October 31, 2011


I broke a statue of our Blessed Mother on Saturday.  It wasn't just any statue as it was given to me as a gift for being in the choir when I was in fourth grade.  That was 48 years ago.  The statue has occupied a place of honor for all those years. First it was on my dresser in my bedroom where I would create an altar around her and crown her with flowers and have her hold my rosaries.  When we moved from Brooklyn she came with us to Long Island and found a place in my room along with pictures of the latest teen idol and a growing collection of records (remember those?).  When I married I carried her off to our new home and she went from a place in the bedroom to a new home on the bookshelves in the living room, where she has remained for well over 30 years. 

A few weeks ago we began redecorating the living room and I had to take things off the bookshelf.  Mary has survived remodeling and redecorating before without a scratch. I brought her, along with other knick-knacks, to my bedroom and placed her on my dresser. I figured she was safely on my dresser for all those years before marriage so she should be safe now.  Saturday I went to put something in my jewlery box and slightly bumped into her and she fell over hitting one of the other things on the dresser.  A part of her sleeve broke off into several pieces.  I was heartbroken. 

I was once asked of all the things I possess, if I had to choose one thing to save (other than people or pets) in a disaster what would it be and I replied my statue of Mary; not photographs, not my computer, not my jewlery or even my beloved books.  So now I sat on my bed angry with myself that I allowed the statue to be broken.  It even crossed my mind that I should just throw it away, I didn't want to be reminded of the fact that it was broken.  As the day wore on, I began to reflect on what St. John of the Cross wrote about detachment.  I was attached to an object, and for what reason?  Was the statue representative of my relationship with our Blessed Mother, or was it a sentimental reminder of my childhood?  I had to sit with that for awhile.

Yesterday while driving to work I received a word from the Lord. "I want you to have a relationship with my Mother, not with a statue," was what I heard in my heart.  WOW, did that hit me like a ton of bricks.  You see while I do hold Our Lady in great esteem and believe all the Church teaches about her, my relationship with her has been less than adequate to say the least. I do pray the Rosary, but often it is half-hearted while driving in the car or when I can't sleep.  Even my attempts to develop my relationship with Mary is half-hearted.  Yet recently I did pray to her to help with a specific situation and she appears to have helped me in this regard, but I didn't recognize it.

Today while driving to work I received another word. "The statue can be repaired, so too can you repair your relationship with my Mother."  Another WOW moment. I have most of the pieces from the statue, and as an artist I am sure I can touch up the area with paint once the pieces are glued in place. With regard to my relationship with Mary, I have all the "pieces" to glue the relationship back together.  Perhaps this incident is calling me to a deeper relationship with Mary.  Perhaps I need to take "Mary" off the shelf and allow her to be part of my life.

October 30, 2011

We Need to Become Witnesses

It's been a very busy week and I haven't found the time to post between presenting missal workshops, teaching, my normal workload and redecorating the house (which now includes tearing down half a wall) and I find my free time is better used just vegging out in front of the TV or taking a nap.  I do feel compelled to write on one interesting presentation I attended on Friday at our diocesan seminary in Huntington, NY.  It was at our annual Catechetical Leader formation day and the guest speaker was Brooklyn's Auxiliary Bishop Frank Caggiano.  His presentation was on the New Evangelization and "facing the headwinds."  

While he didn't offer any concrete solutions to the problems that we in catechetical ministry face today, he did get us thinking.  The first thing he said was that formation must come before evangelization, and the ones that need to be formed in the faith are those who will be evangelizing. It is so clear that so many Catholics today do not know their faith and that hampers any attempts at evangelizing others. People can't share what they do not know.

He also spoke of the difference between personal faith and private faith.  In this world of rampant individualism, many people have a personal faith but they keep that faith private.  It is not something they talk about. It is not something that involves others.  Bishop Caggiano said that our Catholic faith is deeply personal, but it can never be private.  As Catholics we are part of a community of believers and for faith to blossom and grow it must be shared.  He explained that in order to know how to evangelize we need only look back at the ancient Church, back to the beginnings.  People became followers of Christ because they had a personal encounter with Him or with those who knew Him.  As Christianity spread more and more people came to know Christ through the witness of others.  "We need", the bishop said, "to become witnesses."  This is done not only through our words, but through the witness of what we do and integrity of our lives. We see this in today's gospel.  Jesus tells his followers to listen to what the Pharisees say but not what they do.  In other words, "actions speak louder than words."

In a room full of DREs, youth ministers, priests, deacons, Pastoral Associates and other Faith Formation leaders, we were all aware of the troubling statistics regarding the state of the Catholic Church here in the states, and more so elsewhere in the world.  How do we overcome these troubling times where 88% of Catholics, according to a recent poll, believe themselves to be good Catholics even though they don't follow Church teaching and only 33% attend Mass on a regular basis?  We need to do as the ancient Christians did, we need to help people discover the Truth in the person of Jesus Christ. But first we ourselves must know the Truth.  We must be well formed in our faith in order to introduce it to others. 

I really did like Bishop Caggiano's presentation and I made a connection with him in that we were both baptized at St. Simon and Jude Church in Brooklyn, and his family lived just down the road from my Dad's office where I worked for so many years.  He is also young, dynamic and energetic, and I am sure he will go far.  He inspired all of us who gathered on Friday to renew our commitment not only know and pass on the truths of our faith but to truly know the Truth in the Person of Jesus Christ who is "the Way, the Truth and the Life."

October 23, 2011

A Different Perspective

It's amazing what a $20 can of paint can do. For thirty-three years we have had wallpaper on our dining room walls.  It has changed througout the years but it was always a floral pattern of various colors.  When we decided to redecorate in anticipation of our daughter's wedding next October, I needed a major change.  Down came the wallpaper.  After a few weeks of looking at bare walls and  painted on splashes of sample colors, I chose a soft pastel green that is very soothing.  Saturday we painted the walls.  I can't tell you how different the room looks and feels. It is a tiny room to begin with, but the solid color makes it appear much larger.  I felt like the woman in the commercial that can't stop looking at her newly painted living room. I could not take my eyes off of it. The only thing I put back on the walls was a crucifix, and I think that I am going to keep most of the walls bare except for the wall leading to the basement where my oil painting of dogwoods looks perfect.  I even uncluttered the cabinet and like it this way. I might get rid of some things or find other places for them to go. It's like a whole new room!

This morning I was reflecting while again gazing at my newly painted walls, that change often is a good thing. It helps us to look at things differently, with a new perspective, and often with a eye for possibilities that we would not have considered before. I bet you think I am going to be posting about the changes in the text of the English translation of the Missal.  While it is true that I am very much immersed in introducing the new texts in parishes throughout our diocese, this is not what I am referring to.  A few days ago I posted a rant about having to cancel presentations for adults in the parish due to lack of interest.  I was extremely frustrated, as would anyone who worked as hard as our team to come up with decent programs to form adults in the faith. A number of people pointed a few things out to me that got me thinking.  The biggest observation was that perhaps what we as a parish staff and adult formation team are focusing on what we think they need and not what they want.  There is probably some truth to that, although a few years ago we did conduct a survey and based our programs on the results of it.  But in few years things can change.  The Millennials have come of age and I have been told that their needs for religion and spirituality are different than the generations before them.  But that doesn't get us off the hook in teaching them the truth about our faith.  In actuality, I think their needs and desires are the same, they are just not aware that what they are looking for in life, is God.

What needs to be changed is the way we reach out to not only the new generation of Catholics, but to all Catholics as well.  Technology is changing the world and maybe it's time to take advantage of advances in information communication and use these new tools to evangelize.  Who knows, instead of sitting in their cars texting their friends they could be reading a reflection on their iPhone about Catholic teaching on the family.  We could use Facebook to send out little bits of information that would make them think about their faith in a way they never did before.  In addition to using technology we could address the needs that both women and men have to socialize with others of their own sex to discuss things that are important in their lives.  This affords a wonderful opportunity to gather together and to talk about their lives, but also to bring in the faith perspective.

So perhaps my minor meltdown last week was a good thing. I called a meeting of our faith formation team for later this week, and my pastor thinks we should form a focus group to explore new ways to reach out to people and meet them where they are.  We need to paint with broader strokes, and hopefully while be open to  what God is calling us to, throw away what is not working, and to evangelize our parishioners in new and exciting ways that will bring them closer to Christ.

October 18, 2011

Faith Cancelled (Updated)

The Pope as declared A Year of Faith beginning on October 11, 2012, the 50th Anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. I keep hearing about New Evangelizaion and how we need to make an effort to reach out and bring people to Christ, especially Catholics who more than ever are giving into the secular world.  I just can't get excited about this.  It is not that I don't agree with the Pope, for I certainly do on all counts.  My problem sadly is that many people don't care about their faith and despite all that we do, the forces of the secular world are too strong.

Perhaps I am just a bit frustrated right now because today I am cancelling a terrific adult program because no one cares enough about their faith to come.  The program we named Faith Express and it is a 40 minute express class on different aspects of our faith that meets at the same time the children's faith formation classes meet.  One of the complaints we had been receiving from parents is that it is difficult to come in and out of our parking lot at class times. We offered this class so that parents would not have to drop their kids off, go  home and then come back.  It worked well for the first two years although we never got big crowds.  This year it crashed.  No one came except members of my Adult Faith Formation Team.

I must tell you that these sessions are all taught by priests, deacons, parish staff and some parishioners, all who have advanced degrees in Theology. All of the them are good teachers.  We even offered coffee and cookies during the sessions.  As the instructors left their empty sessions over the last few weeks, they found cars all occupied by parents texting, talking on the phone or reading, some with their engines running, waiting for their children to be dismissed.  I don't get it.

Our parish has a good adult program.  We offer several five week basic theology courses a year, scripture study, workshops, lectures, even films and video series. I can't tell you how many we have had to cancel do to lack of interest. We have tried different times, days, more advertising , sending out letters, encouraging people anyway we can.  The diocese thinks we have a great program, but still only a few or no one shows up.

Tonight I have scheduled a lecture on Blessed Pope John Paul II.  I am praying that some people attend other than my team.  The last two lectures we held were embarrassing when only three from my team attended and no one else. The speakers were good and well prepared.  My presentation last week on the revised texts had 17 people attend out of a parish of 3,000 families.

New Evangelization?  How do you evangelize people who don't want to be evangelized?  How do you reach people who do not want to hear what we have to say?  It gets tiring week after week, year after year.  I sometimes just want to give up.  But I won't.  In a few minutes I will go to our meeting room and wait for our guest speaker to arrive.  I know that some of my team at least will be there. I know the talk will be good and we will get something out of it.  Maybe as others have said, we will need to be satisfied with a smaller Church of people who are faith filled.  I hope the the New Evangelization committee in the Vatican can answer some of my concerns, for I know I am not alone in feeling this way.

Enough of my rant for this evening.  All I can do right now is hope.

UPDATE:  Four people came to the presentation last evening (two of them were on the committee)...but unfortunately the presenter put the wrong date in his calendar and he didn't show up.  The Lord must be trying to teach us something by this.  I wish He would make it clear.

October 16, 2011

Thirsting for God

As a deer longs for flowing streams,so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God,for the living God.When shall I come and beholdthe face of God? My tears have been my food day and night,while people say to me continually,‘Where is your God?’ 
This afternoon at our monthly Oblate meeting we reflected on the first stanza of Psalm 42.  Like a growing number of lay Catholics, I pray the psalms every day.  Of all the psalms my two favorite have to do with thirsting for God. Psalm 63 is my favorite and Psalm 42 comes a close second.  The idea of "thirsting" for God speaks very loudly to me.  We all experience physical thirst at times although it is no where near the thirst that people experience who have no clean water to drink and truly thirst. However the kind of thirst the Psalmist is speaking of is not the physical but the spiritual. It is that thirst for God which can be so deep that at times it mimics true physical thirst, but is usually that longing that St. Augustine speaks of when he wrote, "You have made us for yourself O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You."

One of the questions we were asked to reflect on was our experience of God, in what ways do I need to experience God.   While having a mystical experience of God would probably bring me great joy and consolation, after spending two years pondering the writings of John of the Cross I have become quite comfortable doing without personal theophanies or other mystical experiences.  Have I had them?  I can honestly say I have, and it was great, but I am at a point in my life right now where my relationship with God does not depend on mystical experiences.  This does not mean I don't experience God, it is just that He reveals Himself in the ordinary, in the people I see everyday, in my family, friends and in my ministry. I experience Him in His Word and in the Eucharist. I don't always feel His presence, but through Faith I know He is here with me always.

Desire and longing for God is a thirst that I know will not be quenched on this earth, but it gives me Hope.  Hope is something that I believe is lacking today.  There are too many cynics, too many pessimists and far too many living without Hope. It is true that there are a lot of things that are wrong in the world today and in seems as if the evil one is getting the upper hand. But there is always Hope.  Hope is that flowing stream, that running water that cools and refreshes and quenches the thirst we have for something greater than ourselves, Someone who is the source of all our Hope.

October 15, 2011

Real Time or God Time

Last night I caught a snippet of HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher."  I had never seen the show because I don't like Maher as an on screen journalist, if you could call him that, but while channel surfing I heard the word "religion." Being who I am, that sparked my curiosity so I kept the channel on.  He was introducing Penn Jillette from the duo Penn and Teller.  Penn and Teller are magicians and comedians and Jillette is an espoused atheist and libertarian. Maher was interviewing him to promote Jillette's new book "God, No."  I don't know what makes Jillette an expert on religion, but he stated that he was in youth group as a teen and read the entire Bible and that anyone who really reads it will come to the conclusion that there is no God. "The best way to become an atheist is to read the Bible,"he said. He agreed with Maher that the Old Testament is full of some horrible things but  Jillette added that the New Testament is just as horrifying and is anti-family saying that it basically states, "No matter how much you love your family, love Jesus more."  He sees something terribly wrong with that. He also spoke of morality and stated that  if you are doing what you are doing for a reward or because of fear of eternal punishment then it's not really moral living. He said we should live moral lives  out of love and out of love alone.

The problem I see with Jillette's logic is in his reading of scripture. He is reading it on the surface only, without digging deeper and certainly without prayer. He did admit that to come to his conclusion he did not study the scriptures  but read them almost like an historical text.  I just can't abide by his assessment of what the scriptures are saying. Yes, Jesus is asking us to put Him first, but in doing so, we are not abandoning our families but loving them all the more. To put Jesus first is to follow His Way, to live a life striving for holiness in our relationships with God and with all humanity, especially our families.

With regard to morality I agree with Jillette that we should live moral lives out of love and out of love alone. But here we part company. We must strive to live morally out of love, but we are not perfect people and just as young children learn by giving positive and negative reinforcement, God encourages us to live good lives by offering us the heavenly reward and instilling a fear of eternity in hell.  Hopefully as we grow and mature in our relationship with Christ, we will live good and holy lives out of Love of God alone.  But there is nothing wrong with "the fear of God," as motivation to living a moral life as we progress toward perfection. 

As I stated, I never watched Bill Maher before and I probably never will again. As a self admitted "former Catholic," he sees nothing wrong with bashing religion and a quick look on YouTube at past episodes show that he seems to enjoy it. As for Penn Jilliette, I could do without him and his partner as well. I never found them funny or entertaining, and I have a problem with show business personalities speaking as experts on religion and politics, especially when they take cheap shots at Christianity or any religion for that matter.

Christianity and Catholicism especially seem to be acceptable targets for ridicule these days, especially in the media. We also know that Christians are being persecuted and martyred in the Middle East, in Asia and other areas of the world, but this kind of persecution is more subtle.  No one dies, no one is hurt, but we have a gradual eroding of faith especially among those who are vulnerable to believing most of what they see and hear in the medial. We seem to just sit back and let it happen.  Perhaps it is time to fight back with prayer, fasting and speaking out when we see this kind of ridicule and spreading of lies about our faith.  It is time to stand up for Christ.

October 13, 2011

Making the Mundane Holy

Most of my time at work these past two weeks have been filled with paperwork, forms, inputting data and checking the status of our many, many parish volunteers. Thanks to the Dallas Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People all our parish and school volunteers have to undergo background checks and Virtus training. I agree that, unfortunately, all this is necessary but it seems that each year we are required to add more requirements and paperwork to achieve compliance before the national auditors visit the diocese. Since one of my responsibilities in the parish is volunteer administrator, all this falls on my shoulders.  Yesterday found me complaining to whomever would listen about how all this monotonous work had nothing to do with the ministry I was well educated for and was leaving me little time to do my other work like prepare for classes I am teaching, RCIA, getting ready for the "Missal launch," and for meetings with different ministry groups.

Last evening, after complaining to my husband, he reminded me that St. Benedict asked that those who follow his Rule view work, even the most mundane, as prayer and necessary for the journey toward holiness. As an Oblate I know this, but when it came down to doing this tremendously boring and arduous task, all I thought about was the fact that I didn't want to do it.  He also reminded me that out of obedience I am called to do all that those who have authority over me (my pastor/boss, the diocesan offices) require me to do as part of my job. Again I was given a healthy dose of humility.

As I approached the pile of papers on my desk this morning, I also recalled the words of St. Benedict who wrote, “Whenever you begin any good work you should first of all make a most pressing appeal to Christ our Lord to bring it to perfection.” So I began work today praying that I would please God through my work.  It is still boring, but at least I am not resenting it. I also realised that it doesn't all have to be done today and that if I do this work a little at a time it won't seem so overwhelming and I could still get my other work done.

I was also reminded of all those who work at mundane tasks day after day, month after month, year after year just to make a living and provide for their families. These are the forgotten workers, the ones on assembly lines and in factories, those doing repetitive office work, or work  no one else wants to do. They don't complain, they are just happy to have a job, and in these tough economic times that is a blessing.  I offer my work today for them.

October 12, 2011


One of the things that occupied my time during my recovery was watching HGTV.  For those not familiar with it, Home and Garden Television is made up mostly of decorating and home improvement shows and since I am in the process of redecorating in preparation of my daughter's wedding one year from today, the shows offer me many ideas. For the most part, the designs are way beyond my budget, but I still get some suggestions that I can possibly translate into a cheaper counterpart.  One of the shows that is on often is House Hunters.  In this show, couples looking for new home are shown three possibilities to choose from.  The camera follows them room through room as they comment on what they NEED in a home.  It often amazes me what these people think is absolutely necessary. If the kitchen hasn't been remodeled since 2005 and doesn't have granite countertops it's too dated.  The master bedroom has to be the size of a football field.  And my favorite, the bathroom has to be big enough to host a party with half the neighborhood.  

I remember when we went shopping for our first home.  We were 24 years old, married a year and a half, had no kids, and figured the house we found was the perfect starter home. It cost us less than what we  spent for our kids college tuition for a year and less than what some people pay for a luxury car these days. We ended up staying and we have lived here for thirty-three years.  Our house, by HGTV standards is tiny.  Our king size bed practically takes up the entire bedroom, there is one small closet and we don't have an "en suite" bath.  In fact, we only have one bathroom in the whole house that is smaller than a walk in closet.  I discovered some important things over the years. A family of five can live just fine with one bathroom, even as the kids became adults. Friends of mine had eight kids and only one bath and they survived. As far as a kitchen goes, what do granite counters actually do for you and bamboo flooring has to be washed the same as linoleum tiles. I discovered that having an 8x10 bedroom isn't going to destroy a kid's life, and sharing a room made my daughters close friends. With regard to property, a small yard can be just as nice as an acre or more and there is a lot less to mow. We have a needlepoint hanging in our kitchen that says "A small house is better than a large mortgage."  We own our home and even though it would be nice to have a bit more room (and storage), now that the kids are almost all moved out we are finding it is a good size "empty nest" home.  And the biggest advantage, there is less to clean.

I have a few friends and relatives who have built homes for Habitat for Humanity. This organization, founded in 1976, builds homes for the poor and has grown to an international organization. The homes are simple and small but have all the necessities for a family to live in comfortably. But there are so many people in the world who live in substandard housing, in shacks and shanteys with no electricity or running water.  And then there are those, even in our own communities who wander the streets homeless with all their possessions in a shopping cart they took from a supermarket parking lot.  Necessities?  I live in luxury compared to them.  It makes me truly reflect on my priorities in life.

I don't deny people the joy of having a large house with all the most up to date amenities.  I guess if you have the money why not have a great big home to enjoy. My own extended family and friends have beautiful homes that I enjoy visiting. The thing that bothers me is the idea that so many people think these luxuries in a home are necessary to find happiness and TV shows like this perpetuate this myth.

Jesus tells us in Matthews Gospel, "Foxes have lairs and birds have nests but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head (Mt 8:20).  What is important to finding happiness is not where we live, not how big our home is or if we have granite and stainless steel in our kitchens.  We find happiness by following Christ, caring for the poor, and sharing His message of Love, Hope and Mercy.

October 10, 2011

I'm still here

A bit of writer's block, a few residual affects of my surgery, a week back to work, and a few perfect autumn days have kept me from posting.   I have some thoughts on the back burner so hopefully I'll be writing soon.

October 5, 2011

Follow Your Heart

"Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."
These words were spoken by Steve Jobs in 2005 when he presented the commencement address at Stanford University soon after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He was given six months at the most, God gave him six years.  

My recent medical problem put me face to face with mortality. Even though my condition was not considered serious, until the surgery was over and the pathology report came back the possibility of facing my own death was on my mind.  I did a lot of praying and thinking in the weeks before my surgery, and yes, it made me think about what is really important in life.  I have made some changes, mostly in my thinking. I am hoping it makes me a better person. 

God gives us opportunities all the time to reflect on what is important and to make changes in our lives.  These opportunities are usually not dramatic or life threatening, but they do occur, and we need to be open to listening to the voice of God making us aware of the true desires of our heart. How we respond is up to us.

I don't know if Steve Jobs was a religious man but he had a vision which changed the way the world communicates.  As I sit here with my Mac laptop I can't help but feel a member of the Apple family and I mourn the death of its patriarch. Rest in peace Steve.

October 4, 2011

A Halloween Rant, a bit early

What's up with the  fascination with horror? It seems each year as soon as October rolls around, and even before, we can't seem to avoid images of horror, terror, violence and death leading up to the October 31st celebration of Halloween.  Many television networks are featuring horror films all this month and several frightening ones are opening in theatres over the next few weeks. Quiet suburban neighborhood homes are being turned into "graveyards" with body parts emerging from well manicured lawns, giant blow up monsters and horrifying creatures greet people as they walk down the block, and scary sounds coming from hidden speakers surprise deliverymen and unsuspecting neighbors.

Let me focus on films for a moment.  Personaly I will not watch them. Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle singing "Putting on the Ritz" in Young Frankenstein is the closest I'll get to watching horror, if you can call this superb spoof of Frankenstein a horror film." So why do people like horror? Steven King, who is an expert in horror, explained it this way:
"The mythic horror movie, like the sick joke, has a dirty job to do. It deliberately appeals to all that is worst in us. It is morbidity unchained, our most base instincts let free, our nastiest fantasies realized . . . and it all happens, fittingly enough, in the dark."
The last few words I believe are significant "it all happens...in the dark."  St. Paul reminds us in the first letter to the Thessalonians (5:5) that we are, " all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness."  The world would have us remain in the dark.  Why do we need to cater to our dark side? Why do we need to let evil into our lives, which certainly is what  happens when we focus our thoughts on things that feature the glorification of evil and horror?

Today I received an e-mail from the Museum of Biblical Art, a very fine museum located in New York,  advertising a Halloween Extravaganza at and in a prominent Episcopal Church in Manhattan.  This night will feature a showing of the classic horror film "The Phantom of the Opera" (pretty tame by today's standards) followed by a "procession of the ghouls."  The audience is encouraged to come in their scariest costume. The fact that this event is being held in a church is mind boggling to me. A church is where we celebrate all that points toward Good and Beauty, not ghouls, ghosts and things that frighten our senses.

Even in our Catholic Schools children are encouraged to celebrate Halloween in ways that encourage them to glorify evil, even if it is only in what might be considered innocent fun. Many times they come to school or after school parties in costumes with little restrictions as to what those costumes represent.  When I was in Catholic School, we would dress up as saints for Halloween and parade around the school, ending in the church with a prayer service.  Halloween, after all, is All Hallows Eve, the vigil of All Saints Day when we recognize and remember all those who have gone to their rest and have achieved the eternal reward of forever praising God in heaven.

Yes, we are children of Light, and we should strive to live in that Light always. Our "dark side" does not need to be let free, even if only vicariously by watching people being hacked at by insane mass murderers or terrifying aliens who feast on human flesh.  Our dark side needs to be redeemed by the Grace of Jesus Christ who came into the world to set us free from the darkness of sin and evil.

So, what movies are you going to be watching these next few weeks?  

October 2, 2011

Angels Watching Over Me

"For God commands His angels to guard you in all your ways." Psalm 91:11

Because it falls on a Sunday this year, we are not celebrating the memorial of the Guardian Angels, but I still think we can use some time today to think of these heavenly beings that God sends to earth to watch over us. I know most of the time I don't think about my Guardian Angel and I probably take its presence for granted, but I know that my angel often gets me out of sticky situations, protects me, reminds me to make right choices, and helps me to keep on the right path.

When I was a child I prayed to my Guardian Angel every night before bed. It always gave me comfort and helped me fall asleep if I was troubled or anxious. I don't pray the prayer much anymore, but preparing parents for their child's baptism, I exhort them to pray with their children every night and this is one of the prayers I encourage them to teach their children. Unfortunately many of them have never heard of it. 
Angel of God my guardian dear, to whom God's love commits me here. Ever this day be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen
Another thing I remember from my childhood is the Guardian Angel song.  We sang it in school, we sang it in camp and in the late 60's I even remember singing it in church. This isn't exactly the way I learned the song, but I like the arrangement.

Perhaps it's time to think of our Guardian Angels a bit more often.  Yes, angels are all around us. They are not the cutesy beings that are depicted in little statuettes, yard statues, posters and greeting cards, but vigilant servants of God  who do His will to watch over humanity. They keep us safe, they comfort us as they once comforted Jesus on the night before He died, and when we breath our last breath they carry us into the arms of the Lord so that we too may join them in giving praise to God for all eternity.

October 1, 2011

Choose Life

I read this today over at The Deacon's Bench.  Deacon Greg usually posts his homilies and this one for Respect Life Sunday is outstanding.
Her name is Joanne Schiebel.  In 1954, she was a young unmarried college student who discovered that she was pregnant.  In the 1950s, her options were limited.  She could have had an abortion – but the procedure was both dangerous and illegal.  She could have gotten married, but she wasn’t ready and didn’t want to interrupt her education. Joanne opted, instead, to give birth to the baby and put it up for adoption.
And so it was that in 1955, a California couple named Paul and Clara Jobs adopted a baby boy, born out of wedlock, that they named Steven.
We know him today…as Steve Jobs.
It would not be overstating things to say that Steve Jobs is my generation’s Thomas Edison. As one observer put it, he knew what the world wanted before the world knew that it wanted it.
If you have an iPhone or an iPad or an iPod, or anything remotely resembling them, you can thank Steve Jobs.
If your world has been transformed by the ability to hear a symphony, send a letter, pay a bill, deposit a check, read a book and then buy theater tickets on something smaller than a cigarette case…you can thank Steve Jobs.
And: you can thank Joanne Schiebel. Read more
I wonder how many Steve Jobs are out there, men and women who have made great contributions to the world but would not be alive if their mothers chose to abort them rather than give them life.  Among my friends there are quite a few whose daughter's have become pregnant out of wedlock. They all chose to bring their babies to life, and to keep their babies and raise them.  It's not an easy choice, to be a young woman of high school or college age with their whole life ahead of them to now be strapped down by a child, unable to live the carefree life that women of their age enjoy. But the joy that these children have brought to their lives and to the lives of my friends who help in caring for them, makes up for all the fun they may be missing.  There are even a few important people in my life who would not be here if their mothers chose to abort them.  I thank God their mothers chose life.

I also think of those couples who long for a child but cannot have one of their own. How selfless it is for a young girl to give up her child to a couple who would love and raise him or her, offering this child a stable home life and opportunities that a frightened teenage mother might not be able to offer her child. I pray for these young women who find themselves in this situation and with a heavy decision to make.  It is not easy for a teenager to give up a child, and it is not easy to raise one if she is not long out of childhood herself.  It is not easy if her parents disown her and she is forced to go through pregnancy alone.  That is why being Pro-Life does not just mean speaking out against abortion, but caring for those who find themselves in the situation where abortion seems the only solution.  It means supporting organizations that support women in crisis pregnancies and those who choose to keep their babies. It also means that we need to respect life in all stages and all situations, for as soon as we stop respecting people, especially the most vulnerable and those who seem to be worthless to others, then it becomes easier to accept the most heinous affronts to human life, like abortion, euthanasia, and the death penalty

Deacon Greg ends his homily with these words:
“Respect life” is more than just a catchphrase.  It needs to be a way of living. Respect life. Not just in the womb, but everywhere, at every time, in all circumstances — within our families, our communities, the places we work and do business.  It means treating every life with dignity, and honoring every life as a gift.
Doing that, moment by moment, we will begin to change the culture.
And: heart by heart, we will begin to change the world.

As we celebrate Respect Life Sunday, I pray that with the grace of God, we will change the world.