Showing posts from August, 2014

Jackie Parkes: Christianity without the Cross

Jackie Parkes: Christianity without the Cross: Matthew 16 : 21-28 Douay Rheims 21From that time Jesus began to shew to his disciples, that he must go to Jerusalem, and suffer man...

The Divine Office: Together We Pray

I used to have very little appreciation for the Liturgy of the Hours. I considered it ‘too structured,’ ‘too formal,’ and a mere recitation of words other people had written. It could be spoken while the speaker’s mind wandered anywhere and everywhere (I decided)… so wouldn’t such a practice just lead to dry, lifeless prayer?

I could not have been more wrong.....(click here to continue) 

Caesar, Civilization, Dealing With Change — and Building a Better World

After nearly five hundred years, the Roman Republic had grown from a small city-state to a major world power: and it was a mess.

I'm not talking about the chronic SNAFUs perpetrated by America's Congress.

If America's government was like the Roman Republic's, we might see the House ways and means committee lead an armed assault on the Senate: while their assassins took care of a filibuster the hard way. Yes: things could be worse.

Run-ins like the Catilinarian Conspiracy and Second Catilinarian conspiracy made the worst Washington mudslinging seem like a sedate poetry reading.

The Roman Senate finally named one of their members "dictator perpetuo" ("dictator in perpetuity") — hoping that Julius Caesar would solve their problems.

A few Senators got nervous: cutting the term, and Caesar's life, short.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

When all hope is lost


The 7 Most Mindblowingly Liberating Things I've Learned By Being Catholic

I finally figured out what matters. This is it.
(1) I do not need a happy ending in life.

The Meaning:Life isn't meant to be a fairy tale. Whether....
The Freedom:No matter how my life ends, ....
(2) How I feel about my life doesn't matter. 

The Meaning: Whether I think my life is going well or not is....
The Freedom: Less time wasted with pointlessly evaluating my life in....
(4) Even if I became a god or goddess, it wouldn't matter.

The Meaning: Having "personal power," or realizing the greatness in my soul in order....
The Freedom:Who cares who I am?...
"Lord, when we ask you for honors, income, money or worldly things, do not hear us."
-St. Teresa of Avila
(7) Never stop asking- "How Could I Do Better?" 

The Meaning:It doesn't matter...
The Freedom:This is the annoying part...

Here's the rest of this post: "The 7 Most Mindblowingly Liberating Things I've Learned As A Catholic," Laura Paxton, Carmel Heart.

'For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life?' Sunday Reflections, 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

The Crucifixion of St Peter, Caravaggio, 1600-01 Cerasi Chapel, Santa Maria del Populo, Rome [Web Gallery of Art]
Readings(New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings(Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa) 
GospelMatthew 16:21-27 (New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition: Canada) From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.”But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.For those who…

7 Quick Spiritual Gardening Takes

Why try to explain miracles to your kids when you can just have them plant a garden.  
Robert Brault One is nearer God’s heart in a garden
than anywhere else on earth. 

by Dorothy Frances Gurney I always let my kids dig in the dirt with me, even if they pulled flowers instead of weeds. Now they all love gardening as much as I do. Gardening is a soothing, balm for my spirit. I can sense the Spirit of God permeating nature. In fact gardening is a prayer when we are quiet and listening. Perhaps most people also sense His life-giving presence in nature; that’s why so many love the outdoors, even if they are not especially spiritual.  As for us we are blessed to live on seven acres by a creek.  Much of it is still wild but I am slowly reclaiming more and more area, creating meandering gardens. read more>

It Was Bound To Happen.......

.... nineteen years ago seems like such a life-time ago.  In recent years we have both guided her and provided her with the tools needed for this day.  But while I was guiding her and provding for her, I forgot one prepare myself.

Read the rest of the post here.

Friday with St. Francis de Sales – Inspiration for the Wife and Mother

Recently, I’ve  found myself enjoying the writings of St. Francis de Sales.  Due to discovering much inspiration in his spiritual advise that is relevant to my vocation,  I’ve decided to dedicate Fridays at The Sincere Gift as a day to share some of the meaningful insights that I’ve found to be helpful.  His spirituality is a gentle one and very doable for the ordinary person.  

“Go on kindling the spirit of joy and sweetness in your heart, and believe firmly that this is the true spirit of devotion; and if you are sometimes attacked by a contrary spirit of sadness and bitterness, make a real effort to lift up your heart to God, committing all to Him.....

To read more, visit The Sincere Gift.

Did Teresa of Avila teach Centering Prayer?

Last winter on social media, I came across another Catholic author who was promoting yoga. Not as an exercise program, but for spiritual growth. I was shocked. I asked her why she wasn’t promoting prayer instead. She answered, “Meditation is prayer!”
Two months ago, my brother forwarded an email from a colleague, asking about Centering Prayer. A friend was pushing it relentlessly. I looked at the website of the Catholic group that promotes Centering Prayer and found this in the FAQs:
This form of prayer was first practiced and taught by the Desert Fathers of Egypt … the Carmelites St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross and St. Therese of Lisieux…
The other day a new reader asked in the comments about meditating on Sacred Scripture. “Is this the same as the method of Fr. John Main, who has adapted an Eastern mantra method for Christian meditation?”
I have written a little on this topic before, but I think it’s time to revisit it. Let’s start with …

Regeneration: Getting Closer to Growing Lost Organs

Too many folks die, waiting for a compatible donor organ. We can't coax a patient's body into growing a new heart or kidney: yet.

But we can build made-to-order bladders, and scientists have grown a new thymus: inside a mouse. It's a first step....

...If starfish and some mice can regenerate complete missing parts: why can't we?

Right now, we don't know. Not for sure. It probably has something to do with our immune system, and the way our bodies deal with injury....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Introducing a new Catholic site looking for writers- Catholic

Catholic and my first article God Reveals: We Respond As Christians, our lives revolve around God and not the other way around.
Decades ago, I ranted and raved at the efficient, organized people who tried to carry out their own personal agendas within the Catholic Church. Yet I lacked the words to connect with these proactive Catholics who dismissed me as some sort of  irrelevant, passive mystic.  It seemed that I was the proverbial contemplative Mary type trying to reason with practical Martha types, all to no avail. I have literally given up on committees for years as a result, because the impasse is simply too frustrating.

Often busy Catholics  think that they can bring the methods of  the secular business world and use them in the kingdom of God. Yet the truth is that Church growth and Christian activities are all about God’s actions, not man’s. Listen to Pope Francis:

As for us, if we wish to form church, we need only to listen and respond to God who acts and speaks first. Of…

Who needs to carry a cross?

Who needs to carry a cross? "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me." -Mathews 16:24
In Sunday's (August 31) Gospel, carrying our cross is a prerequisite to being a follower of Christ.

You can read more at Being Catholic ... Really.

Honest Prayer

Real prayer Is not a mental exercise, a game. Honest prayer Opens our core, our heart to the Almighty, The Creator of the universe. Such prayer is necessarily humble because He is God and we are not. No room for pride; He knows us better than we know ourselves.

Stark prayer 

is rooted in this reality. All we can do is place ourselves in His Presence, in the Light, Letting go of all demands and control, Open to receive His transforming Love. Mother Teresa said:read more>

Faithful Prayers Can Move Mountains

For those of you who follow this blog on Facebook, I posted an urgent prayer request that I received from Mary.  Below is my original post, copied from an email:

An Urgent Prayer Request, Please Read and Pass On:

Dear Friends,

Just a few minutes ago I received the following text message on my phone from Sean Malone who leads Crisis Relief International (CRI). We then spoke briefly on the phone and I assured him that we would share this urgent prayer need with all of our contacts.
"We lost the city of Queragosh (Qaraqosh). It fell to ISIS and they are beheading children systematically. This is the city we have been smuggling food too. ISIS has pushed back Peshmerga (Kurdish forces) and is within 10 minutes of where our CRI team is working. Thousands more fled into the city of Erbil last night. The UN evacuated it's staff in Erbil. Our team is unmoved and will stay. Prayer cover needed!"
Continue reading on Veils and Vocations.

Denying Self? Requirement of a Disciple

This week I directed a Bible study on next Sunday’s readings. The Gospel passage, Matthew 16:21–27, includes statements that Jesus made about discipleship. Doing research on these gave me new insight into the meaning of “deny yourself.” I thought I’d share this with you. First some background. All the statements explain what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. But they also are an unfolding of how to live by the greatest commandment, “Love God with your whole heart and soul, your mind and all your strength.” The first statement is “Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me.”click to continue

“Denying yourself” conjures up images of giving up candy for Lent or forgoing an episode of “Downton Abbey” as penance. It is a way of exercising self-control so that we are strengthened to resist temptation. It also can be a means of making up for sin. However, there is a broader meaning to “deny yourself,” one that is more demanding…and more beautiful. This interpretation f…

Jewish Roots of the Ten Marian Virtues

Many of the traditions practiced within the Catholic faith—from the priesthood to the burning of incense—can be found by tracing their roots back to the Jewish faith.
Marian virtues are also deeply rooted in the lives of the women of the Old Testament.
Just as God planted the seeds of preparation for Christ, so, too, did he plant the seeds for the preparation of Mary. 
In the Old Testament we witness the commitment and deep faith of women who pre-figure Mary in profound ways. Women whose lives also provide role models for the way we are all called to live as Catholics.
Read more here

Trust: God sees everything by Nancy HC Ward

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, on your own intelligence do not rely,” (Proverbs 3:5).

God sees everything. He sees the clerk short-changing the old man, the boy stealing the heroin, the man cheating on his wife, the girl lying to her teacher. He also sees the teenager turning in the $100 bill he finds in the parking lot, the wife praying for her non-Christian husband, the daughter loving unconditionally her siblings who taunt her. He sees everything. He is a just and loving God and that’s why we can trust in him.

His 360-degree vision takes in the full panorama of time and space. He sees behind closed doors and around corners. He sees things that happen at work, things that happen in our government, things that happen in our schools. He not only sees all in the present, he sees all that is beyond us and he sees all that is behind us. He sees it in the full context we will never see. And because he sees everything, everywhere with loving eyes, we can trust him.


Reflecting on Touring Chicago's beautiful churches

Touring Chicago's beautiful churches was my summer blog project.  My husband and I were able to visit nine parishes.  It was an amazing experience that we  both enjoyed.

You can see all the links to all the parishes we visited at Being Catholic ... Really.

Love is Mandatory, 'Like' is Optional: Praying for Peace in Iraq

"1 First of all, then, I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone,

"for kings and for all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity. "
(2 Timothy 1-2) A post on Google Plus (August 25, 2014) let me know about Bishop Saad Sirop Hanna's challenge or request for a half-hour of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament at a particular time today.
Video post
Bishop Saad Sirop Hanna, on Facebook The time was 6:00 p.m. Iraq time. Here in Sauk Centre, Minnesota, that's 10:00 a.m. — and there's a Eucharistic adoration chapel about a half-mile north of my home....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Suffering and Difficulty in Prayer

What I know::

God is with me.  He knows and He understands my pain.  When Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane He asked His Father,

“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.”  Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength. In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground.”
Luke 2: 42-43

Jesus suffered.  He felt the excruciating pain of separation from His Father during His agony.  In His anguish, as Jesus prayed, His sweat became  “great drops of blood.”  The Precious Blood of Jesus was spilled in the garden as the weight of sin grew heavy on His back.  His Precious Blood spilled, not in a small quantity, but in “great drops.”

Jesus knows my pain. 

Read More At:: His Unending Love

Fill Me

Fill me, O God.
Let all that I do be to Your glory. Let all that I say be filled Your gentleness. Let my hands be used to reach out in kindness. {Read more here}

Bishop Saad Sirop Hanna of Iraq issues a challenge

Bishop Saad Sirop Hanna of Iraq issues a challenge to all Catholics. Will you spend 30 minutes before the Blessed Sacrament Tuesday, August 26 at 11 AM (EST)?

You can see the video of the bishop's challenge by going to Being Catholic ... Really.

The nine tools I use for prayer

When I found this article Five ways to pray outdoors, it reminded me how much I love to be outside, but it also made me think about the tools I need to enhance my prayer life.

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

An Explaination of the Mantilla for Children

Throughout history, women and girls have kept their heads covered to protect them from the weather but also to show honor to God.  A girl's long, beautiful hair is like a princess' crown.  It crowns her with glory and makes her special.  God designed every girl to be one of His most beautiful creatures.  When a girl covers her hair it does not make her less beautiful, it makes her more special.  She is showing that she is special and God's princess, but also set apart for God.
source Mary, Our Blessed Mother, has always appeared with her head covered.  She is the most beloved and special of any woman to ever have lived or that ever will live.  Her veil is a symbol of her fiat, her saying the most precious "yes" to God.  Mary said yes not just to being Jesus' mother, but to serving God always in every way.  She gave her whole self to God for His Plan, that is why she is most blessed.
Read more at Veils and Vocations

Chosen: Help Me Understand the Gospel of Matthew

Every Monday, I post a reflection on the previous day's Gospel reading often seeing ways those readings speak directly to those suffering from marital difficulties, abandonment, divorce, abuse, or similar tragedies. I believe God has given me a gift in the way I see things through my experiences and in His  power to overcome them. But today, I struggle with the Gospel of Matthew. The Gospel of Matthew Chapter 16 13-20 is something I've thought about many times over the years and still have few answers for so I'm looking for help from my readers. Perhaps my lack of understanding here is God's way of keeping me humble, of showing me I don't have all the answers, or perhaps it is His way to keep me hungry for Him, to seek more of what flesh and blood cannot reveal but what only my Heavenly Father can reveal. My question is this: When Peter recognized Jesus as the Christ, as the Son of the living God, Jesus said to Peter, For flesh and blood has not revealed this to yo…

Inner Child Healing

What is “inner child healing?”

Does everyone have an “inner child” that needs to be healed?
Isn’t the idea of an “inner child” the by-product of new-age thinking or 60s hippie mumbo-jumbo—or just an entertaining Hallmark movie of the week?
The fact is, the concept of “inner child healing” is sound—even Scripturally based—and, in many instances, a necessary step to the wholeness that everyone desires.
Very few adults reach adulthood without trauma, tragedy, or some sort of emotional damage that makes a very real difference in how they function in the world. These experiences affect how they interact, express and interpret things, and make decisions. For some the “baggage” of childhood is light and has few ill effects; but, mostly it is a burden that many carry and need to learn how to let go.
Enter “inner child healing.”
Inner child healing is the release of the past’s hold on your present life—it is the reconciliation of the little, wounded child and the adult that the child has become—in a…

Jackie Parkes: “ But you,” he said “ who do you say I am? “

Hi folks, I'm back blogging: at

Jackie Parkes: “ But you,” he said “ who do you say I am? “: “ But you,” he said “ who do you say I am? “  (Mt 16 : 13-20) When I used to teach RE I used to ask the pupils who or what ...

"All are Equal Before God" — Rights of Humanity and a Right of the Aggressor

James Foley is dead: the photojournalist, not the movie director. If someone had paid the $132,000,000 USD that ISIS apparently wanted, he might be alive. Or maybe not: there's a reason for United States policy about not paying ransom.

Folks who engage in kidnapping or terrorism have to have flexible ethics: I'll get back to that.

I learned that James Foley was Catholic from post by Rebecca Hamilton, on Google Plus — indirectly. For a while, I thought I'd be writing about the Rosary, prayer, and family. Then I ran into this...

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Trusting God with St. Therese - A Book Review

I love reading books about Catholic spirituality and every once in a while I'll come across one that stands out from the rest. Trusting God with St. Therese by Connie Rossini is THE best book I've read all year and the one that has been most helpful to me spiritually. Which is saying a lot since I've felt somewhat "stuck" spiritually these past few years.

Well, this book "unstuck" me. It helped me examine my level of trust in the Lord and I soon realized that I didn't trust the Lord as much as I thought I did. This book has helped me immensely in this area. Over the past year I had been questioning the Lord as to why it seemed as if I was not making much progress in my spiritual life and I feel that Connie's book was an answer to prayer for me. She asked me to be a beta reader for Trusting God with St. Therese so I was able to really immerse myself deeply into the book and  I can't get over how greatly it has enriched my spiritual life.


Itty Bitty Martyrs, Teeny Tiny Saints

I was raised, in Catholic school, on stories of martyrs. Those gilded, shimmering beings who (I just knew) had floated through their lives on a plane above the rest of us, smiling at their hangmen and singing for joy in prison cells.

It did not occur to me that the wounds of such heroes might actually hurt. Nor that anyone called to such glory would not feel instantly glorious. Oh no. I was sure these shining ones were granted special dispensations from pain.

I even brought them, sometimes, into my young world of pretend.  Crossing arms across my chest, gazing wistfully at the sky with head tilted back, I glided across my front yard confident that I looked exactly like the painting on a holy card. 'Goodbye world... so long, family.... farewell, neighbors playing cowboys....  I bequeath to you the cars in my sandbox and my swing hung on a tree and even my black cocker spaniel.  As for me, I'm off to dance amid the flames.....'   (continue here...)

7 Quick Takes This Week:: Things

Sometimes, when the road becomes rough and what lies ahead is a mystery. When all seems lost and the storm batters from all sides.

These words are heard in the quiet of your heart::

Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but He said to me,

 “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.”

 So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

 2 Corinthians 12: 8-9 

Read More at::  His Unending Love

'Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.' Sunday Reflections, 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

Saint Peter, El Greco,1610-13 Monasterio de San Lorenzo, El Escorial, Spain [Web Gallery of Art] Readings(New American Bible: Philippines, USA) Readings(Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)  GospelMatthew 16:13-20 (New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, Canada) 

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah,the Son of the living God.”continue gospel reading>

Pope Francis in Korea, 13-18 August 2014 [Wikipedia]

In his homily on the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, 29 June 2013, Pope Francis said: I would like to offer three thoughts on the Petrine ministry, guided by the word 'confirm'.  What has the Bishop…

St. Therese's daring teaching on Purgatory

Before we discuss St. Therese of Lisieux’s teaching on Purgatory, I want to put that teaching into context. Her teaching is daring. Some of the nuns she lived with in the Carmelite monastery were scandalized by it, thinking it presumptuous. The last thing St. Therese (or I) would want is for people to interpret her teaching in such a way that they thought they could be spiritually lax and still go straight to Heaven.

So, As you read about her teaching, keep these things in mind:
Therese is a doctor of the Church. The Church has only 35 doctors, four of them women. Now, being a doctor of the Church doesn’t mean she was infallible. But it does mean that the Church especially recommends her spirituality for Christians in any age. Therese is the Doctor of the Little Way of Spiritual Childhood, and her teaching on Purgatory was part of that Little Way.St. Therese was completely orthodox. This follows from #1. What she taught about Purgatory must never be taken to contradict of…

Build Your Own Robot Swarm — or — Angular Automatons and Cuckoo Clocks

1,024 little robots got together at Harvard, making the letter "K" and drawing a star. What they do doesn't look as sophisticated as many marching band halftime formations — but it's a good start on collective artificial intelligence.

Meanwhile, Harvard and MIT's angular automatons don't do much except fold themselves into crablike shapes, and scuttle away: today....

...I'm not troubled that we make increasingly lifelike imitations of living creatures. Somehow, I don't think the Almighty is going to be offended by cuckoo clocks or robot dogs playing soccer.

Tightly-would folks of a grimly pious bent might have qualms about mechanical birds, music boxes, and other frivolities. I'm convinced that gloominess is not next to Godliness, and that's another topic.

Besides, many automata help make this a safer world for humans....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

No More Striving

No more striving.
No more work. Strong words, Commands actually. The words reverberate in my mind Over and over, Like a mantra. A Divine mantra. A Holy reminder to let God work in my core self, Unhindered by my meddling. This work of transforming Is a Holy work I just get in the way READ MORE>

The world is not a horrible place

The world is not a horrible place, but I can understand why some people might thinks so. The news has been awful lately.  The execution of James Foley and the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson fills every newscast 24/7. You can read the rest at Being Catholic ... Really.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux: A model of peace for these troubled times

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” – Matthew 5:9

How do we deal with the violence, war, and conflicts that we face in our world today?  How can we serve as true peacemakers in our 21st century culture?

St. Bernard of Clairvaux, a Cistercian abbot, a contemplative, theologian, and mystic of the twelfth century is an excellent example for us to follow. Due to the numerous schisms which had arisen in the Church during his age, he traveled extensively throughout Europe, restoring peace and unity. Not only did he deal with divisions in the Church, but he also mediated in secular disputes and was sought out as an adviser and an arbitrator by the ruling powers of his era. What was his secret for restoring peace and unity to a troubled world? He was merely a modest monk with no worldly power or possessions. What made him so influential and valuable to others was the fact that he was a man of heroic virtue. Which virtues made him effective as a peacemaker in…

Unbridled Grace by Dr. MIchael Norman, reviewed by Nancy HC Ward

Fresh out of medical school, Dr. Michael Norman answered a 2-line ad for a part-time job three days a week in a medical clinic to supplement his fledging private chiropractic practice in Carrollton. He managed all the medical clients and paperwork and his two bosses handled the office management and business accounts. After less than two years this young husband and father received a subpoena to testify in a civil lawsuit brought by an insurance company against the two owners who were Taiwanese and Russian. Michael soon discovered their connection with the Russian Mafia. Shockingly, the network of multinational and multimillion dollar illegal businesses of check cashing, money laundering, staged auto accidents and insurance fraud involved hundreds of lawyers, businessmen and criminals. Michael’s signature was not only on all the medical documents but appeared on corporate documents as part owner. He obediently testified against his employers at the deposition with the insurance company…

The Visitation in Honor of the Assumption

On the feast of the Assumption, the Gospel was the Visitation. I thought it fitting to share the reflection I wrote for our SND Associates this year: Imagine suddenly becoming pregnant with the Messiah, the Savior of the World. What would you do afterwards? Any ordinary woman would probably seal herself in the house, taking Click to continue