4 Oct 2015

Do You Realize?

Death and Decisions in Oregon

Nine people died last Thursday, at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. A little while later, their killer also died:
  • Lucero Alcaraz, 19
  • Treven Taylor Anspach, 20
  • Rebecka Ann Carnes, 18
  • Quinn Glen Cooper, 18
  • Kim Saltmarsh Dietz, 59
  • Lucas Eibel, 18
  • Jason Dale Johnson, 33
  • Lawrence Levine, 67 (teacher)
  • Sarena Dawn Moore, 44
  • the killer, 26
Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin said that he was not going to use the killer's name, since one of the killer's goals was almost certainly to gain notoriety. (BBC News)

I think that is probably a good idea. What I have to say doesn't require the killer's name.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Mommy, Mommy, When You Pray?

 Mommy, Mommy, When you Pray, by Kimberly Cook, is a delightful picture book, written and illustrated by a mother with an eye for colour and an ear for lyrical language. This little book will capture the hearts and minds of children as well as their parents. Images and words work together harmoniously as her colourful illustrations and words vibrate with joy. I smiled as I read every page.

3 Oct 2015

From Pope Francis’s Point of View: His Visit to the States

Pope Francis’s Wednesday General Audience, on September 30, focused on his apostolic visit to Cuba and the United States.  It was refreshing to hear the pope’s personal reflections on his visit and not opinions of the media.
The pope reminded the faithful that he had specifically timed his visit to coincided with the 8th World Meeting of Families, at Philadelphia.  In addition,  as a symbol of God’s desire to build bridges,  he decided to visit Cuba  first before addressing the U.S. Congress in Washington and the main headquarters of the United Nations in New York. His goal as a “Missionary of Mercy” was two-fold: to build bridges and to encourage both those in authority and ordinary families to remain faithful to their religious roots.

Be Happy! Don't Sit in the Seat of Scoffers!

One Psalm from scripture I have felt led to reflect on lately is Psalm 1. I have always been a little baffled by Psalm 1. It seemed a little Pharisaical to me and like putting oneself up on a pedestal. It says we shouldn't sit in the seat of scoffers but Jesus sat with sinners. I knew I must not have the right understanding if I saw it that way. After all, God's Word is true so I began to seek understanding. 

Continue Reading @ Beautifulthorns>

2 Oct 2015

Stop the Snark!

Quote me on this:

Sarcasm is the last resort of one who despairs of being heard.

I learned this the hard way – God convicted me of the sin of despair. What I thought was a way of giving humorous vent to ‘communication frustration’ was really the snarky voice of despair, which always leads to more sin. In this case, to the sin of voicing truth caustically, instead of ‘in love,’ as the Scriptures recommend.
Oh, and about that ‘truth’ I was telling so cleverly. True as it may be, ‘truth’ colored by despair is very likely to be a narrative skewed toward hopelessness. My sarcastic words became an anti-sacrament, conveying my own despair to the one at whom I aimed (yes, like a weapon, those witty, biting, snarled remarks of mine).
Memo to self:
If there is someone who cannot seem to hear me, I must turn to God for help finding new, loving, positive ways to communicated, or – at least – be quiet, without resentment. If their ‘cannot’ is really a ‘will not,’ that does not give me free rein to hit at them with sarcasm. And even if they do not seem to be bothered by my remarks, sarcasm is hurting our (already weak?) relationship. It is beneath my dignity, and hope is the way to prevent it.


A True Angel Story for The Feast Day of the Guardian Angels

Angels saved my son’s life.
The phone call comes on a Saturday night. I listen to the police in shocked silence.
“Your son has been in a serious car accident.”
“No, we have not ascertained the extent of his injuries.”
“We did use the jaws of life to extract your son and his girlfriend from the vehicle.”
“No, I told you, I cannot tell you the extent of his injuries but if you head over to Trauma 1 at the Civic, they will give you an update.”
“All I can tell you is it seems that the vehicle did flip end over end, then barrell rolled into the ditch....   continue

1 Oct 2015

October is here: 40 Days for Life and Respect Life Month

Every day is a day to respect human life. Still, just as months are designated to bring attention to suicide prevention and human trafficking and child abuse prevention, October is Respect Life month. Coincidentally, this month comprises the bulk of the Fall 2015 40 Days for Life campaign.  
I was invited to speak at the opening of the 40DFL campaign in my area. As a longtime poltiical activist and lobbyist, I wondered what I could offer to a strictly nonpolitical group. Then Pope Francis spoke in Cuba, and something he said helped me sharpen my focus: prayer, not politics.
Read more at Leaven for the Loaf

At Last I Have Found It

Saint of the Day: St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the "Little Flower"

"I prefer the monotony of obscure sacrifice to all ecstasies. To pick up a pin for love can convert a soul." These are the words of Thérèse of the Child Jesus, a Carmelite nun called the "Little Flower," who lived a cloistered life of obscurity in the convent of Lisieux, France. 

30 Sep 2015

Your Opinions, and I know You have them, On the Death Penalty

I’m really torn on this, and I would like to know how you feel. When it comes to the death penalty, I tend to lean in favor of it for some crimes. However, if I were on a jury, I’m not sure I could vote in favor of giving the death penalty, but if a member of my family were murdered, I think I would be in favor of the death penalty as a means of punishment.

Pope Francis, on his recent visit to the United States, encouraged us, as a country, to get rid of the death penalty. He even wrote a letter to the state of Georgia asking for mercy in the case of Kelly Kissander, who had been on death row for 18 years and was finally executed last night. This case is another reason why I am torn. 

Read More at Prayerfully Yours

Spotlight on the Family #4: Christian Decor

A father’s three-year-old son was playing quietly with his trains in his room—too quietly maybe. The father went to check on him. As he looked into the room, he saw the boy get up from the trains, run to the statue of the Sacred Heart, pick it up and kiss it. “Why did you do that?” the father asked. The boy replied, “Because he’s a good guy.” A question posed to students and retreatants is, If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you? Here is a similar one: Would someone visiting your home know that you were Christian? Mentally walk through the rooms of your house. What signs are there of your faith in Jesus Christ? These items are not merely for show, but to remind your family (and others) of God and prompt you to pray. Your home doesn't need to look like a religious goods store, but shouldn't something in it reflect your faith? Click to continue

Piety Pointers at Your Service

Piety Pointers

We could all use some. So here is my little list to share with you. Perhaps you have additional ones to add to this list. If so, please share with the group:

Have reverence for God by worshiping Him

By reverence, I mean to hold God in awe, recognizing His omnipotent (all powerful), omniscient (all knowing), omnipresent (all present) Being. Have respect for God, and all that He is, when worshipping Him. Be on time for church services. Dress modestly in church. Actively participate in church services (be fully present in mind and body). Revere the silence of… Read more...

29 Sep 2015

The Feast of the Archangels Celebrated in Paint, Glass, Stone, Marble…

The Archangels triumphing over Lucifer
 by Marco D’Oggiono
Today we celebrate the feast of the Archangels
St. Gabriel-  Man of God or Strength ofGod
St. Michael-  Who is like God
St. Raphael-  Divine healer
Angels are mentioned over 3000 times in scripture, but these three are the only ones ever mentioned by name.
The Archangel Gabriel
The Church of St Mary and St Gabriel West Sussex,
2009 By Philip Jackson


5 things you didn't know about St. Therese

File:Saint Peter Catholic Church (Millersburg, Ohio) - stained glass, St. Thérèse de Lisieux - detail.jpg

October 1 is the feast of St. Therese, Carmelite nun and Doctor of the Church. I have a giveaway and some special deals to celebrate. But first, here are five things you may not have known about this beloved saint.

1. She almost died as an infant.

Before Therese was even born, her mother, Blessed Zelie Martin, was already suffering from the breast cancer that would eventually kill her. She was unable to nurse Therese properly, but did not want to turn her over to a wet-nurse. A previous daughter had died in a nurse's care, and daughter Celine had not fared well with a nurse either. Eventually, when Therese was nearly starved, Zelie did find a nurse for her. Therese lived with the nurse for over a year. Afterwards, she had trouble re-attaching to her own mother.

2. She dreamed of posing as a penitent.

Therese and her father, Blessed Louis Martin, used to bring fish to an order of nuns that cared for penitent girls. Some of the girls would join the order. Therese, in her humility, dreamed of hiding among them, letting no one know that she was not a penitent herself. Eventually, of course, she found her real vocation in the Carmelite cloister.

Continue reading at enter the contest at Contemplative Homeschool.

The Only Crabby Lady in Philadelphia

Photo ©2015 Grace Mazza Urbanski. All rights reserved.

I found her! The only crabby lady in Philadelphia! And Jesus loves her like crazy.

Read all about it at Praying with Grace.


28 Sep 2015

WOW Words from Pope Francis

“The Internet…is something truly good, a gift from God.”  Pope Francis
The pope speaks out loudly and clearly, without compromise on a variety of topics such as: true charity, women, part-time Christians, the internet as a gift from God, prayer, each child as a gift,  a Church which is bruised,  Peter denying Christ, climate change, and the fact we have a Lord who is capable of crying with us….

Finding the Invisible God

Today, I was reading some old blogging prompts I collected. I use them when I hit a writer’s block. I have found these prompts do spark a few ideas. The propmt that caught my attention today was this: From Where do you draw your energy?
My first thought was, duh! The electric company! Of course, that could be a credible answer or start of a post, but, I think the writer of the prompt was looking for a bit more than that.

Read More at Prayerfully Yours.

Celebrate Michaelmas! (Feast of St. Michael the Archangel)

My family and I love to celebrate the Feast of St. Michael, or Michaelmas, every year. This year, the Feast of St. Michael falls on Tuesday, September 29th. 

I love to honor this Feast day by making a blackberry crumble for dessert, served warm from the oven with vanilla bean ice cream. If you don't already, why not consider starting a Michaelmas family tradition of your own?  

If you're not familiar with some of the customs around the Feast of St. Michael, or Michaelmas, I found this wonderful article (which includes recipes!).  

Moms are My Heroes!

Hi! I'm Charlotte, the new blogger on the block. I am a Catholic convert and an old hand at homeschooling (my nest is almost empty!). I love to give advice to the young moms around me because Moms are my heroes!! 
Here's one thing I've said a lot: your home is YOU! It embraces your children and is the context that makes you present to them without you micro-managing every aspect of their day. The first kids often get so much of mom's attention, and then they feel guilty when more come along and they can't be as constantly present to the newbies. I think this is God's way of providing more space for the kids!

What Does Being Pious Do For You?

Pious – What’s it all about?

Pious must mean somebody else, and not you or me, right? Hmm…No, I’m talking to you and to myself. We all have the capability of being pious, because we have each been gifted with piety at our Confirmations, when the Holy Spirit descended upon each of us and bestowed His seven gifts, of which Piety is one of them. You say, “all well and good, but what’s in it for me to be holy, a.k.a. pious? How is being pious any fun?” Let me share with you Pope Francis’ brief catechesis on piety, and… Read more...

Pluck Out Your Eye or Choose to Love

Single Mom Divorce Post - Pluck Out YourEye or Choose Love - Eyeball
If your hand leads you to sin, cut it off. If your eye leads you to sin, pluck it out.

These are the words spoken in Sunday's Gospel. Sounds kind of harsh, doesn't it?

We often think of the words spoken in this Gospel as hypothetical examples of the extreme. Jesus  didn't really mean cut off your hand for taking something that doesn't belong to you; He didn't really mean pluck your eye out for looking greedily or lustfully at another. That sounds more like Sharia law. Surely He couldn't have meant that!

Jesus certainly did not want to impose Sharia law upon Christians. He wasn't like that. Sharia law is designed to punish. Sharia law is meant to cause pain. Sharia law is imposed on one person by another. Sharia law is man's weak attempt to impose justice on an unjust world. Sharia law is intended to provide revenge for those who feel, correctly or incorrectly, wronged.

Jesus was not about providing justice in an unjust world. He knew there can be no such thing as true Justice here. He was even less about providing revenge for wrongdoings. In fact, Jesus spoke of forgiveness, a concept as foreign to the world 200 years ago as it is too often today.

Please join me at Single Mom Smiling for the rest of my Gospel Reflection for Divorced Catholics.

And, as always, thanks for liking, commenting, and sharing.

God Bless...

27 Sep 2015

I Live in a Factory

The first few weeks of September are always challenging. Trading the lazy days of summer for the regular routine of school work and after-school activities generally does not bring out the best in myself or the rest of my family. This past week was no exception.  Filled with sibling squabbles, Mommy melt-downs and an empty gas tank (both literally and figuratively), let's just say that no one would mistake us for the Holy Family.

I suppose I should not be surprised considering that I live in a factory and life in a factory can be messy, imperfect and downright hard work. 

Read more here....

The Rock

I found this rock when Pixie and I were walking. Why it caught my eye, I don’t know, but on the first pass, I ignored it. On the second pass, I reached down and put this treasure in my hand.

When I picked up the rock, it was rough and uneven, but surprisingly, it fit into my hand, perfectly. I even changed the end of the rock. One end is somewhat pointed. One end is rounder and dull. The rock looks like it was hand carved to fit a hand. I was amazed at that.
I’ve kept this rock around me. I wonder about it.

Read More at Prayerfully Yours

In Everyday Life

Pope Francis and Nietzsche

I'll be quoting Pope Francis quite a bit today, starting with this bit from the news:
"...Speaking on Sunday (Sept. 13) to the Argentine radio station, FM Milenium, Francis lamented those who posed as his friends to exploit him, and decried religious fundamentalism.

"And speaking to Portugal's Radio Renascenca in an interview that aired on Monday, Francis put his own popularity into perspective: 'Jesus also, for a certain time, was very popular, and look at how that turned out.'..."
("Pope Francis: 'Jesus was popular and look how that turned out'," David Gibson, Religion News Service (September 14, 2015))
David Gibson apparently paid attention to what Pope Francis said.

Some other headlines, from derivative stories are — imaginative. Others perhaps show a better understanding of the Pope than displayed by the occasional outraged Catholic....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

'He that is not against us is for us.' Sunday Reflections, 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

St John the Evangelist, El Greco, 1614 Museo de El Greco,Toledo,Spain Web Gallery of Art

Gospel Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48 (NRV – Catholic Edition, Can)

John said to Jesus, "Teacher, we saw a man casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he was not following us."But Jesus said, "Do not forbid him; for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon after to speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is for us. For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ, will by no means lose his reward.

Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung round his neck and 1he were thrown into the sea.
And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched".
In August 1982, after a year’s study in Toronto and before three months of Clinical Pastoral Education in Minneapolis, I supplied in a number of parishes for short periods in the Diocese of Boise, which covers the whole of the state of Idaho in the western USA. One of my purposes for this was to visit the Abbey of Our Lady of the HolyTrinity, Huntsville, Idaho, where I had spent ten days or so in August 1970. There I had met some of the monks who were to be part of the team that would open the first Trappist foundation in the Philippines, in Guimaras island, now the Abbey of Our Lady of the Philippines.

Full post here.

26 Sep 2015

It's Almost Over...

Tomorrow, it’s another full day for our beloved Pontiff, Francis, then he will be returning to Rome. I don’t know about you, but I have been glued to the TV watcing every bit of coverage that I could of Pope Francis’ visit. I laughed. I cried very often just to be in his telelvision presence. God blessed our country with this Papal visit!

There were those who said cruel and unkind word about our Holy Father, claiming that they are true to Christ and His Church, but rejecting His Vicar, who follows in Peter’s footsteps. That is so very sad. They need our prayers. They cannot be Catholics if they reject the leader of the Church. I feel very badly for them.

Read More at Prayerfully Yours.

8 Things You Probably Don't Know About the Pope

If you've been living in a cave this week, you might not know Pope Francis is in the U.S. for a few days. He's drawing record crowds. Even non-Catholics seem to like him.  He's humble and welcoming.  He's not going to change Catholic doctrine, but he extends genuine love and compassion to all.  Here are some facts about him you might not know.

1.  As a young man, he had part of one lung removed due to an infection.

2.  While in college, he worked as a bouncer in a bar to pay for his studies.  The makes me chuckle.


25 Sep 2015

Going Back in Time

I have to admit, I was a brat. Now, I’m not so much of a brat as I am awestruck by the realization that my mother allowed me to survive into adulthood. I’m convinced she paid her purgatorial debt on earth by raising me. She had her hands full!

I stumbled on this prayer today, and I remembered it from my childhood. I was “forced” to lead the grace when we ate, at times. I thought of my brathood, I mean, my childhood, and I have to smile.

I feel a bit younger when I slip into the sing song of leading this grace when I didin’t want to when we ate. My mother’s name was Grayce. I’m sure the Blessed Mother poured down the graces she needed to raise me. 

Read more at Prayerfully Yours

Mercy and Not Judgment

I have not been able to shake a heavy feeling I've had since I first heard the news about the Kentucky clerk who refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses. The heaviness, I’ve come to realize, has had very little to do with the issue of same-sex marriage. What I’ve been feeling is embarrassed by my fellow Christians.



Kidneys, Experiments, and Ethics

Kidney failure isn't always fatal these days. Hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis can keep someone alive until a transplant donor shows up. Kidney problems kill about a million folks each year.

It's not the leading cause of death for my 7,250,000,000-plus neighbors, but that's still a lot of deaths.

Scientists in Japan grew working kidneys in rats and pigs. We're years away from grow-your-own kidneys for patients: but I think that's coming.

Meanwhile, a scientist in England wants permission to collect people for genetic experiments. The Francis Crick Institute, Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority, and BBC News describe the proposal more discretely.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

24 Sep 2015

Do You Agree With Abortion Forgiveness?

Pope Francis is capturing the media’s attention with his visit to Cuba and the United States this week.  So, a young woman currently working as a journalist in New York City, who is part of Columbia University’s M.S. program, interviewed me over the phone on Monday about Pope Francis’ announcement regarding abortion forgiveness for women.
My positive reaction to the pope’s decision shocked this journalist at first. It seems almost everyone she has interviewed so far were, to use her words, “judgmental” and against Pope Francis’s  decision.  Thus, it was my turn to be shocked. In my opinion, what could be more fitting than to open the Jubilee Year of Mercy 2016 by welcoming women who have suffered an abortion back into full communion with the Church?
Who were these practicing Catholics  she interviewed who refuse to extend  forgiveness to women who are burdened with guilt after having an abortion? Have they never sinned? Are they so perfect they fall into the trap of demanding only the pure be part of their Church club?

continue reading  on joy of nine9 and on CatholicStand

23 Sep 2015

Focusing on Pope Francis: Three-Day Quote Challenge – Day 3

“Take note: if the Church is alive, she must always surprise.
It is incumbent upon the living Church to astound.”
I will never forget the words I heard at the EASTER VIGIL on 30 March 2013 during the homily of Pope Francis at the Vatican Basilica. His words surprised me and gave me a glimpse of his own, inner spirituality.
The pope understands Christianity is a vibrant relationship with the Living God.
Yes, Catholicism has dogma, teachings, rules with roots back to St. Peter but rules to not define our faith.  A Catholic is a son of God The Father,  a brother to Christ and a person whose constant companion is the Holy Spirit. This is not a static life, a routine of monotonous prayers and ritual. Ritual is merely a way to interact with the Living God who constantly draws us closer to His heart.

He's a Saint Now!

Ken Kistler: Photo attribution
When I was 8, we had a project, in school, in which we were to describe something about, the now, Saint Junipero Serra. Of course we had learned the story of the missions he had established to bring the native American population to Jesus, all along the coast of California. He risked life and limb to bring as many converts into the Catholic Church. Today, September 23, 2015, Blessed Junipero Serra became Saint Junipero Serra by Pope Francis as he visits our country!

Saint Junipero Serra!

At the time, our new saint was simply known as Father Junipero Serra.
To enrich our studies of this holy man and the missions he established, my godparents took me to the San Jaun Capistrono Mission. The wonder of this mission is that every year, the birds return on the same day, every year. We weren’t there when the birds returned, but that was all right.

Read More at: Prayerfully Yours

Real Thing is Irresistible: Three Day Quote Challenge, Day 3


Choosing the topic of holiness, I provided a quote on day 1 that addressed holiness stemming from the family. On day two, we moved to the workplace, and today we speak of holiness’ impact when allowed to permeate society:

“How little people know who think that holiness is dull. When one meets the real thing, it is irresistible.” – C.S. Lewis

When we pray together as a family, within the confines of our homes, we become more comfortable with prayer in general. When we pray, we grow closer to Christ. Through our prayers, Jesus gives us the strength to take virtue into the workplace to act with honesty, integrity, generosity, and kindness. These virtues help us to grow in holiness and we become beacons of light to others; beacons of joy. As a beacon of light shone outward, our holiness begins to permeate society. Others see our beacon of light and are drawn to it. Our joy is infectious. Our virtue is esteemed by others. People want what we have – they want holiness, because the real thing is irresistible!

Your challenge for today:...

Do You Want to Go to Heaven?


How often do you think about it? Do you ever wonder what it is going to be like? Mansions in the sky? A feast to top all feasts? Whatever your concept of Heaven might be, there is something that you need to be working on right now if you ever want to see it: developing the virtue of Piety, in the here and now. Piety is both a gift from the Holy Spirit and a virtue. To be pious, or in other words, to possess piety, means that you are holy, or saintly, in your thoughts words and deeds.

Do you think of others’ needs and address them before your own? Do you speak well of others, and of God, or... Read more...

Saint Of The Day: St. Padre Pio

St. Padre Pio

Via Franciscan Media:

In one of the largest such ceremonies in history, Pope John Paul II canonized Padre Pio of Pietrelcina on June 16, 2002. It was the 45th canonization ceremony in Pope John Paul's pontificate. More than 300,000 people braved blistering heat as they filled St. Peter's Square and nearby streets. 

They heard the Holy Father praise the new saint for his prayer and charity. "This is the most concrete synthesis of Padre Pio's teaching," said the pope. He also stressed Padre Pio's witness to the power of suffering. If accepted with love, the Holy Father stressed, such suffering can lead to "a privileged path of sanctity."