Wednesday, December 29, 2010

For New Years Resolutions Like This: Choose A Patron Saint for 2011

Earlier today I mentioned that I was dipping into the Communion of Saints for inspiration. And why not? I love these people and I'm glad they are praying for me. Later this afternoon I noted that Elizabeth Scalia, "the Anchoress" was wondering about her patron saint for the new year. Readers may have noticed that we have two full time patrons here at YIMCatholic: St. Joseph and St. Joan of Arc.

Because Saints Tell Temporal Kings "No!" When They Err

Another day, another magnificent saint for us to model our behavior after. Yesterday, I pulled the "Dead Poet Society" number on you and introduced you to Emily Henrietta Hickey. For today, I'm heading back to the Communion of Saints and dialing up St. Thomas Becket for inspiration. Back-to-back martyrdom stories, though yesterday was the Innocents and today is someone who was definitely in the know.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Because He Feeds His Lost Sheep

We tried. God knows we really tried. My family and I were driving south from New Jersey and into a blizzard. We had planned to stop for 11 a.m. Mass at St. Anthony of Padua parish in Wilmington, Delaware's Little Italy neighborhood. I had the directions penciled in my Liturgy of the Hours and had even googled a restaurant where we could eat lunch after. But then, I missed the exit on I-95.

For Poems Like This For Childermas

-Feast of the Holy Innocents 
Have you ever heard of Emily Hickey? Me either, at least not until just now. Born in 1845, she is a child of the Emerald Isle, an Irish lass born in 1845 into a family fathered by a Protestant Minister of the Church of Ireland.

But somehow she decided to swim the Tiber and she was received into the Catholic Church in 1901. Prior to doing so, her literary talents were well known in her day, her poems being published in literary journals and such.

Monday, December 27, 2010

For All the Saints: John, Apostle and Evangelist

Today is the feast day of St. John, the "disciple whom Jesus loved." Jesus called him and his brother James the "sons of thunder," so they must have been quite a lively pair. This is a portrait of the young John painted by El Greco. 

What follows is the citation on John from Jesuit Father Francis Xavier Weninger's book, Lives of the Saints. The subtitle to Weningers work is "Compiled from Authentic Sources" and here he helps me to better see the life of the only apostle and eyewitness of Our Lord that died a natural death.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

To Pray for Charles Kavanagh and To Give Thanks for Lunar Eclipses

Our teenager was looking over my shoulder one night as I read a New York Times article about one of my former pastors. "What does defrocked mean?" he asked me. "It means this man no longer is a priest," I explained. For years I have intermittently followed the case of Charles Kavanagh, a man who once served as a priest my childhood parish. Acting on authority of the Vatican, a church tribunal last week found the man guilty of sexually abusing a teenager in the 1970s. The statue of limitations for any civil trial had long since run out but "between July 2002 and July 2003 the district attorney's office worked closely with the Archdiocese and found the allegations to be credible." 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Because It Was Time: A Confession on Why I Killed Santa Claus

There is a killing that I won't need to bring to my parish priests' attention the next time I enter the confessional. I killed Santa Claus a little over a year ago in my own household, and I have absolutely no regrets about doing so either.

Because it had to be done, see? Like when Old Yeller saved the day and protected the family from a rabid wolf.

Because of the Christ Child

"The Savior comes to incapacitate the work of evil, the things that still keep us distant from God, restoring us to our ancient splendor and our original paternity. ... His coming, then, can have no other aim than that of teaching us to see and love events, the world and everything that surrounds us, with the eyes of God Himself. The Word, by becoming a Child, helps us to understand the way God acts, that we too may be capable of allowing ourselves to be transformed by His goodness and infinite mercy.

In the night of the world, let us still allow ourselves to be surprised and illuminated by this coming, by the Star which, rising in the East, has inundated the universe with joy. Let us purify our minds and our lives from everything that contrasts with this coming - thoughts, words, attitudes and actions - spurring ourselves on to do good and to help bring peace and justice to our world for all men and women, and thus to walk 

towards the Lord"

Pope Benedict XVI, Christmas 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Because To Me, This is a Christmas Song

But maybe that's just me...

Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad, کریسمس مبارک, Selamat Hari Natal, חג מולד שמח, Boas Festas e Feliz Ano Novo, मेरी क्रिसमस, Maligayang Pasko, عيد ميلاد مجيد, Froehliche Weihnachten, 聖誕節快樂, Joyeux Noël, С Рождеством, Buone Feste Natalizie, 메리 크리스마스, Feliz Natal, メリークリスマス, Sawadee Pee Mai,

Thursday, December 23, 2010

For Poems Like This For Christmas: "Messiah" by Alexander Pope

Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. Three simple, but profound words. Three words that appeal to all mankind. Catholic words are these, albeit with a small "c." The impact that the Catholic Church, with a capital "C," has had on the arts, though, is enormous.

The Church has unswervingly held that mankind, and the works of his hands, and mind, are to be praised and turned to the benefit of all. Because to do so redounds to the Glory of God. Since the earliest of times, the Church has encouraged sacred art for this purpose. This isn't just my personal opinion either.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Kings (A Few Words For Wednesday)

Here is a late-breaking poem for the day. I stumbled upon it while combing through my favorite on-line library. There is all kinds of undiscovered treasure lurking in the books there. Just waiting for you to break out your torch and look around.

Ever feel like being a Catholic Christian is a battle? Sure you do, because we were never promised a rose garden, right? This poem may  either scare you straight or help you see the light. Written by Louise Imogen Guiney, my inner (and outer) warrior read this and my compass headed to true north once again.

Because "And You Shall Name Him יהושע"

Yesterday Monsignor Charles Pope ran a post on some of the Paradoxes of Christmas. Some very interesting observations are listed there.

In Archbishop Fulton Sheen's Life of Christ, he mentions several of the paradoxes listed by the good Monsignor. Such as Bethlehem means House of Bread, and that Our Lord, the Bread of Life lay in a manger, which is a feed trough for livestock.

Like my post on Monday, when I said that Jesus was from the wrong side of the tracks, Bishop Sheen points to the fact that to the world, He was a nobody from nowhere. Really, a Messiah from the sticks of Galilee? How gauche. And from what I've read (see list below), even the Messiah's name was pretty common. Everybody hoped their son would, you know, be the One.

Monday, December 20, 2010

For A Change of Heart This Christmas

For some people, this time of the year is the worst of all. Why? Because Madison Avenue Stole Christmas. And we've even turned it into an arms race of sorts. The feast has lost much of it's religious significance because we have allowed it to be hijacked and our wallets held for ransom. This is one of those man-made disasters that I often ask you to pray about.

Because Unto Us, A Child Is Born! (Music for Mondays)

Christmas is upon us. We have passed through the 4th Sunday of Advent and in a few more days we will celebrate the Nativity of Our Lord and Savior. The mystery of the Incarnation is a profound one. As St. John writes in his gospel, and as the words parsed into English literally mean, "He pitched his tent among us."

You don't have to be a Marine to appreciate those words, but it doesn't hurt. Our prayers are answered and Emmanuel comes! After all, leadership by example is always appreciated in the circles I travel in. He comes as promised and yet in an unexpected way. Poor, weak, and vulnerable. And as I hope the following music selections will show, in a very inspiring way too.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

For the Example and Witness of Charles Péguy

I've got a buddy who is a blogger, a fellow by the name of Webster Bull. You may have heard of him before, because he is the founder of the blog you are reading now. When he has the chance, or the spare time, Webster blogs occasionally for an outfit called Cahiers Péguy.

Over at Cahiers Péguy, they have a cadre of writers putting out interesting posts in the Catholic spirit on the art of writing and living. When Webster started posting there I was very happy, because it meant I would still get to read the words of one of my favorite Catholic bloggers.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

For Your Saturday Night at the Movies: The Sound of Music

Neophyte nun meets naval captain widower with 7 children. "Salzburg Austria in the last golden days of the 1930's." Unsure of Maria's vocation, the Mother Superior of the abbey assigns her to the von Trapp household as a governess.

I held out against seeing this movie for the longest time. Until 2003 as I recall. Now it's one of my favorites! Me and the kids know all of the tunes and break into song with the von Trapps with reckless abandon! Well, I still do anyway (how embarrassing!).

Because God Became Man (Despite His Flawed Human Ancestors)

This day is just beginning, but I can't let it go forward without mentioning yesterdays Gospel reading. It is from Chapter 1 in Matthew and it is the genealogy of Jesus. Here the gospel writer goes to great pains to show that Our Lord and Savior is indeed descended from the line of King David.

Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel ceiling with portraits of Our Lord's earthly ancestors. After reading this post, you may think that earthy is a better description of them.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

For Thoughts and a Prayer for Advent by Thomas à Kempis

Thomas à Kempis is one of the people whose writings helped bring me into the Church. Now that the fourth and final Sunday of Advent is upon us, I'd like to share with you his thoughts on the Advent season.

This is from his A Meditation on the Incarnation of Christ. It's brief and to the point and a surefire way to recollect your thoughts for the final week of Advent.

For the Love of Saint Andrew: A Christmas Novena, Day 16

I tend to pray this Novena while commuting to work. Something about driving highways makes me meditative. I have been trying, as I pray, to offer up my suffering to ease someone else's and I have been picking a different person each day.

I discovered, however, that what I consider suffering many would consider blessings. Take my annoyance at driving behind a slow-moving truck. It's a bother, yes. But another way to look at it is - hey at least I have a working car and a job to drive too. So many people don't.

I was feeling kind of inadequate about what I consider suffering until a wise, young friend from School of Community suggested it's pretty easy to be noble in the face of supreme suffering. She pointed out that it can be tough, really tough, to seek Christ as we labor through our daily discontentments.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Thanks to St. John of the Cross, Master of Paradoxes

In the past, I have shared my affinity for both the writings of John C.H. Wu (the Chinese Chesterton, here with his family and Pope Pius XII) and St. John of the Cross. Do you remember when I shared my friend John's thoughts on Thérèse of Lisieux? He compared her to Lao Tzu and Confucius.

As this is the feast day of St. John of the Cross, I would like to share with you some of John Wu's thoughts about this Doctor of the Church as well as this diagram of St. John's Ascent of Mt. Carmel.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Because Catholics Can Have Fun: The Nativity via Social Networks circa 2010

Father James Martin, SJ, author of My Life With the Saints, posted this on his Facebook account a few minutes ago.  I predict it will be going viral, but as of this posting, the following video only has 360 views.

Let's ramp that number up, shall we? But just remember that Herod the Great might be on-line too. We will need to jam his access to the web for a couple of hours. I know some people.

Don't you dare smile!

It's a Snow Day! (Music for Mondays)

I've got to tell you folks that it snowed in my little town last night. The schools closed, the courts closed, basically the whole world closed down. My kids are home, and I'm home, so we are playing in the snow.

Make fun of us Southerners all you want. But since snow days rarely come around, we're going to make the most of it. My family just put up our Christmas tree last night too, so we'll be decorating all day long, in between snow ball fights, hot cocoa, and such.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Because of Francisco De Osuna and a Minor Miracle

During the Summer of 2007 I read an awful lot of books that led me to join my parish RCIA program in the Fall of that same year. I've written about most of my reading program in earlier posts in this series, and I continued reading great Catholic books once my RCIA class started too.

For example, I read Mirabai Starrs' translation of The Book of My Life by St. Teresa of Avila. It is a fascinating book about prayer by a fascinating woman. By reading Big Terry's book, I discovered the work of another obscure author I had never heard of who had a big impact on this Doctor of the Church and on me. Here is what St. Teresa says on page 20 of her book that peaked my interest,

Because We Must "Be Patient. . .Until the coming of the Lord"

Third Sunday of Advent,
Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

In School of Community Tuesday night, we gave ourselves an assignment: Each day this week, we are to pick a person to whom we offer up our suffering so we might ease theirs. This discipline has led me to examine exactly what I think constitutes suffering. I'm an employed, happily married mother of two healthy, happy sons. We own a cozy, well-heated home in a safe community. We have full cupboards and stomachs. We are surrounded by wonderful friends.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

For the Love of Saint Andrew: A Christmas Novena, Day 12

Guest post by Julie Cragon

Last Christmas, I watched a young couple holding a newborn and playing with young children at a Christmas party. I knew the couple wanted children and was having a difficult time. They have seen doctors and talked to many people and even thought about adoption. I have stayed out of the conversation because they and their family have “thought of and tried everything.”

Because of Thomas Merton (January 31, 1915 – December 10, 1968)

I'm taking the liberty of republishing this post in memory of the death of Thomas Merton, aka, Father Louis. He passed on to eternity 42 years ago yesterday, on December 10, 1968. This orginally was posted as part seven of my conversion story under the title, "To Be Frank, Part 7, The Cistercian Connection."

I left off Part 6 of this series saying that at the prodding of Blaise Pascal and Thomas à Kempis, I was led to the writings of a monk named Father Louis, aka Thomas Merton. I had heard of Thomas Merton before. I didn't know squat about him, but it seemed as if every Catholic with an ounce of spirituality loved talking about Merton.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Because We Don't Need Another Hero

I loved the Mad Max film series. My favorite was the second film in the franchise, The Road Warrior. But by the time Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome came around, the story was pretty stale to me.

But for some reason, the song sung by Tina Turner from that last film is stuck in my head. I think I need to share it with you. Maybe it's because Thomas Merton died today, back in 1968. Maybe he is pointing out the truth of our fallen world to me, and suggesting this song.

For the Love of Saint Andrew: A Christmas Novena, Day 11

Guest Post by Julie Cragon

I was first introduced to the Christmas Novena to Saint Andrew in 1987. After a couple of years of trying to conceive, my husband and I found out we were pregnant early in the year. Along with my two sisters and a sister-in-law, I would have a new baby in November. Unfortunately, we lost our child in late April. By October and November, when the other new little ones were born I was beginning to wonder if we would ever have children.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

For the Love of Saint Andrew: A Christmas Novena, Day 10

On this, the tenth day of the Christmas Novena, it strikes me that the intention that I have been praying for up to now is too selfish, too self-centered to even be worthwhile to continue to ask God for.

Instead, I am compelled to pray for a different intention; one for our brothers and sisters in the world who are being persecuted for Our Faith.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Because Dracula was Catholic? Oh My!

Yesterday, I did something that I can only explain by pointing to the fact that I am a Catholic. I said a prayer for the soul of Dracula. No, not for Bram Stoker's fictional vampyre version of him, but for the real Dracula. That's right, Vlad "the Impaler."

For all we really now, he died a hero and a good Catholic. Bear with me for a second.

Monday, December 6, 2010

An Advent Mix (Music for Mondays)

It's the second week of advent, and though by no means is this the definitive Advent Music mix, I hope you will enjoy it. We have a couple of versions of a timeless classic, Matthew Maher, an unknown group and an ensemble and even Joan Osbourne too. It's the MfM-Late Edition, but better late than never.

For Help Reading Maps Correctly

I have a friend who can't understand why I enjoy being a Catholic.

From discussions I have had with him, it appears that he believes I am now enslaved by an organization that is run by a tyrant who bears the title of "Pope." I reckon that his libertarian tendencies bristle at the very idea of submitting to an authority, even if that authority is ordained  and conferred by Christ Himself.

For the Love of Saint Andrew: A Christmas Novena, Day 7

Call me dangerously distracted, but not until I saw this lovely acrylic painting by Roger Hutchison, a parishioner at Trinity Episcopal Church in Columbia, South Carolina, did I realize why the Saint Andrew's Christmas Novena also is a novena for couples trying to conceive. How obvious this now all seems.

Mary, a poor unwed teenager, spent the weeks before Christmas Day anticipating the birth of her son, a son conceived "by the Holy Ghost and born of the Virgin Mary."

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Because I've Been Struggling with "the Kingdom Of Heaven is At Hand"

Second Sunday of Advent

Dear readers,

I'm struggling with something. When you're done reading my diatribe, will you let me know your thoughts?

Here we are, the second Sunday of Advent and the Gospel reading recounts how John the Baptist preached: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." I understand what this means on a chronological level. John is prophesizing that the Messiah is coming. But why does Christ then tell his Apostles to tell people the very same thing? "From that time Jesus began to preach and to say: 'Do penance, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand' "

For the Love of Saint Andrew: A Christmas Novena, Day 6

As a lifelong Catholic, I have heard a lot and read a lot about Christ calling his apostles, ordinary Jewish fishermen plying their trade on the Sea of Galilee, to be "fishers of men."

The vocations of apostles, such as Saint Andrew, and their successors, our priests, are to draw us to Christ. But in many corners of the globe, including the Philippines, Brazil and in the United States, the Church faces a dire shortage of priests even as the Church on this planet numbers beyond one billion.

What's at stake? No priests, no sacraments, no Church.  "Who's going to give the sacraments for the next generation?" one priest asks in a powerful video called "Fishers of Men."

Saturday, December 4, 2010

For the Love of Saint Andrew: A Christmas Novena, Day 5

Andrew, who recognized Christ as the Messiah, immediately shared this revelation with his brother Peter. The Gospel of John says simply: "And he brought him to Jesus."

Both brothers - Saint Andrew and Saint Peter - became Apostles. Could they have imagined then that they both would be martyred for their faith?

How did this meeting happen? What was it about Andrew that drew Peter to Christ? How do we Christians attract nonbelievers to Christ? We can't do it by lecturing them on our doctrines, shaming them into belief, or condemning the world we inhabit.

Friday, December 3, 2010

For the Love of Saint Andrew: A Christmas Novena, Day 4

What's in a name? Upon Our Lord's first meeting with Andrews' brother Simon, in John chapter 1, He says Simon's name will be changed. This is how the scene unfolds,

The next day again John (the Baptist) stood, and two of his disciples. And beholding Jesus walking, he saith: Behold the Lamb of God. And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. And Jesus turning, and seeing them following him, saith to them: What seek you? Who said to him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou? He saith to them: Come and see.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Because I was Blind, And Could Not See

The burden of the valley of vision.

These seven words strung together, in a nice, taut sentence, is how the 22nd chapter of the book of the prophet Isaiah starts off. Isaiah was given the gift of prophecy, and what a double-edged sword that gift must be. Truly, a heavy burden, to be gifted with such visions as God inspired him with and then commanded him to share them with His people.

As readers of this space well know, I'm a convert to Catholicism.

For the Love of Saint Andrew: A Christmas Novena, Day 3

Two brothers were hard at work in their fishing boats in the Sea of Galilee. Maybe they were mending their nets. Maybe they were bickering over who had done more work the day before. A man walks along the shoreline. Do they know him? Maybe. After all, he's a carpenter. Maybe he had helped them repair their boats. Or maybe he is a stranger to them. We do not know. The man calls to them.

"And Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who had heard of John and followed him. He finds first his brother Simon and said to him: We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus. And Jesus looking upon him, said: You are Simon the son of Jona. You shall be called Cephas, which is interpreted Peter."

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Glad with Morning Light (A Few Words for Wednesday)

Within Charles Dickens' searing, socially realistic novel, The Old Curiosity Shop, he offers us luminous writing about the beauty of the natural world. The story he tells is tragic; it's the tale of a young and virtuous orphan, Little Nell, who dies on a journey with her grandfather to escape their misfortune in London. Soon after she dies, her grandfather does too. Because it now is Advent, I am drawn to images of light. This  passage, from Chapter 15, speaks to me because we all journey.

For the Love of Saint Andrew: A Christmas Novena, Day 2

Sacred scripture tells us little of the life of Christ’s first disciple. Perhaps this is a good thing. Instead of being handed a long narrative about this holy man, we are left to wonder, to contemplate on the man who was the first to follow Christ.