Thursday, March 26, 2015

Jesus our God: Model of Humility

Palm Sunday

This Sunday, the second reading will be from Philippians 2:6-11. I’d recommend starting at the beginning of the chapter to get some context.

My Bible notes that this was probably part of an early Christian hymn, and also that in this hymn, the Coming of the Messiah (not merely the historical Jesus, but the Incarnation as part of Salvation history) is being held up as a model for Christian imitation - in the virtue of humility.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

We are Wind Chimes

I thought I scheduled this to post yesterday, but evidently I have a gremlin "helping" me! Sorry about that!

I love wind chimes. Not enough to collect them, but I do think they’re beautiful, and I am fascinated by the amount of science that necessarily goes into making them. There’s a lot more than meets the eye that goes into the choice of pipe width and length, material, where to put the holes and strikers so that the intervals are right, and I’m sure you could get all the way down to talking about the physics of what kind of string will allow the chime to vibrate the most freely.

Wind chimes come in many sizes and produce all different sounds. Some chime, ring, knock, and rattle. Some produce sounds differently in cold verses heat. Some sound most beautiful in the rain; some will be virtually destroyed if they get wet.

Monday, March 23, 2015


Today's Pots & Pans reflection will be delayed until tomorrow (sorry about that). I got a spark for a reflection kind of late in the game, and I thought I could write it up this morning, but the subject is proving just a little more involved than I thought. I'll be able to have it ready for tomorrow.

Also, I do not plan on posting a Pots & Pans reflection either next Monday (after Palm Sunday) or Easter Monday. In the chaos of family events, I don't want to have to worry about it. Naturally, if God decides he has something for me to post, I won't argue with him. I just won't be stressing about it if nothing presents itself!

"Pots & Pans"? What's she talking about?
I call my regular Monday reflections about things that God presents to me during the week my "Pots & Pans" Reflections.

I haven't done a real one in a few weeks because I have been posting my Lent series.

The name comes from something my Dad said to me when I was... pretty young. I wasn't in high school yet, that's for sure. He said that you have to be able to look for the Lord "in the pots and pans of everyday life," or else you'll never make time for him - that's really what I try to talk about in those reflections is finding the beauty of God in everyday experiences.

(Just in case you ever wondered, right?)

Post will be up tomorrow at the usual time!

Friday, March 20, 2015

{7QT 2} - Mixed Bag of News and Hilarity

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Earlier this week, a still, small voice told me to Pray the Rosary for Peace in the Middle East.

I'd like you to join me, just whenever you have a chance, as often as you can.

More about my experience in this post.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

On the Importance of Sacred Tradition

Fifth Sunday of Lent

This Sunday, the second reading will be from Hebrews 5:7-9. I strongly recommend reading verses 1-10, to get a little context.

This is one of those verses that it’s REALLY important that we don’t take it out of its context in the rest of Sacred Scripture. Taken out of context, you could easily err in to Arianism, which heretically taught that Christ was not God.

And yet, one COULD proof text it into legitimacy, if we believed that Scripture was our one, and only highest authority, and that nothing existed (apart from mortal man) that could determine what was the correct belief. To guide us in understanding what the writings in Sacred Scripture don’t mean.

With nothing to play referee (especially about the relative importance of different passages), we could proof-text our way into all sorts of heretical places.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Pray the Rosary for Peace in the Middle East

Last night, I felt a call by the Holy Spirit to prayer, and I wanted to share what happened, and invite you to join me in praying the Rosary - just whenever you have time, as often as you can - for Peace in the Middle East.

I was on my way home from Adult Faith Formation class last night, and had been listening to the news on Catholic Community Radio.

In the study, we had covered the origins of Islam and its effects on previously Christian lands. We also covered the coercive policies that existed in the lands they conquered. We talked briefly about the burdensome taxes, the unreasonable laws that were enacted to "convince" people that it was not possible to remain Christian where they were. We talked about how in Islam, there was from the very beginning a "House of Believers"(Islam) and a "House of War" (Everyone Else).

I thought about the culture battles that it has become necessary to fight in the west, all of which I read about in the National Catholic Register, and other mainstream news sources. There are plenty of other culture battles that I could link to, given the time to look up an appropriate article.

As I was driving, there was an article on the radio about the recent suicide attacks in Pakistan that killed 15 and injured several dozen more.

I hate that these ISIS militants are getting the kind of platform that they are and that it seems like nobody is doing anything about it, and like I can't help. I almost turned the radio off.

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Best Thing I Ever Did for Lent (Part 4/4)

For the last three weeks, I have been posting a series on the best thing I ever did for Lent. If you haven’t read the rest, I recommend beginning with the first post.

Last week, I left off when I misplaced my copies of Redemptoris Mater and Secret of the Rosary. And I never had gotten “unstuck” from that passage right before Easter. I had spent a few weeks spinning my wheels over that section before they went missing… Yes, at the same time.

I know that at least one of those can be obtained for free on the internet (Here or Here), but I never did go out there to get them. I’m not sure if I didn’t do it because something was telling me not to, or just because I was lazy, or maybe it was because I was closing in on seven months pregnant and I had more pressing things on my mind. (Come to think of it, that’s probably why I lost them, too!)

In any event, they stayed lost until the Summer/Fall of 2014, when I attended a bible study at St. Thomas More parish entitled A Biblical Walk with Mary, by Dr. Edward Sri.

Friday, March 13, 2015

7 Quick Takes - My Life, Recently

I’ve been seeing this 7 Quick Takes thing around the Catholic blogosphere, and I thought it might be fun to join in, so here goes.

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Epic (The Church History Study from Ascension Press) is EPIC!  My local parish is about five weeks into it, and I am loving it!

It is really nice to be taking a look at the story of our Catholic family, as told by us, instead of the world. For example, Did you know that England's Virgin Queen (Good Queen Bess) was responsible for as bloody a persecution against Catholics as "Bloody Mary" was against Protestants? One of those things that's kind of glossed over in history classes nowadays...

Seriously, a good course in Church History ought to be required for everybody getting Confirmed!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

As Good as Dead

Fourth Sunday of Lent

This Sunday, the second reading will be from Ephesians 2:4-10. I would also encourage you to read the other readings. They are Lectionary #32, if you’re reading from a hard copy.

After seventy years of captivity in Babylon, the Israelites, as a people, were as good as dead. Those were dark times for the nation of Israel; it looked like they were never going to be going home, and mathematically, it was only a matter of time before it became “intermarry with the Babylonians or die out”.

In the same way, we are as good as dead in our captivity to sin, and helpless to escape from it apart from grace. Sound familiar? It’s no coincidence that people often have to hit “rock bottom” before they reach out to God for something better.

It was at this moment in the history of the Jewish people that Cyrus the Great of Persia conquered Babylon, and in a moment of singular generosity, freed them and let them go home to their Promised Land. 

Wouldn’t you know it? Some of the Israelites didn’t jump at the chance to go back to their home.

This sounds very much like what happens in our world. Jesus comes with an offer of salvation from captivity in sin, but as per usual, people prefer that which is easy, comfortable, and familiar - they prefer their sins. Leaving our sins behind (much like leaving Babylon) has a cost - the discomfort of change and the long journey back to what we were created to be.

We are all spiritually dead in our trespasses, because if we stand on our own “righteousness” before God, we - all of us - would deserve hellfire. (As we all know, we cannot earn our salvation.) 

We cannot imagine God’s love for us. We just don’t have the categories for it.  In his love for us, he gives us the food we eat, the air we breathe, our family, our friends, our children, our bodies, our strength. In his love for us, he supplies us with blessings we aren’t even aware of. In his love for us, he sent his Son to die for us while we were still as good as dead in our sins.

We are called by Christ to respond to this love, to live in the light, rather than in the darkness, that others might see the good that we do, and come to experience God’s love for them. 

Let us pray that we might have the courage to live in the light that others might see Christ reflected in our daily living, and come to knowledge of him, to love of him, to repentance from their sins. Let us also ask that we might to come to love him daily more and more, and that his love might be more clearly reflected in us.

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Best Thing I Ever Did for Lent (Part 3/4)

For the last couple of weeks, I have been writing about the year that I decided to square myself with church teaching on the Blessed Mother. Here is a link to the first post, If you would like to begin there.

I have to admit, things were a little rocky at first. I really was starting out from the place of a skeptic who needed convincing.

Among the first things I learned was that I didn’t actually know most of the Mysteries of the Rosary.  I decided to start out saying the Sorrowful Mysteries, because I knew I didn’t have any objections there… and when I got home, I definitely discovered that I had a few Stations of the Cross mixed in. (oops…)

I was reading one(ish) numbered section from each of my books every night. Sometimes I read a little more, and sometimes I had to spend a couple of days chewing on one section.

Secret of the Rosary, as I think I mentioned, is a devotional book, so getting through that amount was pretty easy.

Redemptoris Mater is theology, though, so the reading was dense and difficult. I frequently had to stop to try to mentally diagram a sentence to figure out what it said or to back up and reread several numbered sections to figure out how their contents worked together.

It was a lot of hard work. I had a high level of trust for the material therein, though, (The encyclical was written, as I mentioned before, by Pope St. John Paul II, and the edition I read also had an introduction, by Pope Benedict XVI (then Cardinal Ratzinger)) so effort, was a bargain of a price, as far as I was concerned.

I did allow myself about a week’s worth of sporadic “exceptions” in my Rosaries (or maybe a little more) to listen to Catholic Radio, because during that particular Lent, we got a new Pope, and I was curious about him like everybody else. (Go figure, something really, truly, important happened in the life of the Church.)

I think it’s important to say that I didn’t get all the answers I was looking for during those 40 days. I even got “seriously stuck” on a section in Redemptoris Mater, about a week before Easter, and my reading came to a screeching halt while I struggled with it.

However, I did experience very good fruit.
  1. I became a lot more at ease with The Rosary. There are devotions I prefer, but I no longer resist the Rosary as anything approaching a matter of principle. I even know all of the mysteries, now.
  2. I was able to explain a lot more about the teachings of the Church on the subject of the Blessed Mother.
  3. Pitter-Patter, with whom I was pregnant at the time, has been the world’s easiest baby since the time she was born. (Pretty sure there’s a direct relationship here!)
And these are just what I’ve been made aware of so far.

That year, I never did get good and comfortable with the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary. In fact, I may not have said them at all that year, even on Wednesdays.

Since I was thoroughly enjoying my reading, I resolved to continue it, but somewhere along the way, both of my books got lost…

And I think that’s enough for today. (Yeah, I know. Huge cliffhanger, right?)

Part 1   |   Part 2   |   Part 3   |   Part 4

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Eyes to See

Third Sunday of Lent

This Sunday, the second reading will be from 1 Cor 1:22-25. As usual, I’m going to encourage you to read back a little to get some context. I’d start at verse 18, and continue on through the end of the chapter.

The epistle this week forms a bridge between the first reading and the gospel, so I strongly recommend reading them. It’s Lectionary # 29, if you’re reading from a hard copy source.

Paul laments that Jews look for signs, and Greeks look for wisdom, but both fail to see the very thing that they seek in Jesus Christ.

The truly hilarious part (or perhaps it’s tragicomic) is that the Jews who were in the temple when Jesus drove everybody out with a whip, the same ones who were always looking for signs, didn’t recognize one when it flipped over their money tables, scattered their animals, and drove them out of the temple! To those who had been given the Eyes of Faith (the disciples) it was right in front of them.

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Best Thing I Ever Did For Lent (Part 2/4)

Last week, I started telling the story of the best thing I ever did for Lent, and I left off, having described my attitude toward the pseudo-worship that I thought I was perceiving among the pews. Here is a link to last week’s post, if you would like to read it.

So things persisted like this for some years, before a change happened, because I didn’t know what to do about any of it.

In those years, the rift between me and the “incorrect practices” surrounding Mary grew.

I know that God must have been working hard on me, because I don’t remember any external circumstances that led to my change of heart. All of a sudden, one day in late 2012, I decided that my attitude was a problem that I needed to do something about.

My thought process was (more or less), “I am Confirmed, for crying out loud! At some point my formation is my own responsibility!”

The real problem was that, in my heart, I was not submitting myself to the teaching authority of the Church that Jesus established, and therefore, I was no different than any other dissenting Protestant or cafeteria Catholic. I knew I needed to bring myself under that authority.

That very next year (2013), for Lent, I decided that that was going to be my “thing” that I did. Two thousand years of continuity and doctrinal unpacking, and I just KNEW the answer had to be out there, this was just a problem with my catechesis, just like any other problem in catechesis. All I had to do was dive in, and find it.

It's in there somewhere, right? Oh, heavens, what have I gotten myself into!

So I went to my local Catholic bookstore, to find some educational reading material. I knew that my objections were due to a blank spot or a gray area in my training, so learning more about Marian doctrine and it’s history and it’s development over time seemed to be the most logical place to begin.

I was fortunate to find the encyclical Redemptoris Mater. It’s about Mary in the life of the Church, by Pope St. John Paul II. And I started reading it. I read a goodly portion of it during Lent that year, and I highly recommend it for anyone who’s struggling in their relationship with the Blessed Mother. The edition I bought also had an introduction by Pope Emeritus Benedict, before he was elected Pope.

I also stumbled upon the book Secret of the Rosary. It’s about the proper practice of devotion to the Rosary and the fruits of this devotion that are enjoyed by many. It is primarily, I think, devotional reading. It was interesting, but it wasn’t nearly so helpful (at the time) to me as Redemptoris Mater was, because my problem was basically a rebellious attitude about something I thought might be wrong.

I knew there was no way that I’d finish reading (and absorbing) even both of those in a single Lent, so I figured if I didn’t get everything I wanted from them, it would at least be a good start.

In addition to these, I also committed to daily rosaries during my commute.

My strategy was this: I would (a) learn as much as I could about why church teaching is what it is, (b) learn about the closeness (how, why, and otherwise) others experience with Mary, Marian doctrine, and Marian devotions, and (c) spend time with her.

I was (essentially) trying to improve my relationship with the Blessed Mother. When you forge a relationship with someone, you learn about them and you spend time with them, and that’s what I was resolving to do.

I guess that’s enough for today. This post is already getting pretty long.

Part 1   |   Part 2   |   Part 3   |   Part 4