Thursday, June 30, 2011

O Lord! Not the purple one please!

My daughter has been staying up rather late now that school is out for the summer and last night we had all brushed our teeth and were ready bed and were chatting about our day. Michaela was regaling us with tales of the fun things she did that day. At one point during the day she and her two friends were in the bathroom washing their feet - 'cause let me tell you...these kids' feet were black with grime. daughter was telling us (after we had gotten ready for bed) how dirty the water was from their feet and then piped up, "Oh, yeah... and I forgot to tell you, Grace knocked a toothbrush into the toilet." My husband and I looked at each other and our mouths dropped open. Michaela looked at our stunned faces and said, "But don't worry, I fished it out!"

And would you like to know how I can tell that I still have a long, long, way to go with regard to charity? Because the whole time she was telling this tale "yours truly" was hoping that it was my husband's toothbrush :)

I'll never tell who the lucky one was. But I heard DID hear my husband mumbling under his breath when he walked away and it sounded an awful lot like, "No wonder my breath smells like cr-p."

True story, folks. And the moral of the story is:

Always put your toothbrush back in the toothbrush holder after you brush your teeth.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Heart to Heart

The Eucharist is truly the "Heart" of the Mass. When we receive Communion we are receiving the Heart of Jesus. A number of Eucharistic miracles have pointed to this fact over the years. Here is a link that speaks about one of these miracles - Modern Day Miracle of the Eucharist. As in Lanciano where the host was tested and found to contain heart tissue so, too,  in this more recent Eucharistic miracle the host that was studied was found to contain this same tissue.

We've all heard the phrase, "You are what you eat" but I'd like to point you toward another great article on the Eucharist called Christ's Unfathomable Love. This takes "You are what you eat" to a whole new level!

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of the Eucharist. That you share with us your own Divine Heart is indeed...unfathomable.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

"I'm Hungry"

The state that I live in has a fairly low unemployment rate compared to most of the country. Despite this low rate the number of homeless people and families in our community continues to rise. I can't tell you how often I drive through my small city and see folks of all ages holding up signs:
- "Homeless, please help me."
- "Will work for food."
- "Homeless, any help would be appreciated."

These signs break my heart. One homeless woman used to ride around town on her bicycle with a simple cardboard sign hanging from the back - "I'm hungry." I haven't seen her for a while and have wondered what happened to her. I've written about a number of the homeless that my husband and I have met over the past couple years and the strangest story of all was Gregory's story (bizarre to say the least).

A few days ago I was on my way home from the grocery store when I saw a young lady, maybe between the ages of eighteen and twenty, holding up one of these signs and, since I had food in my car, I pulled over to talk to her. After giving her some food, I asked her a few questions about her situation. She has a three-year-old daughter and has been living in a temporary shelter, but it frightens her every time they have to stay there. The shelter is not really safe for young, pretty girls and children (she is not the first homeless woman to mention this to me). She told me that a number of times kind people from around town have put them up in hotel rooms now and then but most days they have to go to the shelter. She is willing to work but no one has offered her a job as of yet. She thanked me for the food and I left...but my heart felt heavy all day. The next day I decided to go back to the same spot and (hopefully) talk to her again thinking maybe I could come up with a solution for her dilemma by connecting her with the local Catholic Charities, but she wasn't there. Instead, a little further up the road was an elderly man holding up a "Homeless, any help would be appreciated" sign.  I didn't drive right up to him, instead I pulled into a parking lot and started praying. I pulled my Rosary beads out of my purse and for some reason I decided to give these to the elderly man. The beads were blessed and I thought they might comfort him. I  had 5 dollars on me and decided to give him that, also. I prayed over those Rosary beads asking God's blessing upon this man and asked for St. Charbel's intercession, "St. Charbel, this old man really needs your help and I'm placing him in your care. Please help him." And then  I touched the beads to a third class relic I had. I have no idea why I was doing this but I felt "nudged", so I left the parking lot and drove over to where the man was standing. I rolled down the window and said, "I'm sorry but this is all I have to give you right now, but I will keep you in my prayers."  I handed him the money and then the Rosary beads. The look this man gave me almost made me burst into tears. It was such a look of shock and gratitude. He dropped the money into his bag and started caressing the beads with his hand. He looked at me and said, "Thank you for these." He was talking about the beads, not the money! I said I would pray for him and drove away. When I glanced in the rearview mirror he was still holding the Rosary beads in his hand. At the next red light I could still see him in the rearview mirror and I saw him make the Sign of the Cross and place the beads in his shirt pocket.

People often look down on panhandlers and those that are homeless. I sometimes hear people aim rude comments at them. But do you know what I have never heard? I have never, ever, heard any of the homeless make a rude comment back and I have never been treated with anything but kindness by these homeless folks. Not even once. It is a reminder to me never to judge by the outward appearance of any human being. I am not naive, I realize that some people are homeless due to severe drug addictions (these are the ones in the shelter that frighten the young woman I wrote about above). But the majority of the homeless people I have met so far do not fit into this category. Some simply suffer from mental illness and a good number of homeless people these days are simply people who are down on their luck.

There are times when I wonder who is actually helping who. We may give them physical support but I can't help thinking that, spiritually, they may actually be the ones supporting us. One never knows.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Sabbath Moments - Coincidence?

Sabbath Moments is a weekly meme hosted by Colleen at Thoughts on Grace. You can read more about this meme on Colleen's site - she has written beautifully on the meaning of the word Sabbath.

I am indebted to all my online friends for their recent outpouring of prayers and e-mails concerning both my pastor and Randy's cousin. Randy and I send our thanks to each and every one of you. This is the true meaning of unity in Christ and we have been deeply touched by your response. I could not think of a greater Sabbath Moment than this outpouring - there is none. Please know that I pray for each and every one of you, also.

Randy was at work the other day and while praying for Jonna's salvation he said, "O Lord, I pray her heart was right with you." While speaking with the Lord his diad accidentally brushed up against a rosebush and I'd like to share the picture he took right after. This petal resembles a heart and made us smile. He has been working for this company for 18 years and never has had anything stick to his diad except on this one occasion when he was praying that his cousin's heart was right with God when she passed. It is also interesting to note that we had started a Novena to the Sacred Heart for her the night before. Coincidence?
Perhaps. I prefer to see it as a God - incidence :)

Rest in peace, Jonnalee.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Love Uproots Hidden Things

"For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible, and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light."             Lk 8:17

The Holy Spirit never stops working. Day after day, night after night, grace presses onward. Bringing everything into the light of God. The more people hide their sin, the more grace is poured out by God, for God is love and has our best interests at heart. He wants to save each and every one of us and, sometimes, to save his children he must use drastic measures. At least to us it seems drastic - humans usually prefer to look upon the sins of others rather than look into their own hearts. But this doesn't help us, we always have to understand that what we see in others is often in our own hearts too. Sin in the heart cannot be healed until it is exposed to the light of Truth himself. We do not know how deep the roots of sin run in our own hearts much less that of others.

Love uproots hidden things. Not to harm but to heal. The Mystical Body of Christ is wounded and the Holy Spirit is surfacing these wounds so that our eyes open up, we turn to God, and He heals us. If we let Him.We have free will and He respects that, but He has sounded the alarm worldwide. This is our wake up call. We look around the earth and see these wounds festering everywhere. In the eyes of our teenagers crying out for love and purpose, in our elderly who are made to feel useless and unwanted in our society when they should be cherished, in our overflowing prisons, in the "little ones" who are tossed in the trash because they don't fit in with their parents "plans".

The more we run from God the more obvious this woundedness is becoming. Will we completely destroy the earth and ourselves before we wake up and realize the answer is staring us right in the face? All creation is crying out. No one can blame God for what we ourselves have wrought. He is simply allowing us bigger and bigger glimpses of the damage we have done through our hardness of heart.

Perhaps we could call these glimpses "shock therapy". We live in a jaded, apathetic, world and many of us need to be "shocked" out of our complacency before we can get up out of our easy chairs and engage in the spiritual battle for souls that is going on all around us.  It seems to take a lot to move us into action. In the meantime people are falling apart, families are falling apart, nations are falling apart. Blessed John Paul II once said, "As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live." We can see that this has happened, not only in the U.S. but throughout the world. Families are the basic unit upon which societies are built.

The truth is...people were made for love. God would loves us back to wholeness if we would allow Him to. Jesus took upon Himself our sins and by "His stripes we were healed". Can we look Jesus in the eye and say that this wasn't enough? He poured Himself out for us. Even during his painful crucifixion He thought of us.

 He pled, not for himself during these dying moments...but for us.

"Father forgive them, they know not what they do."

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Food Shortages, "Global Weirding"....and God

Texas is having one of the worst droughts it has ever seen. After a recent conversation with his father (who lives in the Texas panhandle), Randy was relaying to me what his father told him and the gist of it was this:
"Son, it is so dry here that even the weeds are dying. Never in my lifetime have I seen the likes of this. Never."

I was aware of the terrible drought and wildfires in Texas that have been ravaging the land and I have been keeping myself informed regarding the dire situation there. This video gives a tiny glimpse of the troubles affecting farmers in Texas this year. In some areas it's worse.

I mention Texas in particular but the weather has been having adverse affects on farmers in many parts of the U.S. Take a look at these maps showing the natural disasters that have affected the "breadbasket" of our country. It's pretty alarming. We've seen food prices skyrocket over the past few years. My own grocery bill has gone up considerably and we are only feeding a family of three over here. Imagine folks who have large families? How about the poor? I am also linking to another site which gives you an overall viewpoint on the reasons why food prices will continue to rise. While I'm not necessarily advocating storing a year's supply of food (we certainly haven't done this in my home) the article is very interesting, especially if you scroll down to 20 Signs that a Horrific Global Food Crisis is Coming.

It goes without saying that one of the reasons for the increase in food prices is the price of oil. While this is an older article,  the graph accompanying it is relevant to our current crisis nonetheless. The U.S, as a wealthy nation (with a HUGE national debt) has not yet felt the full effects of the global food crisis to the degree that other countries have.

In one of the links someone commented and suggests that it isn't a "food" problem that we are having but a "people problem", and condones abortion and limiting the population. Personally, I believe that this "limiting of the population" and numerous other sins are the cause of the problems the world is facing today. The physical is a reflection of the spiritual, one could say. As personal sin sends people spiralling toward, (dare I say it?) hell (oops! how UN politically correct of me) the earth cries out with us. This is not some New Age theory. Sin has ramifications, we see this in our own lives - what makes people think that it doesn't affect the entire earth, also? Animals do not sin ....yet they die. Plants do not sin, yet they get diseases. When the human race fell the entire earth fell with it. Human sin has effects far, far beyond what we see with our natural eyes. Christians know that sin has disastrous effects on all life. Most scientists, enormous intellects notwithstanding, have an enormous piece of the puzzle of life missing - and that is: we are both physical and spiritual beings and until they fit this crucial piece where it belongs they will never progress beyond a certain point.
 How about this for a scientific study? Gather the statistics on the increase of sin in the past century (abortion, adultery, pornography, immorality of all kinds, crime, etc...) and compare it with the increase in natural disasters (man made disasters are a given, everyone knows sin has a ripple effect regarding this subject). you think they may possibly find a correlation between the two?

The way I see it, we have 2 choices:
1. We can continue to ignore the the existence of God and live as we choose.
2. We can turn toward God and live as He chooses.

Personally, having read the Ten Commandments, I cannot understand why anyone would choose the first, in its selfishness, over the second... which respects and protects us all. If we continue to turn away from God and live as if WE were gods I can probably make a pretty accurate prediction of what we will face:

An even higher increase in natural and man made disasters over the next decade. A continuing increase (read here, also) in suicides (The human spirit must be nourished just as the physical body needs nourishment.) More civil unrest. Wars. Further economic distress. Further corruption within our governments and major corporations. More animal die-offs. An increase in diseases.

You get the picture. I have deliberately linked to sites with no religious leanings (well, almost).

For the past two years, I've been warning that things will continue to spiral downward (and they have) if we don't make some serious changes. I thought that maybe if I provided statistics rather than simply post the words I have received that people may be more inclined to take a long, hard, look around them. Prophetic words can be waved away, what's right in front of our eyes cannot be. We are all aware of the natural disasters of the past decade so I didn't bother providing links to most of them, but I thought the ones I've added to this post might help us all see a little bit more of what is going on around us. I refuse to ignore these
signs. I refuse to turn a blind eye to the sin in our world. I refuse to stand before the Lord one day and say:

I did not speak up, Lord. No, I did not speak up. Even though I saw my brothers and sisters drowning in sin...I did not speak up to save them.

I may have to face other sins when I die - I am a sinner...but this won't be one of them.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sacred Heart Novena Starts Today

Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (to be prayed for 9 days)

I. O my Jesus, you have said: Truly I say to you, ask and you
will receive, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened
to you." Behold I knock, I seek and ask for the grace of....
(here name your request)
Then pray 1 Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be
Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.

II. O my Jesus, you have said: "Truly I say to you, if you ask
anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you." Behold,
in your name, I ask the Father for the grace of  (here name your request)
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be
Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.

III. O my Jesus, you have said: "Truly I say to you, heaven and earth
will pass away but my words will not pass away." Encouraged by
your infallible words I now ask for the grace of...(here name your request)
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be
Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.

O Sacred Heart of Jesus, for whom it is impossible not to have
compassion on the afflicted, have pity on us miserable sinners
and grant us the grace which we ask of you, through the
Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, your tender
Mother and ours.
Say the Hail Holy Queen and add: St. Joseph, foster father
of Jesus, pray for us.

- You can access this Novena each day by clicking on the Sacred Heart of Jesus picture on my sidebar.

Emergency prayer request

Once more I am begging for prayers from my online friends. My husband's cousin, Jonnalee was killed after a head on collision this morning. She had just dropped her daughter off at camp and was on her way to meet with her husband and son for her son's soccer game and never made it. By the time the ambulance got her to the hospital there was very little brain activity left and she died shortly after. The family is devastated. Please pray for the repose of Jonna's soul and for her husband and children. Thank you.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"Would you like to come home now?"

I was thinking about death today (my pastor passed away this morning) and it made me think about a near death experience that my father had a few years back. My father takes a number of medications for many medical problems. We are talking many pills per day. One day, and we can only guess this is how it happened, he must have forgotten he had already taken his morning meds and took them again. Within a short time my father started acting strangely and my mother called my sister (she's an RN ) who lives a couple of streets away. Good thing she called her before she called the ambulance, because, by the time my sister got there my Dad had stopped breathing. Julie resuscitated him before the EMT's came and then he was rushed to the hospital. While we were at the hospital, my father had another crisis. We were sent out of the room while the doctors and nurses worked on him. Thankfully, they revived him and a short while later we were allowed back in the room to see him. He quickly improved over the course of the day and after I left to go care for my family, he told my mom this story:
At a certain point while the doctors were working on him he was suddenly enveloped in a great peace that he had never before experienced. All pain left him. While in this peaceful state my father heard a beautiful male voice, filled with love, and this voice asked him one simple question, "Would you like to come home now, Sylvio?" My father instantly knew this was Jesus speaking to him and wanted to cry out with all his being, "Yes, Lord, please take me home!", but then he noticed my mom sobbing uncontrollably. He said to the Lord, "Ahh, Lord....look at her...I cannot leave her yet." After this my dad no longer heard the voice and was filled with pain again. What is so strange about this story is that my Dad could not possibly have "seen" my mother sobbing as we were not in the room when they were working on him and there was a wall between us and him...yet, "see" her he did. I can confirm what he saw and all I can think is that he had a near death experience. Jesus actually gave him a choice of whether to stay on this earth or "go home". For the sake of my Mom he chose to stay.

This experience has left my father with absolutely no fear of death. Actually, he's looking forward to that day when the Lord takes him "home" for good.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Community of Catholic Bloggers

Last week,  a few Catholic Bloggers and I joined together and started a new blog called the
Community of Catholic Bloggers.

The blog is up and running and I invite all my blogging friends to visit this new site. I also ask for your help in spreading the news about this community. Without the help of our fellow Catholic bloggers our goal of sharing Christ's love with others becomes far more difficult and, so I ask, in the spirit of Catholic unity, for your help in getting this blog off the ground. Here are some ways you could help:

- by adding our link or banner to your sidebars
- by inviting your friends to visit
-by  following the new site

I also ask for your prayers - that we may glorify God through our posts and draw others closer to our Lord.

In the coming weeks we will be adding new authors and guest bloggers to the Community of Catholic Bloggers and I invite those who would like to participate as guest bloggers to contact me. We are looking for faith-based articles that focus on unity, community, prayer, and anything that contributes to the building up of the Church. The only thing we ask is that the posts be written in a spirit of charity and respect and that the writers avoid issues that cause dissension in our Church.

I thank you ahead of time for any help you can give us. I am always touched by the wonderful support of the Catholic blogging community and the incredible outpouring of help that I always receive when asking for prayer and support. May God bless each and every one of you.

Many thanks to Victor and Karinann for all their hard work in setting up this site!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Sabbath Moments - The Priesthood

Sabbath Moments is a weekly meme hosted by Colleen at Thoughts on Grace. These are the times when we "live in the present moment" and appreciate the gifts that surround us. We thank God for these precious gifts that, so often, in the rush, rush, rushing of our lives we fail to notice of or take for granted.

This week I thank God for the gift of the priesthood. With the pastor of my parish being so ill I've been reflecting a great deal on this precious gift. Through the hands of these servants of the Lord we are baptized and receive all of the Sacraments. Each and every day these men serve their parishes tirelessly, and many, with such a shortage of priests these days, go above and beyond the call of duty.

I was thinking about how the very same hands that were giving my daughter her first Communion last month will soon be touching the hands of Jesus in heaven. The eyes that gazed at Jesus veiled in the Eucharist each day will soon behold the beauty of Christ, unveiled, in all His glory. The ears which listened to the Confessions of his flock day after day will soon be listening to the singing of angels. The mouth which sang Holy, Holy, Holy so often will be uniting his voice in an unending hymn of praise to the Lord of all Creation along with the Church Triumphant.

Just imagine.

Thank you to all my fellow bloggers who responded so quickly to my prayer request. May God bless each and every one of you.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Prayer Request

The Pastor of my parish has been very ill. He has kidney cancer and when my mom went to choir practice last night she was told that he was "within days of dying, possibly hours". We have cleaned this good priest's rectory and church for many years and a more dedicated and reverential priest you will not find anywhere. He poured himself out for his parishioners despite having heart problems and cancer. He just stopped saying Mass a few weeks ago, which gives you an idea of his deep love for Christ. I ask my friends who visit my blog today if they could say a Hail Mary for a peaceful passing for this very special man. I appreciate and thank you ahead of time for all your prayers during his final moments here on earth.

Dearest Jesus,
I place Father Kelly into your hands. Cradle this holy servant of yours in your most merciful Heart. Lord, I ask that you send your sweet mother to hold his precious hands during these final moments of his journey here on earth. Yes, may our dearest Mother hold his beautiful hands which always held you so reverentially during the Holy Mass, just as Our Lady held you so often with such immense love during your lifetime. Thank you, Jesus. I love you and I praise your Holy Name. Amen

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Older but Wiser

 I'd like to point my fellow bloggers to a truly beautiful post called God Always Saves the Best Wine For Last over at  Zeal for Your House Consumes Me. There, you will find a truly grace-filled reflection on aging and the spiritual wisdom that often comes along with it.

One Small Word

In my last post I wrote about how deadly silence can be. Today, I posted at the
 Association of Catholic Women Bloggers  about the power of one small
 word. You can read it here.

I hope you'll stop in for a visit at this new site and check out some of the wonderful
posts from other Catholic bloggers while you are there.  The Association of Catholic
Women Bloggers is growing by leaps and bounds each day.

 May Our Lord bless each of our efforts in communicating our Faith to others
 and may He guide our hearts and hands as we write.      Amen

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Deadly Silence

There are times when silence is good....and there are times when silence is deadly. The days we live in contain far too little of the "good" silence that quiets the spirit and gives rest to the soul. Instead, the silence we see most often today is the deadly type - that of people afraid to "step out of the crowd" and speak up against the widespread abuses of personal freedom and the shroud of sin which darkens our world today. The silence today reminds me of these words from the Bible, "And Pilate, wanting to please the crowd, released to them Barabbas...."  Mk 15:15

We all know what happened after that. Pilate, in his failure to use the authority given to him and in refusing to continue to speak up in defence of Jesus out of fear of the crowds, condemned an innocent man to death. One man's silence resulted in deicide. One might say, "But this had to happen. Even Jesus knew this."  True, but, would you want to be Pilate? Would you have wanted to be the one who would go down in history as the man who had the power to save the Christ and refused out of fear?

Before the first Pentecost, the apostles were a fearful bunch, also. Peter denied Jesus and they all abandoned him when He was arrested. John managed to scrape up enough courage to return but the others were nowhere to be found. It wasn't until they received the Holy Spirit that they became the great leaders of the early Church. The Spirit gave them the courage to spread the gospel despite great adversity and the persecution they came under.

I wonder at our silence today. Especially the silence of Christians. There are still billions of Christians in the world and it seems to me that if more of them spoke up and used their voices, both in prayer and spreading the Gospel, and also in speaking out against injustices and evils, our world would change. I'll leave you with the heart wrenching words of Pastor Niemoeller, a Christian imprisoned by the Nazis, who talks about  where this deadly kind of silence can lead to:

First, they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist

Then they came for me

...and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

The gift of fortitude (courage) is one of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit and we are in great need of this gift  living in the midst of the secular society that surrounds us today.

May the Holy Spirit pour upon all Christians the gift of courage and the wisdom to know when to speak up. May He also break the bondage of fear which is sealing the mouths of so many in our day.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Sabbath Moments - Family

Sabbath Moments is a meme hosted by Colleen at Thoughts on Grace. These are the moments when we "let go and let God", appreciate the present moment, and thank God for the gifts He has given us.

We have had some "weird and wacko" weather here the last couple of days but in some ways I am awed by this weather. Severe thunderstorms passed through our area yesterday and I was looking through the slider door watching them pass through our area . The cloud, called a shelf cloud, rolling in was beautiful and this type of cloud really DOES look like a shelf! It was beautiful and awe inspiring. I didn't think to take a picture but here is a site which gives a glimpse of the beauty of these types of clouds. These shelf clouds are usually not associated with tornadoes, or so I am told. Even lightning displays are beautiful viewed from the safety of one's home! Awe inspiring! Our temperature dropped from 90 degrees to 69 in less than an hour. (And that REALLY made me smile because you could cut the humidity with a knife before the storm.)

On Tuesday, I spent a good part of the day with my sister. We visited a shrine in Massachusetts, went to the book/gift shop located there and bought a number of items. There was even a priest in the shop so we were able to get these items blessed immediately. I was thankful for that because sometimes it is tough to find a priest available to bless rosaries, crosses and the like. I bought a few books and filled my Holy Water container before we left. I always keep Holy Water in my house and I use it often.

We enjoyed lunch together after our visit to the shrine. After I went home, I reflected on the tremendous gift which God has given to me in having such a close family. I love my brothers and sisters dearly and I thank God for them each and every day. They are very special people.

God is good.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Marginalizing and Stereotyping in the Catholic Church

I may not win any popularity contests with this post but I would like to address another issue that has come to my attention since entering the Catholic blogging community and this is: the marginalization and stereotyping of certain groups within the Catholic Church. In my last post I brought up the infighting among Catholics that one can't help but notice in the Catholic blogging community and, I am guessing, that many of my fellow bloggers have also noticed the stereotyping and marginalization of various groups within the Catholic Church. The groups where I find this stereotyping and marginalization aimed at most often is:

"Charismatic Catholics" - I put quotes around this one because though I use this term for lack of a better one,  the truth of the matter is that most of the people who are categorized in this manner are Catholics who simply believe or have had it brought to their attention that the Holy Spirit still shares these "gratuitous" gifts with us in our times. The majority do not confuse these gifts with the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit, they know their faith and they understand the difference between the Holy Spirit's gifts that are  given to all  and which are necessary for our salvation and the charisms which Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians. They also realize that the charisms are "helping gifts" and while not necessary for salvation, useful nonetheless.

As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
"There are furthermore special graces, also called charisms after the Greek term used by St Paul and meaning "favor," "gratuitous gift," "benefit." Whatever their character - sometimes it is extraordinary, such as the gift of miracles or of tongues - charisms are oriented toward sanctifying grace and are intended for the common good of the Church. They are at the service of charity which builds up the Church."  CCC 2003 (2004 also goes on to discuss these gifts.)

There are some who compartmentalize those who have charisms as people who, during Mass, wave their hands in the air, shout out alleluias, and pray in tongues out loud. I have yet to meet a "charismatic" who does this. Oh, I'm not saying there aren't those who may do this...there are all kinds of liturgical abuses these days, but they are the exception not the rule. The majority of the "charismatics" that I know are extremely reverent, have a tremendous love for the Eucharist, and follow the Magisterium of the Catholic Church completely.  I also see many, many of them at daily Mass, which, to me, is a point in their favor as it shows they deeply understand the significance of the Mass and Holy Eucharist.

Earlier today I read a comment on a blog which, out of charity, I will not name, which mentioned "demonic activity such as slaying in the spirit". That is a direct quote, and certainly offensive to one who has been "slain in the spirit" by a priest and received a major physical and spiritual healing at the same time. While the devil can certainly mimic things like this, it is, again, more than likely the exception, not the rule. Man cannot limit the power of God, nor can he claim something to be of the devil when its fruits point toward God. God may certainly "slay" in the spirit whomever He wishes if He so chooses. Just because man may not understand things doesn't mean they don't exist, nor does it necessarily mean they are demonic. I've never seen an angel in real life yet I believe they exist.

Another group which are often marginalized are those who believe in apparitions. I have even seen the same type of criticism aimed at folks who believe in apparitions (even those that have been approved by the Catholic Church such as Fatima) as that which is aimed at the "charismatics".  A word of advice to those who believe that Our Lady is appearing at Medjugorje: tread carefully if you leave a comment about these apparitions on some blogs because you might just get your head bitten off! Lol!  Whether or not Mary is appearing in Medjugorje isn't the issue here (that is for the Church to decide) : the point is the animosity aimed at the folks who dare mention that these apparitions just might be of God. The question I have to ask is:
Why? Why such fiery darts aimed at unsuspecting souls who simply comment on what they feel is a tremendous gift of grace to the world? For a moment let's suppose that it IS from the devil...well, even if this be the case, millions of your fellow Catholics, not to mention other denominations, have turned to God because of Medjugorje so God's loving hand is at work no matter what! Those who have great faith and trust in God are safe in his hands and well protected and He will guide them safely home regardless of any accidental missteps they may take. Personally, I believe that Our Lady IS appearing in Medjugorje but I respect the opinions of those who think otherwise. And I guess RESPECT is what it all boils down to when it comes to folks who believe a bit differently than you do. Whether we are people who love the Traditional Latin Mass, The Novus Ordo Mass, or believe in apparitions or charisms, we are ONE CHURCH and are all part of the Mystical Body of Christ.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Catholic Infighting

How many of my fellow bloggers have visited sites and found arguments (note that I did not use the word debates) going on about the Novus Ordo Mass and the Traditional Latin Mass?  I keep accidentally stumbling upon blogs that bicker about this subject quite frequently. Why all this Catholic infighting? I do not know but I will say this:

Read the Nicene Creed and particularly note the words, We believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.

This Catholic infighting, especially when it becomes disrespectful, causes disunity in the Church and at times harms the faith of others. To make matters worst, it surely grieves the Holy Spirit who is constantly at work bringing us to union with one another in Christ. Some sites go as far as to suggest that the Novus Ordo Mass is invalid. In all honesty, those who insinuate such a thing are walking on very thin ice indeed - for at that very Mass that you mock .... the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ is offered and it is no small thing to call this ultimate Sacrifice invalid. I would go so far as to say that you should bow your head in shame for even suggesting such a thing.

I don't get angry easily, but this Catholic infighting not only angers me, I am actually horrified by it.  It doesn't bother me that people may prefer one Mass over the other - both are beautiful because of their intrinsic value. My Parish celebrates both the Novus Ordo Mass and the Traditional Latin Mass. While I may personally feel that one is more reverential than the other, I would never even THINK to suggest to anyone that either Mass is not valid.

This infighting brings me to ask this question:

Have people forgotten the law of love? Fighting doesn't solve anything. Those who argue over this issue are unwittingly being used as tools of the evil one to bring disharmony in Christ's beloved Church. Better to focus on the love your neighbor has for the Mass than to stand there and tell him what is wrong with the Mass he is attending! With so few going to Church these days we should be applauding every person who goes,  not criticising them for what Mass they attend. It's also good to keep in mind the way the devil thinks - if he can keep Catholics busy bickering with one another there is less of a chance they'll draw others to Christ.

In 2 Timothy 2:14-16, St. Paul warns about these useless disputes. Jesus, himself, had strong words for the Pharisees and scribes (see Mt 23: 4-27 and Mt. 15: 1-20) but the words that strike me the most when it comes to Catholic infighting are these ....

"You shall love your neighbor as yourself."          Mt. 22:39

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Hardened Hearts and Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit

"Whoever says a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come."   Mt 12:32

Similar words to these are also mentioned in Luke 12:10 and Mark 3: 28-30.

A while back I discussed the unforgivable sin "blasphemy of the Holy Spirit" on this blog.  I basically stated that blasphemy of the Holy Spirit was final inpenitence and the refusal to accept God's forgiveness. I am reading a book by John Paul II on the Holy Spirit and realized that my definition for this sin, while on the right track, is a bit too simplistic. Many people are concerned about this sin and I'd like to share Pope John Paul's words on this subject:

"Why is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit unforgivable? How should this blasphemy be understood? St. Thomas Aquinas replies that it is a sin that is "unforgivable by it's very nature, insofar as it excludes the elements through which the forgiveness of sins takes place."

"According to such an exegesis, blasphemy does not properly consist in offending against the Holy Spirit in words; it consists rather in the refusal to accept the salvation which God offers to man through the Holy Spirit, working through the power of the Cross. If man rejects the 'convincing concerning sin'  which comes from the Holy Spirit and has the power to save, he also rejects the 'coming' of the Councelor - that
'coming' which was accomplished in the Paschal Mystery, in union with the redemptive power of Christ's Blood: the Blood which purifies the conscience from dead works."

"We know that the result of such a purification is the forgiveness of sins. Therefore, whoever rejects the Spirit and the Blood remains in "dead works," in sin.  And the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit consists precisely in the radical refusal to accept this forgiveness, of which he is the intimate giver  and which presupposes the genuine conversion which he brings about in the conscience. If Jesus says that blasphemy of the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven in this world or in the next, it is because  this "non-forgiveness"  is linked, as to its cause, to "non-repentance," in other words to the radical refusal to be converted."

A few sentences later, Pope John Paul goes on to say:
" Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, then, is the sin committed by the person who claims to have a right to persist in evil - in any sin at all- and who thus rejects Redemption.  One closes oneself up in sin, thus making impossible one's conversion, and consequently the remission of sins, which one considers not essential or not important for one's life. This is a state of spiritual ruin, because blasphemy of the Holy Spirit does not allow one to escape from one's self-imposed imprisonment and open oneself to the divine sources of the purification of consciences and of the remission of sins. The action of the Spirit of truth works towards the salvific "convincing  concerning sin," encounters in a person in this condition an interior resistance, as it were an impenetrability of conscience, a state of mind which could be described as fixed by reason of a free choice."

This book,  On the Holy Spirit in the Life of the Church and the World, is based on John Paul II's encyclical Dominum et Vivificantem. With Pentecost coming up, I was looking for a good book about the Holy Spirit to read  and this one is excellent! John Paul's words above warn us about not being open to the workings of the Holy Spirit and how the continuous refusal of His grace leads to a hardening of the heart that can become impenetrable at some point if we continue to choose to refuse his entrance. I have watched this happen to people. An area where you can particularly see this hardening of the heart occur these days is in the area of abortion. I'm not talking about women who have had abortions and have been forgiven. I'm talking about those who defend abortion until their dying breath and when you try to help them see it from a different point of view it feels as if you are coming against a stone wall...which is exactly what is happening in this case. You are coming against the stone wall of a hardened heart. Here is an example of this hardening - A Glimpse of Hell. The abortionist in this story removed the post because people were so horrified by it, but it showed an extreme hardness of heart. One can only pray that her heart softens. This site is still up but the writer seems to have toned down her language quite a bit. When I read the post that she removed all I could think of was Hitler. After all, abortion IS genocide. It's the systematic destruction of the innocent. One can only pray that the Holy Spirit's light gets through to those whose hearts are hardened to this degree before it is too late.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Sabbath Moments - Goldilocks and the Three Gray Hairs

Sabbath Moments is a weekly meme hosted by Colleen at Thoughts on Grace. These are the moments when
 we "let go and let God" and live in the present moment, opening our eyes to the gifts surrounding us.

Cardinals are one of my favorite kinds of birds and we have a whole family of them living right next to us! I see these beautiful creatures almost everyday. They "hang out" on the telephone wires outside of our condo. One is particularly beautiful but I haven't been able to snap a picture of him yet. I'm not much of a photographer.

I love watching my daughter take Communion. After she receives she stands there and makes the Sign of the Cross so reverentially that I can't help but smile even if she IS holding up the line. Thursday was the 4th Communion she's received and though she fidgets during Mass she's always perfect during Consecration and Communion.

Speaking of pictures, I sort of "fixed" my hair woes ;)  Not perfectly, but it's better!

Yikes!! Just call me Scary Mary!
Hmmm...I'm getting better at this hair fixing stuff!

Getting better!

I could handle this.

My hair anthem that I wrote last year (to be sung to the melody of the National anthem) :

O say, can you see
My hair's brand new highlights
That so proudly I share
They're so bright and so gleaming
Please ignore the red flare!
And the orange in there!
Gave proof to my plight
The gray flags were still there
O say do those stiff gray wires yonder yet wave
In the hair that's now lice free
On the head I may shave

The lice thing is a whole other story  (snicker!) We can blame Noah for that one. Noah's wife was a bit hard of hearing and when he told her to grab two mice she grabbed two lice instead. The rest is history. Especially if you don't homeschool.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Pentecost Novena Starts Friday

For those who would like to join me in a Pentecost Novena I will have a full Novena to the Holy Spirit on my other blog ( which is dedicated to the Holy Spirit) - Out of Babylon. You can also access this novena by clicking on the picture in my sidebar under Pentecost Novena to the Holy Spirit. This novena starts Friday June 3rd.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Tornado Warnings in Mass. and N.H.

We are under a tornado warning here in N.H as is Massachusetts next to us. One tornado has already touched down in Springfield as well as Westfield, Mass.

What are the odds? We never have tornadoes up here!

 Last week a tornado touched down in New York, which is unusual, and ripped the roof off of my brother's sister-in-law, Robin's house. They were at work thankfully and no one was hurt. Robin's mother had died the week before and this family is deeply grieving her loss. The last thing they needed was a tornado to hit their house, also. The same week, her husband, who is in the Reserves, got called up for duty. Please keep this family in your prayers - they are under tremendous stress.

Writing for Association of Catholic Women Bloggers

I would like to thank Jackie for the invitation to contribute posts to the Association of Catholic Women Bloggers. I have just written about Purgatory as my first post for them. I hope you'll stop by for a visit
and read this post on the souls in Purgatory and check out some of the other wonderful articles written by Catholic Bloggers. Thanks!