Monday, June 29, 2009

St. Paul's Bones

Interestingly, the Pope has announced two cool discoveries about St. Paul over the last few days, and this one is especially neat on the Feast Day of Sts. Peter and Paul. Scientific testing has indicated that the relics we venerate as St. Paul's really seem to be his.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Gay Marriage Thing

As we know, most Protestants don't recognize the Sacraments (at least not as being Sacraments). However, the Church holds that Protestants have two legitimate sacraments - baptism and marriage. They are missing out on the other five. It struck me as I was thinking about gay marriage and the outcry that fundamentalists and other groups have put up in opposition that these groups are actually defending the sacrament as instituted by God. When you listen to their discussion of the issue, they are VERY close to understanding the sacramental nature of marriage - that God instituted it as something between man and woman, I just don't think they have come to an appreciation the access we get to God's grace through that sacrament. Anyway, here's hoping that maybe some dialogue could open up about this issue.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Be Not Afraid

Yesterday Father Andrew got me thinking about the meaning of the gospel in our own lives. Here is the Gospel:

Mark 4:

8 On that day, as evening drew on, he said to them, "Let us cross to the other side."
Leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat just as he was. And other boats were with him.
A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up.
Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?"
He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Quiet! Be still!" 9 The wind ceased and there was great calm.
Then he asked them, "Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?"
10 They were filled with great awe and said to one another, "Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?"

I think the practical lesson that I took from this story is that we should never be distressed and afraid. Whenever terrible things happen in our life, we should turn to Christ and say, "Yes, I know you are here with me, I should not be afraid of anything." This is the mindframe that all the martyrs from the earliest Christians down to those being martyred in India and China today have had. Why be afriad of anything when Christ dwells with us?

As Catholics this point comes home even harder because we know we have Christ with us present in the tabernacle in every Church in the world. We also know that every time we go to mass we have an opportunity to receive Christ into our bodies in a real way. Shouldn't that make us go out into the world and realize that nothing can truly harm us and that all setbacks are just temporary? If only our faith could grow to that level, evangelism, catechisis, and other important roles of the laity would be easy to perform.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ark of the Covenant

I was recently listening to Open Line with Fr. Mitch Pacwa and he took a call from an Evangelical Christian about why Catholics refer to Blessed Mary Ever-Virgin as the Ark of the New Covenant. Sparing you all the details about why (you can read that here), I wanted to note something very interesting he said. You can either take it as coincidence, or like most of us Catholics do, as a theological significance.

In the Septuagint, the word when David "leaps for joy" as the Ark of the Covenant returns to Jerusalem is the same word as the Gospel writers chose to use for John the Baptist "leaping" in his mother's womb when Mary and the unborn Jesus come during the Visitation.

I thought that was pretty neat.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Prayer after Communion

During this Octave of Corpus Christi (The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ), I wanted to share some words from Father Andrew's homily yesterday. He noted that we should make sure and take time to pray after Holy Communion knowing that we are as close to Christ as we will ever be when we take the Eucharist. He also reminded us to stop in front of Catholic Churches to say a prayer and remember that Christ always dwells in a real way in the tabernacle of every Church in the world. As he said, knowing that God really dwells in the tabernacle, we should be crawling into Church on our hands and knees.

I wanted to share with everyone a prayer that I do after I receive Holy Communion every day. I think it's absolutely beautiful, especially when you consider that we have become united with Christ in a real way when we receive him the the Holy Eucharist:

Dear Lord,
help me to remove from my mind every thought
or opinion which You would not sanction,
every feeling form my heart which You would not approve.
Grant that I may spend the hours of the day
gladly working with You according to Your will.
Help me just for today and be with me in it.
In the long hours of work,
that I may not grow weary or slack in serving You.
In conversations,
that they may not be to me occasions of uncharitableness.
In the day's worries and disappointments,
that I may be patient with myself and with those around me.
In moments of fatigue and illness,
that I may be mindful of others rather than of myself.
In temptations, that I may be generous and loyal,
so that when the day is over I may lay it at Your feet,
with its successes which are all Yours,
and its failures which are all my own,
and feel that life is real and peaceful,
and blessed when spent with You as the Guest of my soul.


Friday, June 12, 2009

St. Gianna

I wanted to share this biography of St. Gianna Beretta Molla from the Vatican's biography of her. Her story and how she became a Saint is in some ways a response to the conversation that Matt and I had in the comments earlier about abortion and the life of the Mother. I recently heard about her on a SaintCast and I had never heard about her before. Her story moves me greatly.

Gianna Beretta was born in Magenta (Milan) October 4, 1922. Already as a youth she willingly accepted the gift of faith and the clearly Christian education that she received from her excellent parents. As a result, she experienced life as a marvellous gift from God, had a strong faith in Providence and was convinced of the necessity and effectiveness of prayer.

She diligently dedicated herself to studies during the years of her secondary and university education, while, at the same time, applying her faith through generous apostolic service among the youth of Catholic Action and charitable work among the elderly and needy as a member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. After earning degrees in Medicine and Surgery from the University of Pavia in 1949, she opened a medical clinic in Mesero (near Magenta) in 1950. She specialized in Pediatrics at the University of Milan in 1952 and there after gave special attention to mothers, babies, the elderly and poor.

While working in the field of medicine-which she considered a “mission” and practiced as such-she increased her generous service to Catholic Action, especially among the “very young” and, at the same time, expressed her joie de vivre and love of creation through skiing and mountaineering. Through her prayers and those of others, she reflected upon her vocation, which she also considered a gift from God. Having chosen the vocation of marriage, she embraced it with complete enthusiasm and wholly dedicated herself “to forming a truly Christian family”.

She became engaged to Pietro Molla and was radiant with joy and happiness during the time of their engagement, for which she thanked and praised the Lord. They were married on September 24, 1955, in the Basilica of St. Martin in Magenta, and she became a happy wife. In November 1956, to her great joy, she became the mother of Pierluigi, in December 1957 of Mariolina; in July 1959 of Laura. With simplicity and equilibrium she harmonized the demands of mother, wife, doctor and her passion for life.

In September 1961 towards the end of the second month of pregnancy, she was touched by suffering and the mystery of pain; she had developed a fibroma in her uterus. Before the required surgical operation, and conscious of the risk that her continued pregnancy brought, she pleaded with the surgeon to save the life of the child she was carrying, and entrusted herself to prayer and Providence. The life was saved, for which she thanked the Lord. She spent the seven months remaining until the birth of the child in incomparable strength of spirit and unrelenting dedication to her tasks as mother and doctor. She worried that the baby in her womb might be born in pain, and she asked God to prevent that.

A few days before the child was due, although trusting as always in Providence, she was ready to give her life in order to save that of her child: “If you must decided between me and the child, do not hesitate: choose the child - I insist on it. Save him”. On the morning of April 21, 1962, Gianna Emanuela was born. Despite all efforts and treatments to save both of them, on the morning of April 28, amid unspeakable pain and after repeated exclamations of “Jesus, I love you. Jesus, I love you», the mother died. She was 39 years old. Her funeral was an occasion of profound grief, faith and prayer. The Servant of God lies in the cemetery of Mesero (4 km from Magenta).

“Conscious immolation», was the phrase used by Pope Paul VI to define the act of Blessed Gianna, remembering her at the Sunday Angelus of September 23, 1973, as: “A young mother from the diocese of Milan, who, to give life to her daughter, sacrificed her own, with conscious immolation”. The Holy Father in these words clearly refers to Christ on Calvary and in the Eucharist.

Gianna was beatified by Pope John Paul II on April 24, 1994, during the international Year of the Family.

St. Gianna, pray for us!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Journeying Forward

It is interesting to me to see how over the course of my journey and my strengthening in the Catholic Faith that I talk less and less about my old experiences in the Protestant Church or even about what their beliefs are anymore. I think every day I feel more and more like I was a cradle Catholic.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Mother Teresa

So I was listening to an episode of the SaintCast and they were talking about Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. It was mentioned how much the main stream media and other individuals want to try so hard to prove that she had lost her Catholic faith or that she was an agnostic of sorts. Many times they try to refer to her writings about spiritual struggle that were recently published (and they obviously have not read any of the book at all, just running on their own suppositions). I wondered why they feel the need to do this, and then I realized it.

Mother Teresa is someone who proves God exists in a way. She shows us as well as anyone the true nature of Christianity and what it means to love our neighbor. Grappling with the fact that such immense good comes from our Faith means that we have to grapple with the idea that that is how God really wants us to live. You never hear anything about Catholics who do negative things "losing their Faith" or not being good Christians, but the one woman in recent years we can look at and say she absolutely and beyond a shadow of a doubt had a true Faith needs to be attacked, because it would be scary to admit the Love of God.

Even I, when I was Protestant had to try to demonize Mother Teresa in some way. I couldn't grasp the fact that such a wonderful and pure person could be Catholic. It didn't make sense how she would be going to hell after such a life. I'm just thankful that God has given me the graces to come to a better understanding of Faith and Christianity now.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Vain and Repetitive Prayer

So I started listening to my friend the Catholic Journeyman's podcasts...which he forewarned me were boring...and I found them, as I expected, to be quite the opposite. Actually his podcasts are stimulating and my only complaint is for him to do more of them. He made a comment about when he was approached by a Protestant about his Faith and how he dealt with a seemingly "vain and repititious" mass where the prayers were similar or the same every time. This triggered something in my mind I have been meaning to discuss for quite some time.

Most attacks against Catholic prayer come from three fronts. First, I have heard complaints about the Eucharistic prayers (that the Priest says during the sacrifice of the Eucharist at every mass). Secondly, I have heard complaints about the Rosary - and the repetitiveness of the Hail Mary specifically. Third, people complain that we use written prayers instead of spontaneous prayers in so many cases. I want to deal with all these complaints together.

I challenge anyone to sincerely study the meaning and depth of the Eucharistic prayers or even the Hail Mary and try to tell me that they are simple, vain, and repititious. The Hail Mary, in and of itself, is so deep with scripture and theology that you could pray it a billion times and meditate on different aspects of it each time. No one can completely break down the prayer, no matter how simple it is and all the time we hear people who meditate upon it bring out some other form of depth from its midst that we have not heard before.

Also, let's discuss how the Lord asked us to pray. The Lord's Prayer is the beautiful and also rich prayer that Jesus taught his disciples and told them to pray. It has been part of the Church's worship since the first days of the Church. Again, he didn't tell us to pray it just so we could be "repetitious" but rather so that we could come to a deep feeling about the Church, our role in the world and our relationship with his Father.

Furthermore, complainers should do well to realize that scripture reading and hymn singing are both forms of prayer, and that they are written and could be considered just if not more "repetitive" then Catholic prayer.

Jewish prayer also (along with the Catholic Liturgy of the Hours) has always been grounded in the Psalms. These written prayers teach us much about how to pray and how to respect God. Considering that Jesus prayed the same prayer 3 times in the Garden of Gethsemane, and that Psalm 136 says "And his steadfast Love endures forever" 25 times, and that those surrounding God's throne sing "Holy Holy Holy" FOREVER, I'd say its a hard argument.

It's at least much better to pray a deep and thoughtful prayer over and over with different meditations than the same bland "spontaneous" prayers that most of us try to do every time we pray just because we aren't that creative or can't think up great new theological prayers on the spot.


Well, for an early Father's Day gift, my wife bought me a nice little MP3 player (which I must say i am simply amazed at the quality for the low price). Of course, I have been spending all my time trying to figure out how I can use it for the things I like - namely Catholicism and Classical Music. I thought I'd use this blog post to share a tiny bit about how awesome an MP3 player can be in building your faith and what kind of resources I've found so far. Feel free to throw out suggestions, I'm new at this.

First, from Rosary Army you can download the rosary for every day of the week. Awesomely enough, it takes the exact amount of time for them to say one rosary with me on the MP3 player as it does to walk from our house to my office.

Next, we have a group who have been recording the entire Liturgy of the Hours for EVERY DAY! That really helps me stay on track for praying the Divine Office.

How about a monastary that records their daily office and shares it with us?

EWTN offers a lot of interesting things, including quite a few offerings from one of my favorite priests, Father Mitch Pacwa.

For the classical music fan, I found Classic Cat - the largest collection of free (legal!) classical music up on the web.

And finally, I must talk about my favorite find so far - SaintCast. This is an amazingly well done podcast that deals each weak with a different Saint and about teaching us about the Communion of Saints in general. Check it out!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Daily Missal

Just curious...what do you all use as a daily missal? I am thinking about buying a subscription to the Magnificat, as I find I like it a little better than Living with Christ (the prayers in it are pretty nice). However, there's also the option of just buying a daily missal...but they're pretty large and heavy...and with a baby on the way I'm not sure if I want the added cargo!

What ever happened to Missals being in the pews anyway...

The Moral Reflections on Job by Pope St. Gregory the Great

I wanted to share today's Office of Readings from the Liturgy of the Hours. The second reading really got me thinking. meditate on what Pope St. Gregory is saying and think about how the Church is moving towards the light of Christ - perfect and pure day - and out of the darkness of sin and dispair - thus making the Church and our lives in His Body the dawn.

I also thought about this reading from the perspective of doctrinal development. The early Church had a small grasp of all the theology we have today - the same doctrines and ideas were believed - but as the Church progresses, we move out of the darker ages of ignorance towards pure splendor as our knowlege of doctrine and the Nature of God continues to increase.

The Church rises like the dawn
Since the dawn goes from darkness into light, it is right that the Church of the elect should be called “dawn” or “first light.” As it is led from the night of disbelief into the light of faith, it is opened up to the splendour of heavenly brightness just as the dawn bursts into day after darkness. How right are the words of the Song of Songs: Who is she who is coming up like the dawn?The holy Church seeks the rewards of heavenly life and is rightly called the dawn because it deserts the shadows of sin and sparkles in the light of righteousness.
There is something subtler to learn from this, on considering the nature of the dawn. Dawn, or first light, proclaims that the night is over but does not yet manifest the full brightness of the day. It dispels night, it gives a beginning to the day, but still it is a mixture of light and darkness. All of us who follow the truth in this life, are we not exactly like the dawn? Some of the things we do are truly works of the light, but others are not entirely free of the remnants of darkness. No man is virtuous before you,says the psalmist, and again Scripture says we have all done wrong in many ways.
This is why Paul does not say “the night has passed and day has come,” but night has passed and day is approaching,showing beyond doubt that he is still in the dawn, after the end of darkness but still before rising of the sun.
The Church of the elect will be fully day only when the darkness of sin is no longer mixed in with it. It will be fully day only when it shines with the perfect warmth of a light that comes from within. God shows that we are still going through this dawn when he says to Job, Have you ever sent the dawn to its post? Something that is being sent somewhere is being sent from one place or state to another. What is the destined place of the dawn if not the perfect brightness of the eternal vision? And when it has reached its place, will it still have any of the darkness of the night that has passed? The dawn was intent on reaching its destined place when the psalmist said My soul thirsts for the living God; when shall I appear before the face of God?The dawn was hurrying to the place it knew to be its destiny when Paul said that he wanted to die and to be with Christ, and when he said For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Watch Out

Watch out! I believe we Catholics are getting ready for some of the political fights of our life over the next few years. If you have not seen what has been going on in Connecticut, basically the politicians sought laws that would undermine the structure of the Catholic Church. These efforts failed after the Church fought back vehemently by protesting and writing to legislatures telling them they could not set up how the Church makes decisions and is run. Now, the state bureacracy is trying to penalize them for mobilizing the masses to stop that legislation. Read this story. We should remember that Catholics have always been oppressed in this country, from the denial of freedom of religion in the early colonies to voting laws that oppressed us to today's viewpoint that everyone has free speech except us. Just look at how the media tries to pounce on every negative thing that happens within the Church and avoids as much positive talk as possible. We should strengthen ourselves as Catholics for the upcoming fight over things ranging from abortion to freedom of our religion. And, don't expect too much from other Christians as this type of discrimination continues.

In a somewhat unrelated development in Connecticut, I must applaud the Church there for standing up for life by asking the Governor to reconsider vetoing the end of the death penalty there.

Luckily, the Catholic Church has been attacked over and over for the last 2000 years and this is one of the weakest attacks. We persevere througout the ages and will continue to be strong over the years. The Holy Spirit and God will help us overcome it all.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Pittsburgh Cathedral

Last Saturday, my husband and I visited the Cathedral in Pittsburgh, PA. It was very interesting that there was a wedding being performed, as well as confession! Three sacraments all under one roof (Eucharist during the wedding, remember)!

I was really encouraged that they allowed people to go to confession during a wedding though. Especially during this time of year, when weddings are rampant (we literally saw at least 5 weddings in Pittsburgh going on in one day!) it's nice that there's still ample access to the sacrament of reconciliation.

I really liked this photo, and turned it into a desktop wallpaper (1200 x 800). Next time I'll make sure that the Tabernacle is in focus instead of the candles. (There are a few more photos of the Cathedral on my blog.)

Outpouring of Goodness

I meant to blog about this a month ago when it actually happened and I guess it slipped my mind. As you know, our country has been going through a recession of sorts. At the same time that doesn't mean that the poor and handicapped don't still need our help. Last month as a Knight of Columbus, I participated in a "tootsie roll drive" (where you hand out tootsie rolls to people who donate money to mentally handicapped children) outside of a local grocery store. I was amazed to see the outpouring of gifts from people and somewhat surprised to see that it was the poorest people who were willing to give the most. We got about 200 dollars for the mentally handicapped in the two hour shift I was there. Pretty good I thought!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Malchus and the Death of George Tiller

I really enjoyed reading this story about the death of George Tiller (an abortion provider) and why it was intrinsically wrong to murder him. The author paints the picture of Peter trying to kill Malchus when Jesus was arrested, and points out that we believe in the sanctity of all human life and it is not justified to kill someone just because they may not have practiced proper morality.