Wednesday, March 26, 2014

St. Margaret Clitherow

Happy Feast of St. Margaret Clitherow!

Margaret Clitherow was a Protestant in Elizabethan England.  She married John Clitherow and had 3 children with him.  Three years after marriage, Margaret decided to convert to the Catholic faith.  Accounts say, she no longer found comfort, substance or truth in the "new" church.  Her husband remained Protestant, but supported her in her faith.  She was fervent in her faith: converting many, praying for 1 1/2 hours daily, and fasting 4 days of every week, regularly attending mass and confession.  When laws were passed against the Catholic faith, she was often imprisoned for not attending the Protestant service.  Then the laws came which forced priests out of England.  It was treason for a priest to remain and a felony to harbor or aid a priest, punishable by death.  Her love of her new faith led her to harbor fugitive priests.  This led to her imprisonment.  They tried, but failed, to force her by torture to deny her faith.  Eventually, she was condemned to death~by pressing.  She died at the age of 30.  More importantly, her children were so moved by her faith, all 3 chose the religious life (1 nun and 2 priests).

I don't know how Catholics in Elizabethan England were so strong and devoted.  I pray that in the same circumstances I would be as well, but the fear for the safety of your children must have been immense.  I read Autobiography
of a Hunted Priest last summer, and I must say, it was the most moving thing I have read...EVER.  To have a first hand account of life in that time was incredible.  I encourage you to read this autobiography.  It really will change your life, and make you look at your everyday decisions differently.  You will appreciate your freedom of religion and respect your ability to choose your faith.

I really don't know what else to say.  She is an example in her own rite.

I pray that my love of God and the Church can be so pure and so intense, that my children, simply by witnessing it, will feel the love of God.  

Monday, March 24, 2014

St. Catherine of Genoa

Happy (not actually feast) of St. Catherine of Genoa!

Ok, so I'm not exactly sure why St. Catherine came up as the saint of the day, but she did.  I took out typing and thinking, and really enjoying her story....but then came the realization that today is not her feast day! No, St. Catherine of Genoa is celebrated September 15, only 6 months from now.  Ug!  But, I really like her story, and it speaks to me today.  I guess God put her there for a reason, so if you want today's saint, sorry, today you get St. Catherine of Genoa.

Catherine was born to a noble family in 1447, the youngest of 5 children. She wanted a religious life and at 13 tried to join a convent, but was turned down due to her age.  She then decided to marry Julian Adorno at the age of 16.  Julian was extravagant in his life, selfish and unfaithful.  For a time, Catherine numbed her pain by extravagance as well, but upon going to confession has a renewed sense of her sins and God's love for her.  This renewed love of God allowed her to reform her life and live as a good example to her husband, who eventually reformed his life as well, but only after ruining them financially.  At this point Catherine and Julian decided to move into a large hospital in Genoa to give themselves to helping others.  Catherine wrote Dialogue Between the Soul and the Body and Treatise on Purgatory.  In her writing on purgatory, she writes that purgatory begins on earth for souls that open themselves up to God and that heaven is a continuation and perfection of the life with God began on earth.

Catherine speaks to me on so many levels.  My husband IS NOT like Julian, so don't get me wrong on that point.  But we married young I think along with all of the blessings you receive when you do this, you also grow in many areas as you get older and live more of your life.  Sometimes this growing and adjusting causes growing pains, so to speak, and you have to find your way through those growing pains.  I love that Catherine didn't try to change her husband.  From what we are told, she didn't one day decide to be more religious, come home and say, "repent or else."  No she adjusted what she did.  Lived as a good example and prayed.  I think we can learn a lot from this.  Today, we are a society of instant change.  Fix or else.  Separations and divorce are far to common in our society.  Catherine would have every reason in today's society to leave her husband~he cheated and ruined them financially.  What judge wouldn't grant her a divorce!  I don't know if she would have wanted one, or if this option was available, but she turned her heart to God and allowed Him to fix her marriage and their lives.  Maybe we should also turn to confession more.  Maybe we should turn to God more.  And maybe we should actually LISTEN to what He has to say.

I also am very excited to read Catherine's writings on purgatory.  I must admit, this is one of those areas that stumps the convert in me.  I understand it to a point, but the Methodist in me still comes out when thinking about purgatory and the cleansing of my soul after death in preparation for heaven.  While on this topic, indulgences are also a sticking point for me.  I like the idea of somehow buying time off the not-so-pleasant purgatory experience, but I also question it.

Hug your spouse today, better yet, do something special for them.  I will pray for my husband.  I will thank him for all he does and I will try to find a way to make his day truly special, even if it is a small way.

Saint Enda

Happy Feast of St. Enda!

St. Enda was the brother of St. Fanchea.  She convinced him to quit his warring activities and to marry.  He was engaged, but before long, his fiancee was found dead.  When this occurred he went to Rome to become ordaned to the priesthood.  He returned home to Ireland where his brother-in-law, King Oengus, gave him land to build a monestary.  This was Ireland's first monestary, so St. Enda is considered the founder of Irish monasticism.
There isn't much information on St. Enda, but I like his story.  He went from a warrior, to a fiancee, to a monk.  What can you say?  He certainly let God guide his feet.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Feast of St. Joseph

Happy Feast of St. Joseph, Husband of Mary!

How fitting is this, on the day I hopefully finish catching up--St. Joseph, husband of Mary, head of the Holy Family.  My 2 year old is better, no more fever, and spring break is over.  Onward and upward, life resumes and we begin with Joseph.

Well, this was how I started my post, then...little man started feeling icky again and my big boy needed mom. What can I say, I am a work in progress, but my littles come first, even when it's the big boy who is 12.  Little man is napping, so I will do what I can.  St. Joseph, chaste husband of Mary, mother of our Lord and savior.  We know from scripture that he was a carpenter, they had little, they were not rich, he came from the line of David (great King of Israel), he was caring and compassionate, he followed God in everything without question, he loved Jesus and was concerned for his safety, and he was a "righteous man."

I am so incredibly happy to have St. Joseph in Sacred Scripture and in the Church, but I wish I had more.  I wish I knew how he was as a father. When the baby screamed in the middle of the night, did he hold him, or was that Mary's job?  Was he nurturing and loving in teaching Jesus and rearing him?  I'm sure he was, God chose him out of all of the men in the world, but on some level, I just wish I had more.  (Selfish, isn't it.  I ask more of the ancient literature that chronicles God and his people both before and after Jesus.) Maybe I ask to much, I just wish I had more of an example for marriage and parenthood.  The calling to be married and parent isn't always easy, the questions are difficult and the instruction is hard.  Don't get me wrong, it is the MOST rewarding thing I can imagine.  I am happy, except when the 2 year old refuses to use the bathroom, or then in the midst of his tantrum, misses the potty and hits me, but all things considered I am extremely lucky and happy.  I love the hugs and kisses.  I cannot imagine life without the wonderfully misspelled I love you notes from my children.  I love celebrating the wins and hugging after the losses.  These are the things that make life.....well.....LIFE.

Where does this leave us?  This sketchy outline of who Joseph was early in Jesus' life.  What does this show us or teach us? What do we do now?  Well, we rely on the church and her teachings and we follow the outline we have of Joseph.  We know he would want us to work.  To do our jobs to the best of our ability, without fear of getting dirty.  We know he wants us to respect everyone who is out there providing for their family.  His job was not glamorous, he got dirty and worked hard.  That type of work is not for everyone, but everyone should have a deep respect for that type of work.  Not just carpenters, but construction workers, garbage men, plumbers, electricians, janitors, office workers.....etc....the list is endless.  Have respect for all men and their occupations.  Respect all and help all.  Mary and Joseph didn't have an easy life, they were uprooted as soon as Jesus was born.  They moved, resettled and later returned.  Help those who are new in your community to settle in and make their home.  Love your family~take care of them.  Last, but certainly not least, LOVE GOD, respect God and follow God in all you do.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Saint Patrick

Happy Feast of Saint Patrick!

I usually try to find saints that I know nothing about, and try to expand my knowledge, but today is St. Patrick's Day and, well, I really like St. Patrick.  Two of my children were baptized on his feast day, my oldest and my youngest, so he just holds a special place in my heart.

Saint Patrick was born in Britain, son of a deacon and grandson of a priest.  At that point you know, he is either destined for greatness or destined to rebel against it.  At the age of 16, he was captured by Irish raiders and was sold into slavery.  For 6 years, he tended to flocks, as part of his servitude.  During this time, he had a profound religious transformation and in the summer of 407, he was told in a dream to escape.  He did and traveled around 200 miles to leave on a ship transporting Irish hounds.  The ship landed in France and Patrick entered the local monastic institution and was taught, most notably, by St. Germanus of Auxerre. He had a longing, better said, as a spiritual calling to return to Ireland to help them in their faith.  Patrick had very little education and was embarrassed by his lack of knowledge, but gained the essentials of faith and was familiar with scripture.  Perhaps, this lack of formal education was part of what made him such an amazing missionary.  Patrick was the second missionary bishop appointed to bring Christianity to Ireland.  For 29 years, Patrick traveled among the 5 kingdoms of Ireland and won the conversion of nearly the entire Irish people.  His main accomplishments were:  promoting native clergy and integrating Christianity into the Celtic culture.  As with most successful missionaries, he was simple and heart felt in his teachings, my favorite being the clover to describe the trinity.

What can I say, we all know the stories, casting the snakes out of Ireland, the clover....St. Patrick is just one of those who's life is ingrained in us.  So, instead of me, trying to find a way for his life to be an example for ours, I am just going to share some of his prayer....The Breastplate of St. Patrick:

I bind unto myself today the strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same, the Three in One and One in Three,

I bind this day to me forever. 
By power of faith, Christ's incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan river; 
His death on the Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spiced tomb;
His riding up the heavenly way;
His coming at the day of doom;
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power of the great love of the cherubim;
The sweet 'well done' in judgement hour,
The service of the seraphim, confessors of faith, Apostles' word,
The Patriarch's prayers, the Prophets' scrolls, 
all good deeds done unto the Lord, and purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today the virtues of the starlit heaven,
the glorious sun's lift-giving ray, the whiteness of the moon at evening,
the flashing of the lightning free, the whirling wind's tempestuous shocks, 
the stable earth, the deep salt sea, around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today the power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay, His ear to hearken to my need. 
The wisdom of God to teach, His hand to guide, 
His shield to ward, the word of God to give me speech, 
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin, the vice that gives temptation force, 
the natural lusts that war within, the hostile men that mar my course;
or few or man, far or nigh, in every place and in all hours, 
against their fierce hostility, I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan's spells and wiles, against false words of heresy, 
against the knowledge that defiles, against the wizard's evil craft, 
against the death would and the burning, the choking wave and the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, til Thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me, 
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name, the strong Name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same.
The Three in One, and One in Three, 
Of whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

Feast of Saint Matilda

Happy Feast of Saint Matilda!

Saint Matilda was wife of Henry the Fowler who became the King of Germany in 919 a.d.  Upon her husband's death in 936, her sons fought it out for the throne, Matilda supporting her son Henry, but Otto was elected.  Both sons criticized her for her extravagant charities.  She gave them her inheritance and left to her summer home.  Her presence was requested by Otto's wife, so she returned to intercede between her power hungry boys.  Matilda prophesized Henry's death, and when he died, she gave herself to building convents and a monastery.  Otto left for Rome to be crowned Emperor in 962 (he is often thought of as the first Holy Roman Emperor).  Much of her remaining life was spent in the monastery were Henry was buried.

There really isn't much information on St. Matilda.   She was a Benedictine Oblate and Queen of Germany and her son was (possibly) the first Holy Roman Emperor.  Those are all facts about her life, but what is supposed to move us, encourage us, and help us in our faith formation?  What do we do with saints like this?  Saints that we really cannot relate to?  Trust me, there is nothing for me to relate to here.  I am nowhere near being a queen and I do not have the ability to give so extravagantly that my kids banish me......or wait do I?  Maybe I don't have the ability to pay for the complete construction of monasteries or convents.  Maybe I don't have millions to give and power to throw around, but I do have.  I have food that I cook and clothes my kids grow out of.  I have.  I really do, and I suspect, even if you don't have the way Matilda did, you have something as well.

I was truly embarrassed this past week by someone else's giving, as I was sitting there judging.  Yes, I was judging the fact that they don't live in accordance with the scriptures, the way I know and was taught them. They have a "non-traditional" family.  I guess that's how we are supposed to say it.  I was wondering how and why.  I know they are a great family, and don't get me wrong, I am happy to call them friends, but when the questions arise from my children, it is hard to explain how we can be friends with someone who doesn't live in the way the church says we should.  I tell them that we are not called to judge our neighbor, but to love our neighbor.  I show them the bible verses and explain the church's standpoint.  Then we go on living and being friends.  But this was one of those days, when I was sitting there judging their relationship and family and yet again, why I am forced to explain this to my kids.  That is when we started talking about what all we had been doing recently.  They told me about their recent experience feeding the poor, not in a shelter or at the food bank, but going to them, where they live.  Yes, they had found out that there is a day when the shelters are closed and the homeless have nowhere to go and nothing to get.  Yes, those that I had been judging, found that need and filled it.  Wow....and I call myself a Christian.  What had I done over spring break with my kids?  We went to a movie and filled in things that needed to be done, but we hadn't helped anyone, and this is Lent.  We are all called to give, to help those in need.  Find where you can help.  I am determined to find where I can.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

St. Fina

Happy Feast of St. Fina!

Saint Fina was a beautiful young woman who came into her family at a time when they were poor (from the accounts I read, it didn't seem to have always been that way).  She, like many other saints we have read about, was extremely giving.  Although she had very little, she saved some of what she had for those less fortunate than herself.  This is not where her sainthood lies though.  Her father dies while she is still young and near the same time, she is struck by a sudden illness, which leaves her paralyzed.  She he is forced to lay on a plank (yes, a stiff board) for 6 years unable to move.  During which time she is often left alone while her mom goes to work or begs.  She is also covered in what seem to be hideous sores, which transpose her beauty into something that her neighbors and friends do not want to see.  This leaves her alone for long stretches of time.  During this time she keeps her eyes fixed on the cross and repeated "It is not my wounds but thine, O Christ, that hurt me".  What would happen to a young girl in this position?  I would have prayed for a miracle, honestly, I know I am not a strong as St. Fina.  At this point her mother suddenly dies, leaving her totally and completely alone.  Only one friend would still come and attend to her, Beldia. Fina and Beldia spoke of St. Gregory the Great and his sufferings, so Fina began to pray for his intercession. She prayed for peace in her affliction.  St. Gregory came to her and told her she would be given rest on his feast day.  On that day, they found her dead.  When they removed her from her plank, they found it covered in white violets.  The entire town attended her funeral, at which were noted many miracles.  One of which was St. Fina, dead, reaching up and healing her friend, Beldia's hurt arm.  

As I have already said, I'm not anywhere as strong as St. Fina.  I would love to say, that any time I have been ailing, I didn't complain, but that would be an all out lie.  I complain, I fuss and I don't resemble her in the least.  She is a great example of a peaceful illness.  Not peaceful as in lack of pain and suffering, but peaceful in heart and spirit.  While I pray I never have an extended illness or die a slow and lingering death, I pray that if I do, if I ever have to face my mortality in that manner I can do it with the same grace that St. Fina did.  I pray I can accept God's will in every aspect of my life, especially those areas that are the most difficult to accept His will in. I pray that God will lead my life, and that more importantly, I ALLOW God to lead my life.  I'm sure this has always been an issue, but for me it seems to be so difficult.  Our world tells us to grab the bull by the horns and take charge.  Stepping back is quite a leap and quite our of character for our society.  This Lent, I vow more than every to accept God's will with more grace and acceptance than I ever have and to do so with a happy heart.  

Monday, March 10, 2014

Feast of St. John Ogilvie

Happy Feast of St. John Ogilvie!

St. John was raised as a Calvinist in Scotland in 1579.  He left Scotland in search of education and found the Catholic Church, to which he was admitted at the age of 17.  He decided to join the Jesuits and joined in 1610.  His wish was to be sent home to Scotland and minister to them there.  He was finally sent and was very successful at converting his fellow countrymen.  Later he was betrayed by someone posing as a Catholic and was imprisoned.  There he was tortured as the authorities tried to get names of other Catholics in Scotland, which he refused.  He was convicted of high treason after his 3 trials, since he still swore allegiance to the Catholic Church and was guilty of converting Protestants to the Catholic faith.  He was hung at the age of 35.  As he was led to be hung he spent time in prayer, pushing his own ladder away.

Another martyr for the faith.  Where does this lead us?  What does this mean we are supposed to do? Not all of us are called to stand firm for our faith, to the point of facing death.  Maybe I am naive, but I do not foresee that in my country or life.  I know there are people all over the world facing that life right now, but I am not.  What does a martyr's life tell me to do?  I must actually give the credit for this to my parish priest.  Somehow, through the insanity of me with children at mass, I caught, what I assume was the main point of what seemed to be an endless homily.  We are not called to do the impossible, we are called to do the ordinary.  We are called to pay attention and notice when things do not fit with our Catholic faith and we are called to say something at that point.  We are called to not ignore or go along with something contrary to our faith.  We are called to investigate to lead others.  We are called to point out the issue and to try to remedy the situation.  So for all of you who, like me, don't rock the boat, that is the problem.  We don't rock the boat, so nothing happens, nothing changes and the world goes on ignoring the true church of God and we melt into obscurity.  I guarantee the Protestants, Baptists and Lutherans would not ignore their church being blasted on TV or at school, neither should we.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Feast of Sts. Perpetua and Felicity

Happy Feast of Sts. Perpetua and Felicity!

Writings of the martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity live in writings by both Perpetua and her teacher Saturus.  This is amazing to have, since the events took place in the 200s (yes--around 1800 years ago)!!  The account is known as the Acts of Pepetua and Felicity or the "Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity."  This will be a must read and the website attached to the link above carries many of the church's early writings.  It is a must for those wanting to dig deeper into the early church.  Onto the story at hand.  Perpetua was 22 years old, and we assume a widow and mother of a small child, when she decided to become a catechumen.  Her decision meant a possibility of death, due to the persecutions of Septimus.  Perpetua was baptized and soon after imprisoned, along with 4 other catechumens, which included 2 slaves (Felicity was one of these).  Perpetua was known for receiving messages from the Lord and was by him at her baptism to pray for endurance in the face of trials.  The prisoners were treated to extreme heat in the prison, as well as overcrowding and brutal treatment.  Perpetua was pained by the absence from her baby, but Felicity was 8 months pregnant while enduring the punishment.  Some deacons paid off the guards and had the martyrs moved to a better part of the prison, where Perpetua could have her baby stay with her and receive visitors.  When examined and sentenced before the judge, Perpetua's father pled for her to recent and deny her faith, but she refused.  She was sentenced with the rest of the martyrs to be thrown to wild beasts.  While still in prison, she had visions of her deceased brother in what sounds like purgatory, so she prayed for him unceasingly, even through her suffering in the stockades, until she had visions of him drinking from a golden bowl that never emptied.  Felicities time was also full of torments.  She was fearful that she would not give birth before the day of execution.  This was an issue, because it was against the law to kill a pregnant woman since you'd be spilling innocent blood.  (Amazing, how such a brutal time held life in the womb as precious, but today, in our modern and educated society, life in the womb is not even acknowledged as life.)  Two days before the martyrdom, she gave birth to a healthy girl who was adopted by a Christian family.  The strength and leadership of the Christians, especially, was noticed by those working the prison.  Even the warden later became a Christian.  The martyrs met their end with pride, joy and dignity.  The men were attacked by bears, leopards and boars.  The women were stripped and made to face a rabid heifer.  The crowd was appalled by the treatment of the women, so they were dress and their throats cut in front of the crowds.  Perpetua's last words were "Stand fast in the faith and love one another."

These 2 women, as well as the other martyrs, show us so many wonderful lessons for our lives. 
*The value of life, even in a society that did not value life, an unborn child held value.  It held such value that his mother could not be killed, even during the persecutions.  This was not a culture that valued life, their recreation was watching the loss of life. 
*The order of their lives JOY--Jesus, Others, You
*Leadership-Leading others to Jesus, not by force, but by example.

I hope to lead my life in the manner of these amazing martyrs.  As I heard one person say the other day, our lives should be lived so that seeing the separation of our lives from our faith is impossible.  That our everyday lives should be so intertwined with faith that there is no line of separation and that to try to divide ourselves from our faith would be the very end of us.  What a concept!  What a goal!

From the blog:
it contains comics on the life of St. Perpetua

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ash Wednesday

Happy Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of Lent!

I have always always faithfully attended Ash Wednesday services, as a Methodist and as a Catholic.  I have marched up there been marked and went on with life.  As a kid, I would wipe it off as soon as I walked out of church, as a teen I did the same, but as an adult I wear it as a badge of honor for the day.  But what does it really mean.  I have been told that it is our mark, showing that we are Christian.  I have been told that it is "just what we do."  But really, what is it, and WHY do we do this.  You have to admit it is a bit bizarre that we all faithfully march to the front and get ash smeared on our foreheads (yes, usually in a cross, but there are those big thumbed priests that give you a smear of ash from one side of your head to the other--admit it, we all secretly hope we don't end up in his line).  So I have been doing some research.  This year I am not giving my kids the generic answer that I always give them. 

"But M-oooo-m, why do we have to do this every year?"
"Honey, do you love God?"
"Yes, but it's weird."
"Did Jesus give his life for you?"
"Yes, but not with ashes on his head."
"Well, if you love God and the sacrifice of Jesus, you will just do this without another word!"
"Fine!  I'll go, but I will wipe it off before we go to the grocery store."
Yes, that's pretty much it, every year, with one or more and my ridiculous answer. 

According to the Catholic Update ashes were used in the practice of repentance even in the Old Testament.  I must admit, I have not been able to make it through the Old Testament, but it has been given numerous tries.  Maybe that will be something I can do for Lent....and beyond....I'm such a slow reader.  In Jeremiah, the people are told to "gird on sackcloth and roll in ashes."  Isaiah didn't like that practice, saying that didn't make a proper fast.  Daniel covered all of the bases.  He wore sackcloth, rolled in ashes and fasted.  The King of Nineveh took off his robe, dressed in sackcloth and sat in ashes after receiving Jonah's message.  Judith gives us our first look at ashes being strewn on heads at the temple, and the examples continue on into Maccabees and Matthew.  So, obviously, ashes have been well recorded in Bible history as a form of repentance.  I'm so glad we are not rolling in them at the foot of the altar!  I will make sure to tell my kids, if you don't like it on your foreheads, it could be all over your body and your could be wearing a feed sack to town.  That ought to get their attention. 

When did the Catholic Church begin the practice?  In the year 960, there is record of the sprinkling of ashes for Ash Wednesday.  Before that, people were either sprinkled or marked with ash as a sign of admittance to the Order of Penitents (this was the old way of confessing sin and doing penance--you were marked while doing a long term penance).  Toward the end of the 11th century Pope Urban II called for a general use of ashes for Ash Wednesday.  The 12th century called for the ashes to be from the previous year's palm branches.  Lent truly developed as a method for the entire church to pray for catechumens who are preparing for Baptism and for the members of the church to prepare for their renewal of Baptismal promises at Easter.  During the Middle Ages, this shifted to a remembrance of the passion and death of Jesus--repentance was a way to avoid punishment for sins not as a way to prepare for baptism.  Vatican II called us to shift back to our preparation for baptism and away from it being such an individual avoidance of punishment at death.  This is our time of conversion.  We are basically the living out the Old Testament.  We are called to confess and repent during Lent in preparation for Easter.  We receive our mark on Ash Wednesday, showing that we are making amends for our sins, so we can be pure and clothed in white as we renew our baptismal promises.

This year I will definitely look at the 40 days differently.  I will look at what I give up differently.  I will truly make this a time of conversion and preparation for my family.  This year will not be a usual Lent and Easter, where we "make time" for extra masses and think "oh no, it's Friday, what will I pack the kids for lunch?"  This will be our conversion and our time to turn back toward God in everything we do, and I hope it will be for you as well.  May God bless you in your journey and my family in our journey.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Feast of St. Katharine Drexel

Happy Feast of St. Katharine Drexel!

St. Katharine Drexel is one of those saints I feel I should know more about.  I know she was American, but beyond that, nothing.  Finding out that she was only the second American born, following Elizabeth Ann Seton, saint was interesting.  Honestly, my first thought was, where are all of the good Catholic Americans?  On to Katharine's story.  Her life began in an unusual way.  She was born to a rich Philadelphia family, but shortly after her birth, her mother died.  Her father sent baby Katharine and her sister to an aunt and uncle until he was remarried.  Katharine's step-mother was kind and generous.  They passed out food and monetary assistance from their home, but when there were those in need that were to proud to come and receive the help, they quietly went to their aid.  Katharine's step-mother instilled in the children the concept that "Kindness may be unkind if it leaves a sting behind."  Katharine's step-mom died from terminal cancer, her struggle leaving a profound impact on Katharine.  After reading A Century of Dishonor, and traveling west seeing the plight of the American Indian, Katharine made helping them her life long goal.  Katharine had an inclination to join a contemplative order, but her friend and spiritual director instructed her to wait and pray.  During this time she visited the Pope and asked him to staff some of the missionaries she had been funding with missionaries.  She decided to join a religious order, which rocked the upper class Philadelphia social circles she had previously been part of.  Along with 13 other women, she started the order of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament.  Mother Katharine, as she was known, was always fighting for social justice, which kept her fairly controversial for a nun.  The sisters opened and staffed many schools for American Indians and Black Americans, crossing many social and political barriers.  She suffered a heart attack in 1937 which gradually led to her death.  The last 3 years of her life were spent in Eucharistic adoration.

The Vatican cited a fourfold legacy of Drexel:
  • A love of the Eucharist and perspective on the unity of all peoples;
  • courage and initiative in addressing social inequality among minorities - one hundred years before such concern aroused public interest in the United States;
  • her belief in quality education for all and efforts to achieve it;
  • and selfless service, including the donation of her inheritance, for the victims of injustice.
I never imagined that St. Katharine would be such an interesting and modern saint.  I personally loved a story I read about St. Katharine's school in Beaumont, TX and the Klan.  I encourage you to look it up and read.  God really does help those who help those in the most need.  I added an image of the children's book, I am getting it for my children and I pray it will move them as much as her story has made an impression on me.  Of all the wonderful claims that our country has, we must face the way we have treated those who don't fit into the box we have created.  From the American Indians and African Americans, to immigrants from every other country.  Every group that has come to these shores along the way has faced some sort of intolerance, even my grandfather, who's family came from Russia in the early 1900s.  I love the fourfold legacy of Katharine Drexel laid out by the Vatican.  Really I cannot say it any better than they have.  Love the Eucharist , know that Our Lord and Savior is truly present in the Eucharist.  Teach that to your children!  I cannot stress that enough.  Even my 2 year old understands that when the bells ring at church "Jesus is here!!!"  Go to adoration and take your children with you.  Even if they are not perfect, take them and help them to know that they are truly in the presence of Jesus when they are in front of the Eucharist.  You will be amazed!  Second, address social issues.  Don't leave these issues for someone else, do something.  For my children and myself, this includes standing up for those of other races, but also other minorities.  Help the child who is special needs or is physically disabled or scared: be nice to them, help them, let them sit with you at lunch (everyone who has gone through middle and high school knows that this is where the most discrimination happens).  Parents, this one is for you, ensure an equal education for all!  Being a mom of dyslexics, let me tell you, this is a fight.  I cannot imagine what parents go through with students who have more profound learning disabilities.  You are your child's best advocate, but that does not mean that if you do not have children you can't help.  You vote, you go to school board meetings, you make sure your schools are teaching everyone as they should be, regardless of race, social status, religion or impairment.  Lastly, selfless service.  Give of yourself.  Sacrifice your time, your treasure, and your talents.  There is something we are all called to do.  Find your thing and give of it.  We don't all have millions like Katharine Drexel, but we can all do something.  Act as a foster parent, volunteer to be a reader with elementary children at school, coach a sports team, be a mentor, help at your local soup kitchen or meals on wheels, there are millions of ways you can help.  Find where you fit, make it your Lenten sacrifice, and start today.