Saturday, April 30, 2011

Because Christ is A Royal (Then, So Am I)

—Feast of Bl. Marie of the Incarnation
What has the Royal Wedding got to do with anything? I ask this question because of the ambivalence to the event that I noticed across the Catholic blog-o-sphere. There was either nary a mention of it anywhere, or derisiveness when it was mentioned.

What's the story? Jealousy of the royals? Feelings of inadequacy? Bunch of rich hell with 'em? Was the prince's red-coat stirring your loins for battles your ancestors fought long ago? You can't stand monarchies, perhaps?

Friday, April 29, 2011

For the Royal Wedding Homily From Our Anglican Brethren

Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Even Joe Six-Pack, USMC can appreciate a wedding like this one. The pomp, the circumstance, the sacredness of the institution of marriage upheld. I mean, this is the wedding imagery of the Holy Scriptures brought to life for the world! What's not to like?

And did you hear the wedding homily? No? Given this morning to a world-wide audience by Dr. Richard Chartres, Anglican Bishop of London, it is simply smashing!

Have a look and see if you don't agree.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

To Train My Family to Pray, And Lead Them By Example

Joe Six-Pack, USMC here. Yesterday my family put into practice prayers that they learned a long time ago. You see, a line of storms was forecast to hit our area, and everyone took them seriously.

Wednesday nights are when many parishes hold their C.C.D. classes for the kids. That's an abbreviation for Confraternity of Christian Doctrine classes. The teachers called the house and informed us that due to the weather forecasts, classes for tonight would be cancelled.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pat McNamara on "Why I Am Catholic"

One of the first blogs I ever read was McNamara's Blog. I enjoy it because I enjoy history. And as a new Catholic, the amount of Church history I do know is tiny compared to what is available for me to learn. Pat McNamara, who also has a column over at Patheos, helps bring Church History to life for me.

This is the second time I have asked one of my blogging friends to write a post for me answering the phrase that headlines this space. Remember the first time? Each of us has a different reason, but as conversion is on-going (and not a "one and done event") each one of us must confront the reason as we make progress along the path of our individual pilgrimages.

Thanks to Easter and My Journey

Guest Post by Dee Sparacio

Last week, I spent hours in church. Not just the normal one-hour Sunday Mass, but the services on Thursday, Friday and Saturday known as the Easter Triduum. Attending those services gave me time to reflect on my ovarian-cancer journey and my faith.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

To Invest for the Long Run (Can You Say, Eternity?)

There was a brutal bear market in the Spring of the year 33 AD. Not in wheat or lamb futures, nor in cloth, or precious metals. This was a bear market of the human soul, and it was experienced acutely by the Disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Graphically, it looked a lot like what Sir Isaac Newton experienced in the great South Sea Bubble.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Jesus Goes Mainstream (Music for Mondays)

True enough, Elvis Presley loved gospel music. And though he never shied away from singing of his love for the Lord, did anyone else? I mean besides Johnny Cash. Did the culture at large recognize Jesus in song?

Well, that is what this first MfM post of Eastertide is going to focus on: pop songs about Jesus. Many of them were mega-hits, others were one-hit-wonders. Some you'll remember easily, others probably not.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

For All the Miracles: The Road To Emmaus and After

Guest post by Giovanni Papini (published in 1921)

After the solemn interval of the Passover, plain, ordinary everyday life began again for all men.

Two friends of Jesus, among those who were in the house with the Disciples, were to go that morning on an errand to Emmaus, a hamlet about two hours journey from Jerusalem. They left as soon as Simon and John had returned from the sepulcher.

Because of Holy Water

When Catholics know someone is ill, we can do many things. We can offer a Mass in their name. We can add their name to a parish prayer list. Or we can do what my dear friend Meredith did: We can mail the person a bottle of holy water.

My octogenarian dad has been struggling recently with a puzzling array of health problems. Meredith mailed me a bottle of holy water for him. The gesture moved me; she never even has met my father.

To Get To Know My Pope (Viva il Papa!)

First a confession. A confession perhaps someone who writes for a Catholic blog shouldn't make. But truth be told, until I read Light of the World, A Conversation with Peter Seewald, I didn't "get" our Pope.

I missed Pope John Paul II terribly, as if he were my father. I didn't understand Benedict. And though six years passed by since he took office, I really hadn't given him a chance.

So when a friend recommended I read this book, I thought to myself, "perhaps I can see what this man is all about."

To Enjoy This Triumphal Feast

Guest Post By St. John Chrysostom

If any man be devout and loves God,
Let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast!
If any man be a wise servant,
Let him rejoicing enter into the joy of his Lord.
If any have labored long in fasting,
Let him now receive his recompense.

If any have wrought from the first hour,

Let him today receive his just reward.

If any have come at the third hour,

Let him with thankfulness keep the feast.

Because Christ Is Risen from the Dead!

"If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain" (1 Cor 15:14-15.)

The Christian faith stands of falls with the truth of the testimony that Christ is risen from the dead. If this were taken away,. it would still be possible to piece together from the Christian tradition a series of interesting ideas about God and men, about man's being and his obligations, a kind of religious world view: but the Christian faith itself would be dead. Jesus would no longer be a criterion; the only criterion left would be our own judgment in selecting from His heritage what strikes us as helpful. In other words, we would be alone. Our own judgment would be the highest instance. Only if Jesus is risen has anything really new occurred that changes the world and the situation of mankind. Then He becomes the criterion on which we can rely. For then God has truly revealed Himself.

-Benedict XVI

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Because Christ Is Still Living Among Us

What follows is from Giovanni Papini's introduction to his Life of Christ. Published in 1921, you would think that these words were written just yesterday. John C.H. Wu tipped me off to this book and I found a used copy of it on Alibris.

It's 408 pages long and is filled with great passages. Written in his native Italian, it was translated in 1923 by Dorothy Canfield Fisher. Papini had been an ardent atheist, anarchist and was one of the literary giants of Italy. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

For Faith In Action: the Way of the Cross in New York (Part II)

This morning, our sons and I, along with thousands of others, participated in the Way of the Cross procession from the Basilica Cathedral of Saint James in Brooklyn across the Brooklyn Bridge, (see us all crossing the bridge?)  to Saint Peter's Roman Catholic Church in Lower Manhattan, the oldest Catholic parish in New York City. Along the way, we walked in silence, stopping only at several stations to pray sing and reflect. The procession was sponsored  by Communion and Liberation, a lay ecclesiastical movement. What follows are some of the reflections, song and chants we heard. Thanks to our 14-year-old for shooting most of these photos with our family camera.

Thanks to Johnny Cash for "Were You There?"

—Good Friday 
Johnny Cash and Jesus Christ share the initials "J.C." Johnny Cash is an adopted son of my home state of Tennessee. Johnny Cash wrote a novel called Man in White, which I read as I began my journey to the Catholic Church. It is the story of the conversion of St. Paul, and it was so good that I couldn't believe Johnny Cash wrote it.

More on that later, perhaps (and on Johnny's correspondence Bible school diploma), but for now I just want to share a song that Johnny and the Carter family shared with us all to close the episode of The Johnny Cash Show on September 6, 1969.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Because I Will Follow!

Let me squeeze this in right before Good Friday. Something I learned in the Marine Corps besides leadership is a little trait called "followership." This should be self-explanatory, but often times everyone wants to lead and nobody wants to follow.

For Faith in Action: The Way of the Cross in New York

Friday morning, my two sons and I will travel from New Jersey  to Brooklyn's Cathedral Basilica of Saint James by train and by subway to participate in what promises to be a beautiful event. Thousands of believers are expected to walk in silence from Brooklyn, cross the Brooklyn Bridge, and into Lower Manhattan to commemorate the death of our Lord. If you live in the New York metropolitan area, I hope you will join us.

I also am wondering: What special way will you observe Good Friday?

Because Christ Waits Patiently

I've been told that the proper term for "re-runs" these days is, Classics. I'm not saying this (originally posted in July, 2010) is a classic. But as it mentions modernities take on Christmas and Easter, it might bear another look on this Holy Thursday...

I saw this posted yesterday somewhere: "Forget Christmas or Easter. Independence Day is the most important holiday of the year and will have a greater impact on world history as it serves to remind people for millenia that nations are ruled by the consent of the governed." My first thought? This person is delusional. My second thought? I need to pray for them.

Thanks to the Story of the Humble Servant

Guest Post by John Eklund (an excerpt from his novel)

One day a humble servant of the Lord lost a very dear friend to the scourge cancer. The humble servant felt great sorrow and prayed that he would someday see his friend again. After much time in prayer, the humble servant was confronted by a demon. The demon said to him, "Why do you waste your time in prayer? There is no proof that God exists."

The humble servant answered him, "I have faith and that is why I pray." The demon then said to him with disdain, "Faith is no more than superstition. On what do you base this 'faith?'"

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Because Time is Too Precious To Waste on A Bad Movie (Condolences to Fans of Ayn Rand)

Ok, you're right. This isn't one of the reasons YIMCatholic. For the sake of argument though, just consider this as a public service announcement post.

A few weeks ago I shared an idea I believe is obvious: Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged is not the Sermon on the Mount. Yes, Joe Six-Pack, USMC is the master of the obvious (if anything at all). Guess what else? He's cheap too. Or frugal, depending on your frame of reference. The bottom-line? I filter my possible movie viewing choices through a trusted source before deciding to commit my limited amount of entertainment dollars to seeing a movie.

Thanks to "The Third Testament"

Early this year a reader sent me a copy of his novel, "The Third Testament," and asked me to review it. I devoured the book in a matter of days and want to strongly recommend it to our readers.

John Eklund's tale is about a widower named Fred Smith, a professor at a small Catholic college who dreams that God has asked him to record the next testament of the Bible. The novel recounts his research on Church history since Christ, interspersing the story of a man in search of his destiny. If this sounds like a dry topic, it is anything but. The book is intriguing and inspiring and yes, had me laughing and crying by the end.

Because the Beggar Just Might Be an Angel

This morning it is raining in my neck of the woods. It was accompanied by thunder and lightning, and yet it was a gentle and warm rain. As I was pulling into the parking garage, I noticed the trolley bus was pulling up to the stop outside. Good, I thought. I won’t have to walk in the rain.

But as it turns out, this particular bus driver is one of the impatient ones. As I was walking towards the exit of the garage, he motored off. Truthfully, I didn’t think much of this because I usually walk up to the office anyway. I just opened up my umbrella and kept on going, like the fellow in Merle Keller's painting here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

To Pray for the Martyrs of Korea

Today while I was having my nails done, I struck up a conversation with the shop owner, who was sitting beside me. Another customer and I commented on the beautifully ornate palm weaving that hung from the shop wall; turns out a Catholic customer from the Dominican Republic had given it to her after Palm Sunday. Then, as the conversation proceeded, I discovered the Korean-born shop owner is Catholic and that she and I are parishioners at the same church. She prefers the 8 a.m. Sunday Mass, while my family tends to go at 11 a.m.

Because Christ Sacrificed Himself So That We May Live

Here we are on Tuesday of what we call Holy Week. During this week, way back in the year 33 AD, the forces of human justice, lobbied aggressively by the interested parties of the Pharisees and Sadducees, convinced the Roman procurator, Pontius Pilate, to sentence Jesus to death on a cross. And though the whole mess was a tragic setup, it was all done officially and lawfully.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Because Christ Didn't Say "Take Up Your Palms And Follow Me"

Before I was a Catholic, I never really gave a lot of thought to Palm Sunday. This morning we awoke to glorious sunshine, with nary a cloud in the sky. The previous few days had been cloudy, cool, and wet. But a day like today is how I always picture Palm Sunday in my mind's eye.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

For G.K. Chesterton's Off The Wall Poem About Palm Sunday

Yesterday I shared a movie with you about a saint who called himself "God's jackass." Leave it to G.K. Chesterton to write a poem for Palm Sunday from the point of view of the ass. From what I've found out, it was written before he converted officially to Catholicism.

Where did I find this poem? From none other than the good folks over at Universalis. You never know what you will find when praying the LOTH over there.

Because the Saints Give the Best Advice

I may be a new Catholic (relatively speaking, RCIA Class of 2008) but I've been around the block a few times. I like to think that I know the difference between noise and signal. I've mentioned before why I'm not a disciple of this priest, or that priest, but of Christ.

Remember the counsel of the Holy Spirit through St. Paul?

Friday, April 15, 2011

For Your Lenten Friday Night at the Movies VI

Does anyone remember my friend St. Joseph of Cupertino? Well, I wrote a post about him once and tonight's movie is all about him. It is called The Reluctant Saint and stars Maximilian Schell as St. Joseph.

I don't know about you, but I've about had my fill of prima donnas lately. If you are like me, this film will hit the sweet spot. I like to think of St. Joseph of Cupertino as "the little saint who could." No one thought he would amount to anything. Not his mom, not his priest/uncle, and most assuredly not his brothers when he entered the monastery.

But there was something about Joseph that everyone missed.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Because My Boys Needed to Know About Hildegard of Bingen

I received a note the other day in my e-mail inbox informing me of a movie that would soon be released on DVD. I noted the title of the film and realized that it was still playing in one of the theaters in our town.

The movie I'm referring to is Visions: From the Life of Hildegard of Bingen.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Zion, To Thy Savior Singing (A Few Words for Wednesday)

I am late in coming around to an appreciation of St. Thomas Aquinas. As the old saw goes, better late than never. Jacques Maritain's book The Peasant of the Garonne has pointed me towards learning more about this Doctor of the Church.

And G.K. Chesterton wrote a book about him too. Here are a few of G.K.C.'s words to prime the pump so to speak,

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Because Mammon Is Going To Be Angry

Gordon Gekko, Disciple of Mammon
OK. Let's say (just for fun) that we've tossed Christ and His Church into the dustbin of history. Too many rules and regulations, see? Too much guilt and that unpalatable need to be responsible, etc.

We're now "all-in" on worshiping the god named Mammon. We love Mammon and will always do his bidding willingly.

Would it come as a surprise to you to learn that we are about as faithful to our new god as we were to our former God (with the capital "G")?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Love, the Blues, & Forgiveness (Music for Mondays)

We are called to love one another. A cursory look at the New Testament will show this time after time. But guess what? Love hurts too, and we all know it. Betrayal, denial, loss. These are the pathogens  of our brokenness.

The songs in today's MfM set list move through the stages of Love that we all encounter. But we'll be skipping the puppy love sweetness and head straight to the hard stuff.

Because love and forgiveness go together like peas and carrots, wrapped up in the to-go box called the blues.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Because of Charity

OK, I admit: I went grudgingly. The leader of our School of Community proposed we do a work of charity for the parish monthly. The pastor suggested visiting a local nursing home within our parish boundaries and where he celebrates Mass once a month. And so today seven of us met at the entrance of the nursing home. I kept thinking: I have papers to grade and laundry to do and a kitchen to clean and a garden to plant. And I also thought: I never have been inside a nursing home.

Because Sometimes Jesus Wears Polyester Shorts

Guest Post by Dwija Borobia
How do I make seeing the light of Christ entertaining? That's what I've been wrestling with in my mind. I can't just say "When we moved to rural Michigan, we basked in the light of Jesus" and then stop.  I can't even say "and he had a white beard," because most people imagine Jesus with a beard, and so it's still not funny. How about this: When we moved here, we saw the light of Jesus and He was wearing polyester shorts. Also He was a woman with red hair (who we'll get to on another day).

Friday, April 8, 2011

Because Martin Luther Threw This Out of the Bible?!

I've written a little bit in the past about how it was that I came to be a Catholic. Everyone knows Catholics are born and not made, right? That's what I used to think too.

But when I started looking into the matter, I skipped the opinions of the literati and of "those who know best" and just started reading the books of the Bible that had been removed by Martin Luther and his brethren during the Protestant Reformation.

Amazingly prophetic stuff like this for instance,

For Your Lenten Friday Night at the Movies V

It is getting towards the end of the Season of Lent. I don't know about you, but this time around Lent seems to be flying by at warp speed. Before you know it, we will be celebrating the Resurrection. Saints be praised!

Did you guys enjoy last week's selection? I love pulling out the older black and white movies, listening to my kids groan for the first thirty seconds only to see them get wrapped up in the story in rapt silence. That's what good classic movies do to you.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Because the Proof of Ayn Rand's Pudding, Is In the Eating

About a month ago, I wrote a wee post around a television interview Mike Wallace did with Ayn Rand back in 1959. I just as easily could have used an interview she did later on. Same story, same selfish pseudo-philosophy.

You see, being selfish is easy and being a Christian is hard. And being really, and truly Christian is almost never even attempted.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Because War is S.O.P. on Planet Earth

The sword shall begin with his cities and end by consuming his solitudes. Because they refused to repent, their own counsels shall devour them. (Hosea 11:6)

You may not have noticed that people are being killed in a war in a little country called the Ivory Coast. You noticed the insurrection in Egypt, though. And you noticed the cruise missiles raining down on Libya, because you started paying $4.00 a gallon for gas pretty quickly thereafter.

Golly, you may be thinking, when will it ever get peaceful again?

By Admiration (A Few Words for Wednesday)

You've probably never heard of Kenelm Henry Digby. You'll be hearing more about him from me though. I'm currently reading a biography about him.

A while back, I added a slew of his works to the YIMCatholic Bookshelf. Back on All Souls Day, I shared one of his poems with you. Today I'd like you to read a few of Digby's lines of verse about Art. I promise a post about Digby himself in the future (a fascinating conversion story!).

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Because Confession Puts Us Back Together

Does everyone remember "The Kid?" That's what I call Marc Barnes who blogs over at BadCatholic. Yes, the one with the blog with a photograph of nuns lighting up smokes. Marc is a gifted writer, and he wrote a guest post for me once. He also has a talent for making videos.

Back in January, I shared the video that Marc made about the March for Life with you. It went viral (sort of), as well it should have. It is that good!

Lent And Holy Week (A Primer)

We are officially past the half-way point of the Lenten Season.  Before you know it, it will be Holy Week. As a convert who entered the Church on Holy Saturday in the Year of Our Lord 2008, I'll never forget that experience.

Those who serve as sponsors for the Catechumens and Candidates never forget it either.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Because Martin Luther King Jr. Died For Truth On This Day in 1968

On this day in the year 1968, at 6:01 PM, in my home state, Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed by a man named James Earl Ray. I was 4 1/2 years old.

We as a nation lost a great man that day. We killed a great man that day. He was martyred for the beliefs that we all knew were true.

The day before he was assassinated, he preached a sermon known as the I've Been to the Mountaintop speech. Here is a clip from his last speech,

Seven Classic Songs We Love (Music for Mondays)

No, this isn't the "royal we" I'm referring to. For today's edition of MfM, the "we" I'm identifying is all of us. Because the songs that follow soared up the charts and had catholic, that is "universal," appeal.

Because if somebody didn't like them, it's probably because somehow, they never heard them. Now this isn't an exhaustive list, as that would probably be at least 500 songs long. But I'm willing to wager that these seven tunes resonate with you even to this day.

For All The Saints: Isidore of Seville (Once Again)

Saint Isidore of Seville's life story lets us know that for centuries Christian witnesses have helped to restore the Church by synthesizing contemplation and action. As the Church celebrates his feast day, we can learn a few things about our own lives from his example. In particular, we can understand that a holy life is not one in which we remove ourselves from the world; rather it is a life where we embrace the people and circumstances Christ brings to us.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Because of Christian Monasticism

I've written here before that one of the many reasons that I became a Catholic was because of the Desert Fathers and Mothers. But the reason goes deeper than just this historical one-off. 

You see, one of the reasons that I became a Catholic was because of monks and nuns who have given up everything to follow Christ and God and still do so to this day. I admit that I used to think folks who did this were nuts. But a close reading of scriptures show that it isn't. 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

To Give Thanks to the Life of My Aunt Dora

Guest Post by Dee Sparacio

102 years and 9 months. That is how long my Aunt Dora Minnefor lived on this great earth. Early yesterday morning, she passed into the loving arms of God. She was an incredible woman. She was independent yet was always there at any time to help others. She was my father's sister . When my mother passed away when I was five years old my dad didn't even ask her, Aunt Dora just moved in. She took wonderful care of my sisters, Melabee and Roberta, and me.

Friday, April 1, 2011

For Your Lenten Friday Night at the Movies IV

It's roughly the midpoint of Lent. Unlike last Friday, when we were celebrating a Solemnity, we are back to abstaining from meat today. But no worries. I've always been fond of fish tacos, so that is what's on the menu at Casa del Weathers tonight. And there is beer to go with them, for the adults anyway, so all is well.

Because the Disciples Were Just Like You (Friday Funnies)

Let me start this post with a hat-tip to Brandon Vogt, convert and Catholic blogger over at The Thin Veil. You may recall that Brandon hosted one of our book club meetings once.

He posted a link on his Facebook page today to a blog of a fellow named Don Miller who, you guessed it, I had never heard of before today. This is reason #1367 for why I didn't give up Facebook for Lent.