Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Cross













We complain about the cross we bear but don't realize it is preparing us for the dip in the road that God can see and we cannot.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Just Because They Use The Word "Catholic" ...

It has been MONDAY all over the place here! I feel like I have lived four days today and it is only 5pm! It all started when I got into my office this morning, and found an interestingly ragged, large brown envelope on my desk. It was addressed to my assistant and I, and according to the return address was apparently mailed by my assistant and I at a post office a few towns over last Friday. Neither one of us remembered mailing anything to ourselves. Nor had either of us been in that town on Friday so I knew whatever was inside was going to be unique.

Sadly, I was not mistaken.

Inside the envelope were copies taken off various "Catholic" websites about different topics that had such BAD theology behind them I could hardly believe my eyes. When I went to the websites it was clear that they were not in line with the Magisterium, and in fact were run by "lay Catholics" inviting other "lay Catholics" to leave posts on whatever topic happened to suit their fancy, with apparent disregard for the theological background of the poster.

This is SO dangerous!

Please, if you want to know what the Roman Catholic Church teaches, go to the Vatican website, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) website, your diocesan website, or pick up a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, but please be very careful when you go to just any "Catholic" website.

They are not all created equally. And, know that if you are on a site that calls Pope John Paul II the "antipope" or followers of Vatican II "cult" or "sect" members the person posting is probably not in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church.

The only thing about the package I received that gave me any hope for the person who sent it was that it was done completely anonymously. Certainly that must mean that the person who mailed it was so unsure of what they were reading that they couldn't bring themselves to attach their name to it.

At least that is my prayer!! ;-)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

What Happens When We Jump To Conclusions

Way back in my youth (1983 to be exact) I was newly married and very ill. I spent Thanksgiving and Christmas that year doubled over in pain. It turned out that I had a cyst on my ovary that was wreaking havoc with my system. At first, the doctor thought it would dissolve on its own, and when after several months, the pain became worse and I began to become anemic, he decided I needed a procedure to get my system back in order.

Two weeks after New Year's 1984, I went into the hospital for a dilatation and curettage or uterus scraping. Afterward, the doctor told me everything was fine and that I would be able to have as many children as God would bless me with. A relief for me as I had always wanted a big family.

In 1985 I became pregnant for the very first time. It was a difficult pregnancy; I was on bedrest for the last 4 months, and my oldest son was born in February 1986. The two of us caught a staph infection in the delivery room of the very same hospital I had been in 2 years earlier. The first week of his life was scary but with God's grace we made it through. Two years after his birth, I was expecting again, but sadly lost my second child in a miscarriage.

In 1989, I was again expecting. Early in my second trimester the doctor told me I had to quit my job or it would put my third child's life at risk. After I left the doctor's office, I went to work to give my supervisor the news and then, returned home.

Once home, I retrieved the mail from the box and noticed a large envelope from the Respect Life Committee of our local church. I opened it as I walked up the driveway to the house. My eyes nearly popped out of my head when I saw what was inside!

In the envelope was a horrifyingly graphic color picture of an aborted baby...ripped from it's mother's womb. Across the top was the accusation that that was what I had done to my children(?) when I had aborted them in 1984 and 1988!?! Also in that envelope was paperwork telling me how disappointed Christ was in me for having had abortions!?!

I was alone, confused, and inconsolable. Here I had just returned from a doctor's visit telling me I could lose the child I was carrying if I was not careful, and THIS is what I found in my mailbox. When I was able to compose myself, I called the church whose address was on the envelope. The secretary was as appalled as I was that I was accosted in this way in my own home...and WRONGLY so at that!

After listening to my story, the secretary told me she was going to make a call or two and get back to me. Honestly, I didn't believe her. If someone could send a pregnant woman a horrific picture like that, accusing her of committing acts she never had, lying about returning a telephone call didn't seem all that impossible to believe.

Well, the secretary DID call me back later that day. She told me that one of the vounteers on the committee that had sent me that diabolical picture (at a time when I was trying to keep my own child alive in my womb) was an employee of the hospital where I had the curative d&c five years earlier, and after the miscarriage four years after that.

This employee, over zealous in his/her desire to stop abortion took it upon themselves to send this picture out to every woman whom it APPEARED to him/her had had an abortion.


I was appalled that my personal medical records would be used to attack me in such a horrific and erroneous way; and, that a hospital employee would abuse their position in such a way in "Christ's Name."

To her credit, the parish secretary was appalled as well, consoled me as best she could, apologized, and impressed me immensely with her honesty and compassion.

The moral of this story?


We will NEVER win the fight against abortion if our motives and our methods are not PURE. I never felt comfortable in that church EVER AGAIN.

Like Christ, I was wrongly accused and persecuted by someone who believed only what they wanted to believe, despite the TRUTH!

Sadly, in their zeal they forgot one important, indisputable fact: someday they, too will be judged...not by me...but, by God.
"A mother is the most important person on earth.
She cannot claim the honor of having built Notre Dame Cathedral.
She need not.
She has built something more magnificent than any Cathedral --
a dwelling for an immortal soul, the tiny perfection of her baby's body."

---Joseph Cardinal Mindszenty---

Friday, March 20, 2009

Our Soul

From the show "Saving Grace:"

Angel: "Ya know when you die you suddenly weigh three quarters of an ounce less than you did when you was alive. Some people think that's the weight of your soul. What a you think?"

Grace: "I think it's the air in your lungs."

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Devil's Beatitudes

One of my catechists just brought this to me. It's too good not to share.

If the Devil were to write his Beatitudes, they would probably go something like this:

Blessed are those who are too tired, too busy, too distracted to spend an hour once a week in Church - they are my best workers.

Blessed are those who wait to be asked and expect to be thanked - I can use them.

Blessed are the touchy, with a bit of luck they may stop going to Church - they are my missionaries.

Blessed are those who are very religious but get on everyone's nerves - they are mine forever.

Blessed are the troublemakers - they shall be called my children.

Blessed are those who have no time to pray - they are easy prey for me.

Blessed are the gossipers - for they are my secret agents.

Blessed are those critical of Church Leadership - for they shall inherit a place with me in my fate.

Blessed are the complainers - I'm all ears for them.

Blessed are you when you read this and think it is about other people and not yourself - I've got you!

Monday, March 16, 2009

These Old Bones

Today is sort of a blue/gray day on Long Island. Everything about it screams: "RAIN IS COMING!" Of course, my joints were screaming that as I got out of bed this morning...didn't need the sky to tell me. Every now and then, the sun tries to peek through a cloud and stay awhile. But, overall the sky is more gray than blue, and more murky than sunny. And, my joints are more creaky than quiet.

Ever since I turned forty, my joints have been making themselves known loudly and clearly. Sometimes the noises, creakings, and new gray hairs get to me in our world of younger is better and Clairol, L'Oreal, and botox (really? really? inject botulism into my face!? You ARE kidding? Right? I have to be near death to take a Tylenol...botox is NOT happening anywhere near me!!)

All in all, though, I'm okay with my creaks and, I have even embraced my gray hairs...they tell the world that I have weathered a storm or two (or three or four or twelve) and come out the other side...older, yes; but, more importantly wiser.

And the good news is: even though my earthly vessel is a little worse for wear here and there, my spirit is in tact. My heart, my soul, they are younger than springtime. Someday, when the creaking eventually stops, my spirit will soar up, up, up and away right into the arms of Our Lord. There, my spirit unencumbered by it's creaking body, will be free.

I have no illusions about what heaven is like. I know from St. Therese that there will still be work to be done. I know that, too, from my own prayer life. I hardly give any of the saints or deceased family members a day of rest, asking each to intercede for this one or that with the Father. When the time comes, I will be ready, willing, and able to work...what a pleasure it will be to do it without an accompanying soundtrack of cracks and creaks!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Eternal Truths Gleaned From the Movie: "Beverly Hills Chihuahua"

Finally got to sit down this afternoon with my DVD of "Beverly Hills Chihuahua." In the beginning of the movie I was covering my dogs' eyes lest they get any ideas about cashmere sweaters, leather booties, and (really? really?) diamond dog collars.

They are DOGS...they come fully clothed at birth...in fur...they do not require sweaters or pants or skirts and they especially do not require diamond collars!

As with all Disney movies, despite the largesse, I was hooked. When it got to the part where the leader of the Chihuahuas was explaining how tiny and mighty they were, and how they would be spoken to in baby voices "No Mas!" And, dressed like humans "No Mas!" I was hysterical.

Then the head of the Chihuahua Revolution explained: "We Chihuahuas come in all shapes and colors, but when you look not with your eyes but with your soul, we are all the same!" I was enthralled.

Is that not what we all should say about every human, too?


I challenge us all, this week, to make a conscious effort to look at EVERYONE we encounter not with our eyes, but with our soul. Let's see how that will help us grow in Christ!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Child Abuse Prevention Month

A pastor I follow on Twitter put up a link to a cute story entitled: "The Top Ten Signs Your Child Might Be The Son of God" at http://budurl.com/67fr.

Now, as Christians we believe that when Jesus comes again it will not be as an infant, as he was born into the world over 2000 years ago; but rather, in the same way he exited, that is, in his glorified state. Still, I had to chuckle over this top ten list.

Except for sign number 9: "Strange men always stopping by with gifts for him." When I heard sign number 9, as the parish administrator and facilitator for the "Virtus: Protecting God's Children" Program for our diocese, I immediately thought that if strange men were stopping by bringing gifts to my child, before they could get past me, they would have to complete and pass a reference check as well as a criminal background check. As a mom I would probably require a set of fingerprints as well for a little extra assurance.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. It is up to us to stop child abuse every day, of every month, of every year. IF YOU THINK SOMETHING ISN'T RIGHT...IT PROBABLY ISN'T! Please don't chat about it at the bus stop, after the PTA meeting, or while you are waiting for religion class to end.


When I facilitate a session on child abuse awareness, I tell everyone present that some of us are state-mandated to report abuse; but, ALL of us are morally mandated to do so. If you can't make the call yourself then go to a teacher, guidance counselor, principal, pastor, deacon, dre, or anyone else you trust and bring your concerns to them so they can make the call.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

How Christians Are Like Superman

There is a scene in the movie "Superman Returns" that I find truly inspirational. In the movie, Lex Luthor is intent on killing Superman once and for all. He destroys Superman’s hideaway and lures him there to kill him. At one point Luthor takes a jagged piece of kryptonite and plunges it into Superman’s back. Immediately Superman begins to grow weak and staggers backward over a cliff into the water below. He is sinking fast. Lois Lane and her family are on a hovercraft searching for Superman. They see him below the surface of the water and Lois gets out and pulls Superman onto the craft. He is almost dead. Things look nearly hopeless.

Soon, Lois sees the jagged piece of kryptonite sticking out of Superman’s back and with much pain for our weakening hero pulls it out and tosses it into the sea. Superman struggles to his feet and goes out the open hatch. The next scene shows him flying up to the sun to reenergize and heal. This scene was just amazing. Weak and barely able to fly Superman makes it to the sun where a great transformation occurs. We see his back get straighter; his muscles expand, after a few minutes with the sun even his knuckles seemed to have grown muscles. Superman is revived…re-invigorated…healed. Superman is sun-powered. S-u-n-powered.

Our kryptonite is the excesses and temptations of the world. But, through Jesus Christ, we are re-energized…. re-invigorated… healed! As Catholic Christians, we have no need to fly up to the sun, we find Jesus right where we are: in each other, in Holy Scripture, in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, in the Sacrifice of the Mass, and at our source and summit: The Eucharist. And, we are re-energized...re-invigorated...healed!

Just as Superman is sun-powered, so too are we: S-O-N-powered!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Perfect Love

It is a gorgeous day on Long Island.
There is just a hint of the promise of spring in the air
even while piles of snow are still scattered around here and there.

As I was driving my younger son to class this morning I began to ponder the concept of Perfect Love. Of course, Christ showed us Perfect Love on the cross. As a mother, I think the closest I have ever come to Perfect Love was when my boys exited my womb and were placed in my arms at birth; even though, they had had my heart even before the doctor confirmed I was expecting.

But, Perfect Love for my neighbor - that is more of a struggle for me. It is easy as mom to say: "I give all I have and all I am to you, my sons: my life, my love, my heart, my soul - they are yours now and forever." It is much more difficult to say to the stranger, or those neighbors who strain my patience to its painfully short limit. Yet, that is exactly what Christ did and expects me to do as well.

Jesus did not just prick his finger and spill a few drops of blood so that only his closet friends would be saved. Rather, Christ allowed his whole body to be ravaged, his hands and feet pierced with rusty nails, his head bloodied and torn by the crown of thorns, his side savagely ripped by the soldier's sword...His blood flowed freely not for the select few gathered at the cross that fateful day but, for all sinners then, now and into eternity. His blood flowed for you and me, for our friends, our loved ones, AND those who challenge us in whatever way that might be.

Perfect Love...it is a challenge for me. Jesus showed me the way. I know it is the way I must follow. With the help of the Holy Spirit, I will obey.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Accepting Mediocrity

As I was preparing my notes for our Level 7 Confirmation Prep Group, I came upon the following in the "Sustaining Your Spirit" section of The Harcourt Publishers "Call to Faith" Catechist Manual. It has been sticking with me for a couple of weeks now because, all around me all I seem to hear everyday is: "good enough is good enough." I hear it in one way or another from almost everyone I encounter. It seems to be a recurring theme in so many areas of our lives. Sometimes, it is used as almost an indictment against anyone who cares enough to want more from or to give more than is normally expected in any given situation. I can't help believing that the "good enough is good enough" attitude is what leads us right down the garden path to the unhealthy and unsatisfactory situations and relationships in which we so often find ourselves. This little blurb from our textbook has obviously had a great impact on me. I hope the same is true for you!

"Acceptance of mediocrity is the quietest and most harmful of all the challenges you face. Accepting mediocrity makes you ineffective and may eventually lead to apathy.

Wherever mediocrity is found, the lullaby is the same: 'It's good enough.'

Testimony is the courageous practice of making a public statement that 'It's not good enough for me.' Even if you don't know how to improve a situation, truthfully testifying that something is not good enough strengthens the fire of your spirit.

Reflect: To what area of mediocrity might you now need to apply the practice of Testimony?"

Saturday, March 7, 2009

My Favorite Poem By Maya Angelou

So many times people think that because we call ourselves followers of Christ that we are perfect. Worse, I think is when others expect us to be perfect; and, then are somehow disappointed that we, too, are merely human. I have never personally met a perfect human being nor am I one. That is why I am grateful for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and love this poem by Maya Angelou.

I am a Christian
by Maya Angelou

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not shouting "I'm clean livin."
I'm whispering "I was lost,
Now I'm found and forgiven."

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I don't speak of this with pride.
I'm confessing that I stumble
And need Christ to be my guide.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not trying to be strong.
I'm professing that I'm weak
And need His strength to carry on.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not bragging of success.
I'm admitting I have failed
And need God to clean my mess.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not claiming to be perfect,
My flaws are far too visible
But, God believes I am worth it.

When I say... "I am a Christian"

I still feel the sting of pain.

I have my share of heartaches

So I call upon His name.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not holier than thou,
I'm just a simple sinner
Who received God's good grace, somehow!

Thoughts on Lent

Lent is my favorite time of the liturgical year. Just as we must work at our relationships with others: our spouse, our children, our family and friends to help those relationships to grow and blossom, so too, we must work on our relationship with God so it, and as a result, we may grow and blossom as well. Lent is the time the Church gives us to examine our relationship with God and decide what works and what doesn't; what we need to build upon and what we need to discard in order to break those barriers we have put up between our hearts and the heart of the Holy Trinity.

As I prepare children for First Reconciliation I always tell them that God never, ever turns His back on us. No matter what, He is always there, waiting with open arms, just as the father of the Prodigal Son was waiting in the courtyard in Jesus' parable. Sometimes, however, by our actions or probably more often our inaction, by what we say and by what we fail to say we turn our backs on God. Lent is the time to turn back and fall into the loving arms of a God who wants nothing more than to enfold us in a freely flowing love that asks nothing more of us than that we love in return.

Jesus showed us how. Born a man, he walked this earth in human flesh: he knew temptation, he knew fatigue, he knew sorrow and, he knew pain. Above all, though, he knew and was certain of the unfailing love of Abba, his Father. How certain are we of God's unfailing love? Does our certainty show in how we live? Love? Work? Worship?

To be sure, Lent is about fasting, prayer, and almsgiving, not just for the sake of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving; but, for our sake, for the sake of taking stock of ourselves and our relationship with God and moving forward with hope not only to the resurrection of Christ, but to the resurrection of ourselves and our relationship with Him. And, through it all we have each other for encouragement and support. What's not to like about Lent?
I receive so many emails that are good stories. Some bring deep thoughts, some bring a smile or a chuckle, others come at times when I haven't even realized I have stopped listening. I share some of them with you today :-)

United States Map

A father wanted to read a magazine but was being bothered by his little
girl, Shelby. She wanted to know what the United States looked like.

Finally, he tore a sheet out of his new magazine on which was printed the
map of the country. Tearing it into small pieces, he gave it to Shelby and
said, "Go into the other room and see if you can put this together. This
will show you our whole country today."

After a few minutes, Shelby returned and handed him the map, correctly
fitted and taped together. The father was surprised and asked how she had finished so quickly. "Oh," she said, "on the other side of the paper is a picture of Jesus. When I got all of Jesus back where He belonged, then our country just came together."
-Author Unknown-

Judas Asparagus

Through the eyes of a child:

The Children's Bible in a Nutshell

In the beginning, which occurred near the start, there was nothing but God, darkness, and some gas. The Bible says, "The Lord thy God is one," but I think He must be a lot older than that.

Anyway, God said, "Give me a light!" and someone did.

Then God made the world.
He split the Adam and made Eve. Adam and Eve were naked, but they weren't embarrassed because mirrors hadn't been invented yet.

Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating one bad apple, so they were driven from the Garden of Eden.....Not sure what they were driven in though, because they didn't have cars.

Adam and Eve had a son, Cain, who hated his brother as long as he was Abel.

Pretty soon all of the early people died off, except for Methuselah, who lived to be like a million or something.

One of the next important people was Noah, who was a good guy, but one of his kids was kind of a Ham. Noah built a large boat and put his family and some animals on it. He asked some other people to join him, but they said they would have to take a rain check.

After Noah came Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jacob was more famous than his brother, Esau, because Esau sold Jacob his birthmark in exchange for some pot roast. Jacob had a son named Joseph who wore a really loud sports coat.

Another important Bible guy is Moses, whose real name was Charlton Heston. Moses led the Israel Lights out of Egypt and away from the evil Pharaoh after God sent ten plagues on Pharaoh's people. These plagues included frogs, mice, lice, bowels, and no cable.

God fed the Israel Lights every day with manicotti. Then he gave them His Top Ten Commandments. These include: don't lie, cheat, smoke, dance, or covet your neighbor's stuff.
Oh, yeah, I just thought of one more: Humor thy father and thy mother.

One of Moses' best helpers was Joshua who was the first Bible guy to use spies. Joshua fought the battle of Geritol and the fence fell over on the town.

After Joshua came David. He got to be king by killing a giant with a slingshot. He had a son named Solomon who had about 300 wives and 500 porcupines. My teacher says he was wise, but that doesn't sound very wise to me.

After Solomon there were a bunch of major league prophets. One of these was Jonah, who was swallowed by a big whale and then barfed up on the shore.

There were also some minor league prophets, but I guess we don't have to worry about them.

After the Old Testament came the New Testament. Jesus is the star of The New. He was born in Bethlehem in a barn. (I wish I had been born in a barn too, because my mom is always saying to me, "Close the door! Were you born in a barn?" It would be nice to say, "As a matter of fact, I was.")

During His life, Jesus had many arguments with sinners like the Pharisees and the Democrats.

Jesus also had twelve opossums.

The worst one was Judas Asparagus. Judas was so evil that they named a terrible vegetable after him.

Jesus was a great man. He healed many leopards and even preached to some Germans on the Mount.

But the Democrats and all those guys put Jesus on trial before Pontius the Pilot. Pilot didn't stick up for Jesus. He just washed his hands instead.

Anyways, Jesus died for our sins, then came back to life again; He went up to Heaven but will be back at the end of the Aluminum. His return is foretold in the book of Revolution.
-Author Unknown-

When Jesus Died On The Cross He Was Thinking Of You

One day a while back, a man, his heart heavy with grief, was walking in the woods. As he thought about his life this day, he knew many things were not right. He thought about those who had lied about him back when he had a job. His thoughts turned to those who had stolen his things and cheated him. He remembered family that had passed on. His mind turned to the illness he had, that no one could cure. His very soul was filled with anger, resentment, and frustration. Standing there this day, searching for answers he could not find, knowing all else had failed him, he knelt at the base of an old oak tree to seek the one he knew would always be there.

And with tears in his eyes, he prayed: “Lord- You have done wonderful things for me in this life. You have told me to do many things for you, and I happily obeyed. Today, you have told me to forgive. I am sad, Lord, because I cannot. I don't know how. It is not fair Lord, I didn’t deserve these wrongs that were done against me and I shouldn't have to forgive. As perfect as your way is Lord, this one thing I cannot do, for I don't know how to forgive. My anger is so deep Lord, I fear I may not hear you, but I pray you teach me to do the one thing I cannot do: Teach me to forgive.”

As he knelt there in the quiet shade of that old oak tree, he felt something fall onto his shoulder. He opened his eyes. Out of the corner of one eye, he saw something red on his shirt. He could not turn to see what it was because where the oak tree had been was a large square piece of wood in the ground. He raised his head and saw two feet held to the wood with a large spike through them. He raised his head more, and tears came to his eyes as he saw Jesus hanging on a cross. He saw spikes in His hands, a gash in His side, a torn and battered body, deep thorns sunk into His head. Finally, he saw the suffering and pain on His precious face. As their eyes met, the man's tears turned to sobbing, and Jesus began to speak. “Have you ever told a lie?” He asked. The man answered, “Yes, Lord.” “Have you ever been given too much change and kept it?” The man answered, “Yes. Lord.” And the man sobbed more and more.

“Have you ever taken something from work that wasn't yours?” Jesus asked. And the man answered, “Yes, Lord.” “Have you ever sworn, using my Father's name in vain?” The man, crying now, answered, “Yes, Lord.”

As Jesus asked many more times, have you ever? The man's crying became uncontrollable, for he could only answer: “Yes, Lord.” Then Jesus turned His head from one side to the other, and the man felt something fall on his other shoulder He looked and saw that it was the blood of Jesus. When he looked back up, his eyes met those of Jesus, and there was a look of love the man had never seen or known before. Jesus said, “I didn't deserve this either, but I forgive you.”
It may be hard to see how you're going to get through something, but when you look back in life, you realize how true this statement is: If God brings you to it - He will bring you through it. When Jesus died on the cross, he was thinking of you!
- Author Unknown-