Friday, February 28, 2014

Feast of Bl. Daniel Brottier

Happy Feast of Blessed Daniel Blottier!

Daniel Blottier was born in France in the 1800s and informed his mom at a young age that he wanted to be Pope--at which time his mom informed him that he would have to be a priest first.  From reading his story, he sounds like a person who knew exactly what he wanted from a young age and was just head strong enough to make it all happen.  (I really enjoyed reading about him, if you couldn't tell.)  Shortly after making his first communion, he joined the seminary.  His first assignment after ordination was as a secondary school teacher in France, but he really wanted to be a missionary.  He soon became a missionary in Senegal (for those of you who are like me, a quick trip to Google taught me that this is a small country on the eastern coast of Africa).  He was happy to be sent off on a mission, but disappointed to be sent to a city rather than the countryside (as I said, he knew exactly what he wanted).  He didn't let this stop him from accomplishing as much as he could:  he taught students, built a child welfare center and wrote the parish bulletin.  Regrettably, his health did not agree with the climate and he was forced to return to France.  He thought this would be a wonderful chance for him to become more contemplative, but soon realized that this was not the life for him.  (This made me laugh, honestly I always think that I would like a quieter, more prayerful life, then I sit in the quiet of the adoration chapel without any of my children and realize that still and silence drive me absolutely crazy!)  Even from France, Father Brottier raised money and helped to build a cathedral in Dakar, his life as a missionary would not be stifled by his location.  Then came World War One.  What would you expect from a priest with this much love of God and this much desire to serve those who are in the most need, he volunteered to be a chaplain for the infantry.  He was on the front lines for 52 months, never becoming injured, but always putting himself at risk to help those in need.  He attributed his protection during this time to St. Therese of Lisieux.  After the war he worked with orphans and the poor, always dedicating his work to the intercession of St. Therese. 

I absolutely loved learning about Bl. Daniel Blottier.  I feel so strongly about chaplains in the military.  If you have never looked at it, research how many Catholic chaplains there are and how many Catholic men and women there are serving.  There are men and women voluntarily serving to protect their country who have no access to the sacraments.  This is something that must be remedied.  I love to share stories of chaplains with my boys, some of whom want to be in the military when they grow up.  I make sure there is literature around the house from the Archdiocese for the Military and books about people such as Fr. Kapaun, I encourage you to do the same.  As for these amazing men, they are an example of selfless giving in the most difficult of circumstances.  I know that this has been my message here lately, but with Lent coming upon us, maybe now is the time to get to know priests in your area.  Maybe this is the time in which you can give to them, because they give so very much to us.    If there are any missionaries in your area, perhaps invite them to dinner or on a picnic to the park with your family.  Missionaries rarely get to make ties to a congregation because they are moved every 2-3 years.  Perhaps your family could be their family at this stop in their ministry.  May God bless you in this weekend and may He help us all to realize his plans for our lives.

If you are interested, this is where I picked up the image of Bl. Daniel Brottier.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Feast of St. Alexander of Alexandria

Happy Feast of St. Alexander of Alexandria!

St. Alexander of Alexandria was bishop of Alexandria in 313 and fought against the Arianism.  He was a key figure at the Council of Nicaea and is credited with drawing up the acts of the First Council of Nicaea.  Yes, if Nicaea sounds familiar it should be, we recite the Nicene Creed every Sunday at mass.  This is when our church fathers got together to hammer out what the true beliefs of the church are so they could fight the many heresies that were spreading like wildfire around Christendom.  How were people expected to know the TRUE church if they didn't always know the TRUE beliefs of the church.  These cannons or laws they set out still stands as the compass for ALL of Christianity.  I know as a former Methodist, I would always look at the Nicene creed and wonder why I wasn't at a Catholic church.  Yes, even over there we would say "I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church," and as I would sit there as a child looking at the * so neatly placed beside the word Catholic, with a kind note informing me that, no we don't mean Catholic, but Universal.  I always felt I was in the wrong church, as if my family had mad a wrong turn on the way.  So as we all muddle through our day, take a moment to recite the Nicene Creed and remember that this is one of our great links to the past that the Catholic church has provided us, linking us to the great Council of Nicaea and more importantly to Jesus and his apostles.

The Nicene Creed

I believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.
I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
he suffered death and was buried,
and rose again on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.

I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins
and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead
 and the life of the world to come. Amen.
*here's my little * forgive my misspellings and typos today, 4:00am is not my usual writing time and I must say, I don't really enjoy being up right now.  But as life would have it, I have an annoying toothache which I must remedy today.  Naturally, this is keeping me from my sleep, which I desperately need.  Pray for me today, I think I need it more than I normally do, and I will be praying for you.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Feast of Bl. Tommaso Maria Fusco

Happy Feast of Bl. Tommaso Maria Fusco

Bl. Tommaso Maria Fusco was born to a devout Catholic family, who instilled Catholic values and charity.  His parents both passed away before he reached the age of 10, at which time he went to live with his uncle Fr. Guiseppe.  He dreamt of the altar and joined the seminary, becoming a priest in 1855.  His life was full of sadness due to the loss of many of his family members, but this only increased his devotion to Christ and his Sorrowful Mother.  He founded the Daughters of Charity of the Most Precious Blood and blessed the opening of their orphanage.  He would often repeat the following phrase as he patiently worked through hardships:  "May work and suffering for God always be your glory and in your work and suffering, may God be your consolation on this earth, and your recompense in heaven. Patience is the safeguard and pillar of all the virtues".  He was beatified by Pope John Paul II as an guide of holiness for priests and the people of God. 
I want to talk about something other than just our saints today.  I want to tell you about our seminarians.  This weekend I was blessed to attend A Knight With the Seminarians event at our local Knights of Columbus.  This is an annual event where we get together to honor our seminarians.  Let me tell you, this is the highlight event of my year.  I love to meet the seminarians, introduce my children to them and hear their stories in a low stress, out of mass, out of the church environment.  This year a priest, not a seminarian, about my age sat at our table.  Fr. Fernando is a priest from Mexico who is a professor at the Seminary.  I have met some priests and seminarians at this before, but he had the light of Christ emitting from him.  I truly loved getting to know him, as did my children.  How often do you get to ask a priest if he broke his arm by falling off the altar--he didn't by the way, he broke it falling off his bike.  He was so personable.  We spoke about our favorite priests, and asked him about his.  I LOVE hearing these stories!  It led into why he became a priest and why he joined the Oblates.  My favorite question came from my 10 year old, who asked why is your crucifix so big and all of the other priests have little crucifixes?  Being an oblate, he is a missionary (FYI-the image of our saint today made me think of Fr. Fernando).  Me being a relatively new Catholic, had NO idea.  It truly is the little things in the faith that I sometimes miss.  If you have access to spend time with our priests or seminarians, DO IT!  You will never regret it, and neither will they.  I sometimes wonder if being a priest is the loneliest job in the world.  How many people build a bond with their priest and talk to their priest like people.  Invite a priest to dinner, if you are a K of C member, suggest an event to honor seminarians, do something today build that bond with a member of the clergy, remember, they are people just like us, they just had a different calling. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Feast St. Margaret of Cortona

Happy feast of Saint Margaret of Cortona!

What a saint!  Margaret was the beautiful daughter of a farmer in Tuscany, her mother died when she was young.  She was a Cinderella of sorts (without the money).  Her father remarried to a woman who did not care for Margaret, and her father was also not attentive to her.  What becomes of a girl like this, she gave herself to the first person to show her affection.  Thus, she left home at 18 to live in sin with her boyfriend and eventually they had a son together.  Her love was killed and she returned home with her son to repent for her sins.  Her father and step-mother only rejected her--the prodigal daughter story she had imagined was over.  What to do here?  She left that place and retreated to the Friars Minor of Cortona where she received asylum.  Margaret confessed and became extremely penitent-giving herself to a life of prayer, tears and giving herself to God.  She earned a living caring for the poor sick and eventually joined the Poverelle (the poor ones).  Many would travel great distances, where she could reveal their deepest, darkest sins to them.  Many conversions and miracles were attributed to her.  She is now one of the incorruptibles.

Why haven't I known about this saint?  This is a saint for today. This is a saint who helps all to know that whatever has happened, what every you have done, as long as you are repentant and change your ways, you will be forgiven.  This is the saint that should be explained at the high school and college level, for all of the girls and boys who have fallen into the modern day trap that is "you only live once" so do what you want.  This is the saint for the abortion clinics.  This is where faith and reality hit home for those who say the church is antiquated in its ways and does not understand them.  Right here--the church does understand that life is not perfect, the church acknowledges that when we fall we can be lifted up.  We are not expected to get it right the first time.  The Lord knows us and meets us where we are.  He even gives us saints to meet us where we are.  Share Saint Margaret with someone who needs her.  Her story is just a story until she is known and shared and those who need her help run to her.


Thursday, February 20, 2014

St. Eucherius of Orleans

Here I am a day behind, let me tell you, that has been my week.  Yesterday was spent trying to help my middle child -- trying to find the best way to help him succeed in school and reach his enormous potential, that right now is resting dormant under a pile of his frustration.  Ug!  I wish my time machine was working, so I could go ahead and look at cause and effect, instead I am stuck wondering what I should do and how I should progress with everthing.  Being a mom can be hard.  All you want to do is love them and help them, but sometimes that window into the future would be nice. 

Happy Feast of St. Eucherius of Orleans!

Eucherius was bishop of Orleans, France, but I'm getting ahead of myself.  Before that, he was born into a noble family and his parents gave him to God at a young age and fostered his love of the Lord in every way they could.  This included sending him to study in a manner which would help form is heart and mind in faith.  He studied St. Paul's writings and went to an abbey in Normandy for a life of obedience.  His uncle who was Bishop of Orleans then passed away and Eucherius was chosen to fill the vacant position.  This was not the life Eucherius would have wanted.  He was a man who believed in the denial of worldly wants and had resolved to quit the world in order to focus on his life of obedience.  Charles Martel, mayor of the palace in the Frankish kingdom, was to be Eucherius' arch enemy, so to speak.  Charles' kingdom was engaged in wars and stripped the church of it's revenues and property to defray the costs.  Naturally, Eucherius was opposed to this and made his opinion known to all.  Eucherius was exiled to Germany, which as any study of history will tell you, only made our saint more popular.  He was then held captive at Liege, but was later allowed to retire to an abbey in the Netherlands.  An earlier vision of Saint Eucherius' was reported after his death--this is interesting--wile praying the saint had been shown the suffering of those in hell.  While witnessing this he saw none other than Charles Martel.  He sent some brothers to check the tomb of Charles to see if he was actually there.  Upon opening, a dragon rushed out and
the inside of the tomb was blackened, as if it had been burned.  These were used as evidence that first, the vision was accurate and second, that Charles had actually been condemned to hell for his actions.

I love this kind of saint story!!!  Probably not what I should say about this, but in all honesty, it is exactly the kind of story I want to read in the morning.  Action, adventure, a good plot and story line.  It reads like a good novel.  I have visions of the good and virtuous bishop opposing the evil and destructive ruler who is leading their kingdom into ruin with his unceasing need for more land and power.  Driving his kingdom into bankruptcy and stealing from the church to cover his deceit from his people.  When the Evil ruler finally dies, the good bishop in a dream sees a vision....and it goes on from there.  Let me tell you, I could research this and have a wonderfully unproductive day.  So beyond a wonderful story, what is Eucherius teaching us?  Or better yet, is our lesson coming from Charles Martel himself?  I find Charles a good teacher, don't steal from the church or you'll go to hell.  We already knew that.  But the story I see is that when you are good and virtuous, when you stand up for your values, even when it's hard, you will find your eternal reward.  If we are to be completely honest with ourselves, how many of us would have stood up against Charles?  I'm sure if Eucherius would have been less virtuous, he would have been well compensated, several bishops throughout history were.  But, then again, where are they now?  My prayer for all of us today is to stand up for what is right.  Not just when it's easy, but all of the time.  We have elections right now, research those who are seeking position in your schools, cities, counties, states and federal government.  Really pray about what you are about to do and let God lead the way. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Feast of the 7 Founders of the Servite Order

Happy Feast of the 7 Founders of the Servite Order!

These 7 men were of noble class, prominent business men,  in Florence, Italy.  They all had a strong devotion to Mary and chose to leave their prosperous lives to live in solitude and prayer, totally devoting themselves to God.  One day they had a vision of Mary in which she told them they would start a new order of monks which would be known as the Servants of Mary (or Servites), they would wear a black habit and black scapular in memory of the sufferings of Mary and write a Rule based on that of St. Augustine.

This is something I just cannot imagine.  Some of them were married and had families, some were widowers, but some had families.  Can you imagine your husband coming up to you saying, honey, I've made the decision to give up everything in service of God.  But that means, I will no longer have my business and I will no longer be here to take care of all of you.  No, I will be off with these other 6 men, living in solitude and devotion to Mary.  I love you, but I may not see you again.  Hopefully, this isn't correct, hopefully they didn't leave their families behind.  I just cannot imagine that being what God has in mind, but they are saints, so I guess that is what he wanted from them.  How did their wives respond, or was that just common place in that day and age and I am simply applying today's standards to something that cannot be compared.  Sitting here with all of the stresses and strains of modern life, I wonder how they made ends meet without their provider?  If they had kids, what did their children think? 

Wow, here we are back at it, could I truly allow my hubby to spiritually lead my family, even if it meant something like this?  Could I, without reservation or hostility or resentment, let him lead my family if it meant that he leave us and simply PRAY for us and the rest of the world in total devotion to Mary and our Lord?  I was grouchy this morning at mass, because my hubby had his phone in his pocket, which my 2 year old decided to play with.  During which he broadcast the local radio station throughout the church and I had to do the walk of shame with the screaming 2 year old.  Needless to say, I didn't make it to mass and I was not happy.  So once again, I am devoting myself to my husband and to his leadership.  God needs to grant me special graces in this area, because I feel as if I fail here daily. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Feast of St. Valentine

Happy St. Valentine's Day!

Saint Valentine's story is not what we hear about today is it?  Today we hear that our husbands, boy friends, wives, mothers, fathers.....the list is huge, should do something special for us.  More importantly, should buy us something amazing!  How about diamonds or roses?  A romantic dinner?  What is it that you are patiently expecting for someone to do for you today?  My hubby had school functions at two schools this morning.  The first was donuts with the elementary kids then off to the middle school for All Pro Day breakfast and meeting.  Whew, he had a fun kid filled morning!  Oh, but that left the little monkey and myself on our own.  Ok, maybe we will have lunch??  We shall see, as I have previously said, nothing is set in stone around here.  No plans are made in advance, we wing it!  With 5 children, I have found the more planning I do, the more I doom the event (a.k.a. someone will end up sick!  Vomit will fly.  Fevers will soar.) 

So on to St. Valentine.  He was a priest in Rome and aided those persecuted under Claudius II.  They attempted to force him into renouncing his faith, but he refused.  He was sent to prison where he still preached the Good News, converting 46 guards, one of which had a blind daughter whom the guard brought to pray with Valentine at which time she was healed.  Once these conversions were discovered he was put to death.  He is the patron saint of love, young people and happy marriages.  Ok, so this is short and sweet, but WHY is he the patron saint of love and happy marriages.  I had to look farther, this really didn't make any sense to me until I found the Claudius II had banned marriage thinking that unmarried soldiers would be less inhibited by the fear of something happening to them in battle.  Hence the "unmarried and uncommitted" life style flourished.  Saint Valentine went against Claudius II and performed Christian marriages.  Putting love, faith, and a pure life back into a world that was full of impurities.

What would St. Valentine say about our celebration of his feast day?  Why are we making such a fuss over buying things for one another?  Can't we show our love without pulling out our MasterCard?  Are we so duped by our materialized world that we honestly think that love revolves around how much we spend on one another?  I will be the first to say--I got NOTHING for my husband.  Today I plan to continue on with my marriage week goals:  I prayed for my husband (and yes, it was a good prayer today), I am trying to follow his lead selfishly and lovingly, and I am letting him lead our household in faith and in life.  I don't know, I sure I will do other things for him too, but I don't want to reduce our marriage to a rushed purchase so we all can feel good about ourselves.  I wish you a happy feast of St. Valentine  may we all show our love for one another today and always and may we use today as a reminder of how we are called to spread our faith, just as St. Valentine did so many years ago. 

Gifts for catholic kids, First Communion and Easter are on their way

Lent and Easter are on their way and one of my children is celebrating his first communion and confession this year.  For those of you who are also seeking out Catholic inspired gifts, here is a review of some awesome finds from Christmas that may help you out:

My last minute decision for Christmas was to find amazing Catholic t-shirts that my whole family (including myself) would wear.  I know there are tons of Christian t-shirt options, but I wanted to support our Catholic faith.  I found Totally Catholic Tees  They are amazing!!  Here are a couple of samples.  I purchased both of these.  May I totally picky, I won't wear anything teen loves the t-shirt on the left.  Wears it all the time...EVEN TO SCHOOL!!!  The rest of us love ours as well.  I have to say, of all the shirts in this house, these are worn the most frequently.  And even better than that, the customer service.  Totally Catholic Tees is a family owned business, so they immediately sent me a message letting me know that they were out of one of the shirts I ordered, and that one would not be available by Christmas.  I received a phone call--yes, in this day and age, a phone call--to make sure I knew what options I had and if I still wanted to order the shirts.  How amazing!  With a small order like mine, he took the time to make sure I was happy and that my family would be well taken care of.  The world needs more companies like this.  Additional plus-you're helping a totally catholic family!

Tiny Saints were my next "big hit."  I was trying to find something for the littles, something small, stocking stuffer-ish.  For those of you who have been on this hunt, it's not always easy.  Yes, there are rosaries, pencils, books, cds, but something fun, different, out-of-the-ordinary, spread the good news, have it with you all of the time and enjoy it.  I know I had a lot of criteria, and none of the mainstream Catholic bookstores/gift shops had it.  Trust me, I looked.  Then I went to the on-line search and boy did I search, until I finally came across these.  When I first saw them I knew I had found what I was searching for.  My 6 yr old has her Saint Kateri on her backpack zipper.  She tells me that this way her saint can be with her all day.  My 7 yr old has his St. George on his overnight bag, so he can remember to pray even when he's away from home.  Love, Love, Love these!!!!!  Plus at only $5 each and free shipping with an order of $10 or more, who can resist?  These are the kind of things that you keep on hand for those times you need to give a quick pick-me-up to someone.

Happy Saints were my other find.  There is a great article about the creator on the National Catholic Register (Happy Saints Article ).  My 6 year old needed a t-shirt also, and it needed to be Catholic and girly.  I ordered her Happy Saint t-shirt of Saint Kateri from  She loves it!  Actually, my favorite moment with this shirt was when she was sick a couple of weeks ago.  She came home from school with a fever, went straight to her room and put on this shirt.  She told me that even though she was going to sleep, St. Kateri would know to watch over her while she was wearing a picture of her.  They offer many other items, I am getting The Way of the Cross eBook for lent for my children. 

For first communion and confession, I have given my children several books.  Here is a quick run down:
The first is Going to Confession a Picture Book by Rev. L. Lovasik.  Love this for the child making their first confession.  It explores the importance of a good confession and shows them how to make a goo confession by going through the 10 Commandments and giving examples.  Then it walks them through confession eleminating any fears.  My son took it with him to his first confession "just in case."

The next two books are written by Josephine Nobisso.  Both are wonderful and have been my "go to" gift for first confesstion.  They are beautifully written and illustrated and are amazing for young Catholics.  My children love them at bedtime.  With my older 2, who were not baptized Catholic, it was wonderful to watch them start to understand the concepts of Mary and the Catholic mass form.  (FYI:  they are both devoted young Catholics now and love to share their amazing faith with everyone and anyone.  Books like these helped me to bring our faith into our home as an ordinary part of the day as I was going through RCIA and preparing them to join the church.)

I know this is not an exahustive list, but it is a beginning.  And I must say, all of these things have gotten thumbs up from my kids, and that can be pretty tough.   


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Saint Julian the Hospialler and National Marriage Week

Marriage Week is beyond the halfway mark and how are you doing?  As for me....I've tried....haven't been as successful as I had hoped for, but I've been trying.  I've prayed for my hubby almost every day, but I'm afraid I haven't always prayed for him as I should have.  In other words, one or two of my prayers may have been selfish in nature.  I hate admitting that.  I did pray for his well being, for peace in the workplace and at home, for health...but then there were the prayers that were more for me...for him to feel better, so he could help more with the kids that evening, etc.  Yes, I am FAR from sainthood!  Don't expect my name on that list any time soon, I have some serious work to do. 

As for the saint today...I think I have found the oddest saint I have ever read about.  Happy Feast of Saint Julian the Hospitaller!  Saint Julian was born to noble parents.  Upon his birth he was cursed  by witches to kill his parents later in life.  Naturally, his dad was not so keen on the idea of keeping him around, but mom insisted.  One day while hunting a stag informed him of his impending sin, which his parents had understandably kept from him.  In an effort to prevent this from occurring, he took out walking, vowing to stay far away from his parents.  It is said that 50 days later he settled and married a wealthy widow.  They lived a good life I presume.  But 20 years later, his parents decided to temp fate and went looking for him.  They came to a town and visited the altar of St. James.  Outside they met a woman who would give shelter to travelers.  Somewhere in their conversation, it was realized that she was their daughter-in-law. What joy, they found their son and his wife. She sent her new in-laws to her home and invited them to use her and her husband's bed. Julian who was out hunting was told by the enemy that his wonderful wife was having an affair.   In his rage he went home and murdered the couple in bed. His wife returned from church and gave him the great news that his parents were not only looking for him, but were in their bed resting and waiting to be reunited with their son. Julian and his wife went to Rome.   He confessed his sins and received absolution. As penance, he returned home to build hospitals and inns to take in the sick, poor and travelers. One story involves a leper who came to him seeking shelter. He gave that leper his own bed. The leper turned out to be an angel. 

What a life! Can you even imagine?   But what are we to learn from Saint Julian?  Don't tempt fate?  Don't give the enemy an opportunity to do evil in your life?  For me I'm thinking of hasty decisions.  How often do we listen to what someone tells us, make a rash decision and act on it immediately?  How often are those decisions later regretted?  What if we go to St. Julian's life and take just that little bit out of it?  Think before you act.  Better yet, pray on things before you act.  Look at your source.  Oh my, I tell my kids this every day!  "Mom, Sally told me that Julie thinks I'm ugly."  "Mom, Amy doesn't want to be my friend any more, Pam told me so."  "Cody isn't talking to me because Jake told him I wasn't being good in class."  Can I just tell you, my list is long!  With 5 kids, this is an ongoing battle.  Look at who told you the information.  Did Sally really say you are fat?  Go to the source, ask!  Talk to the person.  Good goollie, get off your electronic device and be a human being and hold conversations with others.  Find out who they really are, what they truly think and try to be a friend.  Pray for those who persecute you.  Spread peace.  And for those times you do fall and you sin....even when that sin seems unforgivable, go to confession.  You'd be amazed at what God is capable of in your life.  All you have to do is seek him out.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Feast of St. Scholastica

 Happy Feast of St. Scholastica!

Ok, so this is one of those I am supposed to know, but I do not.  If you haven't guessed by now, most of them are, but this is the one that makes me feel very out of the loop at bible study.  Something will come up, several will say "We need to ask St. Scholastica for help" and I think "What????"  Honesty, I still don't get it.  I hope someone will help me with this one.  She's the sister, possibly twin, of St. Benedict.  She gave herself to God at a young age.  She predicted Benedict's greatness and met annually to discuss matters of great spiritual importance.  Maybe I can see her as an extraordinarily wonderful sister, and "sister," who was the first Benedictine nun.  But what do I tell my kids about her.  How do I explain her greatness when I do not fully understand it myself.  I found the children's book:  The Holy Twins Benedict and Scholastica by Kathleen Norris and Tomie de Paola and I think I will pick it up to help me with this.  I did find a story about them, St. Scholastica asked St. Benedict to stay longer and discuss more with her, but he wanted to go back to his monastery.  She asked God for help and a large storm appeared and forced Benedict to stay longer with his sister.  A few days after their meeting had ended and Benedict had returned home, he dreamt of his sister's soul going into heaven as a dove.

I also found that today we celebrate the shipwreck of St. Paul which is laid out in the Acts of the Apostles.  A ship was taking Paul to Rome as prisoner, but was wrecked on the coast of Malta.  There he was welcomed and spent several years preaching and performing miracles.  This was the birth of the Maltese Church.  When I lay these two out together, what I find is the glorious ways God puts us where we need to be.  From forcing St. Benedict to spend that extra time with his sister before she left this world to putting St. Paul where he needed to be to spread the church and its teachings, God has a funny way of helping us follow his plan.  Honestly, I often struggle with this.  I am wondering why I am behind the irritatingly slow car as I'm driving my kids to school. When suddenly, somewhere in the back seat I hear a tiny voice say "Mommy, we forgot our morning prayers.  Do we still have time?"  In our hustle and bustle of society and life, God has to put the slow car in front of us so we will slow down and see his direction.  Without it, we are speeding through life and breakneck speeds trying to make it to our next goal, which often is soccer practice or finishing homework, but is rarely preaching the good news or comforting the sorrowful and lonely.  Today I challenge myself, and anyone else out there, to slow down.  Look around you and find what God is trying to show you--maybe your child's teacher is dealing with family problems and needs a pick-me-up, maybe the school secretary just found out her best friend is sick or maybe your elderly neighbor just hasn't had any visitors for a while.  Look around, there are plenty of areas where we can help others, God is trying to point you their way.  Are you looking, are you letting Him steer your ship, or does he have to create a massive storm or wreck your boat to make you stop and notice?

Friday, February 7, 2014

St. Luke the Younger

Today I was reading about St. Luke the Younger.  St. Luke was good and giving beyond what his parents found acceptable, honestly in their defence, I don't think I would have approved either.   He would give away his food, his clothing (yes, he would return nude!) and even gave away all the seed for the family's field.  That hit home.  How many times have I punished my children for doing something I disapprove of, only to find out that there was a good deed hiding behind it.  Holy cow--I have been his mother!  Ug!  I hate to admit that.  After his father's death, he decided to leave and live a holy life, his mom once again stood in his way (story of st. luke the younger ).  Would I do that as well?  I try and foster the idea of holy life for my children:  we pray for vocations, we talk about how our local priests came to choose that vocation and we visit with the brothers and nuns at our local mission.  I think I would encourage them to be priests, nuns, or brothers in Christ, but when the time comes would I encourage it or would I selfishly look at the fact that there would be fewer grandchildren.  I'm not exactly sure, and for all truth on the matter, we will not know until that day comes.  What can I say?  Pray for me. 

On another, and unrelated topic, I found that today is the beginning of
National Marriage Week, consequently, it's also my hubby's birthday.  Happy Birthday my Love!!!!  How will you foster your marriage this week.  Frankly, I am the less romantic of our relationship.  I plan birthday surprises, valentines....the list goes on and on....the day of.  I still have absolutely no idea of what I will do for my hubby today.  I'm thinking a nice lunch so we can actually be somewhat alone.  Our 2 year old will  be with us, but the other 4 are at school, and if you are a parent of a handful or more, you realize that one child in the midst of your date is the equivalent of alone.  There are very few babysitters, or grandparents for that matter, that want to keep 5 children at a time.  Beyond our plans for today, National Marriage Week, better known around here as the week of his birthday through Valentine's day, is fairly unplanned.  The things I plan on are not tangible:  I will try to pray for my husband daily, I will let him lead our household, and I will love him unconditionally.  I know these are all things that I should already be doing, but I fail at these sometimes, and lately it has been more often than not.  I pray for him, but not daily.  He leads our household, but lately I have found myself pushing the limits on this.  I give my children permission to go to the slumber party or plan our Friday night without even asking if he has plans or would like to do those things.  I suppose the way I should say this is:  I want to live out Ephesians 5:22-33.  So I challenge you, and me, to read it, live it and keep it in your heart all week.  Maybe by holding on to this verse all week, we can manage to live it all month, or even all year.  Happy National Marriage week!

Marriage Like Christ and the Church

Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.  But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.  So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.  For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.  Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Feast of Saint Agatha

Happy Feast of Saint Agatha!

I have to admit, as a convert to the Catholic faith, I am just now.....7 years later....really trying to learn and understand the saints.  What can I say, for a Methodist turned Catholic, there is aton of information to absorb.  Honestly, sometimes I feel like I am at the bottom of huge mountain trying to look at every rock and piece of soil and figure out what they mean and how they came to be.  The Catholic church is 2000 years of information and I want to know all of it!  I want to teach my children every bit of it!  But, with all honesty, I know this is impossible.  So here I am, day 2 of my blog, looking at the feast of Saint Agatha. 

I have read her story, not shared it with my children yet, honestly not sure I will at this point.  WOW!  We are so incredibly blessed in our country.  So many around the world suffer for their faith, while we idly sit and take our faith for granted.  I sit in church and listen to Catholic media proclaim our persecution over the new insurance mandates and I feel hurt and betrayed, but beyond prayer, do little.  All the while, the church in Syria and the middle east is being decimated and persecuted in such a gruesome manner that it makes our little protest seem little.  We are not being shot in our churches.  Our priests and nuns are not being drug off into prison.  So then I, and I know I am not the only one, count my blessings and pray.  But is this truly enough?  There are 77.7 million Catholics in the United States out of around 317 million Americans (take a look at these statistics, they are interesting catholic pew research ).  Not to mention that 78% of all Americans are christian, including Catholics listed above. 

What could we do if we were all as passionate about our faith as Saint Agatha?  What if we truly laid our faith out as a ground work for our day, our voting, our life.  I know we all say we do, and truly I think we all try, but what if we succeeded at this?  What if we truly thought of Church teachings and dedicated every aspect of our lives to JMJ?  What would happen then?  When my family goes out to eat, we pray before we eat.  Yes, there in the midst of all the eyes, we make the sign of the cross and pray out loud and bless our food.  That is our small way of showing the world who and what we are.  But what about those times when it is the hardest to follow Christ and the teachings of our church?  What if we honestly followed Jesus and the Church at those moments?  Where would our country be?  What could our country accomplish?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Feast of Saint Blaise

Happy Feast of Saint Blaise!

I start on this day wondering how a mom with children in public school are to share their faith with their kids.  I am trying.  Today, my children were late to school.  Not for lack of being ready, they were~but because it's the Feast of Saint Blaise and we went to mass!  I love to share uniquely Catholic days such as this with my children.  We shared mass, we went for our blessing and we all smiled as we discussed the miracles that might be done in us and with us.  I signed my children into school late...why....mass.  I was honest.  The looks were odd~especially at the middle school~where I was told my son would have an unexcused tardy, but he would not to go to lunch detention for this tardy. 

So what are we to do?  The faithful Catholic parents of the faithful Catholic students?  Catholic school is not always an option.  For my family, we have decided to be missionaries in our community.  To be Catholic students in a non-Catholic, and often non-christian, environment.  Don't get me wrong, we live in a wonderfully christian community and there are many wonderful Christians in our schools, but there are so very many children who do not have faith of any kind. 

As we ponder on the life of Saint Blaise today, remember to give yourself to God in everything~especially at the moments when it is not easy.  Saint Blaise ministered in a prison cell.  Where can you minister?  As my daughter taught me, walking in the footsteps of the saints is easy, you don't even have to say a word.  A boy asked her what was in her binder last week, so she handed him her St. Therese prayer card.  She laughed as she told me the story.  "Mom, he's told me before that he doesn't go to church or pray...but today he did!  He didn't know it, but as he read the back of my prayer card, he said his very first prayer.  I gave him that!"

St. Blaise pray for us.