Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Girls: To Server or Not To Serve...

In a recent blog, I saw one of the original quotes from the Vatican when the permission for girls to be servers came out. The word "obligation" was used in reference to boys being the preferred altar servers, but girls being allowed according to the bishop's decision. The Vatican clearly sees a connection between being an altar server and recognizing a call to the priesthood. It is clear that a 'behind the scenes' look at the Mass, as witnessed by altar servers, would lead to boys considering the vocation. Therefore, when girls enter the ranks of servers, there may be a similar effect on them - a desire to 'have the power' to consecrate bread and wine into Jesus's Body and Blood. Really, it is only natural. 

However, correct and thorough teaching of the True Faith can overcome this problem. It can also overcome the issues mentioned above such as finding Mass 'boring' if not serving, not knowing Liturgical terms, not understanding what happens during Mass, etc. All it takes is for parents to take their responsibility and obligation to heart and to REALLY teach their children the Faith. Whether your children attend Catholic schools or go to CCD, they still need to be immersed in the Faith at home. Too often parents let teachers (whether at school or CCD) and the single weekly Mass be the only exposition their children have to their Faith. There is no way over 2000 years of Catholicism can be learned in that little bit of exposure - even if all the teachers and priests were top-notch apologists (which sadly they aren't... Please pray for priests and religion teachers!). Even if they were top-notch apologists, 'book-learning' is not even 1/2 of the battle. You must LIVE your Faith in order to succeed in it. In order to live it, you must know it. To know it you must learn about it at a steady rate.  

*Study the Catechism with your children. 
*Go through the Liturgical items after Mass with them. 
*Invite Father over after Mass or on a weeknight to discuss Mass and what happens during Mass. 
*Discuss Liturgical seasons and how they differ from the secular seasons we see. 
*Read Scripture together to learn where all our wonderful Traditions began. 
*Learn about various saints and their lives to see which fits each member of your family best. 
*Identify areas of your lives that could be improved by studying the cardinal virtues and vices. 

Really LIVE the Faith. Through this more than any amount of altar serving will make our children devout and life-long Catholics - even if they turn away for a while. Once they know the why and how, they will return, even if it takes them the rest of their lives. All things are possible with God.

My daughter is 5 and wants to be an altar server. However, she will be guided into a different area of serving our parish. Her brother is almost 7 and will be an altar server. They both already know the entire Consecration just from attending Sunday Masses with one daily Mass every week or so. They're young, but already know many of the items used during the Liturgy, the Liturgical seasons, many saints, the basics of the Catechism, many Bible stories, countless hymns, sung Mass parts (Gloria, Holy, etc) and songs for Mass. We have been our parish's 'choir' since they were infants in the womb. That is one of our 'services' to the parish. 

Not everyone needs to serve in the same way - not everyone has to 'serve' in a public or physical way at all. Participation in Mass is not about physically 'doing' something at Mass. Participating in the Mass is simply being there at witnessing The unbloody Sacrifice of Jesus on the altar. That is what Mass is about. Mass is NOT about how we feel about it or what we do. It is about Christ's Sacrifice for us. Too often we get caught up in trying to 'do' something instead of worshiping God in the Mass. We go to Mass for God, not for ourselves. If all we can think of during Mass is ourselves and whether we're doing enough, or entertained enough, or 'participating' enough, then we're not really participating at all. We should go to Mass to be in awe of our Almighty God who created us, forgives our sins, died for us, and nourishes us with His very Own Body and Blood. We should go to Mass knowing that the angels do not even get to be this intimate with God - we consume Him! That is what Mass is about. The Mass is the most perfect prayer we have and just being in the church while Mass is being said - even if you can't understand a word of it - with a reverent and prayerful heart is the best prayer we can offer God. 

So, don't get caught up in trying to find a 'service' to perform at Mass - your service may simply be to pray the Mass. Outside of Mass just raise your children with knowledge of the Faith - don't expect others or their 'service' do it for you.

Friday, November 21, 2014

40 Things I've Learned from My Parents' 40 Years of Marriage

November 29, 1974 was a very special day. My parents were joined in Holy Matrimony that day. In a world where relationships lasting 40 days seem rare (at least if you're talking about celebrities), 40 years of marriage is a big deal! Blessedly, I've spent all of my 33 years living with (or near) my parents. Even now, I live "next-door" to them, so that my children and I can visit without ever setting foot on a real road, 1/4 of a mile away. So even my children are benefiting from the witness my parents share just by living out their vocation faithfully. Here are some things I've learned.

1.  Pray together.
2.  Do little things for one another.
3.  Show affection for one another.
4.  Don't be afraid to fight.
5.  Be willing to forgive.
6.  Give each other space.
7.  Support each other in parenting.
8.  Pray for each other.
9.  Talk to each other not at each other.
10. Know your priorities: 1-God, 2-spouse, 3-children, 4-etc.
11. Respect each other's boundaries.
12. Apologize even if you don't think you were the only one in the wrong.
13. Attend public functions together.
14. Spoil one another occasionally.
15. Go to Mass and Reconcilliation often together and individually.
16. Be risqué occasionally.
17. Share inside jokes.
18. Have your own interests.
19. Give your relationship 100%.
20. Respect each other's bodies and feelings-Theology of the Body is great.
21. Work together on projects.
22. Challenge each other-spiritually and physically.
23. Share an interest, hobby, or leisure activity.
24. Listen to music together (dance sometimes).
25. Remember what attracted you to each other.
26. Lend an ear or shoulder to each other for tough times.
27. Know that your marriage is more than a piece of paper-God is with you.
28. Have a "date-night" even if it's at home.
29. Show an interest in each other's passions.
30. Know you don't have to agree all the time, just agree to disagree.
31. Go to a neutral party if you're having relationship trouble-priests are great.
32. Know and avoid each other's hot-buttons.
33. Support each other's work.
34. Admit your weaknesses to each other.
35. Rely on each other for strength during hard times.
36. Say and do silly things.
37. Let other people see your love.
38. Constantly re-evaluate your goals and dreams.
39. Let go and let God-money, status, things, health, etc are nothing without Him.
40. Love each other.

I don't have much financially right now, but I have a constantly growing appreciation for my parents and their marriage. This is their Ruby Anniversary-40th-and I wish there was more I could do for them. However, I know my love, prayers, and thoughts will suffice. I love you two! Thank you for being a great example!

Friday, August 1, 2014

A 'New' Kind of Cafeteria Catholic?

I read this article on Patheos about the 'new' kind of cafeteria Catholics: conservatives. In it, Father indicates that conservatives are picking and choosing the points of Pope Francis's words/actions they like and denigrating him on points they disagree. The former cafeteria Catholics, he says, were liberals who disliked Pope Benedict and love Pope Francis. The switch is one he claims is ironic.

I disagree that conservative Catholics are now guilty of being cafeteria Catholics. I would most likely be considered a Conservative Catholic with leanings towards the Traditional (I veil, but don't attend TLM). I think Pope Francis is a good pope, but I think he has a tendency to speak off the cuff without putting a lot of thought behind how his words will be interpreted. In this age of sound bites, some of those attributed (yes, I know some are wrongly attributed or poorly translated, but not all) to Pope Francis are damaging to how the world, and Catholics even, view our Faith. In context and properly translated his words are not as damaging, but many will never take the time to investigate the truth behind the sound bite. 

Additionally, many people wrongly compare and contrast Popes JP II, Benedict, and Francis. In order to build up Pope Francis they denigrate Benedict. The truth of the matter is that these three holy men were, gasp, all Popes of the Catholic Church. The doctrines, dogmas, and Faith Deposit of the Church have remained the same. One telling meme says something to the effect of JP II told us what we believe, Benedict told us why we believe, and Francis is telling us how to put our beliefs in practice. I was in Denver for JP II and shouted "JP II we love you" with fervor. I have a scholarly mind, so Benedict appealed to me with his explanations (plus I'm German and love my Papa). I was glued to the tv when Pope Francis was elected and enjoy his down-to-earth practice of what he preaches. I think his recent photo in a cafeteria with others working (in the Vatican?) is really the 'new' kind of cafeteria Catholic - those who volunteer in the cafeterias and those who evangelize in the cafeteria. That's one kind of cafeteria Catholic I won't disagree with!

I think the problem lies not in 'conservatives' disliking or disparaging Pope Francis, but in liberals and conservatives alike putting Popes JP II, Benedict, and Francis against one another. None of these popes sought competition with one another. They should not be in competition with one another. It should never be an either-or between popes. It should just be the Catholic Church and Her Bishop of Rome. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

New Endeavor: It Works Product Introduction

Ever since I was terminated from my job, we've been struggling financially. A friend of I mine read of our financial problems and suggested I sell It Works products like she does. Well, I took the plunge. I'm hoping perhaps some of my readers will too.

I tried the crazy wrap thing for myself. Literally overnight I noticed improvement of my trouble spots - 'wings' left over from my reconstruction surgery. Amazing! The only way to get rid of these 'wings', I thought, was to have more surgery (revision plastic surgery). For a cosmetic problem, I wasn't willing to spend the money or pain. Now with these crazy wraps, I don't have to worry about further surgery. 

There are many different products - not just wraps. All the products are herbal based without complex named chemicals. Pricing depends on your commitment to purchasing. If you're willing to commit to 3 consecutive months of product (each month can be a different product), then you are a Loyal Customer (LC) and get heavy discounts. Retail customers don't get the same discounts but still get the same products. If you sign up to become a Distributor you get free products that you can use yourself, give away, or sell. Additionally, you make commissions off of the products your LCs and retail customers buy. When you get other Distributors signed up, you earn commissions off of their commissions and some really great monetary rewards. The success stories of this company are phenomenal. I'm hoping to be one of them!

Ultimate Body Applicator (4 applications LC $59; retail $99)
Defining Gel Body Contouring Gel (LC $45; retail $75)
Fab Wrap (82 feet LC/retail $7)

I've also been drinking Greens. In each serving is 8 servings of fruits/veggies, the antioxidant effect of 20 cartons of blueberries, probiotics, and pH balancing goodness. Each serving is also an energy boost without any harmful caffeine or other chemical energizers. There are two flavors available: orange and berry. There are several different options for Greens: 
30 serving jar (LC $33; retail $55), 
90 serving jar (LC $79; retail $139), 
30 single serving on-the-go packets (LC $35; retail $59), and 
60 Chews (LC $30; retail $50). 

There are several skincare products as well. The Lip and Eye Moisturizing Cream Gel (LC $29; retail $49) in my next order. This product smooths skin tone and lessens the look of wrinkles, bags, and puffiness. One thing I struggle with is my constant dark circles under my eyes. It's genetics combined with allergies, and not helped my erratic sleep cycles. I have high hopes for this cream.

There other products I haven't tried or investigated yet, but sound wonderful. 
Facial: Deep Hydration Mask (4 applications LC $59; retail $99)
Cleanser: Facial Cleanser Gel (LC $33; retail $55)
Toner: pH Balancing Mist (LC $33; retail $55)
Stretch Mark: Moisturizing Body Cream (LC $39; retail $65)
Hair Skin and Nails: Nourishing Complex (60 tablets LC $33; retail $55)
Preventage: Day Cream Gel (LC $25; retail $45)
Repairage: Night Cream Gel (LC $29; retail $49)

There are many different tablets available for weight loss, colon health, revitalizing, healthy joints, anti stress, multivitamin, bone health, essential fatty acids, nutrition, weight loss energy, and even a menopausal support. 
Advanced Fat Fighter with Carb Inhibitors (60 tablets LC $23; retail $39)
Ultimate Thermofit: Thermogenic Weight Loss Formula (60 tablets LC $39; retail $65)
Regular: Support for Colon Health (60 capsules LC $27; retail $45)
It's Vital Core Nutrition: Cutting Edge Multivitamin (90 tablets LC $29; retail $49)
New You: Body Revitalizing Formula (90 tablets LC $49; retail $89)
Relief: Support for Healthy Joint Function (60 tablets LC $29; retail $49)
Confianza: Anti-Stress Formula (60 tablets LC $25; retail $45)
It's Vital Minerals: Support for Bone Health (60 tablets LC $23; retail $39)
It's Vital Omega-3: Essential Fatty Acids (30 soft-gel capsules LC $23; retail $39)
Ultimate Profit: Advanced Superfood Nutrition (vanilla or chocolate powder LC $69; retail $115)
It's Essential: Weight Loss Energy Bar (dark chocolate berry flavor LC $25; retail $45)
Estrorhythm: Support for Menopausal Symptoms (30-day supply LC $79; retail $139)

We all know that sometimes things are meant to be used in conjunction with other things. Well, these packs put various products together in a way that maximizes effectiveness. 

It's Vital Complete Nutrition Pack: Core Nutrition, Minerals, and Omega-3s (30 packets LC $60; retail $115)
Wrap Pack: 4 Ultimate Body Applicators and mini Defining Gel (LC $69; retail $115)
Skinny Pack: 4 Ultimate Body Applicators, Defining Gel, and Advanced Formula Fat Fighter (LC $112; retail $189)
It Pack: 4 Ultimate Body Applicators, Defining Gel, Facial, Lip and Eye, and Greens on the Go (LC $179; retail $299)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Judgment Police verses Modesty Police

Modesty. It is a 'hot-button' topic with both sides claiming moral superiority, but the worldly opinion is securely behind the immodest. Recently, an article titled 'Three Immodestly Dressed Women Walked into a Church' ( raised the issue by giving each woman's reasoning for how she was dressed. Each woman's story was suitably heart-wrenching and demonstrated the bravery of these women for coming to church 'as they were'. It continued on the theme that we (the presumably judgmental 'modesty police') should understand where each and every person is coming from and acknowledge that they are 'broken'. In other words, modesty is relative and immodestly dressed people are already morally superior.

The only thing broken from my point of view is the record of 'immodest' protectors verses the 'modesty police'. What struck me most in this post was that each woman that was dressed immodestly knew and and was already feeling guilty for it. In general, the message we always hear is that we (the 'modesty police') shouldn't judge others. However, it's just as possible for these immodestly dressed ladies to be guilty of harshly judging themselves as well as others they deem 'holier than thou' or 'modesty police'. In modesty article after modesty article it is demanded the we (the presumed 'modesty police') give those dressed immodestly the benefit of the doubt and 'meet them where they are'. We, the presumed 'modesty police', are chastised for covering ourselves modestly. Our thoughts are assumed to be negative towards those dressed unlike ourselves. Author after author jumps to the defense of the immodestly church going while heaping accusations toward the modestly church going. 

Rare (and poorly received) is the article that explains how a modestly dressed woman feels towards her own modesty or someone else's. It is assumed that the modestly dressed woman vilifies the immodest and judges them harshly. Accused members of the modesty police are criticized for looking at as well as for not looking at the immodest among them. A glance at an immodestly dressed woman from a modestly dressed woman is assumed to be condemning, judgmental, and disdainful. Keeping modest eyes focused on Christ on the Cross instead of the immodestly dressed is also assumed to be condemning, judgmental, and disdainful. The rationale behind dressing modestly, how a modest woman feels about herself, and how she sees the world is seldom, if ever, explained.

As a modest woman I am often immediately labeled as judgmental, holier-than-thou, and 'perfect' (in a sarcastic sort of way). The secular world assumes that since I'm not flaunting my body for all to ogle I am ashamed of my body. Immodestly dressed women assume I think I'm better than them whether I say anything to them or not. Even the clergy sometimes assumes that if a woman dresses modestly (it's even worse if that woman wears a veil) she is holier-than-thou. Heaven forbid I have insecurities about myself, that I worry about how others see me, that I feel as 'broken' as anyone out there, and/or that I feel judged. My modesty has nothing to do with others-modest or immodest. I happen to think that the most flattering way to dress is modest. Wearing modest clothing (and a veil in the True Presence) is not a sign of my superiority, it is my sign of respect to the One superior to us all. Modesty presents an image to the world that is often not appreciated or acknowledged.

Our insecurities tend to make us defensive where no offense was meant. Maybe the 'disdainful' stare the immodestly dressed woman felt was really another woman thinking (and staring) at something in her memory. Maybe the disdainful look was actual focused on how the modest lady wishes she could fit into something similar. Maybe the 'cold shoulder' was really the 'modesty police' feeling uncomfortable - not because of the immodesty - because she felt her clothes or her body lacked style/flare/fit/etc and she wanted to be considered beautiful like the immodestly dressed woman. Maybe the kindly words of modesty were phrased poorly due to our anxiety stemming from the frequent backlash we receive. Maybe all the assuming has done more to divide us that the truth in our hearts. We ALL have our own hang-ups physically, mentally, and spiritually. Sometimes the ones who look like they have it all together are the ones hurting the most. There are times we all feel judged, but we aren't all justified in blaming others for judging us. We are often our harshest critic.

So instead of accusing others of being judgmental, perhaps we should all--modest, immodest, church-going, fallen-away, promiscuous, virginal, etc--look only be the best we can be without assuming anything of others. We should all pray for each other to be Holy as God calls us to be.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

I'm Just Human...

You know how sometimes you read a comment on FaceBook or a blog post (or listen to the homily at Mass) and think whoever is 'speaking' is looking directly at you. Well, I just recently had that feeling reading a blog post. I've spent a large portion of my life being judged by others to be too 'judgemental' or 'holier-than-thou' or a 'goody two shoes'. So when I happen across something that paints my position on a subject as 'judge mental' my first thought is that I'm the one being judged and found wanting. Even people who theoretically 'know' me well see me as fitting the mold of the terms previously mentioned. Even people who know how I agonize over practically every word to avoid insulting or hurting someone think I'm at least a stick-in-the-mud. I have a friend on a social game that thinks I can't or won't curse/cuss because I am too conservative and/or holy to do so. 

It's true that I try to show myself in the best light possible as far as morals go. However, I never think I'm perfect or incapable of wrong. I just try to listen to the soft silent voice of my conscience. I try to look on the bright side of people, their actions, their words, and the world in general. I am passionate about my beliefs and morals, but I don't expect everyone to agree with me. When I say, "I'll pray for you." I really mean it and not in a sarcastic way. To this day I can vividly recall instances where I was maligned and 'judged' but in truth the person that was maligned and 'judged' was not the true me. I still cry at times when I think of the way my work-life was terminated and the lies and exaggerations that are written in black-and-white. I still wonder if there was anything else I could have done to prevent such a sad end to my career. 

I sometimes look back on friendships I had in the past that ended poorly and wonder if things could have turned out differently. I replay conversations in my head constantly trying to figure out the sticking point and point of disagreement that caused the discussion to go awry. I truly strive to present myself in the best light as possible, but also to view others in the best light possible as well. 

I'm sure some people are tired of hearing about how my cancer changed my life (and not necessarily for the better). I'm sure there are people who think that is all I think about and that I just constantly need pity or sympathy in order to function. I'm sure some people think my cries for modesty, conservative values, and traditional mindset stems from my desire to judge, control, and inhibit others. Some people have painted a very negative picture of me in their mind that nothing I do can erase. 

The truth is that I have been irrevocably changed by my cancer experience. I strive to live a Godly life inwardly and outwardly. My concern for others is based on a true desire for them to see Heaven. None of this means I don't fail sometimes. It would be ridiculous to say or think otherwise. I'm human just like everyone else. Sometimes my opinions, like armpits, stink. Often I am insecure enough to need someone to say they understand me or sympathize with me. Occasionally I need to be reminded of the blessings in my life. We all do. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

St. Himelin - March 10

Today for religion class, the kiddos learned about one of today's saints, St.Himelin. 

He was a holy priest on a pilgrimage to Rome in huge year 750. He got to a town in Belgium and fell ill (bubonic plague was widespread in the area). A passing maid was carrying a water pitcher to the local priest's rectory. St. Himelin asked her for a drink, but initially she refused. Finally, she had pity upon him and gave him a drink. After drinking, St. Himelin said the priest would be well-pleased with the water. When the priest sampled the water, he found it had been turned to fine wine. At that point, the maid told the priest about St. Himelin. Immediately they retrieved St. Himelin to care for him in his sickness. However, St. Himelin refused a bed and asked only for a pile of straw. Three days later, at the hour of his death, the bells at the local church rang of their own accord. 

This saint doesn't appear to be very well-known or studied. However, 2 miracles were performed by/for him in the only three days we know of his life. That's pretty amazing! I was unimpressed with the pictures I saw of this saint, so I drew my own. In my drawing I included the bed of straw, the water pitcher, and the church bell tower since those, to me, are important parts of the story. I wasn't sure what he looked like, exactly what attire he'd wear, or how old he was, so I just did a generic man in a robe. Pardon the bad photo, but my scanner doesn't work with my iPad. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

41st Annual March for Life 2014

The sorrowful news about abortion, beyond the death of an unborn child, is the harm it causes women. As many as 45% of some Suicide Hotlines are women in deep grief for the disposal of their babies. Their grief, guilt, and regret can lead to 'less' severe consequences like depression, low self esteem, PTSD, anxiety, and perhaps worst of all, distance from God. God can and will forgive these women of their sin, if they only ask. However, society lies to them - saying there is no need for forgiveness or any negative feelings regarding their abortion. 

Abortion advocates do a much deeper damage to women than physically harming them during the actual abortion. The lies promoted by abortion advocates belittle the negative feelings many women have later about their abortions. Without proper support or recognition, these walking wounded women become bitter, disillusioned, and forced to support abortion or else feel they are condemning themselves. Many times these women publicly say they feel no negative feelings about their abortion. Yet, if they were truly to examine their conscience, mind, heart, and soul - the deep wound of their abortion colors their whole lives. 

As pro-lifers we must not only express our concern for the millions of babies destroyed, but also express concern for the mothers (and families) that 'chose' that option. Even if the woman denies any negative feelings, it is quite likely that she just can't or won't acknowledge it. Abortion is murder and baldly stating that truth can be unimaginably painful for post-abortive women (whether they admit it or not). The abortionists are the ones that commit this murder, while the mother is complicit and a co-conspirator. However, once she asks God for His forgiveness (if Catholic in the Sacrament of Reconciliation), in His infinite mercy, He forgives her. 

It is our job as pro-lifers to pray for these women's hearts to change, encourage women to seek this forgiveness, and offer support for their continued healing. On this evening of the 41st March for Life, let us join in prayer for those who marched, those who prayed, those who participated in huge Twitter-fest, and all of those who's hearts and minds were on the subject. 

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Smiling already at 2 weeks

Smiling already at 2 weeks
Rachel has been smiling as a response to other people since day one.

And two shall become one...

And two shall become one...
In 2006, Andrew & I became one before God and family! Shortly thereafter we became 3 with the birth of Simon in 2008... Then 4 with the addition of Rachel in 2009!

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