Wednesday, October 31, 2007
How quickly time passes. This past September 25, 2007, a nephew and his wife announced the birth of their first child. If they gave out the name at that time, I've forgotten. But I received an e-mail from my sister [the proud grandmother] with some pictures and the name - BELLA GRACE. How beautiful. I hope they buy her the DVD of the movie for her keepsake chest - or maybe great-uncle jim should do that ... you think?
[complete article here]
Martyrdom A Real Possibility, Says Pope
Encourages All Christians to a Life of Daily Sacrifice VATICAN CITY, OCT. 28, 2007 (Zenit.org).- After noting the beatification of 498 Spanish martyrs, Benedict XVI affirmed that all Christians should be ready to give their lives for Christ.
The Holy Father said, "...such a great number of martyrs...shows that the supreme witness of giving blood is not an exception reserved only to some individuals, but a realistic possibility for all Christian people." ...fidelity to Christ to the point of giving one's life, is rooted in baptism.
"...martyrdom of ordinary life is a particularly important witness. It is the peaceful battle of love that all Christians, like Paul, have to fight tirelessly; the race to spread the Gospel commits us until death."
In the overall scheme of salvation, as I understand my part, I need to accept the grace and gift of God - His Son, my Lord and Savior - Jesus.
In my post yesterday, I reflected that I lose faith daily. I do not trust enough - I do not hope enough - I do not love enough ... I worry. Worry is a very strong indicator of a lack of faith. Lord, build my faith.
In 'working out' my salvation, in concert with the teaching of the apostle James, faith with out works, that is a manifestation of the faith, is worthless. I sometimes think I have the 'works' part down pat ... its just the faith part in which I fail too often. I once heard it described this way - faith without works is as useless as a screen door on a submarine. I don't know if that image works for you, but it does for some.
Martyrdom may be the call of God on my life - I pray I can accept it ... for without His grace, I could never endure it. The political climate in our world today suggests to me that many of us could be in line to answer that call someday.
There are parts of the world [China] where believing Christians are giving their lives daily. May their blood give glory to God and be a witness to the world.
In 1900, in an uprising against Christians, many were killed. This picture shows a recent service [summer 2007] at a cemetery where there is a mass-grave containing the remains of 222 such martyrs. Faith is alive - bodies die for it everyday - today, not just a hundred years ago.
I recently read a book titled "The Heavenly Man". It is about a man in China who endured every imaginable torture and atrocity [and some not imaginable] - all for his love of Jesus. He is not yet a martyr. He was, at the conclusion of the book, living in Scandinavia, having been smuggled out I believe. This is a current modern day story. I recommend it highly.
Around the world, our Christian brothers and sisters are suffering and shedding their blood, as Jesus shed His. It could arrive in our country sooner than we'd like to believe.
Would you call the victims of the 9/11 events martyrs if they died without assenting to it? The perps were certainly targeting them as Christians, don't you think?
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
There are moments every day when I lose faith - when I no longer place my trust in God. You, the onlooker, may not see it, but it happens. Some days I just worry all day...or at least it feels that way. I can say a prayer for help but my mind just doesn't stop easily - it keeps reminding me of this problem or that situation or the one that hasn't yet arrived.
Solitude with the Lord is so hard for me at times - yet I know it is what I need. I read on someone's blog recently, in a quote by a Saint, [paraphrased] that everyone needs to pray for one hour every day - and for those who don't have the time to pray one hour a day, they need to pray for two hours. I need the two.
My business has not been doing well lately.
A key employee is hospitalized.
I don't have enough money saved for the future.
Insurance costs are doing me in.
Why do other people succeed financially and I struggle?
There just are not enough hours in the day to get it all done.
I want to do more for others, but I seem to drop the ball.
Memory gets shorter - list of things to remember gets longer.
I seldom make enough time to pray like I should.
'Click' the above > then relax before the Lord for a few minutes.
Yeh, right ... easy for you to say.
Place my TRUST in God and not myself.
Monday, October 29, 2007
The following post comes to us from the blog of Denise Hunnel, writer of a weB-LOG entitled:
I have worn many labels (Not in any particular order): Catholic, Wife, Mom, Doctor, Major, Soccer Mom, Military Wife. All of these filter my views of the world. I merge them into the view of Catholic Mom. I hope that like St. Monica, I can through prayer, words and example, lead my children and others to Faith.
We are the parents. God gave us our children. It is our responsibility to see that they are properly nurtured in mind, body, and soul. So why then do the state, the schools, the medical community, and even the parish religious education offices think we are incompetent? Why do I feel like I have to ask permission to parent my child?
The latest assault on parental authority comes in Maine. A school-based health clinic will now dispense oral contraceptives and contraceptive patches to girls ages eleven to thirteen. The girls must have their parents’ permission to use the clinic services, but once that permission is given, parents are not notified of what types of services are utilized. They will be dispensing powerful hormones to newly post-pubescent girls and their parents won’t have a clue.
What is the message this clinic is sending to the students? How about, Your parents don’t really know best. Their teaching is irrelevant. You make your own decisions and we will help you do what you want. Is the clinic staff going to take responsibility when one of the thirteen year olds has a stroke because she started smoking while taking birth control pills? Are they going to explain away her HIV infection because she got drunk and was gang raped at a party? After all, they told her loud and clear that it was fine for her to be sexually active in spite of her parents’ admonishments against it. Why should she listen to her parents’ objections to drinking, smoking, or drugs? This exclusion of parents in the critical decisions for their children is a serious threat to the social institution of the family. And as we have seen, the destruction of the family does not bode well for society at large.
Unfortunately, too many parents have become numb to this assault. It is now taken for granted that the school will teach about sex, the doctors will decide what immunizations are given, and the parish religious education office will teach children the faith. Too many parents are just passive observers. They just blindly chauffer their children from one indoctrination activity to another. And when a parent tries to wrest control from one of these institutions they are labeled as a trouble-maker, a fanatic, or an unfit parent.
From the Catechism:
The family must be helped and defended by appropriate social measures. Where families cannot fulfill their responsibilities, other social bodies have the duty of helping them and of supporting the institution of the family. Following the principle of subsidiarity, larger communities should take care not to usurp the family’s prerogatives or interfere in its life. (CCC 2209)
For example, I opt my children out of the tenth grade sex education program at their public high school. Its lesson titles include Which contraceptive is right for you? and Are you gay? Of course I have heard some tongue clicking because I am sheltering my children too much. I don’t know why some people assume that if my children don’t get information at school, they will not get it. I am a board certified family physician with 15 years of active clinical practice under my belt including time spent as a physician in a college health clinic. Believe, me. I am not naïve about what kids know and do. I want my children to be prepared. But I prepare them with both biological and spiritual information in a unified “curriculum” that my husband and I teach them from early childhood through their teenage years.
It is time for parents to understand that being in the driver’s seat as a parent means more than just sitting behind the wheel of the minivan. It is time for institutions to abandon their adversarial stance towards parents. They are to cooperate with my agenda for my child, not fight it. No one loves my child more than I do. I am not the enemy. I am the parent.
Are you the parent [s] of your child[ren] ? Or not?
Do you accept your responsibility to speak out when there are issues opposing your faith?
Are you ready and willing to fight for your rights?
Sunday, October 28, 2007
This past Friday, Aunt Rozann and I took a 5-1/2 hour drive from east central INdiana to Cleveland. This time we were going to meet with a group of new friends - friends from the blog-o-sphere - friends like Fr. V (of 'Adam's Ale' blog fame) and his entourage of blog buddies. It was just like meeting up with family - more than cordial, happy to see one another, and especially treated the out-of-towners good ... real hospitality.
A group of us met for dinner before going to a movie together. We went to the opening of the movie 'Bella'. If you can find it in your area, I strongly encourage you to get groups together and go see it - then go have coffee afterwards and talk about it. That's what we did. I won't claim it to be the best movie ever made, but the I found the message[s] to be encouraging.
In the group were bloggers like: 'Adam's Ale', and 'Habemus Papam', and 'a second chance'.
They have real names, too - names like: Fr. V, and uncle jim, and Carissa L. Additional names around the table include Jenn P, and Kay S, and aunt rozann, and Mickie V (Fr. V's sister), and Bryan P, and Jackie, and David, and Mark, and Sylvana, and Ed S - a seminarian.
My encouragement for you is this: whenever you get the chance, go out of your way to meet some of your fellow bloggers - it will make your day.
Hospitality is a special charism. The Benedictines are famous for theirs. I challenge all of us to extend hospitality to those who come across our path.
Q: Have you ever experienced a really special occasion of hospitality? Care to share about it?
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Last week we looked at the Jewish practice of offering Berakhot. This week we're looking at names and their characteristics, as Jews held them. See what we can learn. (For more on this topic 'click' here')
The Names of God
The first Name used for God in scripture is Elohim. This Name is used in scripture when emphasizing God's might, His creative power, and his attributes of justice and rulership.
Another significant Name of God is YHVH Tzva'ot. This Name is normally translated as "Lord of Hosts." The word "tzva'ot" means "hosts" in the sense of a military grouping or an organized array. The Name refers to God's leadership and sovereignty.
The most significant of God's Names is represented by the Hebrew letters Yod-Hei-Vav-Hei (YHVH). It is often referred to as the Ineffable Name, the Unutterable Name, the Distinctive Name. In scripture, this Name is used when discussing God's relation with human beings, and when emphasizing his qualities of loving kindness and mercy.
The Significance of Names
In Jewish thought, a name is not merely an arbitrary designation, a random combination of sounds. The name conveys the nature and essence of the thing being named. It represents the history and reputation of the thing being named. Because a name represents the reputation of the thing named, a name should be treated with the same respect as the thing's reputation. For this reason, God's Names, in all their forms, are treated with enormous respect and reverence in Judaism.
Writing the Name of God
Judaism does not prohibit writing the Name of God per se; observant Jews avoid writing any Name of God casually because of the risk that the written Name might later be defaced, obliterated or destroyed accidentally by some one who doesn't know better. That is why observant Jews avoid writing a Name of God on web sites like this one or in newsgroup messages: because there is a risk that someone else will print it out and deface it.
Pronouncing the Name of God
Judaism does not prohibit writing the Name of God per se; observant Jews avoid writing any Name of God casually because of the risk that the written Name might later be defaced, obliterated or destroyed accidentally by some one who doesn't know better. That is why observant Jews avoid writing a Name of God on web sites like this one or in newsgroup messages: because someone could deface it so easily.
Your own good name should be treated with respect, also...and by the same token, others' names should be used respectfully. Your name represents YOU, and YOU are worthy of respect - we all are.
Friday, October 26, 2007
and tip a Smythwicks to Fr. V. at 'Adam's Ale' for this one
There' an annual triathlon event here where I live. I don't recall any contestant like this participating. I would hope this video inspires the next one, wherever he or she may be.
'CLICK' on the > above, then, get out your cheerleader pom-poms.
Where is my heart?
Thursday, October 25, 2007
[tip a Smythwicks to Peggy Reilly for sending this to us]
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Critical Excerpts from a book review of:
The Catholic Priesthood and Women: A Guide to the Teaching of the Church
by: Sara Butler, Hillenbrand Books
Reviewed by: Monica Migliorino Miller, associate professor of sacred theology at St. Mary's College of Madonna University in Orchard Lake, Michigan
[Complete article may be read here.]
In May 1994, Pope John Paul II issued his apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis to deal with one specific issue: the Church's ban on the admission of women to the ministerial priesthood. The Catholic Priesthood and Women: A Guide to the Teaching of the Church attempts to provide a new generation of young Catholics, most especially seminarians, with an understanding of the Church's teaching and to give them a "theological orientation" to the topic.
The fundamental reasons that the Church has no authority to admit women to the priesthood is the Church is bound to follow an original gesture of Christ when He established the sacrament of Holy Orders. When Christ called only men to the company of the Twelve, we are confronted by Christ's will.
Many argue that Christ was subject to the historical conditions of His day. Times have changed, they say, the Church is free to abandon a practice that discriminates against women. Ordinatio Sacerdotalis insists on Christ's sovereign freedom in His choice of male apostles.
Butler states that no injustice exists so long as the Church does not prevent anyone from attaining personal holiness. Butler recognizes that, doctrinally, the male gender of Christ and the apostles "is not arbitrary, but significant." Thus a close connection does exist between the fundamental and theological reasons for Church doctrine. That the priest acts in persona Christi is not simply a theological argument, but the doctrine of the Church. Christ cannot simply be identified with the Church. He is the head that causes the Church.
The book is a welcome addition to those works that seek to explain and defend the all-male priesthood.
Male and female, we are all called to ministry. Service to God's people is paramount in our relationship to Him. He intends our gifts and talents, as He distributes them, to be used for the common good. Our use of time, talent, material, and spiritual resources is very much indicative of the importance we place on our responsibilities as stewards of the creation in which He has placed us.
"Go and make disciples of all nations", we are commanded. Male and female we are commanded.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Pope B16 talked about the bigger issue this past week.
Does this sound like sour grapes on the part of the 'have-nots'?
I don't know if he was directing this at the USA, but it seems like a lot of people want to try and take us down a notch or two ... SOUR GRAPES! JEALOUSY!
OR, is there something in his message we should think about?
Monday, October 22, 2007
PRAY hard for Bishop McManus - he needs to keep his firm stand.
PRAY hard for the President of Holy Cross College - he needs to change his stance.
PRAY hard for the counter rally to take place - the harm that is being done is of scandalous proportions.
Read this release from the Cardinal Newman Society which has outreaches at many Catholic Colleges and Universities in the United States.
Link to article here.
The event is scheduled for October 24, 2007.
A friend of mine e-mailed this to me. He's had 2 sons graduated from the U S Naval Academy. I decided I'd share this with you ... from my friend Dan S.
It's a tough, but heartwarming story...with a picture of John Gebhardt in Iraq.
You'll seldom see things like this in the news. The American public needs to see pictures like this and needs to realize that what we're doing over there is making a difference. Even if it is just one little girl at a time.
James Gates U. S. Navy
Then this came from my friend Missy H:
Something cool that Xerox is doing.
If you go to this web site, www.LetsSayThanks.com you can pick out a thank you card and Xerox will print it and it will be sent to a soldier that is currently serving in Iraq . You can't pick out who gets it, but it will go to some member of the armed services.
Please send a card. It is FREE and it only takes a second.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if the soldiers received a bunch of these? Whether you are for or against the war, our guys and gals over there need to know we are behind them...
Now it is up to you to respond.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Years ago when I was raising a family and trying to climb a corporate ladder, the Lord put a stumbling block in the path up that ladder. He put a renewed hunger in me for things of Him - things that had not been at the top of my list of 'things to do'. Oh, I never missed Sunday Mass, and I was quite active in our parish. I didn't do those things for the right reason though. They were done so people would see me, and notice me, and like me, and think I was a wonderful father and man-of-God. What a sham!
Even then, I could see the Lord had 'saved my bacon' on more than a few occasions. I was working in our company's corporate headquarters in Detroit, heading up a new department. I had been brought there from a Regional Manager's position in the Chicago area. I did well in the Chicago position - that is what got me moved to the Detroit headquarters.
I had been in positions that required face-to-face contact with our customer-clients. That required traveling and wining & dining. These three things helped generate business for our company, but generated a lot of 'bad' opportunities for a married man raising a family.
Are you familiar with the saying, "There, but for the grace of God, go I."? That was me. I believe God had his angels working overtime for me. Also, during this time, I became close to our pastor. That was a real switch for me - hanging out with a priest. He convinced me I should consider going into the Diocesan Permanent Diaconate Formation Program. I know now that I wasn't meant to become a Permanent Deacon - I was there because of what I would learn and experience while in the program.
I began taking night classes at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in east Detroit. My life and attitude was changing. I was beginning to see the issues in my life. I could look back and see the many mistakes of the previous 5-10 years - and there were plenty. I really wanted to go forward...with the Lord.
We lived 35 miles south of downtown Detroit. The seminary was 15 miles north northeast of downtown. Leaving work at 5pm to be at class which started at 7pm and ran until 9pm, there was no time to go home before class. I'd grab a bite to eat en route and get to the seminary early. That allowed time to finish off some assigned reading.
Occasionally, I'd go in the chapel before class. One particular night in October I was alone in the chapel [the anniversary of this event is what is prompting the telling of this tale]. I was praying in earnest about wanting to know the Lord more and better than I currently did. I also really wanted to change some lingering bad habits and behaviors.
Ka-blam! It was like a lightning bolt. I got HOT from the top of my head, down through my body to the bottom of my feet - and I began crying like a baby - and I began praying in tongues. That was something I'd heard about but had never experienced. There was no one with me, thank God, because I was crying, and praying in mumbles and babbles that were not forced on me, but involved some sort of a cooperation on my part that I didn't know the why or the how of - but it was happening, I assure you.
And I felt an immediate release of all kinds of internal turmoil and struggle - and I started behaving and talking and thinking differently. My wife and friends noticed almost immediately. It truly was 'a second chance'.
I was taking a course in 'Catechetics' that semester, but starting that night - the night of the 'event' - I craved to read the bible. I had never had that desire before.
Every time after that when I walked into that chapel, I would look over at the pew in which I was setting when the Lord answered my prayer - and I'd thank Him.
I've sinned since then, for sure - guess I'll never overcome that all together. But I've changed since then. Every day I should be on my face before God and thank Him for what He did for me then ... and for what the Father's Son did for me on the cross. I wish all of you would experience it! You can if you ask. I know - from personal experience.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Any Way Saturday
As a Christian, have you ever celebrated the 'opening of' or 'start of' the Lord's Day on the vigil of Sunday - that is, on Saturday eve after sundown? That is what the Jews do on Friday eve, the vigil of their shabbat [sabbath] . They celebrate this special day in their week with a special meal on Friday evening. For Christians, we can do the same thing on Saturday eve, the vigil of our Lord's Day. Many of the prayers used in the ceremonial blessings of this meal are in the form of:
A berakhah (blessing - singular) is a prayer that is very common in Judaism. Berakhot (blessings - plural) all start with the word barukh (blessed or praised).
The words barukh and berakhah refer to the practice of showing respect by bending the knee and bowing. There are several places in Jewish liturgy where this gesture is performed.
According to Jewish tradition, a person should recite 100 berakhot each day! There are dozens of everyday occurrences that require berakhot.
Many English-speaking people find the idea of berakhot confusing. To them,"blessing" seems to imply the conferring of some benefit on the person being spoken to. In Catholic tradition, confession begins by asking the priest for a blessing [Bless me , Father, ...]. In a berakhah, the person saying the blessing is speaking to G-d. When we recite a berakhah we are expressing wonder at how blessed G-d is.
Berakhot recited before enjoying a material pleasure, such as eating, drinking or wearing new clothes, acknowledge G-d as the creator of what we are about to use. The berakhah for bread praises G-d as the one "who brings forth bread from the earth." The berakhah for wearing new clothing praises G-d as the one "who clothes the naked."
Berakhot recited before performing a mitzvah (commandment), such as washing hands or lighting candles, praise G-d as the one "who sanctified us with his commandments and commanded us to..." do whatever it is we are about to do. A person who performs a mitzvah with a sense of obligation is considered more meritorious than a person who performs the same mitzvah because he feels like it. The berakhah focuses attention on performing a religious duty with a sense of obligation.
Berakhot recited at special times and events acknowledge G-d as the ultimate source of all good and evil. When we see or hear something bad, a berakhah underscores that things that appear to be bad happen for a reason that is ultimately just.
Thou (and the corresponding Hebrew atah) is the informal, familiar second person pronoun, used for friends and relatives. This expresses our intimate relationship with G-d.
Immediately after this phrase, the berakhah shifts into the third person. This grammatical faux pas is intentional. This shift is a deliberately jarring way of expressing the fact that G-d is simultaneously close to us and yet transcendent. This paradox is at the heart of the Jewish relationship with G-d.
For a more complete treatment of this topic, link to Judaism 101.
Now it is your turn.
Try it this week end - tonight, Saturday eve - the vigil of our Lord's Day. Write your own berakhot [blessings] using the form above - ie: Blessed art thou, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who commanded us to keep holy the Lord's Day.
Share with us some of those prayers by writing them in the 'comment box'. We may post them in an article on this blog.
Friday, October 19, 2007
WE NEED TO SEE THIS!
YES, it is a little longer.
For 19 minutes, we can be with Jesus.
' CLICK ' on the > above, and hold onto your heart.
You may even have to watch it over and over and over and...
It WILL grab your heart.
Thank you, Adoro Te and Adam's Ale for sharing with the rest of us.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
How to Talk to Democrats About Abortion: Five Strategies for Making the Pro-Life Case by Eric Pavlat [from an October 5, 2007 article on the InsideCatholic Blog-site]
You can read the entire article at the link here.
The opening paragraph reads:
The proposed strategies are:
Strategy #1: Oppose Violence Against Women
Strategy #2: Support Women Facing Crisis Pregnancies
Strategy #3: Explain The Harmful Health Effects of Abortion
Strategy #4: Emphasize the Inherent Discrimination of Abortion
Strategy #5: Discuss the Science of Fetal Development
Each are well researched and explained in the article.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
I suspect many a parent is able to recall in minute detail the particulars of the "one more chance" request rendered by a child. Sometimes, just in the recalling, the parent is forced to hold back the urge to laugh uncontrollably - these requests are sometimes very funny. Other times they're just plain pathetic.
There are those who would say that a "Please mom [or dad] ... just one more chance ... please." coming from your child really translates into something more like, "Well, you let me get away with this before ... what's the uproar about this time? It's no different." And why shouldn't the child think that? After all, we've never cracked down yet.
The drunk driver who has never had to do 'hard time' will seldom learn to stop drinking and driving. After all, how many times has he / she NOT been caught? And even when caught, they get off with a wrist-slap [after all, our jails are full of real criminals].
The teen-ager who has been stealing candy bars and soft drinks from the carry-out for years, and who has been caught several times, and made to pay-up, has never had to stand before the judge.
The issue is one of helping me get off the hook, or helping me learn to be better ... more responsible ... accountable for my actions. I'm grateful God doesn't use my daily misbehavior as a reason to make my life miserable. Does He forgive too much?
My seat before his bench will come someday, and, even in His great mercy, He'll finally say to me, "Son, it's time to pay the piper. I gave you a gazillion chances, and you still mocked me and turned your back on me. I kept waiting for you to turn around and tell me you were sorry - you just couldn't find it in yourself to do that, could you. Too, bad ... I had a nice mansion lined up for you - but not to be! No more chances."
Don't we owe it to our children to stop the bad behavior now? To help them form good habits and good patterns of behavior before they are so ensnared by the bad that they cannot even see the good? Too much of a good thing can have serious consequences and be deadly.
Even as much, don't we owe it to each other? If I'm continually granting 'a second chance', don't I need to look closely and see that it is warranted? Mercy is wonderful - enabling bad behavior is a whole other issue.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
That which we love will affect us exponentially compared to the other things in our life. It will affect what it is that will get us out of bed in the morning. It will affect what we will do with our evening hours after work. It will affect what we read, what we watch, where we go, who we know and hang-out with. It will affect the very core of our being.
Where is my heart?
For the rest of this week, use this question when you spend quiet time with the Lord. Ask Him to show you your treasures. Ask Him to help you change.
Where is my heart?