Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Thanks to Ryan!

A big thanks to Ryan who directed me to his jukebox. It allows you to embed Ryan Meyers music virtually anywhere! Very exciting. I want to go ahead and embed his "Invisible People" for now so that y'all can listen to it without having to leave the page! I do hope you enjoy it as much (if not more) than I do.

--Song removed. If you'd like to hear it, email me. I'll direct you to the right place.--

*Note to Ryan: I changed "mspace" to page since I'm using it on my blog! ;)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

A saint was born...

Matt and Angela have another little saint in their arms now. Maximilian Mary Karol was born yesterday morning. He's a beautiful little boy. The miracle of life is just so amazing. I could have spent all day with Maximilian and his mommy but alas I had to go to work. It was definitely worth the drive, though. I enjoy the time I spend with their family and it was good one on one time with them today for sure. I forgot to take any pictures but I think I like it better that way. I liked being able to just sit and rock and chat with my friend and watch as she took care of her precious little saint. I was only able to hold him for a short time but that was okay too. I'm sure I'll have more opportunities for that in the coming weeks.

Anyway, please keep this family in your prayers. Matt, Angela, Sebastian and Maximilian will all be home together for the first time this weekend and I would wish to pray especially for them during that time, as I'm sure it will be overwhelming. I'm sure Anne and John are smiling as they look down on their little brother from heaven.

+Lord, bless and keep this beautiful family. I pray, Lord, that you will shower them with your grace and preserve them always in your love. I pray for the continued health, happiness, and HOLINESS of Matt, Angela, Sebastian and Maximilian. I thank you for allowing them to be a part of my life and I praise your holy name for ever and ever. Amen.


Ryan Meyers: Invisible People

Then the king will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.' Then the righteous will answer him and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?' And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.' Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.' Then they will answer and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?' He will answer them, 'Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.' And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."
Matthew 25:34-36

A while back I was listening to the phatmass radio and stumbled across a song that spoke to me about invisible people. It wasn't anything futuristic or fantasy-like. No, it spoke of the realities we face today. Below I have posted the lyrics to the song, written and recorded by Ryan Meyers Band, which continues to speak to my heart. It speaks of a poor man, a woman who bares her skin for five dollar bills, and an unborn baby. It speaks of the poor, forgotten and outcast of our society. Through Ryan the 'least of these' beg the question: "Could we really be the face of God if we are invisible?"
I’m an invisible man
You look right through me so you won’t feel the pain
Of knowing that the way you live determines where I stand
In my invisible world
You give me nickles, but you won’t shake my hand
And I can’t believe in the “God” you claim to serve
I’m an invisible man

I’m an invisible girl
Men, you smile at me with five-dollar bills
Though you see my skin on Tuesdays, boys, you’ve never seen my eyes
In my invisible dreams
I ride the carriages of princes and queens
But in the morning when I wake I want to put myself to sleep

We are the least of these
You look through us every day
We are the least of these
We beg for your change
We starve for your love
We aren’t invisible
But we are invisible

I’m an invisible child
My mother says I’m just a careless mistake
But I didn’t really accidentally come
In my invisible world
I have a hearbeat ,but I don’t have a voice
And you think if you can’t hear me scream that I feel no pain

We are the least of these
You look through us every day
We are the least of these
We beg for a change
We starve for your love
We aren’t invisible
But we are invisible

Could we really be the face of God?
Could we really be the face of God if we are invisible?
Every day I am convicted in my faith by those society often overlooks. I see and feel nearly every day the desire God has placed in my heart to serve the least of His children. As I drive through Dallas on my way to do different things, I see out of the corner of my eye a man lying on a bench at a school asleep, his meager belongings gathered close by his side. I see a woman walking down the sidewalk, scantily dressed and waiting for her next customer. I see young and old alike walking into 'clubs' with enticing, glamourized names. I see white-washed buildings of death - innocent lives to be taken over the couse of the day inside. My heart sinks as I face the realities of the world I live in. But I know that one day my time will come and I will use my own two hands to change the face of the world, one life at a time. I am here to love each of them as Jesus does, to serve them as He would.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A Call to Holiness

I am feeling much better about my trip for one reason. (No, I still haven't bought a coat or stockings.) I have realized that no matter what happens on my trip, I will not have wasted my time and it will not be a disappointment if I do not feel at home. Why? Because my first call in this life is a call to holiness! It is a call that each of us have and it is the first and most important call we answer. We grow in holiness in our vocations whether that be married life, single life, or religious life. So, no matter what happens on this trip or in my vocation discernment altogether, I can't be wasting my time as long as my first priority is to grow in holiness always.

That's my thought for the day. Have a good one.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

In case you missed it..

..in the comments box..

Mhari (of ...breath and heartbeat) left me two very enthusiastic messages on one of my countdown posts. I'll post them below. Thanks to Mhari, I feel a bit more prepared for my trip.
In case your attempt to talk to Sr Clare was unsuccessful (mine often are, she's sooo busy!)....

You need a notebook for a diary, I filled around half of one in one visit! I found having a daily missle was useful for personal prayer (or the Magnificat if you get it, lots of the Sisters do) and a bible is useful as they do lectio, but you can borrow one. You get to go to lots of wonderful classes, so perhaps actually two notebooks would be good so you can keep your thoughts and notes from classes seperate... I didn't :)

Other than that you need warm clothes incase you go pray at a clinic, and stuff you don't mind getting dirty as I spent a LOT of my time cleaning, gardening, etc (and still loved it! miracle!) and you really don't need much else. I guess you'll be sleeping in the basement (I remembered the right American word, go me!), but don't worry, it isn't cold and they'll give you loads of blankets. Oh you'll have such a marvellous time. I can't tell you what you'll be doing as I never spent two days in exactly the same way, and I've been 3 times for 10 days to 2 weeks each! I'll pray for you, and please send my love to the Sisters, Mhari from Scotland, I'm gonna write to Sr Clare soon, but want to talk to my SD first.

Oh, and because Sr Clare is really busy you'll never really know what's going on... but no-one really does, you get used to it! They generally tell you 10 minutes before something happens! Don't worry if the whole week (are you going for a week?) is nearly over and you haven't had a chance to speak with her, she'll fit you in before you go! And theres a helpful info sheet by your bed when you arrive to give you hints about what to do (like the Sisters kneel and kiss the floor of the chapel when entering and leaving... how lovely!) so you'll be fine. Sorry to go on so much, I'm so excited for you :)
Well, I've got the Magnificat, journal, and I'm used to not knowing what is going on. Now I just need to concern myself with the keeping warm part! Haha.

My first youth minister taught us about kissing the floor of the chapel. It really is a beautiful practice and I love it very much. I remember this year at the girls retreat when she told all of the girls about it while we were sitting in our make-shift chapel adoring Christ. Almost every single girl did it on their way out and most kept it up throughout the stay. It was great!

Anyway, life is crazy. I'm probably quitting my job soon (like today) so I know it'll only get more busy. (Job searching is stinky. It wasn't that long ago that I was doing it!)

Please keep me in your prayers for a safe trip and fruitful searching in both my vocation discernment and my job hunt.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Again? Seriously?

Well, as if you couldn't tell, I haven't gotten around to those posts. It always seems to happen this way: whenever I think I'll have a bunch of time on my hands to do things that I want to do, I am so busy I rarely get to stop to breathe, much less do something fun for me. Whenever I think I'll be so busy I won't have time to do anything (like chat wtih friends), I have so much time on my hands I don't know what to do with myself. Such is all of our lives I suppose...

I went to the State Fair of Texas yesterday with my family (yes, all day). I'm slightly sunburned, sore in odd places, and will probably need a triple bypass sometime in the future... but it was so much fun! There's nothing quite like the State Fair of Texas.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Countdown to New York

28 days and counting...

... and nothing more to prepare. Soon!


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

John Paul II for Dummies

Book Description
The first Polish Pope, John Paul II, was a thinker and a leader whose religious convictions defined a new approach toward world politics—and changed the course of history. When he died on April 2, 2005, millions around the world mourned his passing. No other person in recent history has had such a tremendous display of respect and honor. The fact that so many non-Catholics honored this man attests to his effect on the world—and not just within his own religion.
Now, you can get to know the man behind the papacy and appreciate his remarkable achievements. John Paul II For Dummies is a friendly, plain-English guide to the life and legacy of one of the world's most beloved religious leaders. You'll discover:

The Pope's influences
His personal struggles
How he impacted the Church
His approach to world politics
The ways he spread his message
Rev. John Trigilio Jr, PhD, and Rev. Kenneth Brighenti, PhD, explain the vision and perspective of the man known as the “people's pope.” You’ll come to know John Paul II's early influences and defining moments as well as his personal successes and tragedies. You'll trace his career from priesthood to bishop to the papacy as the authors reveal:

The effect he had on Vatican II
How he defended and upheld church teaching and tradition
The pivotal reforms he enacted
His role in such important events as the fall of Communism and the Vatican/Israel negotiation
John Paul's views on anti-Semitism, forgiveness, and the role of women in the Church
His efforts to help young people
From the controversial topics he denounced—abortion, the death penalty—to his efforts to dialogue with other faiths to the current process to make him a saint, John Paul II For Dummies gives you a complete understanding of this celebrated man and his incredibly meaningful life.

From the Back Cover
Explains his vision and perspective

Get to know the "people's pope"

John Paul II not only touched millions of lives around the world, he changed the course of history. This intriguing guide explores his life, his accomplishments, and the legacy he left behind. You'll understand his role in such important events as the fall of Communism and his views on anti-Semitism, forgiveness, and the role of women in the Church.


John Paul II's influences
His personal struggles
How he impacted the Catholic Church
His approach to world politics
The ways he spread his message
Source: Amazon.com
Personally, I'm excited! If this is as good as the others, I can't wait to read it!

Countdown to New York

Four weeks, two days until I fly to New York to visit the Sisters for the first time...

I have so much to do and now I really feel like I have so little time to do it! I'm going to call Sister Clare tonight (or one of the sisters) and ask for some kind of list or something so that I don't forget anything. I've never been that far north for winter so that will be a challenge in and of itself. Add to that that I usually forget the most essential item every time I pack... it'll be interesting.

I'm both nervous and excited. I really feel like this is a big trip for me.
I'm spiritually ready, I think. Let's hope it stays that way. All I need now is to be physically ready...

Pray for me, please! I could use all the prayers you can offer, especially in these next four weeks.


Perpetual Virginity

I was reading about the perpetual virginity of Mary a few moments ago and was presented in my reading a thought that I had never had on my own. I had not given much thought to the idea of Mary's perpetual virginity and how it could be considering that she was MARRIED. It is common knowledge (I think) that a marriage is valid upon consumation. But back in old Judaism, it wasn't necessary that the woman lie with her husband to validate the marriage. It was only required that they have sex when it was requested by the man. So Joseph, her most chaste spouse, never requested that of her! He, recognizing the holiness she possessed and the unique gift that was given her (ya know, being the Mother of Christ), never asked for her to lie with him. He, in his holiness, cherished her beyond measure and did not ask for this from her! (Did I get that right? Nick'll know.)


I do feel a little dumb thinking about it NOW but whatever. Better now than never!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Three Upcoming Posts

This is more for myself than for y'all but... the next three posts will be as follows:

Ryan Meyers: Invisible People
Mantillas - What in the world?
Stillness as a practice of faith

Since I have a lot of free time this week, I hope to finish all of them by Friday.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Quiz Fun

What do you do when you're stuck at work nearly an hour after you were supposed to leave after already covering for your manager who called you during Mass to ask if she could switch shifts with you because her back hurt?

You take a quiz!

You Are a Frappacino

At your best, you are: fun loving, sweet, and modern
At your worst, you are: childish and over indulgent
You drink coffee when: you're craving something sweet

Your caffeine addiction level: low


Normal... or weird?

So I work at a hotel and tonight a gentleman was escorted through the front door by three tired-looking but jolly, wet, dirty, smelly firefighters. They told us that the man's car had just burned and he needed a room for the night. They were still talking to him about the details of his car and such there at the desk so I'm assuming they didn't waste time coming from the site of the fire. Besides that, the man still looked REALLY shaken (I'm sure he will be for some time but if you've worked at a hotel, you know what I mean when I say I could tell this was a very new situation). He was really dirty, his clothes were all over the place (on his body - they were a wet mess) and he was soaking. His glasses were crooked on his nose and it looked like he would break down crying at any moment. He couldn't think very clearly so it was good that the firefighters were there to do that for him. But I digress...

As I was standing there entering his information into the system, I looked up long enough to notice that his scapular was peeking out from behind the top of his wrinkly, wet shirt.

I always feel for those people who come into our hotel after fighting with a spouse, losing a loved one, or breaking down - but this time I felt connected to this guy in a way I never have with other guests in similar situations. As soon as I saw it I was moved. I don't really know HOW I was moved, I just knew that I was.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Birth Announcement

A while back I asked y'all to pray for my friend Teresa and her husband Adam and their little one in the womb. Well... today Teresa gave birth to a beautiful baby BOY! Meet Joseph John-Paul Janke! Isn't he beautiful?

Joseph John-Paul Janke
Born: 10/14/2006
Weight: 6 lbs 11 oz
Length: 20 1/2" inches

Joseph is less than 1 hour old in these pictures. The labor took only 4 hours with no complications. Teresa did an excellent job. Mom and Joseph are resting, healthy and happy.

This little Saint-to-be is in good hands. Praise God for this wonderful blessing!


Thursday, October 12, 2006

One more chance! Last call!

I'm going to post a picture and I want you to time yourself while looking for what I name in the picture. No cheating. Find a timer and time yourself! See how fast you can find...

the face in the beans.

(I'm posting the picture seperately and at an earlier time and date so you can't see it at this post... follow the link above.) This is your second chance (also your last). After a few days, I will repost the picture with the face circled... or perhaps those of you that want to know can leave a comment and I'll pass it on to you. Hope it was fun!

Discerning the Body of the Lord

Started October 6, 2006. Posted upon completion.
O Lord, you led me from my father's loins and formed me in my mother's womb. You brought me, a naked babe, into the light of day, for nature's laws always obey your commands.

By the grace of God I was born into a Catholic home. Cradle Catholic indeed.

By the blessing of the Holy Spirit, you prepared my creation and my existence, not because man willed it or flesh desired it, but by your ineffable grace. The birth you prepared for me was such that it surpassed the laws of our nature. You sent me forth into the light by adopting me as your son and you enrolled me among the children of your holy and spotless Church.

Within the first couple of months of my life outside of the womb, I was baptized. I was added to the books and
by the grace of God, entered into a perfect state.

You nursed me with the spiritual milk of your divine utterances. You kept me alive with the solid food of the body of Jesus Christ, your only-begotten Son and our God, and you let me drink from the chalice of his life-giving blood, poured out to save the whole world.

I went to Catholic school. I had religion class and prayers throughout the day. I received my first Holy Communion in second grade with all the other little girls - dressed in a pretty white dress and flowing veil. I wasn't too sure about the whole thing but I knew it was a good thing to do. As I grew, I came to understand what the Eucharist is 'all about'.

You love us, O Lord, and gave up your only-begotten Son for our redemption. And he undertook the task willingly and did not shrink from it. Indeed, he applied himself to it as though destined for sacrifice, like an innocent lamb. Although he was God, he became man, and in his human will, became obedient to you, God his Father, unto death, even death on a cross.
- - -

How beautiful Christ's work on the Cross and what he has done in my life to help me to grow in love for Him. If only more people recognized this amazing gift! Today I was struck both by an utter irreverence and a wonderful innocence before this gift.

Today was a first Friday. This is the one day out of every month that Jesus is exposed on the altar in the mostrance at my church. I couldn't miss it! So, despite being exceedingly exhausted, I dragged myself out of bed and went to the 8 am Mass (which I usually attend daily). After watching my life flash before my eyes several times on the way there (crazy Dallas drivers!), I was very content to be sitting in one of the back pews of the church quietly reflecting on my Liturgy of the Hours for the morning. As I was about to begin the canticle, a young girl, a student at the school, climbed the pulpit and began to practice her reading for the morning. It was a reading from the book of Job - pronounced JAHB, like that thing every one goes out and gets once they turn 16. Was she really that ill-acquainted with the "divine utterances"? I looked up immediately and quietly said, "Job," pronouncing it correctly (JOHB), though I knew she wouldn't hear me. Her girlfriends laughed when they heard her, and she was blushing and the whole commotion was only intensified by the fact that she was still standing in front of a microphone. I couldn't help but wonder how this girl had gone so many years without knowing how to pronounce this book in the Bible. I shook my head and did my best to focus on my prayers again. Little did I know this was only the beginning of a chaotic morning.

For one, the readings were all mixed up. The psalm was said right before the Gospel and I'm pretty sure the second reading was read first. With a new priest and a new music director, things were bound to be messed up with music. It wasn't anything horrific, just a few early starts on the part of speakers and so on. It really wouldn't have been a big deal if there hadn't been children present to giggle at it.

A few rows up was another disruption during communion. The adults receive first (don't ask me why, I'm not really an adult) so I had made it back to my pew and had been praying when the kids sitting in front of me made it back. When one of the girls knelt down again on her kneeler, it broke. Instead of just moving over, they had to laugh and point fingers and elbow each other. The whole class was involved. The teacher was shushing them and unamusedly telling them to move over and cut it out. "Lord, have mercy," I thought to myself. I closed my eyes and tried to focus on my prayers... but I couldn't.

I couldn't stop thinking about how disrespectful the children were. They weren't tiny children. They should know better. And then I was instantly sad... they should KNOW. But do they? Do they really? Certainly they've been taught that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist, but have they ever taken a moment to think about what that truly means? They are a living, breathing tabernacle. If they could see - if they could see or even slightly understand - what was truly present within themselves during that time, would they act the way they do? How is it that they can be so oblivious to what's going on? All of heaven is celebrating with us during the Mass. Either they are truly unaware of this, or they just don't care.

After the closing hymn, the students were asked to stand and then genuflect in place, out of respect for the Eucharist which had been placed in the monstrance and was now exposed. When the first row of students was told to stand and genuflect, every other teacher told their class to stand. All of a sudden Jesus was hidden by a blur of slowly moving, chattery children. The teachers shushed them all again and before I knew it the whole church was empty... well, except for a few. I was relieved to see a few sweet, smiling faces as the kids filed out. Respectful, joyful, beautiful. (I babysit them - I have to brag about them.) Those kids really made me smile. I threw up a prayer for them.

For about a half hour, I sat in the front of the church with Jesus and tried to make sense of what had just happened. Before I knew it, the preschool children were coming in for their time with the priest. They were the cutest little things. Despite some stern looks from the teachers, the kids were happy to be out and moving. And move they did! Not one of them sat still the whole time. But they were good listeners. Father read them a story from a children's Bible - the one about Adam and Eve. They talked about it some and then got to ask any question they wanted. Let me tell ya, they may have been little tots but they had some fantastic questions! Oh I just lit up listening to the little saints. They were so interested in everything about the church. They wanted to know about the altar and the statues and the Saints. It was lovely.

However, the moment that struck me the most was when Father asked them a question. He said: "Do you notice anything different about the altar today? Do you see anything new?" Of course the first thing they said was "CANDLES!" haha. Father replied: "Very good. What else do you see? Who or what is that in the middle of the candles?" Very quietly, but with a great sense of enthusiasm, a couple of them said, "God." It made my heart melt.

How can one not get a little teary-eyed witnessing the smallest of our parish gazing in awe at the altar and knowing that they were looking at GOD? Their respect and their humility paled in comparison to what I had seen just moments before. GOD was on the altar and these little ones knew it.

They sang "Father, I Adore You" and soon they were all kneeling at the altar rail on either side of Father, praying to Jesus in the most Blessed Sacrament. They prayed for their moms and dads, their sisters and brothers, their friends and pets, and everyone they loved. Oh... it was beautiful. Father, a large but gentle fellow, an incredible man who laid down his life and took up the work that Jesus entrusted to Peter and his disciples, knelt there in front of Jesus and brought the children to Him. "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven" (Mt 19:14).

Sitting there quietly reflecting on all I had just witnessed, my thoughts traveled back to the older girls and boys who were so oblivious to the great mystery that had happened before them. I reflected back on my time in school, on my life at that age. I was the same kid. I knew on some level, but I didn't know like I know today. And it was not necessarily that the school did little to teach me - no, certainly not. I had one of the best religion teachers and she did much to teach us in the ways of faith and morals. But, there's only so much they can do. There's only so much a parent can do. At some point, children must strive to know Jesus for themselves. At some point, a personal bond must be made. How many times have I heard my peers talk about the family rosary that was said every night at the same time? They talk about how they prayed every day but their heart was never there. They had the 'great' Catholic family structure, but they had never had the intimate relationship that perhaps their parents had. Going through the motions does not guarantee that one will embrace the faith or understand it.

I prayed very diligently in those moments - for the students, for the teachers, for the parents. I cannot understand when or how it happens that children go from awe to indifference. I'm not sure it is my place to understand. But I know it is my place to pray for them and for all people who do not know Christ. I remember sitting there reflecting on an intention a friend asked me to take to Jesus. I prayed for her relatives, relatives that do not embrace God. I asked that He show them a sign they could not ignore. I asked Him to come into their hearts and set them on fire. I didn't ask Him to make them Catholic - just to come and live in them. And as I did so, I realized this prayer was not simply for those which I had mentioned, but for all of us. I asked Him to come and live in each of us - to make Himself present in a way which we could not ignore.

Then, when the presence of Jesus Christ is nurtured within us, we will never fail to recall that, Although he was God, he became man, and in his human will, became obedient to .. God his Father, unto death, even death on a cross.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Test your Catholic IQ

Yep... test your general knowledge of Catholicism. Basic concepts within the faith... major events... so on and so forth.

Test your knowledge here!


Monday, October 09, 2006

Assisi's Famous Son Was No Dr. Doolittle

St. Francis, Minus the Myths; Rosary Power
Assisi's Famous Son Was No Dr. Doolittle
By Elizabeth Lev

ROME, OCT. 5, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Last week I spent several days in Assisi with a pilgrimage group. It was a wonderful adventure tooling around the Umbrian countryside and praying at the sites of the great saints, but it was also an eye-opening experience for me to realize that the St. Francis venerated today is a pretty far cry from the St. Francis who lived next to a leper colony outside Assisi in the 1220s.

Unlike the green, rolling hills of Tuscany, the Umbrian terrain is harsh and rugged, with jagged mountain ranges and thick forests teeming with wolves and boar. As the wilderness of the Middle East produced exemplary models of austerity among the desert Fathers of the early centuries, so did the wilds of Umbria in the Middle Ages. This single Italian region produced extraordinary followers of Christ, the likes of Benedict, Scholastica, Francis, Clare and Rita of Cascia (just to name a few).

The pilgrims were Benedictine, so we visited the sites of St. Benedict and Scholastica, Norcia, Subiaco and Montecassino. The Benedictine monasteries perch atop high mountains in secluded areas, seemingly just a few steps from heaven. By contrast, the Basilica of St. Francis and the Porziuncola (the place where Francis lived) sits on the lowest part of Assisi, a city on the much-traveled route to Perugia.

While St. Benedict's monasticism encouraged intense dedication to God in a more individualistic way, St. Francis and his friars applied themselves to public service, which in this day and age makes them seem like a cuddly, user-friendly order.

Assisi itself furthers the image of an ecology-loving, animal-hugging Francis, with illustrated stories of dancing friars in meadows and conversations with birds. He comes across as a kind of fun-loving, 13th-century Dr. Doolittle.

But Francis was prickly and difficult for people in the 13th century, quite different from the modern picture-book version.

Francis was the son of a wealthy cloth merchant. Not landed aristocracy, Francis' father belonged to a new, rising Italian class who had worked their way out of peasantry through trade. Francis' father had great hopes for him, and was determined that Francis would never know want, the way his parents had.

Standing in Assisi, one wonders what we would have thought had we been bystanders as the umpteenth fight broke out between Francis and his father. We might well have sided with Francis' father. He had worked all his life to give Francis fine clothes, good food and a warm home -- and all the thanks he got was a kid who stole from the family shop and spent all day hanging around the town outcasts.

What would we have made of Francis as he stripped off all his clothes and threw them at his father, renouncing his family name? Would we have immediately understood, as Francis rejoiced that he would now only have his "Father in Heaven"?

Francis lived in an age of newfound wealth and accessible education. The 13th century saw vast amounts of trade as well as universities cropping up all over Europe. His extreme example of poverty challenged people to disdain the luxury goods that were just becoming more available. His humility and his willingness to be mocked and ridiculed confounded the arrogance of the increasingly educated classes.

He was an uncomfortable figure and even the great Pope Innocent III hesitated to confirm his rule as Francis' example seemed unattainable.

We smile warmly when we think of Francis arranging the first Nativity scene, but we easily forget these were living people on a gelid night in Umbria. Francis sought to emphasize the humility of Christ's birth, not the Christmas-card charm of the scene.

Greater than Francis' devotion to the Nativity, in fact, was his dedication to the Passion. He composed an Office of the Passion and promoted art, prayer and meditation on Christ's suffering. His focus on all the aspects of Christ's passion was rewarded with the stigmata -- Francis was the second man in the history of the church (the first being St. Paul) to bear the same wounds as the crucified Christ.

Even during his own lifetime, Francis saw immense difficulties in his own order. Many of his followers worked against him, trying to render the Franciscan example less radical. Even the quaint painting in the Basilica of St. Francis, "Francis Preaching to Birds," renders the saint praising God to this unlikely congregation precisely because he has been betrayed by some of his own followers, unheeded by his fellow citizens and doubted by the pastors of the Church.

Francis felt called to bring his challenging style of preaching and his radical example of Christ to the Holy Land to try to convert the Muslims. In the era of the Crusades, Francis went to the Holy Land fully expecting to be a martyr in his quest to bring the word of God to the sultan.

He set off with 12 brothers and the small band was captured and beaten. Eventually they ended up in Cairo where Francis was able to engage Islamic scholars in theological debate. The shrine of St. Francis proudly bears the gift given to the saint by the sultan, who was deeply impressed with Francis' example and words.

Francis is perhaps best known as the author of the "Canticle of the Creatures" -- today touted as a kind of ecological manifesto -- but while everyone can remember the part about "Brother Sun" or "Sister Mother Earth," few recall "Sister Bodily Death," who seems to be an uncomfortable medieval leftover. But "Sister Death" is precisely the point of the poem, the warm tone of the canticle stops abruptly when Francis admonishes, "Woe to those who die in mortal sin!"

Addressing all of his followers, Francis wrote frightening words on the fate of him who dies in mortal sin. "The devil tears his soul from his body with so much anguish and tribulation," Francis wrote. "Worms eat the body; and so perishes body and soul in that brief life span and he shall go to hell."

So this year, to honor the feast day of St. Francis, patron of Italy, perhaps instead of just recycling our trash or adopting a pet, we should pray for luxury-loving, increasingly secular Europe to rediscover its Christian identity and soul.
Perhaps the end to this portion of the article is not exactly the nicest or best ending (I would have included many places besides Europe in the 'luxury-loving, increasingly secular' category), but the rest of it seems to me to be a great reflection on the true identity of this much-beloved Saint. It seems more and more people are speaking out about the hard-core nature of Saint Francis and calling us all to remember that he was not a 'hippy saint'. Following this portion of the article was talk of Saint Dominic, founder of the Dominican Order. (Obviously.)


Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Monastery: A Ten Part Series on TLC

So I saw the preview for this new show on TLC a couple of weeks ago but for whatever reason, kept forgetting about it. dUSt mentioned it on phatmass and it reminded me to post about it here. As impressed as everyone was with God or the Girl, I'm thinking that this will be a hit. I was not impressed with God or the Girl at all but I'm really hoping this one isn't the same way.

I went looking for some sort of explanation of the show and found the following...
By Steve Friess Special for, USA TODAY
ABIQUIU, N.M. — On normal mornings, the peals of the bell calling the monks to chapel for their 4 a.m. prayer simply float out into these remote desert hills to reverberate and die.
But for six weeks this winter, the sights and sounds were captured by film crews. And the men who pulled the rope were, many a morning, among five non-monks who were called to live there not by God but by producers from The Learning Channel.

A reality show set in a monastery? Sort of. But producers of this TLC effort, which is scheduled to air as a 10-part series this fall, say they're working on an "observational documentary" that follows people who are at spiritual crossroads and in search of profound answers.

The premise of The Monastery, an American version of a similar British show produced last year for the BBC, is to cloister five men of varied backgrounds and faiths at the Benedictine Monastery of Christ in the Desert here in the mountains northwest of Santa Fe and five women at the Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey on a farm near Dubuque, Iowa. Each participant has a dramatic back story, from a soldier who lost his leg in the Iraq war to a woman who had her first child at age 14 and yet put herself through school for an MBA degree.

"This isn't a reality show," series producer Sarah Woodford says.

"The point has not been to create traps for hapless people to fall into. We're interested in exploring how people like us can live a good and purposeful life and what the 1,500-year-old monastic tradition can teach modern people."
So it's not really anything like God or the Girl in the sense that people are not actually monks as they appear to be in the commercials. After reading this article (Read the rest here), I'm not sure if I really do want to see it. I'm worried about the premesis of the show - a religious vocation is a serious matter and is not for everyone. This could be very scandalous. I'm also worried about the level of orthodoxy that will displayed by this. I am reminded of a lot of 'Catholic' groups that seek to do things which are not wise. They call themselves orthodox but it is obvious to the truly orthodox that they are not. In this case, it seems the monastery is concerned with looking better in the eyes of others but I believe they are going about that in wholy unrealistic ways. I'm nervous...

Anyone have any thoughts on this?

Family Member in Iraq Seriously Injured - Please pray!

I don't have a lot of time to post this right now but it is important. My cousin Jack was on a special forces unit with the Marines in Iraq. He came for a visit this summer so his face is still fresh in my mind. He is a great guy, a real buddy.

He was in a Hum-V (or however you spell it) and drove over a land mine. He was severely injured and will be brought back to the States some time this week. They don't know how long he will be in recovery - it could be weeks or it could be months. It's very bad.

My aunt called last night so I am just hearing the news (with my brother and sister) this morning. My grandmother, who had not seen him in nearly 15 years until this summer, is not taking it well at all. Who would expect her to?

Please, I am begging, keep Jack and our whole family in your prayers. I ask especially for prayers for (him of course,) his mother and step father, his three brothers (Ted, Damien, and Nick), and our grandmother.

Thank you.


Saturday, October 07, 2006

Time yourself...

I'm going to post a picture and I want you to time yourself while looking for what I name in the picture. No cheating. Find a timer and time yourself! See how fast you can find...

the face in the beans.

(I'm posting the picture seperately and at an earlier time and date so you can't see it at this post... follow the link above.)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

A little bit of both... Francis and Faustina

So today is the memorial of Saint Faustina Kowalska! She is a beautiful Saint and I seek her intercession regularly. (I think of her often because of my great love of the Divine Mercy Chaplet.) I'm hoping that I will have time later this evening to sit and reflect on her awesome life and her great gifts to us from God.

I was reading though some things from yesterday, the memorial of Saint Francis of Assisi and wanted to reflect back on a few things I did not have a chance to post about then. It was mentioned several times what a shame it is that he is often linked most with kitty cats and puppies and birds when the man was so hardcore about faith and living the Gospel. It's great that he cared for the animals but the truth of the matter is this: he was so in tune with the workings of God on this earth that he had this sort of unheard of way with animals. It is said that he spoke firmly to a wolf and commanded him tame and he was.

Last night at choir rehearsal I was approached several times by choir members that were either just hearing about my discernment or just had more questions (they have a lot). I probably talked to four or five of them about it throughout the course of the evening but none struck me more than the last.

As I stood there telling him all about the order and their way of life, he stared - almost in shock. He had a goofy grin on his face and didn't really know what to say. I got a lot of 'Wow's and 'really?'s while I was talking and the worst part was I had no idea what to do. I hadn't had anyone be so completely dumbfounded by what I was telling them that they couldn't say ANYTHING. I mean... I'm sure he wanted to say something but couldn't think of just what to say. By the end of the conversation our director had come up and joined in. He was commenting along the lines of 'Isn't that great?', 'Isn't that neat?', and 'Isn't that cool?' I think that helped to relieve some of the pressure. Finally he said, 'Yeah it is. I just can't put myself there. I'm in such a different place in life.' I had to agree! Certainly this life that I desire is not for everyone. I reminded him that he was responsible for the domestic church and that he was asked by God to do that. How great is his vocation!

The point I was trying to get across the entire time though was that the Franciscans are indeed a 'radical' order. They are St. Francis in the world today. They live the Gospel to the fullest extent and they are JOYFUL about it. No one forces them to live this lifestyle. They do it freely because they know that it pleases God. Pleasing God pleases them.

I am so passionate about their mission that I too wish to pick up my cross and follow Christ. I do wish to leave all things of the world behind in order to serve God in His people. I wish to care for the sick and dying, the poor and needy, the old and the young. I care to serve those children of God that have no one to care for them. I want to spread the love of God through my actions and I think God wants that from me as well. I am being called to live this radical life and I find great joy in it because it is of God.

These sacrifices are big but in the long run they are not important to me. What is important to me is doing the will of God joyfully.

Saint Francis was hardcore. I want to follow in His footsteps as he followed in the footsteps of Christ. I want to live this radical, hardcore life and I want to do it for the greater glory of God. I want to do it for the sanctity of His beloved children on earth. I want to do it because I know it will be pleasing to Him and I want nothing more in life than to do that - to please God.

More on Saint Faustina later...

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Time yourself... the picture.


Francis - No Words Necessary

A while back I was creating 'stock' avatars for phatmass (yes, just before we got rid of avatars and went to signitars) and of course, having a great love of Saint Francis, I took a special interest in him and created some of both Saint Francis and Saint Clare. Pictured below are some of those avatars (some good, some not so good) as well as my favorite paintings of this beloved Saint. (And for those of you who are artistically inclined, note that large open spaces were left on some for the addition of names or quotes.)

I do imagine that if one were to see Saint Francis they would not need to hear him speak. I do imagine that his disposition in his work would radiate the love of Christ so strongly that words would not be needed to feel Christ's presence within him. I know I had this experience with a Franciscan brother once. He was so radiant it was not necessary that you speak with him to know how fully he loved God and wished to serve Him. It was beautiful Franciscan joy!


Canticle of the Sun - A Work of Saint Francis of Assisi

Most High, all powerful, good Lord,
Yours are the praises, the glory, the honor,
and all blessing.

To You alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no man is worthy to mention Your name.

Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures,
especially through my lord Brother Sun,
who brings the day; and you give light through him.
And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!
Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Praise be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon
and the stars, in heaven you formed them
clear and precious and beautiful.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene,
and every kind of weather through which
You give sustenance to Your creatures.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,
which is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom you light the night and he is beautiful
and playful and robust and strong.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Mother Earth,
who sustains us and governs us and who produces
varied fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

Praised be You, my Lord,
through those who give pardon for Your love,
and bear infirmity and tribulation.

Blessed are those who endure in peace
for by You, Most High, they shall be crowned.

Praised be You, my Lord,
through our Sister Bodily Death,
from whom no living man can escape.

Woe to those who die in mortal sin.
Blessed are those whom death will
find in Your most holy willl,
for the second death shall do them no harm.

Praise and bless my Lord,
and give Him thanks
and serve Him with great humility.


--Read the Wikipedia article about it here.--

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Saint Francis of Assisi - A Heart Like My Own

Saint Francis of Assisi was born at Assisi in Umbria in either 1881 or 1882 (the exact year is uncertain). He was born into a wealthy family - his father, Pietro Bernadone, was a wealthy cloth merchant and his mother, Pica, is said to have belonged to a noble family of Provence. He was baptized with the name Giovanni but his father renamed him Francesco afterwards. It is probable that this was due to a great love of France.

Francis received a good education while he was young but seemed to have no interest in following in the footsteps of his father. It is said that Francis lived a very lavish youth, his parents indulging his every whim. He was very much in to the ways of the world and was all about pleasure. He was a 'favourite among the young nobles of Assisi'. 'But even at this time Francis showed an instinctive sympathy with the poor, and though he spent money lavishly, it still flowed in such channels as to attest a princely magnanimity of spirit.' It was a small glimmer of what was to come - but no one would have seen it coming.

When Francis was about twenty he went off to fight and was captured and held prisoner in Perugia for more than a year. While there Francis 'contracted a low fever' and very quickly decided to leave his lavish life behind. He decided to make a career out of the military and things would seem to be in his favor. 'His biographers tell us that the night before Francis set forth he had a strange dream, in which he saw a vast hall hung with armour all marked with the Cross. "These", said a voice, "are for you and your soldiers." "I know I shall be a great prince", exclaimed Francis exultingly, as he started for Apulia.' Shortly after, he was stopped in his journey again by illness. He had another dream, this time telling him to turn and go back to Assisi. He did. (This was in 1205.)

When back in Assisi, Francis did not cut off ties with his old comrades though it would be obvious that he was no longer willing to live their lifestyle. When they asked him if he were to be married, he said, "Yes, I am about to take a wife of surpassing fairness." It was around this time that Francis began to pray diligently for his call. He had laid aside his old ways and wanted very much to do what the Lord wished of him. Kneeling in the chapel of Saint Damian, located just below the town, in front of an ancient crucifix, Francis heard a voice call to him, "Go, Francis, and repair my house, which as you see is falling into ruin." Francis took this literally and gathered together materials to rebuild Saint Damian's.

The priest who presided over the little chapel there would not have it and after upsetting his father, Francis ran away and hid himself in a small cave near the chapel for over a month. When he came out again he was mocked by the town. His father took him home, beat him, bound him, and locked him a dark closet. One day, during Bernadone's absence, Francis's mother set him free and he returned to Saint Damian's, finding refuge there with the priest.

At this time Bernadone was so infuriated with Francis that he sought to force him to forego his inheritance. Francis was not arguing. He declared that he had entered the service of God and was no longer under civil authority. He stripped there of all of his garments - yes, down to his birth suit - and said to his father, "Hitherto I have called you my father on earth; henceforth I desire to say only 'Our Father who art in Heaven.'" At this point he wandered off into the hills merrily and ended up a scullion at a monastery for a short while. When he returned to the city he went around begging for stones to rebuild the church. (Little 'c', y'all.) He did rebuild the church, and two more after it. The first was St. Peter's and the second St. Mary of the Angels at a spot called the Porziuncola. (That's important for later. Remember that.)

'On a certain morning in 1208, probably 24 February, Francis was hearing Mass in the chapel of St. Mary of the Angels, near which he had then built himself a hut; the Gospel of the day told how the disciples of Christ were to possess neither gold nor silver, nor scrip for their journey, nor two coats, nor shoes, nor a staff, and that they were to exhort sinners to repentance and announce the Kingdom of God. Francis took these words as if spoken directly to himself, and so soon as Mass was over threw away the poor fragment left him of the world's goods, his shoes, cloak, pilgrim staff, and empty wallet.' He went forth from there in a harsh woolen tunic tied around him by knotted rope. He did exactly as the gospel had said, traveling the area 'exhorting the people of the country-side to penance, brotherly love, and peace'.

'In true spirit of religious enthusiasm, Francis repaired to the church of St. Nicholas and sought to learn God's will in their regard by thrice opening at random the book of the Gospels on the altar. Each time it opened at passages where Christ told His disciples to leave all things and follow Him. "This shall be our rule of life", exclaimed Francis, and led his companions to the public square, where they forthwith gave away all their belongings to the poor. After this they procured rough habits like that of Francis, and built themselves small huts near his at the Porziuncola.' When he had eleven followers Francis decided to write a rule for them.

'This first rule, as it is called, of the Friars Minor has not come down to us in its original form, but it appears to have been very short and simple, a mere adaptation of the Gospel precepts already selected by Francis for the guidance of his first companions, and which he desired to practice in all their perfection. When this rule was ready the Penitents of Assisi, as Francis and his followers styled themselves, set out for Rome to seek the approval of the Holy See, although as yet no such approbation was obligatory. There are differing accounts of Francis's reception by Innocent III. It seems, however, that Guido, Bishop of Assisi, who was then in Rome, commended Francis to Cardinal John of St. Paul, and that at the instance of the latter, the pope recalled the saint whose first overtures he had, as it appears, somewhat rudely rejected. Moreover, in site of the sinister predictions of others in the Sacred College, who regarded the mode of life proposed by Francis as unsafe and impracticable, Innocent, moved it is said by a dream in which he beheld the Poor Man of Assisi upholding the tottering Lateran, gave a verbal sanction to the rule submitted by Francis and granted the saint and his companions leave to preach repentance everywhere. Before leaving Rome they all received the ecclesiastical tonsure, Francis himself being ordained deacon later on.'

After returning to Assisi the followers of Francis would be called the Friars Minor. They were given the little chapel of St. Mary of the Angels and built with earthen materials their cells around it. It was here that the Franciscan Order was established - from very humble beginnings and very noble intentions.

'During the Lent of 1212, a new joy, great as it was unexpected, came to Francis. Clare, a young heiress of Assisi, moved by the saint's preaching at the church of St. George, sought him out, and begged to be allowed to embrace the new manner of life he had founded. By his advice, Clare, who was then but eighteen, secretly left her father's house on the night following Palm Sunday, and with two companions went to the Porziuncola, where the friars met her in procession, carrying lighted torches. Then Francis, having cut off her hair, clothed her in the Minorite habit and thus received her to a life of poverty, penance, and seclusion. Clare stayed provisionally with some Benedictine nuns near Assisi, until Francis could provide a suitable retreat for her, and for St. Agnes, her sister, and the other pious maidens who had joined her. He eventually established them at St. Damian's, in a dwelling adjoining the chapel he had rebuilt with his own hands, which was now given to the saint by the Benedictines as domicile for his spiritual daughters, and which thus became the first monastery of the Second Franciscan Order of Poor Ladies, now known as Poor Clares.'

Much can be read about Francis's order after this point in books and online (try this article from New Advent which has been quoted regularly in this entry) but as this is getting quite long, I will mention only interesting and important facts from here on out.

'It was during Christmastide of this year (1223) that the saint conceived the idea of celebrating the Nativity "in a new manner", by reproducing in a church at Greccio the praesepio of Bethlehem, and he has thus come to be regarded as having inaugurated the popular devotion of the Crib. Christmas appears indeed to have been the favourite feast of Francis, and he wished to persuade the emperor to make a special law that men should then provide well for the birds and the beasts, as well as for the poor, so that all might have occasion to rejoice in the Lord.' So Francis is said to have been responsible for the little scenes of the nativity we now put up in our homes and churches.

'Early in August, 1224, Francis retired with three companions to "that rugged rock 'twixt Tiber and Arno", as Dante called La Verna, there to keep a forty days fast in preparation for Michaelmas. During this retreat the sufferings of Christ became more than ever the burden of his meditations; into few souls, perhaps, had the full meaning of the Passion so deeply entered. It was on or about the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (14 September) while praying on the mountainside, that he beheld the marvellous vision of the seraph, as a sequel of which there appeared on his body the visible marks of the five wounds of the Crucified which, says an early writer, had long since been impressed upon his heart. Brother Leo, who was with St. Francis when he received the stigmata, has left us in his note to the saint's autograph blessing, preserved at Assisi, a clear and simple account of the miracle, which for the rest is better attested than many another historical fact. The saint's right side is described as bearing on open wound which looked as if made by a lance, while through his hands and feet were black nails of flesh, the points of which were bent backward. After the reception of the stigmata, Francis suffered increasing pains throughout his frail body, already broken by continual mortification. For, condescending as the saint always was to the weaknesses of others, he was ever so unsparing towards himself that at the last he felt constrained to ask pardon of "Brother Ass", as he called his body, for having treated it so harshly. Worn out, moreover, as Francis now was by eighteen years of unremitting toil, his strength gave way completely, and at times his eyesight so far failed him that he was almost wholly blind.'

'During an access of anguish, Francis paid a last visit to St. Clare at St. Damian's, and it was in a little hut of reeds, made for him in the garden there, that the saint composed that "Canticle of the Sun", in which his poetic genius expands itself so gloriously. This was in September, 1225. Not long afterwards Francis, at the urgent instance of Brother Elias, underwent an unsuccessful operation for the eyes, at Rieti. He seems to have passed the winter 1225-26 at Siena, whither he had been taken for further medical treatment. In April, 1226, during an interval of improvement, Francis was moved to Cortona, and it is believed to have been while resting at the hermitage of the Celle there, that the saint dictated his testament, which he describes as a "reminder, a warning, and an exhortation". In this touching document Francis, writing from the fullness of his heart, urges anew with the simple eloquence, the few, but clearly defined, principles that were to guide his followers, implicit obedience to superiors as holding the place of God, literal observance of the rule "without gloss", especially as regards poverty, and the duty of manual labor, being solemnly enjoined on all the friars.'

As he approached death, Francis was escorted back to Assisi, though in quite a long trip as compared to the roads that could have been taken. They carried him the long way though due to fear of the Perugians taking him into their city for him to die - which would mean they would then obtain possession of his coveted relics.

'On the eve of his death, the saint, in imitation of his Divine Master, had bread brought to him and broken. This he distributed among those present, blessing Bernard of Quintaville, his first companion, Elias, his vicar, and all the others in order. "I have done my part," he said next, "may Christ teach you to do yours." Then wishing to give a last token of detachment and to show he no longer had anything in common with the world, Francis removed his poor habit and lay down on the bare ground, covered with a borrowed cloth, rejoicing that he was able to keep faith with his Lady Poverty to the end. After a while he asked to have read to him the Passion according to St. John, and then in faltering tones he himself intoned Psalm 141. At the concluding verse, "Bring my soul out of prison", Francis was led away from earth by "Sister Death", in whose praise he had shortly before added a new strophe to his "Canticle of the Sun". It was Saturday evening, 3 October, 1226, Francis being then in the forty-fifth year of his age, and the twentieth from his perfect conversion to Christ.'

Francis was canonized at St. George's by Gregory IX, 16 July, 1228. His feast is kept throughout the Church on 4 October, and the impression of the stigmata on his body is celebrated on 17 September.

A beautiful reflection on Saint Francis is found at the end of the same New Advent article which I have taken to quoting above.


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Tomorrow is a big day...

Tomorrow is the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi and I'm hoping Julie D. over at Happy Catholic has some fun way to celebrate - because I definitely want to! That's all until tomorrow on this... I don't want to take away from tomorrow's posts!

Monday, October 02, 2006

On the feast of Guardian Angels...

Prayer to One's Guardian Angel

Dear Angel,
in his goodness God gave you to me to
guide, protect and enlighten me,
and to being me back to the right way when I go astray.
Encourage me when I am disheartened,
and instruct me when I err in my judgment.
Help me to become more Christlike,
and so some day to be accepted into
the company of Angels and Saints in heaven.

...for the Mighty God has done great things for me...

At a meeting earlier today (or yesterday for those of you who sleep at night - hah) I was presented with the opportunity to reflect on the past couple of weeks and pray in thanksgiving for the blessings I have received. As I sat there with the group in silence, reflecting and choosing which prayers of thanksgiving I would vocalize, I realized how abundantly I have been blessed in the past month or so.

Often times I will thank God for a blessing as soon as I recognize it but fail to go back two weeks later and thank Him again. This habit does not allow for me to truly recognize all of the good that happens in my life. (I am glad that I will have this group now to help me remember to do this!)

In the past month I have made new friends and aquaintances (with the potential for friendship), gotten reaquainted with those I had not spoken with in what seemed like ages, and really have just met a lot of really great people. The majority of them are from my parish and I am so glad. I have been waiting for so long to meet people and to know my community. I always felt like I was stuck in a really weird age and didn't have very many places to go. The youth group wasn't working for me anymore (as a volunteer) and I was too young for the adult stuff. Young people between the ages of 18 and 21 in my parish are just plain out of luck (usually) when it comes to activities. I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised. I would assume the majority of them go off to college and have college things to do. But I digress...

I've started attending a book club comprised of some really awesome Catholic women. They are of varying ages and backgrounds but each of them is such a great example and exactly the type of woman I need and want in my life. I have enjoyed (in the two meetings I have attended) listening to them and taking in the things they had to say. I look up to them and value very much the time I get to spend with them. I love our discussions, about the book or otherwise. I'm sure there are many more women that I have not yet met but even the few that I have have really made an impression on me. I am so thankful to have that once a month - time to be with other Catholic women who think the way I do and appreciate things that I appreciate.

Even more recently I've started work with a local apostolate. (So recent that it's not even been a day since I've 'joined'!) I already knew them all (all but one, actually) but it was nice to meet with them to work in this way. I love the mission of the group and what they do for our community (and surrounding communities) and I am thankful to have something to which I can commit my time and energy. I have been searching for some time for something exactly like this and it landed in my lap at just the right time.

These two things together have been a great blessing to me. Individually they are great but together they are better. I really feel a sense of belonging right now and it's something I have missed. I love my Church and I know that I do belong to a HUGE community but it's also nice to have the sort of fellowship I have now found with my own parish community. Often I would visit my friends' church and wish that I could have that back home. Now I do!

I pray in thanksgiving for the many blessings in my life, but I pray especially in thanksgiving for my friends at my parish, new and old. Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Listen O Daughter

audi filia et vide et inclina aurem tuam
(listen O Daughter, give ear to my words)
et obliviscere populum tuum et domum patris tui
(forget your own people, and your father's house)
et concupiscet rex decorem tuum quoniam ipse
(so has the king desired your beauty)
est dominus tuus et adorabunt eum
(he is your Lord, pay homage to Him)
(Psalm 44)

(The above was found at ...breath and heartbeat.)

This post started out two days ago as something completely different. I saw the Latin quoted above at '...breath and heartbeat' and thought it perfect to open my post about a newsletter I received from the PCPAs in Hanceville, Alabama. I thought I was going to talk about a quote on the front page from Mother Angelica and how it really confirmed something I had said (and questioned) in another post. I thought that I would speak about that and that alone. But now the scripture above means so much more than it did at first glance. It would seem as though it were a rose and God was slowing pulling the outter petals off to reveal a more and more beautiful center. These past two days have consisted of a fairly continuous and fairly deep contemplation. I am in complete awe of Him... I wait and listen and trust as He whispers to me:

Listen, O daughter, give ear to my words...

Prostrate in His holy presence... in awe of Him... always.

Tantum ergo Sacramentum
Veneremur cernui:
Et antiquum documentum
Novo cedat ritui:
Praestet fides supplementum
Sensuum defectui.

Genitori, Genitoque
Laus et iubilatio,
Salus, honor, virtus quoque
Sit et benedictio:
Procedenti ab utroque
Compar sit laudatio.

Tantum Ergo is the last two stanzas from the Eucharistic poem, Pange Lingua,
composed by St. Thomas Aquinas, and is used at Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.


The past day or two I have not been able to stop listening to this song in my car. The Latin sweeps my heart up into the heavens and I am at complete peace. It can be difficult while driving because I become so wrapped up in thought - thought that has nothing to do with the road or other drivers. I find that when I leave my car the song plays over and over in my heart and will waft in and out of my thoughts during the day (or night as the case may be). ... I'm sitting here... tired. I'm ready to lie down and be asleep but something has my mind. Something that once again has yet to be fully revealed to me, leaving me hungry for more and ready to write about the experience. I rest my fingers anxiously on the keys and wait for something to come...