Thursday, November 18, 2010

Christmas is for ALL God's Children

There was a rather scathing letter to the editor in our newspaper this week from a woman who decided she needed to scold society for their lack of focus on what Christmas is really all about. She was really upset at anyone who puts up their decorations early and stores that begin their holiday sales prior to Thanksgiving. Somewhere in the middle of her tirade she lost me, a fellow Christian. I mean, I do understand. Christmas is about the birth of Christ. There would be no Christmas had he not been born. Her message is correct but her method of delivery could use some polishing. She states that anyone who does not celebrate Christmas the proper way are greedy, pleasure-seeking hypocrites who do not deserve time off with their families for Christmas. "Christmas is only for Christians" she states. I’m not sure what she wants everyone else to do.

She was upset at the lack of reverence for the Christmas season. Well I have news for her. There is lack of reverence for Jesus all year round, not just at Christmas. There is lack of reverence within our own Catholic church, but not by all. It’s wonderful to try and spread the good news but when you resort to name-calling and disrespect then your message is going to fall on deaf ears. It’s best to lead by example and do it with charity. I am not offended, as the writer claimed I should be as a Christian, when someone says “Happy Holidays” to me. Why in the world would I be upset when someone is wishing me well? Do I wish that everyone knew Jesus? Sure I do. But I don’t hate those who choose to not see what I see. What right do I have to give up on them when God will never stop searching for his lost sheep?

Yes Christians are under attack, but they have been since the time of Christ. Thankfully Jesus chose those non-Christian hypocrites to spend time with. Where would we be if He had told the Apostles to only minister to the baptized followers instead of seeking out the Gentiles, the sinners and the hard-hearted?
As for me, I have embraced the Christmas season already this year. I am completely ok with seeing lights and decorations. The stores are full of color and the excitement is building. I refuse to let anyone put a damper on a time of year that is full of wonder and awe for children and adults alike. For some this is the one time of year they get to see their loved ones. Maybe they won’t go to church. Maybe they aren’t walking with Jesus right now. But they are still God’s children. He still loves them. He is a patient Father. And God is at work in their lives through the love they share with one another. He chooses to bless them even when they can’t hear him. For me the anticipation of Christmas must mirror, in a small way, the excitement that Mary and Joseph must have experienced at this point in her pregnancy. The birth of our Savior was still weeks away but she knew what was coming. She knew a miracle had occurred just by the fact that she was pregnant and a virgin.

It’s easy to look at the Christmas holidays as over-commercialized, secularized and exploited. It’s all of that but not limited to it. God does not want us to walk around angry and bitter at a time when we should be celebrating. As Christians we are called to show love, compassion, and understanding. He never promised it was going to be easy. In fact he assured us it would be hard.

God Bless

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Military wife's thoughts on Veteran's Day

Today is Veteran's Day. For some, it's a day off of work. For my kids there will be a special program at school in honor of our military. In many cities across the U.S. there will be parades and celebrations. And a lot of stores will have Veteran's Day sales this week. With a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye, I will read tributes to our soldiers on Facebook or blogs and read words like hero, sacrifice, honor and freedom. This is how Veteran's Day is honored every year in our community and in our country. It's good to have a day set aside to remember and pay tribute to all those who sacrifice so much to protect us every day.

For me, Veteran's Day will be much like any other day. I will clean and cook, do laundry, check my email, drop off and pick up kids, and run errands. My routine isn't too exciting and doesn't change much. But those are all the things my husband is missing the most. He longs for our mundane life. He would give anything to be here unloading the dishwasher or fixing me one of his famous omelets. He would love to sit here at the kitchen table tonight helping my daughter with her math homework. He would be more than happy to be here right now fixing our toilet that is broken. But mostly he just wishes he were here instead of there. He is in a foreign land living a life that I can't even imagine. His daily routine involves never leaving his quarters without strapping on a gun. He works 13-14 hour days, 7 days a week in a room without windows. He rarely gets a full nights sleep because the deafening noise of the fighter jets taking off outside his building wake him up. In his world the squeal of mortars in the distance is a daily occurrence and when they are closer than comfortable he stops and listens to hear if they land. He's always on guard, always aware, and never has the luxury to just relax and feel safe.

And yet my husband would say that he's luckier than many of his fellow soldiers. He's not out in the field facing the elements. He has a private room with heat/air, a refrigerator and Internet service which allows us to Skype daily. He gets 3 hot meals a day and free laundry service each week. Most days he gets to go to the gym for a quick workout and he's able to attend Mass on Sunday. All of those things make it bearable for him to get through each day. And each day he is one day closer to coming home.

I am so proud of my husband. He has given up so much over the years to train for a job that is so important. As much as my heart aches to be apart from him each day, I know that they need him. It's a small comfort on the days when I just long to remember how it feels to have him here. I want to hear his car pull in the driveway or be able to pick up the phone and call him whenever I want. I want to feel his touch and look in his eyes. I want to hear his voice when he's standing near me instead of through a crackled poor Internet connection. That day will eventually get here. We can get through this. The days will become weeks, the weeks will become months. Eventually he will come home and Life will return to normal.

May God Bless all military families today and every day!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Book Reviews!

About 10 minutes ago I received two wonderful books in the mail. I am extremely excited about both of them. You might be wondering how I can put "book review" in the title of this post when I clearly haven't had time in the past few minutes to read either book. Well that's because neither of them are the type of books that I will finish in a day, a week, or even a year. These are two books intentionally designed to be read slowly and even out of order if need be.

The first one is the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament 2nd Catholic Edition RSV with introduction, commentary and notes by Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch. I am so excited to have this brand new Bible to add to my growing collection of Catholic resources! It will be put to immediate use as I prepare in the next week to facilitate the Gospel of Matthew Bible Study by Jeff Cavins at my Parish. This New Testament bible is thicker than any of my other full Bibles because the majority of it is commentary. It includes a nice size concordance, an index of doctrines (WOW!), charts, maps, and topical essays. I sure hope I remember to feed my kids this week because I might just get lost in all this awesome information at my fingertips. I love learning my Catholic Faith!

The second but equally exciting book that I received today is Karen Edmisten's Through The Year With Mary. This is not a book that is meant to be read cover to cover. (That's going be hard!) It includes 365 reflections on our Mother Mary. There is a quote for every day of the year and a short commentary on each one. I love that it is dated! I'm not the most organized soccer mom on the block so this will keep me on track. It will take away the pressure to "keep up" with it daily. I can just turn to the one for today's date even if it's been a few days or a week since I've had time to look at it. I do the exact same thing with Proverbs. I love that there are 31 chapters and when I feel like I need some advice or a kick in the pants, I can turn to today's date in Proverbs and usually it's exactly what I need to hear. I'm sure Karen's new book will be the same way.

I have many of Scott Hahn's books on my shelf. Some I've already read and others are on my to-read list. I love to catch him on EWTN and listen to CD lecture's that he has recorded. He has taught me so much and is incredibly gifted in scripture study! I can't wait to begin reading what he has to say about Matthew's Gospel.

I've been following Karen's Blog for a few years now. I check in with her daily to laugh at her "Ramona" stories or to learn something I didn't know about my faith. Her first book, The Rosary, is an awesome, quick-read but is a wealth of information and understanding about our wonderful Catholic devotion given to us by our Blessed Mary.

Scott and Karen are two amazing writers. I know without question that I will learn something about my faith from anything they write. Both have incredible conversion stories that are must-reads!

I'm off to read and reflect on today's quote from Blessed Teresa of Calcutta and to try and stop myself from reading the entire book today!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Jesus, I Trust in You

Time flies when you're having fun right? Well, time is speeding by but I'm not sure it's because I'm having so much fun. Life is busy that's for sure. It's also hard and annoying and frustrating. It can make a person tired, stressed and grumpy. But in spite of all that, we are doing ok. We are holding our own while my husband is deployed. We are neck deep in soccer, homework, birthdays, orthodontist appointments, choir practice, and religious ed. We've had to deal with things breaking and sadly putting our kitty cat to sleep. The girls are all struggling a bit to adjust to school this year and I'm doing my best to keep on top of our hectic schedule, paying the bills and making sure everybody gets fed. So far, so good. I know we can handle this. I know we'll be ok. I also know that I can only do all this through prayer and offering all of this to our Lord. I have to trust him.

St. Faustina, in her Diary, wrote 120 times of her own misery, and ours. However, she wrote 240 times about her trust in the Lord. Wow, she set the bar pretty high. God handed her the gift of free will and she made the decision to trust him. In one way that sounds like such a simple thing to do and yet it's something I know that I will strive for the rest of my life. Only through prayer and grace will I achieve a fraction of the Faith that our blessed St. Faustina had. Trust means to hand it all over to him. Trust means to accept pain and suffering and hearthache. Trust means to obey His commands even if we don't like it or really understand it. Trust means to pray for those who anger us or sin against us, and mean it. Trust in God means to know Him, to love Him, to serve Him and fervently desire to someday be happy with Him forever in our Heavenly home. Another important "statistic" taken from St. Faustina's Diary is that she spoke of God's Mercy 1200 times. Ten times more than her suffering she spoke of His infinite Mercy. If we ask, if we trust him, if we obey him, God will forgive us our sins. I have so much to learn but one important thing I've come to accept is that God will forgive not only me but ALL people. Luke 23:34 says "And Jesus said, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." The brutal men who tortured our Lord were God's precious children. He loved them. No matter what they did, he wanted them to spend eternity with him in heaven. If only they would repent for what they did. If only they would choose to Trust God, he was willing to extend his Mercy. No matter how hard life gets in the next few months, I know that God will be with me every step of the way. I only have to open my heart and trust in Him.

Dear Lord, I ask that you protect and comfort my husband and the other soldiers with him. They are far from home and missing their families. Bring them home safely but not my will Lord, but yours be done.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


Do you ever stop to think about all the different ways we have to communicate electronically with each other? Cell phones, cordless phones, email, pagers, instant messaging, social networking,and text messaging. We can leave voice mail and answering machine messages. Even getting online in our home is not restricted to the computer. We can also access the Internet through the Wii, the Nintendo DSi, the ipod Touch, and our cell phones thanks to wireless networking. It's amazing how far we've come in such a short amount of time. Communication has become very easy. Most of us probably take for granted that when we have something to tell someone we can usually get our message to them almost instantly by cell phone, leaving a voicemail or sending an email. It can be frustrating when we get used to that instant gratification and suddenly it's taken away from us. That is what I'm trying to get used to this week.

Mike arrived in Afghanistan this past week and although I've had some kind of communication from him daily, it has definitely been difficult and frustrating. The biggest problem is we keep missing each other. It's not like I can just pick up the phone and call him back when I miss his call. Although they have made huge improvements since the last time he was there, he is still somewhat restricted on phone or computer access. There is no private cell phone availability so I can't send him a quick text update. They have to take turns using the phone center and the computer center. Sometimes that means there are lines or nothing available to use. And when he finally gets a chance to use the computer it will be at the exact moment my internet screws up or we are not at home. It makes me wish I could just sit here at my desk waiting for the IM screen to pop up telling me he's online or have the phones within arms reach and fully charged so that I don't miss that call. But the reality of the situation is that he is working 12 hour shifts with limited free time to even attempt to call or get online. And he's 8 1/2 hours ahead of us. So when I'm going to bed, he's just starting his workday. I have errands to run and of course he tried to call the other night while we were at the Strassenfest with all of the the loud bands playing around us. I didn't hear the phone. Tonight we got lucky. He walked to the call center after getting up to start his day and there was no line! Better yet, we were home. The only bad thing was the call wasn't long enough. He got a few free 200 minute phone cards before he left but unfortunately that only gets him 20 minutes for the overseas call. So we got cut off before saying goodbye. I'm not complaining though. It was great to talk to him.

It should get better once he's in his permanent housing. We are told he will be able to get Internet access and the video portion of Skype should work in his room. That will be wonderful. He will not only be able to talk to us without having to use a phone but we'll also get to see each other. I'm sure there will still be times when everything will not work correctly. He's on the other side of the world and technology can only do so much under the conditions there. But we'll take what we can get.

I've thought a lot this week about how hard it must have been to be a miltary wife years ago. Soldiers would leave home for war and sometimes they wouldn't hear anything until they walked back in the door a year or two later. I can't imagine how hard it must have been never knowing if they would ever come home. And sometimes they didn't come home. Remembering those military families and all that they sacrificed makes my frustrations this week seem rather small.

God Bless our soldiers and their families.

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil; may God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou O Prince of the heavenly hosts, by the divine power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Relax, It’s just a game!

My daughter had a great softball season this year. I saw her grow as a player thanks to her wonderful coaches. They never failed to encourage, teach and guide the girls on the team. They treated every player with respect and continued to help them improve at every game. But what I witnessed on other teams from coaches and parents was not always pleasant. Luckily I saw a lot more good than bad but the bad sometimes leaves me shaking my head in confusion.

Why is it that adults can take something as simple as summer recreational league softball and make it so complicated? For the past 8 weeks I’ve sat in the bleachers at the ballpark and witnessed what is great about summer. Kids meeting at the ball field to play a game. I’ve seen them laugh with their opponents, who in many cases are their school friends. Most of them work hard, show up on time and try their best to pull off a win. And whatever happens at the end, they always congratulate the other team for playing a great game. Kids get it. They know it’s a game. They want to win but more than anything else they want to have fun with their friends. They want to be a part of a team and share the wins and the losses.

Unfortunately I’ve witnessed too many times this summer adults who don’t get it. It’s not fun for them. It’s serious. It’s business. They want to win and they get mad when things don’t go their way. I’ve seen coaches yell at kids and punch fences when a ball is missed. They argue with the umpires and at least once this season a coach was ejected for screaming in the umpires face. And the saddest part of all of this bad behavior is they not only did it in front of other parents, they did it in front of the kids. Although I witness similar behavior at times in the bleachers, I feel like coaches need to set the example. Winning isn’t everything. It’s fun to win. It’s important to play hard and do your best. But things aren’t always going to go the way you hoped. Sometimes the umpire, who is human, is not going to call things the way you think you see them from the sidelines. I don’t always agree with the call either. But there is no excuse for being disrespectful during a game to anyone. Sometimes the best players are going to have a bad night. Sometimes they will miss an easy catch and other times they will make an amazing play. And sometimes the girls at the bottom of the batting roster will get hits you didn’t expect. That’s what makes this such a great sport. Everyone on the ball field counts. Everyone is important; the coaches, the umpire, and every player. Even when they make mistakes.

Tonight was the end of the season for my daughter’s junior league softball team. I should be jumping for joy because her team came home with the championship. And don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy for them. They lost only once in the regular season and once in the double-elimination tournament. They persevered and made it to the final game. I watched these girls work hard and get better and better all summer long. We were all set to face a tough opponent tonight. Our games had been pushed back twice because of rain but with clear skies today we were finally ready to play. However, when we arrived at the ball field, we learned that the other team was not planning to be there. So by forfeit we were declared the winners. I’m proud of our girls. The entire team was there and ready to play. They wanted to play their final game. But it wasn’t to be. I am also proud of the two girls on the other team who showed up thinking they were going to have a game. They were the only ones to walk out on the field and accept their runner-up trophy. The whole time I was snapping pictures I couldn’t help thinking that this just wasn’t the way it was supposed to be. There was no joyful atmosphere. There was no excitement after a night of fighting to win OR lose to a worthy opponent. They were happy to get their trophy but wishing it wasn’t by default.

There was a lot of talk tonight about why things turned out the way they did but I’m not going to spread rumors on this forum. All I know is that the parents who did show up with their girls were unaware of what was going on. The coach obviously didn’t communicate with the team. They didn’t tell our coaches anything. They just didn’t show up. The whole situation was not handled correctly. None of it was fair to the players. They deserve better.

Coaches who think that winning is everything, don’t belong in the game.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

May - The Month of Mary

May is the month that we in the Catholic Church recall and reflect on Mary's role in salvation history. We don't worship Mary, but we do honor her as the greatest Saint in heaven. All of our Marian prayers and devotions point directly to Jesus. I have challenged myself to pray the Rosary every day in the month of May. I pray it occasionally but not daily and I don't really know why I resist it. I desperately want to fall in love with praying the Rosary. I want to understand those who crave it, those who wouldn't let the day end without praying this wonderful devotional. I continue to be a work in progress. I am encouraged by the great Saints who all had a devotion to Mary and the Holy Rosary.

Today I attended a May crowning and Marian music festival at my home parish sponsored by our local Catholic High School students and faculty. It was a beautiful celebration from beginning to end. The choirs and instrumental musicians did a wonderful job with the sacred music devoted to our Blessed Mother. The readings reflecting on Seven Mysteries are some of the most important Scriptures in the New Testament. What struck me the most was how respectful it was. There was NO CLAPPING after any of the students performed which I was so thankful for. It wasn't a school performance although they all did an amazing job and deserve our deepest gratitude. It was an amazing opportunity to reflect on Our Lady and all that she did for us. I want to thank all the students, faculty, parents and board members of John Paul The Great Catholic High School for giving me and all that attended this wonderful experience.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Prayer For My Soldier

Did we remember everything? Did I ask all the questions that needed answering? Did I ask too many questions about where he's going and what he's going to be doing? Did I remember to have him show me all the "what to do in case of ____"? Did I ask him to help with too many things around the house this week? Did I tell him enough times that we'll be just fine, that I can handle things?

I guess we're as ready as we're going to be. In a little more than 24 hours my husband is leaving to join his unit. I think we'll get to see him before he leaves the country but I can't be sure of that. So tomorrow we are going to have a great day. We're taking the kids to the French Lick indoor water park and creating some wonderful memories for them with their dad before he has to say goodbye.

I found this poem online and it pretty much says what's in my heart right now.

A Prayer For My Soldier

I saw the woman crying as the plane flew out of sight,
She was trying hard to hide it, but it was her soldier's flight.
She knew that she would miss him and sadly hung her head,
Regretting all the little things that she had left unsaid.

As he's flying off into the night, while here she has to stay,
She remembers all the little things that she would like to say.
The things that seemed important are now just memories,
As her soldier has to leave her, she falls upon her knees.

"Dear God, I know you're listening, and that you're always near,
So with this prayer I'm asking you to help me with my fear.
I knew that he was leaving, but the time, it came to soon.
Now I'm asking you to keep him safe, protect him and his platoon.

"Let him feel my kisses each night before he sleeps,
And with each dawn's awakening, let him know my heart he keeps.
I ask, Dear Lord, that you will bring him safely back to me.
Amen." she said, and then arose from her bended knee.

He was off to do his duty, and she to wait back here,
But in their hearts forever they will hold each other dear.
Yes, this woman's heart is breaking, but some things he'll never see,
Except that she is proud of him for keeping her country free.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Proud To Be An Army Wife

I am an Army wife and a civilian mom. My husband is an electrical engineer and a Special Forces soldier. The other day as I was turning on the first episode to the new season of Army Wives one of the girls said “Hey mom that show should be about you!”. Well, not exactly. Most of the time I don't feel like an Army wife. At least not the ones portrayed on that show. (which my husband says is just a soap opera.) I've never lived on an Army base. I've never had to uproot my family and move from station to station. I've been lucky to live near family and lead a normal life like everyone else...most of the time. But I never for a moment forget what it means to be the wife of a soldier. I have to be prepared for anything. I keep one eye on what is happening in the world and I taught myself a long time ago that there is no reason to worry until the phone rings...while hoping it never does.

The first time I experienced the phone call was 1995. Mike and I were just dating. One night in December of that year we were watching a news story about National Guard call-ups to help with what I now know was Operation Joint Endeavor. I off-handedly asked Mike if he would ever have to go do anything like that and he said he doubted that would happen. Two weeks later he was gone. He came back in August of 1996. That year was Army wife boot camp for me. I asked a lot of questions and quickly learned what I was getting myself into by dating a soldier. Obviously it didn't scare me off. By the following year we were married.

The next phone call came less than 6 years later in the Fall of 2001. Tuesday, September 11 began like many other days. I was taking care of our four daughters and trying to coordinate schedules with the movers. Mike was already living in Jasper and had started his new job the day before. I sent him a quick email with the dates that the movers would be arriving to pack the house and he sent me a short reply that went something like this: “That sounds fine but I may be gone by then, turn on the TV”. The world as we knew it had just changed forever. Three months later after we got moved and settled, he was indeed gone. I didn't know anyone in Jasper. My girls were 20 months, 3 yrs, 4 yrs and my oldest was 15, mad at us for moving her away from her friends but eager to learn to drive. It was challenging to say the least. I used to get really irritated at all the people who would say to me “I don't know how you do it. I could never deal with it” Well, I didn't have much choice. My kids needed me to be strong. If I fell apart then who would take care of them? Mike was gone until August 2002. Looking back I can only give credit to God for giving me the strength to get through that year. Although at the time, I was not asking him for help. It didn't even occur to me to pray or go to church like so many others were doing during such a difficult time. And yet there he was taking care of me anyway.

Here we are 8 years later and once again it's time to say goodbye. We've known about this deployment since last year. The date has been pushed back a few times but we knew it was coming eventually. I'm not sure it makes it any easier to know about it so far in advance. After going through a 1 day notice in 1995, a few months notice in 2001 and almost a year notice this time, it really feels the same. Our family dynamics are a bit different. The first time we were not yet married. The second time we had a house full of preschoolers and a teenager. And now we have 3 pre-teens and a crazy busy schedule. But every single time the one thing that never changes is that our family becomes splintered. Nothing is the same when Mike is gone. We miss him so much and time seems to drag by. The days ahead seem endless and my heart aches just thinking about it.

The past 6 months while Mike has been doing pre-deployment work in Louisville I've tried not to think too much about him going overseas. It's been enough of an adjustment having him gone 4 days a week. The weeks he's been gone for longer trainings haven't been easy either. But as hard as it is now, I know in the back of my mind the tough days are yet to come. The girls and I will settle into a routine. We'll go on with all of our activities. Birthdays and holidays will come around and we'll celebrate like we normally do. We'll pack care packages and write letters (probably emails). We'll send lots of pictures and share every detail of what we are doing back here at home. But it's the unknown that is the hard part. There is much he won't be able to share with us. We may not get to know the exact date they leave the country. There won't be a big farewell. The nature of what he does makes that impossible. We usually have IM or email contact but even that is not for sure. It could be weeks once he leaves before we hear from him. Those are the hardest days of all...the days without any contact and not knowing exactly where he is or if he's ok. We may get an occasional phone call and we'll be thrilled to hear his voice. And we will never for one minute forget that he is in a combat zone. His job normally keeps him in a safe area but thats only a little comfort. It's still a war and there are people there who would be happy to kill him if given the chance.

Today Mike forwarded an email to me with the official activation orders for his unit. He'll be home tomorrow for a couple weeks leave and then report for his mobilization. No surprise...I just now have it in writing. I know the time will go by too fast. There is a lot to do to prepare for him leaving. He'll pack up his life here and get ready to move away. It's hard to explain how that feels. He's mentally preparing for military mode and I'm left not really knowing what to say or how to act and usually asking the wrong questions and trying not to cry. And as hard as it is for me to say goodbye and settle into our routine here at home, I never forget how hard it must be for Mike. He has to leave everything behind. He'll miss all that goes on in his absence. As much as we will try to keep him up on what is going on at home, it never makes up for him not being here. He won't get this year back. The girls will age another year, move up a grade level and reach new milestones while he's gone. And for the first time since we've been together, he won't be here for Christmas. But I'm not thinking about that right now.

We will get through this. I now have many friends here in Jasper and family close-by to help with anything we might need. I know all I have to do is pick up the phone and someone will be here in an instant. But best of all I have God to lean on. This time I will pray. This time I will ask him to help me through the difficult days and thank him for all the blessings in my life, especially for the honor of being an Army Wife to an awesome American Soldier.

God Bless all those who are fighting for our country.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday - The Passion

I just finished watching The Passion of The Christ for the first time. I wasn't sure whether I could get through it but I was fairly prepared for what I was going to see. I can't really say that I enjoyed it. Who could possibly enjoy a graphically visual re-enactment of Our Lord's tortuous last hours on earth. It's hard to explain but I just felt like I was watching a miracle. As horrible as it was, it all happened for me, for all of us.

It's funny how God works and gives us just what we need, when we need it. I had not been to confession at all this Lent, missing all of the extra services and regular scheduled Reconciliation opportunities. To be honest I procrastinated because I really don't like to go. So I prayed about it and promised myself I would go on Divine Mercy Sunday next week. I wasn't aware that there would be any more opportunities at my Parish this week. It was not advertised. So much to my surprise, Father announced at the conclusion of the Passion service this afternoon that there would be opportunities for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I immediately went over and was second in line thanking God for giving me this wonderful gift even if I didn't think I wanted it. I believe perhaps the Holy Spirit was still with me while I was watching the Passion movie helping me to appreciate all that our Lord endured for our salvation. Grace is an amazing thing.

Something interesting from the movie caught my attention. They filmed the crucifixion on a bright sunny day. How could something so tragic have happened on a day such as that? Ironically, today was one of those kind of days here in Southern Indiana. The sun shone brightly all day. It was a very warm Spring day and I spent most of it running errands. I was very aware all day of what a solemn day this is for Christians and yet I also noticed every flowering tree and shrub, lawns getting greener every day and all the early Spring flowers in full bloom. I saw gorgeous flowers of white, pink, purple, and yellow. All the colors you think of in Spring. And among all that beauty there are still brown lawns and bare trees, not quite ready, not quite woken up from their winter sleep.

I told my girls on the way home from picking them up from school all that I had noticed today. I told them that Good Friday can be a sad day but we know the rest of the story. Just like the the beauty of Spring appearing all around us, there is hope just around the corner on Easter Sunday. Jesus will rise again. The trees will sprout leaves, the lawns will grow faster than we want them to and many more brighter days are ahead. Today is a day to remember and know that there is always hope.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Triduum begins

"For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, "This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying. "This is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." 1 Cor 11:23-25

Tonight commemorates the Institution of the Holy Eucharist and the Sacrament of Ordination at the Last Supper. Holy Thursday also celebrates the agony of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, and the betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot, events that took place on the night before Jesus' crucifixion. Like Paul in his letter to the Corinthians quoted above, the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke all use the same phrase to describe the Last Supper on Holy Thursday. Jesus took the bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to his disciples and said "This is my Body". These sacred words must be taken literally. Christ repeated over and over again "Eat My flesh and drink My Blood". The Mass or Eucharist is a true sacrifice and a representation in an unbloody manner of the sacrifice of Christ.

As we remember what happened this night more than 2000 years ago, we also must stop and give thanks for our Holy Priests. As Pope John Paul the Great said “There can be no Eucharist without the priesthood, just as there can be no priesthood without the Eucharist” Now, more than any other time in history, our Priests need our daily prayers.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


When I began to delve deaper into my faith, I was very eager to learn everything I could about this wonderful Church which was handed to us by Jesus himself. How amazing is that? And the more I learned, the more I fell head over heels in love. I was blind for so long and now my eyes and ears were opened to the truth. I have been truly blessed to have so many good and faithful Catholic friends who have taught me, led me and helped me in so many ways.

As I am beginning to learn what the Church teaches on faith and morals, I'm finding out that not everyone who is Catholic is interested in following what the church teaches. I'm not really too surprised to learn that there are Cafeteria Catholics. I understand the influences of liberalism, modernism and secular society among other things. But it's really kind of interesting to realize that many Catholics wouldn't dream of stealing or committing civil crimes. They are afraid of going to jail. But those same people don't hesitate to commit mortal sin and the punishment for that is far worse.

Even after realizing that many Catholics aren't as faithful to the Church as they should be, I was not prepared for what I was about to learn next. I was shocked when I learned that many of our clergy; our priests, deacons and even bishops; our nuns, Catholic teachers, seminary and Catholic university professors, are not following all that the Church teaches. This seems like a no-brainer to me. Of anyone in the entire church, our leaders, our shephards should shine with reverance to Holy Mother Church. There should be no question that they would follow the Magisterium, the Catechism, Canon Law, the GIRM, The Rubrics, Rome. And why aren't they made to behave? When I was a child, I obeyed my mother or I was punished. I didn't always like the rules but they were her rules and I had no choice.

I remember the first time I heard dissent with my own ears. I was completely blindsided. Did I really hear what I think I just heard? I went home and I cried. I asked God to please help me understand. I didn't know what to do. For the first time I wondered if I was learning too much. Do I really want to know all that the Church teaches? I was afraid that knowing what I did would destroy the love I have for my Faith. Time has passed and I've unfortunately witnessed, heard and read about way more dissention in our Church than I ever imagined. It no longer shocks me but it continues to sadden me. But I am standing strong in my Faith. I'm staying the course. I'm not about to become discouraged. This is so incredibly difficult. I know that God is revealing all of this to me for a reason. Maybe someday I will understand. For now all I can do is continue to pray.

Monday, March 15, 2010


Four years ago when my husband began RCIA classes, I knew I needed to go with him. I had been away from church a long time. It didn't take long for me to become hooked on learning everything I could about the Catholic Faith. I was amazed at what I didn't know and I fell head over heels in love with this One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I began to crave all things Catholic. I spent a lot of time looking things up online and reading everything I could get my hands on.

As my eyes were opened to what the Church teaches and expects, it became clear that I had to make an important choice. The more I learned, the more I realized that many Catholics do not follow all of what the church teaches. They pick and choose what Doctrines and Dogmas they want to follow and disregard the rest. I knew that I couldn't possibly be that kind of person. That was the life I was leaving behind. I was always a good person, believed in God and lived the Golden Rule. I knew what the Ten Commandments were but I only followed the ones I wanted. I was living according to my own moral compass and not God's.

But now things were changing. I was coming back to my Faith. I was committed to teaching my children about God and raising them as good Catholics. My husband was joining the Catholic church. If I was going to do this, I wasn't going to do it half-way. It was time for me to trust God. Nobody ever said it would be easy. I began to understand that being obedient to the church was not optional. Even if I disagree with something or don't understand it, I must follow ALL that the church commands on Faith and Morals.

Obedience is a Moral Virtue. A Moral Virtue is "A good habit of the will whose immediate object is one of the means by which our final destiny is attained". (Modern Catholic Dictionary by John A. Hardon, S.J.). This is KEY for me and the basis of which brought me back to my faith. I had to ask myself an important question. Where is it that I hope to "end up" some day? Or by the definition above, where would I like my final destiny to be? Of course the only answer is Heaven. And after I understood where I wanted to go, I had to ask myself how I was going to get there. It was crystal clear to me that the Catholic Church would lead me to Heaven through the Grace of Jesus Christ. All I had to do was listen. All I had to do was obey. It isn't for me to decide what is right and wrong. God has already given that to me. God also gave me free will, but not to disobey him. In order to truly Love God with all my heart and all my mind and all my soul, I must without hesitation surrender my free will to Him who created me.

"Then he (Moses) took the book of the covenant, and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, "All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient." Ex 24:7

"Do you not know that if you yield yourselves to any one as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed," Rom 6:16-17

"And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross." Phil 2:8

"Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered;" Heb 5:8

"As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance." 1Pet 1:14

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Blinded by Ignorance

Several years ago, after living most of our lives not going to any church, my husband and I decided that maybe we were missing something. So we embarked on the journey of picking a church to join. One of my children had been asking about going to church and I figured it would be good for all of them to learn about God since I hadn't been teaching them anything myself. Besides it would be good for us to start going to church as a family. I really didn't think it mattered which church I picked. I wanted to make an informed, educated search and naturally Google was the best place to start. Right? I don't remember exactly what I typed in the search box but it was something like “how to decide which church to attend” or “compare church denominations”...something like that.

After wading through websites with comparison charts, I finally stumbled onto an online quiz that was supposed to determine what denomination would best fit me based upon my beliefs and values. It never occurred to me to question who wrote the quiz or how they determined the results. I was simply impressed that someone went to the trouble to write it and I figured it couldn't hurt. I didn't understand many of the questions, so sometimes I just picked an answer that sounded right. Many of them involved values that I hadn't even thought about before, so I picked what I thought I should believe. The one thing I never thought about when I was answering those questions was what God expected of me. Nor did I think about the impact my beliefs had on others. I knew I was a good person and I knew I believed in God, but when I was taking that quiz I was only looking at how my beliefs and values effected me and my family.

I was living in a secular world and made decisions with a secular mind. I knew right from wrong and didn't break any laws. I was always willing to help others and never judged anyone for how they lived their life. I honestly thought my value system was good enough. In fact I was probably just a bit proud that even though I had quit attending Mass regularly as a teenager, I still turned out OK. I didn't need to go to church to be a good person. Or so I thought. The truth was, I wasn't being completely honest with myself. I knew what I was supposed to strive for when it came to morals, but I didn't think it was possible to achieve it. Nobody could be perfect. And besides, I wasn't hurting anyone. That counted for something right? Did anyone really wait to have sex until marriage any more? When was the last time anyone was actually shocked when two people moved in together? It's almost expected. And although I would never even consider abortion for myself who was I to judge someone else for making that choice? After all, it's legal. I thought I was a "good person" when in fact I was living a life that was anything but good.

The results of the quiz I took varied depending on the way I answered the questions. I would go back and select different answers to the questions that I didn't really understand anyway and different denominations would come up. Sometimes it would say Methodist, sometimes Lutheran and sometimes Baptist. But I don't remember it ever telling me that I should be (or continue to be) Catholic. I thought this was pretty compelling evidence that I had been born and raised into the wrong religion. This online quiz, with no basis of authority, was telling me I needed to be anything but Catholic. Looking back at it now, how could I have been so blind to believe an online quiz?

The truth is I was blinded by years of sin. I had turned my back on God and thought I didn't need him. I was influenced by society and held captive by Satan. I based my value system on my love for others, not God. I remember many times I would hear someone rattle off their list of who and what was most important in their lives; 1. God 2. Family 3. Career. And I really didn't understand how they could say that. Most of the time I figured they were either just saying it to make themselves look good or else they were just misguided. How could they put anyone or anything above their family? Aren't my children supposed to come before everyone? Shouldn't I love them above even my husband? I truly thought that was what God would want. It was beyond my comprehension that He would ask me to put Himself before my family. I know now that my confusion and mistaken priorities were due to a lack of being educated on Faith. I couldn't live what I didn't know. I didn't know the Bible. I didn't know the Catholic Faith. I didn't know how my decisions effected others. I didn't know God.

Sometimes it makes me sad to look back at how I lived my life for over 30 years and that I couldn't see what was right in front of me the entire time. God was right there waiting for me. He missed me, he loved me and he wanted me to come home. But I was too proud, too stubborn to admit that I needed him as much as he needed me. At the Easter Vigil Mass in 2007, my husband was received into the Catholic Church, my 3 youngest children were baptised and our secular marriage was blessed by the Church. There is much more to the story of my faith journey beginning with why I started searching to begin with and ending with my complete and loving surrender to the Catholic Church and all her teachings on faith and morals that I live by today. I will tell that story another day.

Prayer for today's Saint of the Day: Saint Polycarp, sometimes Christ seems so far away from us. Centuries have passed since he and the apostles walked the earth. Help us to see that he is close to us always and that we can keep him near by imitating his life as you did. Amen

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Closer to God - Preparing for Lent

I'm determined this year to be ready. I'm not going to let Lent sneak up on me. Just the fact that I'm typing this before Ash Wednesday is a good sign. What will I give up? What will I do to become closer to God? What activities or prayers will I add to my children's routine to help them better understand what Lent is all about? One of my very favorite Catholic bloggers, Karen Edmisten, has a wonderful post on preparing for lent. Grab a cup of coffee and read the whole thing. It's long and very inspiring. Karen talks about the debate on whether to give up something you love or to give up something that is bad for you. I'm still not sure what I am going to give up this year. Last year I gave up something I love - Iced Tea. I drink it every day, all year round. I drink de-caf/sugar free so it's not bad for me. It's just something I really do love. I was successful last year giving that up and every time I reached for a glass to get something to drink, I remembered; Oh yeah, Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice....for me. I'm going to drink something else, even though I'd really like a glass of tea. It's the least I can do. It's penance for sin. And when Easter Sunday came around and I had my tea after all those weeks, it sure tasted good. It was a celebration not only that I did it, but also a celebration for Christ. It was the great Alleluia. Christ has RISEN! I'll drink to that. This year I'm thinking of stepping it up a notch. I think I will not only give up tea, but all other cold beverages I routinely drink and only drink water. No diet soft drinks, no flavored water, no juice, no cold coffee drinks. Drinking plain water will again remind me of my sacrifice.

Other things I plan to work on this lent for myself and my children include attending daily mass more often, receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation, praying the Stations of the Cross, Praying the Rosary daily, spending time in Adoration at church frequently and doing some kind of charity towards others less fortunate. And of course fasting and abstinence on the days required by the church. Most importantly, as I work through all of these acts of sacrifice, self-denial, increased prayer and alms giving I will be praying intently on the grace from God that many of these "temporary" changes will be changes I am willing and able to continue well past the Lenten season. I only have to look to the early Church Fathers, the Saints and most importantly my good friends right here at my own church as examples of people living their lives for God. Many of them attend daily Mass, pray the rosary daily, and attend weekly Holy Hours and/or Adoration hours. I know some who fast more often than just during Lent and some who abstain from meat on every Friday throughout the year. Are these people better Christians than me? Are they holier than me? Sometimes I think they must be. But I don't think they would agree with that. They are just normal people doing what they can to be closer to God. And they know that they have to work at it.

Lord, protect us in our struggle against evil. As we begin the discipline of Lent, make this season holy by our self-denial. May the light of Your truth bestow sight to the darkness of our sinful eyes and our repentance bring us the blessing of Your forgiveness and the gift of new life. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


On Day 2 of my "Living My Catholic Life" notebook I have the following challenge: "Today in prayer ask God to forgive you for anything you have done to hurt someone else.. Try to focus on specific things. At the same time, think of someone who has hurt you and decide to forgive them. They may be too proud to tell you they are sorry but that doesn't mean you can't let go of that hurt through prayer. Sometimes being hurt can lead to holding grudges. Days turn into weeks and weeks turn into months. Before you know it, years can go by and you can still be come angry just thinking about that person. Holding on to anger can be toxic and it excludes you from God's love."

We are so blessed as Christians to believe that no matter what we do, no matter who we hurt, no matter how grave our sins, that our Lord is an awesome, forgiving Lord. He loves us so much that all we have to do is ask for his forgiveness, and be truly sorry for our sin and we can be confident that he will listen and wipe the slate clean. As Catholics we are especially blessed to have the Sacrament of Reconciliation...a true grace from God.

What is most amazing about this incredible grace from God is that we don't really even deserve it. If God played fair and treated us the way we treat others, we would be in serious trouble. How can we expect God to forgive us if we hold on to anger, hate and grudges against others. We are continually faced with people in our lives who are not nice to us. Do we confront them? Do we talk about them behind their backs? (Gossip) Are we sarcastic with them? After all they deserve it right?

When my children come home and tell me about someone at school who has hurt their feelings, I try to help them through it by first asking them to pray for that child. I tell them that no matter what someone does to them, they are never to return the anger or meanness. And then I tell them to try their best to ignore it. And of course to always come and talk it out with me.

I wonder though, if I practice what I preach? I know that I try. But it is something I have to continually work on. When the offenders are close family, it is that much harder. There are times when I just want to write them off. Life would be SO much easier if I never had to see them again. And there is no way I'm going to help them with anything. Remember, they don't deserve it, right?

Well, like I said above, those feelings are toxic. When I truly let those feelings go; when I offer it up to God and deal with it through prayer, then I am more at peace and I can move on. This is not only what God wants, it is what he expects. It is what he demands. If I can't forgive others then I will never be able to be forgiven by Him.

Monday, February 1, 2010

I have much to work on

I will be the first to admit that I struggle at daily prayer. Most nights I remember to pray before I go to sleep but once the alarm rings in the morning, I hit the ground running and I'm busy all day with my normal daily home and family commitments. I'm not too busy to pray, I just forget to make time for it. I need to change this. God is never too busy for me. I am challenging myself today to strengthen my daily prayer routine with the prayer below.

Christians believe that Jesus had a real human mother and was born fully human. We also believe He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, therefore He is also God. The union of these two natures, fully divine and fully human is called the Incarnation. One very special prayer I hope to make a daily habit is "The Angelus" which celebrates the Incarnation of the Lord. It can be prayed individually or with your family or others. Many people pray this prayer at 6 a.m. to commemorate Christ's resurrection, at 12 noon to honor Christ's passion and at 6 p.m to remember the Incarnation.

The Angelus

The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary
And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Behold the hand maid of the Lord
Be it done unto me according to Thy word.

Hail Mary . . .

And the Word was made Flesh
And dwelt among us.

Hail Mary . . .

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God
that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray:

Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

In my Wednesday night Catholic Faith Study this week, we were discussing the Corporal Works of Mercy which can be found in Matthew 25:31-46. After reading this it really hits home how much is expected of us. Do I Feed the hungry, Give drink to the thirsty, Clothe the naked, Shelter the homeless, Visit the sick, Visit those in prison, Bury the dead? And then there are the Spiritual Works of Mercy which include; Admonish sinners, Instruct the ignorant, Counsel the doubtful, Comfort the sorrowful, Bear wrongs patiently, Forgive injuries, and Pray for the living and the dead.
These are based on the teaching of Christ and on Church practice since apostolic times. The spiritual works of mercy are oriented toward the soul. The corporal works of mercy are oriented toward the body.

I purchased a
Brown Scapular today which included an attached Jubilee Medal of St. Benedict. In the package was a paper with the Rule of St. Benedict. It seemed ironic that I would run across this today in light of last nights lesson. This takes the Works of Mercy to a whole new level. Only through daily prayer, the Grace of God and the Intercession of the Holy Spirit can I achieve these things.

The Rule of St. Benedict (For Daily Living)

This rule of St. Benedict should be followed by all to guide us in our daily lives. Morals are the foundation upon which a country rises to great heights. Take away morals, and countries, leaders, and individuals fall. All should wear or carry this most highly indulgenced and exorcised medal: -The Jubilee Medal of St. Benedict-

It is written: Do all things with counsel, and thy deeds shall not bring thee repentance.

  • In the first place, to love the Lord God with all one’s heart, all one’s soul and all one’s strength.
  • Then one’s neighbor as oneself.
  • Then not to kill. Not to commit adultery. Not to steal.
  • Not to covet. Not to bear false witness. To honour all men.
  • Not to do to another what one would not have done to oneself.
  • To deny oneself, in order to follow Christ.
  • To chastise the body. Not to seek soft living. To love fasting.
  • To relieve the poor. To clothe the naked. To visit the sick.
  • To bury the dead. To help the afflicted. To console the sorrowing. To avoid worldly conduct.
  • To prefer nothing to the love of Christ.
  • Not to yield to anger. Not to nurse a grudge.
  • Not to hold guile in one’s heart.
  • Not to make a feigned, (false show of), peace. not to forsake charity.
  • Not to swear, lest perchance one forswear oneself. (to swear falsely)
  • To utter truth from heart and mouth. Not to render evil for evil.
  • To do no wrong to anyone, and to bear patiently wrongs done to oneself.
  • To love one’s enemies.
  • Not to render cursing for cursing, but rather blessing.
  • To bear persecution for justice sake.
  • Not to be proud. Not a wine bibber, (habitual drinker).
  • Not a glutton. Not somnolent, (inclined to sleep).
  • Not slothful. Not a grumbler.
  • Not a detractor, (slanderer). To put ones hope in God.
  • To attribute to God, and not to self, whatever good one sees in oneself.
  • But to recognize always that the evil is one’s own doing, and to impute it to oneself.
  • To fear the day judgment. To dread Hell.
  • To keep constant guard over the actions of one’s life.
  • To desire eternal life with all spiritual longing.
  • To keep death daily before one’s eyes.
  • To know for certain that God sees one everywhere.
  • When evil thoughts come into one’s heart, to dash them at once on the rock of Christ and to manifest them to one’s spiritual advisor (confessor).
  • To keep one’s mouth from evil and depraved talk.
  • Not to love much speaking.
  • Not to speak vain words or such as move to laughter.
  • To listen gladly to holy reading.
  • To apply oneself frequently to prayer.
  • Daily in one’s prayer, with tears and sighs, to confess one’s past sins to God. To amend those sins for the future.
  • Not to fulfill the desires of the the flesh. To hate one’s own will.
  • Not to wish to be called holy before one is holy, but first to be holy, that one may more truly be called so.
  • To fulfill God’s commandments daily in one’s deeds.
  • To love chastity. To hate no man.
  • Not to be jealous. Not to give way to envy.
  • Not to love contention, (conflict). To shun vainglory, (boastfulness).
  • To reverence the old. To love the young.
  • To pray for one’s enemies in the love of Christ.
  • To make peace with one’s adversary before sundown.
  • And never despair of God’s mercy.

Behold these are the tools of the spiritual craft. If we employ them unceasingly day and night, and on the day of judgement render account of them, then we shall receive from the Lord in return that reward which He Himself has promised: Eye has not seen nor ear heard, what God hath prepared for those that love Him.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Living my Catholic faith one day at a time

After watching the move Fireproof and it's use of The Love Dare book, I came up with an idea for a notebook/workbook I could create for myself to help me become a better Catholic. My idea was to make a list of 30-31 things I could do to incorporate my faith into my every day life. When someone comes into my home, I want it to be obvious that I embrace my faith. I want my words, actions and lifestyle to reflect my Christian values that are so important to me. The notebook will have a different task for each day of the month. On any given date, I could pick it up, flip to that days entry and try to complete the task for that day. The main idea is to do it slowly and not try to be the perfect Christian. By adding your faith into your life gradually, soon it will become second nature.

Well, I did work on that book and it's 90 percent finished. I put it on the back burner for awhile but it is time to bring it back out. I will be posting entries from the book here on my blog and maybe it will not only help me be a better Catholic but perhaps someone else who stumbles onto my blog will benefit from it also.