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Showing posts from February, 2008

The Words Matter

Rich Leonardi points us to a Vatican document released today that affirms there is only one acceptable form for the Rite of Baptism.

It is interesting that Rich should mention the Episcopalians. If one reads the information on the National Episcopal Church USA web site, one sees that in addition to a change in the wording of the Trinity, their understanding of the Trinity has also migrated:

One of the most difficult to explain, and often misunderstood concepts in the Christian faith is the belief in a trinitarian God, one God with three aspects. Often characterized as the 'Father,' Son,' and 'Holy Spirit,' the trinity represents God the Father/Creator, Jesus Christ the Son and Savior, and the Holy Spirit, or the creative, inspirational force at work in the world.

It is this 'three-in-one' characterization of God that some point to as contradictory to the doctrine of there being one and only one God, that somehow Christians pray to more than one god. Christian …

No Latte after 5:30 pm today

Just in case you are in the habit of an early evening Starbucks latte or cappuccino, the entire complement of Starbucks stores will be closing today at 5:30 pm for three hours of employee training. For those of us who tend to be caffeine based life forms, it is good to know ahead of time if our usual source is unavailable. Though I truly do prefer my home brewed java to the Starbucks variety.

The Lesson of Matthias

We draw from this a final lesson: while there is no lack of unworthy and traitorous Christians in the Church, it is up to each of us to counterbalance the evil done by them with our clear witness to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

--Pope Benedict XVI, discussing the selection of Matthias to replace Judas Iscariot among The Twelve.

This is a very Catholic perspective of Salvation. We exist both as individuals as well as intrinsic parts of the Mystical Body of Christ. Jesus came to save each of us individually, but He also is the Redeemer of all mankind. His Passion, Death, and Resurrection are for our collective Salvation as well. When one member of the Mystical Body of Christ sins, the entire Body suffers. Therefore, we must work to atone for our own sins as well as the sins of others.

The prayers of the Divine Mercy Chaplet echo this concept:

Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins…

Apostolate for Family Consecration

The Apostolate for Family Consecration is beginning their 40-day program for family consecration:

During this home retreat both St. Louis de Montfort and Pope John Paul II will reveal to you that we are able to change ourselves, our families and even the world as long as we connect ourselves more completely to Our Lady. Through Mary, but also in union with St. Joseph , the virgin father, we will be joined to Christ in a much deeper way. We will become consecrated to Jesus, through Mary in union with St. Joseph , who lived this consecration to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary most perfectly. This is the consecration that will change your life!

Please join us worldwide to make or renew this Consecration. Simply because this is the key to bring renewal to the Church and salvation to the world. Please do it for your family, for the Church and the World.

The first day was actually yesterday but it is definitely not too late to begin. Go to the Family Consecration web site and get started. My …

Labradinger Update

We’ve had Athena, our now nearly 7-month-old Labradinger (Labrador/Springer Spaniel mix) puppy for about 3 ½ weeks. We were told by the animal shelter that she had been a gift to a couple who was expecting a baby. Once the baby arrived, an energetic puppy was just too much to handle. We were warned that she was not housebroken in any way shape or form. Actually, she has been a dream to train. Within 24 hours she would sit on command. She is now crate trained. Housebreaking is pretty much complete except for when she gets too busy playing with the kids. Just like a toddler, she would rather keep playing than take a potty break. She also has boundless energy. I have been walking at least five miles a day with her. This is great for my waistline and keeps my leather furniture from being a tempting outlet for her energy. However, today we are inside. It is sleeting outside. I am happy to walk her in the cold, in the rain, and even in the snow. I draw the line at sleet. Unfortunately, she …

Conversion: Thoughts from Pope Benedict XVI

“To be converted” is not to seek after one’s own success, not to seek after one’s own prestige, one’s position. “To be converted” means to stop constructing a personal image, not to work at constructing a monument to oneself, which could often end up becoming a false god. “To be converted” means accepting the suffering of truth. Conversion demands that truth, faith, love become not in a general way, but day by day, in the little things, more important than our physical life or than comfort, success, prestige, and tranquility in our lives. In fact, success, prestige, tranquility and ease are those false gods which largely impede truth and true progress in private and in public life. By accepting this priority of truth we follow the Lord, we take up our cross and share in cultivating love, which is to Cultivate the Cross.

--Pope Benedict XVI, Journey to Easter

Pope Benedict XVI presents this passage as an examination of conscience. When have I cut corners in practicing my faith for the sa…

Eternal Happiness

You may know Fr. Dwight Longenecker from his blog Standing on My Head. He is a former Anglican priest who entered the Catholic Church thirteen years ago. The February 10 issue of the National Catholic Register has a terrific piece by Fr. Longenecker. He writes of his surprise to find two distinct “churches” within Holy Mother Church. The first the "church" focused on happiness in eternal life. The second is the group centered on earthly happiness.

If Christians put the pursuit of happiness in this life as the primary goal, everything changes. Suddenly the Church is not perceived as an army engaged in a spiritual battle, but a mutual self-help group in which people try to make each other happy.

Church buildings cease to be marvelous buildings transcendent with beauty that take us to the threshold of heaven, and they become functional meeting halls where the mutual self-help group meets once a week.

When the pursuit of earthly happiness becomes the driving force, religion becomes…

Rise and Do Not Be Afraid

Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
“Lord, it is good that we are here.
If you wish, I will make three tents here,
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
While he was still speaking, behold,
a bright cloud cast a shadow over them,
then from the cloud came a voice that said,
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased;
listen to him.”
When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate
and were very much afraid.
But Jesus came and touched them, saying,
“Rise, and do not be afraid.”

The account of the Transfiguration offers so many different points for reflection. What struck me as I listened to this reading this morning, was that Jesus provided reassurance to his Apostles when they trembled at the sound of the voice of God. Perhaps it was because we were seated behind two nuns wearing habits, but this scene brought to mind vocations. God calls each of us to a vocation. He calls us to different tasks throughout our lives. Sometimes, we hear his voice and just tremble. “You can’t rea…

American Catholics and Marriage

Seeing as how yesterday was Valentine’s Day, I had planned to post something happy and sentimental on love, marriage, children, etc. However, living the life of love, marriage, children, etc. kept me from the computer most of the day. And every time I did log on for a moment, this headline kept staring at me from my iGoogle page. The link takes you to a Catholic World News story about a survey of self-identified American Catholics and their views and experiences of marriage. It is not a particularly upbeat picture. The bottom line is Catholics as a whole, are just like the rest of the American population when it comes to ideas about love, marriage, and divorce: Marriage isn’t necessarily a lifelong commitment and divorce is an acceptable solution. However, there are some interesting nuggets to ponder.

First of all, the survey analysis finds four distinct response groups: Pre-Vatican II (born before 1942), Vatican II (born 1943 to 1967), Post-Vatican II (born 1968-1980), and the Millen…

Humble Gifts are still Worthy Gifts

Today I found my “Lenten desert” in the waiting room of the doctor’s office. My daughter is getting a sports physical. Rather than being perturbed at the predictable delay I am enjoying this time for reflection that I would have struggled to fit into my day otherwise. Today’s Magnificat offered these words:

It is not for those who are good alone to help Christ; it is most of all for sinners, for the weak, the hesitating even the selfish, to force themselves to take up the cross; and in the cross of Christ, even those who seem to be lost find salvation and joy.

Every day, hidden under our sins, abject in his need, Christ says to the sinners who put out a hand or speak a word to help him: “This day you shall be with me in paradise!”

--Caryll Houselander (British mystic, poet, and spiritual teacher)

How many times have I hesitated to help because I didn’t think my contribution would be significant enough? How many times have I said, “I am not qualified enough to help. Leave this to someone w…

Reflecting on the Face of Christ

I would like to continue on the theme of encountering God by setting other things aside and finding the “desert” in which to focus on Him. During the Last Supper, the Apostle Philip makes a request of Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father and we will be satisfied.”(Jn 14:8) Jesus responds, “ How can you say ‘Show us the Father?’ Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me?...Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me.” (Jn 14: 9-11) In his book The Apostles, Pope Benedict uses this exchange to remind us that to know the Face of God we must contemplate the Face of Jesus. He goes on to tell us how important this spiritual exercise is. If we do not study the true Face of Jesus, then we are inclined to envision Jesus as a reflection of ourselves. We make Him in our image rather than making ourselves over in His image.

The True Face of Jesus transcends politics, nationalities, or any other arbitrary divisions made by man. The Face of Jesus should unite all of …

The Grace of the Desert

In putting aside all preoccupations we encounter our Creator.

This Lent I am using Journey to Easter by Pope Benedict XVI as my spiritual reading. This is a collection of reflections he used when he was Cardinal Ratzinger and lead the 1983 Lenten retreat for Pope John Paul II. It is good for me to read these words. The last week has been a week of putting things aside. First the arrival of a six-month-old Labrador puppy has diverted my attention from a number of other things on my to-do list. Then the arrival of the flu to our household further took me away from a great many household tasks. We all seem to be on the mend now and our puppy has settled into a routine, but these recent detours from my agenda have served to show me that my agenda just isn’t that important. Several times in the last week I found myself having to just sit quietly as I supervised our puppy or as I nursed my own or someone else’s illness. I used that time to pray a Rosary and lift someone up in prayer during …

Candlemas Blessings!

Before the day is over, I must blog about the lovely Mass I attended this morning. Today, February 2nd, is more than Groundhog’s Day or Super Bowl Sunday Eve. Today is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord or Candlemas. Jesus, the Light of the World, was brought to the Temple. It is customary on this day to bless the liturgical candles that will be used in the coming year. Individuals may also have their devotional candles blessed on this day as well.

This morning’s Mass began in the vestibule of the church. The liturgical candles were neatly stacked. Mass attendees were invited to add their own devotional candles to the collection. We all gathered in the vestibule and each of us carried a small, lighted taper. Father blessed the candles and we processed into the church. The choir sang the Propers of the Mass and the Gloria, Creed, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei were all chanted in Latin. There was plenty of incense.

I am not sure how many people came just for Candlemas and how many people …

Simplest Ever Cake Recipe

One of my husband's co-workers brought this to work. It is nothing fancy, but if you need a very basic cake, this is the ticket.

1 box cake mix (any flavor)
1 can diet soda (any flavor)

Mix together. DO NOT ADD EGGS, OIL, ETC. Just mix cake mix and diet soda. Pour into 9x13 pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake at 350-degrees as directed on cake mix package--probably around 30-35 minutes.

That's it! It is best to use colas with chocolate cake mix and lemon-lime type sodas with lighter cake mixes. I had a box of red-velvet cake mix that we mixed with Diet Coke. It was pretty good! This is a great idea for college students in a dorm who may have access to a common kitchen but don't want to buy eggs, oil, etc for the usual cake mix. Top it with a scoop of ice cream or a dollop of whip cream and it will look pretty special. Let me know if you try it!

A Valentine's Gift for your Favorite Military Wife

If you have taken a look at my bookshelf in the sidebar you may have noticed the book Chicken Soup for the Military Wife's Soul. I have a couple of essays included in this book. The profits from the book sales go to the militarysoul.org foundation. They sent this press release yesterday and I am happy to pass it along:

January 30, 2008. The #1 Valentines Day gift for Military Wives is a personalized, autographed copy of the book sure to touch her heart.

The well-received book, Chicken Soup for the Military Wife’s Soul, has often been suggested as the standard issue for military spouses. Autographed copies are available exclusively via the co-author’s MilitarySoul Foundation web site at: www.militarysoul.org. It is a 501c(3) non-profit and all proceeds go back to the military community. The book is also in military exchanges and bookstores around the world or order online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and numerous other sites

This book acknowledges, inspires and entertains the milit…