Tuesday, November 20, 2012


I am delivering an Advent retreat a week from Saturday at Queen of Peace Parish in Olive Branch, MS.  I had hoped that I would have had the retreat written over a week ago...but life got in the way.  I've spent the last few days trying to frantically get it done before Thanksgiving.  Today, I finished it!  I need to polish it up a little bit and prepare a retreat booklet, but the big things are done.  I call the retreat Spiraling into Advent - and I'll share more thoughts after I give the retreat.  

The only spoiler to the retreat I will post right now is one of the books I used to help me prepare: A Coming Christ in Advent by Raymond E. Brown.  Brown is a renowned biblical scholar and I used some of his academic sources in grad school.  While A Coming Christ is based on his 750 page study of the Infancy Narrative of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, it is written as a reflection on the Gospels to prepare for Advent.

If you are looking for a way to enter more meaningfully into Advent this year, I highly recommend Brown's book.

And, in case I don't get another post up before Thanksgiving...I pray you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and can count many, many blessings.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Second Coming?

It seems like every few years there's talk about the "End Times" and that this is it. Within my lifetime there have been several sects that have claimed to know the exact date of the end of the world, perhaps most famous and tragic was the Heaven's Gate cult. They were all wrong. The Christian tradition is not immune to this either. It could be argued that since the day Jesus ascended into Heaven we have been living in the end times.

The concern about the End Times has been part of the Christian community from the very beginning. The early Christians were convinced that Jesus' return was imminent, so it was shocking when members of the flock started dying from old age. St. Paul told the church at Thessalonica that salvation was promised to believers whether they were awake or asleep (dead) (1 Thess 5:9-10).

Here are the truths to keep in mind:
1.) We live in a fallen world.
2.) God's plan is not our plan. The moment of Creation, the Big Bang, occurred about 16,000,000,000 years ago. It wasn't until 2000 years ago that God took on flesh in the person of Jesus. There was a lot of preparation time from Creation to Christ. True, the Second Coming might be next week, but it might be millennia.
3.) This is what Christ himself told the disciples regarding the return of The Son of Man, "There will be those who will say to you, 'Look, there he is,' or 'Look, here he is.' Do not go off, do not run in pursuit. For just as lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. (Luke 17:20-25)"

There is a temptation in believing that the Second Coming will occur in my lifetime: complacency. If I am convinced that Jesus is coming back soon, then I may not care for the weakest in society or stay silent in the face of evil because I think, "Jesus will show them." I am called to live each day as if Jesus' return is tomorrow, but I am to be like one of the wise virgins who kept the wick of her lamp trimmed and ready for the return of the Master (Matthew 25:1-13).

Confidence in the return of the Lord is a tenet of the Creed, but I can never forget that I am the hands, feet, mouthpiece, and love of the Lord while waiting His return.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Perpetua and Felicity

This is not my happiest blog, but it's a topic that must be addressed.

Being a Christian during the first centuries of the early Church was illegal; oftentimes the authorities turned a blind eye, but occasionally there were persecution such as the Servan Persecution of 202-3. You never knew when a persecution might break out.

Sts. Perpetua and Felicity were executed in 203 A.D. during the Servan Persecution. Perpetua, a noblewoman and young mother, decided to become a Christian in 203; Felicity was her pregnant slave. The legend of their martyrdom states that the prisoners (three additional Christians were martyred) were commanded to put on different clothes that would honor the Roman gods. Perpetua responded by saying, "We came to die out of our own free will so we wouldn't lose our freedom to worship our God. We gave you our lives so that we wouldn't have to worship your gods."

Why am I going on about martyrdom? Since the election I've read several disturbing things about the healthcare mandate and exemptions. It sounds like the administration is going full-steam ahead with the mandate. It's as if the administration is saying, "Too bad if you're a Christian who lives by a moral standard different from ours. Do what we say or else." At this point, the "or else" is you're going to pay one way or the other: pay for abortions, birth control, etc. or pay a fine.

What do we do as Christians? Do we pay up or do we take a stand? At what point are we pushed too far and have to say like Perpetua, we will worship our God, not your gods?

It seems like the time for taking a stand is coming. Twelve years ago I wrote a paper on the early persecutions for a grad school class, I never thought I would actually have to entertain the questions I posed in the United States of America.

[The early Christians] were willing to be baptized in water while running the risk of being baptized in their own blood. The road to becoming a Christian in Tertullian’s time was a long and potentially dangerous endeavor. Christianity was an illegal religion, and as the story of Perpetua and Felicity illustrates, the Empire did not take kindly to those who refused to comply with the law. And so I wonder, would I, do I have the courage and depth of faith to chance public torture and execution for Christ Jesus? If Congress were to pass a law tomorrow outlawing the practice of Christianity upon penalty of death, what would I do? I would like to think that I am that strong enough to look death in the eye. However, under scrutiny I might discover that I am far too attached to this life and would not be willing to give it up, even for God. 

Today, we do not face the death penalty for being Christian, but don't be fooled. Christianity is being coerced into paying for immorality and evil. If we comply, then it will be a death knell for Christianity in America.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Busy-ness and Prayer

The last few days have been crazy busy and it's at my own choosing, so I have no one to blame but myself.  I've been cleaning, baking bread, sewing, knitting, working on an Advent retreat, being a mom and wife, doing laundry (it never ends...why does it never end?), exercising, and trying to pray.

Most days I prefer to be busy; I kind of lose it when I'm bored or unproductive.  I have my daily list of things to do and I try to get most of it done.  One of the things that I have on my list - with an alarm set - is to pray.  As you can see from the list above, I can get a little nutty with the projects and things to do.  The reminders throughout the day is my Angelus bell - stop what I'm doing and pray.

I lived in Ireland for a while and would often visit my great uncle.  I'm not sure if it's still on T.V. there, but everyday at 6 pm an icon of the Blessed Mother would appear on the screen accompanied by Angelus bells (the morning and Noon Angelus were broadcast on the radio).  I had heard of the Angelus, but had no idea what the prayer was.  When the bells started ringing, without fail, my 85 year old uncle would stand up and pray silently.

I want to say that it's a shame that the Angelus has been forgotten in America as a prayer...but then I will go off on a rant about the poor quality of Catholic religious education in this country. Here's the truth: my current prayer reminder, frankly, is pretty lame compared the the Angelus. When I stop I simply offer up some intentions, say thanks for the day, etc; this isn't a bad way to pray, but there's no meat to it.  Starting today, I'm going to begin praying the Angelus and try to do it as a family.

Being busy isn't a bad thing so long as I stop - everything - and pray.

p.s. I found a free Angelus app for iPhone.  I don't know about other smart phones, if you find something, please post the info for others.  Thanks!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Daylight Saving my eye!

Whoever thought up the not so brilliant idea of Daylight Saving Time didn't not have a toddler!

It has been a rough week around here because my little guy has not adjusted to the time change. For most of the week he woke up around 5 am. There is no way I'm starting the day that early, especially when he is sleep deprived, so I tried to snuggle with him to see if he would fall back to sleep. No deal! This makes for a cranky, whiny toddler and cranky mommy (I try not to whine, too much). Have I mentioned that it's been ugly?

After a week of early rising and untold temper tantrums and more whining than I care to remember, I'm beat. Thanks be to God I have an awesome husband (a nutty morning person) who will happily play with our son tomorrow morning so that I can sleep in a little. I wish I had something theological to offer, but I don't. I hope you can get a little extra sleep this weekend, too.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

I liked it better when I was blissfully ignorant

My original idea for today's blog got scrapped after I read this article from LifeSiteNews.

Apparently, it's great to be a slut...or so says some guy from MTV who made a video for Planned Parenthood touting the awesomeness of being a girl who has several sexual partners. My jaw dropped! I searched hard for that video and was unable to find it. And, then I clicked on the link to Planned Parenthood's Facebook page for "Parenthood Info for Teens". Frankly, I think it's worth checking it out, especially if you have a tween or teen since it's marketed to them.

Here's a sampling of what I saw: A picture of an excited girl, about 16 or 17 with the caption Queefing is NBD. Allow me to translate: A vaginal fart is no big deal. Then there was a picture of a "couple", look like they're about 13 or 14, and the caption there is: It's important to let your partner know what you want - and what you don't want - before things get sexual. There was a link to comedian Amy Poehler's video blog, "Ask Amy" on how teens should talk to parents. Finally, there was a link to a PP article, "Is it bad that my parents haven't talk to me about birth control yet?"


When I worked in youth ministry I kept up with this stuff because I wanted to know what kids were watching, listening to, reading, etc. If a teen mentioned an unfamiliar book or show, then I got my hands on it. The last couple years I've been distracted by a little guy. I've been busy making sure the evil purple dinosaur or the equally annoying and evil Dora the Explorer is not on the T.V, diaper changing, potty training, teaching manners, eradicating whining. It's not as though I am ignorant of the things that are out there influencing young people, but it's staggering how aggressive the campaign to sexualize children has become.

While the evilness of Barney and Dora is based on personal opinion and not theological evidence, the mission to advance abortion and sexualize children is evil. Thanks be to God for LifeSiteNews and other organizations that keep up on all this horrible stuff and keep me educated (even when I would prefer blissful ignorance).

Friday, November 2, 2012

Lessons from Super Why

Super Why (my son) and I were out of town for a week. Here's the photographic evidence of the costume I sewed. When I finished sewing, glueing, appliqué-ing, and cleaning up, I tried it on my little guy and he didn't want to take it off! That's an enormous compliment from a 3 year old.

When my son donned his costume, he became Super Why; he even refers to himself as Super Why when he sees pictures from Halloween. It got me thinking, would the world be a better place if Christians (Catholic or Protestant) could channel an alter-ego when they needed to be Christians? It might make things better for everyone since sometimes Christians aren't so Christian, myself included. "The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today are Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and then walk out the door and deny him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable." This quote from Brennan Manning opens DC Talk's What if I Stumble. The quote hurts because it's true.

The lesson from Super Why is that I already have an alter ego. As St. Paul explains, "I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me..." (Gal 2:19b-20a). If I call Christ my Lord and Savior, then my old self is (supposed to be) dead and I'm a superhero. Yet, like all superheroes, I have my weaknesses and it's those weaknesses that can set a bad example or cast a bad light on all Christians.

Life is not a Hollywood superhero movie. There are no retakes in life. There is no need for a cape or disguise when Jesus Christ is my backup, all I need is a prayer to help me be more like Him.

Oh my Divine Savior, transform me into yourself.
May my hands be your hands.
May my tongue by your tongue.
Grant that every faculty of my body may serve only to glorify you.
Above all, transform my soul and all its powers
that my memory, my will, and my affections
may be the memory, the will, and the affections of you.
I pray you to destroy in me all that is not of you.
Grant that I may live but in you and by you and for you
that I may truly say with St. Paul, “I live, now not I, but Christ lives in me.”
    Vincentian Missioner Prayer - St. John Gabriel Perboyre, C.M.