27 Mar 2015

So much to pray for. Where do I begin?

So much to pray for.  Where do I begin?
Do you feel that way sometimes?  I've been feeling like that a lot lately.  Before I left for vacation, I prayed the rosary every night so that I could actually get on the plane!  During vacation, I prayed for our safety and well-being.  When I got home, I prayed for my family, friends and my job.  My prayer life has become overwhelming!
You can read the rest at Being Catholic ... Really.

Behind the Name, Beautiful Thorns

Years ago I went through a severe trial and very intense spiritual warfare. After that happened, I cried out to the Lord and told him, "I just want a normal, leisurely life"!  Well, he heard my prayer and he left me alone for the next 6 years. Needless to say, I was miserable! There were no spiritual consolations; I did not sense or hear from the Lord at all during that time. The worst part about it though was my passion towards him was gone! I had no desire to pray or serve him. I felt like Jesus could have appeared in all his glory right in front of me and I would not have been moved. It was a very scary place to be and even made me question my salvation.

Continue Reading @ Beautiful Thorns >

The Thumb-Brain Connection, and DIY Robots

Scientists learned how using our thumbs changes our brains by collecting data from 26 smartphone users, 11 users of "old-fashioned cellphones," and electroencephalography.

Building your own robot is getting a whole lot easier, now that RoboCORE is around. It's a robotic central nervous system you can program with C++ or Python....

When I was in high school, I learned that adult brains were static, unchanging. Neuroscientists thought, or assumed, that once we get past youth — that our brains don't change: no new neurons, no new connections between neurons.

They were wrong....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Christian Books

26 Mar 2015

Praise to the Lord! Praise Him Forever Each Dat!

I will extol you, my God and King,
    and bless your name forever and ever. 
Every day I will bless you,
    and praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
    his greatness is unsearchable.
Psalm 145: 1-3

Praise the LORD, for he is good;
for his mercy endures forever;
Praise the God of gods;
for his mercy endures forever;
Praise the Lord of lords;
for his mercy endures forever;
Psalm 136: 1-3
Read More at:: His Unending Love

Life or Death: A Four-Year- Old Chooses

The following is a true story of a four-year-old Catholic child, in a coma, following a serious car accident.
Chandra was still not conscious when she began to speak to her parents in the ICU unit. She spoke as if in a dream, describing a big room with two doors where she sat waiting with several other people. 
She explained that she had to decide which door she wanted to walk through. A really nice man, dressed in white smiled at her and told her that she was completely free to walk through either door.

 One door would bring her back to her life on earth. If she liked, she could across the room, take the nice man’s hand and walk through the other door. 

continue reading

The Chocolate Sin


Son of Dr. Alveda King talks about his mother's abortion

Eddie Clifford Beal III, Esq., son of Dr Alveda King (Martin Luther King Jr.'s niece), talks about his mother's abortion.

You can listen and see the video at Being Catholic ... Really.

25 Mar 2015

Early Spring Walk Through the Cemetery - Pray for the Souls in Purgatory

"By the sweat of your face
    you shall eat bread
until you return to the ground,
    for out of it you were taken;
you are dust,
    and to dust you shall return.”
Genesis 3: 19
 Oh, My Jesus,
forgive us our sins.
Save us from the 
fires of hell.
Lead all souls to heaven, especially those who are in most need of your mercy.

Read More at:  His Unending Love

Our winter vacation in New York City

My daughter and I traveled to New York City for our winter vacation.  If you read my blog, you probably read my post, My fear of flying.

To read how I conquered my fear and see the photo gallery, please visit Being Catholic ... Really.

Making Mistakes, the Human Condition

If you’re like me, you hate making mistakes. I like to think I’m perfect, and doing a foolish thing punctures my ego. It’s bad enough when I’m the only one who knows about it, but worse when others witness or hear about it. What pops into my mind is the day I was making cheese soufflĂ© and a large amount of cayenne pepper fell into the mixture. “We never taste it anyway,” I thought. “I’ll leave it in.” Well, that evening the sisters really tasted it! To top it off, the next morning for breakfast I used baking soda instead of baking powder in our pancakes, turning them into a gritty substitute for toothpaste. That was long ago, but I continue to do and say dumb things, living proof that “to err is human.”Click to continue

What We Learned During Lent This Year

Happy Palm Sunday (this weekend!) and Feast of the Annunciation! And Easter! (Almost!) Soon we'll all be saying: He is risen- he is risen indeed!

Now that Lent is indeed almost over, as we're looking back, I have to be honest about these almost 40 days. We took Lent by the horns this year. It was hard. We went full-throttle and gave up a whole bunch of really lovely things.  It was extremely hard at times not to eat that piece of chocolate. But we did learn - oh boy did we learn- a whole bunch. All of us. The whole family! 

So, the question remains: what- exactly- did we learn during Lent this year?

1. Prayer

First of all, we learned to pray more. 

In the afternoons, when I usually have my cup of tea and read while the kids nap, I often felt a slight depression at having decided to limit caffeine and my intake of hot tea.  During those times, I usually prayed. I found it so hard not to resort to my usual compulsive behavior: checking all of the social media apps on my phone, while sipping a soda or hot beverage. Praying the hours gave me stability and a cohesiveness that I needed in the middle of the day, and as it turns out, more than I needed caffeine. That was not an easy lesson to come, but once prayer became more of a habit, I was so glad.  It was then easier to reroute to a good book in the afternoons and evenings. My one regret is that we didn't take up the habit of praying more as a family. Now we have the impetus to put that on the agenda for Eastertide!

Read the rest at Picture a Skyline ~ tacywilliamsbeck.com

Mary's Legacy


24 Mar 2015

Free temperament quiz and pre-sales for choleric child book

Quiz-CoverI am happy to announce that I have published a 44-question quiz to determine your children’s primary temperaments. You can also use it for yourself. You can download it free through Smashwords for your Kindle, Nook, iPad, or as a PDF. I also uploaded it to Amazon, but Amazon only allows free distribution during special offers or as a price match. I have notified Amazon that the quiz is free elsewhere. I hope they drop the price to free soon. That is beyond my control. (It currently sells there for $.99.)

Please download your free copy of Determining Your Child’s Temperament: a brief quiz for Catholic parents.

If you find it helpful, please post a review on Smashwords or Amazon so that others can benefit. Share the links with your friends, family, and homeschool co-op. Let me know if I can improve it in anyway. Thank you.

Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.

Keeping Watch with Jesus in Holy Week

Prayer is the place where "heart speaks to heart," as John Henry Cardinal Newman says. Using Scripture, we can enter into Jesus' experience of Holy Week; we can place our hearts into his. We can read the Passion accounts of the Gospels and ask Jesus for the gift of compassion, of suffering with him in his agony. Jesus himself invites us to do this when, in the midst of his agony in the garden, he calls to his disciples and to us:

Remain here and keep watch with me.
Matthew 26:38

"Gethsemane" © Deror Avi / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

St. Ignatius of Loyola proposes a deeply personal and imaginative way to remain with Jesus. A master strategist and student of the human soul, St. Ignatius articulated a process of praying with Scripture that allows us to encounter Jesus personally. This kind of imaginative prayer engages all the senses and has come to be known as Ignatian Contemplation. At the Apostleship of Prayer, we call it praying with the heart.

Join me at Praying with Grace for a mini-retreat in imaginative prayer!

23 Mar 2015

Worth Revisiting: Why Pray the Stations of the Cross?

Though this is a new post,the idea of revisiting the Stations of the Cross is a much needed conversation to be had this Lent. And one that in true Jesuit imagining I invite you to consider:

This past week as I accompanied my 4th grade students, from this past summer, for the Stations of the Cross I began to think...Why do we not do this more often? Here, we have been given this beautiful imaginative way to immerse ourselves in the story of the Passion of our Lord. More than merely listening we are asked to contemplate the scene, and walk in faith with Christ on the way to the cross. As we picture the faces of the crowd, the thoughts of the disciples, and the heart of Christ himself we glimpse the magnitude of the sacrifice of love that has been given to us. If you have never participated in the Stations of the Cross before, all are welcome, just call your local parish for the date and time. This is a graced pilgrimage and one that I hope that you too will make this Lent.
The First Station: Jesus Is Condemned – Tried unjustly for crimes he didn’t commit, would we have spoken up for Jesus? Do I speak up for others?
The Second Station: Jesus Takes up His Cross – Oh the sight of Christ beaten, crowned with thorns, and now asked to carry the cross! Do I seek to feel compassion for those carrying burdens?



22 Mar 2015

Through the Door of Prayer

'Prayer is the door 
to favors as great as those He has granted me. 
If this door is closed, I don't know how He will grant them.'

St. Teresa of Avila

Scrutinies, Options, and "a Great Multitude"

Someone called my father-in-law, asking which set of Bible readings were were using this week.

It's a reasonable question. One set for this fifth Sunday in Lent is Ezekiel 37:12-14; Romans 8:8-11; and John 11:1-45. The other, labeled "Fifth Sunday of Lent - Year A Scrutinies," is Jeremiah 31:31-33; Hebrews 5:7-9; and John 12:20-33.

Having options isn't odd: readings for some Sundays include an abbreviated version — I'm not a big fan of those, since I like hearing Sacred Scripture, and my attention span doesn't time out quite that fast....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Carmelite Mystics to the Rescue

Whilst giving a series of lectures on prayer at Belmont Abbey, I was cornered by one of the participants who demanded to know my qualifications. Although I was taken aback, I couldn’t but concede that he had every right to know whether or not the lecturer was worth the time and money he had spent. After all, if I’d been giving a course on scripture, theology or canon law the participants would have had every right to expect that I had an MA – if not a PhD – in the relevant subject on which I was holding forth. I found it embarrassing to admit therefore that I hadn’t any such qualifications in those subjects. On reflection, however, I realized that it was precisely because I had no such qualification that I was able to give the lectures and, for that matter, write all my books.
You see, ‘My name is David and I am a dyslexic.’ It took more than forty years before I was able to say those words, thanks to a chance meeting with a doctor who knew something about what she called ‘my gift’. It was a tremendous relief to meet someone at long last who understood what nobody had been able to understand before, and that included me. At school my teachers subscribed to one of two theories – either ‘That boy is stupid!’ or ‘That boy is lazy’. For myself I didn’t know what to think. All I knew was that I wasn’t stupid; I knew I had a good mind even if it didn’t easily conform to traditional teaching methods devised for the majority and the examinations set to validate them. When my form master wrote on my school report, ‘You could scourge this boy and he wouldn’t work’, I just had to accept that what he said was true. Funnily enough, when in later life I had managed to master most of the other deadly sins, I found that despite what I had been forced to believe I never really mastered sloth.   read on 

21 Mar 2015

Cracked Pots

The Spirit of God flows through our imperfections.  An Allegory.             
 An  idealistic young man, Mark, traveled a great distance to find a well-known holy man to mentor him. Although this elder, Fr. Simon, was a confirmed hermit, Mark noticed he was becoming physically weak.

Ingeniously, Mark offered the perfect exchange; he would do the heavy chores for the elderly monk, freeing valuable hours so Father would have more than enough spare time to teach him how to live a spiritual life. This earnest young fellow was determined to do his work so well the monk would never regret sharing his hermitage and more importantly, his wisdom with him.

One of the new novice’s daily chores was to haul water from a creek nearby with a yoke across his shoulders. On each end of a pole hung large clay pots. However, one of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full three months this went on daily, with the novice bringing home only one and a half pots of water. continue reading

The Purgatory Trap

St. Michael the Archangel and the Souls in Purgatory

 The trap of Purgatory is too many souls rely on Purgatory as the destination of their soul after death, and slap God in the face by not trusting in His mercy, and do not seek Heaven.  They use Purgatory as their "backup plan" and as a result lead lukewarm lives, saying to themselves that in an exchange for just doing the "minimum" faith requirement, thinking that when they die they will just have to spend a few years in Purgatory and then eventually end up in Heaven.

Whether we spend time in Purgatory is at God's discretion, not ours.  

The greatest misuse of Purgatory is that many Catholics do not fear God because of Purgatory.

Those that hang their hopes on Purgatory are already among the lukewarm and possibly among those heading to the second death. Jesus will spit those out of His mouth that have failed to make every effort to follow Jesus and heaven, NOT Purgatory.


20 Mar 2015

Our visit to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum

Our visit to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum is hard to describe.

You can read the article and view the photo gallery at Being Catholic ... Really.

A Hidden Crater, Lava Tubes, and Mercurian Ice

A bit shy of eight decades ago, a pilot and navigator set off on a round-the-world flight that should have provided ample material for her next book. Instead, shortly after midnight, July 2, 1937 GMT, the modified Lockheed Model 10 Electra disappeared.

She's still famous — and now has an invisible Lunar crater named after her. Eventually, Fred Noonan may have some rock named after him, or maybe not. In a perfect world, folks in the support crew would get a tad more recognition — my opinion — but this isn't a perfect world.

What's remarkable about Earhart Crater is that it's big, on the side of Earth's moon facing our planet — and buried under billions of years' of accumulated debris. Scientists found it while sifting through gravitational data.

Other scientists found that lava tubes would be strong and safe enough to house a Lunar base, and Messenger took pictures of ice on Mercury.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

19 Mar 2015

Touring New York City's beautiful churches: St. Paul's Chapel

St. Paul's Chapel is the third and final church in my series, Touring New York City's beautiful churches.  Opening in in 1766, St. Paul survived "The Great Fire" of 1776 that destroyed over 500 structures in Manhattan, including the first Trinity Church building.

You can read the rest of the article and view the photo gallery at Being Catholic ... Really.

Body, Mind, and Soul

Often, when I don't even realize that I am looking for something, it finds me.
Over the past several years I have transitioned from the high-energy, exhaustive workouts that I mistakenly thought were good for me into slower, more contemplative, gentler forms of exercise that  for the most part leave me feeling better,  or at least a little less in the mindset of beating my body into something other than what it already is.
As my exercise patterns have changed, so too has my spiritual life. Slowly, I am coming to the realization that the body that I have is the one that was created just for me. While there are some days that I am totally resistant to that understanding and wake up with a plan to start beating myself up again, for the most part I have started to accept that truly taking care of myself and being healthy fully extends itself into all other aspects of my life.  I worry less about making myself in to someone that I am not and concentrate on becoming the best me that I can possibly be.
Recently, I came across an advertisement for a new type of workout, and the words jumped off the page:  SOULCORE--"a  contemporary core workout...

Alms Giving

   Lent is a beautiful time of growing closer to Christ by giving of ourselves through the good works of prayer, fasting and alms giving. In these ways, we aspire to imitate Our Blessed Lord in the way that he gave Himself, without reservation,  to all of us. Fear is the greatest obstacle to generosity. Holy Scriptures teach us that love casts out all fear.

     While visiting Guatemala, I was overwhelmed by the generosity of the people there. Their life is a life of poverty by our country's standards. What amazed and humbled me was the freedom with which people gave of their time, work and goods. They did not hold back. There was no measuring of how much was given nor was there an expectation of anything in return. Giving to those in need came easily. Continued here...

Just a Carpenter


18 Mar 2015

I Am Loved!

Last week was an interesting week.
I learned many things about myself
including the facts that
1) I do love God.
I didn't think I did.
2) God loves me.
I wasn't sure about that.
I also learned that
1) I didn't like myself.
2) I didn't love myself.
3) I felt I was unworthy of love.
I also learned that because 

Read More at:: His Unending Love

Redemptive Suffering and the Phony Victim Complex

First, let me clarify that redemptive suffering  exists as a genuine call from God. Yet what most of us experience is far from redemptive because our suffering is not in union with Christ’s. Redemptive suffering is not long-faced misery because it is life-giving and life-affirming as we live in, with and through Christ our Saviour. It  might involve physical pain but  it is lived in the Light, in peace and in joy. When we are no longer the centre of attention but Jesus is the centre; all heavy, psychological despair and mental anguish dissipates like insubstantial mist under the burning sunlight.
It takes humility to realize our miserable, self-inflicted suffering does not save anyone, least of all ourselves. Accepting Jesus as our Saviour really goes against our grain as human beings because we want to earn our salvation, purify ourselves by suffering  out of a misplaced sense of guilt. Ironically it usually takes suffering to break down our ego and pride. continue

Five Ways to Show Mercy

Pope Francis has just declared an Extraordinary Jubilee Year: a Year of Mercy, which will begin on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception this year. We have witnessed and been fascinated by this pope’s numerous acts of mercy as he reaches out to the neediest of God’s people. Of course, the greatest act of mercy is what we remember and celebrate during this Lenten season: how God reached out to us, his creatures sunk in misery because of sin, and gave us new hope. The death and rising of the Son of God saved us. We usually associate mercy with the corporal (bodily) acts of mercy, such as feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. But here are some other ways to be merciful.Click to continue

Touring New York City's beautiful churches: Trinity Church

Touring New York City's beautiful churches was a wonderful experience.  Obviously there are more churches than the three my daughter and I visited, but it was still a kick to see the ones we did.

You can read the rest of the article and view the photo gallery at Being Catholic ... Really.

17 Mar 2015

St Joseph Novena Pray Along Day 8

Finally getting this up...whew...a very busy day and a super cranky toddler do not make for easy blogging.  Here is today's pray along.  Today, I am praying for our leaders both in the Church and our government, that they will be honest and just and turn to God in all matters. God bless you!


Saint Joseph, your share of suffering was very great because of your close union with the Divine Savior. All the mysteries of His life were more or less mysteries of suffering. Poverty pressed upon you, and the cross of labor followed you everywhere. Nor were you spared domestic crosses, owing to misunderstandings in regard to the holiest and most cherished of all beings, Jesus and Mary, who were all to you. Keen must have been the suffering caused by the uncertainty regarding Mary's virginity; by the bestowal of the name of Jesus, which pointed to future misfortune. Deeply painful must have been the prophecy of Simeon, the flight into Egypt, the disappearance of Jesus at the Paschal feast. To these sufferings were surely added interior sorrow at the sight of the sins of your own people.

Continued o Veils and Vocations.

4th mansions: consolations versus spiritual delights

St. Teresa in Ecstasy by Bernini (Wikipedia).

Now we begin to look at contemplative prayer as Teresa of Avila sees it. The fourth mansions are the transition from prayer that is produced by the soul to prayer that God gives the soul. In this post, I want to look at what Teresa says about consolations versus delights. This is from the first chapter of the fourth mansions.

Consolations are produced naturally by the soul. We can’t say that God has no part in them, for everything that brings us closer to him is in some way his gift. But they are completely different from delights, which he gives without our doing anything to receive.

It’s so important not to mistake consolations for infused delights!

Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.

Heart Check-Up

A couple of weeks ago, I shared an excerpt from Pope Francis' Message for Lent 2015:
During this Lent, then, brothers and sisters, let us all ask the Lord: "Fac cor nostrum secundum cor tuum": Make our hearts like yours (Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus). In this way we will receive a heart which is firm and merciful, attentive and generous, a heart which is not closed, indifferent or prey to the globalization of indifference.

"Make our hearts like yours."

How's that going?

We're more than halfway through Lent, so it's time for a cardiac check-up. In what ways have our hearts grown more like the Heart of Jesus these past weeks?

To reflect on this, we pay attention both to our own hearts and to the Heart of our Lord. Please join me at Praying with Grace for a heartfelt reflection.


 May the strength of God pilot us
May the wisdom of God instruct us, 
May the hand of God protect us, may the word of God direct us;
        Be always ours this day and for evermore.  
St Patrick    

Whatever I have beholden
to beauty,
taken into the curves
of attention as offering,

may it be like a child
leaping from the lap of joy
into the sheets of light
strung through our hanging hours;

may it be like the work-worn
hands of women
opening the pins of rest
from the lines of darkness;

may it be like our old hearts
speaking a broken language of hope
in the country
of despair;

may it be like hands
down the long pews
of peace;

may it be a song flung
into the incorrigible,
 huddled wood
of our loneliness;

may it be love
billowing through the folds
of one another,
into the gift of you, Lord.

16 Mar 2015

Poetic Examen-ation: Life after the Thesis

This is a day that was long awaited,
A time dreamt of and indeed anticipated,
With months albeit years of preparation,
And a myriad of readings and connotations.
Today, I awoke knowing that there was nowhere I had to be.
There was truly no post to edit,
Or theologian I needed to credit,
An argument carelessly ignored,
Nor deeper meaning to explore.
I now wondered in this stillness what was to be of me.

Read More..

Be Still and Know that I am God!

"Be Still and Know that I AM God."
Psalm 46:10

The equation I used to believe was:  to be still was to be quiet.  To be quiet was to be in silence. 

The act of silence is very difficult for me.  I enjoy good conversation and lively debates, and  the sounds of music, radio, and television.  I have tried to allow silence to envelop me so that through this stillness or quiet, I could come closer to God.  I guess that I am God's squirmy child when it comes to sitting in the stillness.  I find myself sitting, waiting for the sounds of birds chirping outside the Church where we have gathered to pray, and, in desperate times, the sound of the radiator hissing as it heats up the adoration chapel.

The willful act of silence is a virtue on which I am still working. 

Distractions plague me, too.  However, in my distractions, I think.  If I am wise, I also the Holy Spirit to direct my thoughts when in the state of distraction.

Read More At:

My traveling companions for the Lenten journey

I decided this Lent that I would not travel alone. I asked St. Bernadette, the visionary of Our Lady of Lourdes, if she would accompany me.

In the course of our walk together I am rediscovering someone I had long forgotten but who has not forgotten me.

A classic movie

It began on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes with a suggestion from a friend to watch “The Song of Bernadette,” a critically-acclaimed 1943 movie based on the book by Franz Werfel. It was available on YouTube so I could watch it at my leisure. The movie is long so I viewed it on my tablet over the course of three nights.

Unexpected emotions

That was a good decision. I did not expect to be so moved by the film and was glad I could cry in private. Each time "The Lady" appeared to Bernadette, the tears would flow. I did not know why. Was it the beautiful music? Was it the way Bernadette (played by Oscar winner Jennifer Jones) looked at "The Lady" with such love?

Maybe it was because of Mary herself. Perhaps my heart was telling me how much I missed her in my life ... click here to continue.

Touring New York City's beautiful churches: St. Patrick's Cathedral

My daughter and I went to New York City on vacation.  Before our trip, she asked me where I wanted to go and the first thing out of my mouth was St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City!  This is the extension of my series Touring Chicago's beautiful churches.

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