4 Jul 2015

This is Community

This week, as my friends and colleagues can attest, I have been battling a rather persistent cold which has chosen to seize my vocal cords and keep me up at night. Lack of a solid night’s sleep and my stubborn refusal to call it a day or throw in the towel has not been helpful either. Yet, in waking this morning I had to smile. For in my stubborn courage, or selfless foolishness as some might see it, I realized that I had become the epitome of my own mother.  
My mom, I know, had to have been sick at times, but as the sole provider I cannot ever really remember her taking off work. As a farm girl, she was conditioned to rise before dawn and work until sunset, giving her all to each and every day. Though later an adult, her modis operendi had not changed and if I slept past six, I could look forward to a discussion of  how I had chosen to sleep the better part of the day away. There was, in her mind, much to do, to be done, and discover in the day that could not be done whilst lying in bed.

'A spring flower in the desert.' Sunday Reflections, 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Keiko Shemura, First Communion Day, Dec. 1971, she died April 1972, aged 14

Jesus left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.

Cherry blossoms [Wikipedia]
Both the New American Bible and the Jerusalem Bible lectionaries read, He was amazed at their lack of faith. Jesus was among his own people, in the town where his brothers and sisters, ie, his cousins, lived. Perhaps his amazement was a form of frustration. Missionaries are men and women who are often 'amazed' at what seems to be their lack of 'success' in changing the situation, whether it is leading people to faith in Jesus Christ or working among baptised people for the justice that the Gospel demands but evidently isn't there.

Yet Jesus laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. In other words, he found some who responded in faith.

One Columban priest who found faith in Keiko, a very sick 14-year-old girl in Japan, was Fr James Norris, a New Zealander who died on 6 October 2007.y day.

A Spring Flower  by Fr James Norris 
There is a high school in our parish for nearly 2,000 girls conducted by the Sisters of the Infant of Jesus. Very few of these girls are baptized Christians. 
Full post here.

3 Jul 2015

Actions Speak Louder than Words?

Public domain photo St. Francis before the crucifix
“Always preach the gospel. If necessary, use words.”
St. Francis of Assisi

Together, St. Francis and his friars would travel through towns and the countryside, preaching the gospel. A stigmatist, a healer, a man who preached to the birds who listened to him, a miracle worker, and he lived in peace. He resisted many changs to his order. When they were approved, he became very sad and depressed. His peace left him. According to tradition, Francis had a dream in which the Lord said to him,
“Poor little man, why are you so sad? Is not your order, My order? Is it not I who am its chief shepherd?  Cease to be afflicted, then, and take care rather of your own salvation.”

Read more at: Prayerfully Yours

Climate Change Talks, and Remembering King Cnut

Golda Meir,1 Henry Kissinger,2 or someone else, said "even a paranoid can have enemies."

I do not think humanity is doomed to extinction, or that life on Earth will end because we built factories. I do, however, think we need to use our brains: and take care of the planet we live on....

...I also think remembering who we are — and what we've been learning about Earth — is important....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

The Anti-Christ is Here

When I was seven, I was snooping through my mother’s stuff, when something caught my eye.

The book was titled The Hidden Dangers of the Rainbow by Constance Cumbey. To my innocent mind, rainbows were a wonder to behold, and I could not fathom anything dangerous about those glorious bursts of colors in the sky. The book’s cover, however, begged no alternative. A circle of red, yellow, green, orange, and blue sat front-and-center, while various symbols decorated the circumference…

Symbols of the occult, I would later learn.

Praise Be to You, LORD of Creation--On Laudato Si'

Laudato Si' has caused a media sensation, both positive and negative.  Pope Francis' exhortation of the environment is consistent with his honoring of St Francis of Assisi who sung God's praises through the beauty of Creation.  However, I must admit, when I first heard the topic of the newest pontifical encyclical, I was very disappointed and dismayed.  The environment-- when there are thousands being persecuted, rises in violence, assaults on children both born and unborn, human trafficking, neglect, anger, abuse, darkness--so much going on in our fallen world! Shouldn't the Catholic Church take a stand on some of the grave issues facing humanity and our Church?

Now, I must clarify here, I am not anti-environmental protection.  I reduce, reuse, recycle, compost and upcycle as much as possible and then some.  My family uses cloth napkins, diapers, feminine hygiene products, and cleaning cloths.  I make my own non-toxic, all natural, cleaning solutions and soaps.  We consciously limit our gas, oil, electric, and water consumption.  We all carry stainless steel drink bottles and pack our lunches in reusable containers.

Continued on Veils and Vocations.

Weakness and Suffering: The School of Life For Our Children

On June 10th, the Pope’s Wednesday general audience continued his catecheses on the family, focusing on the theme of sickness and suffering. Man experiences his own fragility primarily in the family, first as a child and, then, as an elderly person. While family sickness presents obvious challenges, it can also be a source of quiet strength and deepening of faith. Pope Francis stresses that we must “educate children as little ones to solidarity in the time of sickness”:

Contrary to contemporary society which tends to recoil from sickness, the pope understands the “weakness and suffering of loved ones can be, for our children and our grandchildren, a school of life.” An “education that lacks sensitivity for human sickness hardens the heart.” 

Obviously, Catholics must learn not to shelter our children from suffering because it is an integral part of our faith. Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi shed light on the pope’s teaching when he said there is “an unavoidable spiritual dimension to illness for us Christians” because “ours is a religion of the flesh.”


2 Jul 2015

Praying to Saints



1 Jul 2015

Why I Remain Catholic: the Funerals

Many Catholics are writing about "Why I Remain Catholic." Besides the good answers given elsewhere, here is one reason of mine: for the funerals. I came into the Church in the Easter Vigil of 2012. A year or so ago I attended a funeral for a man in the parish whom I did not know, but whose wife I knew. I had never seen a Catholic funeral and did not know what to expect. So what follows are my impressions of what I saw, being a Catholic but still a very new one and one who did not grow up in an environment with any Catholicism near it. Baptismal candleThis was a funeral Mass, not a Requiem Mass. The casket was brought to the front of the church, to rest at the base of the lit Baptismal/Paschal candle. What a symbol, to remind us of the man's baptism and ours, and of the Resurrection. The vestments in this case were white, also a reminder of the Resurrection, and instead of a big spray of flowers made by a florist, the casket had a pall, a drape of the same material as the priest's vestments. I don't think I had ever seen a drape that wasn't a flag. I learned that some funerals are done with violet or even black vestments, which is not cheery, but does have great significance. This funeral was radiant with hope, but even if this were a more old school funeral with black vestments and the reading of the Dies Irae, either way, one of the most striking things to me, and the more striking the more I think about it... (Read the rest...)

Reclaiming the Beauty of the World

Years ago when I was in Vancouver, my companion and I went up a snow-covered mountain to a ski lodge. From that height, the view was  spectacular: a vision of pale blue water and islands wrapped in lavender mist. Not having a camera, I tried to imprint the scene on my mind for future reference. Such revelations of the world’s beauty touch the heart and can move us to tears. We see awesome sights not only in person, but in the National Geographic and posted on the Internet. Our earth, a blue and green gem floating in black space, was entrusted to us by God, its creator. We have dominion over it and all the plants and animals in it. Apparently we are failing in our responsibility—so much so that Pope Francis has written a letter to the world in which he doesn’t mince words. He states, “The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.” Click to continue

Persevere in Prayer: Don't Give Up!

Prayer is essential. How many times have you heard that, but wondered just how essential is it really? Or, what’s in it for me to pray? How many times have you prayed and heard silence? How many times have you given up on prayer, because your prayers weren’t answered the way you wanted?
In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we look to quotations from Saint John Damascene and Psalm 130:1 to define prayer:

Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God. But when we pray, do we speak… Read more...

What's Love Got to Do With It?

Like many others out there in the Catholic blogosphere, I have been rocked by the Supreme Court decision last Friday.  I really never realized before how much it would rattle me.  The victory call of "Love has won!" aggravated me.  What did love have to do with it, really?  The decision was not one of love, true love did not ever enter the equation.  We have lost our sense of love.  We confuse attraction for love, excitement for compatibility, and sexual pleasure for commitment.  However, when we got down to the nitty gritty of the law, we realize that our society has forgotten love and what true, unending, unfailing, sacrificial love is.

Are there same-sex couples who are loving and devoted to each other?  Surely there are.  Just as a deep friendship is a love that two share.  The truest definition of love is God.  He loves not only be complete surrender of Himself for good, but also by Creation.  God loves all people, He rejoices in the creation of each new soul no matter how imperfect.  The problem is not that all are not to be loved, that some should not experience love, nor that pursuit of happiness should not include love.  The problem is how do we define love and the realistic and legal implications of creating laws based on feelings and desires instead of the common good.  Even if you argue that the redefinition of marriage is for the common good, consider for a moment the flood gate that is opened by basing a culture on the chemical reactions of attraction--who is to say now what is right and wrong?  I see this as right because of my feelings of joy, therefore it cannot be wrong.

Continued on Veils and Vocations

30 Jun 2015

Works of Mercy: A Cure for Misery

Color icon blue
By Booyabazooka (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Feeling blue?

I've been feeling sad lately, and maybe I'm not the only one. Despite the magnificent warm weather and glorious summer vacation, life just seems more difficult than usual--like walking through Jell-o.

Often, during times like these, I try to count my blessings. But then again, when I remember the millions of things for which I should be thankful, I grow angry with myself for feeling useless and oppressed. So then I'm sad and frustrated.

How do you shake the blues?

Join in the conversation about the Works of Mercy at Praying with Grace.

A Response to Fearmongering

People are writing with fear and panic underlying their comments and articles in the face of the States sanctioning same-sex marriages.
We are people of hope, not doomsayers or fearmongers.
Christ has already triumphed over sin and death. We are  not called to focus on disaster, on evil, on sin. Christ commanded us to refrain from condemnation and judgment so  we will not be judged and condemned by our Master. 
Our mandate is simple; allow the Light of Christ to grow ever more brightly within us, especially as the darkness deepens. Then we will be a light unto the world. He will conquer darkness through us. We are simply channels of truth, light and mercy. 
This is the central message of the New Testament.

29 Jun 2015

My Top 8 Reactions to the SCOTUS decision on Same Sex Marriage

My Top 8 Reactions to the Supreme Court Gay-Marriage Ruling.

After Friday's Supreme Court Ruling I got a number of Facebook messages and e-mails asking for my opinion or asking me to explain my opinion.

1. The hashtag #lovewins, was all over social media.  Did that mean that #hatelost?  Of course not.  This wasn't a love vs. hate conflict.   To frame it that way is really the logical fallacy of false dilemma.

I have known many wonderful gay and lesbian people in my life time. All of them have been gifted, talented, funny and really enjoyable folks to be around. I fully believe what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, that these people must be:

 accepted with respectcompassion, and sensitivity.
I believe that we are called to do all of those things for all of God's people, and that one can do that and still oppose so-called same sex marriage. In fact, to really love our fellow human beings, one MUST oppose SSM.
Read More Here.

Book Review: Drop By Drop

By the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Department of Justice, Peace and Development
In Partnership with Loyola Press
In this beautifully illustrated book, we follow a young girl named Sylvie from the small country of Burkina Faso in Western Africa and the experience of Mike, a Catholic Relief Services worker working in the region.  Having been invited to speak to the classroom of Sr. Mary Jerome, Mike shares with the students the day-to-day challenges of living in an area of immense poverty. Read More..

Persevere in Faith? How So?

Persevere in Faith

To persevere in Faith, “we must nourish it with the Word of God.”1 That means that we need to read Scripture. The more we become acquainted with the Word of God, the more we come to know God, trust God and love God. Through the nourishment of the Word, we are able to believe in Him and all that He promises. This helps us to grow in trusting the Lord. Yet there are times when He is silent, and during these times we quickly feel abandoned. It is at these times that we must persevere in Faith. We must trust in God’s timing, and never give up. Read more...

2015 Catholic Press Awards

The 2015 winners for the Catholic Press Awards were announced last week in Buffalo, NY. Congratulations to Bezalel Books author Laura Pearl for two wins for her charming YA novel Erin's Ring!

Erin's Ring won 2nd place in Books for Teens and Young Adults Erin's Ring also won 3rd place in Catholic Novels

    Laura is also the author of Finding Grace and blogs at String of Pearls.

    28 Jun 2015

    The worst result of the SCOTUS marriage decision

    The worst result of the SCOTUS marriage decision is an article I posted to my Being Catholic ... Really page (scroll down to find the article and the comments made) and I got a lot of flack for it.  Some thought I wrote it and became very angry with me.  I didn't correct them because I agree with what was stated.  I lost a few likes over it too.  That's happened before so it doesn't bother me like it used to when I first started blogging.

    You can read the rest at Being Catholic ... Really.

    Erin's Ring Receives Two Book Awards from the Catholic Press Association

    I was thrilled and honored to learn that my YA Catholic novel, Erin's Ring (Bezalel Books, 2014), was a recipient of two 2015 book awards from the Catholic Press Association.

    If you'd like to read more about it, the full post is over at String of Pearls.

    In a World That Has Forgotten the Song

    Saint Francis of Assisi and Brother Wolf

    "...'Brother Wolf, you have killed and pillaged like a wanton criminal, and for that you deserve punishment! But accept instead the forgiveness of all the men you have wronged. Come now, here is my hand. In the name of the Holy One, come to me, and pledge that from this day on you will live at peace with men. Come!'...

    "...He was only in time to see the berserker-wolf take the last hesitant step of its advance. To see it raise one metal paw — and with its steel claw-fingers gently touch the kneeling friar's extended hand...."

    That's from Fred Saberhagen's "Brother Berserker." The "berserker-wolf" part of Saberhagen's tale is based on a legend in "Fioretti di San Francesco," written a century and a half after Francis of Assisi died.

    "Firoetti" is probably the most popular collection of stories about Saint Francis: but "Scripta Leonis, Rufini et Angeli Sociorum S. Francisci," compiled by Brother Leo and other companions, comes from folks who actually knew him.

    More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

    27 Jun 2015

    What is the most effective way to preserve marriage?

    What is the most effective way to preserve marriage?  How can Catholics preserve the sacrament of holy matrimony?
    My husband and I often talk about the disintegration of marriage.  My husband feels that the baby boomers (our generation) have destroyed marriage.  We were the ones who brought about free love, living together and the divorce epidemic.  Divorce has become common place and the "starter marriage" is part of our vernacular.
    You can read the rest of the article at Being Catholic ... Really

    26 Jun 2015

    Life and Marriage and Equal Protection

    As long as the Supreme Court is basing a big ruling on equal protection, how about protecting something even more fundamental than marriage? Read more ...

    Cover Reveal and Publication Date Announced

    For children, waiting for anything seems endless! Faith Livingstone would agree, having just moved to a new town, and about to enter a new school. Faith wants so badly to make new friends.  She wants to feel like she belongs in her new surroundings. It all can’t happen fast enough for Faith. Journey with Faith as she struggles to make new friends; yet, learns the value of the virtue of patience in the process.

    More info about Adventures of Faith, Hope and Charity - Finding Patience can be found here and here.

    Beavers, Floods, and Yet Another Dire Prediction

    Beavers are back in England, which is good news or bad news: opinions differ on that point.

    Quite a few folks died when drains blocked up in Nigeria's capital. Then a gas station exploded. There's more rain in the forecast, so their troubles are far from over.

    Finally, there's a new doomsday prediction in a brand-new publication. Madagascan lemurs are imperiled: but not, I think, cockroaches, rats — or humans.

    More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

    Time-Travelling Priest Now On Kindle And Nook!

    The Father Capranica Mysteries: Stories of the Strange and Supernatural by Fr. Mike Driscoll is now available on Kindle and Nook. Driscoll's fiction book is an excellent accompaniment to his non-fiction book Demons, Deliverance and Discernment. 

    25 Jun 2015

    Preview of Catholic Ebooks On Sale

    Honestly, Does it Matter? 5 Ways to be Ready for the End of Times...

    Things happen.
    That's the way of life.
    A flare of the sun does not mean that this is an omen from God.
    A "blood moon" only means that this is a blood moon.

    Many people are now obsessed with the end of times.  Events, even of the most ordinary, become predictive of the "end of times."
    Many people live in fear because these "prophets" of our time say that everything will change.  Millions upon millions of people will die.
    I've seen this happen in my church where a group of fervent women pray, but they live in fear.
    Whereas prayer is good, fear is not from God.
    Read More at:: His Unending Love

    Let my heart be the House

    There are steadfast hearts that still beat strong
    In the valley of their torment
    There are hearts with walls built all around
    Misfortune and pain to prevent
    There are mended  hearts in the aftermath
    of healing from sorrow and pain
    But let my heart be the house that becomes your abode
    And let your Spirit reign.
    Let my heart be the house that becomes your abode
    Let my will to yours comply
    Your plans that are good, meet the hopes that I had
    As you set to purify.
    I cannot fulfill my hopes and dreams
    By trying to dodge Your plan
    Let my heart be the house that becomes your abode
    And let your Spirit reign.
    Read the rest of my latest poem at New Things and give me some feedback please.

    24 Jun 2015

    Thoughts on Prayer and Adoration

    To sit, even for a single moment, in the Presence of God during adoration or in the tabernacle, is the source of amazing graces for our souls. Even the angels cannot measure the graces poured into our hearts and souls for they are too many to count. In these times when our world has gone crazy and our hearts are troubled, we need to humble ourselves in the Presence of God and say,

    “My Lord and My God!”

    Read more at:: Prayerfully Yours

    Works of Mercy Bouquet: Part 3

    This is the third in my series on the works of mercy and how to live them in everyday life.  You can find posts about feeding the hungry and giving drink to the thirsty in the archives.  The Works of Mercy are integral to living our faith, yet they are often overlooked because we do not know how to do them even though we know that we should.  Also, as parents we must teach the Faith to our children, but teaching does not mean just book knowledge.  To truly teach Faith, a Faith that is ingrained on the soul and in the heart and throughout the mind, it must be lived.  As St Paul said, "Faith without works is dead."

    Here are five ways that you and your family can learn to clothe the naked and so be the hands and feet of Christ here on earth.


    In the Gospel of Luke,  John the Baptist says, "The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none"  We all have more than one shirt, and St John is not advocating only having one outfit.

    Continue reading on Veils and Vocations.

    This Man


    What if you were there when He walked on earth?

    What then?

    Be Patient! Just Be Patient!

    Be Patient! Just Be Patient! Oh my goodness – how many times have you heard that line, or better yet, delivered that line to your children? If you are like me, you have heard it over and over again; and if a mom or dad, delivered it over and over again. However, that is exactly what we need to do; be patient and let things work themselves out in accordance with God’s will and His timeline. He calls us to stick with it and persevere. How can we even think of persevering (another virtue) without patience? If we become impatient… Read more...

    A Few Notes on Music in Life and Worship

    One of the most delightful gifts we human beings have is music. Thank God we can enjoy listening to it, making it, singing to it, whistling it, humming it, and dancing to it. Although preferences range from stirring classical pieces like Beethoven’s “Fifth Symphony” and operatic arias to rock numbers and toe-tapping songs like “Happy,” everyone likes music. It’s no surprise that music plays a dominant role in our worship. Singing is a way to use our body to praise God. As St. Augustine remarked, “Singing is praying twice,” or as my friend pointed out, the saint really said, “Singing well is praying twice”!   Click to continue

    23 Jun 2015

    Everyday Can be Mother's Day:: The Power of the Rosary

    I rescue and repair rosaries. Not every rosary I rescue is broken, but when I find a rosary that is in need of repair, I repair what I am skilled enough to fix. Friends will often bring me their rosaries to repair. I love these broken beads! Often, the repair is simple, just a link that needs to be attached to the next link, that’s all, then this staunch weapon of Our Lady is back in the hands of the user again.

    Broken rosaries come from use. Is your rosary broken? Maybe, if it’s not, the time has come to find it and pray your rosary again. If you don’t remember how to pray a rosary, or if you were never taught, here’s a link to a page that explains the details of this prayer.

    Check out this PAGE

    Read more at:  Prayerfully Yours

    Thirsty for Love!

    “...You will feel lonely. Know then that I want you to unite yourself more closely to Me. I am concerned about every beat of your heart. Every stirring of your love is reflected in My Heart. I thirst for your love,” Jesus tells St. Maria Faustina Kowalska [Diary, entry 1542].
    Yes, O Jesus... for even if the hearts of all creatures were offered to me,
    they would not satisfy the depths of my heart...
    Jesus_divinemercy rays_byFelixCarroll
    "Come to the waters, you who thirst and you'll thirst no more…
    And all you who labor in vain, and to the broken and shamed.
    Love is here
    >>Click Here to Read More at: The Way to Nourish for Life>>

    A night in the Holy Sepulchre - Afterthoughts

    Our_Town lowryI was sitting waiting for my train at Waterloo Station in London feeling sorry for myself. ‘What oh What’ I thought, would all that I experienced in the Holy Sepulchre mean to the vast majority of outsiders, who knew little if anything of the Christian faith? I was watching the commuters, the tourists, the retail therapists and the other miscellaneous men and women rushing past me. They were of all ages, of all colours, and of all different shapes and sizes, but they all seemed to have one thing in common; they all seemed to be busy, in a rush, all totally preoccupied. read on....


    Pope Francis' encyclical reminds me we are not angels. We have bodies, and we must live in the physical world. It is this physical world, our common home, that Pope Francis asks us to consider:
    On many concrete questions, the Church has no reason to offer a definitive opinion; she knows that honest debate must be encouraged among experts, while respecting divergent views. But we need only take a frank look at the facts to see that our common home is falling into serious disrepair. Hope would have us recognize that there is always a way out, that we can always redirect our steps, that we can always do something to solve our problems. [61]
    Interestingly, when I searched for images of "home" to include here, nearly 100% of the photos looked like this:
    ©IPGGutenbergUKLtd/Getty Images
    Read more at Praying with Grace!

    Just Say a Little Prayer for Me!

    Several years ago, Cowgirl wrote a letter to Saint Nicholas asking for a special "grown-up" rosary for Christmas.  I try hard not to buy items made in China. It is nearly impossible to never buy any Chinese goods, however, I really try my hardest.  At the same time, I have such an appreciation for handcrafted items, especially when I can have a conversation with the crafter and custom design my gifts.  In my search for the perfect, affordable, beautiful rosary, I discovered Battle Beads.  The workmanship was excellent and the prices unbeatable.

    Continued on Veils and Vocations...