that the Church's obligation to provide the sacraments is just as important as her obligation for charitable works. "The Church cannot neglect the service of charity any more than she can neglect the Sacraments and the Word." (par.22) and consider this also (par. 25 a)
"The Church's deepest nature is expressed in her three-fold responsibility: of proclaiming the word of God (kerygma-martyria), celebrating the sacraments (leitourgia), and exercising the ministry of charity (diakonia). These duties presuppose each other and are inseparable. For the Church, charity is not a kind of welfare activity which could equally well be left to others, but is a part of her nature, an indispensable expression of her very being."
One is not greater than the other!! If the church is held to such high standards, what does this mean for us? We are the church. Our receiving the sacraments is just as important as our loving and doing charitable works for our neighbors- ALL of our neighbors. The crying kids in the pew (with us or in two rows behind us), the lonely elderly who need someone to visit them and talk to them, the person who doesn't like us who needs us to step up to show love first, even the person who we have never met, but who is in desperate need of our charity.
God says if we don't love our neighbors, we do not love him. “If anyone says, ‘I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 Jn 4:20) Sometimes that statement makes me take a big gulp because I know I have not lived up to it. The good news is we always have God's Mercy to fall back on when we fail. So I am asking God to forgive me and to help me start anew. This morning's prayers from the Magnificat spoke to my heart:
O God, you have loved us without our deserving it. You have forgiven us without our earning it. You have blessed us when we could not bless you. Grant us the grace to love as we have been loved, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday, February 26, 2010

New Q and A Page

I am in a whirlwind of activity right now and could not think of a good Lenten reflection right now if I tried, so I am sorry for falling behind.

But I wanted to let you know I am adding a new page to my blog entitled: Q &A (inspired by my fellow blogger: Allison :) where I will answer any of your questions about me. For example, about the bead process (I already have a few questions lined up) or anything about me, my faith, my work, my family etc.

You can just leave your questions in the this comment box and I will put them on the Q and A page. Thank you!

And as always, I love comments and I love questions!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Prayer Request

Please pray for the soul of Mrs. Claire Harkins who died yesterday and for the family. She was my husband's grandmother. She was a very devout and kind woman who passed away peacefully. She will be missed.
thank you.

Lenten Reflection # 7

Finally, why don't we always love God even though we could count the ways he loves until our face turns blue? I can think of a few reason- many of them personal, but I will expand on one reason Pope Benedict gives. Just to clarify- Pope Benedict doesn't actually look at this question in the negative, but more in the positive- as how we can love God more deeply and sincerely.

His answer to the question, it seems, was the main reason for him writing, Deus Caritas Est. He says "Love grows though love." It's probably my favorite quote from the entire encylclical. Short, sweet, and to the point. So if I want to love God more, I love others more. "Only if I serve my neighbour can my eyes be opened to what God does for me and how much he loves me." But before I go out to feed the poor, I must do one thing in order to truly grow in love of God. I have to have a prayerful relationship with God. "If I have no contact whatsoever with God in my life, then I cannot see in the other anything more than the other, and I am incapable of seeing in him the image of God". The Holy Father give the example of Mother Teresa's ministry. Before she went to serve the poor every day, she renewed her capacity to love through the Eucharistic Lord. I've also read that she always told her nuns that you cannot give Christ, if you do not have Christ. They could not go out to minister to the poor if they have not prayed first. I think about that often before I go out and attempt any sort ministry.

The conclusion of the encyclical probably gives the best piece of advice as to how to grow in love. And it just so happens to be from Mary's example of charity (I always learn the best from my mother :)) When Mary goes to visit her cousin in Luke's Gospel, she says, "My soul magnifies the Lord" Luke 1:46. It takes a very holy person to say that their soul is so transparent to God's love that it actually magnifies it! "In these words, she expresses her whole programme of life: not setting herself at the centre, but leaving space for God, who is encountered both in prayer and in the service of neighbor." So there you have it: path to greater love of God=prayer and service.

Your thoughts?

**all quotes are taken from Deus Caritas Est, "God is Love" Encyclical by Pope Benedict XVI

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Lenten Reflection #6

Before I answer my last post's question about why we don't always love God despite good knowledge of the love he has for us, I want to touch on one more way love is not really a command, but a response. Pope Benedict makes a very good point when he says that when two people love each other, their wills start to become the same. I've noticed this in my marriage. My husband and I now like the same music (usually) like the same food (almost always), we have even grown into developing the same discipline for raising our children, and most importantly, we have influenced each other's spirituality so much that when I grow in my faith, my husband does also, and visa versa.

This idea of what happens when love matures was even recognized by antiquity with the saying, "Idem velle atque idem nolle" --to want the same thing, and to reject the same thing. So, when man increases in love for God, his will becomes God's will more and more until as Pope Benedict says, "God's will is no longer an alien will, something to be imposed on me from without by the commandments, but it is now my own will, based on the realization that God is in fact more deeply present to me than I am to myself."

Wow, that is mind blowing, isn't it? I will post the reflection I was going to do today for tomorrow. God Bless!

St. Andrew Chaplet Bead

I obviously need to work on my camera focusing skills, but here is the process my multi star bead underwent for the St. Andrew Chaplet.
I first started with two different star designs. Much of the detail was lost along the way, but that's just part of the process. I like the look of the finished product- I think it looks like a star bursting with life. I choose a star pattern because the St. Andrew Chaplet is an advent prayer used to prepare oneself for the birth of Christ. If we follow the star just as the shepherds and wise men did, we will find Christ born in our hearts as well. I will elaborate more on the details of the St. Andrew Chaplet when it is all finished.

After I made the stars, I rolled one star out to make four stars and arranged them in a pyramid and placed flattened clay on each side. The design was originally going to consist of this pyramid placed next to each other in a kaleidoscope pattern, but my math was way off (ok, so I didn't use any math- I blame it on my INFP personality) so it was modified a bit but it came out with more detail and a cool look- see below.
Analee was trying to get her little chubby fingers on mommy's pretty clay. I had to shoot fast! Sorry for the lack of a clear focus.

So this is my version of the star of Bethlehem. The beads are a little bigger than the normal rosaries beads. I think they will look great on the chaplet. I can't wait to put it together when I get home!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Can God Command Love Part II

Lenten Reflection #5

Continuing from the last post....

Commanding love is like telling the wind to blow or a man to breath or a toddler to be still (in my case). It is impossible to do- without a very good reason. Thankfully God gives us many good reasons why we must love him. The first two that come to mind is that we cannot live without His love and that he loved first. I am trying to mediate on the second one this Lent. If you think of the Jesus' life as one great love story for you- and only you, it starts to sound like an epic love story. After all, Jesus would have gone through all that he did, if it were to save only ONE person, so we can look at it as if he did it all for us personally. Think: first the lover, seeing his beloved (you or me) fall into danger, flies down from his lofty palace (heaven) to rescue her. He is so desperate to win her love and to spend every moment of the rest of his life with her (eternity) that he is willing to live as a humble peasant (think medieval love story) and endure every kind of cruelty for the sake of his beloved. This is beginning to sound like a pretty good love story, but it gets better! He ends up dying for his lover's sake, but then comes back from the dead because not even death can keep the great Lover from his beloved. Now after all that, how can anyone say they don't have a reason to love God??

There are countless tangible ways that God shows his love first- I only have to turn my head to count about fifty ways I can see God's love right in front of me- and that's not even thinking very hard.

All this is why God can command love. He gives us some pretty convincing reasons why we should love him, so why is it still so hard?? I have been asking myself this very question this lent.

I'll reflect on one way it may be hard to love him (based on Pope Benedict's Deus Caritas Est) in the next Lenten reflection .

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Can God Command Love??

Lenten Reflection #4
Remember when I said Pope Benedict XVI posed an interesting question of whether love can be commanded? It's in the bible, so it's true- God commands us to love him, and our neighbor. But when you think about, how can God or anyone just say: you must love me! If we ever heard anyone say that, we would probably laugh at them for saying such an impossible thing. Yet, I've never batted an eye when I've heard Jesus say it in the Gospel. Until now.

Sorry to leave you with this cliff hanger, but I have to attend to my other duties. I will resume this reflection tomorrow.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Foto Friday

Dressing Analee + Dad's digital SLR=a collage too fun to resist!
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Vatican Slams Avatar

That Guy in the big white hat is always ruining our fun! He did it again to the innocent tree hugging movie, Avatar. Or so the media has informed me. I had to chuckle at the Catholic hater's reaction to the Vatican's movie review. "Vatican Slams Avatar" and Vatican Hard to Please" headlines reveal more about the author than the truth about the issue. I know this is a really late movie review since I will probably be on DVD soon, but I happened so see it last night for the first time.

The truth is, I did like Avatar. It was nonstop excitement and compared to most movies for adults nowadays that are basically soft porn, or extreme violence, this movie didn't make me want to turn away out of concern for my soul. However, I am glad that I got a tiny warning about it's Pantheistic theme before I saw it.

My Mom, my three sisters and I went on a girl's night out to go out to dinner and see a movie. I haven't been to a movie since before Analee was born and was craving some buttery popcorn, coke and a big screen. I heard such good things about Avatar- even Mom and Katie had seen it already and said it was good, so it was decided we would see it. At dinner, Mom mentioned that the Vatican had some reservations about the movie because of it's pantheistic themes. While watching the movie, I could see why the Vatican had objections. They weren't just themes of nature worship- there was nature worship- to the fullest extent. Usually if there is a religious person in a movie nowadays, they are always an unimportant character, or the antagonist. So when the plot began developing in Avatar with the protagonist having a conversion to tree worshiping, and all the "good guys" praying and singing in full out adoration to a tree- on more than one occasion in the movie, I was caught off guard. It made me down right uncomfortable.
Religion being praised in a blockbuster? Preposterous!

Not so, says Pope Benedict XVI. Apparently, there has been a shift in a modern culture from being eco-friendly, to eco-obsessed, to eco worshiping. I snatched this quote from this website to illustrate the Holy Father's views.
In a recent World Day of Peace message, the pontiff warned against any notions that equate human person and other living things. He said such notions “open the way to a new pantheism tinged with neo-paganism, which would see the source of man’s salvation in nature alone.”
Personally, I have not seen this new religion forming in our culture yet, but I have seen a fair share of people who equate the worth of a human with the worth of animals and nature (mostly animals).

Have you seen Avatar? Any good or bad critique you'd like to share? And what about this new religion- have you seen signs of it in our world?

I would love to hear your thoughts. I do love all comments!

Lenten Reflection #3
God's love displayed to us through the Eucharist is given not only to me or you, but to all believing Christians. Because the Eucharist makes us one body with Christ, it also makes us one body with each other who belong to Christ. Thus, intertwining the two commandments of love and making one impossible to do without the other.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Lenten Reflection #2

Well, it seems that Deus Caritas Est was a good choice and definitely divinely inspired reading for me for these forty days. I wanted to find out exactly how to grow in love of this God I have never seen so I can be prepared to meet him in death. Pope Benedict has laid out some clear directions on how to do precisely that. I am only on page 10 of the 25 page encyclical on love, but I have already learned so much. BTW, you can print this encyclical just as I did from this web page, from the Vatican website website which contains all the Church Documents.

The main thing that I got out of my reading was that love can never be forced. Sounds simple, but I think that was what I was somewhat trying to do. I can never force myself to love God- even though he commands that I love him. True love of God can only be a response to the God who first loved me. When I think of it this way, love seems easy. I can think of all the ways he has loved me first.

The Holy Father raised some logical questions to our own attitude: can we love God without seeing him? and can love be commanded? I found this section to be very interesting. (par. 16) He goes on to quote the First Letter of John about how we cannot love God and hate our neighbor. He says, "Saint John's words should rather be interpreted to mean that love of neighbour is a path that leads to the encounter with God, and that closing our eyes to our neighbour also blinds us to God." He give more examples of how God has shown himself to us. God made himself visible in sending his only Son. When I think of how far Jesus went to show me that he loves me, how can I deny that he has loved me first. In fact, the whole of Jesus' life was a love story (not to mention the old testament). He showed in countless ways that he seeks to win our hearts. The thought of God seeking to win my heart makes me swoon.

I will end this reflection with my favorite part of this encyclical so far.
"He has loved us first and he continues to do so; we too, then , can respond with love. God does not demand of us a feeling which we ourselves are incapable of producing. He loves us, he makes us see and experience his love, and since he has "loved us first", love can also blossom as a response within us."
Dear God, show me your love so that love can blossom within me. Amen.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Let Me Redeem Myself

I hope this video redeems my last cheesy music video post. Although, from what I have heard, you've found it to be more funny than I thought you would. My husband almost fell off his chair because he was laughing so hard at Chuck Noris!

On a serious note, I would also like to redeem myself to God this Ash Wednesday and Lenten season. Maybe it was providential that I had my death scare just last week (courtesy of Patrick Madrid and Iran) as I mentioned in my February 10 post. The more I am reading and hearing about Lent (even from this little YouTube video), the more I get the impression that it is all about preparing ourselves for death. I am sure I've thought about this before, but this lent it is really on my mind. I usually think of Lent as a way to prepare for Easter- just as Advent prepares us for Christmas, but that is only a small part of the picture. I guess I'm learning to put away my childish ideas as I grow older and learning not limit God- period. (don't worry, I'm not changing "the clay rosary girl" to woman anytime soon- at least not until I'm 30).

I also was reminded of death at Mass this morning when the priest did a really cool thing. After he processed in, he lit a metal bowl filled with palm leaves on fire. The leaves lit up to a good size flame, then, the palms and the fire disappeared as quickly as they appeared into a pile of ashes. It was an excellent pictorial of what the priest says as he puts the cross of ashes on the foreheads: "Remember man, you are dust and from dust you shall return." This is not meant to be a threat! I shouldn't be scared of death, I should be looking forward to going to heaven. While the flames were burning away the palms, I thought of what will be left of me when I am turned to dust. Will I have filled my heart with earthly things and earthly loves so much so that I DO have death to fear? Or will I have spent my time wisely on earth getting to know my God for the great lover that he is? When my body turns to ash, will my soul fly home to heaven where it will be greeted by the Lover it's always known?

So, this Lent, I plan to spend much time thinking and praying and reading about my relationship with God. I want to know God so much that I will truly look forward to my death- be it tomorrow or 50 years from now. I will focus my forty days on who God really is to me- LOVE. So simple, yet hard for me to grasp. I am going to try to read Deus Caritas Est (God is Love) the Encyclical letter of Pope Benedict the XVI and I would also like to reread a very feminine view of a Lover- Captivating by Stacy Eldridge (not Catholic, but a good read). In addition to regular posts, I'll post a personal Lenten refection every day.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Cheesy to the Max!

My Dad came in the room the other day singing, "There's a little black spot on your head today..." I made the mistake of seeing he was singing...don't say I didn't warn you!

This Ash Wednesday video is from the Catholic Weird Al. If that doesn't say it all, let me just say it is cheesy to the MAX! Why am I sharing it with you? Because I can't get this song out of head and Chuck Noris with an ash cross on his forehead made me laugh so hard! Sooooo Funny!!!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentine Dinner

Valentine's Day Fun
Valentine's Day at Mom and Dad's in Minnesota was a blast! All seven siblings, 3 spouses, and all 5 grandchildren made for a good time with great memories. Analee got her second birthday cake- a swimming pool cake. Christina did a great job making it! Liam was in heaven playing with cousins, aunts, and uncles. And I enjoyed soaking it all in :)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy St. Valentine's Day!

Here are the cards we made for our family. We made the buttons on them out of clay. It was quite the process, but I like the way they turned out.

First we made a flat slab of clay. Then we used stamps and other materials to make cool designs on the clay. Then we punched them out with a circle cutter and baked them. When they were done baking, Liam painted them white, then I wiped it off to reveal the design.

This was an easy project and anyone can do it with some polymer clay.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Dominican Sisters of Mary Mother of the Eucharist

Thanks, Mujer Latina for sharing this. The Dominican Sisters have so many young postulants- and it's no wonder why when you look at the joy they have there. I went on a five day retreat at the Dominican Sisters of Nashville TN where I finally descerned religious life was not my calling. The sister in charge of vocations said, "Maybe religous life is like a shoe in a window. You really like the shoe, but when you try it on, it doesn't fit." I can still say I really like that shoe, but I am glad to have found out it that it doesn't fit rather than have never known.

I especially love the last minute of this segment where they talk about a new young group of men and women who are changing our culture in radical ways. Some call it the JPII Generation because we have grown up with the Great Pope John Paul II as our model and leader.

Brotherly Love

Yesterday, I cracked open the publication of my alma mater: Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio and read the opening letter from the president, Fr. Terry TOR. The letter was an affirmation to the students, alumni and the institution itself. I mean, seriously, it's only the greatest school on the face of the earth ;) So I read on with pride and was suprised to see something from my home state. The Archbishop John C. Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis is quoted saying,

"The Franciscan University of Steubenville is a highly regarded and respected institution throughout the world that serves as a shining example of what higher Catholic Education can look like...One need only look to the alumni of this fine institution to see the fruits of your labor."

Guess who wrote it? My brother who is the administrative chancellor for Arch Bishop Nienstedt. I laughed my butt off! My brother only knows a few Franciscan alumni- namely, my husband and I, and some of our friends he's met along the way. I'm sure the Arch Bishop knows many fine alumni, but I couldn't help but think my brother was paying me a compliment so I gave him a call. Do you know what he said? He said he was talking about my husband. HAHAHA! good one, Tom. I'm not fooled ;) I know you love me!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Love Truth

Well, I'm still here, alive and well and in Fredericksburg still. All the flights were cancelled, so it looks like we'll be taking off on Saturday-- God willing!

Here's the quote of the day for Feb. 9 from Catholics Speak Today. I thought it was a good quote for my blog- maybe my life!

"Love truth; show yourself as you are, without pretense, without fears and cares. And if the truth means your persecution, accept it; if it means your torment, bear it. And if for the truth's sake you should sacrifice yourself and your life, be strong in your sacrifice. "
by St. Joseph Moscati (1880-1927)
It's easy to talk and blog about things that don't have any religious significance, but talking and blogging about my faith is entirely different thing. It challenges me every time to look at my silly insecurities and break down walls that I have built to protect my pride and self image. It's not easy, especially when telling the truth is counter-culteral and it could offend others. So, like this quote says, I do feel like I sacrifice myself- mostly the parts that can be sacrificed- my pride and my ego- when I tell others about my faith. It's not easy, but it's always worth it!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What's Up Wednesday

This Wednesday, what's up with...

Clay Rosaries: Taxes- UGH! the base of my existence. Sorry I haven't been more diligent about attending to rosary orders.

Me: Trying to get everything done before I fly out to MN tomorrow, and hoping my flight won't be delayed from the snow we are getting today. I haven't even packed yet!

Kids: Liam is loving his Thomas the Train. I think it's hilarious when he uses British words that we don't even say- at least it's always polite British words! Analee is now refusing the bottle when I am finally ready to give it to her. She's always taken it before, but now that it has milk in it- she says: no way, Mom, I want the real thing!

Husband: already lamenting our leave. Poor hubby has to stay home to work. I've stocked the fridge and freezer for him, so I think he'll be ok. He says he'll be bored, but with that list of to do things that he hasn't had a chance to do yet- I'll think he'll be just fine!

What's in the oven(or was this morning): My mom's famous caramel rolls. They are Eric and Liam's absolute favorite! So easy to make: just buy a bag of raw bread dough from the freezer section (the kind that is already is small squares is the easiest). Let thaw, but not rise. Heat equal amounts (1/2 to 3/4 cup) vanilla ice cream, butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. Pour over caramel rolls. Put in fridge over night, in the morning, pop in oven. Flip them over onto a different pan when they are done and enjoy!

What's on my mind: This is pretty morbid, but I've been thinking about death. Iran is supposed to do something crazy tomorrow and Patrick Madrid mentioned something about EMP's and what it could do to airplanes- well,I am going to be in an airplane with my kids tomorrow! Sorry for thinking about death, but that freaked me out!! I'm sure nothing will happen, but I even tried to get a confession in before I left (just in case). I think it's good to think about meeting your maker because let's face it: it will happen! It just left a pit in my stomach because I don't feel I'm ready. But I guess only God knows that too.

What's up and coming: Mom's annual Valentine Day Dinner. My mom really likes V-day- particularly the part of it being a day to show those close to you how much you love them. Every year since I was probably about 14, she makes a huge fancy feast, decorates, and gives small gifts and love notes to each of us. I've missed it since I moved away for college, but this year I will get to be there along with all of my other sibs who are coming in town for it too. Can't wait!

Best thing that happened to me today: Having my husband come home safely and on time. Thank you Jesus!

Good link? Oprah had the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist on her show yesterday. Copy and paste the link to the clip below. They are one of my favorite orders whom I shower with monetary gifts when I can. They really do rock- I wanted to join their order when I felt I might be called to religious life. Maybe I'll have a daughter who will be called to religious life. What an honor that would be!

FYI: I do not like Oprah, but I am glad the Sisters got the spotlight. They deserve it.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Venerable Solanus Casey

My friend's 20-year old nephew Peter was in a car accident 12/29 and is paralyzed from the waist down. His mother Anne is actively promoting the cause of Venerable Solanus Casey. He needs one more miracle to be canonized a saint and we're praying that Peter is that miracle, with a complete recovery. The prayer to pray on behalf of Father Casey is:

Father, I adore you. I give myself to You. May I be the person You want me to be and may Your will be done in my life today.
Thank You for the gifts You gave to Father Solanus. If it is Your will, glorify him on earth so that others will carry on his love for the poor, lonely, and suffering of this world.
In order that others will joyfully accept Your divine plan, I ask You to hear this prayer.....Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Here's the website to learn more about Venerable Solanus Casey:

Shovelin' my Way to God

I am a young mother of two kids under the age of three. Going to Mass used to be a deeply spiritual experience that I looked forward to not only on Sundays, but several times a week. Now I'm happy to find a couple minutes here or there during Mass where I can really pay attention. Before I was a mother, I thought, when I am a stay at home mom, I will make a point of taking my kids to daily Mass. While I did do this until my first born was about 18 months, things started to go down hill for my spiritual highs at Mass. Keeping my rambunctious boy still and quiet was such a challenge that the I spent most of the time in the back of church running after him as he ran from one end of the foyer to the other behind the glass doors of the church. Thankfully I was able to at least listen to what was going on, and I tried to stay tuned in as much as possible, but let’s face it- it not the same. This too will pass, people kept saying to my husband and I. Then we had our second child. As she is starting to walk, we are facing the same struggles- now times two! Keeping them both quiet and somewhat still has become such a chore, that the unthinkable snuck its way into my heart just this last week. I committed the sin of apathy toward the most holy sacrifice of the Mass and I felt terrible about it.

It happened when most of the East coast was missing Mass because they just couldn’t get out of their snowy driveways. We even got a dispensation from our Bishop to stay at home. As I looked out my window that Sunday at the mounds of snow in my driveway, I said to myself, “there’s no way we are going to be able to go to Church today.” Let me just say that the only time I have ever skipped Mass in all my life was when I was about 10 years old and I was camping with my cousins who thought that camping was a good excuse to skip Mass. My parents were appalled when they found out and it never happened again.

So there I was looking out my window at what may be the first time I had ever deliberately skipped Mass, and I was feeling happy about it. GASP! Stop right there, I said to myself. This feeling cannot be happening to me. I love, love, LOVE Mass and I’ve always felt there was nothing worth doing more than participating in the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. What has happened to me?! I am a terrible sinner!

Just to ‘prove’ that I was not as bad as my thoughts made me seem, I got outside started shoveling. I spent an hour shoveling about a quarter of the way out of our driveway, and then I went outside later to shovel again. All the way, I was thinking: if there is a will, there is a way, and by golly, I will PROVE there there is a will! (even though I wasn't so sure of it). If my thoughts are far from God, at least my actions aren’t. And I kept shoveling. Somehow I thought I could ‘prove’ to God I really wanted to be there. When I could not shovel any more, I looked at what I had done, and couldn’t believe my progress. We would be able to make it to Mass after all.

At Mass that Sunday, I tried not to think about how much I had wanted to stay at home, but the guilty feelings kept coming back to make me feel worse about myself. I was very grateful I was able to make it to Mass, and the kids ended up being really good. There was a single woman sitting in the pew ahead of us. She had two bags full of devotionals and I could tell, she was one of those uber pious types. I thought, boy, she must be a holy woman and it’s probably because she doesn’t have any kids to distract her! But then as I watched her participate in Mass with almost an over exaggeration, I wandered if she was just like me after all—making up for whatever faults she had by ‘proving’ to God that she was really holy. She probably was very holy, but my point is that we are all sinners- the uber pious, the struggling parents, the infrequent mass goers, - even the saints were sinners. But none of that matters because God meets us wherever we are on our spiritual journey. He greets us on every level with wide-open arms of love and mercy. And our response to God’s love and Mercy is what matters- not how many sins we have committed.

I am also reminded of the time one of my friends who is a very faithful Catholic admitted to me that she wasn't feeling any spiritual highs and finding herself not wanting to pray, go to Mass, etc. She confessed her feelings to a priest friend and he gave her this great analogy of a deer (I can't remember it though!) anyway, it was about how if we keep on going and keep on showing God that we want to love him with our actions, even if our hearts aren't always there, that we will eventually find our way back to him, more captivated than before. I admit, I was a little shocked to hear my friend confess this, but now I see what she means. Just as Jesus says, he came not for the righteous, but for the sinners. No amount of shoveling can get me to heaven. I can never be "worthy" of heaven by something that I do, but continuing on even when I don't feel like it is important. and remembering to sit back and accept God's love and mercy even when I don't deserve it is probably even more important.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day
from: Catholic's Speak Today
"No man can advance three paces on the road of perfection unless Jesus Christ walks beside him."

Robert Hugh Benson
It speaks to me! Does it speak to you?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Pink Ouija Boards and Moral Relativism

I just stumbled across an article on from Fox News about Pink Ouija Boards Targeting Young Girls. Yes, it's terrible that ignorant parents may be seduced into buying this cute portal to Hell, but the major underlying problem I have with the defenders of this game is not whether the game is good or evil, but that the mindset behind leaving the game on the shelves (or putting it there to begin with) is one based on the principles of moral relativism. Moral Relativism is a much more subtle snare which also makes it Satan's lure of choice for our modern era. Listen to what this unsuspecting pawn has to say about his pink ouija board.

Toy expert and consultant Chris Byrne said he found "absolutely nothing" wrong with any version of the game.

"And if something doesn't fit your value or belief system, you don't have to buy it," Byrne said. "There's absolutely nothing remotely Christian or un-Christian about it. I think people are projecting their belief system on it."

My problem, Chris Byrne, is that you have a problem with people projecting their belief system. The "hands and minds off" approach is not as innocent as it sounds. It's a version of moral relativism that has dire consequences to our world. A web page dedicated to moral relativism gives this definition:
Moral relativism is the view that ethical standards, morality, and positions of right or wrong are culturally based and therefore subject to a person's individual choice. We can all decide what is right for ourselves. You decide what's right for you, and I'll decide what's right for me
There is nothing wrong with projecting your belief system. I think that Ouija board is intrinsically evil and I don't want that to be marketed to young girls or on the toy store shelves. What's wrong with saying that? When someone doesn't know or has forgotten what is good for them, I believe that letting them know is only the Christian thing to do. Too often in our modern world, we forget that it's ok to tell people what we believe and even to tell them what is right or wrong based on what we believe. In fact, as a Christian, we are obligated to do just that, but we are called to do it out of love. I love my fellow human beings, and I don't want any unsuspecting young girls communicating with evil spirits while playing with their cute pink Ouija boards.

I'm reminded of the time my dear friend from home came back from her liberating college experience from St.Benedict's Catholic College in St. Joseph, MN . We were having another enlightening conversation (as college students usually do with each other) and I was trying to enlighten her on Catholic teaching (from my experience at Franciscan University) and she went on to reveal what her professors have schooled her in: Moral Relativism. No, she did not use that term, but everything she said read like a text book definition. She said that she doesn't feel that evangelizing is a good thing to do. (you see, moral relativist are really bad at keeping their number one rule: there are no rules) Evangelizing, she said, is not good because it pushes our beliefs onto someone else. That's not respecting the other person's beliefs, she said. For the record, evangelizing should always be done in the name of love and with concern for other's- never, never pushy. But Evangelizing shouldn't be done because I might be telling someone what is for their own good?? How dare we say to another: you really shouldn't put your finger in that outlet, you might get hurt. If you think this seems like a far fetched example, let me give you another one. Imagine someone who wants to exercise some personal "freedom" by killing the baby in their womb. Now imagine a world where we cannot impose our beliefs on this person and tell them it might hurt the baby (and themselves). I think moral integrity may be the opposite of moral relativism, but I'd have to think about that more.

When people such as Chris Byrne tell me I cannot tell another person what is good for them, it emboldens me all the more to fight for what is right. I'm not sure what in direction our modern world is headed if we continue on the road of moral relativism, but if it keeps lighting a fire under me, I just may end up with duck tape around my face soon!

What ways have you seen moral relativism in our world today? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Moral Dilemma of Cake

No, this is not a blog about the catchy 90's band based out of Sacramento whose music is some of my husband's favorite. The beats are now playing in my head...
Where was I? Oh yeah.. this is about a 10 pound birthday cake sitting in my fridge with the capacity of clogging the arteries of 3 healthy athletes with it's pound and a half of butter, 2 cups of heavy cream and 8 ounces of cream cheese-not to mention the sugar! I have a moral dilemma on my hands.

I believe it is sinful to waste food, but I also believe it would be sinful to eat this cake that could harm my body which is a temple of the Holy Spirit. Sure, things are good in moderation (even the fattening ones), BUT, this a BIG cake! and only my husband and I will be eating it- not exactly moderation here- especially if we want it gone before it goes bad. I don't want to waste it, but every time I bite into it's delicious cream cheese frosting, and moist cake with it's 1 inch layer of fluffy buttery cream filling, I can't help but think: "a moment on the lips, forever on the hips".

What to do? What to do?

What say you? Trash it now before it wreaks havoc? or nibble gently away, not wasting a crumb, while praising God for the gifts of the earth?

Friday, February 5, 2010

See, It's Not Just Us!

I just got an email that forwarded an article from the Washington Post.
It's in regards to the ridiculousness of the controversy of the Tebow commercial.
Stop right there- you're probably thinking it's another pro life advocate writing this, but you're wrong--it's not! It's written by a pro choice journalist who actually has enough integrity and wits about her to see past the abortion debate and see how ridiculous it is even for pro choicers to call this ad, "extraordinarily offensive and demeaning." Thank the Lord that even pro choicers are beginning to separate themselves from the evil, hateful feminist groups that attempt to thwart any notion of life. period. Here's a tiny blurb about what she says:
I'm pro-choice, and Tebow clearly is not. But based on what I've heard in the past week, I'll take his side against the group-think, elitism and condescension of the "National Organization of Fewer and Fewer Women All The Time." For one thing, Tebow seems smarter than they do.

Wow! Right? You must read the rest. It'll make your day, really! It made my yucky snowy night much more joy filled! God Bless the USA!

Foto Friday

Feast Day of St. Agatha and Future Saint Analee

While my husband and I were praying morning prayers in the Magnificat, we noticed the today was the feast day of St. Agatha. Last year, when Analee, my one year old daughter, was born on this day, I thought it was nice to have her birthday on a saint's feast day, but at that time, I didn't know anything about this saint and I didn't think anything more of it (I had just given birth, give me a break!). I had forgotten about this feast day until just this morning when I thought it would be really special if Analee grew up with a special connection with this saint and grew to imitate her holiness. I did a little research and found out that parts of St. Agatha's story may be inappropriate for little children, so Analee will have to wait a few years before she learns the whole story. St. Agatha is often depicted holding a plate on which lie her own slashed breasts. Before you start thinking how Catholics must be the most deranged people on the face of the earth, let me tell you the story. Or rather, in an effort to save time, please visit these websites to read the story behind Agatha.
While this is an inspiring story of why her breasts are on a plate, I won't be placing this holy image on my daughter's wall! Because of this, St. Agatha is the patron saint of Breast Cancer. Seems logical. Also, she is the patron saint of against earthquakes, fires, volcanic eruptions (again, there is another story for that one) and sterility. She is also the patron saint of torture victims, jewelers, nurses, single lay women, and bell makers.
I will post a pic or two of Analee's birthday later, but for now, I wanted to share her Saint whose holiness will, I pray, be an inspiration to my daughter in her years to come.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

What's Up Wednesday

This Wednesday, what's up with...

Clay Rosaries: Nothing much today...I'm taking a break from beads to work on household stuff.

Me: Finding it very ironic that I quit Facebook because it was consuming my day only to discover the riches of blogging and reading others' blogs- which can consume not only my day, but five hundred million days. I never got into reading anyone else's blogs before I quit FB, but now I am finding the blogging community to be very rich- and VAST! There are so many intelligent Catholic bloggers out there and so much good information and insight to learn from. Not that I am going to quit blogging, but I now I DEFINITELY need to limit my internet usage.

Kids: Liam is becoming a compulsive Hail Mary prayer just like his Mommy. This morning I mentioned praying for Daddy that he has a safe drive home and before I even finished that thought he was making the sign of the cross and saying, "Hail Mary, Pray for us sinners... (he mixes the prayer up a bit). Analee is turning one year old on Friday! We are going to use some birthday money Grandma sent to get her some good walking shoes (maybe she'll be inspired to take her first steps soon :)

Husband: Loving his Dumas. Ever since I suggested he read one of my favorite fiction books: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas, he can't get enough of this author. He's on book 2 of the five part series of the Three Musketeers. He talks about these characters like their his age-old friends. I love that he's becoming a bigger book nerd than me.

Book I'm Reading: Ch. 2 Parenting with Grace--The Catholic Parent's Guide to Raising Almost Perfect Children by Dr. Popcak. (I know, I was on this chapter last week... I haven't had time to read much this week...)

What's in the oven(or soon to be): Sugar Cookie Rollouts for a funeral, and the birthday party

What's on my mind: Living in the moment. Trying to realize the gifts of grace to be recieved in the here and now. Not in the tomorrow- not in the yesterday, not even in the five minutes ago, or the five minutes ahead, but only in the here and now. God can only give us grace in the present because that is where we live.

What's up and coming: Maybe a birthday party-the weather forecast is not looking good for Saturday. Praying for a miracle because Liam keeps saying, "I hope Mom Mom can come!"

Best thing that happened to me today: waking up and receiving the gift of another day. thank you God for one more day to draw closer to you and prepare myself for my eternal home.

Good link? Great for catholic news/happenings that you won't see in the news.

Anyone else have any other good suggestions for good links?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Presentation of Our Lord

Today is the feast of the Presentation of Our Lord and I meant to write an original post, but upon seeing this video posted on the Apostolate of Hannah's Tears, I knew what I needed to do. Steal this idea. If the link below doesn't work (it's not working for me right now) click through to the Apostolate of Hannah's Tears blog to see it and then come back here to write your thoughts :)

Michael Card singing "Now that I've held Him in my arms"

The music video is copyrighted so you have to follow the link to You Tube. It's worth it. I was moved to tears this morning while my kids were squirming and crawling all over me. It brought a whole new meaning to what the Presentation of Our Lord is all about. I always struggle with this mystery of the rosary, so this music video helps me to see more meaning behind the Presentation. I understand more how Jesus fulfills the "law". (as he has been saying the last two Sunday Gospels). He didn't have to be circumcised in temple as all the Jewish boys did. Mary and Joseph knew that, but they brought him there anyway. I still don't understand it completely, but at least now, I see the connection. What are your thoughts on this mystery? What do you meditate on when you pray the fourth Joyful Mystery? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, February 1, 2010

You're the BEST!

Can I just say I have the BEST customers? Yes, Clay Rosaries customers never fail to amaze me with their great faith and devotion, their generous service, and their generosity--period. Today I finished an order for a woman for whom I have been making rosaries for many years. I've spoke with her several times on the phone and I can vouch that she's top notch! She and her husband do the couple to couple counseling for engaged couples in their parish. For every couple that they counsel, she gives them one of my rosaries. She says they are good teaching tools because of all the beads have different meanings that are explained with the rosary. She also gives them a guide to teach them how to pray the rosary. I think that it's a beautiful ministry and a generous gift of time, talent and money. I am blessed to be able to be a part of it in some small way.

Coconut Tres Leches Hot Chocolate

I am a hot chocolate junkie, and when I saw this recipe in Better Homes and Gardens, I knew I had to give it a try. Yesterday and the day before, we were snowed in and I ran out of milk! Thankfully I had powdered milk on hand and it worked harmoniously for this recipe. It was so silky and creamy- my husband who doesn't share my affinity for hot chocolate- said it was so good, it could be a meal! Best hot chocolate I've ever had, that's for sure!

Coconut Tres Leches Hot Chocolate

3 c. fat-free milk
1 14 oz can unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk (2/3 c.)
2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp vanilla

Combine all milks and bring to simmer over medium-low heat. Whisk in cocoa powder until well combined. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and serve with toppings of choice.