31 Jan 2012

If You Need Employment...

Everywhere I have gone, all the Blogs that I have the opportunity to visit, the social-networking sites, everywhere...it is quite rampant...

We need Jobs!

I have come across this Prayer to St. Joseph, whom among other things is the Patron Saint for...you guessed it, Work. 
He's not St. Joseph the Worker for Nuthin'!

9 Days.   A Simple Novena.  I Pray you also find your Vocation, not just a Job...

God Love You ♥

 Powerful Novena to Saint Joseph
(Over 1900 years old)

O St. Joseph whose protection is so great,
so strong,
 so prompt before the Throne of God,
 I place in you all my interests and desires.

O St. Joseph do assist me
by your powerful intercession
 and obtain for me
from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings
 through Jesus Christ, Our Lord;
 so that having engaged here below
your Heavenly power
 I may offer my Thanksgiving and Homage
to the most Loving of Fathers.

O St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you
and Jesus asleep in your arms.
 I dare not approach while He reposes
near your heart.
 Press him in my name
and kiss His fine Head for me,
 and ask Him to return the Kiss
when I draw my dying breath.

St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls, pray for us.


Say for nine consecutive mornings
for anything you may desire.
 It has seldom been known to fail.

The Trials of a Tuesday

Today while praying day 2 of this blessed Novena to Our Lady I am concentrating on the knots of life that involve my relationship's with other family members.

Novena to Mary, Undoer of Knots - Day 2

Virgin Mary, Mother of fair love, Mother who never refuses to come to the aid of a child in need, Mother whose hands never cease to serve your beloved children because they are moved by the divine love and immense mercy that exists in your heart, cast your compassionate eyes upon me and see the snarl of knots that exist in my life.
You know very well how desperate I am, my pain and how I am bound by these knots.
Mary, Mother to whom God entrusted the undoing of the knots in the lives of his children, I entrust into your hands the ribbon of my life.
No one, not even the Evil One himself, can take it away from your precious care. In your hands there is no knot that cannot be undone.
Powerful Mother, by your grace and intercessory power with Your Son and My Liberator, Jesus, take into your hands today this knot...I beg you to undo it for the glory of God, once for all, You are my hope.
O my Lady, you are the only consolation God gives me, the fortification of my feeble strength, the enrichment of my destitution and with Christ the freedom from my chains.
Hear my plea.
Keep me, guide me, protect me, o safe refuge!

Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for me

30 Jan 2012

Happy Monday?

This morning is supposed to be Happy Monday, the first pay after Christmas and Holiday Bookings are piling up, modern society how selfish and greedy! We have on the news this morning the terrible crisis looming in care of the elderly and one mans million pound bonus payment for just 1 years work at a bank owned by the Government. Am I the only person wondering if the current push from some people for legalised euthanasia has a lot to do with the increasing numbers of inconveniently healthy and long lived dementia patients?
Only recently we've also had spurious scare stories about too many immigrants and big families costing too much.
Its not a christian agenda is it? Did Our Lord visit the tax gatherers and say you need to get more money to pay the Roman governors bonus? Did he refuse to heal the mad or elderly because they would be too expensive to look after?
How can we reconcile greater needs and lower spending?
I don't have any clever answers .
This is more than I can cope with.
My own life feels so small and meaningless, my problems are nothing against such fundamental injustice and I am powerless to change the world.
For me there is only one place to turn, one remedy,
Prayer and the embrace of Our Lady.

Through a gift of Gods grace  I have been led to this Novena

Novena to Our Lady Undoer of Knots - Day 1
1. Make the sign of the cross

2. Say the Act of Contrition. Ask pardon for your sins and make a firm promise not to commit them again.
Oh my God I am heartily sorry for having offended you. I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell. But most of all, because I offended you, oh my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of your grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen

3. Say the first 3 decades of the Rosary.

4. Make the meditation of the day (to be posted each day)

5. Say the last 2 decades of the rosary

6. Finish with the Prayer to Our Lady the Undoer of Knots

Meditation for Day 1

Our Lady Undoer of Knots
Dearest Holy Mother, Most Holy Mary, you undo the knots that suffocate your children, extend your merciful hands to me. I entrust to You today this knot....and all the negative consequences that it provokes in my life. I give you this knot that torments me and makes me unhappy and so impedes me from uniting myself to You and Your Son Jesus, my Savior.
I run to You, Mary, Undoer of Knots because I trust you and I know that you never despise a sinning child who comes to ask you for help. I believe that you can undo this knot because Jesus grants you everything. I believe that you want to undo this knot because you are my Mother. I believe that You will do this because you love me with eternal love.

Thank you, Dear Mother.

Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for me.

The one who seeks grace, finds it in Mary's hands.


Virgin Mary, Mother of fair love, Mother who never refuses to come to the aid of a child in need, Mother whose hands never cease to serve your beloved children because they are moved by the divine love and immense mercy that exists in your heart, cast your compassionate eyes upon me and see the snarl of knots that exist in my life.
You know very well how desperate I am, my pain and how I am bound by these knots.
Mary, Mother to whom God entrusted the undoing of the knots in the lives of his children, I entrust into your hands the ribbon of my life.
No one, not even the Evil One himself, can take it away from your precious care. In your hands there is no knot that cannot be undone.
Powerful Mother, by your grace and intercessory power with Your Son and My Liberator, Jesus, take into your hands today this knot...I beg you to undo it for the glory of God, once for all, You are my hope.
O my Lady, you are the only consolation God gives me, the fortification of my feeble strength, the enrichment of my destitution and with Christ the freedom from my chains.
Hear my plea.
Keep me, guide me, protect me, o safe refuge!

Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for me


29 Jan 2012

Words are powerful

From Eucharistic Prayer number 1:
“... when supper was ended, He took this precious chalice in His holy and venerable hands...”

I entered the Church post Vatican II during the “Jesus is our friend” era of the 80s. Religion classes in Canadian schools focused on anthropological questions like what footwear was popular in biblical times, and our spiritual life was addressed by memorizing the Lord’s Prayer. The first has been useful when it comes to the annual Passion Play; the latter has stood me in good stead every day since my conversion. As a method of religious formation, however, this curriculum was seriously deficient in encouraging a relationship with God, or fostering a love for the rich beauty of our faith.

Unfortunately the parishes I attended after that, though full of wonderful people and shepherded by sincere priests, did not inspire me to delve any further into the depths of Catholicism. The buildings were rather bland, the music often trite, and the homilies made us feel good. Don’t get me wrong: I loved being Catholic and enjoyed going to Mass on Sunday. For a long time I didn’t even realize I was missing out on the real meat of the faith, that I was still subsisting on milk and bread.

Later on as a young adult, I was fortunate to find a parish that offered instruction and formation. There, I went on to learn about salvation history, the sacraments, doctrine, doctors of the church, lives of the saints, liturgy, tradition, and so on. A whole new world was opened to me in which I discovered that Catholicism is vibrant, rich, and relevant.

And yet. Though I’ve grown in knowledge and spiritual maturity, I don’t think I ever entirely let go of the notion of ‘Jesus: my brother, my friend’ fostered by what I call Wind Tunnel Jesus, or Surfer Dude Jesus. You know those pictures of Jesus from the 70s and 80s, either as the Risen Christ with arms outstretched and hair blown back, or as a gentle and loving bearded friendly man done in pastels. That man was our friend, our brother -- a kinder and gentler version of Mr. Smith who teaches kindergarten and also has a beard. Those seeds were planted so deep, that it was that easy to relate the man in those images to the men in my life, and so the notion of a teaching so radical it changed the world and a sacrifice so great it saved the world was hard to accept as absolute truth.

The language of the Mass encouraged me to acknowledge the humanity of Jesus over His divinity. The prayers were littered with images of friendship and brotherhood. Revised hymns celebrated the people in the pews rather than the great majesty of God.

Then, on the Sunday of Epiphany, came the words of Eucharistic Prayer I, “... when supper was ended, He took this precious chalice in His holy and venerable hands...” There, in my pew, I had one of those surreal movie moments where my vision telescoped and I’m sure I even felt the earth jolt under my feet. In plain English, two words elevated my friend the wind surfing Jesus, to a sacred realm, because He lifted the chalice in His holy and venerable hands.

Words are powerful.

Catholic Motivational Poster

This perceptive poster on prayer was created by Marcel at Aggie Catholics:

Our Lady and the English Martyrs

My friend, Stephanie Mann, author of Supremacy and Survival: How Catholics Endured the English Reformation,  is starting up a New Sunday Series: Our Lady and the English Martyrs" at her blog, Supremacy and Survival. Be sure to a take a look!

Caritas in Veritate: Faithful Helpers of God's Precious Infants at Maid...

Caritas in Veritate: Faithful Helpers of God's Precious Infants at Maid...: My friend Carole Smith who co-ordinates the prayer vigils outside the Marie Stopes abortion provider in Maidstone Kent sent me these phot...

Pleasing your wife, pleasing your husband

Officiating at a wedding in the Philippines

I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about worldly affairs,how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried woman or girl is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please her husband.

This is a sort of appendix to Sunday Reflections for today. The above verses, 1 Corinthians 7: 32-34, are from today's Second Reading. My friends in Worldwide Marriage Encounter are probably sick and tired of my emphasising that the basic vocation in marriage is to be a spouse, not a parent. The latter is a consequence of the former. In this brief passage St Paul doesn't mention parenthood at all but the priority of pleasing one's spouse. I truly believe that  a spouse who gives first priority to that will be a good parent.

I was invited to a wedding recently and the officiating priest asked me to preach. I told the couple that their wedding day didn't mean the end of dating but rather the beginning. I went on to speak of the spousal relationship as being the fundamental one.

The wedding was at 4pm. Before 9pm, the last item during the reception was a short video of the ceremony. I was delightedly surprised when it opened with my words about dating and made the spousal relationship the basic theme, rather than only showing various shots of the wedding.

I have seen marriages break up where both spouses were doing everything they could 'for the sake of the kids'. I think that break-ups are much less likely when a husband's priority is, in St Paul's words, how to please his wife, and a wife's priority how to please her husband.

I have seen in so many families how children truly feel loved when their parents' priorities are such. One adult daughter told me how her father, when he was dying, said goodbye to all his children and then asked them to leave so that he could spent his last moments with his wife.

27 Jan 2012

'He taught them with authority.' Sunday Reflections, 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

Moses, Carlo Dolci, painted 1640-45

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Gospel Mark 1:21-28 (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)

Jesus and his followers went as far as Capernaum, and as soon as the sabbath came Jesus went to the synagogue and began to teach. And his teaching made a deep impression on them because, unlike the scribes, he taught them with authority.

In their synagogue just then there was a man possessed by an unclean spirit, and it shouted, ‘What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: the Holy One of God.’ But Jesus said sharply, ‘Be quiet! Come out of him!’ And the unclean spirit threw the man into convulsions and with a loud cry went out of him. The people were so astonished that they started asking each other what it all meant. ‘Here is a teaching that is new’ they said ‘and with authority behind it: he gives orders even to unclean spirits and they obey him.’ And his reputation rapidly spread everywhere, through all the surrounding Galilean countryside.

An Soiscéal Marcas 1:21-28 (Gaeilge, Irish)

When I was 16 I joined Fórsa Cosanta Áitiúil (Local Defence Force), part of the Irish Army Reserve (cap badge above). Membership was voluntary. We trained on Sundays and there was a two-week summer camp. However, I didn’t stay in it long enough to experience that.

I remember two individuals very clearly, not by name but by rank. One was a corporal and the other a sergeant. The corporal took delight in shouting and swearing at everyone. He was in his early 20s and we mostly between 16 and 18. We did what he told us to do. But none of us had any respect for him. 

The sergeant, also in his early 20s, while strict, never shouted at us and the strongest word he ever used was ‘damn’. While in its fullest meaning this really is a curse, usage over the centuries has made it a very mild expression, with hardly any connection to its dictionary definition. We did what the sergeant told us to do, and with genuine respect for him. He respected us and because of that his authority came primarily from his person, not from his rank.

I am always struck by the way St Mark highlights the authority Jesus had. It wasn’t from any position he held but from the Truth that he is. He tells us in St John’s Gospel that he is ‘the way, the truth and the life’. The people recognised this: his teaching made a deep impression on them because, unlike the scribes, he taught them with authority; ‘Here is a teaching that is new’ they said ‘and with authority behind it: he gives orders even to unclean spirits and they obey him.’

I remember our rector in the seminary, Fr Joseph Flynn, once saying to us, ‘Let us at least be hypocrites’. What he meant was that if we fall short of what we believe and profess, and know that we are falling short and ask God’s forgiveness, we will still have something of the authority of Jesus himself. The tax collector who prayed in the Temple, ‘Lord, have mercy on me a sinner’, still carries authority whereas the hypocritical Pharisee doesn’t.

Yesterday I had an email from a recovering alcoholic who told me he ‘went into a blank space’ when he learned of the death of a priest who had also been a recovering alcoholic. This priest had been very close to him during the first years of his recovery. I know that the priest had occasional lapses but sought the help of others in AA when he did. That’s what gave him the authority he had with fellow 'strugglers'. 

Some saints, such as St Thérèse of Lisieux (above, aged 15), carry the authority of the purity of their lives. Some, like St Augustine of Hippo, carry the authority of a person who has, with God’s grace, overcome a life of sin. Moses, who speaks to us in the first reading today, carries the authority of a great leader who acknowledged his own impatience and who accepted the consequence of this, that he would lead his people to the Promised Land, see it, but never enter it himself.

  St Augustine and St Monica, by Ary Scheffer (painted 1846)

San am sin chuaigh Íosa isteach i gCafarnáum. Agus lá na sabóide féin, ar dhul isteach satsionagóg dó, thosaigh sé ag teagasc.Agus bhí ionadh orthu faoina theagasc; á dteagasc a bhí sé mar dhuine a mbeadh údarás aige, níorbh ionann agus na scríobhaithe.

Bhí, san am sin, duine sa tsionagóg a raibh smacht ag spiorad míghlan air, agus scread sé amach: “Há, cad ab áil leat dínn, a Íosa Nazairéanaigh? Chun ár millte a tháinig tú. Is eol dom cé hé thú: Naomh Dé.” Labhair Íosa leis go bagrach: “Bí i do thost, agus gabh amach as.” Bhain an spiorad míghlan rachtaí as an duine, ghlaoigh amach go hard agus d’imigh as. Agus bhí alltacht chomh mór sin ar chách go raibh siad ag fiafraí dá chéile: “Cad é an rud é seo?” deiridís: “teagasc nua á dhéanamh le húdarás; na spioraid mhíghlana féin, fógraíonn sé orthu agus déanann siad rud air.” Agus níorbh fhada gur leath a chlú go fada gearr ar fud cheantar uile na Gailíle.


25 Jan 2012

Got the new mom blues?...what you do is important!

By Theresa Thomas

Hey, mama!

Yes, you with the baby in your arms…

I see you, out there, sitting at your table, your desk, or your kitchen island, and I notice you are a little discouraged. You switched on the computer a few minutes ago to check your mail and a couple websites, the most exciting contact you’ll have with the outside world today, in between your hourly dates with your almost-potty-trained toddler in the bathroom and picking up Cheerios off the floor of the kitchen for the umpteenth time. You are disheartened, tired. Maybe you passed a mirror earlier today and thought to yourself, Where is that super-trim figure I had in college? Didn’t my step used to have a little more bounce? Why am I doing this?

You love your family with ferocity but you are just running out of steam. Your husband is working hard to allow you this privilege of staying home with your children, but sometimes it doesn’t feel like a privilege. You may even feel like it would be easier to get an outside job.

You may feel that you do the same thing over and over, and the days blur together. You have always held that moms should be present in the home during a child’s early years. You believed it with all your heart the day you got married and you believe it now. You want to be the best mom you can be, but somehow that rings a little hollow at the moment, as you break up a tussle between two preschoolers wanting the same Thomas the Tank Engine cover, quickly throw in some laundry and get back in the room with the little ones before someone gets hurt. Is this how it is supposed to go? You ask. You wonder.

May I offer something? I’ve been in your slippers. And that bathrobe. That torn bathrobe with Gerber’s best all over it and a tear next to the right front pocket. You know, that one you keep meaning to mend but also keep forgetting about… I would like to tell you something. In fact, I want to tell you a few things. So go get that coffee refill and meet me back here in a minute. Yes, you can fish the toilet paper roll out of the toilet first – I heard that scream too – and while you’re up set the little one in the swing for a few minutes… She’ll be okay. You need to hear this.

Are you back? Good.

As I was saying, in all sincerity, I’ve been in your slippers. I truly understand where you’re coming from. I’m on the other side of Babyhood now, with my oldest in his twenties and my youngest being school aged. Chin up, pretty mama. Here are a few things I want you to know:


1. What you do is important.

That’s right. Read it again. What you do is important.

I know it doesn’t seem important to be answering kids’ questions all day and reading the same books to your children over and over, or patiently responding to mishaps and unexpected spills as you cook and clean and love the little ones, but let me assure you that what you do might be one of the most significant things in the world. Let me explain.

Do you see those policy makers on TV, voting on bills, which will become laws? (Oops – Of course you don’t- you don’t have time to watch TV, but you’re smart and you can recall at least a few modern legislators, state-wide or national figures.). Think of them for a moment. Also think the teachers of today, the professors and other educators who, right this minute, are standing in a classroom, explaining a theory, proposing a philosophy, forming young minds. Recall too the modern doctors and scientists who make life and death decisions and ethical considerations. Think of how they, and others like them, affect and in essence because the way the world turns and moves. They make laws, form opinions, and establish protocol in institutions for good or for naught. They create society.

Now think of this: Someone once put these influential people to sleep at night; someone sang to them (or didn’t), read to them (or didn’t). Someone once stirred thoughts of goodness and justice (or evil and apathy) into their minds. Someone once introduced them to big ideas and learning and if they were lucky, God and faith, morals and truth. That someone most likely was their mother.

Poet Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Men are what their mothers made them.” Of course, free will comes into the picture, but a good mother can set a child on the right track, and it is more difficult for him to veer off onto the wrong path if she has set him straight. “Train the young in the way they should go; even when old, they will not swerve from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

Now, mama, look at that baby you just put in the swing, your little angel with sweet downy hair and a sleepy, milky smile or look at your toddler in his diaper who is dancing around the room. Your treatment of these children now and the way they see you interacting with them and others, the manners you use, the tone of your voice, the gestures you make, will be the model in their minds, their ‘default mode’ of thinking and behavior for the rest of their lives. Most likely what you model will affect how they treat others one day – their employees, employers, patients or constituents, and surely their spouses and their children. Their decisions will be rooted in what you provide and teach and demonstrate now.

Mama, your softness is important. Your sweet coos and songs to your children will help them feel loved and calm and know the gentleness of God Himself. Your firmness is important too – you must gently but surely hold your children accountable for their actions and help them overcome natural vices in order to reach the pinnacle of self-control and temperance. Your mind is important to them as well. It is through your thought and your expression of thought they will gain knowledge about the world around them, others, and God. The values you teach them, the stories you read to them, the words they hear you speak an the expressions they see you make are all very important to them and also to the world they will influence in years to come. Most importantly, your faith will be the foundation for their own faith. Your trust and belief in God will pave the way for their own acceptance of and love for Him.

Our nation depends on the work of the mothers in the previous generation. The future of the human race depends on mothers like you.

2. What you do is good.

Good is defined as “morally excellent; virtuous; righteous; pious”. Raising children well is good.

Have you ever been in a greenhouse? Greenhouses are warm and clean, perfect places for plants to grow. They are protective environments where no damaging insects can destroy the young, tender plants. When the plants are hearty and strong they can be safely transplanted outside the greenhouse. Your home is like a greenhouse. You control what comes in and what goes out. It is not just a protective place to keep out the harmful, but it is a place to let in the light and where it is warm and nurturing. Children without a good home may grow up fine, but chances are better for the ones who are tended to, cherished and cultivated. It is good to protect the vulnerable against harm. What you do as a mother is good.

3. What you do is beautiful motherhood

Artists create art; Musicians create music. You, as a mother, in cooperation with your husband and God the ultimate Designer created something more awe-inspiring and amazing that all the artwork and music combined. You created a human being with an eternal soul, the most amazing of all of creation. This child is bodily and spiritually beautiful. Train him well and he will be morally beautiful too. Enough said.

Now also remember two more things…

You’re not just teaching your children; they are also teaching you.

It’s kind of like continuing education without the diploma. As you tackle those piles of laundry from wet beds and baby spit ups you are developing fortitude. As you avoid caffeine and a favorite glass of wine while pregnant in order to give your unborn child the best possible start in life you are developing temperance. And when, at night your husband comes home, looks around at the mess and asks what you did all day and you hold your tongue and just smile sweetly, you are developing patience. And by the way there is nothing wrong with making a list for just such an occasion and handing it to him upon questioning – I’m just saying. Those nights you walk the floor for hours with a colicky baby will do more for your development of generosity than reading 25 books on the subject. So you see, you raise your children and your children raise you. It’s a win-win.

Take heart – it will get easier.

Well, kind of. The sleep deprivation and physical exhaustion will subside when the baby starts sleeping through the night and the toddler can make it without bathroom trips every few hours. You won’t be juggling nine things at once forever- I promise. There will be a day when the baby will stop crawling up your curtains and pulling down things from the shelf, thus making you feel like your whole morning is a marathon scooping- from- danger race. Your life will surely move out of the absolute fatigue stage and morph slowly in to the next one.

The next stage, as your children convert into pre-adolescents, then teens, then young adults, will have you hopping more mentally than physically. Now I will tell you that while it’s not nearly as bad as everyone portrays it to be, that next stage is not easy either, but at least you’ll get more sleep. Instead of trying to get them to go to bed you’ll be trying to get them to get up. But don’t worry about that now. Shrill alarm clocks never go out of style and will be there when you need them.

So, yes, dear tired mama, this is how it goes. You will be fine and your little ones will be better off for your sacrifices. Our country will even benefit, although it might have to wait 20 years.

Now, go splash some cold water on your face, add a dab of lip gloss and powder to lift your spirits if you want, and get ready for another tedious, difficult, wonderful, day. I hope by now you realize how important, good and beautiful your work as a mother really is.

So chop, chop!! Get moving! Time is short and you have much to do! You have some bodies to nurture, some souls to inspire and a nation to advance. No more stay-at-home-mom blues. Go build a culture – or maybe just a Lego tower for now – one thing at a time…

Prayer for the graces of Motherhood

Powerful is your intercession with God, Mary, for you are His mother.
Tender, too, is your love for us, for you are our mother.
Confidently, then, I come to you as a child, poor and needy, to seek your aid and protection.
In every trial of motherhood, I beg your aid.
For the grace of a happy delivery, I come to you.
For your holy assistance in guarding and directing each tiny soul with which God entrust me, I call to you.
In every sorrow that comes to me in my motherhood, I confide in you.
That I may have strength to bear cheerfully all the pains and the hardships of motherhood, I lean on you.
That the sweetness of motherhood may not through my neglect be embittered in later years by pains of regret, I trust in you.
That the will of God may always be fulfilled in me through each act of my motherhood, little and great, I beg your aid.
Never forsake me, dear mother, my hope, my consolation, my confidence, and my trust,
But ever be at my side to aid and protect me, your needy child. Amen.

Mother of love, of Sorrow, and of Mercy, Pray for us!

From “The Mother’s Manual” by A. Francis Coomes, a prayer book for all occasions suited to mothers can be purchased on Amazon or Free Catholic Shipping.

Theresa Thomas is the co-author Stories for the Homeschool Heart (Bezalel Books, 2010 & winner of About.com Best Catholic Book of 2010), Family Columnist at Today’s Catholic News and a Contributing Writer for Integrated Catholic Life.

24 Jan 2012

The dumbest phrase in the English language?

By Matt Archbold

What is the dumbest phrase in the English language? In a moment.

As I grew up I learned the difference between good and evil, right and wrong. As a young man, the world was very black and white. Young men can think like that. I remember discussing politics and religion with my Father when I was a young firebrand. While my Father and I shared most beliefs, he seemed less willing than I to call all those who held opinions and acted in opposition to the truth names, names like ‘evil.’ I did. My Father didn’t. He would often say cryptic things like “There but for the mercy of God.” “But Dad, the things they do and say are evil. I would never do that.” He would look at me and repeat, “But for the mercy of God.”

As I grow older, I realize that what I once mistook for softness was a strength I didn’t understand. Mercy. When I was young, like Hugo’s Javert, I found mercy hard to understand. It makes a lot more sense to me now because I know much better what I am, a sinner in need of mercy.

Mercy is a gift, a grace. But as with all free gifts, easily rejected. The value of things is often revealed in loss.

As I lost my innocence and with no possible way to restore it on my own, the value of mercy became more evident. We don’t learn mercy, it is a grace, but we can learn the value of it.

Among the ‘hard sayings’ in the Bible there is one that may be the hardest of all, and it may be the one that most Christians are familiar but often overlook. It goes like this.

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive…”

Forgive us as we forgive. Now that is a hard saying.

As I mentioned earlier, in my youth as I reviled those in opposition to the truth, my Father would give gratitude for the mercy of God. I have learned many things as I have aged, chief among them is that there is nary a sin conceived in the mind of the devil of which I would not be capable were it not for the mercy of a good God. I need that mercy.

So I understand my father now, when he prayed to be forgiven as he forgave, he knew what that meant. He, like me, was a sinner in need of a mercy he could not merit.

So what have I learned in all these years? I have learned what the dumbest phrase in the English language is…

“I would never do that.”


23 Jan 2012

A Saint for Bloggers

St. Francis de Sales is patron of Catholic writers.  As a blogger, therefore, I happily claim him as a patron of "me." As the Church celebrates his feast on January 24th, I can imagine him sitting in the world of today with a laptop, clicking out the good news that indeed Jesus lives. 

Francis wrote voluminously.  Not only is he known for his books, but for his (numerous) letters.  He also composed short pamphlets for wide distribution, to help clarify the faith in a time when confusion abounded.  I like to imagine him patting today's Catholic bloggers on the back, encouraging us to "keep it up" as we distribute our witness to the Truth in THIS age of the Church and in our turbulent world.     

St. Francis was a bishop and founder of the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary; he was a busy man in France in the early 1600s. Still, he found time to take up his quill pen and spread the good news of Christ. As we clack away at our keyboards, often in the wee hours of the morning or while a baby naps, I'd like to think our patron is praying for us.     

I have a feeling he is doing just that. 

Please pray for Julie

Mrs Julie Lamb with grandchildren Erin and Patrick O'Brien

Yesterday I received an email from a good friend in London, Ontario, Laura O'Brien. Laura asked me to pray for her mother, Mrs Julie Lamb. Julie has lung cancer and has been 'given weeks to a couple months to live'.

I've known Laura since 1981 when I was studying in Toronto. She and her husband Danny - Laura had the good sense to marry an Irishman! - were members of a prayer group that used to meet in St Basil's in the heart of  this remarkably cosmopolitan city. (The 1980 census showed that 44 per cent of the population of Metro Toronto had been born outside of Canada).

I met Julie for the first time in 2010 during a visit to Canada. She is a delightfully alive person.

Laura wrote, 'She is getting great care, and all the family have pulled together to ensure she has all her needs met'.

Please remember Julie and her family in your prayers

The Face Of God

It is quite easy to see the Face of God in a Newborn...in a Toddler.

It gets much more difficult as we grow...

Thus, many find it easy to criticize, berate and many times belittle the work, the journey, the discovery and the challenges of a Tween and especially of a Teen.

I am just as guilty as the rest for saying that Teens are God's punishment for having sex!

For the record, that still and always WILL make me laugh!  Hate to say it, but I know I was to my Mom and my kids can be for me as well.

Thank God for Humour! It helps to make the yoke lighter.

But in all seriousness, we many times fail to see God in the works or our Youth.
We fail to give them the Credit that they deserve.

I have read too many articles that go on and on as to how the Church is losing numbers in droves.  How the Youth are apathetic and that there is little hope for Our Future...

Well, they are WRONG!  Dead and Thank-God Wrong!

Our Youth are Filled with the Holy Spirit!  Our Youth are set Ablaze with the Fire of God's Love!

I see it all the time!  I am very privileged to be able to work with Youth.  I am honoured and humbled to be able to partake in some of their Amazingly Awesome Projects!

Here, I share with you a Video that some members of the STJW Youth Ministry, 9th Grade Members, created in response to a video that went viral a couple of weeks back...you may recall it, the one that tells us why Jesus hates Religion??

Again, here is these kids' response.  Enjoy it and please, Share it! What these kids have to say needs to be heard. 

And I hope that it Inspires You and Provides you with the Strength to also Stand Up for Our Faith...

22 Jan 2012

"The Pianist:" Brutality and Beauty

I'd forgotten all about the movie "The Pianist," which was released in 2002 and won the Palme D'Or until several of my freshman students began talking to me about it. They had seen the parts of this movie in eighth grade, during a quarter-long study of the Holocaust and were deeply moved by it. I'd never seen the movie and wanted to be able to talk with them about it.

This is a brutal, magnificent movie. It speaks of the human spirit and its struggle to survive. Based largely on the true story of classical pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman, it gives witness to the life of  gifted Polish pianist, a Jew, who managed to survive in Warsaw during World War II while hundreds of thousands of Jews were exterminated in death camps. Szpilman is portrayed by actor Adrien Brody, then 29, who won an Academy Award for his work.

21 Jan 2012

Deo gratias: One of world's tiniest babies checks out of LA Hospital

One of the world's smallest surviving babies was discharged Friday from the hospital where she spent nearly five months in an incubator — but not before getting the Hollywood treatment.

Wearing a pink knit hat and wrapped in a pink princess blanket, Melinda Star Guido was greeted by a mob of television cameras and news photographers outside the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center.

"I'm just happy that she's doing well," said her 22-year-old mother Haydee Ibarra. "I'm happy that I'm finally going to take her home … I'm just grateful."

Melinda was born on August 30 weighing just 9.5 ounces, less than a can of soda. She was so tiny that she fit into her doctor's hand. Melinda is believed to be the world's third-smallest surviving baby and second smallest in the U.S.

Now weighing 4.5 pounds and breathing through an oxygen tube as a precaution, doctors said Melinda has made enough progress to go home. It's too early to know how she will do developmentally and physically, but doctors planned to monitor her for the next six years.

Most babies as small don't survive even with advanced medical care. About 7,500 babies are born each year in the U.S. weighing less than 1 pound, and about 10% survive.

Melinda has come a long way since being delivered by cesarean section at 24 weeks after her mother developed high blood pressure during pregnancy, which can be dangerous for mother and fetus.

She was whisked to the neonatal intensive care unit where she breathed with the help of a machine and received nutrition through a feeding tube. Infants born before 37 weeks are considered premature.

Even after discharge, such extremely premature babies require constant care at home. Their lungs are not fully developed and they may need oxygen at home. Parents also need to watch out for risk of infections that could send infants back to the hospital. Even basic activities like feeding can be challenging.

"They may need extra help and patience while they learn to eat," Dr. Edward Bell, a pediatrician of the University of Iowa who runs an online database of the world's smallest surviving babies born weighing less than a pound.

The list features 130 babies dating back to 1936 and does not represent all survivors since submission is voluntary. Melinda was not eligible to be included until she was discharged.

Two years ago, Bell published a study in the journal Pediatrics that found many survivors have ongoing health and learning concerns. Most also remain short and underweight for their age.

There are some rare success stories. The smallest surviving baby born weighing 9.2 ounces is now a healthy 7-year-old and another who weighed 9.9 ounces at birth is an honors college student studying psychology, according to doctors at Loyola University Medical Center in Illinois where the girls were born.

Soon after birth, Melinda was treated for an eye disorder that's common in premature babies and underwent surgery to close an artery. Ibarra held Melinda for the first time after the operation in November.

Despite the hurdles, doctors said Melinda was fortunate she did not suffer serious complications such as bleeding in the brain.


20 Jan 2012

'At once they left their nets and followed him', Sunday Reflections, 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

Calling of Peter and Andrew, Duccio di Buoninsegna, painted 1308-11
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Gospel Mark 1:14-20 (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)

After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the Good News from God. ‘The time has come’ he said ‘and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.’
As he was walking along by the Sea of Galilee he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net in the lake – for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you into fishers of men.’ And at once they left their nets and followed him.

Going on a little further, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John; they too were in their boat, mending their nets. He called them at once and, leaving their father Zebedee in the boat with the men he employed, they went after him.

An Soiscéal Marcas 1:14-20 (Gaeilge, Irish)

Tar éis Eoin a bheith tugtha ar láimh, tháinig Íosa go dtí an Ghailíl ag fógairt soiscéal Dé agus ag rá: “Tá an tréimhse caite agus tá ríocht Dé in achmaireacht. Déanaigí aithrí agus creidigí sa soiscéal.”

Bhí sé ag imeacht leis cois farraige na Gailíle nuair a chonaic sé Síomón agus Aindrias deartháir Shíomóin agus iad ag caitheamh eangaí san fharraige, mar iascairí a bhí iontu. Dúirt Íosa leo: “Tagaigí i mo dhiaidh, agus déanfaidh mé díbh iascairí ar dhaoine.” D’fhág aid na líonta láithreach agus lean aid é. Bhuail sé ar aghaidh beagán eile agus chonaic sé Séamas mac Zeibidé agus Eoin a dheartháir, iad ina mbád féin ag ceartú na líonta, agus ghlaoigh sé iad láithreach. D’fhág aid a n-athair Zeibidé sa bhád, é féin agus an lucht pá, agus ghabh aid leis.

The young Fr Edward Galvin in China

One hundred years ago a 29-year-old Irishman who had been working in Brooklyn, New York City, wrote a letter to his mother in his native County Cork. Nothing unusual in that. There were countless young Irishmen and women in the USA who had gone there because there was no work for them at home. That was the case with this young man. He had been ordained in 1909 for his own Diocese of Cork but his bishop had so many priests that he loaned the young man, Fr Edward Galvin, to the Diocese of Brooklyn.

While there he felt a desire to be a missionary. This led him to head off to China in February 1912 from Toronto, Canada, with a Canadian priest, Fr John Fraser, instead of going home to Ireland.

Here is his letter, written in Toronto:

Photocopy of letter (thanks, Father Rex)

Dear Mother, 

I am sorry, dear Mother, to have to write this letter, but God’s will be done. Everything is in His hands. Mother, don’t grieve, don’t cry. It is God’s will. God has called and I had to obey. 

I am not going back to Ireland. I am going as a missionary to China. May God’s will be done. God knows my heart is broken, not for myself but for you whom I love above all the world. 

Mother, you know how this has always been on my mind. But I thought it was a foolish thought – a boyish thought; that it would pass away as I grew older. But it never passed, never, never, never. 

Why should God ask me to do this thing that is breaking my heart to do? I don’t know. God knows best. May His will be done. “If any man will come after me let him take up his cross and follow me.” Oh yes, but oh my God I never thought that it was so hard to follow. I have tried to follow when you called. I ask you in return to console my poor mother, to comfort her, to help her to make the Sacrifice I am making and spare her until we meet again.’

Frs Edward Galvin, John Blowick (seated) and Owen McPolin shortly after the arrival of the first group of Columbans in China. They left Ireland in 1920. Fr Blowick, the first Superior General, returned to Ireland to direct the Society and to teach in the Columban seminary.

Fr Fraser was to found the Scarboro Foreign Mission Society, with its headquarters in Scarborough, Ontario, now part of Metro Toronto, and the young Fr Galvin was to co-found with Fr John Blowick, another Irish diocesan priest and more than five years younger, what was first known as the Maynooth Mission to China in 1916 and formally became the Society of St Columban in 1918. Both societies had China as their original mission and both are societies of secular priests, not religious.

Father Galvin thought his idea of becoming a missionary was ‘a foolish thought – a boyish thought’. The actual moment when God called him as starkly as Jesus called Peter and Andrew, James and John, in today’s gospel happened on his weekly day off when he had planned to go to the office of the Propagation of the Faith in New York City to explore the idea of becoming a missionary. Two unexpected sick calls came that morning, which he responded to, leaving it too late for him to do what he had planned. Then Fr John Fraser arrived unannounced at the rectory and it was this meeting the led Edward Galvin to China shortly afterwards.

The cover of The Far East, the Columban magazine in Ireland, was the same for many years and the Chinese junk symbolised the Columbans for the Irish people and touched the imagination of many a future Columban missionary, including my own while I was still in kindergarten.

I don’t know what went on in the hearts of Peter and Andrew when, as St Mark tells us, ‘at once they left their nets and followed’ Jesus, or in the hearts of James and John who 'leaving their father Zebedee . . . went after him’. That decision was to lead ultimately to the martyrdom of three of them and to John standing at the Cross of Jesus and taking on the care of Mary, the Mother of Jesus.

Father Galvin recalled years later what it had cost him to set off for China, starting from New York City: I still remember the pain of parting on that grey, dreary morning. When the train got underway for Toronto, I crumpled up in the coach and cried as if my heart would break.’

He was to become Bishop of Hanyang in China where he was to experience natural calamiteis such as great floods, the Sino-Japanese War, World War II and the Communist takeover, leading his expulsion in 1952. Born on the feast of St Columban, 23 November 1882, he died on 23 February 1956, the feast of the great martyr-bishop St Polycarp of Smyrna who knew St John the Evangelist who, with his brother James, had left his father to follow Jesus.

The cover on The Far East after the death of Bishop Galvin.

You can read more in an article by English Columban Fr Pat Sayles, Edward J. Galvin: a Trailblazer for God. 

19 Jan 2012

Those Greater Splendors

"Heaven is at present out of sight, but in due time, as snow melts and discovers what it lay upon, so will this visible creation fade away before those greater splendors which are behind it." 
                               (John Henry Cardinal Newman)

Tim Hawkins Things you don't say to your wife

This is a response to Michael Voris's recent videos [see here]about men reclaiming their masculinity back,  in the church. It's for fun, by the way( my post, that is. Michael is deadly serious)!!!!

Week of prayer for Christian unity

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Since the 1800s, Christian Churches have gathered for ecumenical prayer services, bible studies, and other community activities to encourage Christian unity. In most of the world these days of ecumenical focus take place in the octave between the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter (Jan. 18) to the Feast of the Conversion of St. Peter (Jan 25).

This year the theme is “The Transformative power of faith in Christ” taken from 1 Cor 15:51-58
Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’ ‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.
The material for this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity was prepared by an ecumenical group in Poland. Because Poland is (historically) co-hosting the 2012 European Football Championship, the theme in part stems from a desire to properly understand winning and losing. As we read in Mark 9:35, whoever wants to be first must be last of all, which “speaks of victory through mutual service, helping, boosting the self-esteem of those who are ‘last’, forgotten, excluded.” (Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity)

We are to model ourselves on Christ who prayed that all would come to believe. We are called to pray for all Christians to serve God and neighbour. Unity requires that we let go of pride and competition – to be open to giving and receiving gifts with one another.

Christian unity is dependent on us remembering that there is room for everyone in God’s plan of salvation. “Whoever believes in Him may have eternal life.” (John 3:15)

Each of the eight days of prayer focuses on the transformative power of faith in various aspects of Christ as follows:
Day 1 Changed by the Servant Christ
Day 2 Changed by the patient waiting for the Lord
Day 3 Changed by the Suffering Servant
Day 4 Changed by the Lord’s victory over evil
Day 5 Changed by the peace of the Risen Lord
Day 6 Changed by God’s steadfast love
Day 7 Changed by the Good Shepherd
Day 8 Changed by the Reign of Christ

As an aside, I know the subject of ecumenism and even salvation (the Church being the only means of salvation, but salvation being available to all through God’s mercy... and a mystery of faith) can be a tricky one to come to grips with, and certainly is a difficult one to reach consensus on – evidenced by the more than 100 years of Prayer for Christian Unity. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is an invaluable tool for learning about Church teaching on nearly anything you have questions about. Check out the index for paragraphs dealing with Salvation and Ecumenism.

18 Jan 2012

I Breviary

I'm not a very techie' person and don't have a smart phone, but I was lucky enough to receive an i.Pad1,as a prize and this app is such a blessing and a real aid to prayer.
Its free and easily downloads to smart phones and iPad.
Recommended and I have had no problems using it, it uses the up to date words and responses.


iBreviary Pro Terra Sancta

  • Free
  • Category: Reference
  • Updated: Nov 10, 2011
  • Version: 1.0.6
  • Size: 10.3 MB
  • Languages: English, French, German, Italian, Romanian, Spanish
  • Seller: NetGuru S.r.l.

God champions the underdog too!

God champions the underdog too!
This mornings Mass was a very relaxed affair. It was a gentle resting in the presence of the Lord; a confirmation of the love of God touching the very heart of a broken world, and his healing, abiding presence, reverberating outwards. It was a joy to stand behind the altar and pray the words of the Mass. I felt so peaceful during Mass and afterwards too.
The first reading about David and the Philistine was great food for thought too! The huge bully boy of the champion of the Philistines bearing down upon the little underdog David, the underdog triumphed! Encouragement for any embattled soul fighting to do good, in a world of temptation, where good is the underdog and does not always triumph. It was good to hear the friendship of the Lord is worth pursuing.
The gospel saw a clash between the over fastidious Pharisees who were picking fault with Jesus for doing good. It reminds me not to take my eye of the reason for faith, not to become bogged down in the interpretation of the rules of faith; in the dotting of the I’s and the crossing of the t’s. I am not to be looking over my shoulder and seeing what someone else is doing in their back garden of faith. Rather I am to be busy cultivating my own Garden of Faith, attending to the weeds of sin and pride and marvelling at the beauty of faith’s flowers. I am to exalt in faith and rejoice in Christ.
I used the fourth Eucharistic Prayer and found it to be a most poetic read. I love the way it flows now in the new translation. I am a tiny creature before the immensity of God, yet despite my size I am loved, I am cared for, I am created in love, by love!

15 Jan 2012

The Why of the Wow of the New York Encounter

As I rode the train home from the New York Encounter last night (yes, that is our son's upright bass in the foreground; I agreed to carry the behemoth home so G. he could enjoy dinner in New York with friends unencumbered) I thought about why it had been such a good experience.

I was delighted the chamber music orchestra our son plays in had the chance to perform Friday night in the Hammerstein Ballroom.  I found the talk on the Hubble Telescope interesting. I thought it was incredibly cool that Polish film director Krzysztof  Zanussi spoke and then was walking around wearing those fashion-forward glasses. But in the end, what awes me most about the New York Encounter are not the performances or presentations. After all, I have had two decades of interesting experiences as a journalist. What moves me most and stays with me now are the people who attend the New York Encounter

Read more here...

14 Jan 2012

We reached 100 followers!!

We are doing our job casting out our net in the cyberspace!  Congratulations ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to be part of this amazing group of Catholics.

May the Holy Spirit continue to guide our hearts and hands as we post on this "net" reaching out for the Lord!

Your sister in Christ!
Ebeth Weidner

NB. I hope Ebeth doesn't mind me asking here if all our authors are linked to their blogs? Everyone has full admin access so check you are on our sidelinks. Also a query..anyone know where our big Sheblogs picture went? Should we keep the blog as it is or do we want the big picture?

God is Present

God is here.

It is a simple statement, just three little words.  Yet for me these are the operative words that inspire devotion, soothe trauma, motivate me toward good, enable me to resist temptation, give me courage to carry on in the face of difficulties.

Sometimes I ask myself what I would do if Jesus Christ walked into the room where I am right now.  It is a simple question and a simple thought, yet over the years I have found this to be the one thought that brings things into perspective.  After all, the thought of Christ being right here is not an imaginary exercise.  It is reality.  God is present.  He is here.

If Jesus suddenly appeared to me in the flesh, right this minute, what would happen?  Would I be concerned with what others around were thinking of me? ...or would I fall on my face in utter self-forgetfulness.  Would this sudden appearance change any of the behaviors in which I am presently engaged?  Would such a stark encounter with Reality alter my worries, my priorities, my thoughts?

It is a worthy subject for meditation, for it is not an imaginary exercise.  It is allowing myself to realize the Truth that God is present.  It is reality.

God is here.

13 Jan 2012

Profound! A good preparation for Confession! Sissel sings "When Will My Heart Arise?"

The words provided for the YouTube video may be wrong at one or two points, or is it Sissel? She should surely sing, "Against your tomb the boulder". This song is so profound I just want to go back to the Christmas Crib and read it slowly. Unfortunately we have taken them all down, but I can go there mystically to the real one when I go before the Blessed Sacrament.


Augustine is not an Excuse

Da mihi castitatem et continentiam, sed noli modo.  -St.Augustine A few weeks back, the incorrigible Milo Yiannopolus posted  his side ...