Thursday, March 31, 2011

To Turn the Other Cheek

Earlier this week, a man I've known and respected for years slapped me in the face. Hard. Well, he didn't slap me in the face, he slapped a friend of mine in the face. He didn't slap her literally, it was a figurative slap and it stung her and it stung me, too.

To Break My Fast from Being Merciful

I came across some wise words of a Doctor of the Church I had never heard of the other day. The subject? The importance of being merciful.

Allison wrote a post about learning to be merciful a while back. For the longest time, and long before I became a Catholic, I thought being merciless was the correct tack. After all, that is the way of the world.

It didn't matter to me one iota how often I was told that I should be merciful to be a good Christian. It was all in one ear, and out the other.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Thanks to My Sisters

Guest Post by Julie Cragon 

One of the greatest gifts God has given me through my parents are my sisters. I hope someday my four girls feel the same way. Whenever I feel overworked, they seem to set me straight. Whenever I feel like I want something more or something that someone else has, they put life back in perspective.

For Must See TV Like This

Who needs the TV Guide when I have New Advent to keep me informed about what is coming on the television? It's a rare night in Casa del Weathers, when something isn't going on to interfere with watching something on TV.

But tonight, we will be free to watch the following special that airs on the History Channel at 9PM (Eastern).

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

For Napoleon's Answer to the Question "Who Is Jesus Christ?"

Back in January, I reviewed Eric Sammon's book, Who Is Jesus Christ? It is a great book and I highly recommend it to you. Many have asked themselves the same question about the identity of the obscure Jewish carpenter from Galilee.

Last week I shared with you the knowledge that Napoleon Bonaparte died a good Catholic death. Today, as I was reading a selection available on the YIMCatholic Bookshelf, I stumbled across Napoleon's answer to this very question.

Because Sometimes, We Sacrifice

Recently, my husband and I have felt saddened by the powerful sense we have monumentally wasted our time on an endeavor that we had hoped would build up the body of Christ. We don't have a lot of treasure to offer the Church, but we have some talent and we found the time. Instead, our efforts seem to have not borne fruit.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Because He's Going to Show Me Even More Than I Can See

The past 24 hours I have spent curled up under blankets, either in our family room or in our bedroom. I am overcome with fatigue and fever and  I've been drinking diet ginger ale and orange juice and praying to feel better soon.

My beloved husband and our sweet sons have been taking care of me, offering me glasses of water, lunch from the deli and kind words. (No, that's not me in the photo. I am not so young, nor do I apply my eye makeup so well!)

It's Time For Winter To Go!(Music for Mondays)

Remember this picture? That's Dr. Van Helsing putting a stake through the heart of Dracula's lady friend, Lucy. Pretend it's me putting a stake through the heart of Winter. Enough already!

Sure, our readers who live in the tropics are wondering what the fuss is all about, but for us in the Northern Hemisphere? Let's just say that this has been a long, cold winter. I don't know about you, but I'm ready to bid it adieu.

Because of Jacob's Well

One beautiful aspect of Catholicism is how the Gospel readings repeat themselves, year after year. This means I have a chance to contemplate them anew.

Last night at Mass, the homilist mentioned an aspect of the encounter between Christ and the Samaritan woman at Jacob's Well that I never had considered: She was at the well in the middle of the day. Imagine walking from town in the blazing Middle Eastern sun at noon. Why did she do this? What does this say about the rest of us?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

For Bernard of Clairvaux's Bible Reading Program to Make Sense of the World

Back in October of last year, I shared thoughts written by a Doctor of the Church with you. It was from a homily St. Bernard of Clairvaux had written and preached to the brothers in his order about one of the books in the Old Testament. As I was re-reading the homily today, these words of truth leapt off the screen,

there are two evils that comprise the only, or at least the main, enemies of the soul: a misguided love of the world and an excessive love of self...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

For Stuff My Abba Macarius Says

I've mentioned in the past that my patron is St. Macarius the Great. He was a Desert Father who lived between the years 300 - 390 AD. He went into the desert when he was thirty years old, became a priest when he was 40 years old, was accused of adultery, and when he was proved innocent, he fled and headed to a place in the Egyptian desert called Scetis.

I probably went right by Scetis once or twice and never even knew it when I took a trip up to the battlefield at
El Alamein when I was stationed in Cairo.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Because God's Not Gonna Call You on the Phone

Dwija Borobia, 30, her husband, and their four young children decided to buy a house - sight unseen - in rural Michigan off the internet. Here is a piece of that story.
Guest Post by Dwija Borobia
First, a digression. For years my husband and I, who had settled in California, tried to move back to Texas. I love you, Texas, my sweet Lone Star state, what with your awesome, chops-bustin' people and your biggy biggness and your superfine economy.

You have my alma mater (and high school, too.Yes, east Dallas is how I roll) and the best Mexican food this side of Mexico (go to Danal's, eat their salsa, and think of me).

For Your Lenten Friday Night at The Movies III

Today is a Feast Day (and all that this implies)! What better way to celebrate than with burgers and hotdogs on the grill followed by a movie about the greatest game ever invented? Is this heaven?

If it's still too cold to think of grilling where you live, than live vicariously through me and my family. We've been playing baseball since March 14th (my sons team is 5-1 so far) and enjoying every minute of it. Except it was a bit chilly yesterday (shiver me timbers!).

Because Mary Said "May It Be Done to Me"

Today is the Solemnity of the Annunciation of Our Lord. Before I was a Catholic, I wouldn't have even known what that all means. Just another one of those big ol' words linked to Jesus's mom that everyone knew Catholics worshiped.

Mary, schmerry, I thought, God can do anything. If Mary would have said no, big damn deal.

Sort of like asking a girl to dance at a party and you get rejected."Sorry God, looks like she said No. Let me buy you a beer to help you put the flames out." Next candidate please. There's a lot of fish in the sea.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

For the Daily Readings

If it's Thursday, then I'll be lectoring at daily Mass at the parish near my office. I went to the USSCB website to see the readings for today and again was amazed, for like the millionth time, at how prescient the order of the readings are.

I have no idea when the readings for the Lenten season were chosen, or put in this particular order. I know it wasn't last week though. Most likely it was 30,40,50, or 350 years ago. But the thing is, they always seem to hit home with whatever the crisis du jour is.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

For 10 Things To Do While Fr. Corapi is on Leave

Joe Six-Pack, USMC here, also known as “the Worst Consumer of Catholic Media on the Planet.

You’ve heard the news about Fr. John Corapi? Let’s say that you are a devotee of his. You aren’t alone, because last time I checked, there are 45,800+ “fans” on his Facebook page alone.

Because Napoleon Died a Catholic Death

A few weeks back, my family and I hit the used book sale that is held annually to benefit our local public library. Going to this sale has been an annual event for us, ever since we moved to Tennessee six years ago. It is at that sale where I first picked up the collection of Harvard Classics, where I met Blaise Pascal and Thomas à Kempis.

Now that I'm a Catholic, I go to this sale on the lookout for books about the Faith, and works written by great Catholic authors. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Because Jesus is the Unjust Steward

This first ran back in September, 2010 during the Feast of Our Lady of La Salette. I think it deserves another look...
—Feast of Our Lady of La Salette
Today I heard the best explanation of the parable of the "Unjust Steward" that I have ever heard. Or maybe it is the parable of the "Shrewd Manager." Either way, thanks to the homily of my pastor today,  I think I may finally understand this parable.

The title of this post gives it away. Jesus, Our Lord and Savior is the unjust steward, the shrewd manager. How else to find favor in the hearts of us all than to write off or write down our debts completely? How else could this steward's master find favor with him, unless Our Lord is the steward and God is the rich man? Let's look at the passage from today's gospel reading.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Déjà Vu (Music for Mondays)

Singing, dancing, joy. A break from the mundane, or the monstrous. That is what music offers us. Performance art that often times touches on truth. Poetry, set to music, that gets closer to what we think and feel as a united humanity than almost anything else.

That's one of the reasons I share music with you here, almost every Monday morning. And after the week just past, we need some music to put some spring in our steps.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

To Pray a Litany for Japan

I was moved this morning at my home parish when we all raised our voices at the end of Mass to pray this Litany for Japan.

Our Lady of Akita, pray for them

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Because of the Way This Desert Father Handled a Calumny

—Feast of St. Joseph  
There are scandals, and rumors of scandals and there always will be. To be tainted by scandal, whether you are wrongly accused or guilty, is really a no-win situation. How does one take on the burden of this situation?

Christ was wrongly accused and He barely said a word to defend himself. But others have been wrongly accused and have borne their accusations in a similar manner.

To Leave the Shackles of Human History Behind

It is ironic to run a post with a title claiming that one of the reasons Why I Am Catholic is to leave history behind. Especially when I have argued in the past that one of the reasons I am Catholic today is because of Church history. Let me explain this paradox.

Simply put, the history that I flee, and continue to struggle to leave behind, is not the history that led me to the Church. The history I left behind is an impediment, a barrier if you will, to Truth. Let me give you a few examples.

To Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

This is another example of why I didn't give up Facebook for Lent. I'd miss a lot of great things that friends are posting during this season of conversion and reflection.

Like this great little video Fr. James Martin narrates about today's saint whom we celebrate. St. Joseph, Patron Saint of the whole Church. Have a look. You'll be glad you did.

Friday, March 18, 2011

For Your Lenten Friday Night at The Movies II

As I have alluded to before, our 11-year-old son and a classmate are up to their eyebrows in a project for National History Day, a task that has taken on a disproportionate amount of time, energy and angst in this household.

The boys chose The Troubles in Northern Ireland as their topic and, in addition to interviewing a family friend who grew up Catholic in Northern Ireland during The Troubles, reading excerpts of President Clinton's biography, trolling BBC websites and so on,  we bought the DVD of the Oscar-nominated movie "In the Name of the Father."

Thursday, March 17, 2011

For Stories Like This On St. Patrick's Day

This is a strange St. Patrick's Day for me. That's because my children are on Spring break, and as such, they are out of school. I don't ever remember being not "in school" on St. Patrick's Day.

My mother's father was born in Ireland (and he was a Catholic too)so there is definitely Irish blood coursing through my veins. But he died when I was very young, and I never got to hear him tell stories of his home country.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lent (A Few Words for Wednesday)

by Fr. Frederick William Faber

Yes! I have walked the world these two months
past With quick free step, loud voice, and youth's light
cheer; And dull and weary were the shadows cast
From the dark Cross and Lent's dim portals near.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I'm the Worst Consumer of Catholic Media On the Planet (Forgive Me!)

I love Catholic Media! Especially that which is accessible via the Internet. Searching for kindred spirits is what brought me to the world of blogging in the first place. But honestly, I don't have enough time to enjoy as much Catholic Media as I would like. After all, if I just consumed Catholic Media, I would never create any for you to consume.

Look at what time I am posting this, for example. It is almost 2130, which is 9:30 PM for all you civilians out there.

For All the Saints: Louise de Marillac

Earlier this morning, I posted a book review in which the author states that one of his problems with the Catholic Church is that it treats women like second-class citizens. Well, surprise! The LORD works in mysterious ways. 

And although the word mystery is an irritant to some, including the author of that particular book, today's feast of St. Louise de Marillac is "Exhibit A" in the refutation of that preposterous idea. I don't think it is a coincidence that today is her feast day.

A View from the Back Pew (A Book Review)

As long-time readers of this blog know, we like books around here. It all started when Webster Bull kicked off the YIMC Book Club with 9 weeks of posts for the 9 chapters in G.K. Chesterton's classic, Orthodoxy.

Then I followed up with 9 weeks of posts on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, as well as a later series of weekly posts on Hilaire Belloc's The Great Heresies. Those books were all worthy of selections by a blog that makes attempting to answer the statement Why I Am Catholic as it's raison d'être.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Four for Now (Music for Mondays)

It has been a rough week. The Lenten season began, and then disaster struck our brothers and sisters in Japan, serving up a ready-made opportunity for our fasting, alms giving and prayers.

Honestly, I started this list last week, but after the tsunami, I lost all desire to play VJ. But these four songs are what I came up with for today. Pray for the people of Japan. Give alms to them if you can. And listen to these songs if you like.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Thoughts On Lenten Sacrifice (A Modest Proposal)

I may be a newbie Catholic, but I have an idea about Lenten fasting that might alarm you. Ordinarily, see, we "give up" something pleasant for Lent. Then, at the end of the season, we once again indulge in whatever it was that we "gave up" in fasting.

What if we just went "cold-turkey" and never took up again that which we gave up for the Lenten fast?

Because There Is Good News

You have heard it said, "it is always darkest before the dawn," and you have nodded your head in agreement. At least those of you who have ever camped out know this to be true, right?

These have been dark days for our Church. Scandals, parishes and schools closing, doom and gloom, etc. But it is not always so, and no single one of us can see the "big picture."

Jacques Maritain, writing in 1966 said,

Because A Reader Asks A Question I Cannot Answer

Dear Readers: The post "God Takes Care of Little Ones with Guardian Angels" from last spring is the most widely read of all the posts on our site. Yesterday, a reader asked a question I (Allison)  have not been able to answer, despite struggling overnight with it. I'm republishing my post, along with her question in the hopes that someone with more wisdom than I can answer.

Friday, March 11, 2011

For Your Lenten Friday Night at the Movies

I had this idea last year to feature movies on Friday nights during Lent. I wrote posts as if I were the co-pilot of a plane flying passengers for YIMCatholic airlines. Remember those?

Well this year I'm not the co-pilot any more. But I still want to share movies with you during Lent. I've got a neat collection of films for us this season starting with one of my all-time favorites (as long time readers know well). Kenneth Branagh's version of William Shakespeare's Henry V.

Because St. Francis of Assisi Spent Lent Like This Once

A few days ago, I shared some stories on Christian saints who survived for long periods of time on the the Eucharist alone. Below is a similar story on how St. Francis of Assisi spent Lent one year, eating only a small portion of his provisions. 

This story comes to us from The Little Flowers of St. Francis. Who wrote these stories? Who compiled them? Are they literally true? I don't know the answers to any of those questions. But I do know this: there is great freedom in poverty, to be able to drop everything and become a hermit for 40 days.  And great blessings for the faithful penitent. 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Because "Atlas Shrugged" is not "the Sermon on the Mount"

On this second day of Lent, I have a couple of videos to share with you. The first is from an interview Ayn Rand did with Mike Wallace back in the days when networks were few.

Ayn Rand, the author, novelist, and philosopher, answers the kinds of tough questions that journalists used to be able to ask, back when the networks were an oligopoly.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Because God Offers "Re-do's"

"This is the best celebrity meltdown ever!" I overheard this remark recently while waiting in the lobby of a country club, where I had been invited to a luncheon. The middle-aged man and his wife were seated at a table nearby and laughing over actor Charlie Sheen's erratic public behavior.

The man's comment reminded me of a tendency I think we all harbor: taking pleasure in someone else's misfortune.

Because Yes, You Can Go Without Food For A Day (Or Two)

The Season of Lent has begun and Catholics are required to fast today (Ash Wednesday) as well as on Good Friday. We are, however, allowed to break the Lenten fasts on Sundays throughout the season. And you don't have to fast if you are ill, nursing, below 10 years old, etc.

So although 40 days of sacrifice seems like a lot, fasting from food for only two days is a walk in the park compared to what the saints listed below did. Because I found the following examples of saints who survived for long periods of time on the Eucharist...alone.

Dust in the Wind (A Few Words for Wednesday)

And so the Lenten Season begins. We recall our mortality and our need for redemption. Today we will head to Mass and be marked with the sign of contradiction, in ash upon our foreheads. A sign that says we do not hold to this world's notion of truth.

Today we will tithe of ourselves by giving up ten percent of a year being penitent and remembering the words of the Holy Spirit,

Monday, March 7, 2011

For All the Saints: Perpetua and Felicitas

I ended my last post by saying I would take a break from blogging until Ash Wednesday. And so I will, but not until I post this for todays' Feast of Sts. Perpetua and Felicitas.

So just consider this a transmission, via antenna, from periscope depth while still cruising submerged. The account below is related by Doctor of the Church St. Alfonso Maria de' Liguori, from his book, Victories of the Martyrs.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Because I Am Called To Answer

This weekend we discovered my husband no longer has the biggest feet in the house. Our 14-year-old does.

This weekend that same son and I head to New York, to spend time with my mom, and with my 81-year-old dad, a retired surgeon struggling with a puzzling host of health problems, including the waning of memory. I remember clearly my mom and dad visiting St. Peter's University Hospital in New Jersey soon after our son was born with a seizure disorder, how my Harvard-and-Columbia-educated father reassured me as only a father can. I remember standing, bewildered, in the neonatal care unit and my father looking around and telling me my son was in the best possible hands.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

For Timeless Wisdom Like This

Those who complain that the Church won't change with the times seem to not realize that though "the times" produce new gadgets, technologies, and toys, the human beings wielding them haven't changed at all. The critics also seem to miss the fact that the Church does change and develop, albeit at a pace that is too slow for their tastes. 

The fact that we human beings are the same fallen model we've always been is why we can read something written thousands of years ago (see the readings in the link above) and get the sense that "wow, that seems like it could have been written yesterday!" And it's why I can read something written by a saint a few hundred years ago and not bat an eye when saying, "this is still relevant today."

Friday, March 4, 2011

Thanks - Again - to Danielle Rose

Sometimes, it takes a while to figure out our vocation. I am thankful for the earnest searching a young musician has pursued in an effort to find her true calling.

A year ago in this space, I wrote a post praising Danielle Rose Skorich, a Catholic folk musician known professionally as Danielle Rose. What struck me about her music was its mix of orthodoxy and soulful folksiness. After a brief career as a musician of international renown, Danielle Rose Skorich (pictured at left) entered a Charismatic and Franciscan community near Amarillo, Texas, forsaking her musical career for a lifetime of prayer and missionary work.

In August 2008, she was accepted as a novice and received the religious name Sister Rose Therese. And that was that. Or so I thought.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Ideals of Life (A Few Words for Wednesday)

In his book The Interior Carmel: The Threefold Way of Love, John C.H. Wu ends the chapter on "fraternal charity" with a short poem he composed. I read elsewhere that he was a poet too, but this is the first time I've seen one of his originals. I'll let him introduce it to you,