Sunday, December 6, 2009

Singing Silent Monks

If you need a good laugh, this is just a great video and I hope you enjoy it. It is a group of High School students as "Silent Monks" singing the Hallelujah Chorus.

Thanks so much to Creative Minority Report for passing it on. I hope y'all are having a good Advent.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Advent Resources

Advent, the 4 weeks (approximately) of spiritual preparation before Christmas is such a neglected season of the year. It sneaks up on you, hiding amidst the turkey and pie, while you watch the neighbors put up their Christmas tree indecently early.

Each year everyone is always worried about the so-called "Black Friday" and "good deals." We rush around thinking about sales, picture taking, baking, parties, and planning vacations. This year, everyone just seems worried - about jobs, empty bank accounts, those rotten politicians ruining the country... but few seem aware of the small, quiet whisper of a child coming. Grace coming expectantly. The King to literally grace us with his presence.

So, here is a reminder. STOP!!! Take the time to plan, of course, but also turn off the music, try to be silent, light a candle, set the bible on the dining room table. Actually schedule Advent time into your daily planner, and wait. Wait for the Child to be born in your heart.

Advent can be detailed or simple. Jesse Trees, O Antiphons, Advent wreaths, etc. But it can also be just the lighting of a candle and a quiet time of prayer in your heart and those of your family.

If you would like to have some more information about Advent and how to celebrate it, here are a few resources for you during the "Little Lent:"

Catholic Culture has a great deal of good information in their Advent Resources.

Well-known author Amy Welborn has given us a generous gift. Her husband, Michael Dubruiel, passed away in February, 2009 but was working on a book of Advent Meditations. She finished editing the book and is giving it away as an e-book in multiple formats. You can find it here. Thank you so much Amy.

The US Catholic Bishops have created a site, the USCCB Site for Advent & Christmas Seasons including meditations, calendars, prayers and more.

EWTN has beautiful short meditations and info in their Advent Site.

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio has some wonderful downloads and information from the Church Fathers at his Crossroads Initiative Advent & Christmas Resources section.

You may also be interested in Advent: Awaiting God's Justice by Pope Benedict XVI

May your Advent be a fruitful and beautiful time for you and your family this year.

Update: Here is an article by Lisa Reinhard at that illustrates why we need to slow down during Advent - Hating Christmas.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Counting the Blessings - Happy Thanksgiving!

Hi to all of my handful of faithful readers. You are faithful, right? You're not? Then sign up for my RSS feed. You can read about RSS feeds in the "Never Miss a Post" box on the upper left. Someday, I will write about my love for my iGoogle homepage but you can check it out now by going to and seeing all it has to offer, including the Google Reader for feeds.

I hope you all are doing well and will be having a great Thanksgiving with your families. I leave you with a post that I wrote in August, Thank You Lord. I was thankful then and am just as thankful today. May the Lord bless you and your family, and if you are traveling - stay safe.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

This is a great video! My parish needs one of these! Look how many guys it takes to do this. Thanks Patrick Madrid for passing it on.

Update: My pastor, Fr. Alejandro Roque, OMI has been to this Cathedral and has seen this. He says it is phenomenal. The coals inside it glow bright red and as it swings it looks like a comet going at great speed. I really would love to see it now.

A Call to Conscience

This past Friday, November 20th, a group of Catholic, Orthodox and Evangelical Christians issued a document called the Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience. This document originally signed by over 125 prominent religious leaders, is a 4,700 word call to Christians to stand by their convictions and not abandon their consciences when it comes to the defining issues of our day.

Normally, I don't include any political references in this blog simply because others say it much better than me, and my forte is resources not politics. But I feel this is an important document and I have signed it. If you are interested in learning more, or in signing it (and the names are kept private) I urge you to visit The Manhattan Declaration website or their Facebook Page. The entire text and also the names of the original signers are here.

I was glad to see that several important Catholics, including bishops and cardinals have officially signed it. Their names are:

Most Rev. Charles J. Chaput, Archbishop, Archdiocese of Denver
Most Rev. Timothy Dolan, Archbishop, Diocese of New York, N.Y.
Dr. William Donohue, President, Catholic League (New York)
Fr. Joseph D. Fessio, Founder and Editor, Ignatius Press (Ft. Collins, Colo.)
Dr. Peter Kreeft, Professor of Philosophy, Boston College & Kings College (N.Y.)
Most Rev. Joseph E. Kurtz, Archbishop, Archdiocese of Louisville, Ky.
His Eminence Adam Cardinal Maida, Archbishop Emeritus, Diocese of Detroit
Most Rev. Richard J. Malone, Bishop, Diocese of Portland, Maine
Most Rev. John J. Myers, Archbishop, Archdiocese of Newark, N.J.
Most Rev. Joseph F. Naumann, Archbishop, Diocese of Kansas City, Kan.
Most Rev. John Nienstedt, Archbishop, Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis
Most Rev. Thomas J. Olmsted, Bishop, Diocese of Phoenix
His Eminence Justin Cardinal Rigali, Archbishop, Archdiocese of Philadelphia
Most Rev. Michael J. Sheridan, Bishop, Diocese of Colorado Springs, Colo.
George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow, Ethics & Public Policy Center, Wash D.C.
Most Rev. Donald W. Wuerl, Archbishop, Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.
Most Rev. David A. Zubik, Bishop, Diocese of Pittsburgh

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I Got A Message From God

A few days ago, I stepped outside my front door and looked up and there was a message from God. A skywriter was working diligently penning a message in Spanish. Dios Te Ama. God Loves You. Someone, somewhere needed to hear this and I'm glad to have benefited from it too. God Loves You too, and sometimes you need to hear it. It's that simple.

I've been so busy lately, but while I have not posted, I have been working on adding lots of stuff to the resource lists on the right. Good news organizations, podcasts and helpful multimedia. One resource I found just yesterday is a little shop called Gardens of Grace that sells handmade rosaries, parts, directions etc. While they don't have any rosaries at this time, they do have parts to make your own, and the pictures are absolutely beautiful. I have truly never seen such beautiful rosaries and chaplets. I worked in a Catholic store for about a year and saw just about every rosary you could purchase. That was nothing. These are phenomenal and I urge you to check them out and bookmark it. I don't get paid for saying that, I just love them.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Protect Yourself From the Holy Water!

This is cute, and I'm going to share it with you because I love it and it should be in every church. Italian Invents Anti-Swine Flu Holy Water Dispenser. I hate entering a church and putting my hand in the holy water font only to find it is full of swill - yuck!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Update Your (Family) Calendars

This has been "Calendar day" here at my house today. A few days ago I bought Mom's Family Calendar, which is a cute yearly wall calendar to keep track of each person in the family. It is very helpful when everyone has a different schedule. I happened to buy it at Sam's Club, but it is available everywhere. I did find this website, Families With Purpose while looking it up online. It seems to have a great deal of organizational helps for families.

I've had this calendar before and liked it. I think I wanted a change though, and chose a calendar with Monet a few years ago, but now need more organization. So today is the day that I transfer all existing appointments, birthdays, school schedules, work schedules, etc. onto the new year's calendar. This seems to take forever but will save me time all year.

The calendar has 17 months that began in August, so I can use it now. The only drawback would be for families with more than three children. There are only columns for 5 people, so you might have to combine children for a column. I wish it was not so "cutesy" (I would prefer flowers or Impressionism) but I will live with it.

As I was trying to get everything on the calendar, I realized I needed a liturgical calendar and thought I would share with you what I found. The US Bishops Website (USCCB) has the 2010 Liturgical Calendar, which actually begins the first Sunday of Advent in 2009, November 29th. I happen to prefer the Women For Faith & Family 2010 Liturgical Calendar, which has everything in a more easy to use format and with links for more information about the saints, fasting and abstinence, holy days, etc.

You might however prefer a daily planner, and a few of my friends really like the Catholic Woman's Daily Planner. They have some planners with sections for meal planning, homeschool planning or a combination of both. They are very nice. You can also find some other resources by the same people at the Family Centered Life blog.

In my travels today, I also discovered a great website called which has not only church calendars but also explanations of liturgical events, prayers that can be used during certain parts of the year, and many resources you will find helpful throughout the year.

You might also like a great book The Catholic Parent Book of Feasts which takes you through the liturgical year with recipes, crafts and other helps to help celebrate the year with your family. I find it to be very informative and helpful.

I now need to update Outlook, sync my phone and iPod to it, and sync my husband's phone to his Outlook. It's a calendar type day. If you have any other resources you find helpful, I would love to hear about them.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Are There Really Ghosts?

Ghosts seem to be a popular topic on television recently, especially with the popular Discovery Channel show Ghost Lab. If you are Catholic, you may wonder what the Church teaches about Ghosts. Are they real? I stumbled upon this today at Catholic Answers and thought you might be as interested as I was.

Here is another good article about this topic at Catholic Exchange.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I'm a "Bad Catholic" This Week

I'm sorry to have been away for so long but duty called. Parental duties and work of various sorts have been taking me away from the computer, which is pretty much a good thing. Of course, there has been Halloween. My 1st grader had to do a book report this week on a book he can actually read, and also about Fall, Halloween or a mystery. The rub was that he also had to go to school on October 30th as a character in the book. Sigh.

Let me tell you right off. I'm not one of those creative moms. I don't do two dozen cupcakes for the birthday in ice cream cones decorated to look like ice cream. There are no clowns, ponies or massive themes. No "treasure hunts" or "mystery theme" parties. Not that that is bad. On the contrary, I have massive respect and awe for those who love their kids so much as to plan it six months ahead of time.

The birthday parties I plan are usually an afterthought and an "Oh my gosh, what are we going to do for so-and-so's birthday!" Said in mild panic. It usually is a bunch of kids from the child's class, in the backyard with ice cream cake bought at the supermarket and decorated in the bakery department, pizza, chips, soda and goody bags. I have boys, which means they are happy with this arrangement.

We have at times gone to a park, or had a baseball themed party at the neighborhood ball park. A bounce house was the feature, with water balloons one year. This year, I was forced to have my little one's party at Chuck-e-Cheese. It was very easy for me personally - all I had to do was show up - but it was very impersonal and I detest the place with every fiber of my being. There is a reason I don't go to casinos and this is just like one. The birthday boy enjoyed it, so it was a success.

I have great guilt about my lack of party planning, but my laziness and lack of creativity win out usually. But lately people say, "Oh that is soooo much more frugal," so I'm OK with it.

With this costume thing, the first thing in my mind was, "What character could he be that would be the least work for me?" Yes...I know....bad mom. My first thought was Shaggy from Scooby Doo and he loved the idea. YES!!!! So, we bought a Scooby Doo book, and he took a few days to read it through, and I shopped all over town for a "Shaggy green" shirt, which is a type of chartreuse.

Now, for years the "Color Police" have determined that we should have the most hideous greens. Chartreuse, and generally putrid colors we refer to as "barf green." I have been waiting for lovely greens for years. And now that I need one of those disgustingly putrid greens...none to be found. Lovely emerald or forest greens... but no ugly ones. Finally, I found one on clearance at Tar-Jay. That's Target with a French accent, in case you are so uncultured as to not know that.

So, "Shaggy green" shirt, brown pants, black shoes, a little mascara on the chin for whiskers and he was all set. Whew...I hate costumes. One of the rules was "no bought costumes" so we did ok. But Shaggy was not good enough for Halloween, so #2 son went as Spiderman with last year's costume. #1 son is too old and sophisticated for trick-or-treating and he spent the evening at a friend's house.

So that is some of what has occupied me this week, but one thing that has been in my life lately, albeit in small doses, has been books. I, of course, am a bookworm - or at least I used to be when I was childless, but now I take it when I can get it.

After the last book club meeting that my friends and I had, we decided to read Surprised by Truth: 11 Converts Give the Biblical and Historical Reasons for Becoming Catholic for the next meeting.

This is not a new book. Patrick Madrid has written what seem like scads of books since this one, but the first Surprised by Truth is excellent and I love conversion stories. I have in fact read this book twice before and also read the two sequels to it Surprised By Truth 2: 15 Men and Women Give the Biblical and Historical Reasons For Becoming Catholic. (v. 2) which actually is my favorite, and Surprised by Truth 3: 10 More Converts Explain the Biblical and Historical Reason for Becoming Catholic (v. 3)

Why this book? Because I think convert stories are fascinating and you learn so much about the Catholic faith from them.

Now, for some of the other books I'm reading. Well, for meditation I'm reading four different books as the spirit moves me. First, The Letters of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque because I know nothing about the Sacred Heart devotion.

Then, Fire Within: St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and the Gospel-On Prayer by Fr. Thomas Dubay. A former spiritual director recommended this, and I read part of it but stopped midway when I got busy. It is truly excellent and really has opened my eyes to the nature of God. I'm going to start it all over again, and then start reading some books by St. Teresa of Avila, one by one.

I'm almost finished reading 7 Secrets of the Eucharist by Vinny Flynn. It has really helped me understand and be more reverential toward the Eucharist. I may suggest this as a book club book, since it is really fantastic. This book explains so much of how the Eucharist enriches your life with graces.

The last book for meditations I've been using is Listening at Prayer by Fr. Benedict Groeschel. I've just started it and have learned a few things already.

I do think that I am going to stop using several books at one time, and concentrate on one at a time for meditations because it takes me too long to get through them. In other words, it slows my download to have too many going at one time.

Now, for the other books in my life right now. I just finished reading The Bad Catholic's Guide to Wine, Whiskey, & Song: A Spirited Look at Catholic Life & Lore from the Apocalypse to Zinfandel (Bad Catholic's guides) and I feel so naughty. (sly smile) I have seen this book before but was reminded of it at a blog I was reading. So I ordered it from Interlibrary Loan through my public library.

I also ordered its companion book The Bad Catholic's Guide to Good Living: A Loving Look at the Lighter Side of Catholic Faith, with Recipes for Feast and Fun (Bad Catholic's guides). I have been very impressed with them because they are fun, extremely informative and yet totally true to the faith. No pope bashing, etc.

These books are pretty much bathroom material and I am having so much fun people are banging on the door - "Mom! What are you doing in there?!" (smirk) I have a few other books floating around too like SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance that I ordered on loan from the library and it came a lot earlier then I thought it would.

And Father, Forgive Me for I Am Frustrated: Growing in Your Faith Even When It Isn't Easy Being Catholic by the wonderful Fr. Mitch Pacwa, SJ. So, with all these books I have to steal every free moment and hope no one notices too much.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Can You Keep Your Kids Catholic?

Parents who have a deep faith in Christ and His Church are always praying that their children will continue on with that faith. Many good parents enroll their children in Catholic school or CCD, volunteer for the Church, join apostolates, and a growing minority homeschool. They pray the family rosary, discuss the saints, and seriously celebrate saint and holy days. There are many articles online with the title "How to Keep Your Kids Catholic." And the authors always have fantastic ideas on how to do this. But when you look at the world sometimes you can wonder, "CAN We Keep Our Kids Catholic?"

I have belonged to a Catholic Mothers email group for several years. This international group of very faithful Catholic women of all ages has been an anchor for me. We discuss everything, always with an eye on Church teaching. We pray for each other, support each other, and console each other.

This week, one of the topics of conversation has been ways to keep your kids Catholic. We are the kind of mothers who don't just want our kids to go to church once a week, but to actually live the Christian life. To have a relationship with Christ, and to live a moral life.

I always feel inadequate discussing this topic. I have several friends who homeschool and they do amazing things. Some of my friends talk about doing the family rosary after dinner, and having their kids watch the latest EWTN kid show. They don't allow their kids to watch any secular TV, and saint biographies are a staple in their house. I feel lucky sometimes if my kids say some prayers at night.

The discussion through the email group has been very edifying, but always we turn to the problems with adolescents and young adults, and their encounters in "the World." Children who stop going to church, drop out of school, marry poorly, get involved with drugs, or start living with their girlfriends. Children who join a protestant church, or dabble in New Age practices or the occult. Things we have little control over. How do we handle this? How do we cope when the children you have been raising to be good Catholic Christians start to stray?

After giving this some thought this week and reading the other ladies replies, I think it all comes down to LOVE. One of the most profound replies was from someone I deeply admire, Kathleen. Her experience brought tears to my eyes with its beauty and truth, and she has given me permission to post it here.

You can have the most perfect (as possible here on earth) upbringing: 2 parent family, faithful Catholic upbringing, no cable TV, no drinking/smoking/drugs/etc., no skeletons in the closet, parents always there for you, etc., and STILL stray from the faith and from the moral upbringing of 20+ years.

I grew up with awesome parents and beautiful catholic upbringing. There was nothing more that my parents could have done for me. They were loving, faithful, and giving yet not indulgent, strict but not overbearing.

I got caught up with the wrong crowd after high school and started drinking and doing drugs. I quit going to church. I started sleeping around. I moved out of the house when my parents were both at work. I moved in with a friend and partied all the time instead of going to classes. Within 1 month I became pregnant at 19 and had to move back home. At that point in my life, I had tried to sever ties with my parents. Moving back home was the hardest thing I ever had to do... no, telling them I was pregnant was the hardest.

Over the next month I was having morning sickness so I told my mom that I needed to see a doc because I thought I was sick. After a positive blood test I told her I was pregnant on the ride home. I was a basket case, she was just visibly angry and said she knew it. I had never seen her so angry. But she didn't yell or scold, she was just quiet.

I remember sitting on the stairs in our living room when my dad came home. I hadn't talked to him in several months. I always stayed in my room and wouldn't even eat at the table with him. Our relationship was dead. Now I had to face him. I was so scared.

When he came home and saw me crying, he said to my mom, "What's the matter with her"? She said, "What else? Your daughter is pregnant!". He didn't say a word but walked over to me and held me for what seemed like hours then said, "I love you and we'll get through this." And we did.

Today, my mother and father are my best friends, they are my heroes, my rock, my examples of holiness here on earth.

To me, it's not just about raising faithful children - it's about being there for them when they come home after being unfaithful.

Steve Angrisano does a short monologue on one of his CDs where he talks about the Prodigal Son. He says that he likes to call it the story of the Running Father - for the son doesn't make actually make it home... the Father runs to the son.

"So he got up and went back to his father. While he was still a long way
off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He
ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him." Luke 15:20

There is only so much you can do to raise a good, faithful, Catholic Child. You give them a good foundation. If you do that and they stray, it's NOT your fault. It's their choice through the gift of free will.

It's what you do AFTER they fall that counts. Just be there for them, give them a safe haven where they can think and recoup. Don't preach. Your actions say more than words anyway. Finally, allow them to ask for forgiveness.

As I read this I realized that THAT is what being a loving Catholic parent really is about. I have watched my mother-in-law and sister-in-law as they have coped with children who stray - with children who made bad mistakes. It is their loving attitude that has been a balm to their children. It is their loving attitude that has kept the family together with love and peace. Berating, screaming, trying to exact revenge, or enact punish fails in these situations. Why? Because it drives the child farther away. They don't see Christian behavior from you, they see just the opposite.

Christ did not act that way. He was like Kathleen's father. He knew his daughter was hurting, confused, in trouble, and scared. He did not scream at her or throw her out of the house. He held her in his arms with love.

So how do we keep our kids Catholic? WE don't. God does. I have always felt that a person's relationship with God is like a marriage. We can never really knows what happens between two people in a marriage, and we can never know what happens between a person and God. Some people I thought were far from God turned out to have a really good relationship with him. Other people I thought had it all together and were strong Christian examples to me, fell into serious sin. Those people were not really close to God. Their relationship was weak, like the "perfect couple" who divorces.

We all are sinners and fall short. We ALL are tempted by what looks good but is really a pathway away from God. Our children are no different. They are sinners and will sin.

As parents, all we can do is do our best. We can do all those good things with our children as they are growing. We can make sure they know their Faith. Make sure they know what the Catholic Church teaches and why. Make sure they know the Church's history. We can try to protect them from the evils of the world, and try to arm them as best we can with knowledge and courage. Ultimately it is up to them to make the decisions in their lives, for good or bad.

If you have tried hard and your children stray, it is NOT your fault. You did the best you could. Adam and Eve had God as their Father. They walked and talked with Him. They were in complete harmony with Him - and still they sinned. If God could not keep His children from sinning how can you?

We also need to realize that many times the twists and turns in a person's life are important to get to the ultimate goal. God writes straight with crooked lines. He allows people to join a fundamentalist church, for example, to learn certain things before coming back to the Church. He allows people to wallow in the mire so that they truly thirst for him. God knows best and God is in control.

We as parents should relax, do the best we can, and not be afraid. We should however, be concerned with OUR relationship with Christ. We should be meditating on the scriptures and reading good spiritual books. We should attend Mass frequently and partake in the sacraments. We should pray the rosary and ask the Blessed Mother to pray for us and our children.

In this way, we will strengthen our relationship with God AND be a good example to our children. We will gain in wisdom and knowledge. We will gain peace, and that peace will affect how we interact with our children, and they will learn from us the path to God.

The main thing we should do is to pray, pray, pray for our children. Pray every day. Pray for their future vocations. Pray for their future spouse if God wants them to marry. Pray for their safety and their relationship with God, and pray for the strength to be a wise, loving parent like God our Father. He is the one who is in ultimate control and is the one who will bring them back if they stray.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Me - Behind A Mask

Since I last posted, I have been really sick. No, it is not the regular flu, thank heaven, or even the Piggie kind, but JUST bronchitis. I laid in bed for days, almost passed out at the doctor's office, and forced my hubby into "mommy mode." It has not been fun. It started as a little cold and I tried for days, even with a high fever, to just try to tough it out without the antibiotics, but as usual I succumbed and found myself miserably suffering at the doctor's trying to get a prescription for the miracle drug that would make me feel better. It is a good thing antibiotics were invented or I would probably be dead 20 times over.

One interesting thing happened, however. The doctor comes in after what seemed like an eternity, but was probably 30 minutes. I was lying on the exam table trying to make sure I did not succeed in fainting. She examines me, listens to my woes and my chest, and tells me she is going to fill out the chart and paperwork outside because I'm contagious, what with the 102 degree fever I have even after taking the ibuprofen. She comes back, very sympathetic to the fact I almost fainted waiting for her before, "You look so pale..." Then she tells me I have to wear a mask at home because I reek of contagions. I thought to myself, "Well, it's a little late for that. I've been sick for almost a week."

She then kindly tells me she will call in the prescription so I don't have to walk from the car to the supermarket pharmacy, and escorts me out the back door which is closest to my car. I'm sure it was to prevent my walking far, but perhaps to avoid exposing her staff to my contagiousness? Nah.

So, I get home and dutifully dig out the box of masks I bought on a whim from WalMart. You know, just in case society stops because of the Piggie Flu - we should be prepared. I put one on. It's hot. Well, it's only hot when you exhale. My husband, who has been trying to keep far away from me for a week, thinks this is an excellent idea. All I can say is he better keep to his side of the bed, and get no where near my pillow. My 6 year old kept reminding me, "Mommy, put on your mask." I tell him, "Well, I have to eat!" So, until my fever breaks I wear the mask.

Now, one of the joys of being really sick - besides losing 5 pounds - is having to lay in bed, staring at the ceiling, in a sort of semi-coma. Well, perhaps fog/sleep would be a better word. I spent two days and part of two more, "resting." I say "resting" because how much can a mother really rest? My husband did take care of dinner - "McDonald's." And he wonderfully took the kids to their two schools and picked them up. What more could I ask?

As, I lay in bed I did get to enjoy lots of podcasts I thought I would tell you about. Since, I now have an iPod I can peruse iTunes to my heart's content. I downloaded lots of podcasts awhile back and am going through them one by one. Here are some that I think you might be interested in. Remember you don't need an iPod to listen to them. You can use an mp3 player or listen on the computer.

First, check out SQPN, the Star Quest Production Network. If you like podcasts this is the way to go. Try out the Daily Breakfast. Which is the #1 Catholic Podcast. Fr. Roderick Vonhogen is wonderful. When I first got the iPod I think I listened to dozens of his old Catholic Insider podcasts where he took us all over Europe in great audio tours, including the events surrounding the death of Pope John Paul II and the election of Pope Benedict XVI.

Also, check out at SQPN Catholic in a Small Town. You can also find this entertaining podcast of a young couple raising kids in a small town here. Catholic Foodie was quite interesting and I'm looking forward to listening to Grace Before Meals.

My absolute favorite podcast though is the Cardinal Arinze webcast. Francis Cardinal Arinze is my absolute favorite cardinal! He is succinct, accurate and very humorous. It is a joy to listen to him. You can also find his podcasts here and at the Familyland website. Some of these are only audio and others are video. One of these links should give you what you want.

One of the surprises within the Cardinal Arinze webcasts are the musical breaks. I have to admit, I don't always enjoy this part in webcasts and sometimes skip over them, but I was simply blown away by the music of Olwen Ringrose that I found in
the webcasts discussing Deus Caritas Est. Several of the songs from Ringrose's album "The Daughter of the King" were featured and they are simply beautiful. If angels could sing, this is what they sound like.

I hope you enjoy these podcasts and if you have any to recommend, please let me know.
I think I'm now going to go rest, well after I start the laundry.

Friday, October 2, 2009

A Beautiful Way of Prayer

The main way that you grow in your relationship with Christ, and in the Catholic faith, is through prayer. Many people think that prayer is difficult, and they are intimidated by the thought of it so they don't pray, or they only pray "stock" prayers like the "Our Father" or "Hail Mary." Their relationship may not grow, so they get frustrated and give up. Prayer however, should be as easy as breathing. Talking to God as if he were your friend, concerned about you, is a start. Common devotions are also a help. Some of these common devotions are the Rosary, the Sacred Heart, or the Divine Mercy.

A friend of mine on Facebook, Vinny Flynn, posted the following today. I thought it was a beautiful way of prayer and I'm going to incorporate into my prayer time myself. Vinny is kindly allowing me to share it with you and I urge you to try it.

Several years ago I happened upon a method of praying that has become a daily practice. It began with the Divine Mercy image, the now well-known picture of Christ with red and pale rays streaming from His Heart. I had become accustomed to praying before the large image of the Divine Mercy that hung in my office, imagining myself in the midst of those rays as I intoned the familiar prayer, "Oh Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fountain of mercy for us, I trust in you."

On this particular day I was praying for a family member, and I found myself mentally placing him in the rays, asking the Lord to let him stay there all day to be soaked and saturated with grace in this outpouring of God's mercy. Looking for a way to remember this intention throughout the day, I dug up a photo of him and stuck it in the corner of the frame so that it was right below the rays - a visual reminder that would prompt me to renew my prayer each time I looked up and noticed it.

It made my prayer seem so much more real that I soon purchased a much larger, unframed image. I glued it to a thick piece of cardboard and, within a few weeks, there were pictures tacked all over it: my wife and children, other family members, the Pope, special friends, anyone I wanted to remember to pray for.

A variation of this photo prayer soon emerged. My wife and I decided to assign a specific day of the week to pray in a special way for each of our children (very easy to do since there are 7 of them). So we gathered photos of each and set up a little "prayer table" on which we could display a different photo each day. This became especially powerful during Lent, as it prompted me to also give up something specific for each child on his or her prayer day.

But as meaningful as these two types of prayer were, the next variation that evolved proved to be the most fruitful for me and has become a permanent part of my daily prayer life. Years earlier I had learned that praying the Liturgy of the Hours (the 4-volume set of prayers known also as the Divine Office) is not reserved exclusively for priests and religious, but can be a fruitful practice of daily prayer for laity as well. I especially love to "pray the Office" in front of the Blessed Sacrament during Eucharistic adoration. One day, concerned about a friend who was in need of prayer, I found a photo of her and put it in my breviary so I would remember to pray for her the next morning at adoration. It was the first of many photos that I now keep in my breviary.(It doesn't have to be a breviary; any prayer book or prayer journal would serve the purpose just as well.)

How do I pray using the photos?

I just look at them. "Prayer," wrote St. Therese, "is a surge of the heart." I just look at the pictures, one by one, and let my heart surge to God for each person. A photo captures much of the essence of a person. As I gaze at each photo, the person it represents becomes present to me, complete with personality traits, strengths, weaknesses, memories, conversations, specific needs, etc. Sometimes actual words of prayer come to mind and are offered; sometimes there are no words. Essentially I am simply lifting each person up to God in whatever way and for whatever period of time seems called for. It varies from day to day. Sometimes a brief glance and momentary entrustment of the person to God is sufficient. At other times, the same photo may bring a flood of thoughts and a longer period of prayer. I just let it happen, trusting that the Holy Spirit is directing it all.

I am now in the habit of carrying a small digital camera with me when I travel; and when someone asks for prayer, I say, "Sure! Say "cheese."

If you have ever watched the lovely Divine Mercy Chaplet on EWTN at 3pm then you have seen Vinny and his family, who sing the Chaplet. It is beautiful. Vinny's website is and he wrote one of the most profound but simple books I have read entitled The 7 Secrets of the Eucharist.

For more information about the Divine Mercy devotion please check out the official Divine Mercy Website by the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, who have been the official promoters of this devotion since 1941.

St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, through whom Christ brought us this wonderful devotion, wrote a profound diary that you will find here: The Diary of St. Faustina.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Technology = Empty Pockets

We had a small crisis in our house recently. My 14 year old son's iPod Touch had an, ahem....unfortunate encounter with our washing machine. It was both our faults - his for leaving his iPod on the floor under a pile of dirty laundry, and mine for just grabbing said laundry, and throwing it in the washer without duly checking it first. Oh yeah, the earbuds were washed too, but they came out just fine, of course.

So after letting it sit in a bag of rice for a week, then sending it in to Rapid Repair for an evaluation, we discovered it was just as expensive to buy a new one. Luckily for my son, Apple just came out with a discounted 3rd generation Touch with twice as much memory in the new one, for about the same price. Lucky him. It was an expensive mistake. At least I'm only paying for half.

Now, lest you think we are extravagant parents who just hand our kid a $300 music player, we're not. We are what we call "Po." This is said in a slight southern accident. In our house, "Po" is different than "Poor." "Poor" is definitely a different thing and is a serious thing...a terrible thing. "Po" is what might be called "cash flow deficient." We never seem to have enough cash flow. We won't starve, and we still have DSL and Satellite TV, though it is pretty much our only entertainment. We don't buy local channels, movie channels or anything extra. I do think DVR would be cool, but I suck it up. We also won't be going out to dinner anytime soon, visiting relatives out of town, or going to Disney World. Our extra income goes to tuition.

So my son's iPod Touch would be considered an extravagance. However, he seems to be the only one with cash flow. A year and a half ago, he acquired enough money from Christmas and his birthday to afford a 3rd generation iPod Nano. Since it was his money, we let him buy it, and he took good care of it. Then, as is the way with electronics, he wasn't truly happy with it. His heart's desire was the Touch. So, when Christmas rolled around he raked in bucks from generous relatives, added his savings, and bought a 1st generation Touch that was on an incredible sale. As a bonus, I inherited the Nano, since some of our money was his birthday gift.

If you spoke to him, he would be the first one to tell you he is electronically deprived. Yes, we do have 3 computers (soon to be 4) but they were ones his dad built from parts, or we got used, or refurbished. But we have no video game player. I have always said no to PlayStations, etc. because he spends enough time on the computer. Also, since we have only one TV, and that is by design, it would tie up the TV for the rest of the family. He should be playing outside or reading a book, instead.

I have to be honest though, I am rethinking the no video game player (shhh, don't tell anybody,) because the effect is that he just always wants to be at someone else's house, playing heaven only knows what. No one wants to come here because there are no video games to play. If they come, they bring their own. It was a big deal when he got a GameBoy and later a DS, both of which he paid for. What does my husband think about all this? He agreed, but does not feel strongly either way.

A phone was also a big bone of contention until this fall. Number one son complained several times in middle school that everyone in his class had a phone, and he was right. But as I told him, you will never be in a place where there won't be a supervising adult who, I'm sure, will have a phone. I felt they can get into trouble with all the texting and, of course, it costs money. But now that he will be in high school he needs one.

So, as he graduated from 8th grade his present was a phone. The phone he wanted however, was not the $10, or free, cheap phone....NOOO he had to have a new model, more expensive than ours, which are smartphones. I told him to wait during the summer, and that he would have to pay half of it. It turned out that waiting was a very good lesson. The $250 (with contract) phone was on sale for $10 the week before school started! It still costs a lot every month for the service, of course.

Lest, you think "Aha! they have smartphones - certainly not frugal." Well... first we have no data plan for it. We have smartphones for our business, so we can sync calendar and contacts to Outlook on the computer. But we don't need, or have, a data plan for our phones. We have the cheapest family plan there is. iPhones would be great but you MUST have a data plan - well, it is unChristian, but I have a certain hand gesture for that. The phone I have does have Wi-Fi which is cool, but I would have to go to the county library or Starbucks to use it.

So we have a love/hate relationship with technology at our house because there are so many cool things to do, but not enough money to do them. Such as fix the radio in my car. My 15 year old Honda needs a new radio, but the money would be better spent elsewhere. So I have at times resorted to using a small AM radio, shaped like a baseball cap, that you can hang around your neck, to hear the traffic report. If you keep the brim of the "cap" facing East you won't lose the station! Hey, what do you want for free. Such technology! And don't ask my husband about the radio in his car. I mean don't ask him.

One good thing about this technology though is my rich son passing on his Nano, because I have discovered podcasts. For awhile the attraction with the Nano was playing solitaire, but now that I have racked up over $25,000 in the game and I have worn out the center button (and my thumbs,) I have moved onto podcasts again, which I tried at first but was too busy mentally to enjoy.

I got used to the silence in the car, and do use that time for prayer or thinking... but now, assuming the earbuds don't continue to fall out, I can enjoy listening to lots of really cool things that I plan on discussing with you in the future. And if you have any brilliant ideas on how to make this cool technology cheap, I would love to know.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Time to Laugh

OK, so you are depressed about the economy, the UN, the world going to hell in a handbasket, and you need a good laugh. Here you go.

First, here is a great practical joke. I'm glad it is not me, but it is amusing. Funny Protest Prank.

Next, I have never seen a cat do this. It is courtesy of the lovely Fr. Z, One Goofy Cat.

Finally, It is not a video but a hilarious piece from Conversion Diary. is naughty, which is why it is funny. The comments are enough to send you over the edge.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Beauty In Our Midst

Ugliness bombards us from every direction, and sometimes we need to stop and look at the true beauty that exists around us - especially the beauty God provides us. Catholicism is steeped in beauty because beauty uplifts us, enlightens us and transforms our spirit. The beauty God surrounds us with is limitless, and I thought it would be great to share with you a couple of things I have found recently that have brought beauty into my life.

The first is National Geographic photography. Occasionally, I like to change our computer desktop picture and this is a great resource for beautiful photography. Last month, I used a photo of Mount Etna in Italy erupting at night. Yesterday, I changed it to an aerial view of Fiji and on our second computer I put up a beautiful view of a canyon in Arizona. There are so many beautiful pictures I could not describe them all to you. Go there and download them. They add new ones constantly.

This is very easy. Go to National Geographic online and click on "Photography." Choose the "Wallpaper" tab and look at the different galleries of photos. Once you have chosen a photo, look at the bottom of the picture on the left and click on the "wallpaper" icon then choose the size you would like to download. Once the picture is open then "right-click" your mouse and choose "Set as Desktop Background" and you are done.

The second resource is the Earth Channel and is only available to you if you subscribe to DISH Network. DISH Network added a camera to its EchoStar 11 Satellite that was launched in 2008. Six years in the planning, it is the first camera on a commercial satellite and has a constant view of North and South America that does not change since the satellite stays in geo-synchronous orbit 22,300 miles above Earth. The Earth Channel is on channel 212. You can read more about it at Space Daily.

This continuous view of the Earth with light background music, is lovely and you might be able to see Venus occasionally as well as some unidentified flying objects. I'm looking forward to seeing weather patterns change and also the lights at night.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Starting A Catholic Book Club

Well, I have been wanting to write about Catholic Book Clubs for DAYS, but we have been in DSL distress for over a week now. So, please forgive me for not posting. For the past couple of months we have had occasional Internet disruptions. Usually they have not lasted long. Last week, we started having longer breaks in service and had two different days when we pretty much did not have any service. We have called our DSL provider and they have been as helpful as they can be, but sometimes you just have to work from one diagnostic procedure to another until you figure out what is wrong. They have been here four times and so far, so good...for now. So let me pick up a post I was working on last week but was so rudely interrupted...

I have several good Catholic friends that I haven't seen in awhile, and I was thinking one night about what I could do to get us together. Another bible study? Or perhaps a party? Neither really got me that excited. I wanted something where we had fun but it did not involve a lot of work, especially on my part. It would be nice to have husbands too since we never get together as couples... Nights or weekends might be better since I have several friends that work during the day. I wanted it to be more of a social event, but I'm not much of a party giver. Too much stress. And I wanted to do whatever it was on an ongoing basis.

Then it hit me. A Catholic book club. It is a great excuse to read and expose others to great Catholic books. The real reason however, was to have fun, to catch up with my friends... to socialize. We could perhaps meet new friends, too. I had an email together in a few minutes and a lot of people really liked the idea. All this came to mind as I was reading a recent post by Jennifer at Conversion Diary. She is planning on a mini Book Club with her readers and I realized that I wanted to share with you this whole idea of the Catholic Book Club.

So, what did I do to organize it? Well, I've learned from organizing bible studies that you need to invite lots of people in order to get a few. That is just the way it is. Especially, if people are scattered over wide distances. For us that means maybe 1/2 hour driving time. You also have to expect that the people who join will not always come. People will be out of town, get sick, have other commitments come up, etc. Years ago, I was always disappointed because a few people could not make it. I would try to change the date, but that would inconvenience other people. Once I finally faced reality that not everyone will come every time I was able to make a plan and have fun.

I decided to make the meetings on Friday nights, the second Friday of the month. Friday night seemed good since there is no school or church the next morning. Many people are really involved with their families on Saturday and so daytime would be out, and in the evenings people are recovering from their day at the beach or whatever. I thought the second Friday of the month would be good since holidays or school startings don't seem to be then, etc.

We vote on which books to use. At first, I compiled a list of good Catholic books and asked people to vote by email. Now that we are meeting, I propose books to the people attending the meeting, and we choose a book then and there for the next month. Here are the books that we have chosen to discuss so far.

A Mother's Rule of Life: How to Bring Order to Your Home and Peace to Your Soul by Holly Pierlot

I'm Not Being Fed: Discovering the Food That Satisfies the Soul by Jeff Cavins

Search and Rescue: How to Bring Your Family and Friends Into, or Back Into, the Catholic Church by Patrick Madrid

Because we started during the Summer many were out of town or unavailable. Some people could not get babysitters. The babysitter point is important. For years we have had women's bible studies or other studies, and always children are welcome. But since this is once a month, and more of a social event, the adults want to socialize without the children. Nursing babies are always an exception, of course.

We have the meetings in people's homes and once we had a really small group and decided to have it at Starbucks. So far, since we are getting started, and had one meeting specifically discussing a book for women, we have not had husbands yet. I'm hoping we do that in the future.

Refreshments are fairly simple. When we had the book club at my house, I had cheese and crackers, wine, some fruit and cookies. We start about 7pm so everyone has had dinner and is not too hungry. Perhaps a dessert bar next time? We'll see. I stuck my kids in the family room with a movie and computer games and they were great. Of course, they are 14 and 6, so that was not any problem. There are advantages to not having toddlers!

We do not have a specific format for discussion. Many of us usually make notes or outline in the book parts that specifically helped us or that we liked. So we start off with catching up with each other, open the wine, have some food and eventually we get to the book. If someone has not finished the book, we don't mind at all. In fact, I always remind them that if they haven't read the book come anyway. This is supposed to be fun, there will be no test at the end.

How do I choose the books to pick from? Well, I try to get several books that have topics that I think people will learn from, but are not too deep. Something they can finish in the month time period. I also look for popular books that I think people would like to read. No politics, period. I only choose from good Catholic publishers. I don't want any books that will steer people wrong in their faith. So no dissenting authors. I also don't want devotional books on the list. Those are better read slowly and prayerfully over a long period of time. Here are some of the books that I'm thinking of adding to the list for people to choose from:

7 Secrets of the Eucharist by Vinny Flynn

The Mass of the Early Christians by Mike Aquilina

The Fathers of the Church, Expanded Edition by Mike Aquilina

Render unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living Our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life by Bishop Charles Chaput

Catholics and the New Age: How Good People Are Being Drawn into Jungian Psychology, the Enneagram, and the Age of Aquarius by Fr. Mitch Pacwa, SJ

Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilibagiza

I'm pleased the way things have worked out so far, though we have had to postpone a couple of meetings. You do need to remind people throughout the month to get the book early to have time to read it. And remind them of the date several times so they can get their schedules together. I'm always surprised that people say..."Oh, I thought it was next Friday!" or whatever.

So far it is a positive experience for all of us and I'm hoping it will continue in the future for quite a while. I'm interested to know if you have any experience with Catholic book clubs, or book clubs in general. Do you have any tips?

Friday, September 11, 2009

9/11/01 - Condolences & Prayers

Today, I send my condolences to those who lost loved ones and friends in this tragedy, to those who suffered unimaginable pain and those still suffering. My heart is with you. I thank those who gave their lives for others. And I pray to the Blessed Mother to give us peace in the world. I ask her for the conversion of hearts and souls so that the Earth can be blessed with a peace that can only come from Above.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Food! - One Of The Best Ways to Live Catholic

Well, yes I am alive. Thanks for asking. I haven't posted for at least a couple of weeks and the guilt follows me. My kids started school a few weeks ago and it has been a real adjustment for me this year. I have a freshman in Catholic high school and another in elementary school. Mornings are now much more stressful. Our wonderful high school is at least 20 minutes away and we need to leave at 7am in order to beat traffic and have me back home in time to get the little one ready. I'm having trouble getting a carpool together to help, but our routine is down now. I'm in the car during the day almost 2-3 hours though, and it really cuts into my available time during the day. My husband helps when he can, but all bets are off if I get some freelance work. I'm trying to figure out when my prayer and meditation time will fit. I've come to the conclusion I just have to get up at 5:30am to pray because I just can't seem to get it in once I get home from driving around.

One of the things I have been doing in my off time is cooking. I love to cook and I consider food to be a blessing from God for sure. There is no way you can talk about living Catholic without discussing food. As long as we are not talking about gluttony (which I'm sure is a topic for another day,) enjoying food and wine is part of the celebration of the life the Lord has given us. He has blessed us with so many, many wonderful foods there is no way He would not want us to enjoy them. He did give us taste buds after all.

Now, so many times the discussion of food on Catholic websites always leads to some sort of bean soup for Lent. Not here. While many of my recipes are meatless, it is not on purpose. They just happen to be. I love meat and figure that we were designed to eat both plants and meat. Look at our teeth. We were given teeth for both grinding (molars) and ripping (canines) and I definitely use both.

This week I made a recipe my mother received from a friend years ago, and while only my husband and I will eat it because it has zucchini, I do make it occasionally, serving pasta with sauce on the side for those who are vegetable averse. I have updated it a little to make it more healthy. It is good as a main dish or a side.

Zucchini Bread
3 Cups Zucchini with skin, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic chopped
1/2 onion chopped
1/2 cup grated parmesan, romano or cheddar cheese (I use parmesan)
4 eggs beaten (I use Egg Beaters)
1 cup Bisquick (I use the Bisquick Heart Smart kind - white box)
1/2 cup oil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon parsley
1/8 teaspoon salt (I omit it)

Slice zucchini very thin (I have a very cheap little mandolin but a food processor is good too). Chop onion and garlic. Mix remaining ingredients together, add onion, garlic and zucchini. Pour into greased 9 x 9 square pan and cook 50-60 minutes at 350 degrees until golden brown.

I does not come out like bread, but like a casserole. The original recipe called for it to be cooked in a loaf pan, but I find it cooks better in a square pan. I have been also taking this to ladies breakfast or brunch meetings, like bible studies, etc. and it is very popular. Enjoy.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Mass Changes Coming

Several years ago, I was privileged to attend a Melkite Rite Mass. There are other rites besides Roman, and this Catholic Mass (completely in accord with the Pope) was just beautiful. It was at an evening retreat in a retreat center. I almost cried it was so beautiful. All I could think of was, "Why can't we have that?" "Why do we have to suffer through such irreverent Masses?" "Why can't we have such beautiful language?" The wording for the Mass could be so much more reverent and special...holy.

Of course, a lot of this has to do with the priest. If a priest is holy and takes his time with the Mass, and is reverent, then the mass will be too. I have attended Latin masses before and they were beautiful, if confusing. I had a lot of trouble following along, even with an English/Latin missal. But one question I have is why didn't they just use the translation in that missal? The powers that be could have just have used that. There was no need to dumb it down or make it simpler, the average Mass goer is not that stupid. (OK, don't say anything...)

There has been quite the buzz in the blogging community for a long time about changes in the Mass that will be coming. Otherwise known as "Liturgical Reform." I'm excited because anything that makes the Mass more reverent and beautiful I'm for. Recently, there was the unveiling of the US Bishops website devoted to the changes coming in the Roman Missal. It shows the changes in wording that will happen in the future.

Now, when we talk about the future, the first thing that comes to our minds is exactly WHEN this will happen. Some people say that Advent of 2011, but we just don't know. Lots of things have to happen first. Things have to be approved at the Vatican. Priests and deacons have to be trained, the faithful have to be catechized, music has to be revised, among other things. A most important reason also, is that the publishers of liturgical books and personal missals have to have finalized revisions so they can print, publish and promote the books that will be used. All of this takes a great deal of time. So, don't look for the changes to be too soon.

Do check out the Committee on Divine Worship's website for a comparison of current and proposed changes to the wording of the Mass. It has a lot of good information. If you have an interest in Liturgical Reform you might also find the Adoremus website interesting as well. Also, take the time to pray for all concerned.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

How to Make a Spiritual Communion

The Eucharist is a gift Jesus gave us to nourish us and join us to him. It is His body and blood, His very soul and divinity. We should not take Communion if we are not properly disposed to receive it. Instead, we should make a Spiritual Communion, in which we ask the Lord to come into our heart as if we had actually partaken in His sacred meal. The folks at New Advent posted a wonderful guide by Fr. John Hilton in Westminster, CO that describes when you would need to make a Spiritual Communion and how to do so.

If you are not Catholic (yet!), have been away from the Church for a long time and have not been to Confession, or are in a state of serious sin, this could be a big help for you to further your relationship with Christ, while you are trying to overcome your sin. Common serious sins that keep many people from the Eucharist include such actions as: using contraception, marrying outside the church, other sexual sins, such as adultery. Of course, any serious sin (mortal sin) separates us from God and being able to receive Christ into our body.

If you are able to go to Confession and receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, that is the first place you should go. If you are not able to go to Confession then make an appointment with a priest you can be comfortable with anyway. He can help you. In the meantime, a Spiritual Communion is an excellent way to begin. If you are serious about changing your life, Christ is serious about helping you.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Life Saved

This is an amazing story and a tribute to all the women who agonized over whether to tell their stories of pain after an abortion. A life has been saved. Reality TV star Kourtney Kardashian, who recently discovered she was pregnant, decided to keep the baby after discovering the experiences of other women who have been seriously affected after an abortion. She told People Magazine in a recent interview that she went online to find out the risks of an abortion.

"I looked online, and I was sitting on the bed hysterically crying, reading these stories of people who felt so guilty from having an abortion," she recalls. "I was reading these things of how many people are traumatized by it afterwards..." After scouring the Internet, Kardashian says she started to realize that an abortion wasn't an option for her. "I was just sitting there crying, thinking, 'I can't do that,' " she says. "And I felt in my body, this is meant to be. God does things for a reason, and I just felt like it was the right thing that was happening in my life."

While many people she knows say 'Oh, get an abortion.' Like it's not a big deal." Kardashian realized that the only reason to have an abortion would be selfish. Her doctor also counseled her by telling her that she would never regret the baby, but might regret it if she had an abortion.

Think of the lives that might be saved when other women who are in this situation stop to think about the consequences that could happen if they go through with the abortion. Few people tell them of the other options open to them, such as their local Respect Life office, or the wonderful charity The Nurturing Network among the other wonderful organizations dedicated to helping women in need.

I urge you to make a resolution to help a local charity in your area that is dedicated to helping women who really need help, and their babies, both for keeping the baby and for adoption. And let's pray for Ms. Kardashian, her baby, her family and the baby's father. A rosary would be a great idea.

Rest in Peace Mr. Novak

I discovered Robert Novak just a few years ago. I'm not one for watching cable news shows (I'd much rather watch the Discovery Channel) and was not exposed to his newspaper columns. He caught my attention when he released his book The Prince of Darkness: 50 Years Reporting in Washington. What perked my interest was the section in his book where he discusses his conversion to Catholicism. Mr. Novak was raised Jewish, but lived most of his life without God. His life was his career. Over time as he grew older, he and his wife started to attend church and occasionally attended a Catholic church. The teachings of the Church drew him in, but he never took the big step of conversion until the Holy Spirit used a lowly student to bring him in when he was ready.

I loved his recounting of how he was invited to attend a university dinner and a student asked him a question about his faith. (I'm going on memory here - you'll have to read it for yourself.) He told her he occasionally attended a Catholic Church. Her answer changed his life as she challenged him as to why he was waiting, life was short. The Holy Spirit spoke him and he converted.

I salute you Mr. Novak and pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet especially for you. Rest in Peace.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Thank You Lord

Thank you Lord for a blessed life. Thank you for my family and good friends. Thank you for faith in times of confusion and troubles, sorrow and pain. Thank you for my home, the strong roof over our heads, the abundance of clothes our family has, and shoes. So many children walk over dusty roads, rusty garbage and sewage, but my children have shoes to protect their feet.

Thank you for our family's health, our doctors and a hospital 10 minutes away. Many have to travel hours or days to get to a hospital. We have a rescue squad 3 blocks away and an excellent hospital, in fact several. Thank you for medicine, both cheap and expensive - so, so many don't even have an aspirin.

Thank you for my education so that my intellect is fostered and broadened, my curiosity fed, and my family enriched. Thank you for the ability to send my children to school. So many sit in the dust with a tiny blackboard and chalk to learn their letters. Many children don't even have that. Girls all over the world are denied even a rudimentary education, but I went to college. I can teach my children at home if I would so choose. Many countries deny this. I can take my children to museums, aquariums, parks and zoos, others don't even know these things exist.

Thank you Lord for books! Oh, Lord what would I do with out books? Today, I can learn to make bread or fix a faucet, learn about quarks or black holes, enjoy a novel or enrich my soul. Thank you Lord. I can take my children to the library. Many in the world cannot even comprehend that such a thing exists - and for free!

Oh, Lord - thank you for my computer where I can learn anything in the touch of a fingertip, in microseconds. I can talk to others with the same interests across the world and know that we are not alone - when we thought we were before. Thanks for the TV too, where the whole world is opened in front of our eyes. Good and bad, just like people, but a blessing nonetheless.

Thank you Lord for my husband, wise and strong, yet gentle and loving. So many women have been abused, abandoned or ignored. Thank you Lord for loving, kind in-laws, too.

Thank you for air conditioning and indoor plumbing! Thank you for washing machines! I don't have to beat my clothes on a rock in the river, or get my hand caught in a wringer. I don't have to do more than sort, load and throw in the dryer. Thank you God for dryers! I can do my laundry at midnight or if it is raining. I don't have to haul loads of clothes in the car and wait for hours at the laundromat since my washer & dryer are steps away.

Speaking of cars, thank you Lord for cars. We can transport our whole family across town or across the country with nary a thought. Many people have to walk miles to go to church, each way. I can jump in the car and be there in 6 minutes. Many people never leave their village or town. Many never go farther away than 10 miles from their homes. We may go more than 10 miles to visit a friend or go to work. Thank you for airplanes too, so we can even see the world.

Thank you Lord for employment, for every paycheck, for we can eat and eat well. Too, too, many places in the world families have only a bit of bread and beans, if that. In some places Lord, people eat cakes made of dirt to fill their bellies. They have to watch their children starve to death, women carrying dead babies to their graves. We have an abundance, and whine if our particular brand is out of stock. Thank you for refrigerators for the food we have will not spoil and make us sick. Thank you that my family does not know what real hunger means.

Thank you Lord for the garden my family grows. For sprouting seeds and luscious produce. Thank you for inventing the beautiful, red bursting strawberries, the incredibly fast beans, and the prolific indescribable tomato. Yes, thank you for tomatoes, they are truly a gift. And garlic. And onions too! You had a good day Lord when you invented tomatoes, onions and garlic. Thank you too for the fruit trees, bursting with nutrition and flavor, to fill our stomachs.

Thank you for the rain and the sun to drench the soil with the good things it needs. I even thank you for the hurricanes and the earthquakes, for they are part of your plan for Earth. They are minor inconveniences compared to the grandeur of the building of mountains, and the workings of the oceans. Ah, the deep, deep oceans, Lord. How wondrous are your creations, your waves, your sea creatures, the saltiness of the sea, the bounty of the sea, the sound of the sea.

Dear Lord, I thank you for the delicate child in the womb, floating in a sea, drifting to sleep by the rocking of its mothers voice and steps. Thank you for the kicks of life I was privileged to feel. The groans of childbirth and the sweet, sweet breath of a child on my cheek. The glorious privilege of watching my child nuzzle and nurse at my breast, his hand delicately placed upon it.

I thank you so much for being born at this time, in this wonderful country. Where there is freedom. Where I can speak my mind and not worry about a knock at the door in the middle of the night. Where we are safe. Yes, bad things do happen here, but nothing like other countries. War is not here. Machine guns carried by thugs do not roam my streets. Bombs do not explode in my supermarket. I thank you. We have laws and courts that, while not perfect, are the envy of millions.

We are truly blessed. Blessed to have this Earth. Blessed that you gave us your son. Blessed for his sacrifice. Blessed to have your Church guide us. Blessed for your overflowing, never-ending love. Thank you.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

When Nearly Naked is the New Modest

It's hard to believe, but in France Muslim women who choose to dress very modestly are not allowed in the public pools. Apparently, the French authorities think that the women's "burquinis" are a health hazard since they could be worn on the street. France, it seems, has very stringent rules for swimmers.

An article by the AP gives a bit more detail on what the French are afraid of: "These clothes are used in public, so they can contain molecules, viruses, et cetera, which will go in the water and could be transmitted to other bathers.

Don't they use chlorine in their pools? So the average French woman is probably walking around the pool topless or almost naked but this woman, who chooses modesty is a health hazard. I guess the bikini clad ladies would be considered to be practicing "secular modesty."

My town, which has pools everywhere and no one seems to mind if you go swimming in a T-shirt and shorts, also does not seem to mind this style of dress. Last month, my 6 year old had swimming lessons at our city pool and one of the girls in his class, who is Muslim, wore what looked like a jogging suit. It was very attractive and comfortable looking. She did not have head covering as she was probably only about 8 or 9 years old. You can't wear "floaties" in the pool, but this outfit was just fine. No one was worried about viruses. I'm sure there are a few very modest Orthodox Jewish and Christian women who would like a similar swim suit. It seems that there are several businesses online that are filling this niche.

It is astonishing, but not surprising to me at all anymore, that people would be willing to ban modest dress by labeling it dangerous. The world is really turned around. Of course, the French are the same people that ban religious jewelry or headcovering in public schools and offices, to the point that the Catholic schools are filled with Muslims fleeing the public schools

What we need is more modesty not less.

UPDATE: If you find the French policy troubling perhaps you would rather go to England. Apparently, there are swimming lessons in public pools that will only allow you to attend if you wear a burquini.
Swimmers are Told to Wear Burquinis or not attend. Classes are for Muslims, separated by sex, and even men must wear trunks that cover from naval to knees. Others, including non-Muslims, cannot use the pool unless the required swimsuit is worn. Non-Muslims are outraged when they are told they can't swim. I don't know which is worse, but perhaps the French policy is better. It is one thing to inconvenience that one person, then the whole populous. What is the answer? Should the Muslims try to rent the complex when there are no public hours if they are planning on enforcing this policy? Should they build their own pool?