Pull up a chair in my domestic church and let's chat!

I have worn many labels (Not in any particular order): Catholic, Wife, Mom,Gramma, Doctor, Major, Soccer Mom, Military Wife, Professor, Fellow.

All of these filter my views of the world. I hope that like St. Monica, I can through prayer, words and example, lead my children and others to Faith.
"The important thing is that we do not let a single day go by in vain without putting it to good use for eternity"--Blessed Franz J├Ągerst├Ątter

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

O Antiphons

I would like to help you and your family truly celebrate Advent by telling you about the phase of Advent we begin tomorrow, the Octave before Christmas. Up until December 17, we have been counting up: 1st week of Advent, 2nd week, of Advent, 3rd week of Advent. Now we will count down-- 8 days before Christmas, then 7 days before Christmas, etc. The Church marks this countdown with the "O Antiphons".

For each day of this octave during Vespers, the evening prayer of the Church, the "O Antiphon" for the day highlights a different title for the Messiah.

December 17: O Sapientia: “O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care. Come and show your people the way to salvation.” Isaiah had prophesied, “The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord, and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord.” (11:2-3), and “Wonderful is His counsel and great is His wisdom.” (28:29).

December 18: O Adonai: “O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.” Isaiah had prophesied, “But He shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.” (11:4-5); and “Indeed the Lord will be there with us, majestic; yes the Lord our judge, the Lord our lawgiver, the Lord our king, he it is who will save us.” (33:22).

December 19: O Radix Jesse: “O Flower of Jesse’s stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.” Isaiah had prophesied, “But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.” (11:1), and A On that day, the root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the nations, the Gentiles shall seek out, for his dwelling shall be glorious.” (11:10). Remember also that Jesse was the father of King David, and Micah had prophesied that the Messiah would be of the house and lineage of David and be born in David’s city, Bethlehem (Micah 5:1).

December 20: O Clavis David: “O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel controlling at your will the gate of Heaven: Come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom.” Isaiah had prophesied, AI will place the Key of the House of David on His shoulder; when he opens, no one will shut, when he shuts, no one will open.” (22:22), and “His dominion is vast and forever peaceful, from David’s throne, and over His kingdom, which he confirms and sustains by judgment and justice, both now and forever.” (9:6).

December 21: O Oriens: “O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.” Isaiah had prophesied, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shown.” (9:1).

December 22: O Rex Gentium: “O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of man, come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.” Isaiah had prophesied, “For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.” (9:5), and “He shall judge between the nations, and impose terms on many peoples. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.” (2:4) .

December 23: O Emmanuel: “O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Savior of all people, come and set us free, Lord our God.” Isaiah had prophesied, “The Lord himself will give you this sign: the Virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.”

(7:14). Remember “Emmanuel” means “God is with us.”

December 24 does not have one because it is the vigil celebration of Christmas.

Do these titles for Christ sound familiar? That is because the hymn O Come, O Come Emmanuel is based on the "O Antiphons".

Perhaps you can bring this spiritual countdown into your family by reading the daily "O Antiphon" each evening.

May God bless each of you and your families during Advent and Christmas and throughout the year.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Blessed Feast of Our Lady Of Guadalupe to You

"Hear me and understand well, my son the least, that nothing should frighten or grieve you. Let not your heart be disturbed. Do not fear that sickness, nor any other sickness or anguish. Am I not here, who is your Mother? Are you not under my protection? Am I not your health? Are you not happily within my fold? What else do you wish? Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything."
— Our Lady to Juan Diego

Today we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This apparition in Mexico brought about the conversion of millions of people in Mexico. Our Lady of Guadalupe is the Patroness of the Americas. She is the Patroness of the Unborn.

Personally, I am very devoted to Our Lady of Guadalupe. I take great comfort in the motherly reassurance she gave St. Juan Diego. As a mother, I know the protective mother's embrace I offer my own children. Knowing that the Mother of God seeks to do the same for me is a source of great consolation.

Take a look at the Catholic Culture web site linked above for some ideas on how to celebrate this beautiful feast.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Power of Intercessory Prayer

I would be remiss if I did not thank everyone for their prayers during my recent wrist fracture surgery. I went for my post-op follow up on Tuesday. The surgeon was truly amazed. Considering the shattered state of my wrist when she saw me in the emergency room she said that “never in a million years” did she expect it to look as good as it does now. I have no doubt that my exemplary recovery is in large part attributable to your intercessory prayers.

My second son had his own positive experience with intercessory prayer as well. He was preparing for one of his final exams. The professor allowed them to bring in a one page “cheat sheet”. The challenge was to figure out what to include on the sheet. There was only room to put a small fraction of the course material in the allotted space. As he prepared he remembered St. Joseph of Cupertino and asked for the saint’s prayers as he prepared his test aid. You may remember that St. Joseph of Cupertino’s student prayer includes a petition that you are only asked questions to which you know the answers. My son called me right after the test with happy news. Every test question related to one of the facts he had chosen to include on his cheat sheet.

Never doubt the power of prayer. Do not hesitate to ask the Lord for favors great and small. Just remember the answers to our prayers may be a surprise. Make your requests with the intention of “Thy will, not my will, be done” and the answers to many prayers will be showered upon you.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Catholics Come Home at Christmas

Yesterday, I taught my seventh grade CCD class. Class time overlapped our parish's last Mass for the Feast of The Immaculate Conception so I was missing several students who were attending Mass. There were also a couple of students who were out sick. Of the remaining eight students who were in attendance, not a single one had attended Mass earlier in the day. Most of them had also not been to Mass on Sunday. Interestingly, they all expect to go to Mass on Christmas.

So this brings me to the topic of "C & E Catholics". The Church is going to be packed on Christmas just as it is on Easter. Those of us who attend weekly may feel just a tad bit annoyed as we deal with the parking lot mayhem, the crowded pews, and the numerous folks who look lost and confused. We may feel like saying, "And just exactly where have you been the other 50 Sundays of the year?" Don't. Scoot to the center of the pew to make room for them, smile at them, and help them find their place in the missal.

Why am I mentioning this now when we still have more than two weeks before Christmas? Because I want you to do more than just be nice to them at Mass. I want you to prepare for their arrival and be ready to evangelize. One of the best resources for fallen away Catholics is the Catholics Come Home web site. Take a look at the videos on that site. They are powerful! If you are involved in your parish religious education program, why don't you send a note home to the parents that goes something like this:

During the Christmas Season you will likely have friends or family members who are attending Mass after a long absence from the Church. Why don't you refer them to the web site Catholics Come Home offers outstanding video, audio, and written resources to help Catholics rediscover and reconnect with their faith.

Put a note in the bulletin that will be handed out at Christmas Masses:

Have you been away from the Church for a while? Welcome home! Please take a look at the Catholics Come Home web site ( ) to help you rediscover your faith. We look forward to seeing you again on Sunday.

Make sure written information about parish adult religious education opportunities is readily available for people to take home. This is our one shot until Easter to ignite a spark of faith. Make good use of it!

Of course, no effort is complete unless accompanied by prayer. Consider asking for the intercession of St. Monica.

Exemplary Mother of the Great Augustine,
You perseveringly pursued your wayward son
Not with wild threats
But with prayerful cries to heaven.

Intercede for all mothers in our day
So that they may learn
To draw their children to God.

Teach them how to remain
Close to their children,
Even the prodigal sons and daughters
Who have sadly gone astray.

Dear St Monica, troubled wife and mother,
Many sorrows pierced your heart
During your lifetime.
Yet you never despaired or lost faith.
With confidence, persistence and profound faith,
You prayed daily for the conversion
Of your beloved husband, Patricius
And your beloved son, Augustine.

Grant me that same fortitude,
Patience and trust in the Lord.
Intercede for me, dear St. Monica,
That God may favorably hear my plea
For all our Catholic brothers and sisters
who have strayed from the faith.

And grant me the grace
To accept his will in all things,
Through Jesus Christ, our Lord,
In the unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God forever and ever.


Monday, December 08, 2008

Blessed Feast Day to You!

Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is a holy day of obligation, or as I like to say, a "Holy Day of Opportunity".

It was wonderful to see such a full church at 6:30 this morning. There were quite a few high school students stopping in for Mass before school. Father made a point of emphasizing that as Americans, this is our feast day. The United States is entrusted to Our Lady under her title of The Immaculate Conception. I wish he had included a reminder that today celebrates the conception of Mary without the stain of Original Sin. Too many Catholics think this feast is about the conception of Jesus. The Gospel reading is the account of the Annunciation so this error is easy to perpetuate. Oh well. Perhaps I am underestimating the faithful who will get up so early on a cold December morning to attend Mass.

May Blessed Mother intercede for you on this special day and draw you closer to her son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Something Fun

This is kind of fun. Take a look at where the actors of A Christmas Story are now.

In the late 1990's I was the doctor for student health services at a university in Ohio. A young man came in with a BB embedded smack dab in the middle of his forehead bone. Of course, as a mom as well as a doctor I felt compelled to tell him "You know, you could have shot your eye out." As my nurse, also a mom, prepped the young man for the removal of the BB she too issued this standard motherly response. However, both of us accepted without question our patient's story that he was watching his buddy shoot the BB gun and the BB ricocheted off a building and struck him in the forehead. It was only after I mentioned the incident to my husband that I began to have my doubts. Once my husband got his laughter under control, he asked,"Do you really think after bouncing off of a wall, a BB would still have enough force to embed in his forehead? Those guys were shooting beer cans off of each other's head." Oh. It must be a guy thing. Well, he still could have shot his eye out.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Strong Words From Bishop Loverde

I found that my own bishop, Bishop Loverde, had some strong words about the Freedom of Choice Act:

Bishop Paul S. Loverde of Arlington, Va., spoke this week at a diocesan event for young adults, outlining his hypothetical reaction to the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), a bill that would establish abortion as a universal right if passed. Despite the fact that the Arlington Diocese does not have any Catholic hospitals, Bishop Loverde said he knows exactly what he would say if FOCA were enforced against hospitals in his care.

"I would say, 'Yeah, I'm not going to close the hospital, you're going to arrest me, go right ahead," he said. "'You'll have to drag me out, go right ahead. I'm not closing this hospital, we will not perform abortions, and you can go take a flying leap.'"

Of course, it could be said that Bishop Loverde felt free to be so cavalier since he has no Catholic healthcare institutions in his diocese. His words would be much more convincing if he made a statement about the pro-abortion "Catholic" politicians in his diocese. His silence about James Moran and Gerry Connolly make his words about a hypothetical FOCA confrontation seem far less impressive.

I do not know what pastoral steps Bishop Loverde has taken in private with representatives Moran and Connolly, nor should I know about these private interventions. However, their continuing public defiance of Church teaching and their continuing public claims of being Catholic indicate any pastoral interventions undertaken thus far have been ineffective. At some point the pastoral correction must come within the public sphere in order to avoid scandal. Failure to publicly correct sends the erroneous message that it is acceptable to pick and choose which Church teachings one will accept. I believe the recent election demonstrates the disastrous consequences of this approach.

Happy Feast of St. Nicholas

As we honor Advent as a time of preparation for the coming of Christ we should take time to celebrate the many feasts of December. After all, our veneration of the saints is not an end in and of itself, but rather an aid that leads us to Christ. Today we celebrate the Feast of St. Nicholas. Far from being a red suited purveyor of materialism, St. Nicholas is revered as a warrior against heresy and an exemplar of charity.

St. Nicholas, pray for us.

Friday, December 05, 2008

The Fog has Lifted

My thanks to all who offered prayers. I am sure that is what pulled me through the last couple of days. Prayer and the constant care and attention of my dear husband and an absolutely yummy casserole from Michelle. I awoke this morning to find myself clear headed (no more heavy duty pain meds) and pain free. The surgery went as well as we could have hoped. All the pieces of my wrist were put back in place with the help of a metal plate and screws. There was no need for bone grafts or external braces. Now it is a matter of casting and healing.

Of course, there should always be something positive from every trial. Challenging times are opportunities for virtue. I am not very good at asking for and accepting help so I am discovering the virtue of humility that allows me to admit I can't do it all.

This Advent, I will not write Christmas cards, bake cookies and cinnamon rolls for the neighbors, or wrap pretty packages. If any of those things get done, it will be by someone else's hands. And most likely they will not do it exactly the way I would do it. And that is okay. It is actually quite liberating to let go of all these external pressures of Christmas. Christmas will come and we will celebrate the Incarnation--whether or not the cookies are baked or packages are wrapped.

Next year I hope to have two working hands and feet during Advent. I hope I can recapture this peaceful detachment to all the trappings of Christmas. If something enhances the celebration of Christ's Incarnation then it stays. If it distracts me from this focus, it goes. I don't recommend a broken wrist to anyone, but I am grateful for the peace it has given me this Advent.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Orthopedic Update

I guess my fall turned my distal radius into something akin to a jigsaw puzzle. Therefore, my surgeon will be using metal plates,pins, screws, and whatever else is necessary to reconstruct my wrist. Surgery will be tomorrow so your prayers would be greatly appreciated. Thank you and God bless you.

Monday, December 01, 2008

St. Thomas Aquinas: Pro-Life Champion

I don't often think of St. Thomas Aquinas as one of the pro-life patrons, but after reading the following that will change.

MADRID (CNA) — The Spanish daily “La Razon” has published an article on the pro-life conversion of a former “champion of abortion.” Stojan Adasevic, who performed 48,000 abortions, sometimes up to 35 per day, is now the most important pro-life leader in Serbia, after 26 years as the most renowned abortion doctor in the country.

“The medical textbooks of the Communist regime said abortion was simply the removal of a blob of tissue,” the newspaper reported. “Ultrasounds allowing the fetus to be seen did not arrive until the 80s, but they did not change his opinion. Nevertheless, he began to have nightmares.”

In describing his conversion, Adasevic “dreamed about a beautiful field full of children and young people who were playing and laughing, from 4 to 24 years of age, but who ran away from him in fear. A man dressed in a black and white habit stared at him in silence. The dream was repeated each night and he would wake up in a cold sweat. One night he asked the man in black and white who he was. ‘My name is Thomas Aquinas,’ the man in his dream responded. Adasevic, educated in communist schools, had never heard of the Dominican genius saint. He didn’t recognize the name”

“Why don’t you ask me who these children are?” St. Thomas asked Adasevic in his dream.“They are the ones you killed with your abortions,’ St. Thomas told him. “Adasevic awoke in amazement and decided not to perform any more abortions,” the article stated.