Monday, January 31, 2011

Matt Maher & More (Music for Mondays)

A while back, I did a music post on Matt Maher, the Catholic Contempory Christian artist. Maher and his band are top notch, and I hope to take my kids to one of his concerts if he ever wanders our way.

Here's why I like his stuff. As Christians, we should measure the worth of an artist by how well they get "it" right about the human condition, don't you think? Some of us go searching for "it" in music.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Because the Beatitudes Illuminate our Upside-Down World

Christianity's Eight Beatitudes, or blessings, are a beautiful follow-up to the Ten Commandments. Christ's blessings are as relevent now as they were 2,000 years ago to people suffering under Roman occupation. The values of this world - material wealth, fame, political power - often directly contradict the values of the Body of Christ. When we begin to understand that Christ is with us right this minute, we do not need to wait for our reward in heaven; our joy begins now because we see how Christ is imbedded in the reality of our daily lives.

For Cults of Personality, Not! (Or My Brush with Fr. Thomas Euteneuer)

Late yesterday evening, after I asked for your prayers for Egypt, I clicked over to New Advent to see what was posted there on the situation on the ground. Many of you know that besides being the electronic host of the Catholic Encyclopedia, New Advent also posts links to other Catholic websites and blogs for noteworthy news stories or posts. New Advent has graciously posted our blog posts from time to time as well.

But a different sort of story caught my eye instead.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

To Pray for the People of Egypt

Back when I was really young, and when I knew everything, I was stationed in Cairo, Egypt. I was one of the Marine Security Guards at the U.S. Embassy there, back in the mid 1980's.

The War on Terror had begun, for me anyway, when the U.S. Embassy in Beirut was blown up.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Thanks to the Faith of the Woman Behind the Breakfast Counter

I woke up on the late side this morning and so I decided to grab my breakfast in the high school cafeteria during first period. As I waited my turn, an older woman slowly walked back and forth behind the counter, serving hungry teenagers, answering their questions, pouring their coffee. She was woefully outnumbered and it was clear the cafeteria was understaffed.

Thanks To Everyone!

Word has come to me that Eric Sammons has re-published his list of the "Top 200" Catholic Blogs, based on the number of people who subscribe to a blog via the Google Reader. I guess that means through RSS feeds?

Anyway, according to Eric's methodology, YIMCatholic landed in the 36th spot on his list.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

For Faith In Action: The March For Life (Part II)

Chapter 3: The Youth Mass for Life.

When the idea to come to the March for Life came over me (see embedded link above), I knew that I wanted to attend Mass before the march began. I remembered where the Wee Kirk on the Hill is, and I also remembered a few other parishes from our trip back in the summer. I went to the March for Life website and clicked on the Factsheet to see if anything was planned worship-wise.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Thanks to Hundreds of Thousands Who Answered the Cries of the Christians in Iraq

Call it the email read 'round the world.

In November, a friend of a friend, Maria Teresa Landi, came up with an extraordinary idea: she e-mailed her friends, proposing they send letters of encouragement to the Christians of Iraq, who are being tortured and persecuted and murdered for their faith. Tere, who is active in the Communion and Liberation movement, asked that her idea be distributed as widely as possible. We posted her proposal, which was picked up by our blogging friends, such as the Anchoress and Father Robert Barron and many, many others. 

Because There Is No Statute Of Limitations On Truth

You may have missed this piece in the Washington Post yesterday about the historian accused of altering a document signed by President Abraham Lincoln. I work in an archive and I know that among historians and archivists, altering historic documents is just plain wrong. After all,

The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones. (Luke 16:10)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

For Faith In Action: The March For Life (Part I)

Chapter I: Mission Impossible? Not When It's a Mission from God

What possesses a man to embark, in the middle of a Sunday afternoon, on an unplanned trip that will take 36 hours, 1000 miles of driving, and absolutely no idea how he will pull it all off? Faith and prayer is what I chock it up to. That, and having a wonderful wife. Oh, and did I mention I took my entire family with me, and at a moments notice?

I just felt like we needed to be at the March for Life, is all.

Monday, January 24, 2011

One From the Road (Music for Mondays)

So my family and I are up in the Nation's Capitol. Our Lord said, Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me. It doesn't get much more "least" than unborn babies.

So after Mass yesterday, I pulled a Crazy Ivan on my wife and kids and told them we're heading to Washington D.C. for the March for Life. The idea came over me during the homily and that ended at about 1:15 PM. We shoved off by 3:30 PM.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Who Is Jesus Christ? by Eric Sammons (A Book Review)

Yesterday I wrote about classic books in the packs and pockets of the saints and how reading them can help us too. For example, St. Francis de Sales (whose feast day is tomorrow) and his worn copy of Dom. Scupoli's The Spiritual Combat. St. Teresa of Avila turned from reading trashy romance novels to reading books like Francisco de Osuna's The Third Spiritual Alphabet.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

To Become Technically and Tactically Proficient

One of the characteristics of the Catholic Church that appealed to me right away was that not only does the Church teach the importance of strategy, but she also recognizes the importance of tactics. And like the Marine Corps, the Church Militant produces field manuals teaching and relating the effective use of both strategy and tactics. All of which are based on her actual experience gained in fighting, and winning,  spiritual wars.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Thanks to Pope John Paul II, For Helping Me Survive Ovarian Cancer

Guest Post by Dee Sparacio

Dee lives New Jersey, where she blogs about how she survived ovarian cancer. Here, she shares how her faith was instrumental in her victory.

I have written about my experience as an ovarian cancer survivor for over three years now. I've shared stories about my CT and PET scans, the anxiety of waiting for CA-125 results, the options I had when I recurred, the sadness I felt when friends lost their battle and the decisions I made when it recurred.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

For Faith In Action: Patton, the Priest, and the Power of Prayer

I've been a bit martial in this space lately. Don't let it scare you. Yesterday, in a post on the Jesus Prayer, I mentioned that in combat, there is no time for analysis or planning. True, to a point. 

But in leading up to the fighting, there is time for this activity. Sometimes hours, days, and even weeks of it. It is vital to the success of military operations that this time be used wisely. And as this story will attest to, here also, the power of prayer is necessary. We may have forgotten how powerful prayer is.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

For Simple, Powerful, Prayers Like This One

Often times, we outsmart ourselves. Overthink things, overanalyze, study, weigh carefully before we decide to act. These are generally accepted principles for decision making. In many cases, this process makes a lot of sense. In others, it is the treadmill to oblivion. Bear with me here.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Because, Believe It Or Not, It's Easy

How many high school seniors do you know who have a blog? To narrow that list down a bit, how many of them have one dedicated to blogging about the Catholic faith? Well allow me to introduce you to a young man who does just that.

He's young, smart, edgy, and reverently irreverent. In other words, he's the kind of Catholic I hope my kids meet up with and hang out with. 

Because What Might Look Like An Epic Fail Actually Isn't

This morning was, in pop-culture parlance, an epic fail. It's hailing, sleeting and snowing here. Ice is everywhere. The boys have a snow-cancellation day.

My school district is nearly 50 miles from our home. When my husband checked the district website at 5:30 a.m., my school district had a two-hour delay. I grabbed an extra hour of sleep, then headed outside to chip the ice off the windshield and windows our minivan. I headed north, anxious about arriving on time because traffic was thick and the highways icy.

When I arrived at the school, the parking lot was empty except for a few folks plowing. It turns out the district had canceled school for the day. If I'd checked the website again before driving off, I would have known that.

Monday, January 17, 2011

In the Name of Love (Music for Mondays)

It's Monday and I realize that I haven't done a music post in a while. I was all caught up in the Christmas Season, see, and many of those posts included music.

But now it's Ordinary Time, and I'm putting my VJ hat back on. Pretend that I'm driving this van around today, playing the following songs on a non-stop loop, with no particular place to go.

Because Life is So Much Fuller Than I Expect

Notes from Communion and Liberation's New York Encounter 2011

Did. Not. Expect. This!

Did not expect the hosts of New York Encounter 2011 weekend, essentially a spiritual retreat, to treat us to a free rockin' concert in the Hammerstein Ballroom at the Manhattan Center, where hours earlier hundreds of us had celebrated Mass.

Did not expect to see young priests and religious college students breaking out into spontaneous line dances and grooving to bluegrass with Henrique Prince of the Ebony Hillbillies (below) the blues, and jazz at a concert m'ceed by Blue Lou, a former member of Blood Sweat and Tears.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Thanks For Our Priests

Notes from the Communion and Liberation New York Encounter 2011

This morning I went to Mass. That's a typical Sunday morning for me. But this time, I was surrounded by at least 1,000 other worshipers. The Mass was held in a large theater - the Manhattan Center on West 34th Street - and was celebrated by 15 priests, including H. E. Msgr. Fernando Chomali (at left) Auxiliary Bishop of Santiago, Chile.

The Mass was impressive, but what moved me nearly to tears was something simple.

Thanks To A Vibrant Church!

Notes from the Communion and Liberation New York Encounter 2011:

Often, when I attend Mass at my tiny suburban parish, I feel as if the Catholic Church is dying. Sometimes, if I go with our 11-year-old, he and I are the youngest people in a church of mostly empty pews. My husband and I face the challenge of raising our children in the faith when most of our neighbors do not attend any houses of worship and their children, unsurprisingly, are avowed atheists by the time they hit puberty.

I have an entirely new perspective on the fate of our faith after spending four-plus hours yesterday as a volunteer cashier at the coffee bar in the basement of the Manhattan Center, where the New York Encounter 2011 is taking place. The Encounter is a free four-day cultural festival sponsored by the ecclesiastical group Communion and Liberation. It's showing me young adults who are the next generation of faith-filled Catholics.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

For Thoughts On Freedom Like These By Fulton Sheen

A little while ago, I shared a few of the Catholic ideas that have been consistent since Our Lord's Advent and yet are paradoxical. Today, when you have a spare half-hour, have a listen to Archbishop Fulton Sheen in the audio clip below.

Don't let the title fool you though, because this talk is about freedom.

Because the Church is Paradoxically Consistent

The other day I wrote about the dictionary meanings for the word "catholic." I have more thoughts on the matter, but that post was running long. Having already imposed a 3500 word(!) post on you right after the New Year, constant reading of marathon length missives might tucker you out, make you cross-eyed, and compel you never to return to this space. So consider this post as part II in a series of indeterminate length on the meanings of that word.

Though this Marine is no expert on word etymology, today I ask you to consider the meanings of the word "catholic" again, but this time applying them to an organism.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Thanks to the New York Encounter, Probably

Back when I was newspapering, we would have called this kind of posting an advance. I am writing to tell you about something happening right now, and through Monday in New York City: The New York Encounter 2011. I am writing this from the comfort of my century-old suburban home but expect to hop a train to the city in the morning to participate in this free, four-day cultural festival sponsored by Communion and Liberation. If you live in the New York metropolitan area, you might considering coming, too.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

For All the Meanings of the Word "Catholic"

My God isn't too small, but I sure am. For the longest time I was a modern pharisee, so sure that I knew everything I needed to know about God and my own salvation. Then I walked away from worshipping God for the longest time, because my little mind "got it" about God and I didn't really care about what your opinion, or any churches opinion for that matter, was about Him.

I waited a long time to be called home to the Church. But when I started to hear the call, the reasonableness of becoming a Catholic had a lot to do with that very word "catholic." Let's take a look at the word and maybe you'll see what I mean.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Because We Still Are Opening Christmas Gifts

Today, being a school-cancellation day, I had the opportunity to attend Mass with two dear friends. We drove to the Catholic Student Center at Rutgers University, where Father Jeff Calia, C.O. was celebrating. He told the worshippers he hadn't expected nearly 10 people to attend Mass today, given the weather. Consequently, he spoke to us extemporaneously about today's readings. He reminded us that now that we are in Ordinary Time, we are learning the implications of Christ's birth and His presence. In a sense, he told us, we still are opening our Christmas gifts.

For Thoughts On the Bride of Christ Like These, Circa 1906

For the past few days, I've had my nose buried in some very good books. I found a book written by a fellow named W. J. Williams that includes the names "Newman" and "Pascal" in the title, and as Blaise is one of my favorites, I got carried away by it.

The book is entitled Newman, Pascal, Loisy and the Catholic Church. It turns out that Loisy was excommunicated in 1909, but he doesn't figure prominently in the book so I'm mystified as to why he is included in the title. Maybe it was for "sizzle" when it was published.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Because He is Emmanuel

This afternoon my family will remove the lights from our Christmas tree, which now stands on our front porch, and haul the tree to the curb. Then our borough will collect it and grind it to mulch.

It is time for the tree to come down because this feast day, the Baptism of our Lord, marks the end of the Christmas season, and the beginning of Christ's public ministry.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Because The Church Militant Transforms Us

—Originally posted back in July, perhaps you will give it a second look on this day before we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord. 
I ran a half-marathon once, courtesy of the United States Marine Corps—13.1 miles on a hot, humid September morning in Quantico, Virginia. Along with 120 other happy Leathernecks, I never could have run this distance successfully without prior training.

I couldn't have made it  without the refreshment stops provided by our benevolent leaders along the way either. Even though I had stamina, discipline, and faith in my abilities, all of that would have been for naught without ice cold water available at stations along the route. I wouldn't have made it to the finish line without them, and no one else would have either.

Friday, January 7, 2011

For All the Saints: Angela of Foligno

The other day I shared with you the story of St. Simeon Stylites the Elder, the original "pillar-hermit." Simeon was a lay person, but he evidently was unencumbered by family responsibilities. Today, I want to introduce you to a saint for the rest of us. Her name is Angela and she lived in Foligno, Italy from 1248 until her death in the year 1309.

As I reported back when I shared Algar Thorold's essay, I stumbled upon the story of this lay Catholic mystic and stigmatic and I'm glad I did. Algar busts the myth that there are two Catholic Church's (one for the priests and religious, and one for lay people) and Angela's life shows this as well.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

For All the Saints: Simeon Stylites the Elder

Someone who you may have never heard of in the Communion of Saints is also celebrated by the Church today. Would you believe a guy who sat atop a pillar for over 35 years? I can't make this one up folks so I'm going to share the citation from the Catholic Encyclopedia at New Advent about my steadfast and devoted friend named St. Simeon "Stylites." 

When I first heard about the Stylites, I was taken aback.  I thought how could someone do such a thing? If my own child came to me with an idea to do something like this, would I support them? Or would I be like St. Francis of Assisi's father and be outraged. I hope not. Come and see how this story unfolds,

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Because These Catholic Chaplains Were Awarded the Medal of Honor

This photograph is for all of you who get really persnickety about the altar, vestments, and such ancillary things like that. This is Major Charles Watters, U.S. Army, celebrating Mass out in the field for the troops. The altar is a couple of ammo boxes sitting on top of two water cans.

Though there are no relics of saints embedded in this altar, what matters most, Our Lord and Savior, will be there with His men soon. I attended services just like this one, even when I wasn't a Catholic. Because beggars can't be choosers, see?

Because of Catholic Mysticism

Did you ever see the movie Field of Dreams? I ask this only because I realize that this movie hit the theaters 22 years ago come April. In a way, this modern classic is about mysticism. And when I was reading Algar Thorold's essay on Catholic Mysticism, I was reminded of one of the final scenes in the movie.

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Question For Readers: Faced With Overhearing Racist Remarks, What Would You Do?

Between Christmas and Epiphany, my family took a vacation. Days of pleasant family togetherness were marred only once: by comments my teen-aged son and I heard in the lobby of a chain hotel in central Virginia. He and I were  working at the hotel computers, around the corner from the reception desk. A white clerk behind the desk was telling jokes to another white clerk - using liberally the "n word" as punch lines. I was so shocked I didn't know what to do. I am still struggling, as a Christian, on how best to respond.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Because of Fully Baked Thoughts Like These by Algar Thorold

I've been pretty quiet as the year 2010 wound down and the New Year approached. Here is one of the reasons why: I have been searching for treasures that I can share with you.

My final post of 2010 was on resolving to choose, or more accurately, resolving to being open to being chosen by, a patron saint for the New Year. I hope many of you took me up on that resolution because the witness of the saints is one of the reasons that continually answers the question of the title of this blog.

Thanks to Little Christmas

Today is the Feast of the Epiphany, also known as Little Christmas. My family and I attended Mass last night at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, which serves the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. The parish is under the care of the Dominican Province of St. Joseph, which, by the way, has a great website. The priest who celebrated the Mass, Father Joseph Scordo, O.P., delivered a magnificent homily about the meaning of this feast day. I want want to share his thoughts with you.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Because His Real Presence Cannot Be Destroyed

During a recent family tour of colleges in the Carolinas, it became clear that Duke University isn't exactly a center of Catholic culture. The interdenominational chapel at this university founded by Methodists features statues (I found that deliciously ironic), including one of John Wyclif, who, in 1380 attacked the Eucharist by calling it merely "an effectual sign."  The chapel crypt is where they bury dead university presidents and their wives. The God worshiped here feels distinctly different to me.

During the same visit of Duke, we stumbled on a lovely trove of medieval art at the Nasher Art Museum. The Duke University Art Museum began in 1969 when members of the Brummer family donated their extensive collection of medieval art to the university. The Nasher Art Museum, an architectural showpiece which opened in 2005, is a great place to explore. I was particularly provoked by the beauty of the medieval art in the collection. (Such as the statue of martyr Saint Sebastian, pictured here.)