Tuesday, August 31, 2010

From the Treasure Chest: "Difficulties of Private Interpretation"

A few weeks ago, I happened upon a lengthy essay by Reverend George Bampfield entitled "Cannot." Yesterday, I posted a little note on the Bible, and today Reverend Bampfield will help me explain something else that helped me decide to become a Catholic. I don't know what Father George looks like so I have borrowed Sir Alec Guinness in the role of Chesterton's Father Brown as a proxy.

The reason, or answer if you will, is right there in the title of this new Bampfield gem that I discovered today, by searching the YIM Catholic Bookself with the word "scripture." I think you will enjoy what my friend Father George has to say on this matter.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Because I Love the Bible

Here is a reason that answers the question posed by this blog daily that I've never written about yet. So here goes: I love the Bible. Well, duh, Frank you may be thinking, of course you do. Well, let me be more specific. I love the entire Bible and every single book therein, including all the books that Martin Luther tossed out during the Protestant Reformation.

Elvis Presley Sings "The Miracle of the Rosary" et al. (Music For Mondays)

I missed commemorating the 33rd anniversary of the passing of the King of Rock and Roll. I was led to a startling discovery about someone known as the "Chinese Chesterton" on the same weekend that marked the passing of Elvis Presley (August 16, 1977). My humble apologies, because I love you Elvis Presley, and especially your gospel music.

Elvis, see, could sing any song well. Like, for example, Do the ClamAnd despite his fame, and fortune, he never forgot his love for the Lord. He was never ashamed to sing His praises. And as you will see in the first selection below, he had no problem singing Our Lady's praises either. A post of that video by a friend on Facebook was my wake-up call for this belated appreciation.

For All the Missions: Oblates of the Virgin Mary in the Philippines

When U.S. Catholics talk about a shortage of priests, we're talking about how we have one priest for every 2,000 Catholics. But the priest shortage in the Philipines is five times more dire; one priest from every 10,000 Catholics in the most Catholic of Asian nations.

Yesterday at Mass in my home parish, Father John Wykes, O.M.V., spoke about his order and its mission, which includes fostering vocations in the Philippines.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Because Going to Mass Can Be Like Yoga Class

Guest post by Marian R. Bull
I woke up from one of those blissful, healing naps that I most love about summer Sundays, opened my e-mail, and got the joyful surprise of my life—a guest post from my daughter. Here it is.

This morning, I was lucky enough to find myself in the beautiful Cathedral of the Holy Name in downtown Chicago. A newly converted Catholic, I still sometimes find myself peering around in my peripheral vision at certain parts of the Mass, thinking, “Should my head be bowed right now? But that guy two pews up is looking straight at the priest. . . . ” I've got the hang of it by now, but I still need some help from my fellow parishioners. And I'm okay with it.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

For Thoughts Like These from Frederick Charles Kolbe

Neil Young wrote and performs a tune entitled Just Singing A Song Won't Change the World. He makes a great point, doesn't he? However, Neil himself also says, "Even so, I will keep on singing."

I feel the same way about reading good books on Catholic faith.

With God's Grace And A Little Help From My Friends

When I was a newly minted Marine, fresh out of boot camp and on my way into life, I was certain that I could lick it. Everything was possible, and all would be right in the world. Well, maybe not the whole world, but my world would be just fine. I realized that I was no all-powerful genie, but I had complete confidence in the unholy trinity of me, myself, and I. The winner, which I knew I was, would take all.

This delusion persisted for quite some time.

For the Love of St. Joan of Arc: A Novena (Day 9)

As we finish this novena, I'd like to thank readers who prayed along with me. What changes did you experience in yourself as you followed this spiritual discipline? Please share in the comment section below.
This novena has given structure to my days and given me St. Joan of Arc's presence as a spiritual companion. My special intention during this novena was to ask God to find me a job so I may help support my family. I've been searching for work for two years. During that time, I returned to school for retraining so I might become a teacher.

In the middle of my novena days, God answered my prayer. I was offered not one, but two, full-time jobs as a high school English teacher. This was more of a blessing than I could have imagined. I have accepted one of the jobs and begin work soon at a large suburban high school, where I will be a Special Education teacher in the English Department.

Friday, August 27, 2010

For All the Saints: Monica

Prayer works, especially the prayer of a parent for a child. That is the vital message of St. Monica. Monica is a later Mary. I revere her because, through her prayer, her son Augustine converted and became a Doctor of the Church. I revere Mary because, through her "yes", she gave us Jesus and brings us to Him. I could learn something about parenting from Monica and Mary, but then I already have Joan of Beverly.

Thanks to the Wee Kirk on The Hill

My family and I went to the Washington D.C. area on our vacation this year. We had a blast seeing as many of the museums and memorials as we could. We took it all in, from the Marine Corps Museum in Quantico, Virginia, to the Smithsonian National Gallery of Art on the Mall. We walked for miles, baked in the heat, or outran thunderstorms, depending on the weather. But what moved me the most was something unexpected that I discovered on Capitol Hill.

For the Love of St. Joan of Arc: A Novena (Day 8)

St. Joan of Arc knew she would die a martyr's death long before those around her did. She crowned Charles VII king at the Cathedral at Reims in July 1429, fulfilling a central part of her mission. Two months later, she led an unsuccessful attempt to liberate Paris. The following May she was captured by the Burgundians, allies of the English. Betrayed by King Charles VII, she was sold to the English for 10,000 gold francs. Charged with heresy and witchcraft, she was tried, and found guilty of heresy in a church court (they had to throw out the witchcraft charges because an examination by a duchess found St. Joan to be a virgin) by men with a clearly political agenda.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Because I Awoke from a Long, Bad Dream

For a long time I was mystified by several friends of mine. Each was born and raised Catholic, then fell away from the Church in their late teens or early adulthood. What could have caused this, I wondered? I was often critical of these friends. How could they not see the beauty of the Church they were born into? Then I realized that the same thing had happened to me.

For the Love of St. Joan of Arc: A Novena (Day 7)

One remarkable aspect of exploring the life of St. Joan of Arc through this novena is all the characters I have discovered; folks who helped her to achieve her mission or who played a role in letting the world know about it. I've met Yolande of Aquitaine, a royal dynamo who was among the first to believe Joan's visions were divine, and Étienne de Vignolles , the crude knight she convinced to join her cause and whose heart she converted.

Just last night I met Venetian-born poet, mother, widow and nun Christine de Pisan, (above) who challenged the prevalent misogyny of medieval times and was its most prolific female writer. Hers is the only record of St. Joan of Arc that exists outside of court documents of her trial.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

To See My Life as a Chapter in God’s Story

“The universe is a story,” writes Peter Kreeft in Catholic Christianity. “God is its Author.” I read that line this morning while marveling at the way my life changes when I see it this way. From where I was sitting, at the Starbucks on Route 62, it seemed that I have a simple choice: let my life be driven by the schedule entered in the iCalendar on the iPhone in my iPocket—or let God drive my life.

A Prayer by Thomas More (A Few Words for Wednesday)

I have written before about Thomas More, and he remains one of the reasons I am a Catholic today. A Man for All Seasons was an early influence, and I still play the video (old VHS format) regularly. When I was in RCIA in the fall of 2007, I went to a lawyer's funeral and received a Thomas More prayer card, which I still treasure. On it was a short version of the so-called “Lawyer’s Prayer” below.

For the Love of St. Joan of Arc: A Novena (Day 6)

St. Joan of Arc is both a saint and a warrior. As a military leader, she is best known for marshaling French troops during the Siege of Orléans (1428 to 1429), breaking 80 years of English dominance during the Hundred Years' War between the two nations. She was 17 years old at the time

Orléans is a city on the Loire River in north-central France and had major significance to both the French and English during the Hundred Years' War. This siege was the high-water mark  of English power during the long conflict.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

To Boldly Go Where Others Have Already Gone

Since my oldest son turned 7 years old, organized baseball has been a big part of my life. He is now a freshman in high school, and working hard on earning the chance to represent his school on the ball field. All of this has changed my life in unexpected ways, and almost all of them good.

For the Love of St. Joan of Arc: A Novena (Day 5)

To some who are not Catholic, and heck to some who are, novenas seems like superstition, a relic of folk religion. Novenas are not incantations; they do not offer us magic if only we say certain words or do certain things. Alas, some Catholics are misguided about novenas. Have you ever attended a Mass where someone had stuck a copy of a novena to St. Jude in a pew? The flier says that if you go to church for nine days and leave a copy of the prayer behind, your request will be granted. This is a misuse of the Catholic treasure of a novena.

Father William P. Saunders, refers to this practice as "dispensing—machine Catholicism; just as a person puts the coin in the vending machine and presses the button to get the desired soda, here a person says the prayer, goes to Church, and is supposedly guaranteed that the request will be granted. So much for God's will. What is really sad these days is that the person simply Xeroxes the letter; one would think they could at least hand-write it." So what is a novena, exactly?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Asia On Our Minds (Music for Mondays)

In this edition of MfM, we showcase some songs from mega-hit artists and from one-hit wonders. Superstars and no-name acts too. It's all a big smorgasbord but all related to the posts we've been doing here lately. Last Saturday's post on John C.H. Wu, picked up the journey were Wu Li left off. And yesterday the story of Lou Tseng-Tsiang hit the stands, as well as Allison's post on the readings. And today, Allison's prayer for a friend, who doesn't even know she has a friend named Allison.

So the message is, all are God's children. It's a big world, and even if the gate is narrow, all are invited to enter through it. I hope you enjoy all these songs, because in some small way, they help reinforce the message. After all, Our Lord said "the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few." We few, we happy few.  First up, a one-hit wonder from the 1980's!

To Pray for Freida Pinto

I'm getting to the age where a young lady in her midtwenties could be my daughter. And so when I learned that Freida Pinto, the beautiful actress from Mumbai, is Catholic, I started to pray for her.

Last week, a neighbor loaned my family a DVD of Slumdog Millionaire, which won eight Academy Awards in early 2009. Neither Greg nor I had seen this inspirational movie about an orphaned young man from the slums of Mumbai who competes in "Kaun Banega Crorepati?" the Indian version of "Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?" His love interest is another orphan from the slums of Mumbai, a girl named Lakita, played by the lovely Freida Pinto.

For the Love of St. Joan of Arc: A Novena (Day 4)

Ever wonder how an illiterate peasant girl was able to successfully command the French army? A girl who never had left her hometown, knew nothing of politics, military history or geography? One gift St. Joan had was a "seeing eye," which meant she could discern the souls of others.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Thoughts on the Gospel Reading for Today

A few years ago, when I started thinking seriously about salvation, I was struck by how very Catholic my beliefs are. Like all Christians, I believe Christ's cruxifiction makes salvation possible.

I'm not a Universalist: I don't believe that just because Christ died for our sins that all of humanity, no matter our beliefs or behavior, will be granted eternal life. I'm not a Calvinist: I don't believe that only a select few are predestined to be saved and that the rest of us are out of luck no matter what we believe. I'm not an Evangelical Christian: I don't believe that once we accept Christ as our personal savior we have "perfect assurance" of our salvation.

Because Once Upon A Time, The Premier of China Was A Catholic

Imagine that you woke up to the news this morning that a former President of the United States, say Jimmy Carter for example, has just held a press conference saying that he has entered the Abbey at Gethsemane to become a Cistercian monk. Would you be flabbergasted? Amazed? Incredulous? Or would you be intrigued? That's how I felt when I learned the news that I am going to share with you today.

I am humbled, though,  to report the following story to you, but here goes. Just like the title of this post claims, at one time the Premier of China was a Catholic. And I'm not talking about the Island of Formosa either. I mean mainland China, before Mao Zedong took over. Why, you may ask, is this humbling to learn?

Because of the Divine Beauty of the Mass

Guest Post by Terry Fenwick
I met Terry by way of Francis Beckwith's Facebook page. Pretty soon, we were "friends" too. Shortly thereafter, we were trading e-mails back and forth and I learned that she was a Catholic convert from the class of 2004.  She, and her late husband, Tom, came into full communion with the Church in 2004. She shared this piece she had written for her parish bulletin with me . I don't know much, but I knew one thing immediately upon reading this; it needed a wider audience. Take a look and see if you agree with me.

Come and See

Since becoming Catholic in 2004, I have asked myself over and over, why I was never invited to attend a Mass. I could attend funerals and was invited to a few weddings, but not one Catholic ever invited me to Mass.

For the Love of St. Joan of Arc: A Novena (Day 3)

Joan of Arc's public ministry began and ended the year she was 17. She had grown up in a loving family who provided her with concrete examples of Christian charity. Historical records describe the D'Arc family as "willing to open their home to strangers and to share what they could with them.

People remembered how Joan would willingly give up her bed to these strangers while she herself slept by the hearth." To leave her childhood home (pictured above, with the village church beside it) and follow her destiny, St. Joan left home without telling them her true destination and goal: fight the English at Orleans and have the Dauphin crowned king.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Because On This Championship Ball Club, Everyone Can Play

Early on, before I officially started upon the path to becoming a Catholic, I read Thomas Merton's autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain. I had already read Blaise Pascal's Pensées, and Thomas à Kempis' Imitation of Christ by the time I rolled around to Merton. In baseball terms, it was a strike-out for the side— the side of the Church, that is. Here is the play-by-play.

For the Love of St. Joan of Arc: A Novena (Day 2)

Centuries ago, the unlikely transformation of an illiterate peasant girl into a brave military leader and a defender of the faith began in her father's garden. "When I was thirteen years old, I had a Voice from God to help me govern my conduct. And the first time I was very fearful. And came this Voice, about the hour of noon, in the summer-time, in my father's garden; I had not fasted on the eve preceding that day." Four years later, Joan of Arc was commanding the French military in its war against English invaders.

Friday, August 20, 2010

For All the Saints: Bernard of Clairvaux

Today we celebrate the feast day of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, a medieval monk, writer and a gifted preacher. This Doctor of the Church was born in Burgundy in 1090.  I  heard about him earlier this year over breakfast with  a dear friend who is a medieval historian and an expert on the Crusades. The only St. Bernard I remember hearing about  prior to that conversation was a dog. That breed is named after a different St. Bernard.

There is much to learn about and from the life of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, considered one of the last Fathers of the Church. His father was a knight who died in the First Crusade. Encouraged by his devout mother, St. Bernard joined a Cistercian monastary when he was 22. His enthusiasm for the cloistered life was so great his four brothers and nearly 30 friends joined the monastery too. He later founded and became Abbott of Clairvaux Abbey. While St. Bernard was a contemplative, politicians, bishops and kings sought him out. Consequently, his life was woven in with the politics of the the Second Crusade and of the Papacy.

For the Love of St. Joan of Arc: A Novena

Given my recent enthusiasm for St. Joan of Arc, Frank suggested I pray a novena to her, asking her to intercede for my private intentions. Who better to ask to pray for us than St. Joan? She was a courageous warrior for Christ, country and family during a tumultuous time in her native land. Filled with the Holy Spirit, this peasant girl from the French countryside never stopped believing that the voices and visions that began coming to her when she was 13 were messages from God. This novena will end August 28, the feast day of Saint Augustine, who lived 1,000 years before St. Joan and "established anew the ancient faith." 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Because of The Ecclesia Domestica (Domestic Church)

Something remarkable happened this summer. Our home became a gathering spot for neighbors and friends. The ability of my husband and me to welcome them and the joy our visitors bring to us are gifts from the Holy Spirit and signs of Christ's welcoming grace.

I last remember folks stopping by like this when our two boys were toddlers - generally the visitors were stay-at-home moms or dads would drop by for a play date, adult conversation or a simple meal.

That was a decade ago; both our boys now are adolescents. The people dropping by now are my sons' preteen or teen friends, as well as young adults in their twenties who I have met through church or CL. They are older neighbors looking for companionship and young mothers whose children like our puppy.

First Lesson About Man (A Few Words For Wednesday)

I've been engrossed in exploring the life and work of my new friend John C.H. Wu. Is it any surprise to you that he corresponded with Thomas Merton? How could he not have, is what I say. And I found some evidence that he did, of course. Merton wrote the introduction to John's book The Golden Age of Zen. In fact, John writes this about their friendship,

There is no telling how much the friendship of this "true man" has meant to me during all these lonely years of my life.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Because St. Anthony Helped Me Find John C.H. Wu

Anyone remember Webster's first post on minor miracles? Something a little more than a coincidence led me to John C. H. Wu and I'm not ashamed to go "on the record" and say that. While browsing the shelves of my local public library, I came upon this little volume called St. Anthony's Treasury. It's a wee little book of prayers that is about the size of a pocket New Testament, like the ones the Gideon's publish.

Catholic prayer books in the public library? That's a minor miracle in itself, right? I know it was a gift from a patron. How? Because in pencil on the top right-hand corner of the blank page facing the inside cover is written carefully the word "gift." The library, see, doesn't have the money to purchase every published book under the sun. Especially not little Catholic prayer books like this one.

With Gratitude to Yolande of Aragon

I'd never heard of Yolande of Aragon until I began delving into the life of Saint Joan of Arc. Now I know that without this medieval dynamo, the world might never have been blessed with the gifts of St. Joan.

Yolande's role in St. Joan's mission tells me a few things. First, none of us work Christ's plan for our lives in isolation. Second, women have played key roles in history and their importance in Church history is no exception. In fact, one could argue that the Catholic Church stands alone in the degree to which it honors women and their role in securing salvation.Third, perhaps behind every powerful woman there is another woman, cheering her on.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Thanks to Pink Floyd (Music for Mondays)

I'm warning you early—this edition of MfM will eat up your entire lunch hour. And if you don't like rock n' roll, get out now while there is still time.

Wait a second, I take that back. Stay. Because maybe, just maybe, everything you heard about Pink Floyd, is wrong. That is how it was for me and the Catholic Church for a long time, see? I was listening to people's opinions instead of checking out the facts for myself. You all know where that led, as this blogs marquee proclaims. Besides, who else will show you Roger Waters, David Gilmore & Co. like this?

For All The Charities: "The Christian Foundation for Children and Aging"

Christ has a way of getting us to listen. I've been struggling to fully obey the Second Commandment, loving your neighbor as yourself. In fact, I blogged about it yesterday morning. Shortly thereafter, my husband and I and our two sons headed to Mass at  St. Peter the Apostle Parish in New Brunswick, NJ, where both our boys had been baptized. We arrived early and as I lingered in the foyer, I noticed some brochures set up on a table. It seemed there would be a guest preacher at this Mass.

During Mass, the guest preacher, Father Tom Singer O.M.I , read from the Gospel the Canticle of Mary from the Book of Luke. And then he did something remarkable, something I never had seen a priest do. He raised the Lectionary high in one hand and proclaimed "THIS is the Gospel of the Lord." By then, I was eager to hear what he had come to share.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Because the "Little Flower" Enchanted the Chinese "Legal Eagle"

Yesterday I introduced you to my latest Catholic friend, John C.H. Wu. I promised at the end of that post that I would explain what prompted John to swim the Tiber. Truthfully, I should have said "who" prompted him, not "what." Blame it all on Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, "the Little Flower." It is all her fault that my new friend John became a Catholic.

Around the year 1917, when he was 18 years old, John had made the first leap towards Rome when he became a Methodist, in Shanghai mind you.

Because We Are All Conceived in Love

The other day in my neck of the woods, just as I was heading out the driveway to Mass, something sad happened. Three police cars raced down the street, parking haphazardly in front of a home where a large family lives. I don't know what happened: on the front lawn a young woman cried, a father walked away, children were in distress, and an elderly couple talked with the police. All I could do was pray.

 My faith teaches me that despite my inability to fix a situation, Christ wants me to pray. I figured everyone in that home needs prayers. A friend recently told me something she heard while attending Mass in Scotland: we need to pray for those who have no one to pray for them.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Because of Catholics like the “Chinese Chesterton”

Today I want to introduce you to another man from China named Wu, who also became a Catholic. His full name is Wu Jingxiong, or Wu Ching-hsiung. As he spent much of his life in Western countries, he did what many do and adopted an Anglicized form of his name: John Ching Hsiung Wu, or John C. H. Wu for short.

Earlier this year, before summer started, I happened upon the story of a Chinese painter and poet who became a Catholic, way back in the year of Our Lord 1681. His name is Wu Li and I wrote several posts about him, his art, and his poetry. He eventually became a Jesuit Priest and spent the remainder of his years serving Christ as a missionary to his native land.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Because Winning Wars Takes Organization

I could sit here and bore you in nauseating detail about why the Church is necessary, and why it is vital to the salvation of all mankind. I could fill my dissertation with footnotes, and quotes from sources old and new. But really, that would be a colossal waste of your time and mine.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

For Thoughts Like These from Robert Hugh Benson

Robert Hugh Benson was an English convert to Catholicism. No big deal, right? Wrong! You see, RHB had been ordained an Anglican priest in 1895. The thing was, his dad was the Archbishop of Canterbury at the time.  Think of how proud his parents and the rest of his family were of him.

In 1896, his father passed away suddenly, and Benson himself was ill as well. While on a field trip to recover his health, he began delving into his beliefs and began to lean toward becoming a Catholic. His relatives were underwhelmed with the idea of the son of the late head of the Church of England doing such a thing. Preposterous—but Bobbie did just that in 1903.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy (A Few Words for Wednesday)

Back in June, I shared a poem by Frederick Faber in this space.  This week, I share the words of a hymn he wrote. You can find the music, too, and sing along if you like.  But I actually prefer these words without the music.

I first read read them in my favorite book about my favorite Old Testament book. Faber wrote lots of hymns, Faith of Our Fathers being one of the better known ones. This hymn is a gift that reminds me of the passage that St. Paul writes to the Corinthians:

For All the Saints: Clare of Assisi

When I was nineteen I stood before what seemed to be the incorrupt body of St. Clare in the crypt of the basilica in Assisi bearing her name. Her body was covered only with a thin gauzy veil, and it looked whole to me. Now, I gather, it is no longer deemed to be incorrupt. But the impression, and the inspiration, have not gone away.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Because I Want Original Cream of Wheat, Not Quick or Instant

My great-grandfather was one of the founders of the Cream of Wheat Company, which began in the midst of an economic depression in 1892. George Bull was a wheat farmer in Grand Forks, ND, who used some old milling equipment to create a form of porridge from refined middlings, the best part of the wheat. He sent a case of the stuff stamped “Cream of Wheat” to his broker in New York along with a carload of wheat, and the agent wired back:

From the Treasure Chest: Challoner's "The Morality of the Bible-Genesis"

Although I didn't do any writing while on vacation, I was able to do a little reading. I "discovered" another modern Catholic writer that I would like to get to know better.  His name is Richard Challoner, whom you see here in the portrait.  This particular portrait of Richard hangs in the Archbishop's House at Westminster Cathedral.

It's a pity that the blog that was hosted there is no longer active. There is a great post all about Richard that was written by a priest there. Having recently visited the Library of Congress, and Thomas Jefferson's personal library located there, I was motivated to continue adding virtual book selections to our humble YIM Catholic Bookshelf. And today is the feast day of St. Lawrence, patron of librarians and archivists, so what better day than this to share more books with you?

Monday, August 9, 2010

To Anne Rice, With Love (Music for Mondays)

I've been on vacation since July 28th. On July 29th, you let the world know you are leaving the Church, and Christianity, in "the name of Christ." Soon thereafter, the whole blog-o-sphere was on fire with "what it all means" posts. The one I liked, I posted on our Facebook page.

But I was on vacation, see, and sorry—I wasn't going to write a post about you pulling a "crazy Ivan" and leaving the Church. I promised my wife that I wouldn't post, and I'm a man of my word. Besides, there was too much to do and too much to see in Washington D.C. Like seeing the museums of the Smithsonian, the Marine Corps War Memorial, the Capitol, the White House, and the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. All worthy of future posts. But in the back of my mind, Anne, I still thought of you.

For All the Saints: Edith Stein

Guest Post by William “Mac” McCarthy
My dormitory neighbor from 40+ years ago, who posted on the Martyrs of Compiègne in July, is back with some powerful material on St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, born to a Jewish family and still widely known by her given name of Edith Stein. I’ll pass along the material just as Mac sent it to me—only lacking his careful footnoting. There’s a lot here for reflection and inspiration:

“We are travelling East,” Last Letters from a Martyr
St. Edith Stein, 1891-1942, feast day August 9, also called Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, brilliant German philosopher, Catholic convert, Carmelite nun . . .

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Thanks to Victor Fleming's Joan of Arc

Cradle Catholics who grew up in the tumultuous years following Vatican II, my husband and I as children learned virtually nothing about saints. Greg told me yesterday morning he first heard of Joan of Arc from a Brady Bunch episode; I learned a bit about her in my high school church youth group, but dismissed her as a nut case.

I've been curious about Joan of Arc ever since I read about her in Father James Martin's My Life with the Saints earlier this year. So I rented Victor Fleming's 1948 movie on Netflix. I recommend this movie to anyone who wants to learn some basics about this remarkable saint. Older children and teens can also learn a lot about St. Joan by watching this movie.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Because Hundreds of Miles from Home, I Still Belong

A reader who uses the handle bo_leggs made a comment on Webster's post  Wednesday that hit home with me. The post was about churches that close down in the summer months. bo_leggs wrote: "One of the big differences between Catholics and Protestants is that a Catholic belongs to every Catholic Church in the world. Protestants belong only to their local church." This is one aspect of the faith lifelong Catholics such as myself might take for granted. But as Frank wrote last year, going to Mass on vacation is easy.

I visited Toronto for a few days last month, tagging along with my husband, Greg, as he attended a conference at the University of Toronto. While he attended his conference,  I walked for miles, exploring Kensington Market,  Koreatown and the Art Gallery of Ontario. One morning, I felt called to attend Mass. It happened to be the Feast of St. Mary Magdalen, but I wasn't thinking about that. I just wanted a corner of contemplation amid the bustling big city.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Thanks to the Friends I’ve Made Through CL

The other night, I hosted a potluck for the fledgling faith-sharing group forming here in Central New Jersey. The foods were as eclectic as we are: I offered a pasta and eggplant dish my husband had prepared; G., who grew up in Ecuador, brought plantain empanadas he had spent hours preparing; P. brought desserts in the style of her native Paraguay; our parish priest brought a Key Lime pie; and A. brought a scrumptious walnut cake prepared by his wife. A young professor of Italian from Florence joined us late and enjoyed all our goodies.

A year ago, I didn't know most of these folks. Now here we were, gathered to share a meal, watch a short movie about AIDS in Uganda, and talk about how Christ can help us realize there is more to our lives than the sum of our problems.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

My Favorite Book (A Few Words for Wednesday)

This weekly slot was meant to feature poetry and has done so until today. But yesterday afternoon I picked up my favorite book again for the fourth or fifth time, and I can’t imagine writing about any other “Words” right now. You may know Norman Maclean (left) as the author of the story behind the movie “A River Runs Through It.” My favorite book is Norman Maclean’s other book.