Monday, February 28, 2011

Because I Need to Face Reality

My friend Martina said something funny and true tonight during our School of Community: once you own a certain model of car, you start seeing it everywhere. Likewise, she said, once you begin to see Christ, you begin to see Him everywhere. Because He is.

My involvement with the ecclesiastical movement known as Communion and Liberation has helped me to discern the presence of Christ in my daily life. I have come to understand that my faith is not a tool to shield me from reality or protect me from the world; rather it is a way to help me understand that Christ is present in every moment and that He is embedded in the details of the realities I face.

For Lessons on Lying from "The Catechism Made Easy" (with a Little Help from the Rolling Stones)

The subject of "lying for Jesus," as Mark Shea puts it, has been rolling through the Catholic blog-o-sphere in light of the tactics used by the Pro-Life group Live Action

I even posted a little piece comparing many of the commentators to characters from J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy. I dubbed Mark Shea as "Faramir" because that character said, "I would not snare even an orc with a falsehood." Mark states his case based on what the Catechism says about lying.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

To Give Thanks to the Life of Bernard Nathanson

I happened to be at Saint Patrick's Cathedral in New York today with my friends from Communion and Liberation. The mass was magnificent and so was Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan's homily. What struck me deeply were his reflections on the life of Bernard Nathanson.

Tomorrow morning at 10, the Cardinal will preside at a funeral Mass for  Nathanson, a founder of NARAL, the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, a proabortion group.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Because Life Doesn't Come With Odometers

Our family van is in the shop this week and I've been driving our sedan 40-plus miles to work. The car is as old as our marriage: 17 years. My husband works close to home and so he drives the sedan to work and back, logging less than five miles a day.

For years, the gas gauge hasn't worked, but we've adapted by relying on the trip odometer.

For Thoughts Like These on Truth, the World, and Evangelization

All truth belongs of right to Christian thought, as the spoils of the Egyptians to the Hebrews. "Whatever has been well said anywhere belongs to us who are Christians" -- because according to that saying of St. Ambrose, which St. Thomas (Aquinas) delighted to quote, "every truth, whoever said it, comes from the Holy Spirit." -Jacques Maritain

The spirit of Phariseeism never dies. -John C.H. Wu

For All the Sacramentals, The Way of the Cross

The Lenten season is just around the corner, and one of the devotions that I look forward to is that of the Stations of the Cross. Also known as the Way of the Cross, I was amazed to see Fr. Sullivan count this devotion as a sacramental. I had no idea, did you?

Last year both Allison and I wrote posts on the Stations of the Cross. Below, Fr. John fleshes out the history of this sacramental devotion for us.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

For My Classmate in the Back Row

She sits in the back of the classroom where I spend one night a week as a graduate student. We are a class of career-changers who felt the pull in midlife to share our knowledge with children. She's raising her son on her own.

A few times, her young son has joined us in class, playing quietly with his Gameboy while we adults share the frustrations and joys of our first years as teachers.

For All the Sacramentals, The Vestments (Part II)

Prior to finding Fr. Sullivan's book The Visible Church, there is no way that I would have learned about the priestly vestments that will be discussed below. So again, for the clergy in the audience, this is nothing new.

But for the rest of us, unless you are a player of the Facebook game called Priestville (I kid you not!), you've probably never heard of most of this stuff. As for me, I don't have time for fun and games like that.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Because of the Note Sewn In Blaise Pascal's Coat

My buddy Blaise Pascal is a lot like me. That is, excepting the obvious fact that he was a mathematical genius, inventor of a calculator etc., and though I enjoy mathematics, I am a mere admirer of genius in this and many other departments. No, I mean that just like me, he needed something to constantly remind him of why he remains a Christian.

Something that he could turn to for reminding him why he left his earlier life and pursuits and decided to give his all to Christ and His Church. Something he could turn to that would remind him of his calling, when he was in "the world" but away from his Bible, his breviary, or his rosary.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

For Faith in Repose: Thomas Merton's Letter to a Young Activist

A little over a week ago, I shared a kind letter from Thomas Merton to a 6th grader. This time, I have another letter that Father Louis wrote someone. He share some advice for a "Young Activist." It too is kind, but geared toward a more mature soul.

As human beings, we are immortal souls in mortal bodies. The irony is that we feel compelled to do many things, and we are called to take actions. And yet, what the contemplatives like Father Louis help teach us is that we must pace ourselves.

Monday, February 21, 2011

To Remember to be Childlike (An Artful Reminder)

This morning my wife shared a video with me from a Japanese "pop" group that calls itself World Order. I posted the "New York City" version on my Facebook page, along with another version that was shot in Tokyo, Japan, which is where the group hails from.

My blogging friend Deacon Greg Kandra, whom I sent the video and back story to, posted it on his blog The Deacon's Bench. You may have seen it and enjoyed it there.

For All the Sacramentals, The Vestments (Part I)

Today, the series on Sacramentals continues with the vestments worn by the clergy. As a rookie Catholic, I understood some of the significance of the vestments, the colors, etc. But if I had to take a quiz and answer the question, "True or False: Are vestments a sacramental?," my answer would have been a guess, and I would have gotten this one wrong.

Now if the quiz would have been about Marine Corps uniforms, from Dress Blues, to Service (Greens), and Utilities (what you may know as "cammies") etc., I would have passed with flying colors.

Artist's That Begin With an "S" & More (Music for Mondays)

For some of us in the United States, it is a federal holiday. We celebrate Presidents Day, where we commemorate the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. It is one of those minor holidays though, where not everyone gets the day off.

If you are off today, and sleeping in, bully for you! If you aren't, play these songs for a lift during your lunch break. The names of the first three artists I'm sharing today begin with the letter "S". We'll start with a contemporary Christian band that is new to me first.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

For Your Sunday Night at the Movies, "The Scarlet and the Black"

I have my pastor to thank for this post. That's because during his homily today, he mentioned a movie about an Irish Catholic priest stationed in Rome who, while fulfilling the obligations of his office, also used his office to smuggle Jews, and Allied soldiers, out of harms way after the Nazis occupied Rome.

Based on a true story, given recent news incidents, this movie may be of interest to you. I'm not going to spoil anything by telling you how it ends. I will say this, I'm very thankful that it can viewed in its entirety on the Web via the website.

Because We Are His Folk: Reflections on Matthew 5:44

Last night, a wild wind deposited me and our 11 year old at the door of a Catholic church. Once inside, we participated in Mass and heard the words of the gospel. Christ asks so much from us; we are to love our enemies. As the young priest celebrating the Mass pointed out in his homily, our enemies include our next-door neighbor who throws garbage on our side of the property line and the terrorists who travel halfway around the world to attack our way of life.

For All the Sacramentals: Crosses and Crucifixes

Today I'm sharing more on sacramentals from Fr. John F. Sullivan's little text book called The Visible Church. What is a sacramental? They are "objects set apart and blessed by the Church to excite good thoughts and to increase devotion, and through these movements of the heart to remit venial sin."

Today we turn to the symbol that all Christians know, love, and revere.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

For Faith in Action: Live Action and the Lord of the Rings

Feast of St. Alvarez of Corova 
I know. This is a weird title for a post. What does the Lord of the Rings trilogy have to do with Live Action? Maybe nothing, or maybe everything. Bear with me for a moment and I'll try to explain.

The other day, I wrote a little post that I titled Because All of the Big Questions Have Been Answered. There, I stated simply that, "what is left to do, and one which takes a lifetime to perfect, is the implementation of the answers."

For All the Sacramentals, Holy Water

Yesterday I shared the Sign of the Cross with you, and today I promised an explanation of Holy Water. I'm glad I found this little book The Visible Church by Fr. John F. Sullivan. And not just for trivial pursuit question ammunition either.

Friday, February 18, 2011

For All the Sacramentals, The Sign of the Cross

As a convert, when I was first considering becoming a Catholic, some of the little physical things Catholics did were of interest to me. I would think, why do they do that? The Sacramentals were mysterious to me.

I found a little book by Fr. John F. Sullivan entitled, The Visible Church.
Published in 1920 as a text book for Catholic schools, it's perfect for a beginner like me. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Because Sexually, You Aren't a "Black Box"

This is Joe Six-pack here. I haven't received much hate mail in a while so I must be doing something wrong. Therefore, I will explain sex to everyone who stumbles in here today.

After all, for some strange reason the modern world believes the wacky idea that sex is a "black box" that simply cannot be understood.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

For the Faith and Witness of Stan Musial

I saw a press release today from the Catholic News Service about three Catholics who were awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House.

Pardon me if I ignore the other two, because as a baseball dad, the only part of the announcement that I saw was the one that was about the Hall of Famer. Stan "the Man" Musial was one of the honorees!

A Chinese "Spiritual" (A Few Words For Wednesday)

I've been reading John C.H. Wu's The Interior Carmel: The Threefold Way of Love. This morning, I caught the shuttle bus from the parking lot to the bus stop right outside of my office back-door. As I was drinking my coffee during the ride, I dipped into my book bag and flipped open John's book. Guess what I found?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Because All of the Big Questions Have Been Answered

As I discover the Psalms anew, I am reminded of St. Augustine's saying about the Church: "late have I loved thee." When I was younger, see, and when I thought I knew everything, I used to skip these sacred, inspired, and often times prophetic, poems.

Nowadays, I turn to them and find comfort and instruction.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The 2011 Grammy's and More (Music for Mondays)

So the Grammy's were on last night. Just when I thought my wife was going to force me to watch a new PBS series, instead she made me watch the Grammy Awards.

It wasn't all bad either. Lots of musically talented children of God were there. For instance, two of the selections from the MfM post last week won awards. The Black Keys won "Best Alternative Album," and Arcade Fire won the "Album of the Year." So you see, I wasn't completely in the dark after all!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

For Faith in Action: Thomas Merton's Letter to a 6th Grader

I don't exactly remember where I found what follows, so forgive me for not providing footnotes. I was reading Jesuit Fr. Jim Martin's, recent blog post reflecting on today's gospel reading. The reading from Sirach applies as well.

The message is simple, yet paradoxically difficult, like most of the tenets of our faith. As Father Jim notes, it is simply "be kind." Simple, but my kids (and I) are still working on doing this so it is not easy!

While pondering this message,  the memory of this kind letter written by Fr. Louis (Thomas Merton) to a school child popped into my head. 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

For the Psalms and Spring, Family and Sports

It is getting ready to be a very busy time for me and my family. That's because Spring is just around the corner, and around my house this means our children's sports teams will begin hitting the ground running.

Not everyone gets involved in such things as sports for their kids. Not every child enjoys organized soccer, or baseball, or softball, volley ball, basketball, horse riding, or any of the other myriad possibilities to turn your child's attention to.

Because He Changes Our Mourning into Dancing

These past few weeks have been difficult for reasons I am not at liberty to explain. Suffice it to say people I love have been facing pain-filled circumstances and I have been spending what free moments I have praying to Christ that these loved ones might understand His immeasurable love surrounds and lifts them.

This afternoon after running some errands, I parked our van in front of our home and was going to indulge myself in a few moments of sorrow. Just then, a small girl emerged from a house across the street, a house I know to be filled with pain and sadness.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

For All the Saints: Paul of the Shipwreck

I first posted this on this day last year. But it is such a great story, about St. Paul, and written by an inspired eyewitness, St. Luke, that it is worth another look.

How can something good come from something tragic? This is a mystery to us all. We see the devastation and the loss of life, and we wonder, Why Lord? Can anything good come from natural disasters? It’s the riddle of our lives as bit players on the stage when we all believe we are the lead role in the play.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

From a Poem by George Santayana (A Few Words for Wednesday)

I think you will be surprised by this, because I know I was.Yesterday, I shared a little something that the atheist, and self-described "aesthetic Catholic," George Santayana wrote. Today I'm going to do the same.

It seems Professor George really wanted to be known as a poet and he wrote a good number of poems and sonnets, which were published by the Herbert S. Stone & Company publishing house. I "discovered" his poem The Hermit of Carmel yesterday and I am amazed by it. I  added it to the YIMCatholic Bookshelf without hesitation.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

For Thoughts Like These by George Santayana

Let me preface this post with an acknowledgement of the fact that philosopher George Santayana died as an atheist. But as an atheist, Santayana put pen to paper on some Catholic ideas that lack only one thing, really. And that one thing is the simple faith of a child in order to believe them.

As minds of adults go, George had an intellect that was top notch. But as Our Lord said,

Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Salt and Light, and Vinyl Hits?! (Music for Mondays)

I had a busy day at work today. Afterwards though, I threw together this little eclectic mix for your listening pleasure. First, I found a great song that is post related that I think you will enjoy and a little road movie by Matt Maher to boot.

Then we move over to some vinyl hits, some of which are pretty new. Vinyl? Their still making these?! According to my local newspaper, "Growing popularity of records nationwide is reflected in the local music market." Break out your turn-tables folks!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

To Season Well, Be Just Enough Yeast, And Not Blind Others

I know it's late for a post on today's gospel reading. Others more knowledgeable, and infinitely wiser than I, have said all that needs to be said about Our Lord's words from the Sermon on the Mount. My pastor's homily was very good in this respect too, and it got me to thinking about our roles as both salt and light.

As a refresher, here are the words of Our Lord,

Saturday, February 5, 2011

To Share, and Share Alike (The Saturday Evening Blog Post)

Today I saw a blogging friend mention that it was time to contribute to blogger Elizabeth Esther’s Saturday Evening Blog Post. I thought, What's that?

It turns out to be sort of like the Saturday Evening Post of yore, in that it is a compilation of blog posts from the past month from both Catholic blog writers, and not, from all over. Elizabeth posts these on the first Saturday of each month. Who is Elizabeth Esther? Come and see.

For Our Lady, "The Terror of Hell"

Jesus, the God-Man, said that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed, we could move mountains. Well, what follows is the story of another human being whose faith is the size of a mountain, if not boundless. As a result, she can clean the Devil's clock like it's nobody's business.

I think it was when I was in RCIA that I first heard that the reason Lucifer revolted and started the war in heaven was because he got wind of what God intended to do. You know, become a human being. Or as the Holy Spirit says,

Friday, February 4, 2011

For All the Saints: Joseph of Leonissa

Today is the feast day of St. Joseph of Leonissa (Feb. 4, 1612). He was from a small town in Italy that, at the time, lay within the borders of the Papal States. At the age of seventeen, he became a Capuchin friar. I hadn't planned on posting on this saintly fellow, but I found something that I believe I am supposed to share with you. I can't explain it really, I just feel drawn to share an account that involves Joseph.

But first, a little background. He is best known for heading to Constantinople to minister to the Christian galley slaves of the Sultan there. He didn't do that on a lark, either. He studied the Turks, and Islam, before heading on this mission.

To Pull for the Pittsburgh Steelers (There's Even a Catholic Reason, or Two)

My buddy Blaise Pascal has this to say about sports,

Men spend their time in following a ball or a hare; it is the pleasure even of kings.

I'm a baseball fan, so I watch professional football once or twice a year, usually. However, my family and I always watch the Super Bowl. And this year, I'll be pulling for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

For Thoughts On Meekness Like These

I mentioned the other day that I had saved up some Christmas gift money and used it to help me buy my friend John C.H.Wu's book The Interior Carmel: The Threefold Way of Love. The book is John's reflection on Christianity as The Way of Love.

John uses the Beatitudes as his guide. There are eight beatitudes and thus John's book has eight chapters. Let me share an excerpt from his third chapter with you.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Candlemas (A Few Words for Wednesday)

Today is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. On this day, Mary and Joseph presented Jesus at the temple, in accordance with Mosaic Law. Our Lord was blessed by Simeon, as witnessed by the prophetess Anna as set forth in the Gospel of Luke.

Blessed John Henry Newman wrote a poem commemorating the blessing of the candles, which is also done on this day in the Latin Rite.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

For His Majesty's Secret Service: Henry Morse, SJ

Last October, I wrote of the martyrs of Douai College. The graduates of that institution were sent on one way missions to minister to the faithful of England, where Catholicism had been outlawed. The tip for that story came to me from the good folks over at Universalis, where I go to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. And that is where I bumped into the fascinating story of a Jesuit martyr named Henry Morse.

Thoughts On Beauty from Sick Bay On A Tuesday

Have you ever heard of François Villon? I never had, but I'm looking forward to finding out more about him. I'm home sick, drinking coffee and later on I'll be dipping into the medicine chest for the "sniffling, sneezing, coughing, so you can rest medicine." But first, I want to share with you what, in my unlettered opinion, is the Best. Preface. Ever. Written.

It's all my friend John C.H. Wu's fault, you know. For Christmas, I ponied up all of my cash Christmas gifts and bought John's close to impossible to find The Interior Carmel: The Threefold Way of Love. Since I'm effectively confined to quarters, I started reading it a bit and began noting whatever references he made to other authors, adding their works to the YIMCatholic Bookshelf.