Sunday, April 30, 2006

Life of Radical Faith and Service

The more I read about St. Francis the more amazed I am at his radical faith and how he lived it in everything that he did. He tore off his sleeve for those with less than him. He was beaten and he crawled out of the ditch to walk away happy. The love of God shone through him to all. He touched so many people and converted those with hard hearts. So many doubted him and couldn't comprehend how he lived, but he continued on, hardly letting any of it get to him.

There is a community of Friars (and Sisters) in the Bronx that live just like St. Francis did. They wear gray habits and sandals (no hose) with simple veils. They serve the poor and outcast of the city and with immense joy. They sleep on the floor and have nothing. They die to themselves and to the world in order to better serve our God. Their work is truly oustanding.

I wish I had more time to honor this community. One of their apostolates is the Youth 2000 retreat which I enjoy so very much. A few of them traveled with us to World Youth Day in Toronto. They are wonderful group of men and women and I wish more people knew about them.

My time has been so consumed by job hunting and planning for summer that I have been forced to neglect my blog for a while. This is the best I can do for now. Perhaps there will be time later. A trip to the Hot Springs lake house is to happen either Tuesday or Wednesday so I can't say when I will be back. For better and more consistent reading I will refer to you to Happy Catholic. Trust me: It's good!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Job Hunting As A Means of Gaining Humility

I really believe job hunting is the ultimate humility check. When I go out and I am turned down for this or that position I have to step back and realize that I am not cut out for everything out there. We all pretty much start out at the bottom of the food chain so to speak. It's tough, but everyone has to do it.

I've called more places and set up more interviews than ever before (not that I've ever interviewed with more than six places) and I'm feeling better about myself for it. I've turned in lots of applications and I'm finally getting chances to meet with someone. Still, it is in their hands. They get to say yes or no. I can sell myself until I am blue in the face but if they do not think that job is right for me, they won't give it to me.

All of this reminds me of my vocational discernment. If I want to be a wife and mother but God knows that isn't right for me, He's not going to lead me there. If I want to be a sister but God knows that isn't right for me, He's not going to lead me there. In all of this it is up to Him to say yes or no. I have to find the right place for me and there I will thrive.

If only it were easier to discern companies! Lord, lead me where you would have me!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Another Victory for the Babies!

Louisiana Senate passes pro-life bill

Baton Rouge, Apr. 27, 2006 (CNA) - The Louisiana Senate passed a bill Wednesday that would prohibit abortion except to save the life of the mother. The measure, which passed on a 30-7 vote, is similar to one enacted earlier this year in South Dakota. The legislation now goes to the Louisiana House of Representatives for consideration.

Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, applauded Louisiana for taking a positive step toward “rebuilding the culture of life after decades of Roe v. Wade’s devastation.”

“Everyone’s life deserves the protection of law,” he added. “I pray that the Louisiana House will continue the work to protect the most vulnerable in the Bayou State, the unborn.”

Help Me Out

I'm going to provide a short list of names. All I need you to do is comment with the first thing you think of for each name. Ready? Here we go...


Thanks in advance.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Pope is ill with the bird flu...

He got bitten by one of his Cardinals. lol.gif That's right.. and you heard it hear first! Take that American Papist!

Heh... Too bad it was only a joke or I might have actually felt accomplished!

Joke stolen from Pontifex. (I'm an Amateur. It's what I do.)

"It was not you who chose me..."

"You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you."

John 15: 14-16

Lord, reveal to me, in your perfect timing, my vocation and bless it.

Prayer for Vocations
O Holy Spirit, Spirit of wisdom and divine love, impart Your knowledge, understanding, and counsel to youth that they may know the vocation wherein they can best serve God. Give them courage and strength to follow God's holy will. Guide their uncertain steps, strengthen their resolutions, shield their chastity, fashion their minds, conquer their hearts, and lead them to the vineyards where they will labor in God's holy service.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


As I contemplate my vocation, I am increasingly aware of my unworthiness of any call I may receive. This statement, directed to another by a priest friend, I find to be helpful. It is so very true and I feel so very blessed. I try to remember often that I am blessed to be made worthy of anything - through Christ.
The Church concludes the Octave of Easter by inviting us to reflect on St. John's unique account of Easter night. The apostles, who had deserted Jesus on Good Friday, except for John, are locked in a room out of fear that what happened to Jesus will now happen to them. The apostles at this moment had to be profoundly aware of their weakness. The crisis of Good Friday had revealed their weakness and cowardice.

They may well have expected to hear Jesus express his disappointment in them. Instead, at the moment when they are so aware of their weakness, Jesus empowers them to forgive sins.

Jesus has chosen this moment well. It is abundantly clear that the authority and the power to continue Jesus' ministry of mercy are not given to the apostles because of their perfection or moral strength.

This is an important lesson that the Church needs to relearn in every age. Our Christian faith is not about human beings achieving perfection through discipline and self-mastery. The heart of the Gospel of Jesus is the power of the mercy of God to transform the weak and sinful heart.
Amen, Father. Amen.

Come Into the Light

I had so many experiences this weekend at Youth 2000 and all of them were beneficial in some way. One sticks out in my mind most though. During the retreat we have small group discussion with people in our age groups. We generally discuss the talk that was just given and then get to discuss whatever else it is that we feel compelled to discuss. During the second meeting time for my group, we lost our group leader. Brother Augustino was awesome during our first discussion but I think we had an even more intimate discussion without him the second time. Was it the lack of a 'celebrity' that did it? Probably.

One of the guys in our group, who was a chaperone for a group at the retreat, took charge. He led us straight into the topic of confession and penance. He shared his own small testimony about this great sacrament and then opened it up for us to discuss. One girl in our group spoke up quite regularly, and I'm glad she did. She told us about her background. Her dad is a strict southern Baptist and her mom is Catholic. Aside from her and her mom, everyone else is a protestant in her immediate and extended family. After years of influence, she had decided to convert to the Baptist faith. Shortly before she made her conversion, she went on retreat (that her mom made her go to) and decided that she wouldn't go through with it. She liked being Catholic once she understood it more. One thing though that she struggled with was confession. She explained the protestant influences on her way of thinking and basically said that she didn't need a priest to say sorry to God.

Almost everyone in our group was ready to offer their suggestions. It was nice to have her peers there so she felt more comfortable. She was so honest and open about her doubts and concerns. It was awesome. The one guy who was our leader, however, told the best story of conversion and gave an awesome analogy. He said something like this:
The relation between ourselves, our sin, God, and His infinite mercy is like getting dressed in the dark. If we are in the dark and we put on some clothes, chances are we aren't going to see any stains. However, if you walk more into the light you do see stains - the obvious ones, the big ones. The closer you get to the light, the more stains you see.

When we do not go to confession we often do not recognize our sins as well, or we find excuses for them. We are less likely to change our behavior if we do not go, mostly because we do not truly understand the gravity of our decisions. However, if we go to confession on a regular basis it becomes easier to see our imperfections and to truly repent and change our ways.
I thought this was an awesome analogy. What person, with any sense, sees a stain on their clothes and does not try to remove it? Who tries to follow in the darkness so that they can keep their stain? Any self-respecting person is going to try to rid themselves of imperfections. I've already forgotten who said it (I believe it was a priest on EWTN) but I always laugh when I think of it. It definitely goes along with that anaology. It was something like:
Hearing nuns confess is like being stoned to death with popcorn.
Too funny! Honestly, I believe we should all be like this. We should all strive to correct our mistakes and grow in holiness. The closer we get to Jesus, the whiter the light we stand in becomes. Therefore, we are more aware of our inner disposition and of our state of sin. Going to confession regularly helps this as well.

I was so happy after the discussion was over and the girl thanked us all for helping her to understand more fully. She admitted that it would take time to get to where some were but that everyone had their own journey. She is definitely already on her way! I saw her later that day in the line for confession. My heart lept for joy.

Until next time... God bless you and Mary protect you! Be holy!

Monday, April 24, 2006

So many changes

So many things are changing so very quickly. I am sorry that this update will venture more into my personal life than into my life that is shared with my brothers and sisters in Christ. I don't have the focus necessary to post about anything but this at the moment.

My summer plans have changed so very quickly. I was supposed to be spending my summer in Georgia working with young girls. Now I will probably spend my summer working one or two jobs and spending a lot of time with my family. It's hard to understand how different all of this will be without many details but I don't feel like going into it all, nor do I feel it necessary.

I am so very excited about all the things God has in store for me. I cannot wait to actively participate in its unfolding!

I will ask for prayers again though because this is the main reason for my backing out of this job. Both my grandfathers are sick right now. One has been diagnosed very recently with Parkinson's and the other is struggling with cancer. He was diagnosed a while ago but things are starting to get serious. He may need intense treatment and we don't know much more. I haven't been there like I should have been and I'm scared to miss any more opportunities to spend time with him. He means so much to me and it scares me to think he could be dying.

Hopefully I will have more time tomorrow but since the job search is now on, I can't guarantee anything.

Until next time.. be holy!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Feast of Divine Mercy

Feast of Divine Mercy

During the course of Jesus' revelations to Saint Faustina on the Divine Mercy He asked on numerous occasions that a feast day be dedicated to the Divine Mercy and that this feast be celebrated on the Sunday after Easter...

Concerning the Feast of Mercy Jesus said:

Whoever approaches the Fountain of Life on this day will be granted complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. (Diary 300)

I want the image solemnly blessed on the first Sunday after Easter, and I want it to be venerated publicly so that every soul may know about it. (Diary 341)

This Feast emerged from the very depths of My mercy, and it is confirmed in the vast depths of my tender mercies. (Diary 420)

On one occasion, I heard these words: My daughter, tell the whole world about My Inconceivable mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment.* [our emphasis] On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet. My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity. Everything that exists has come forth from the very depths of My most tender mercy. Every soul in its relation to Me will I contemplate My love and mercy throughout eternity. The Feast of Mercy emerged from My very depths of tenderness. It is My desire that it be solemnly celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter. Mankind will not have peace until it turns to the Fount of My Mercy. (Diary 699)

Yes, the first Sunday after Easter is the Feast of Mercy, but there must also be deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for Me. You are to show mercy to our neighbors always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to absolve yourself from it. (Diary 742)

I want to grant complete pardon to the souls that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion on the Feast of My mercy. (Diary 1109)

As you can see the Lord's desire for the Feast includes the solemn, public veneration of the Image of Divine Mercy by the Church, as well as personal acts of veneration and mercy. The great promise for the individual soul is that a devotional act of sacramental penance and Communion will obtain for that soul the plenitude of the divine mercy on the Feast.

Read more about this feast day

Because I'm sure you're all dying to know...

(Not really)... The retreat was:

and tiring!

It's been so long since I've been able to make it to this retreat - I'd forgotten how exhausted you are each day! Don't get me wrong though - it was great and I wouldn't trade any of it in for more sleep. I didn't get to participate in everything and that was perfectly fine. I think I was there for what I needed to be there for (and then some). God made sure I got what I needed from what I was able to participate in and I got to participate in a lot!

I love Youth 2000 and I can't wait until the next one!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Novena of Divine Mercy: Day Nine

Posting this early since I will be on retreat...

Day Nine

"Today bring to Me the Souls who have become Lukewarm,

and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy. These souls wound My Heart most painfully. My soul suffered the most dreadful loathing in the Garden of Olives because of lukewarm souls. They were the reason I cried out: 'Father, take this cup away from Me, if it be Your will.' For them, the last hope of salvation is to run to My mercy."

Most compassionate Jesus, You are Compassion Itself. I bring lukewarm souls into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart. In this fire of Your pure love, let these tepid souls who, like corpses, filled You with such deep loathing, be once again set aflame. O Most Compassionate Jesus, exercise the omnipotence of Your mercy and draw them into the very ardor of Your love, and bestow upon them the gift of holy love, for nothing is beyond Your power.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon lukewarm souls who are nonetheless enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. Father of Mercy, I beg You by the bitter Passion of Your Son and by His three-hour agony on the Cross: Let them, too, glorify the abyss of Your mercy. Amen.

The Chaplet of Divine Mercy may also be offered each day
for the day's intention, but is not strictly necessary to the Novena.


Friday, April 21, 2006


Tonight I am going on retreat. Youth 2000 is in town again and I have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to go. I have not been in several years so I am sure this will be a great experience. I feel very prepared for it and am anxiously awaiting my departure time. I will have the opportunity to participate in Mass, the rosary, confession, adoration of Christ, praise and worship, fellowship, and listen to the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal share their wisdom and love for God. This retreat helped to turn my life around when I was younger and I pray that each person is touched by God in the way they most need this weekend. As I will be a guest in some friends' home, I will be away from a computer and therefore unable to update until, at the earliest, Sunday evening. I will remember the prayer intentions of those who have asked and if any of you would like to leave more in the comments box that would be fine. If it is personal you can always email me. I will be putting up my email address on the sidebar. I pray each of you has a most blessed Divine Mercy Sunday!

Get on your knees and pray..

So many people in need of prayer right now. Another two men are in need of healing which again has me asking for your prayers. Whatever you can spare is greatly appreciated. Here's the story:
Hey all... please don't think I'm crazy but...

I'm usually the ultimate skeptic but I can't help but believe that two of my best friends are being seriously attacked by demons. In the same week they both poored they're hearts out to me, basically begging me to help them turn their lives around. I knew for a while that they were both going through some things, but this is the first time they really seemed to admit that they'd lost control. I was praying for them the other day to St. Michael because I just had this impression that something else was going on. I broke down into tears and began to just poor my own heart out to the Lord through St. Michael, because I feel helpless - like I just don't know how to help my friends. Then suddenly, it was like I was speaking but they were not my own words. They were, strong and pointed. I hardly remember the stuff I was saying but it was directed at Satan. Something to the effect of "You are like a fly to Lord. The Lord will squash you like the bug you are". That's really all I remember. I couldn't help but realize that the evil one is just taking advantage of my friends, preying on their weaknesses. I dunno. I hope I don't sound loony.

Things are just getting worse. These two guys are like brothers to me. I've known them both since i was in pre-school. They were both raised in loving, church-going, Catholic families. Yet one friend has a serious depression problem that often affects his health physically. He also happens to have an unhealthy interest in ghosts, demons, ouija boards, and all that nonsense. My other friend on the other hand is dealing with major drug issues. He can't stop - using or selling.

I'm trying to bring them back to mass, get them to confession, and maybe to seek some professional help as well. But I really fear there is something evil involved. And what they could really use is prayer. Please pray for my friends. They're good guys. They just need to open their hearts and any demon would be defenseless. Please, Please pray for them.

Thanks all. You're in my prayers as well.

Saint Michael, pray for us all.
Thanks to y'all for all of the prayers for these people. I keep the blogging sphere in my prayers daily. More later!

Novena of Divine Mercy: Day Eight

Day Eight

"Today bring to Me the Souls who are in the prison of Purgatory,

and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy. Let the torrents of My Blood cool down their scorching flames. All these souls are greatly loved by Me. They are making retribution to My justice. It is in your power to bring them relief. Draw all the indulgences from the treasury of My Church and offer them on their behalf. Oh, if you only knew the torments they suffer, you would continually offer for them the alms of the spirit and pay off their debt to My justice."

Most Merciful Jesus, You Yourself have said that You desire mercy; so I bring into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls in Purgatory, souls who are very dear to You, and yet, who must make retribution to Your justice. May the streams of Blood and Water which gushed forth from Your Heart put out the flames of Purgatory, that there, too, the power of Your mercy may be celebrated.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls suffering in Purgatory, who are enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. I beg You, by the sorrowful Passion of Jesus Your Son, and by all the bitterness with which His most sacred Soul was flooded: Manifest Your mercy to the souls who are under Your just scrutiny. Look upon them in no other way but only through the Wounds of Jesus, Your dearly beloved Son; for we firmly believe that there is no limit to Your goodness and compassion. Amen.

The Chaplet of Divine Mercy may also be offered each day
for the day's intention, but is not strictly necessary to the Novena.


Thursday, April 20, 2006

Conversion of Souls

I still ask that any time you have a chance, you say a Hail Mary for the conversion of souls. After the novena, if any of you continue to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet, perhaps you could offer one up for this man. He is hurt and betrayed. I don't believe he is thinking clearly. He has no label. He is wandering aimlessly on a path away from the Church. Lord bless him and heal him.

Too often we hear of these people and do not pray hard enough. Why is it that these things have to hit close to home sometimes before we understand their gravity? This is no laughing matter. This is the soul of a fellow Catholic, a brother in Christ. Lord, have mercy on us sinners!

The Big 5-0.. 0?

Vatican Officials Announce Plans to Celebrate 500th Anniversary of St. Peter's Basilica

Vatican City, Apr. 20, 2006 (CNA) - As the Church begins its celebrations for the 500th birthday of the largest church in the Christian world, Vatican officials today held a press conference to discuss the rich history of St. Peter’s Basilica and outline plans for the birthday year.

On hand for the historic event were Cardinals Francesco Marchisano, archpriest of the basilica, and Albert Vanhoye S.J., rector emeritus of the Pontifical Biblical College; Archbishop Angelo Comastri and Bishop Vittorio Lanzani, respectively president and delegate of the Fabric of St. Peter's; Antonio Paolucci, superintendent of the Florentine Museums and curator of the exhibition, "Petros Eni;" and Maria Cristina Carlo-Stella, bureau chief at the Fabric of St. Peter's.

Cardinal Marchisano began by briefly outlining the history of the basilica, which is actually the second to be built on the site of St. Peter’s crucifixion. The first was built in the fourth century by the emperor Constantine but because of structural frailty it was replaced with the current building, the construction of which began on April 18th, 1506 by Pope Julius II, who himself placed the first stone.

The cardinal also pointed out that the basilica possesses an extraordinary archive composed of some 3,050,000 documents concerning work carried out on the church from its conception to the present day.

It is one of the most visited sites in the world, welcoming between five and 20 thousand people each day.

During his own brief address, Archbishop Comastri pointed out that in 1939, "by decision of Pope Pius XII, excavation work began under St. Peter's Basilica. To great astonishment, the ancient necropolis interred by Constantine's architects in the year 320 came to light.”

“Moving up the slopes of the Vatican hill,” he recalled, “a small monument was found, identified as the 'Tropaion of Gaius;' this discovery was followed by that of the famous red wall with the graffiti 'Petros eni' and a series of other graffiti all testifying to the devotion to Peter in this place."

Likewise, Bishop Lanzani noted that "The Governorate of Vatican City State will issue a series of commemorative stamps of the value of 0.45 and 0.60 euros" to commemorate the anniversary.

"The first”, he explained, “represents the commemorative medal of Bramante, produced by Cristoforo Foppa between the years 1505 and 1506. ... The second depicts the medal placed in the foundations of the new St. Peters, also the work of Cristoforo Foppa." Both stamps bear the inscription: "Templum Divi Petri in Vaticano 1506-1606."

The Vatican also plans to mint two medals for the occasion, one in silver and one in two different metals. Italian engraver Sergio Giandomenico was commissioned to work on the coins.

The Holy See said that one side of the coin will show the consignment of the keys to St. Peter against the background of the basilica, with the emblem of the Fabric of St. Peter's underneath with the inscription "Patriarcalis Basilica Principis Apostolorum 1506-1606" around the edge.

The other side of the coin will bear an image of the current Holy Father with the phrase "Benedictus XVI, Pontifex Maximus" engraved therein.


You can say that again!

"Sometimes living with a saint is more difficult than being one."

I thought that was so funny. I'm sure our protestant brothers and sisters pull out more hairs than we could ever count! Of course, there are also those who have not so orthodox or passionate parents and I'm sure they pull out a good handful every now and then! And who could forget poor St. Joseph! As one person says..
He has the perfect wife and his son is God!! And there he is just a normal guy with strong faith but he has a fallen nature.
Fight the good fight, my friends!
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle!
[and Lord, have mercy on the heads of those still misled.]

Catholicism as it pertains to yours truly

I thought now would be as good a time as any to let the blogging world in on a little bit of who I am. If I had to tell you a little bit about me and my favorite parts of Catholicism I would probably start by telling you this:

My favorite Gospel is John.
My favorite verses are Exodus 14:14 and Luke 1:38
My favorite prayer is the Hail Mary.
My favorite devotion is the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
My favorite Saint is St. Thomas Aquinas.
My favorite Catholic hero is Pope John Paul II.
My favorite psalm, purposely saved for the end, is Psalm 63.

Here's a little more about that...
When I first heard Remnant's "Psalm 63" I fell in love! It was such a beautiful piece with such beautiful lyrics. I looked up psalm 63 and sure enough, almost word for word. Since then I have also taken a liking to other songs that were actually psalms put to music but none have touched me the way psalm 63 does. The past two weeks at choir rehearsal we have rehearsed a song called "I Will Lift Up My Eyes" (by Tom Conry) and each time I get teary eyed. I know, pathetic, but I can't help it! It's such a beautiful song and the words ring so true in my life!

So that is mine. Psalm 63.

O God, thou art my God,
I seek thee, my soul thirsts for thee,
as in a dry and weary land where no water is.
So I have looked upon thee in the sanctuary,
beholding thy power and glory.
Because thy steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise thee.
So I will bless thee as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands and call on thy name.

My soul is feasted as with marrow and fat,
and my mouth praises thee with joyful lips,
when I think of thee upon my bed,
and meditate on thee in the watches of the night;
for thou hast been my help,
and in the shadow of thy wings I sing for joy.
My soul clings to thee;
thy right hand upholds me.

But those who seek to destroy my life
shall go down into the depths of the earth;
they shall be given over to the power of the sword,
they shall be prey for jackals.
But the king shall rejoice in God;
all who swear by him shall glory;
for the mouths of liars will be stopped.


Feel free to share your favorites with me! I'd love to know!

Abortion Is Murder

I was surprised to see that American Papist was just now talking about the pro-life video by Nick Cannon. However, I was pleased to find a video which I had not seen yet. Due to the extreme lack of public awareness, I will put the video here as well. Please do visit American Papist though and read his thoughts!

UPDATE: Via the comments box -- Purchase "God's Miracle of Life - Pro-Life DVD" (the full feature) at R.A.G.E. Media

'Roe v. Wade': The Divided States of America

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Two hours after South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds signed an abortion ban last month, NARAL Pro-Choice America blasted an e-mail to its supporters: "Is your state next?"

The South Dakota legislation and the abortion rights group's warning are early skirmishes in a battle over what states would do if the landmark Roe v. Wade decision were overturned — though both sides concede that may never happen.

If it does, a fight that for three decades has focused on nine members of the Supreme Court would be waged instead among more than 7,000 legislators in 50 state capitals.

"Now is the time to get moving on this in Ohio," says Tom Brinkman, a state legislator who has introduced a bill to ban almost all abortions. Meanwhile, Kellie Copeland of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio is braced. "Our supporters feel the fight is coming back to the states," she says.

What would states do?

Ultimately, that would depend on factors ranging from who was governor to where public opinion stood. Even so, there are clues from what state legislatures have chosen to do already and what they're considering doing next.

For instance, four states have passed "trigger" bans on abortion that would go into effect immediately if Roe were reversed. Six other states have passed laws that would automatically protect access to abortion. Three states have enacted all 11 of the current restrictions on abortion tracked by the non-profit Alan Guttmacher Institute, from requiring waiting periods to limiting abortion coverage in insurance plans. One state, Vermont, hasn't passed any restriction.

USA TODAY used the Guttmacher data and other factors to calculate how states would be likely to respond if Roe were reversed. The 1973 decision recognized access to abortion as part of a constitutional right to privacy and limited states' ability to restrict it.

The conclusions:

Twenty-two state legislatures are likely to impose significant new restrictions on abortion. They include nearly every state in the South and a swath of big states across the industrial Rust Belt, from Pennsylvania to Ohio and Michigan. These states have enacted most of the abortion restrictions now allowed.

Nine states are considering bans similar to the one passed in South Dakota — it's scheduled to go into effect July 1 — and four states are debating restrictions that would be triggered if the Supreme Court overturned Roe.

Sixteen state legislatures are likely to continue current access to abortion. They include every state on the West Coast and almost every state in the Northeast. A half-dozen already have passed laws that specifically protect abortion rights. Most of the states in this group have enacted fewer than half of the abortion restrictions now available to states.

Twelve states fall into a middle ground between those two categories. About half are in the Midwest, the rest scattered from Arizona to Rhode Island.

The result, according to this analysis, would be less a patchwork of laws than broad regional divisions that generally reinforce the nation's political split. All but three of the states likely to significantly restrict abortions voted for President Bush in 2004. All but four of the states likely to maintain access to abortion voted for Democrat John Kerry.

The 22 states likely to enact new restrictions include 50% of the U.S. population and accounted for 37% of the abortions performed in 2000, the latest year for which complete data were available.

The 16 states likely to protect access to abortion include 35% of the U.S. population and accounted for 48% of the abortions performed.

Read the rest here.

If you give a cat a bath...

Cat Bathing as a Martial Art kitten.gif
by Bud Herron

Some people say cats never have to be bathed. They say cats lick themselves clean. They say cats have a special enzyme of some sort in their saliva that works like new, improved Wisk - dislodging the dirt where it hides and whisking it away. I've spent most of my life believing this folklore. Like most blind believers, I've been able to discount all the fact to the contrary - the kitty odors that lurk in the corners of the garage and dirt smudges that cling to the throw rug by the fireplace.

The time comes, however, when a man must face reality; when he must look squarely in the face of massive public sentiment to the contrary and announce: "This cat smells like a port-a-potty on a hot day in Juarez." When that day arrives at your house, as it has in mine, I have some advice you might consider as you place your feline friend under your arm and head for the bathtub:

--Know that although the cat has the advantage of quickness and lack of concern for human life, you have the advantage of strength. Capitalize on that advantage by selecting the battlefield. Don't try to battle him in an open area where he can force you to chase him. Pick a very small bathroom. If your bathroom is more than four feet square, I recommend that you get in the tub with the cat and close the sliding-glass doors as if you were about to take a shower. (A simple shower curtain will not do. A berseck cat can shred a three-ply rubber shower curtain quicker than a politician can shift positions.)

--Know that a cat has claws and will not hesitate to remove all the skin from your body. Your advantage here is that you are smart and know how to dress to protect yourself. I recomment canvas overalls tucked into high-top construction boots, a pair of steel-mesh gloves, an army helmet, a hockey face mask and a long-sleeve flak jacket.

--Prepare everything in advance. There is no time to go out for a towel when you have a cat digging a hole in your flak jacket. Draw the water. Make sure the bottle of kitty shampoo is inside the glass enclosure. Make sure the towel can be reached, even if you are lying on your back in the water.

--Use the element of surprise. Pick up you cat nonchalantly, as if to simply carry him to his supper dish. (Cats will not usually notice your strange attire. They have little or no interest in fashion as a rule. If he does notice your garb, calmly explain that you are taking part in a product-testing experiment for J.C. Penny.)

--Once you are inside the bathroom, speed is essential to survival. In a single liquid motion, shut the bathroom door, step into the tub enclosure, slide the glass door shut, dip the cat in the water and squirt him with shampoo. You have begun the wildest 45 seconds of your life.

Cats have no handles.

Add the fact that he now has a soapy fur, and the problem is radically compounded. Do not expect to hold on to him for more than two or three seconds at a time. When you have him, however, you must remember to give him another squirt of shampoo and rub like crazy. He'll then spring free and fall back into the water, thereby rinsing himself off. (The national record is - for cats - three latherings, so don't expect too much.)

--Next, the cat must be dried. Novice cat bathers always assume this part will be the most difficult, for humans generally are warn out at this point and the cat is just getting really determined. In fact, the drying is simple compared to what you have just been through. That's because by now the cat is semipermanently affixed to your right leg. You simply pop the drain plug with your foot, reach for your towel and wait. (Occasionally, however, the cat will end up clinging to the top of your army helmet. If this happens, the best thing you can do is to shake him loose and to encourage him toward your leg.) After all the water is drained from the tub, it is a simple matter to just reach down and dry the cat.

In a few days the cat will relax enough to be removed from your leg. He will usually have nothing to say for about three weeks and will spend a lot of time sitting with his back to you. He might even become psychoceramic and develop the fixed stare of a plaster figurine.

You will be tempted to assume he is angry. This isn't usually the case. As a rule he is simply plotting ways to get through your defenses and injure you for life the next time you decide to give him a bath. But, at least now he smells a lot better.

How about... WACKO... Catholics?

A recent post by Gerald Augustinus left my blood boiling and my heart breaking over issues beyond belief in the Catholic Church here in America.

"Mega-churches" have apparently caught on with some of our less than obedient brothers and sisters in Christ. His commentary on the article about Holy Family Catholic Parish Community in Inverness had me jumping around in my chair like a Baptist on Sunday.

From the rock'n'roll choir to the jacuzzi baptismal font, these people really know how to turn heads! I have to say though, if they're not careful, theirs are going to be rolling soon! Evangelicals have always made me a little uneasy, but this is ridiculous!

"I think what happened to the Catholic Church is we became a little comfortable with ourselves and forgot some of what made us Catholic. We forgot what made us passionate," said Holy Family's pastor, Rev. Pat Brennan. "So I've just taken the best that I've seen of Catholic parishes and evangelical churches and put them together to make Holy Family. In doing that, I think we've rediscovered the heart of Catholicism."

Excuse me for a moment while I fall out of my chair laughing. I see now why Gerald won the "Best New Blog" award. Props to you, Gerald!

I suppose one thought comes to mind for all: How can they be so blind? All of this "behind the times" talk would have me direct you to another post, this time by Father Stephanos.

"God did not intend for eternal Truth to be determined by a democratic vote." -Pope Benedict XVI, then Cardinal Ratzinger

EDIT: One more quote which comes to mind by Father Corapi: "I wouldn't boast about what makes you a heretic." They may not be there yet but they're certainly walking a fine line!

Novena of Divine Mercy: Day Seven

Day Seven

Today bring to Me the Souls who especially venerate and glorify My Mercy*,

and immerse them in My mercy. These souls sorrowed most over my Passion and entered most deeply into My spirit. They are living images of My Compassionate Heart. These souls will shine with a special brightness in the next life. Not one of them will go into the fire of hell. I shall particularly defend each one of them at the hour of death.

Most Merciful Jesus, whose Heart is Love Itself, receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who particularly extol and venerate the greatness of Your mercy. These souls are mighty with the very power of God Himself. In the midst of all afflictions and adversities they go forward, confident of Your mercy; and united to You, O Jesus, they carry all mankind on their shoulders. These souls will not be judged severely, but Your mercy will embrace them as they depart from this life.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls who glorify and venerate Your greatest attribute, that of Your fathomless mercy, and who are enclosed in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. These souls are a living Gospel; their hands are full of deeds of mercy, and their hearts, overflowing with joy, sing a canticle of mercy to You, O Most High! I beg You O God:

Show them Your mercy according to the hope and trust they have placed in You. Let there be accomplished in them the promise of Jesus, who said to them that during their life, but especially at the hour of death, the souls who will venerate this fathomless mercy of His, He, Himself, will defend as His glory. Amen.

*The text leads one to conclude that in the first prayer directed to Jesus, Who is the Redeemer, it is "victim" souls and contemplatives that are being prayed for; those persons, that is, that voluntarily offered themselves to God for the salvation of their neighbor (see Col 1:24; 2 Cor 4:12). This explains their close union with the Savior and the extraordinary efficacy that their invisible activity has for others. In the second prayer, directed to the Father from whom comes "every worthwhile gift and every genuine benefit,"we recommend the "active" souls, who promote devotion to The Divine Mercy and exercise with it all the other works that lend themselves to the spiritual and material uplifting of their brethren.

The Chaplet of Divine Mercy may also be offered each day
for the day's intention, but is not strictly necessary to the Novena.


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Asking for prayers..

I would ask of anyone who sees this that you say a Hail Mary for the conversion of souls, especially for that of an unnamed friend. He calls himself seperated. He was such a strong, faithful Catholic and has now created his own Christianity.

The same man who finds corruption in the Church cannot see it in other places. He knows every other form of Christianity stems from his Holy Mother Church but cannot see that the problems are the same. All denominations are filled with sinners!

Lord, have mercy. How does it come to this? Please... please... pray.

The Sneeze

They walked in tandem, each of the ninety-three students filing into the already crowded auditorium. With rich maroon gowns flowing and the traditional caps, they looked almost as grown up as they felt.

Dads swallowed hard behind broad smiles, and moms freely brushed away tears.

This class would not pray during commencements not by choice but because of a recent court ruling prohibiting it. The principal and several students were careful to stay within the guidelines allowed by the ruling. They gave inspirational and challenging speeches, but no one mentioned divine guidance and no one asked for blessings on the graduates or their families.

The speeches were nice, but they were routine.... until the final speech received a standing ovation.

A solitary student walked proudly to the microphone. He stood still and silent for just a moment, and then, it happened.

ALL 92 students, every single one of them, suddenly SNEEZED!!

The student on stage simply looked at the audience and said, "GOD BLESS YOU, each and every one of you!" And he walked off stage.

The audience exploded into applause.

The graduating class found a unique way to invoke God's blessing on their future with or without the court's approval.
Isn't that a cool story? I thought so. I've heard it several times and I've liked it each and every time.

God bless you, each and every one of you!!

Novena of Divine Mercy: Day Six

Day Six

Today bring to Me the Meek and Humble Souls and the Souls of Little Children,

and immerse them in My mercy. These souls most closely resemble My Heart. They strengthened Me during My bitter agony. I saw them as earthly Angels, who will keep vigil at My altars. I pour out upon them whole torrents of grace. I favor humble souls with My confidence.

Most Merciful Jesus, You yourself have said, "Learn from Me for I am meek and humble of heart." Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart all meek and humble souls and the souls of little children. These souls send all heaven into ecstasy and they are the heavenly Father's favorites. They are a sweet-smelling bouquet before the throne of God; God Himself takes delight in their fragrance. These souls have a permanent abode in Your Most Compassionate Heart, O Jesus, and they unceasingly sing out a hymn of love and mercy.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon meek souls, upon humble souls, and upon little children who are enfolded in the abode which is the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. These souls bear the closest resemblance to Your Son. Their fragrance rises from the earth and reaches Your very throne. Father of mercy and of all goodness, I beg You by the love You bear these souls and by the delight You take in them: Bless the whole world, that all souls together may sing out the praises of Your mercy for endless ages. Amen.

The Chaplet of Divine Mercy may also be offered each day
for the day's intention, but is not strictly necessary to the Novena.


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Class Struggle on the Refrigerator - Relate?

Class Struggle on the Refrigerator
by Adair Lara

Adaid Lara is a columnist who writes in an amusing, informal way about the challenges of everyday life -- family, school, work, relatives. In this column, she looks at indicators of social status -- telltale signs revealing the underlying class structure of a society that prides itself on not haveing rigid social barriers. She makes us think about distinctions for which Americans may not always have sociological lables or official categories, but that people sense nevertheless and that shape their behavior and channel their aspirations.

I was reading an article [...] Steve Rubenstein wrote about a new $6,000 refrigerator that is so fancy it can be told to stop producing ice cubs on the Sabbath. But when Steve pointed out that refrigerator magnets wouldn't stick to its designer wood panels, the salesman sniffed, "We're in a niche. The people who can afford one of our refrigerators may not be the same people who use refrigerator magnets."

I glanced over at our fridge. We bought it new about a year ago for $600. It's white, I think - I really can't be sure because just about every inch of it is covered with photo magnets. I buy the magnets at Office Depot (they're really designed for business cards) and cut up photos to fit in them. Over the magnets are invitations, clippings, New Yorker cartoons, movie listings, poems, report cards.

I sighed. Every time I think I've made a successful escape from the working-class thing, there it is again.

I still collect those Cashmere Bouquet soaps from motel rooms. When I worked at a posh style magazine, my boss circled the words "kitchen table" in the lead of a story I was working on and scrawled in the margin, "Our readers don't have kitchen tables."

And I wondered, where then do they read the paper? When I was little, we had not only a table in our kitchen - it look suspiciuosly like the redwood picnic benches down the road at Samuel Taylor Park - but also a couch. I still miss that couch.

I'm a have with the soul of a have-not.

I shop [...] at garage sales, trying on brown leather jackets and pointing out the boxes of wineglasses to Bill, elbowing aside teenagers to offer 15 cents for a 25-cent pair of used Van sneakers.

It's embarassing, but it's not my fault. My mother did our shopping at a thrift store called Bargain Box. She liked bargains. "It was only $75 for the pair of you," she told my twin and me once, referring to the bill for our birth at the public clinic.

So I think nothing of wearing other people's castoffs. I only think, "What a perfectly good pair of black Gap jeans. And only a dollar." Two of my sisters opened secondhand clothing shops when they grew up, just switching the side of the counter they were on.

All of us Daly kids are better off than our parents were when we were kids, but it hasn't sunk in. We all still stockpile toilet paper as if we might run out. My sister Connie just Fed-Ex'ed me a nicely wrapped box of presents in return for a favor, and I unwrapped them to find a toothbrush holder, a knitted grandma hat, a pair of too-small slippers and a Dick Francis audiotape.

It looked exactly like the stuff you see left over at the end of the day at a garage sale - probably is.

We still kind of go nuts when anything's free. When another sister and I went wine tasting, I noticed her slipping the free chocolates into her pocket and urging me to load up on the free apples. I ignored her, being preoccupied with getting my share of the thimblefuls of wine they were pouring, the cheapskates.

You can take the girl out of the class, but you can't take the class out of the girl. Or, in this case, get anything resembling class into the girl. A boyfriend who was watching me decorate the house for Christmas once informed me that it was very working class of me to hang holiday cards from a string across the mantel.

I saw what he meant, but privately I wondered how else I was supposed to demonstrate to visitors that I had received all of these cards. I didn't have enough magnets to put them all on the fridge.

More thoughts on apologetics and living the faith...

Here's a question: What do you do when you get stumped?

I was evangelizing a Bible-only Protestant acquaintance the other day, and he threw a question at me that, at the time, I had no answer for. (He was basically using Gospel quotes by Jesus to justify his not having to go church; that he can be a perfect Christian by himself, on his own, with his Bible.) Now I have great answers for that in abundance, after going home and doing a little basic reading, but at our meeting I was stumped. I was like, "That's a good question. Hmm... you're wrong, of course, but let me get back to you on that." *wink*

It wasn't a KO for him, and in my heart of hearts I do believe that this young gentleman will develop an interest in the Church soon enough -- he's a true intellectual, and he's only been into Christianity, on his own, for a few months -- but I wasn't feeling so confident in my Catholicity on the walk home.
I personally try not to get too discouraged about that kind of thing, especially right there on the spot. I certainly never deny being unsure. I generally say something along the lines of what I believe it would be (a lot of things are explainable through common sense) and say that this is what I would believe based on the teachings I know. I tell them honestly that I don't have anything specific at the time but that if they would give me a little time to produce some information from other sources that we could revisit the topic at another time.

I don't see that as a downfall anymore. I see it as a stepping stone not only for myself but for the other person. They see that we dont try to appear to know everything. We know we don't know everything and we're okay with admitting it. They also see that we're committed to finding Truth. We research carefully, give it careful consideration, and revisit the topic at another time. I personally see it as saying "Hey, you know what? I dont really know. Let me take the time to learn myself on it instead of trying to impress you or throw out something just to save my pride or my image."

I also think that it helps you to be better prepared next time. I don't think its good to beat ourselves up over a few topics that we are less familiar with. I used to sometimes think that I was pushing people away from Catholicism because I didnt know all the answers. The way I see it now is this: I will admit when I do not know the full answer. I will admit when I cannot say it as eloquently as someone else (and then I will provide something more eloquent). I will recognize the work of the Holy Spirit in myself and others to do good. I will not blame myself for a 'loss' when I am doing nothing wrong. I will recognize that it is the Holy Spirit that converts their hearts, not me. I know that as long as I do my best to find the answers for them that the Holy Spirit is more than capable of converting their hearts.

Different Strokes for Different Folks

I find it interesting that in certain situations I am very calm about talking about our faith, explaining it and not defending it, and that in certain other situations, I am very on edge, anxious, and doubtful of my abilities.

I personally work better when I am talking to a person face to face. I generally feel more comfortable too if I already know the person and we both respect each other. I get very anxious when I know someone has no respect for me because I am Catholic. It is not so much that I am hurt by it, but that I know they have preconceptions which makes my side of the conversation a bit more difficult.

I personally am not as hardcore apologist as others here (not to say it in a negative way) and I've learned to like it. Those here who do practice that way have 100% of my support. I commend you and the work you do. It's just not me. I am very comfortable with my small ways of doing things. I am comfortable with my non-confrontational, very slow-moving and cautious approach.

I think it has taken quite a while to really get to this point and I think it's important that everyone remembers that we are not all alike. I believe it was aloysius who said (I think) yesterday in open mic that not everyone is called to be a theologian or great apologist. He said there is freedom in the simpleton way of life. I think that is beautiful.

I really wanted to just share my thoughts about my own progress not only as an apologist but as a person. I also wanted to throw this out there for those who may lurk (as I once did and occasionally still do) and are unsure of 'if they are capable'. Everyone is capable. Approaches and settings are going to vary by person. It's okay to be simple. It's okay not to be an amazing apologist. Every win, big or small, is a win for Christ in the end.

God bless the obviously militant and God bless the unseen believer. Both are winning hearts for Christ! (Together... the world is His again!)

originally a phatmass post dated November 15, 2005
In response to this, snowcapta writes...
I thought that was just lovely -------------. It reminded me of a quote from St. Edith Stein that I think you might like. She talks about not necessarily needing to be the militant apologist, but, espeically with your feminine gifts, finding the right words, even little words, your little actions, your ways of being, that show Christ to that person, at that period in time.

She writes: [From The Significance of Woman's Intrinsic Value in National Life (1928)]

"The teacher thus needs a basic education in dogma and asceticism. Apologetics is certainly also good, but the former seems more important to me: ready arguments, as right as they may be, often do not have penetrating force. But she whose soul is formed through the truths of faith - and I call this ascetic formation - finds words which are proper for this human being and for this moment respectively."

You are using your gifts in your own way to help others find God, and that is just as valuable. Slow-moving, cautious and non-confrontational can truly be beautiful.
And in response I write...
Wow. That is a really awesome quote. I really like that. It sort of validates for me what I have already discovered for myself. Thanks for sharing that and thank you for your kind words!

This reminds me of something I didn't mention in my original post...
I believe that the witness of a true person is one of the greatest testimonies to God. Being myself, allowing my inner being, the one created by God Himself, to shine through in me at all times allows me to be more effective in communicating Christ's love for all of mankind. The burden does not then seem a burden but a joy to share Christ with the world. It is peaceful to be yourself. In this way, I communicate what I believe at all times and 'use words when necessary'. What a relief this is! [...please forgive me if that seemed prideful. I didnt mean to come across that way. I am a sinner in need of much mercy. These are just some things I've discovered about myself and my faith...]

Novena of Divine Mercy: Day Five

Day Five

"Today bring to Me the Souls of those who have separated themselves from My Church*,

and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. During My bitter Passion they tore at My Body and Heart, that is, My Church. As they return to unity with the Church My wounds heal and in this way they alleviate My Passion."

Most Merciful Jesus, Goodness Itself, You do not refuse light to those who seek it of You. Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who have separated themselves from Your Church. Draw them by Your light into the unity of the Church, and do not let them escape from the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart; but bring it about that they, too, come to glorify the generosity of Your mercy.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls of those who have separated themselves from Your Son's Church, who have squandered Your blessings and misused Your graces by obstinately persisting in their errors. Do not look upon their errors, but upon the love of Your own Son and upon His bitter Passion, which He underwent for their sake, since they, too, are enclosed in His Most Compassionate Heart. Bring it about that they also may glorify Your great mercy for endless ages. Amen.

*Our Lord's original words here were "heretics and schismatics," since He spoke to Saint Faustina within the context of her times. As of the Second Vatican Council, Church authorities have seen fit not to use those designations in accordance with the explanation given in the Council's Decree on Ecumenism (n.3). Every pope since the Council has reaffirmed that usage. Saint Faustina herself, her heart always in harmony with the mind of the Church, most certainly would have agreed. When at one time, because of the decisions of her superiors and father confessor, she was not able to execute Our Lord's inspirations and orders, she declared: "I will follow Your will insofar as You will permit me to do so through Your representative. O my Jesus " I give priority to the voice of the Church over the voice with which You speak to me" (497). The Lord confirmed her action and praised her for it.

The Chaplet of Divine Mercy may also be offered each day
for the day's intention, but is not strictly necessary to the Novena.


Monday, April 17, 2006

Rolling Blackouts

Julie D. explains it all... and it beats typing it for myself!
Maintenance overhauls were scheduled at several plants planning on the usual cooler weather that didn't have everyone's air conditioner working overtime. So they were out of the grid when the weather in Dallas hit an unseasonable 101 (I knew it seemed like summer today!) and the electric company had to institute rolling blackouts through the town.
The heat was crazy and the blackouts were... annoying, I'm sure. What's most annoying, though, is the heat. Summer has hit in April. Today was the hottest day ever recorded in April for our area. Nuts, I tell you. Nuts!

DFW in State of Emergency

Brought to you with the help of phatmass smilies...

Texas is #1 on the list for energy use. And we're paying for it. sad.gif

Today was the first day in DFW that we hit 100+ degrees and it's also the day that TXU (our energy provider) declared a state of emergency. They're asking us to raise our thermostats to at least 78 degrees (are they kidding?!?!?) and to turn off all unnecessary appliances.

This is crazy. pinch.gif

Sainthood or popularity - the dilemma faced by young Catholics

It seems to be a growing mentality even in our own community (the Catholic community) that to be devout is to be diseased. We are like the lepers in the times of Christ. We are shunned by many, forced to live our lives on the outside of the city rather than partaking in the daily routines with everyone else and enjoying life despite our differences. Why is it that the devout are considered diseased? Why is devoutness now a shameful thing? When did having respect for Christ in the Eucharist become a thing of the past? I don't understand this way of thinking. I suppose it is expected from the rest of the world but I certainly didn't expect to find it so often within the Catholic community itself. I am hurt to know that many of my fellow Catholics would see me as nerdy or weird because I am deeply in love with my faith and will not deny it. It is considered to be without a life when you volunteer with the youth ministry or participate in your church choir. I am not talking strictly about myself. Too often I see children or young adults being singled out as losers because of their involvement in the Church. I wish I could say such things are only happening among the children of the parish but I cannot. I see it in adults too. Adults will single children and teens out as being outcasts for their faithfulness. Raising children to be saints is 'ridiculous' and 'a bit dramatic'. I'm sorry, what was that? "Ridiculous?" I have a hard time coping with what our society is coming to.

I wish more people would embrace young people striving for sainthood. We are all called to be saints and yet those who openly try are often rejected. Luke 6:22 says "Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man." I would like to believe this would be in reference to those outside the Church. Since when should this verse also be applied to those within? Should we not be a united community? When did the one body of Christ break apart and become the cool and the lame? I just don't understand.

Great is the burden of the young saint. This is how it has always been and I would assume always will be. It is a great shame, however, to admit that much of the immediate burden is from the community that should be lifting them up.

Originally composed November 25, 2005. Still true today.

Pro-Life Backgrounds

A while ago I experimented with making backgrounds. This is my first (and so far my only) background. Any feedback would be appreciated...

800x600 -- here
1024x768 -- here
1280x1024 -- here

My thanks in advance...

Represent Life

Apologies for not having this up sooner! If you don't get the chance to purchase a shirt this year, nothing is stopping us from wearing any older versions or other pro-life shirts!

Wear the shirt, spread the message. Life is precious!

From the site:
What is it?
This is American Life League's fourth annual National Pro-Life T-shirt Day. Hundreds of thousands of people participate every year, and we are looking for another huge turnout. We encourage you to wear your pro-life shirt anywhere and everywhere you go this April 25.

If you have a pro-life T-shirt, wear it!

Why do this?
More than 3,500 babies are surgically aborted every day in America, and thousands more die by chemical abortions. We cannot just sit by and be silent. Wearing a pro-life shirt will open eyes, spark discussion, and save lives. It’s effective, easy, and something that even the meekest of persons can do to take a stand.

Help Cure Abortion by participating in National Pro-life T-shirt Day. Help stop the spread of this “disease” by educating those around you, in class, at the mall, at sporting events or anywhere you happen to be. Abortion is the leading cause of death in America and we will not stop until this “disease” has ended and a Culture of Life has been restored.

Learn more (including what to do if you are harassed) at their site! Click the banner!
--- Please everyone pass this reminder along! Make sure everyone represents! ---

Holding Hands

Jimmy Akin writes about hand holding during the Our Father... a delightful post for those of us who do not hold hands.

I often struggle with what is more scandalous to me and to others, holding hands or not. I opt not to hold hands during the Our Father though lately many have taken notice and make it a point to hold my shoulder, hair, or some other part of myself which they can reach in order to 'include' me in the prayer. I wonder what would be considered a proper reaction to this. Generally I ignore any touching that occurs because if I allow myself to dwell on it, I become distracted. I am afraid though that in not holding their hands I become a distraction to them.

What is one to do in this situation? I still don't know.

Receiving Christ

The methods of reception of Christ have long been a debate in the U.S. From my experience there is often great tension though of varying degrees and reasons from both sides of the 'argument'.

Those peoples who wish to receive Christ in their hand before consuming Him often feel as though they are being looked down on by those who opt to receive on the tongue. They feel as though the tongue people (for lack of a better term) convey a certain "holier-than-thou" attitude. Perhaps there is something to be said about their defensiveness?

Those peoples who wish to receive Christ on their tongues feel as though the hand people (again, for lack of a better term) are conceiving a certain attitude which is not there... not to mention they usually never find any validity in the reasoning behind receiving on the hand. Most of the time tongue people see only a bunch of whining and defensiveness about a custom most hand people grew up with (the majority being young).

Both sides tend to claim personal preference (and rightly so in the U.S. given the word from the USCCB) but still battle it out over which is the better way.

Me? Well, I'm a tongue person. Presenting clear and swaying arguments for why this is would not be easy as this is not how I came to receive on the tongue. I felt highly inadequate when receiving in my hand. As I knelt down at the altar rail one Sunday, I decided I would receive on the tongue that day. I was hooked. There is something about receiving in this way that is incredibly humbling. In doing it you recognize your own inadequacy and humble yourself before not only the Lord but before the EMHC. You allow this person to place Jesus on your tongue. It has never been comfortable but it is certainly more comfortable than receiving in my hand.

The best way to explain it for me:

I feel close to Jesus when they raise Him in front of me and say, "the Body of Christ". I don't think I should have to hold Him in my hands to know or to feel closer. I don't stick my finger in the cup and swish it around before drinking His blood, why should I hold His body before I consume it?

(This explanation was of course stemmed from the statements similar to the following: "I feel closer to Jesus when I hold Him in my hand.")

We are so unclean. Receiving on the tongue seems the only proper way for me to receive.

Novena of Divine Mercy: Day Four

Day Four

"Today bring to Me those who do not believe in God and those who do not know Me,

I was thinking also of them during My bitter Passion, and their future zeal comforted My Heart. Immerse them in the ocean of My mercy."

Most compassionate Jesus, You are the Light of the whole world. Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who do not believe in God and of those who as yet do not know You. Let the rays of Your grace enlighten them that they, too, together with us, may extol Your wonderful mercy; and do not let them escape from the abode which is Your Most Compassionate Heart.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls of those who do not believe in You, and of those who as yet do not know You, but who are enclosed in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. Draw them to the light of the Gospel. These souls do not know what great happiness it is to love You. Grant that they, too, may extol the generosity of Your mercy for endless ages. Amen.

*Our Lord's original words here were "the pagans." Since the pontificate of Pope John XXIII, the Church has seen fit to replace this term with clearer and more appropriate terminology.

The Chaplet of Divine Mercy may also be offered each day
for the day's intention, but is not strictly necessary to the Novena.


Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter Beginnings...

Easter Mass was... how do you say... GORGEOUS. If y'all can't tell by now my weak spot is music... and it was beautiful. I have to say I would have been more impressed (is that possible) if I hadn't sat upstairs with them for so many years. Aside from their total lack of interest in what was going on downstairs, they were awesome. I feel so grateful to attend the church that gets these guys for every Easter and Christmas. Would you believe other directors in the diocese have actually argued over who should get them? Yeah... they're that good.

Wow... anyway... more later! (It's been a loooooooooong day.)

Easter Vigil

It is refreshing to look at this blog again. The black was so dark and depressing. The image in and of itself was enough but all the black on top of that... man! Anyway... on with the blogging...

The Easter Vigil tonight was absolutely gorgeous. It began at 8:15 pm and we ended somewhere close to midnight. I'm not sure how many new Catholics there were but I know there were a lot! There were enough to line the aisle twice and then some.

The flowers and all of the linens were back. The statues had been uncovered. The bells and candles during the Gloria was awesome. Chills ran over me as it all was taking place.

The music was phenominal. I love the instrumentalists we have for the Easter Vigil. I love the sound of our Director's voice and the sound of our gorgeous organ. It was perfect.

All in all it was a lovely evening - definitely worth my while. I cannot wait to wake in a few hours and celebrate again! Jesus Christ is risen! Alleluia!

Novena of Divine Mercy: Day Three

Day Three

"Today bring to Me all Devout and Faithful Souls,

and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. These souls brought me consolation on the Way of the Cross. They were a drop of consolation in the midst of an ocean of bitterness."

Most Merciful Jesus, from the treasury of Your mercy, You impart Your graces in great abundance to each and all. Receive us into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart and never let us escape from It. We beg this grace of You by that most wondrous love for the heavenly Father with which Your Heart burns so fiercely.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon faithful souls, as upon the inheritance of Your Son. For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, grant them Your blessing and surround them with Your constant protection. Thus may they never fail in love or lose the treasure of the holy faith, but rather, with all the hosts of Angels and Saints, may they glorify Your boundless mercy for endless ages. Amen.

The Chaplet of Divine Mercy may also be offered each day
for the day's intention, but is not strictly necessary to the Novena.


Saturday, April 15, 2006

Sometimes you really need to laugh...

Novena of Divine Mercy: Day Two

Day Two

"Today bring to Me the Souls of Priests and Religious,

and immerse them in My unfathomable mercy. It was they who gave me strength to endure My bitter Passion. Through them as through channels My mercy flows out upon mankind."

Most Merciful Jesus, from whom comes all that is good, increase Your grace in men and women consecrated to Your service,* that they may perform worthy works of mercy; and that all who see them may glorify the Father of Mercy who is in heaven.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the company of chosen ones in Your vineyard -- upon the souls of priests and religious; and endow them with the strength of Your blessing. For the love of the Heart of Your Son in which they are enfolded, impart to them Your power and light, that they may be able to guide others in the way of salvation and with one voice sing praise to Your boundless mercy for ages without end. Amen.

* In the original text, Saint Faustina uses the pronoun "us" since she was offering this prayer as a consecrated religious sister. The wording adapted here is intended to make the prayer suitable for universal use.

The Chaplet of Divine Mercy may also be offered each day
for the day's intention, but is not strictly necessary to the Novena.


Friday, April 14, 2006

The Passion of Christ

Good Friday Mass - my favorite. I must admit, though, that tonight was more bitter sweet than usual.

My dog, Bessie, died today.

Unlike the death of Christ, we did not know how soon she would die. Unlike the resurrection of Christ, we know she will not rise. Unlike the eternity of Christ, we know she is gone forever. There is no heaven or hell for her - only death. She had no soul, no spirit, no hope for a life to come. She may have died alone... and that's all there was.

Puffy-eyed and tired I sit here and reflect on the day's events. I've lost my dog, my best friend, my little girl. I've lost my Savior. I've lost a piece of myself. I know the end to both love stories. Unfortunately, one has a much happier ending than the other.

I should be rejoicing at the fact that the one, the more important, is joyful.. but I cannot.

I feel ashamed in worrying so much about my dog on such an important day in the Triduum. Something in me still says it's okay. It is a constant battle between these things. I feel for Bessie more in that she has no soul that will live on for all eternity. She will not bask forever in the warmth of the love of God. She probably felt little comfort in hope when she was passing. She was probably alone and stayed that way.

It makes me think of Christ some. How alone He must have been on that cross. Even surrounded by people, how abandoned did He feel?

He asked His Father to take "this cup" from Him, not to save Himself, but to save his betrayer, Judas. Even in such a painfully dark time He was thinking of others. Why can my focus not be on this? Why must my focus be constantly reverted back to my dog?

I thought a lot tonight about the souls in purgatory, those in Hell, those here on earth who have fallen away and may not return. How lonely they must feel! If anything good came of Bessie's death it was my more profound recognition of the emptiness that is present without the love of God. How empty Bessie must have been! I am so sorry for those souls that are still so alone because they have refused to accept the love of God. I could not wish that pain for any person.

My thoughts are barely coherent, even to myself. I have attempted to collect them but this is to the best of my ability at this time. If any of you at any time in the near future can spare some prayers, I know my family would greatly appreciate them. We are all grieving in our own ways. I must say the most troubling is my young brother, the baby of the family. At the tender age of 8 he has already formed a tough shell. Staying strong for his two sisters, I never saw him shed a tear but did see him fighting them back (obviously with great success). He is definitely a worrier and I know this has affected him just as much as it has my sister and me. My sister was very vocal in her mourning and seems, at least on the outside, to be taking this the hardest. Me? Well, I've done this before (three times this year even) and I can do it again. Mostly I ask that you pray for my siblings. I know they could use all the comfort they can get right now.

O Come and Mourn

O come and mourn
with me a while;
All ye now come
to the Saviour's side;
Come see the One
who frees us all;
The Lord of Life
is crucified.

Have we no tears to shed for Him while soldiers scoff and foes deride?
Upon the cross He bears the pain, the Lord of Life is crucified.

Seven times he speaks
Seven words of love;
His silence too,
cries out to all.
His words of love
our hearts receive
The Lord of Life
is crucified.

O Love of God,
O sin of man,
In this dread hour
true strength is found.
It is with love
we triumph still.
The Lord of Life
is crucified.

O come and mourn with me a while;
The Lord of Life is crucified.

Mass of the Lord's Supper

Mass last night was absolutely amazing. It was beautifully rich with Catholic tradition and alive with Catholic faith. My family and I sat in our usual spot, this year with a visitor. My mom's best friend, Madeleine, joined us and it proved quite a treat. We ended up crammed in the pew with another family but it was hardly noticeable once Mass began (except for maybe during the homily when we had to cram more to make room for our priest).

I was moved from the beginning with the great selection of music for the evening. The song was made even more beautiful at the sight of the procession down the aisle to the altar where we were to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and end this Lenten season. They made their way up the steps, bowed, circled around and bent in unison to kiss the altar. My heart melts every time. Tradition tugs at my heart in a way few things do. So beautiful...

Sitting in the front pew on the right side of the church, you see EVERYTHING. The sights were overwhelming and I was so thankful to receive even more feeling in not seeing. I closed my eyes during the Our Father and listened as I prayed. I heard so many faithful from all parts of the church. I heard myself: my heart thumping steadily in my chest and my voice as it uttered the words which our Savior gave us. I saw more and felt more in that moment than I would for most of the night. It was reassuring to me in that moment that even though I may not see His coming, or His touch in my struggles, that He is there.

Later, after reading about (and hearing about) the humiliating act which Jesus did with love for His apostles, I watched as our priest washed the feet of twelve people: six women, and six men. I watched as he humbled himself as Christ did and washed their feet gently and with love. Never once did he appear humiliated. Perhaps he was humbled and still joyful at knowing he was imitating Christ in this act. As he dried the second foot of each person, just moments before they were to stand and take their place around the altar, he looked up into their eyes and smiled. He uttered an inaudible phrase (to the rest of the church) but you knew that it was gratitude for allowing him the opportunity. How moving it is to see him in this way and to know that Jesus, even more perfectly, did the same on that night many, many years ago.

I watched even later as the altar was stripped. The lights dimmed and everyone was still. The men and women were moving around quickly but in a sort of poetic movement. Father kneeled in front of me at the altar rail watching on and praying, I'm sure, as it happened. Another moving moment for me as I recognize Christ in our priest and his imitation of Him at that moment. As tears moved down my cheeks I noticed two of the seminarians at the altar. As everyone else moved around gathering things and exiting the altar, there they were folding the linens. They moved eloquently together, gently and precisely folding the linens to be removed. These men who have devoted their whole selves, their whole lives, their whole hearts to Christ Jesus were now stripping the altar on the night that we remember the institution of the Eucharist and thusly the priesthood. It was profoundly symbolic to me.

The last moments of the night, however, were truly the most moving - and most devastating. Just after Jesus was placed on our side altar (where Joseph usually stands) where he would remain for adoration, our priest read a passage ending in, "and they all left him and fled." All of the servers (altar servers, lectors, EMsHC, seminarians, deacons and priests) turned and left the sanctuary. People began to rise and move quietly out of the church. How devastating it was to turn from Him and leave. How much more ironic it was that we were to leave there and socialize with good company, perhaps at times forgetting what we had left.

The whole Mass came together for me spiritually and emotionally in a way which I had not expected walking into the church. I anxiosly await tonight's Mass, my 'favorite' of the season.

Holy Thursday...

...a little late I admit, but still worthwhile. I often read and reflect over the words of a priest affectionately called "Cappie". I discovered him at and have on numerous occasions been made more aware and thusly more moved by the readings at Mass. The readings are posted and he replies generally with a synopsis, what we should look for in them, and then his own personal homily. I thought it would be nice to share his recap for Holy Thursday before jumping into my experiences at Mass.
Introduction: On Holy Thursday we remember with gratitude the Pascal mystery of the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus, and the transformation of the Jewish Passover into the New Testament Passover. The Jewish Passover was, in fact, a joint celebration of two ancient thanksgiving celebrations. The descendants of Abel, who were Shepherds, used to lead their sheep from the winter pastures to the summer pastures after the sacrificial offering to God of a lamb. They called this celebration the “Passover." On the other hand, the descendants of Cain, who were farmers, held a harvest festival called the "Massoth" in which they offered unleavened bread to God as an act of thanksgiving. The Passover feast of the Israelites (Exodus 12:26-37) was a harmonious combination of these two ancient feasts of thanksgiving, celebrated to thank God for the miraculous liberation of their ancestors from Egypt and their exodus to the Promised Land.

The Jewish Passover was a seven-day celebration, during which unleavened bread was eaten. The Passover meal began with the singing of the first part of the “Hallel” psalms,” 113 &114, followed by the first cup of wine. Then they ate bitter herbs, sang the second part of the “Hallel” psalms, drank the second cup of wine and the oldest man in the family explained the significance of the event, in answer to the question asked by a child. This was followed by the eating of the flesh of a lamb roasted in fire whose blood was offered to God as an act of thanksgiving. The participants divided and ate the roasted lamb and unleavened “Massoth” bread, drank the third cup of wine and sang the major “Hallel" psalms, 113-118. In later years, the Jews celebrated a mini-form of the Passover every Sabbath day and called it the “Love Feast.”

In the first reading from the book of Exodus, God gives the Hebrews two instructions: ‘prepare for the moment of liberation by an annual ritual meal and make a symbolic mark on your homes to exempt yourselves from the coming slaughter.’ In the second reading, Paul quotes another source for this tradition that was handed to him upon his conversion. He says he received this "from the Lord,” suggesting that the celebration of the Lord's Supper was an unbroken tradition from the very beginning of the church. Paul implies that the purpose of this celebration was to proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes again. He may mean simply that Christians, by this ritual act, remind themselves of the death and resurrection of Jesus, and he may also mean that Christians prepare themselves for the proclamation of Christ to the world at large. In harmony with these readings, today’s gospel describes how Jesus transformed the Jewish Passover into the Eucharistic celebration. First, he washed their feet - a tender reminder of his undying affection and a quiet plea for them to do the same for each other and reminding us that our vocation is to take care of one another as he always takes care of us. Then he gave them his own body and blood as food, so that as long as they lived, they'd never be without the comfort and strength of his presence. Thus he washed their feet, fed them, and then went out to die.

Exegesis: Jesus began his Passover celebration by washing the feet of his disciples as a lesson in humble service because it was the duty of slaves. He followed the Jewish ritual only up to the second cup of wine. Then instead of serving the roasted lamb, Jesus offered himself to them as the true Pascal Lamb by instituting the Holy Eucharist as a sign of God’s perpetual presence with His people and their heavenly food. This was followed by the institution of the priesthood with the command, “Do this in memory of me." Jesus concluded the ceremony by a long speech incorporating his command of love: “love one another as I have loved you.” There are several natural connections between the Jewish Passover celebration and the Christian sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Jesus instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist at a private Passover observance with his disciples (Matthew 26:17-30; Luke 21:7-23). He served as both the Host and the Victim of sacrifice. As He presided over the meal, he infused the familiar Passover elements with new meaning. He was the Lamb of God, as John the Baptist had previously predicted (John 1:29, 36), who would take away the sins of the world.

The early Jewish Christians converted the Jewish “Sabbath Love Feast” into the “Memorial Last Supper Meal” of Jesus. It probably consisted of praising and worshipping God by singing psalms, reading the Old Testament Messianic prophecies and listening to the memoirs of the apostles. This was followed by a procession, the recital of the “institution narrative” and the partaking of the bread and wine as the "body and blood of Jesus.” This finally evolved through the centuries into the present day Holy Mass.

Messages: 1) A message of humble and selfless service. Our celebration of the Eucharist requires that we wash one another’s feet, i.e., serve one another, and revere Christ's presence in other persons. It means that we become great only by serving others.

2) A message of sacrificial and self-giving love. Let us imitate the self-giving model of Jesus who shares with us his own body and blood and who enriches us with his Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist. Even when he was about to die, he showed compassion and love to those who loved him. How many times does it happen that when we suffer we inflict our sufferings upon others as we feel sorry for ourselves or anger at others?

3) A message of unity and suffering. The bread we partake of is produced by the pounding of many grains of wheat, and the wine is the result of the crushing of many grapes. Both are thus symbols of unity and suffering. They invite us to share our lives and its blessings with others, and to support them in their pain by sacrificial sharing.

4) Make the Holy Communion an occasion of divine grace and blessing by its worthy reception, and not an occasion of desecration. That is why the priest prays just before he receives Holy Communion in the ancient Syro-Malabar oriental liturgy in Aramaic the language spoke: “Lord Jesus Christ, with faith in your love and mercy I eat your body and drink your blood. Let it not bring me condemnation, but health in mind and body.” Let us receive Communion as a sacrament, an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. Grace is God's favor towards us, by which God forgives sins, enlightens minds, stirs hearts, and strengthens wills. Let the grace of this Holy Communion make us one body, one spirit in Christ, that we may worthily serve the world and one another in his name.

Novena of Divine Mercy: Day One

Jesus asked that the Feast of the Divine Mercy be preceded by a Novena to the Divine Mercy which would begin on Good Friday. He gave St. Faustina an intention to pray for on each day of the Novena, saving for the last day the most difficult intention of all, the lukewarm and indifferent of whom He said:

"These souls cause Me more suffering than any others; it was from such souls that My soul felt the most revulsion in the Garden of Olives. It was on their account that I said: 'My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass Me by.' The last hope of salvation for them is to flee to My Mercy."

In her diary, St. Faustina wrote that Jesus told her:

"On each day of the novena you will bring to My heart a different group of souls and you will immerse them in this ocean of My mercy ... On each day you will beg My Father, on the strength of My passion, for the graces for these souls."

Day One

"Today bring to Me all mankind, especially all sinners,

and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. In this way you will console Me in the bitter grief into which the loss of souls plunges Me."

Most Merciful Jesus, whose very nature it is to have compassion on us and to forgive us, do not look upon our sins but upon our trust which we place in Your infinite goodness. Receive us all into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart, and never let us escape from It. We beg this of You by Your love which unites You to the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon all mankind and especially upon poor sinners, all enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. For the sake of His sorrowful Passion show us Your mercy, that we may praise the omnipotence of Your mercy for ever and ever. Amen.

The Chaplet of Divine Mercy may also be offered each day
for the day's intention, but is not strictly necessary to the Novena.