Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Heavenly Resolutions

As the old year is about to end and we ready ourselves for the new year, many of us make New Year's resolutions. Well, I don't know about you, but when I make mine, they seem to be the same old tired ones that I break a few days into the new year. So this year I am making a resolution not to make any resolutions. On the advice heard in one of our parish priests homily's this week, I am letting God do the planning for the coming year. After all, the plan He had for me has been in His mind before I was born. Yes, it is true that I have done my very best to sabotage His plans in the past. However my one resolution this year is to pray for the grace to follow His plan for my life because it is true that Father Knows Best.

While our Heavenly Father certainly does know what is best for us, our Holy Father Benedict XVI also has some special intentions for each month of the new year. They are listed below. A common practice for praying for the Holy Father's intentions is to say an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be at the end of your Rosary each day. Speaking of the Rosary, if you don't already do so, praying the Rosary on a daily basis is a great resolution to make for the new year.

Whatever your resolutions may or not be for 2009, pray for the grace to stick to God's will for you. Have Happy, healthy and Blessed 2009!


That the family may increasingly be a place of formation in charity, personal growth, and the transmission of the faith.
Christian Unity. That Christian denominations may strive for full unity so as to be more credible witnesses of the Gospel to a world in need of a "new evangelization."

Church Pastors.
That the Church's pastors may be ever more docile to the action of the Holy Spirit as they teach and serve the people of God.
Peace in Africa. Guided by the 2nd Special Assembly of the African Synod of Bishops, may the local Church find effective ways to promote reconciliation, justice, and peace.

Dignity of Women. That all nations of our world may grow in appreciation of the dignity and value of women and their roles in society.
Church Unity in China. That all the bishops, priests, consecrated persons, and laity of the Catholic Church in China may strive to be instruments of unity, communion, and peace, as enjoined by the letter sent to them by Pope Benedict XVI.

Farmers and World Hunger. That our Lord may bless farmers with abundant harvests and sensitize the richer nations to respond to the ravages of hunger throughout the world.
Christians as Signs of Hope. That Christians working in desperate conditions among women, children, the poor, and the weak, may be signs of hope in their courageous witness to the Gospel of solidarity and love.

Lay Vocation Promoters. That the laity and Christian communities may embrace their responsibility for promoting vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
A Missionary Church. In response to the Lord for the gift of faith, may the younger Catholic communities generously participate in the universal mission of the Church to proclaim the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

Foreign Debt Relief.
That international efforts to help poorer nations bring prompt, concrete results to relieve the crushing burden of foreign debt.
The Church in Areas of Violence. That local Church communities serving areas torn by violence may be supported through the love and help offered by Catholics around the world.

Christians in the Middle East.
That Christians in the Middle East may live their faith in complete freedom and become instruments of reconciliation and peace.
Humanity Reconciled. Through the witness of the faithful, may the Church be the seed and soil of a humanity reconciled to be God's one true family on earth.

That the world may become aware of the plight of the millions of displaced persons and find solutions to their tragic conditions.
Persecuted Christians. That Christians who suffer persecution and discrimination may be granted human rights, equality, and freedom to live their faith.

Knowledge of God's Word.
That the Word of God may be better known, accepted, and lived as the source of freedom and joy.
Christians in Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar. That by trusting the Holy Spirit, Christians in Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar may, amid great difficulties, courageously proclaim the Gospel to their brothers and sisters.

Sunday Eucharist. That Sundays may be lived as the day on which Christians gather to celebrate the Risen Lord in the table of the Eucharist.
Spirit of Mission. That all the people of God, whom Christ has commanded to go and preach the Gospel to every creature, may diligently fulfill their missionary responsibility.

Care of Creation. That all people of good will, especially those who make political and economic policies, may commit themselves to care for all creation.
Peace of God. That believers of every religion may witness through their lives and through dialogue that the Name of God brings peace.

That children may be respected, loved, and never exploited.
Christ, Light of the World. That during Christmas the peoples of the earth may recognize the Incarnate Word as the light that illuminates every person, and that every nation may open its doors to Christ, the Savior of the world.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Catholic Backbone

"For the name of Jesus, and in defense of the Church, I am willing to die."

-St. Thomas A Becket

Today is the feast day of Saint Thomas A Becket. He was archbishop of Canterbury in the 12th century. He was martyred for defending the Church. Thomas Becket and countless saints before and since have what I like to call Catholic Backbone. Unfortunately it is something not seen often enough in our present time.

Most of us will not suffer the physical martyrdom like St. Thomas A Becket, but if we show that backbone in today's society we are very likely to suffer what is sometimes called "white martyrdom". If you are a practicing Catholic- you know exactly what I'm talking about; the looks and comments passed when grace before meals is said in public, being told you are taking your faith too seriously -just to name a few.

I am blessed to have friends who edify me in my faith. In the last two days I have heard from two of them who have suffered such "white martyrdom". One story came today while I spent some time with my friend who is a new mom and celebrated her baby's first Christmas. My friend told me that when it was time for desert after Christmas dinner, she put a candle in a piece of cake and invited everyone to sing Happy Birthday to Jesus. She said that this is a tradition she promised herself she would start when she had children. This beautiful tradition was met with half hearted singing and remarks being passed. (She has the whole thing on video tape). These half hearted singers and comment passers are "Catholic". But here lies my point. Where is the backbone of these people and many like them? I don't mean to sound judgemental, but our faith is built on the solid rock foundation of Jesus Christ- with a foundation like that we should fear nothing! I commend my friend for her Catholic backbone and awesome faith.

And finally we need to remember the words of Jesus on this matter: "If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first". (John 15:18), "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you and speak evil against you for my sake." (Matt. 5:11)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Tonight's Dinner

Picnic Oven-Fried Chicken

(adapted from

It's OK-keep reading this is a healthy, but delicious version of a favorite comfort food.

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

2 cloves garlic minced

1tsp hot sauce

2 -3 lbs. chicken parts (skin removed)

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

2 Tbsp sesame seeds (I used the black ones for a heartier flavor)

1-1/2 tsp paprika

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp baking powder

salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Olive oil cooking spray

1. Wisk buttermilk, mustard, garlic,and hotsauce until well blended. Pour over chicken and be

sure all pieces are well coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 min. or up to 8 hrs.

2.Preheat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place a wire rack on baking sheet and coat

with cooking spray.

3. Wisk flour, sesame seeds, paprika, thyme, baking powder, salt and pepper in small bowl.

Place flour mixture in a paper or sealable plastic bag. Shaking off extra marinade, place 1

or 2 pieces of chicken in bag and shake to coat. Shake off excess flour and place on prepared

rack. Spray chicken pieces with cooking spray.

4. Bake chicken until golden brown and no longer pink in center. About 40 -50 min.

Makes 4 servings.

Note: You may want to double amts. for flour mixture. I doubled it for a package of drumsticks and thighs.



This post comes from the Cukierski family's website. Please check them out at Their apostolate is dedicated to sacramentals and is in full obedience with the Magesterium of the Catholic Church.

How wonderful it is that there truly are 12 days of Christmas!

As Catholics, we celebrate 12 days of Christmas, known as Christmastide, which is the season from Christmas Day until January 6 (in the West, Epiphany is celebrated on the Sunday between Jan. 2nd and Jan. 8th). Epiphany is the feast of the Magi bringing gifts to baby Jesus. Traditionally, Catholics bless their homes in remembrance of the three kings visiting the home of the Holy Family. The custom is to write the initials of the three kings, in chalk on the back of the door with the year of our Lord, such as: 20 + G + M + B + 08. Tradition tells us that the names of the kings are Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar.
Also during Christmastide, the Church celebrates the feasts of Saint Stephen (Dec. 26), Saint John (Dec. 27), the Holy Innocents (Dec. 28), the Holy Family (first Sunday after Christmas), and the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God (Jan. 1).
Christmas does not end abrubtly on December 25th. May God bless your Christmastide!
Blessing of the Home on Epiphany
You may go through the various rooms of the home sprinkling holy water. As the various rooms are sprinkled, read the prayer:
Bless, O Lord, almighty God, this home so that in it there may be health, chastity, victorious strength, humility, goodness and mildness, obedience to God's laws, and acts of thanks to God the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, and may this Blessing remain upon this house, and upon all who dwell in it. Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.
After the prayers of the blessing is recited, the initials of the Magi are inscribed upon the doors with blessed chalk, as 20 + C + M + B + 08. (The initials, C, M, B, can also be interpreted as the Latin phrase "Christus mansionem benedicat" which means "Christ bless this house".)
+ + +
Prayer to the Holy Family
O most loving Jesus, Who by Thy sublime and beautiful virtues of humility, obedience, poverty, modesty, charity, patience and gentleness, and by the example of Thy domestic life, didst bless with peace and happiness the family Thou didst choose on earth, in Thy clemency look down upon this household, humbly prostrate before Thee and imploring Thy mercy. Remember that this family belongs to Thee; for to Thee we have in a special way dedicated and devoted ourselves. Look upon us in Thy loving kindness; preserve us from danger; give us help in time of need, and grant us the grace to persevere to the end in the imitation of Thy Holy Family; that having revered Thee and loved Thee faithfully on earth, we may bless and praise Thee eternally in heaven.
O Mary, most sweet Mother, to thy intercession we have recourse, knowing that thy Divine Son will hear thy prayers.
And do thou, O glorious Patriarch, St. Joseph, assist us by thy powerful mediation, and offer, by the hands of Mary, our prayers to Jesus. Amen.
+ + +
Parents' Prayer for Children
Lord God! Thou hast called us to the holy state of matrimony and hast been pleased to make us parents. We recommend to Thee our dear children. We entrust them to Thy fatherly care. May they be a source of consolation, not only to us, but chiefly to Thee, Who are their Creator. Be watchful, O Lord; help and defend them. Grant us the grace to guide them in the way of Thy commandments. This we will do by our own perfect observance of Thy holy law and that of our holy Mother, the Church. Make us conscious of our grave obligation to You and bless our efforts to serve You. We humbly ask this blessing from the bottom of our hearts, for ourselves and for the children whom Thou hast been pleased to give us.
We dedicate them to Thee, O Lord. Do Thou keep them as the apple of Thy eye and protect them under the shadow of Thy wings. Make us worthy to come, at last, to heaven, together with them, giving thanks unto Thee, Our Father, for the loving care Thou hast had of our entire family, and praising Thee together through endless ages. Amen.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Let's Say Merry Christmas!

A friend sent this to me in an e-mail. A clever reminder to wish all a Merry Christmas not just a happy holiday.
Merry and Blessed Christmas to all.

*Twas the month before Christmas*
*When all through our land,*
*Not a Christian was praying*
*Nor taking a stand.*
*See the PC Police had taken away,*
*The reason for Christmas - no one could say.*
*The children were told by their schools not to sing,*
*About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.*
*It might hurt people's feelings, the teachers would say*
* December 25th is just a ' Holiday '.*
*Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit*
*Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!*
*CDs from Madonna, an X BOX, an I-pod*
*Something was changing, something quite odd! *
*Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa*
*In hopes to sell books by Franken & Fonda.*
*As Targets were hanging their trees upside down*
* At Lowe's the word Christmas - was no where to be found.*
*At K-Mart and Staples and Penny's and Sears*
*You won't hear the word Christmas; it won't touch your ears.*
*Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-si-ty*
*Are words that were used to intimidate me.*
*Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzen*
*On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton !*
*At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter*
*To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.*
*And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith*
* Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace*
*The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded*
*The reason for the season, stopped before it started.*
*So as you celebrate 'Winter Break' under your 'Dream Tree'*
*Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me.*
*Choose your words carefully, choose what you say*
not Happy Holiday !*

Please, all Christians join together and
wish everyone you meet

Christ is 'The Reason' for the Christ-mas Season!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Catholics for Santa and Tolkien

Today's post comes from Frangelo at Mary Victrix. It is his response to a woman's question about "Catholics for Santa". It is definitely worth the read. If you click on the title of his post (not mine) it will take you to the article with the illustrations. Unfortunately they did not make the transfer. I'm sure there is a way to do that but I do not yet have the technological savvy to know what that way is. The Mary Victrix site is also worth checking out.

Of A Dear Fat Ol’ Elf and Diverse other HeathenriesDecember 20, 2008
I teased Patty a bit about her question, but I am actually glad she asked it:
I have a totally off the subject question for you…There’s Catholics for Obama, right? Well, what’s your whole take on Catholics for Santa? Could you write a post on that?
First off, I think the comparison is a bit of a gargantuan stretch, but perhaps not everyone would agree with me. I suppose there are those who believe that both Obama and Santa are pure Freemasonic constructions with no other purpose than to destroy Christianity. While I am less sympathetic to a defense of Obama against this criticism, I certainly think that Santa deserves a fairer shake.
I want to address Patty’s question directly, but in so doing I would also like to deal with a more general and larger question, namely, what should be our general attitude toward all the “heathenries” about us? I use that term a bit tongue in cheek because there are any number of heathen customs which over the ages have been baptized and purified by the Catholic religion.
The picture above is the cover of the published version of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Letters from Father Christmas. These letters were originally handwritten and illustrated by Tolkien himself for his children. Each Christmas from the years 1920 to 1943 Tolkien’s children would receive a special letter from Father Christmas himself (the English Santa Claus), or so they thought! In each of the letters the old elf told the children of the goings-on and adventures in the North Pole. In the picture below are several of the North Pole postage stamps illustrated by Tolkien for some of the Father Christmas’ letters.
I guess my point is that Tolkien’s Catholic credentials are pretty much impeccable. He even was somewhat of a traditionalist, having a strong dislike for the new rite of the Mass, though he continued to be a daily communicant in his local Novus Ordo parish to the end of his life. His intuitions were entirely Catholic, but many of his inspirations were of heathen origin. If it weren’t for these, there would never have been The Lord of the Rings.
It was Tolkien’s love for the ancient literature of the North that in a large measure inspired the form of his mythology. Such things in the hand of a master produce masterpieces; however in the hands of a knave, the same things can produce atrocities. One such knave was Adolf Hitler. Tolkien wrote the following to his son during the great war:
You have to understand the good in things, to detect the real evil. . .Yet I suppose I know better than most what is the truth about this ‘Nordic’ nonsense. Anyway, I have in this War a burning private grudge — which would probably make me a better soldier at 49 than I was at 22: against that ruddy little ignoramus Adof Hitler (for the odd thing about demonic inspiration and impetus is that it in no way enhances the purely intellectual stature: it chiefly affects the mere will). Ruining, perverting, misapplying, and making for ever accursed, that noble northern spirit, a supreme contribution to Europe, which I have ever loved, and tried to present in its true light. Nowhere, incidentally, was it nobler than in England, nor more early sanctified and Christianized. . . (Letters, # 45).
Hitler had taken Norse mythology and turned into a diabolical religion of hate and racism. Tolkien took the same material and Christianized it in way that is almost mystical. The myth of Santa Claus or Father Christmas is an element of Western culture that has the same quality. It is what you make of it.
I most certainly think that we do well to lift the Christian history out from the myth so that we can once again see it for what it is. We need to celebrate the memorial of St. Nicholas of Myra (December 6), with some solemnity and make sure our children hear the true story and develop a devotion to the real saint. There are all kinds of Catholic, ethnically based customs that could be adopted to do this. But that the Father Christmas myth should be banished from every true Christian home? I don’t see that such a precept should follow from an authentic understanding of the Catholic faith.
True, much of the image and story of the modern Santa Claus takes its origin from heathen mythology, some of which is of that Norse persuasion for which Tolkien had such a fondness. But so what? I have heard arguments that the Christmas Tree is of pagan origins also and I have heard arguments to the contrary. I have never bothered to resolve the issue because I really don’t see the point. It is true, there are elements of culture that are truly beyond rescue (to my mind, I think Rap and Hip Hop may be such), but I don’t see a historical or doctrinal basis for the narrowest possible interpretation of these issues.
I can’t imagine that Tolkien’s children were harmed by the letters from Father Christmas. Even though, like all other children who have been told the myth, eventually they had to be disabused of their belief, I can’t imagine that as adults they had anything but fond and wholesome memories of their childhood Christmases. What would it have been like to be a child at the feet of J.R.R. Tolkien and hear him tell a story or read a letter from Father Christmas?!
And this brings me to the larger issue. I have no problem with people arriving at their own solution to this question or ones like it, and I don’t see why anyone should be particularly bothered that we might make up our minds differently. I fully understand the reaction that traditional Catholics have had against secularization, particularly when they have felt themselves left out to sea by their fathers, both within the family, in the government and in the Church, but I grow more and more suspicious of the way that personal opinions become absolutized as the only real “Catholic” option.
I see the attraction of it for sure. There are so many voices and so many unwholesome influences. We want to control the environment as much as possible and we want to offer relatively simple solutions that can be explained easily and applied without variation. I can see a father of a family making a simple and sweeping generalization about a certain kind of music, for example, and then expecting unquestioning obedience. But the real dimensions of this issue are not confined to this, especially in America, where our individualism leads us either to throw off the yoke of rules completely, or on the other hand, to absolutize our own opinions as necessarily to be followed by all those of good faith.
There is here a larger question of the governance of communities, whether they be loose associations of families or parish communities, or organizations like the MIM. It is one thing to speak of the relative dangers, say, of rock music, it is another to assert that all men of good shall not have any CD that is not first approved by the local pastor or the acknowledged oracle of the community. For example, I have been generally willing to talk about cultural issues and the moral implication of Catholics’ participation in world around us, but I am loathe to pronounce generalized condemnations of cultural elements where the Church has not. I even avoid being the arbiter in disputes about whether this or that movie or music is okay, not because I think such guidance is misplaced, but because my opinion is likely to be accepted as gospel, or on the other hand, if another priest has given different advice, there appears to be some scandal, which there is not. I think there is a real danger of orthodox and traditional communities and associations of becoming merely sectarian sub-cultures within the Catholic Church.
Unfortunately, in my opinion, not enough of us realize this. We tend to think that persons who do not wish to live with all the restrictions generally assumed to be necessary in more orthodox circles to not be sufficiently converted, when in fact they merely find our narrower interpretation of what is permissible to be just that, our narrow interpretation.
Once again, with eyes wide open I set myself up to be misinterpreted and misunderstood. But it is necessary. I have argued strenuously for the restoration of Catholic Culture (unfortunately I can only find the third part online) and have thought long and hard about it, but I don’t think it can be accomplished by piling rule upon rule, or assumption upon assumption about what is universally best for everyone.
A few years ago, I looked with suspicion upon an effort to build a traditionalist Catholic village in the Eastern United States, because I thought that throwing a pile of money at a mountain to build something that looked like a medieval town and engineering a pristine Catholic culture to be imposed on this little community of people was naive. Perhaps I am too harsh. I do understand that these are the days when radically Catholic ideas and the courage to implement them are necessary, but I also think that practical common sense and the good will to know the difference between doctrine and opinion are more necessary today than ever.
The Church has always been in dialogue with the world. She has sought to escape the world, it is true, but never completely, otherwise the evangelization of the nations and the conversion of souls would be impossible. I have said this before and I will say it again: orthodox and traditional circles of people need to direct their attention outside their own little worlds and quit assuming that they have everything all figured out for everyone else.
I know what is likely to happen, I will be quoted out of context as though I am supporting some form of mushy Catholicism. In the post-Vatican II disarray some have suggested that the only way to counter the disintegration of Catholic life is to fight it with the other extreme, as though if we are left with any liberty to think for ourselves we will be betraying the faith. This can only be based on revisionist history. Not even the Middle Ages was like this. It is myth that there was no diversity of culture and usage among the people of Christendom. In fact I will go a step further, with Chesterton I say:
[T]here never was a time in the whole history of the human race when it was more necessary to defend the intellectual independence of man that this hour in which we live.
In our world gone wild we don’t need more and more secondary restrictions, we need people who have the fulness of the faith, but who are also intellectually independent enough to find creative solutions to the problems which we face, or in the words of Tolkien who defended his mythology against the supposition that it could be misused and abused:
. . . Abusus non tollit usum [the abuse of a thing does not take away its proper use]. . .[W]e make in our measure and in our derivative mode, because we are made: and not only made, but made in the image and likeness of a Maker (”On Fairy-stories”).
We should use this power wisely, but use it we must; and never was it more important that we should do so than now.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Saint Joseph

Yesterday's Gospel (Matthew 1:18-25) focused on Joseph's role in the birth of Christ. Like Mary, he also did not understand the angel's message. But also like Mary, he gave God his "yes". St. Frances de Sales says of St. Joseph that he was endowed with all the graces and all the gifts required by the charge that the Eternal Father willed to commit to him; the temporal and domestic care of Our Lord and the guidance of his family.
The infancy narratives are the only places we really hear about Joseph, but without this man's cooperation with the will of God Salvation history would not be complete. St. Joseph is the patron saint of many things- the Universal Church, a happy death, workers just to name a few. But I think he is the perfect role model for all men, especially fathers. His strength, gentleness and humility are virtues all good men should strive to live.
I have a friend who has a very strong devotion to St. Joseph. She prays for his intercession for just about everything and she will tell you he has never let her down. St. Teresa of Avila has also said that progress in the spiritual life needs devotion to St. Joseph (I'm paraphrasing).
So this Christmas after we have given thanks to our Heavenly Father for the gift of His Son, let's remember to thank Jesus' foster father as well.
My own Prayer to St. Joseph
St. Joseph pray for us.
Intercede for those we love.
Renew and protect the Universal Church.
Bring all those who have died or will die this day to a holy and happy death.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Waiting For Jesus

O Wisdom, you came forth from the mouth of the Most High, and reached from end to end, and disposed of all things sweetlyand mightily: come and teach us the way of prudence.
(Traditional "O" Antiphon)

Well here we are in the final days of the Advent season. Today the Church begins praying the "O" Antiphons. Each one of these seven prayers addresses the God who comes in Christ by a different biblical title.

I always become a little more excited at this point in the Advent season. Praying these antiphons enhances the anticipation of Christ's coming, at Christmas, at the end of time, but also His coming in the little ways he does each day.

"Waiting for Jesus" seemed to be the theme of my day today. On certain days I find myself in my office alone early in the morning. On these days I attempt to say my Rosary. I have found a site that brings a virtual image of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament to your computer screen ( so it's like praying in the Presence of Jesus. This morning was one of those mornings but the image seemed to be having difficulty downloading to my computer. Well at first I was a little frustrated and disappointed, but then I realized I needed to wait for Jesus today- He had His reasons. Finally, while praying the last decade He came and stayed. During this time of prayer I began to think about how long He has waited for me and suddenly my frustration and disappointment faded.

Sometimes we do have wait for Him, but He always comes. Advent is a great reminder of that.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Warning! Merry Christmas!

I am not trying to maliciously bash the ACLU, but this seems to be typical of them. In fact I am quite sure they would seriously agree with it, while we faithful and good humored Catholics look at it somewhat "tongue in cheek" (at least I do).

But seriously, Let's do keep Christ in Christmas. As a sweatshirt I just bought states, "Christmas without Jesus- I don't think so!"

So go ahead-wish people a Merry Christmas-no matter how they may react, sing those blessed carols, hang your wreaths and mistletoe( religious symbols).

Merry and Blessed Christmas to all!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Book Recommendation

Hinds' Feet on High Places

Several years ago a dear friend gave me a book to read. She prefaced the gift by saying that she didn't give this book to just anyone and felt I was ready to read it. The book is
Hinds' Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard. The title comes from the Old Testament book of Habakuk 3:19. It is an allegory of the journey we each need to take before we can live on the "high places". As I read the book the first time, I immediately recognized myself in the main character "Much Afraid". Like her, I often forget to call the Shepherd and trust that He will come when my enemies Pride, Fear, Doubt and Despair (and others) rear their ugly heads.
"Much Afraid" learns a lot on her journey, and like most of us, has many setbacks. The main lesson of the story is to never lose hope and to remember that all we need to do is call the name of the "Good Shepherd". He will be at our sides as soon as we call. There are many other lessons to be learned depending on where we are on our journey. "Much Afraid" has an awesome adventurous journey and even comes to be called by a "new name"(which I won't give away in case you haven't read the book).

Since receiving this book, I have made it my own personal Christmas tradition to reread it every Christmas. It helps me to take stock of where I am on my journey. Sometimes I am still
"Much Afraid" and sometimes I am a little closer to hearing our Good Shepherd call me by my new name.

How about you? If you haven't read this book, I highly recommend it. I believe it was first published in the 1970's so it may be out of print. There are plenty of online resources to help find out of print books. If you have read it, it certainly is worth rereading.


Friday, December 12, 2008

You Are All Fair

In honor of Our Lady under the titles The Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Mary Immaculate,

Merely a woman, yet Whose presence, power is Great as no goddess’s was deemèd, dreamèd; who this one work has to do—

Let all God’s glory through God’s glory which would go through her and from her flow off,

and no way but so.

This is from Gerard Manley Hopkins’

Friday, December 5, 2008

Cookie Swap

These cookies truly live up to their name! They are worth the time and effort.

Choc-Full Chocolate Cookies

1 cup chopped hazelnuts (pecans also work nicely)

2 cups (1 11.5 ounce package) extra-large semisweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup raisins

1 cup(2 sticks) unsalted butter- softened

1 cup sugar

1 3-ounce package cream cheese-softened

1 egg

2 tablespoons milk

2 ounces good quality unsweetened chocolate- melted

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup Dutch processed cocoa

1 cup commercially prepared marshmallow cream

Preheat oven to 325. Spread nuts on ungreased cookie sheet and toast 7 -12 minutes until light brown and skins have loosened) Set aside to cool.

Butter 2 cookie sheets. In large bowl, combine: chocolate chips, cranberries, raisins and cooled nuts; set aside. In another large bowl, beat together butter, sugar, cream cheese and egg until creamy and smooth. Beat in milk, melted chocolate and vanilla. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa and add to butter mixture. Blend in the marshmallow cream, stirring until thoroughly combined. Add chips, cranberries, raisins and nuts. Batter will be thick.

Using a 1/4- cup measure or an icecream scoop, measure out batter and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets. Six cookies per sheet fit comfortably. Bake 13 - 17 minutes, until puffed and cooked through. Cool on sheet 1 minute; transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 2 dozen

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Defender of Death Becomes Defender of Life

Another 'champion of abortion' becomes defender of life: the story of Stojan Adasevic
Madrid, Nov 12, 2008 / 09:21 pm (CNA).- The Spanish daily “La Razon” has published an article on the pro-life conversion of a former “champion of abortion.” Stojan Adasevic, who performed 48,000 abortions, sometimes up to 35 per day, is now the most important pro-life leader in Serbia, after 26 years as the most renowned abortion doctor in the country.
“The medical textbooks of the Communist regime said abortion was simply the removal of a blob of tissue,” the newspaper reported. “Ultrasounds allowing the fetus to be seen did not arrive until the 80s, but they did not change his opinion. Nevertheless, he began to have nightmares.”
In describing his conversion, Adasevic “dreamed about a beautiful field full of children and young people who were playing and laughing, from 4 to 24 years of age, but who ran away from him in fear. A man dressed in a black and white habit stared at him in silence. The dream was repeated each night and he would wake up in a cold sweat. One night he asked the man in black and white who he was. ‘My name is Thomas Aquinas,’ the man in his dream responded. Adasevic, educated in communist schools, had never heard of the Dominican genius saint. He didn’t recognize the name”
“Why don’t you ask me who these children are?” St. Thomas asked Adasevic in his dream.
“They are the ones you killed with your abortions,’ St. Thomas told him.
“Adasevic awoke in amazement and decided not to perform any more abortions,” the article stated.
“That same day a cousin came to the hospital with his four months-pregnant girlfriend, who wanted to get her ninth abortion—something quite frequent in the countries of the Soviet bloc. The doctor agreed. Instead of removing the fetus piece by piece, he decided to chop it up and remove it as a mass. However, the baby’s heart came out still beating. Adasevic realized then that he had killed a human being,”
After this experience, Adasevic “told the hospital he would no longer perform abortions. Never before had a doctor in Communist Yugoslavia refused to do so. They cut his salary in half, fired his daughter from her job, and did not allow his son to enter the university.”
After years of pressure and on the verge of giving up, he had another dream about St. Thomas.
“You are my good friend, keep going,’ the man in black and white told him. Adasevic became involved in the pro-life movement and was able to get Yugoslav television to air the film ‘The Silent Scream,’ by Doctor Bernard Nathanson, two times.”
Adasevic has told his story in magazines and newspapers throughout Eastern Europe. He has returned to the Orthodox faith of his childhood and has studied the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas.
“Influenced by Aristotle, Thomas wrote that human life begins forty days after fertilization,” Adasevic wrote in one article. La Razon commented that Adasevic “suggests that perhaps the saint wanted to make amends for that error.” Today the Serbian doctor continues to fight for the lives of the unborn.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Inner Peace

Inner peace seems to be, at times, a very elusive thing. However if we stay close to Christ it is one of His awesome graces. I came across this poem yesterday. See if you have any of the "symptoms". For me, I know that the gift of inner peace is always within me, but I can easily allow the days events and circumstances rob me of Christ's presence-therefore my inner peace. Let us all pray for the grace of inner peace by staying close to the Prince of Peace.

Symptoms of Inner Peace

A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than on fears based on past experiences.

An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment.

A loss of interest in judging other people.

A loss of interest in judging self.

A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.

A loss in interest in conflict.

A loss of the ability to worry. (This is a very serious symptom.)

Frequent, overwhelming episodes of appreciation.

Contented feelings of connectedness with others and nature.

Frequent attacks of smiling.

An increasing tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen.

An increased susceptibility to the love extended by others as well as the
uncontrollable urge to extend it.

-Saskia Davis

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Prayer of Gratitude

My parish offers a book of reflections called Daybreaks each Advent and Lent. This year's Advent reflections are written by Patricia Livingston. Inside the front cover is a prayer of gratitude to use at the beginning of each day. Since there are so many things to be grateful for, most importantly the gift of our Savior, I thought I'd share this prayer here with all who stumble upon this site.

For a moment of stillness in which to pray,
For health and strength,
For a sunset,
For lessening of fear,
For a connection with friend or family,
For a chance to offer kindness,
For a sense of oneness with the whole human family,
For something beautiful, inspiring, funny, delicious, or restful,
We respond with a prayer of gratitude.

Closing Prayer

Psalm 45: Canticle of Love to the King

My heart overflows with a good theme;
I address my verses to the King;
My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.
You are fairer than the sons of men;
Grace is poured upon Your lips;
Therefore God has blessed You forever.

Gird Your sword on Your thigh, O Mighty One,
In Your splendor and Your majesty!
And in Your majesty ride on victoriously,
For the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness;
Let Your right hand teach You awesome things.
Your arrows are sharp;
The peoples fall under You;
Your arrows are in the heart of the King’s enemies.

Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;
A scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Your kingdom.
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You
With the oil of joy above Your fellows.
All Your garments are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia;
Out of ivory palaces stringed instruments have made You glad.
Kings’ daughters are among Your noble ladies;
At Your right hand stands the queen in gold from Ophir.