Monday, April 26, 2010


So, I made it to Chicago. I wanted to share a couple pictures with you, first a couple of the Cathedral as a whole:

Then, one of the Tabernacle of the Blessed Sacrament:

Finally, a nice shot of a relic of St. Faustina (who we plan to name our first daughter after) and the IHS on the ceiling:

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Man who murders Nun confesses and converts to Chrisitanity

I ran across this story and couldn't stop from posting it. A man in India murdered a nun about 15 years ago and upon being visited by her biological sister (who is also a nun), he asked for forgiveness and began his conversion to Christianity. Remember to pray for all those in India, that the religious violence will stop.

In other news, I'm about to board a plane to Chicago and hope to be visiting that Cathedral in a couple hours.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I'm hoping to go see the Cathedral in Chicago tomorrow. I've blocked out a tiny bit of time in the afternoon that I might just make it!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Secular Vs. Sacred Music

Ok, I've been on a posting binge lately, but I just couldn't help sharing this blog post and video I saw about the difference between sacred and secular music, and what is approved and acceptable at mass.

Disclaimer: No offense intended for Marty Haugen and David Haas lovers.

My Statue of St. Joseph

I've blogged before about sacramentals, the Communion of Saints, and how I feel about them as a Catholic. I was just standing in my bedroom and looking at my statue of St. Joseph. He, being my patron saint, raises my mind up to Heaven. When I see the statue standing there, sometimes I fondly refer to it as Joseph, such as when I shut my drawers and he starts to wobble on the dresser. I say "Joseph, you stay up there!". Now, of course, I know that little statue isn't St. Joseph, but it raises my mind up to Heaven, to God, and all the Saints surrounding his throne. I see it in the mornings and I remember to pray the prayer I always say to my patron saint (that I made up):

"St. Joseph, I chose you as my patron saint. Please pray for me to live up to your example of a husband and a father."

As a matter of fact, I've been praying that since before I even had a son! Then, I walk into my dining room, and I see the icon of Christ the Teacher and I pray, "Lord, please teach me to lead my life in a way pleasing to you." Again, Christ isn't the icon, but it lifts my mind up to him. I know that all seems strange to many outside of Catholic/Orthodox Faith, but that's just the way it is, and I'm always glad to be walking around my house, seeing the icons and statues, and remember that I am not alone. I am surrounded by a glorious throng of Saints from all the ages.

Jesus, I trust in you!
I noticed the NY Times has moved to just bashing the Church and revealing their true motivations behind the slander they print. See the article: "A Church Mary Can Love"

Our Bishop Makes a Great Move

I saw over on A Catholic View that our Bishop, Bishop Brandt of the Diocese of Greensburg has made a great move. He denied an order of religious sisters access to recruit through diocesan support and publications because of their blatant denial of Church teaching, specifically about abortion. He's been a great Bishop during the times I have personally met him, and seems to be doing a great job shepherding the flock. Say a little prayer for him, all Bishops, priests, and religious if you have a second.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Praying the Hours among Religions

Recently I was in a discussion about how many religions pray at certain hours, similar to the way Catholics structure the Liturgy of the Hours (breviary, Divine Office, etc.) to pray at Morning, Mid Morning, Midday, Mid Afternoon, Evening, and Night prayer, not to mention the Office of Readings. Of course, those prayers are based around praying the Psalms, so that every 4 weeks we have basically prayed the entire book of Psalms. I had a Muslim, a Jew, and an Orthodox Christian tell me a little about their liturgical prayers based on the time of day, and I wanted to share them. It's something that I feel a lot (but not all, including some Lutherans and Anglicans I know) of Protestants really miss out on, and a major part of the majority of the world's religious practices.

Jewish: I found a lot of similarities with what she told me about Jewish prayer and how the Catholics practice (after all, ours developed in the first century from theirs, that is why we see Peter going up on the rooftop in Acts to pray at a given hour). Her mention of the blessings and prayers for daily life are reminiscent of Catholicism too, including our Book of Blessings that covers almost everything I can think of in life. Here is also a non-exhaustive list of a lot of Catholic blessings.

Anyway, let's here is what she had to tell me:

Yeah, Jews still pray at 'set times' - not exactly SET by the clock, but by the general time of day - evening, morning, and early afternoon. Alone or with a group - there are some prayers only for reciting with a group, otherwise they are skipped.

There are also prayers/blessings recited upon waking up, before and after eating, and before bed - and other occasions - but you are talking about the regular 'daily' prayers I think.

BTW, we have a prayer/blessing for going to the bathroom. It's longish, but boils down to 'thank God, everything is working!'

our set/liturgical prayers are three times daily: after sundown but before midnight (ma'ariv), from dawn to midmorning (shacharit), and after noon but before sundown (mincha). There is a 'set liturgy' for each of those (although personal prayers can be added). These prayers are typically recited/davened while standing and facing Jerusalem.

Typically, a person will say 'it is time to daven mincha' for instance. 'Daven' is an odd word, and not really translatable - it isn't 'recite' or 'pray' but means something like both, plus something like 'concentrate'. Usually a dictionary just says 'to recite Jewish prayers', though.

Occasions for reciting blessings are - myriad. There's a blessing for waking up. A blessing for successfully going to the bathroom. A blessing for new clothes. A blessing for food. A blessing for wine. A blessing for seeing a beautiful view. A blessing for hearing of someone's death.

And of course, one can pray - address God personally - at any time for any reason.

A sage once said: our lives are our prayer. If you are living your life the way you 'should', then you are 'praying' - all the time.

Next, the Muslim answer, in her's, we again we see a lot of similarities (I couldn't help but thinking when reading about both of these about how the English word "Easter" which as far as I know only English speaking countries used, came from a word meaning "from the East" referencing Christ's resurrection and the direction of Jerusalem, and that most of our Churches have altars that face East.):

Salah is the five daily prayers, which are required. When you see Muslims praying -- standing, bowing, prostrating in rows -- that's salah. Salah is liturgical -- there are set words, set movements, conditions which must be met, and set times. The times are determined by the position of the sun -- so depending on where you live and the time of year, the times for the five prayers change. The times are generally: sunrise, midday, afternoon, sunset, and night. Many Muslims still just look at the sun to determine when it's prayer time, but many use perpetual prayer calendars that show the exact times the prayers begin each day. There are websites where you can enter your zip code and it will give you the precise times. You're supposed to pray as close to the times as you can, but never before. So today, in my area, the prayer times are:


Du'a are just personal communications with God, said at any time, under any conditions. We have tons of examples of du'a that the prophet said -- you can say those, or your own words, or a combination. We have du'a for nearly every thing you might do, such as waking up, getting dressed, eating, before salah, after salah, meeting people, leaving people, traveling, feeling scared or sick or angry, etc etc. The prophet's du'a show that he was in an almost constant stream of communication with his Creator.

Finally, the Eastern Orthodox individual weighed in, here is what he had to say (obviously we have the most in common with their prayer.):

Yes, Orthodox Christians--especially those in monasteries--pray the hours. Pious Orthodox Christians probably pray at least twice a day---upon rising and retiring. Further, many wear prayer ropes around their wrists, which contain a certain number of knots which are used to pray the Jesus Prayer in repetition. ("Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.") Hence, the focus is on prayer without ceasing.

Anyway, it's very interesting and I wanted to share. Keep praying for me to keep up with my prayers, haha!
Im working on a post where I gather information about other faiths and how they "pray the hours." Hopefully more to share soon!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Testing 123. I decided to set up my blog with text messaging. Not sure how often I will use it but here it is nonetheless!


You might note that recently my blog posts have been more conversational and less informational. I think that's because I am trying to go through a stage of spiritual growth, and I need input and thoughts about how to better grow as a faithful Catholic Christian. It also allows me to blog when I might otherwise pass on blogging for the day, and I believe this blog benefits me immensely and hopefully others. Anyhow, here are some of my daily thoughts:

One thing I have never been very good at is giving thanks at the right time. I always try to give God thanksgiving at the appropriate times, and of course by making the sign of the cross and asking for God's blessing at meal times. However, I've noticed that sometimes when things go really well for me, it takes me an hour or two to let it sink it before I say a prayer of thanksgiving. I'm on top of asking for help, guidance, etc. But the thanksgiving part is always delayed. We all need to remember that all good things come from God the Father through Christ and the Holy Spirit. Giving thanks for these things is important, and I'd love if anyone has anything to share about how they remind themselves to constantly give thanks for everything. At the very least, we should always remember to say a quick Act of Thanksgiving after mass for His Body and Blood.

From the depths of my heart
I thank You, Dear Lord,
For Your infinite kindness in coming to me.
How good You are to me!
With Your most holy Mother and all the angels,
I praise Your mercy and generosity toward me,
A poor sinner.
I thank You for noourishing my soul
With Your Sacred Body and Precious Blood.
I will try to show my gratitude to You
In the Sacrament of Your love,
By obedience to Your holy commandemnts,
By fidelity to my duties,
By kindness to my neighbour
And by an earnest endeavour
To become more like You in my daily conduct.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Access to the Blessed Sacrament

One thing that bothers me recently is that I have noticed many churches locking their doors during non-mass hours (even the Cathedral in the diocese we live in, but not the diocese we worship in, only unlocks the doors during mass times). That bothers me because people don't have access to the Blessed Sacrament - to be able to sit and pray in the Church. Why they do this, I am not sure. Perhaps they think people are going to steal things or it isn't safe if they can't lock it up. Whatever it is, I would really like parishes to find ways to leave things open for prayer more often. Luckily, one parish in the city we live in right next to my work allows constant access to the Church for private devotion and prayer. I wonder if anyone else has thoughts or experiences with this, or could explain the issue to me a little more?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Custer's Last Stand

In recent times, we've been seeing a storm of anti-Catholicism in the media, a storm of "liberal" priests spewing hate propaganda against the Holy Father and the Church, and "parishioners" protesting every thing from gay marriage to abortion teaching. I believe a lot of this comes from the liberal cultural movement of the 60s and 70s (that unfortunately invaded the Church during that time period). Shouldn't we expect them to make one last big hurrah, a giant hurricane before the storm? After all, by all signs these individuals are largely on the way out, and the Church is making a move towards its tradition (as it always does) and reforming the practice of allowing them to pervade our worship so much. Since they know this, they seem to believe making one last big stand might win the battle for them. Let's hope they come to a realization and repentance before they decide to fight the Battle of the Little Bighorn.


Seen those billboards around your neighborhood with the Blessed Virgin on them, a link to, and the quote "This is my time"? Being curious about this, and knowing it had something to do with the unauthenticated and non Church-approved apparitions at Medjugorje, I checked out the web site. Looks like they are trying to push people to personally investigate the apparitions and also running tours to the area. I know little about this personally, and I expect I will be waiting till the Church makes an official declaration on it before I make up my mind, but does anyone else know more about this group specifically? It is interesting that they are putting up billboards all over the country. Is it legitimate belief or a money-making scheme? Could the billboards bring people closer to Christ, the sacraments and the Church or could they be misleading and cause people to shy away? Interesting, to say the least.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Prayer Answered

For the last several years, I have been praying for an individual who I love with my whole heart. Every mass, Eucharistic adoration, and many of my personal prayers and liturgy of the hours have been dedicated to them. Because I knew of their love for God, I wanted nothing more than for them to embrace the Catholic Church. I lost touch with this individual several months ago (perhaps even a year ago by now). Just yesterday I found out that last week they were confirmed into the Church after attending a year of RCIA. That might be what I have prayed for more than anything else since I have been Catholic. The only summary I can think of is:

Give thanks to the Lord. For His Mercy Endures Forever.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

He is Risen!

Happy Easter everyone!!!!! I had to share a picture of my beautiful wife and Xavier in their Easter outfits. Other than that, we had a beautiful Easter mass at our parish this morning. Father Aaron (a Benedictine monk who fills in for our regular priest on occasion) had a wonderful homily reminding us of the constancy of the risen Savior and his Body - the Church - even when individuals are fallible. It really gave some perspective to how Satan has tried to disparage the Church using scandals from decades ago and libeling the Holy Father Pope Benedict and lead them away from Easter. As always, Christ triumphantly rises for this Easter Season and Satan is again defeated. Remember that despite humans being fallible, the Church is and always will be the same. Gloria in Excelsis Deo!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Lent Soup

I was bored this afternoon, and after trying to think of something to do with the fresh veggies in my fridge, this is what I came up with. [Note: Photos are slightly blurry due to the steam coming off the soup.]
Spinach, Zucchini, and Mushroom Soup
Serves 1

4 Button Mushrooms, Sliced Thin
1/4 Zucchini, Sliced Thin
1 Handful of Spinach
1 Green Onion (1/2 Sliced Thin, the root half, keep intact)
1 tsp. Butter
1 Chicken Bouillon Cube
1 Cup of Water

Saute Spinach, Zucchini, and Mushrooms in a teaspoon of butter until tender.
Add Bouillon and Water to pan.
Bring to slow simmer for 5 minutes (add salt and pepper to taste).
Garnish with root half of green onion intact.

Obviously, it's easy to make this for more than one person (just multiply the ingredients!) but I was only cooking for myself this afternoon.

The flavor was really quite good - a little spicy from the black pepper. I think if I make it again, I'd add just a touch of fresh lemon to the broth, to try to brighten up the flavor just a tad (and maybe use a thin slice of lemon as an additional garnish).