Sunday, February 28, 2010

10 Catholic Podcasts Not to Miss

If you want to both learn about the faith, and be entertained, then podcasts are a great way to do it. You can use your iPod or another mp3 player, or just listen on your computer. Here are 10 great Catholic Podcasts for your perusal.
  1. Catholic Underground has two great priests from Baton Rouge, LA and adds two former seminarian friends who discuss the Catholic faith, current goings on in the Church, and technology talk for a great show.  It's hard to pick, but this may be my favorite.
  2. Catholic Under the Hood with Fr. Seraphim Beshoner, TOR.  Fr. Seraphim is a friar of the Third Order of St. Francis. He is also an assistant professor of history for the Franciscan University of Steubenville on their campus in Gaming, Austria.  He talks about Catholic History and Theology.  Absolutely excellent.  I have learned so much.  If you love history, this guy is for you.
  3. Into the Deep  is a wonderful podcast from three Catholic laymen.  They have great discussions on how to have a personal relationship with Christ.  I suggest you start from their first podcast and work your through them.  I get more impressed every time I listen.  This would be excellent to listen to during Lent.
  4. EWTN Podcasts  Listen to your favorite EWTN shows on your iPod whenever it is convenient for you.  You can always go to their Audio Library for all their shows.  I find that EWTN Live & Open Line are fantastic shows where people ask such great questions.  Questions you & I would ask too. 
  5. The Catholics Next Door with Greg & Jennifer Willits.  Greg and Jennifer of Rosary Army fame have a three hour Catholic radio show every weekday morning on Sirius/XM satellite radio.  If you don't subscribe to satellite radio, then you can have the next best thing by listening to their podcast with excerpts from their show.  I'm so happy to see them on such a big stage because they are great.
  6.  Francis Cardinal Arinze is a Nigerian Cardinal who was last Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. I love Cardinal Arinze because when you listen to him you know you are getting straight-up Catholicism, not watered down drivel. I love him because he makes perfect sense and has a deep compassion for others, but not a compassion that weakens what Christ taught. The Apostolate for Family Consecration has produced the Cardinal Arinze Webcast  which has both audio and video podcasts.  Some are question and answer programs, others discuss church documents.  All are enlightening and worth your time.
  7. Catholic Moments with Lisa Hendey  is an great interview show with Catholics doing extraordinary things to live out their Catholic faith and share it with others.  Lisa Hendey is an author and founder of This podcast is a joy to listen to.
  8. Rosary Cast at Rosary, an apostolate of Greg & Jennifer Willets.  This is a very simple podcast of the Rosary, but I find it invaluable.  I like to listen to it in the car.  Simple scriptural readings really help in meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary.  This is one you will keep on your iPod permanently.  They also have the Stations of the Cross and other helpful prayers.
  9. In Between Sundays is a podcast for young adults to learn how to live their Catholic faith and deepen it.  Don't let the "young adult" label fool you.  This is a great podcast for everyone.
  10. Catholic in a Small Town is such a nice podcast of a Catholic couple raising kids in a small town.  Listen to their joys and challenges of parenthood from a Catholic perspective.  They have a side podcast, Catholic Book Club that I really like as well.
This is just the top 10.  I'll have another post soon with more Catholic podcasts worthy of your time.  Remember too, you don't need to have an iPod to listen to podcasts, you can listen on any mp3 player, or on your computer.  So turn off the radio and the TV, and discover the joy of podcasts.  

    Saturday, February 27, 2010

    The Mass Changes

    I love listening to replays of EWTN Live with Fr. Mitch Pacwa.  I learn so much in every episode, and he is such a pleasure to listen to. I was particularly interested in one episode about the new Mass changes coming next year.  If you want to know why the liturgy was changed, both after Vatican II and now, or if you want to get a taste of what some of the changes will be, be sure to listen to this great episode.  Go to the EWTN Audio Library,  EWTN Live with Fr. Mitch Pacwa  Click on "The New Missal" 2/3/2010.  The guest is Helen Hull Hitchcock, editor of the Adoremus Bulletin and founding director of Women For Faith & Family.  Also, be sure to also read all the changes coming at the USCCB's Roman Missal Site

    You can listen to EWTN's programs on your computer.  Many of them are on iTunes, or you can download, save them to your computer and put them on your mp3 player.  You will not regret it, they are fantastic.

    Friday, February 26, 2010

    7 Quick Takes - Vol. 2

    1. You know how you'll be sitting and reading the newspaper, or a book, and the cat has to come and lay down right on top of your newspaper?

    This is the modern version.  He will either come and sit behind the keyboard, blocking the whole monitor, or he will stand like this, or just use this as a pathway to the lap, making sure he brushes his tail right on my face.  He's learned a few tricks during his 18 years.

    2.  This is really creepy: Cremation Jewelry - pendants, rosaries, etc.  You fill it yourself with the ashes of your dead loved ones.

    Someone you just met: "Nice to meet you... Hey, interesting necklace"
    You: "Yeah, I got my dead husband in here"

    3. EWTN now has a YouTube Channel that they unveiled this week. This will be a great resource to watch clips from the EWTN Catholic Network.

    4.  This is what sick looks like in our house. 

    Homemade Matzo Ball Soup.  Well... the Matzo Balls came from a Matzo Ball mix, but other than that it is all homemade.  My 6 year old came home from school a couple of days ago with a fever and sore throat.  After a night with a high fever (almost 105 for a short time) he spent the day vomiting.  He still has a fever but is up and around, eating and drinking.  My poor hubby has the same thing, but can't stay home and rest. At least he is not vomiting. He is a freelancer, and when work comes you have to take it.  So he worked until 10:30pm last night, and then had to be at another short job at 4:30am.  Yuck.

    5. This video is amazing.  You will never believe what you thought you saw again.  Thanks Patrick Madrid.
    Stargate Studios Virtual Backlot Reel 2009

    6.  I discovered this blog recently:  Abigail's Alcove.  I really enjoy it.  Her writing is very profound.

    7.  I know very little about music, especially sacred music, but even a music idiot like me knows this Chant video, Old Roman Chant is fantastic.  I find it so beautiful and listening to it really helps me focus for prayer and helps block out distractions for other things I'm doing.  I urge you to listen just once. Be sure to check out the Callixtinus Channel on YouTube for more wonderful chant.

    Now, go visit Jennifer at Conversion Diary for more 7 Quick Takes.

    Wednesday, February 24, 2010

    You Should Go to Confession

    Lent is a time of cleansing.  A time of introspection.  A time of forgiveness.  All of these are manifested in the much neglected and maligned Sacrament of Reconciliation.   

    I have met lots of people who neglect going to Confession.  Here are the reasons they give for not going:
    • They don't think their sins are bad enough.
    • They "forget" to go.
    • They have better things to do on a Saturday afternoon.
    • Posted times are not convenient.
    • They are not comfortable with making an appointment, "Father is really busy."
    • They are uncomfortable telling their sins to someone.
    • They don't trust priests anymore.
    • Excuses. excuses. excuses.
    YOU need to reconcile with Christ.  You sinned - You need forgiveness.  You fell, and Christ is there to pick you up and help you get on with your life.  You have a great gift in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Christ created this gift for you.  So, find a church on Saturday with a priest you like and can feel comfortable with, make an appointment, or even corner a priest when you see him.  Unless he looks like he is about to pull his hair out at that moment, I have not known a priest to turn someone away who wants to go to Confession.  "Hey Father, do you think you have the time to hear my quick confession?"  I do think that it is best though, if you have not been for a LONG time, or have some serious sins, that you make an appointment, or at the very least make the time on Saturday.

    You can do this.  There is nothing to be afraid of.  If you have not been for a long time you will have such a burden lifted.  You will feel lighter and the graces you get from Confession will give you the strength to continue on.

    Here are some websites to help you:

    The Archdiocese of Boston has a fantastic website on Confession for this Lent.  It is very good and will have everything you need.  The Light is On For You

    This is my favorite Examination of Conscience  from Catholic Parents Online that will help you remember your sins.  Pray for the grace to see all your sins first.

    Feeling Bad About Confession Fr. Dwight Longenecker writes about how it is not necessarily the sins you feel bad about that are the worst.

    From Perfunctory Penitence to Compelling Confession In Four Easy Steps at the Archdiocese of Washington's website.  Msgr. Charles Pope discusses that just a superficial telling of sins is not enough. To be really effective you have to go deep into the why's of the sins you are committing. This is very helpful in advancing your walk with God.

    Here is a quick little guide to the Seven Capital Sins & Their Contrary Virtues

    Monday, February 22, 2010

    Another Great Lenten Recipe - Simple Shrimp Scampi

    Here is another of my favorite recipes that works well for Lent - Simple Shrimp Scampi. I originally found this in Cook's Illustrated magazine years ago. It makes a very elegant dinner for guests, though I would not serve it on Ash Wednesday or Good Friday, since it is not a very penitential meal. I would suggest you follow the recipe exactly.

    Simple Shrimp Scampi - Serves 4

    1/4 Cup Olive Oil
    4 cloves garlic, minced
    2 lbs large shrimp (21-25 count per pound) peeled, deveined and rinsed (I use quality frozen shrimp, defrosted)
    1/4 cup fresh minced parsley
    2 Tbsp lemon juice
    Cayenne Pepper (used very sparingly - I pretty much wave it over the shrimp)

    Heat oil & garlic in 10" skillet over medium heat until garlic begins to sizzle. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until fragrant and pale gold, about 2 minutes. Add shrimp, increase heat to medium and cook stirring occasionally until shrimp turns pink - about 7 minutes. Be careful not to overcook or they will become tough. Remove from heat, add parsley, lemon juice, salt to taste and cayenne pepper to taste. Serve immediately. The recipe recommended to just bring the skillet to the table, serve with rice or rice pilaf, and crusty bread that you can use to sop up the juices right from the pan. I like to serve it with a green salad that has fruit in it, asparagus or broccoli.

    2016 Update: I still love this recipe but I usually now serve it with my go-to rice which is Brown Jasmine Rice. I use it for everything now, but use a different proportion than what is on the bag: 2 cups water to 1 cup rice, otherwise it seems crunchy to me, plus 1 T olive oil and some salt. Or, if I'm pressed for time, I serve it with angel hair pasta. The brown jasmine rice is just fantastic but a bit pricey. I just found that Trader Joe's has their own for a good price but I haven't tried it yet.

    Saturday, February 20, 2010

    Zucchini Bread Recipe - Great For Lent

    I thought I would share with you a recipe for Cheesy Zucchini Bread. My mother received this recipe from a friend over 30 years ago, and it is one of my favorites. It is more like a casserole than a bread. It is great for Lent, but I make it year round. The wonderful thing about this recipe is that it is extremely versatile. I have taken it to breakfast or brunch events served with fruit. I have served it as lunch for friends. Mostly, I serve it for dinner, usually with a side dish of rice pilaf, or pasta and sauce. I serve it with pasta so that the zucchini-phobic among us (aka Children) have something to eat.

    Cheesy Zucchini Bread
    3 Cups Zucchini with skin, sliced very thin
    2 cloves garlic, chopped
    1/2 onion, chopped
    1/2 C grated cheese (Romano, Parmesan, or Cheddar) I just use the canned Parmesan
    4 eggs, beaten (you can also use egg-beaters)
    1 Cup Bisquick (I use the Heart-Smart Bisquick)
    1/2 cup oil (like Canola)
    1/2 tsp dried oregano
    1 tsp dried parsley
    1/8 tsp salt

    Slice zucchini in food processor or use a mandolin. Chop onion and garlic. Blend all ingredients in a large bowl, add zucchini. Pour in greased 9x9 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes until golden brown. Enjoy.

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010

    Lent, Lent and More Lent

    I've got some more great Lenten resources for you.

    What Do the Ashes Mean? by Fr. Saunders

    The US Conference of Catholic Bishops Lenten Website

    Listen to our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI's Ash Wednesday Address to you. It is short, but lovely to listen to his kind and gentle voice. Thanks for providing the video.

    Deepen your spiritual life by watching the brand new EWTN YouTube Channel. It was just released today so they have lots of videos to put up but be sure to check in frequently for the best of Catholic programming.

    Ash Wednesday Fasting & Church Teaching by Jimmy Akin

    Do some great reading for Lent:  Vivificat! has posted a huge list of free classic Catholic books you can save to your computer, or e-book reader, to read at your leisure.  They are mostly .pdf files.  What a fantastic resource.

    And still more.....Why 40 Days of Lent?  by Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio

    Here is this year's (2010) Lent, Holy Week & Easter Calendar of Important Days:

    Feb. 17:
    Ash Wednesday (the beginning of Lent)

    All Fridays in Lent (observe abstinence from meat and a good idea to participate in the Stations of the Cross at your parish)

    March 28:
    Palm Sunday (the final Sunday of Lent, and the beginning of Holy Week)

    April 4:
    Holy Thursday (the final day of Lent, remembering the Lord's Last Supper)

    April 2:
    Good Friday (commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ)

    April 3:
    Holy Saturday (Easter Vigil Masses may begin anytime after 8pm on Sat. evening)

    April 4:
    Easter Sunday

    May 16:
    Ascension of the Lord (culmination of the Easter season)

    May 23:
    Pentecost Sunday (the descent of the Holy Spirit)

    Tuesday, February 16, 2010

    Fasting & Abstinence Info

    Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and it is a day (along with Good Friday) that we need to fast and when we do eat, eat no meat.  We all have questions occasionally about this, so here are some websites with info that might help you: 

    Women For Faith & Family has a great page with all the details and also a wonderful page devoted to special info on Lent & Ash Wednesday

    Colin Donovan, STL at EWTN also explains the guidelines at their Fasting & Abstinence page

    If you do Facebook, you might be interested in this Facebook page,  Catholic Lent:  It's More Than Just Giving Up Chocolate

    St. John Chrysostom on True Fasting

    Finally, here is why we abstain - Faith Facts - Life in the Fast Lane:  Why Catholics Abstain

    What Are You Giving Up For Lent?

    OK, are you going to wimp out and choose giving up chocolate for Lent - again? I'm not sure when giving up chocolate became the "in" thing to do for Lent but honestly, how superficial is that? Of course, maybe that is the point. People choose chocolate because, even though it is difficult to give up something we love so much, it is really easy. We don't have to face doing something that might really be a sacrifice... something that might really help us to face our sins or get us closer to God.

    For several years I have given up listening to the radio during Lent. I would check into the news in the morning and at noon, but then shut it off. This was really hard at first because I enjoy it. Over time though, I got over my discomfort and looked forward to the time of silence, and it encouraged me to talk to God, if only to break the silence. This has helped me a lot and has spilled over into the rest of the year. I'm not at all hesitant to bring on the silence and it helps me focus on whatever I'm doing.

    Now that silence is easy, I need to move onto something else that will not only be a sacrifice but also help me to grow. Some choose something that is not actually a sacrifice but an addition to their life, like spiritual reading or praying the Liturgy of the Hours, but those are easy for me and I enjoy them. Others commit to daily Mass or weekly adoration. Daily Mass is not possible for me at this time in my life because of scheduling conflicts. Weekly adoration is more something I want to do all year round, and I have been lax for quite awhile. So while I will do that, it is not really a sacrifice.

    This year, I have chosen to do something really hard and I'm not sure I'll be able to pull it off, but it requires great generosity and patience on my part and I'm sure many graces from the Holy Spirit. I'm going to try to tolerate interruptions without a poor attitude. Part of this requires me to really pay attention to my kids. What you say? Pay attention to your kids? Suck up interruptions? Yep. Sounds easy to you? Good for you, but it is hard for me.

    I hate to be interrupted. Just when I get on a roll with something, boom..."Mom, I'm hungry!" "Mom, come look at this!" "Mom, I need help in the bathroom." "Mom, I need to you watch me - I'm going outside." "Mom, What are we going to have for dinner?" Can't you hear the heavy sigh? can I. And I don't like it. I don't like my attitude - the heavy sigh, the occasional eye roll, the annoyed voice, "What do you need now?" "Go away, I'm trying to do something right now." "NOW what?" What it shows to me is that I have a lack of generosity, a self-centeredness, an impatience that is deeply ingrained. So what is that Pride? I don't know, but I don't like it.

    I'm sure you are like so many of my friends. "What do you need sweetie?" "Oh here, let me help you?" "Sure I'll watch you outside." "Let me get the popcorn, we'll watch the movie together." "OK honey, let's go to the park and kick a ball around." Yuck. The last place I want to be is the park or the ball field. I don't want to watch another children's TV show. I want them in the back yard so I don't have to worry about cars or child abduction. But unfortunately, bikes only get ridden in the front yard. I'm sure you enjoy all those things, but to me they are an annoyance, something that I'm forced to do, and that keeps me from doing the stuff I want to do - inside - like cook dinner or OK, I'll admit it - be on the computer. So, I've decided that I want to work on this during Lent, and that will be a real sacrifice - and a real learning opportunity.

    So what do you want to give up for Lent? What do you think you need to work on to improve you and your relationship with God. If you need some sort of help with ideas, check out:

    Great Ideas for Lent from the St. Michael Society: Need some ideas for Lent? We’ve got a few.

    I found this to be very challenging and helpful:  Giving Up Something for Lent -- What the Denial of Self Really Involves  It was written by Dr. Richard P. Bucher, a Lutheran minister in Kentucky.

    Here are a couple of more articles about preparing for Lent and Mortification:
    How Can I Better Prepare for Lent This Year?    
    Lent and Mortification – What is Mortification Anyway? 

    I'd really like to hear what you are planning on doing this Lent.

    Monday, February 15, 2010

    Gearing Up For Lent

    Lent begins in a couple of days with Ash Wednesday.  How will you be trying to get closer to Christ this Lent?  Here are some resources to help get you started:

    EWTN's Lenten & Easter Meditations 2010

    Pope Benedict XVI's Lenten Message for 2010

    You need to go to confession. Here is a fantastic website from the Archdiocese of Boston about The Sacrament of Reconciliation (aka: Confession)   It has lots of resources and examinations of conscience. 

    I have discovered a fantastic podcast called Into the Deep.  Three married lay men discuss how to get closer to Christ through prayer and learn about what the Catholic faith teaches.  They are so enthusiastic and it is great to listen to them.  Here is one set of podcasts to get you started: How Lent Makes You Holy: Part 1 and Part 2. brings us a Woman's Stations of the Cross

    One of the most fruitful things you can do during Lent is read some good, solid Catholic books.  Try one of these four Lenten Reading Plans to get you started.  This is very well done! 

    Eric Sammons at his Divine Life blog has some great tips for bringing silence and peace in your life this Lent  Snow & The Beautiful Sound of Silence

    You must go to this site, they have a great comprehensive Lenten post.  If you want to know something about Lent, it's here: Aggie Catholics Annual Lenten Mega-Post

    Finally, A little Lenten humor - There's a little black spot on your head today 

    May God bless you this Lent and my you grow closer to him every day.

    Former Olympic Speed Skater Becomes Sister

    Here is a lovely article -  US Speedskater Took Leap of Faith - about Olympic speedskater Kirstin Holum, who gave up the sport to become Sister Catherine with the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal.  Read her short testimonial about how she answered God's call and found deep peace and love.

    Sunday, February 14, 2010

    Real Love


    In March of 1920, a bachelor police officer, decided it was time to seriously look for a wife, so - there being no computers or internet then - he used the current technology and put an advertisement in the newspaper.
    "Middle ranking civil servant, single, Catholic, 43-years-old, immaculate past, from the countryside, is seeking a good Catholic pure girl, who can cook well, and who can do all housework, who is also capable of sewing and a good homemaker in order to marry at the soonest opportunity.  Personal fortune would be desirable but is not however a precondition."
    The ad did not work.  He received a promotion at work, and decided to try again. He placed the ad again in July.  This time a woman named Maria Peintner, 36 years old and a cook, answered the ad.  There was no personal fortune.  They met at a coffee shop and were engaged a few days later.  The wedding was in November.  The last of their three children was born in 1927 and they decided to name him after his father...Joseph. 

    Joseph Ratzinger... Later to become our Pope Benedict XVI.  

    No one knew how Joseph's parents met, but later Peter Becker, a former editor of the newspaper, Aotoettinger Liebfrauen Messenger, found the ad and sent it to the Pope who was touched.  The Holy Father said he was reminded of the quote from Albert Schweitzer who said: "Coincidence is the pseudonym that dear God chooses when he wants to remain incognito."

    The elder Joseph died in 1959, and Maria died in 1963.  By all accounts they had a long and happy marriage.  How is it that until about 40-50 years ago divorce was uncommon?  As always, it is a combination of several reasons, but love was different then.  Not so "romantic" but more filled with an understanding of sacrifice and hard work.  There was also not an expectation of finding a "soul-mate," someone who is the only one who can "complete" you and make you fundamentally happy .  Joseph and Maria met, decided they had the same goals, and were willing to sacrifice whatever it took to make the marriage work and raise their kids.  From that came happiness.  A happiness in God.  

    May you have a blessed and Happy Valentines Day.  A happiness in God.

    Friday, February 12, 2010

    7 Quick Takes

    Seven Quick Takes is a wonderful idea from Jennifer at Conversion Diary and I've always been too busy or too slow-witted to come up with 7 little things to share every Friday. This week however, I've come upon a bunch of new stuff and I thought finally I would be able to throw my hat in the ring.


    1.  I was looking through some old issues of Cook's Illustrated magazine I have saved and came upon a recipe for Oven Fried Bacon.  Now, you have to understand I have a love/hate relationship with bacon.  My husband is a bacon snob.  It has to be cooked a certain way, etc.   I love bacon, but am not picky and also don't have the patience to baby the bacon while it is cooking, so I frequently either burn or otherwise mess it up.  So when I found this recipe I thought I would give it a try.  Get a jelly roll pan (aka:  cookie sheet with sides) line it with foil for easy cleanup, lay out bacon, cook at 400 degrees in the oven for 5-6 minutes, turn the pan around and cook another 5-6 minutes for regular bacon or about 8 minutes for thick sliced.  That's it.  Serve.  When it is cool, throw foil with grease away.  Husband approved.  Wife happy and can concentrate on the pancakes.

    2. I don't care what the Apple/tech snobs say, I want an iPad.  I don't have an iPhone because I don't want to pay for a data plan every month.  I don't have an iPod Touch, even though I lusted after one, because of all the cool apps.  I was not sure that reading books, etc. on one would be that great of an experience because of the size, and I investigated the Kindle but never was that enthused about non-paper books.  BUT when I heard Apple was going to be releasing a tablet I became really interested.  The snobs say "This is just a glorified Touch why would you want one?" or "It won't replace a netbook or laptop." or "It doesn't have a camera or other features we think it should have."  Well, by the time I save the money up to get one, it will probably be on it's 2nd or even 3rd Generation by then and have all the cool features.  I'm looking forward to surfing the internet from the comfort of my recliner.

    3. So what will I put on my iPad that I will someday, hopefully own?  First it will be the iBreviary.  I can't wait!  Then I'll get the Bible, probably Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition.  Hopefully, they will have highlighting and the ability to make notes.  Also, some books, of course.  After that, we'll see.

    4.  This week I also discovered a free language website at the BBC.  Now I can continue on my seemingly never ending quest to pick up Spanish.

    5.  I am so saddened over the latest news from Haiti:  that the death toll is 230,000.  Which is the same amount as died in the terrible Tsunami a few years ago that swept over 6 countries.  And they are still counting the dead in Haiti.  Most of the churches are destroyed, most of the priests, seminarians and other clergy are dead.  I have not been able to find a good article with exact info but it is bad. I urge you to donate to Aid to the Church in Need:  Haiti

    Update:  Haitian Churches Rising Out of the Ruins - Miami Herald

    6. This is just fascinating.  Eric Sammons at The Divine Life has a fantastic (and short) genealogy of the Catholic Church:  Understand the Churches & Rites of the Catholic Church.  Who Knew?  Apparently not I.

    7.  OK, just like you, probably, I love chocolate.  I have come to love the dark kind (but not too dark.)  A few years ago I discovered just the best chocolate.  I was using it for a truffle recipe and fell in love with Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate.  Now, I know it says "bittersweet" but it just does not seem bitter, and of course, it is not too sweet.  It is less than $3 in the supermarket baking aisle.  I have been a big fan of Dove Dark Chocolate, Lindt Dark Chocolate truffles, and Perugina Dark Chocolate for a long time, but this is my general snacking chocolate.  I take about a dozen chips and it really satisfies my chocolate craving. 

    I hope you have a great weekend.  Be sure to go on over and visit Jen at Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes.

    Thursday, February 11, 2010

    Nuns on Oprah

    I've have never really watched Oprah, but the other day she invited the nuns from the thriving Dominican Sisters of Mary, who live in a convent outside Detroit, to show us their lives.  It was a beautiful interview with the sisters and you can see the accompanying article and video clips here:  >Lisa Ling Goes Inside a Convent.

    Wednesday, February 3, 2010

    Lectio Divina - Learning to Pray with the Scriptures

    Lectio Divina means "Divine Reading" and is an ancient form of prayer that uses scripture passages as a basis of meditation and prayer. It has been a recommended form of Christian prayer for centuries.

    Pope Benedict XVI said in 2005:
    "I would like in particular to recall and recommend the ancient tradition of Lectio divina: the diligent reading of Sacred Scripture accompanied by prayer brings about that intimate dialogue in which the person reading hears God who is speaking, and in praying, responds to him with trusting openness of heart (cf. Dei Verbum, n. 25). If it is effectively promoted, this practice will bring to the Church - I am convinced of it - a new spiritual springtime."

    The FishEaters website has the best explanation of how to do Lectio Divina that I have come across. It is excellent and gives you a good history of this method of prayer as well. Most of the sites that I have seen that write about Lectio Divina try to incorporate it with Eastern forms of prayer, which are not Christian, so I was happy to find this one.

    While the author of this prayer guide is a big proponent of the Douay-Rheims translation of the bible, which is the Catholic bible used until 1970, you should feel comfortable to use any Catholic bible you have. In fact, it is a good idea to own several translations to compare passages. Beside the Douay-Rheims translation, there are two other excellent translations you might want to explore: the Revised Standard Version - Catholic Edition (RSV-CE, commonly known as the Ignatius Bible) and also the Jerusalem Bible.

    The RSV-CE is the Bible used by some of the best and most faithful Catholic bible scholars, and is one of the most accurate translations in English. There is a new Second Edition that has a bit more modern English, as well.

    A good Catholic bible commentary was recommended to help understand passages for prayer. An excellent commentary you should check out is the Navarre Bible. It is the best commentary for laymen that I know of. It comes in individual volumes of the books of the bible or in clusters of books.

    Like all new things, Lectio Divina, takes a little bit of practice, but in a short time each stage will flow easily from one to another without much thought. Praying in this format will bring great peace and blessings to you and help you in your quest for closeness with God.

    Here are a couple of other links that may be useful as well:
    Lectio Divina and the Practice of Teresian Prayer
    What is Lectio Divina?

    UPDATE:  Here is a great article from the National Catholic Register about using modern technology to aid us in Lectio Divina  - Wired For the Word of God:  Lectio Divina in the Digital Age

    and a beautiful article from a Carmelite Prior General about the Fundamental Elements of Carmelite Spirituality in which Contemplation and Lectio Divina play a major part.

    Tuesday, February 2, 2010

    Advice for Someone Returning to the Catholic Church

    A few weeks ago, a woman emailed our parish, of which I am webmaster, to say that she would like to return to the Catholic Church and asked what she should do? She had been baptized Catholic but had not attended since. This is quite a common occurrence, so I thought I would share with you what I told her, in a slightly adapted version. It would be good advice for a new Catholic as well.

    How wonderful for you! I'm so happy for you to take this step!

    First, I would advise you call the Religious Education Office at your chosen parish to register for RCIA, the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, which is the program you will need to take to learn about the faith and to get your sacraments. This usually starts in the Fall.

    Second, I would recommend for you make an appointment with one of your parish priests to have a chat to get you started in your spiritual life. I'm sure he would love to meet with you. Don't be shy.

    Third, I would start attending Mass every week, if you aren't already. Even though you can't take Communion, you can make a Spiritual Communion at any time, but especially during Communion time at mass. The Spiritual Communion prayer is found here:

    Fourth, get a Catholic Bible (protestant bibles don't have all the books of the bible, so you want a Catholic one) The New Catholic Answer Bible: The New American Bible is excellent. The Leather version is called The New Catholic Answer Bible - Librosario It is beautiful, and is the bible we gave our son for his Confirmation. Start reading it in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) & Acts. Mark is a great one to read first because it is short.

    In the meantime, if you haven't already, you might want to check out these websites and books to help nourish yourself along your journey - of course, at your own pace.

    Catholic Answers
    A Simple Guide to Christian Meditation
    How to Pray the Rosary
    EWTN Faith Teachings
    Envoy Read back issues & articles
    New American Bible Online
    Catholics Come Home

    Prayer Primer : Igniting a Fire Within - Fr. Thomas Dubay
    Rome Sweet Home: Our Journey to Catholicism An easy must-read by Scott & Kimberly Hahn
    The How-To Book of the Mass: Everything You Need to Know but No One Ever Taught You Michael Dubruiel
    7 Books for New Catholics

    Also, see if there is a Catholic library at your parish or a neighboring one. There are also great podcasts online to help nourish you too. You can listen to them on an MP3 player or on your computer. See my list of podcasts on the left side of this website.

    If you need any information or have any questions about the Faith, please don't hesitate to contact me so I can send you in the right direction.

    Congrats on this great step in your life,
    God Bless,

    UPDATE: You might also find helpful the Catholics Come Home website.