Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sister Mary Martha and Lent

Ask Sister Mary Martha: Have a Great Time

Thoughts From Ash Wednesday

The liturgy of the Mass is designed to raise our hearts and minds to God, and on Ash Wednesday, we are also reminded through the liturgy of our own mortality, that one day at an appointed time known only to God, each one of us will die and leave our earthly existence. Since we don't know when that will be, it only makes sense to try and be ready at all times, which is another theme of Lent. This is why we renew our spiritual practices and take up our mat once more and begin to walk more closely with God. He is so merciful in continually calling us throughout our lives, never demanding but gently inviting us to join Him.

It started out a gray, drizzly, cold morning as we made our way to the Church and found our seats near the back. We settled in to our seats, kneeled for a few minutes in prayer and then the Mass began. I had a good vantage point from there to observe and wanted to share my insights from Mass.

It was a school Mass, so the entire student body, as well as teachers were all present. Besides the school children, there were younger children, parents and grandparents. There was every age on the spectrum all in one gathering. Because the Ash Wednesday liturgy reminds us of our mortality, the variety of people in different stages of life symbolized to me our life journey. More than that, I also thought about our spiritual journey. There are people very new in the faith that are spiritually like newborns, and then some that have matured a little in their faith and are 'older'. Spiritual age has nothing to do with actual age. There are some who mature in faith very young while others come to faith later in life.

As each person before me received their ashen cross and returned to their pew, I noticed that some people had dark crosses, some lighter, some were big and some were small. Some looked like a smudge while others were clearly cross-like. It made me think of how each of us bears crosses in our lives. Some people have heavier crosses to bear than others. Some accept their cross while others despise them and fail to recognize them as the path to their own holiness. But each of us, whether we want to recognize it or not, receives some type of a cross as we go through our lives.

Then, once each and every person had been marked, from the youngest babe in arms to the most elderly in attendance, it was then that the Liturgy of the Eucharist began. It was during this part of the Mass that I was thinking that while we are on this side of the fence, we always have our free will to choose Jesus. Our free will ends upon our death, however, and then we will go to our Judgment. Lent calls to mind that we currently possess the gift of time, but we need to recognize it is a gift and to use it wisely.

It was at this point of the Mass that outside, the rain ceased and the sun broke through the clouds, filling the entire Church with light. It was as if Heaven itself was opening. As the priest lifted the Host and said, "This is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world", literally the clouds outside parted and the sun shone through the windows. The stained glass illuminated in a burst of color, reflecting on the wall nearby, while the sunlight continued on and spilled into the sanctuary. It was symbolic to me of the moment when we are allowed to enter Heaven and how joyous and wonderful that will be.

Which is really what Lent is all about. Recognizing that we are on a journey and we that DO have a destination. Lent is like a map helping us stay on the right path to make sure we get there.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Monthly Medjugorje Message, February 2009

“Dear children! In this time of renunciation, prayer and penance, I call you anew: go and confess your sins so that grace may open your hearts, and permit it to change you. Convert little children, open yourselves to God and to His plan for each of you. Thank you for having responded to my call.”

Some Lenten Reading

I paid a visit to our local Catholic bookstore and picked up a few things....

Resources for Ash Wednesday for Children

Some Ash Wednesday and Lenten links:

Proclaiming Faith

Word Sunday

Family Lenten Activity: Lenten Calendar

Don't forget your Rice Bowl! A Lenten tradition in our house.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Lenten Workshop

Go to Catholic Culture to get some Lenten inspiration and information!


Dear Brothers and Sisters!

At the beginning of Lent, which constitutes an itinerary of more intense spiritual training, the Liturgy sets before us again three penitential practices that are very dear to the biblical and Christian tradition – prayer, almsgiving, fasting – to prepare us to better celebrate Easter and thus experience God’s power that, as we shall hear in the Paschal Vigil, “dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy, casts out hatred, brings us peace and humbles earthly pride” (Paschal Præconium). For this year’s Lenten Message, I wish to focus my reflections especially on the value and meaning of fasting. Indeed, Lent recalls the forty days of our Lord’s fasting in the desert, which He undertook before entering into His public ministry. We read in the Gospel: “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry” (Mt 4,1-2). Like Moses, who fasted before receiving the tablets of the Law (cf. Ex 34,28) and Elijah’s fast before meeting the Lord on Mount Horeb (cf. 1 Kings 19,8), Jesus, too, through prayer and fasting, prepared Himself for the mission that lay before Him, marked at the start by a serious battle with the tempter.

We might wonder what value and meaning there is for us Christians in depriving ourselves of something that in itself is good and useful for our bodily sustenance. The Sacred Scriptures and the entire Christian tradition teach that fasting is a great help to avoid sin and all that leads to it. For this reason, the history of salvation is replete with occasions that invite fasting. In the very first pages of Sacred Scripture, the Lord commands man to abstain from partaking of the prohibited fruit: “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die” (Gn 2, 16-17). Commenting on the divine injunction, Saint Basil observes that “fasting was ordained in Paradise,” and “the first commandment in this sense was delivered to Adam.” He thus concludes: “ ‘You shall not eat’ is a law of fasting and abstinence” (cf. Sermo de jejunio: PG 31, 163, 98). Since all of us are weighed down by sin and its consequences, fasting is proposed to us as an instrument to restore friendship with God. Such was the case with Ezra, who, in preparation for the journey from exile back to the Promised Land, calls upon the assembled people to fast so that “we might humble ourselves before our God” (8,21). The Almighty heard their prayer and assured them of His favor and protection. In the same way, the people of Nineveh, responding to Jonah’s call to repentance, proclaimed a fast, as a sign of their sincerity, saying: “Who knows, God may yet repent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we perish not?” (3,9). In this instance, too, God saw their works and spared them.

In the New Testament, Jesus brings to light the profound motive for fasting, condemning the attitude of the Pharisees, who scrupulously observed the prescriptions of the law, but whose hearts were far from God. True fasting, as the divine Master repeats elsewhere, is rather to do the will of the Heavenly Father, who “sees in secret, and will reward you” (Mt 6,18). He Himself sets the example, answering Satan, at the end of the forty days spent in the desert that “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Mt 4,4). The true fast is thus directed to eating the “true food,” which is to do the Father’s will (cf. Jn 4,34). If, therefore, Adam disobeyed the Lord’s command “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat,” the believer, through fasting, intends to submit himself humbly to God, trusting in His goodness and mercy.

The practice of fasting is very present in the first Christian community (cf. Acts 13,3; 14,22; 27,21; 2 Cor 6,5). The Church Fathers, too, speak of the force of fasting to bridle sin, especially the lusts of the “old Adam,” and open in the heart of the believer a path to God. Moreover, fasting is a practice that is encountered frequently and recommended by the saints of every age. Saint Peter Chrysologus writes: “Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. So if you pray, fast; if you fast, show mercy; if you want your petition to be heard, hear the petition of others. If you do not close your ear to others, you open God’s ear to yourself” (Sermo 43: PL 52, 320. 322).

In our own day, fasting seems to have lost something of its spiritual meaning, and has taken on, in a culture characterized by the search for material well-being, a therapeutic value for the care of one’s body. Fasting certainly bring benefits to physical well-being, but for believers, it is, in the first place, a “therapy” to heal all that prevents them from conformity to the will of God. In the Apostolic Constitution Pænitemini of 1966, the Servant of God Paul VI saw the need to present fasting within the call of every Christian to “no longer live for himself, but for Him who loves him and gave himself for him … he will also have to live for his brethren“ (cf. Ch. I). Lent could be a propitious time to present again the norms contained in the Apostolic Constitution, so that the authentic and perennial significance of this long held practice may be rediscovered, and thus assist us to mortify our egoism and open our heart to love of God and neighbor, the first and greatest Commandment of the new Law and compendium of the entire Gospel (cf. Mt 22, 34-40).

The faithful practice of fasting contributes, moreover, to conferring unity to the whole person, body and soul, helping to avoid sin and grow in intimacy with the Lord. Saint Augustine, who knew all too well his own negative impulses, defining them as “twisted and tangled knottiness” (Confessions, II, 10.18), writes: “I will certainly impose privation, but it is so that he will forgive me, to be pleasing in his eyes, that I may enjoy his delightfulness” (Sermo 400, 3, 3: PL 40, 708). Denying material food, which nourishes our body, nurtures an interior disposition to listen to Christ and be fed by His saving word. Through fasting and praying, we allow Him to come and satisfy the deepest hunger that we experience in the depths of our being: the hunger and thirst for God.

At the same time, fasting is an aid to open our eyes to the situation in which so many of our brothers and sisters live. In his First Letter, Saint John admonishes: “If anyone has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, yet shuts up his bowels of compassion from him – how does the love of God abide in him?” (3,17). Voluntary fasting enables us to grow in the spirit of the Good Samaritan, who bends low and goes to the help of his suffering brother (cf. Encyclical Deus caritas est, 15). By freely embracing an act of self-denial for the sake of another, we make a statement that our brother or sister in need is not a stranger. It is precisely to keep alive this welcoming and attentive attitude towards our brothers and sisters that I encourage the parishes and every other community to intensify in Lent the custom of private and communal fasts, joined to the reading of the Word of God, prayer and almsgiving. From the beginning, this has been the hallmark of the Christian community, in which special collections were taken up (cf. 2 Cor 8-9; Rm 15, 25-27), the faithful being invited to give to the poor what had been set aside from their fast (Didascalia Ap., V, 20,18). This practice needs to be rediscovered and encouraged again in our day, especially during the liturgical season of Lent.

From what I have said thus far, it seems abundantly clear that fasting represents an important ascetical practice, a spiritual arm to do battle against every possible disordered attachment to ourselves. Freely chosen detachment from the pleasure of food and other material goods helps the disciple of Christ to control the appetites of nature, weakened by original sin, whose negative effects impact the entire human person. Quite opportunely, an ancient hymn of the Lenten liturgy exhorts: “Utamur ergo parcius, / verbis cibis et potibus, / somno, iocis et arctius / perstemus in custodia – Let us use sparingly words, food and drink, sleep and amusements. May we be more alert in the custody of our senses.”

Dear brothers and sisters, it is good to see how the ultimate goal of fasting is to help each one of us, as the Servant of God Pope John Paul II wrote, to make the complete gift of self to God (cf. Encyclical Veritatis splendor, 21). May every family and Christian community use well this time of Lent, therefore, in order to cast aside all that distracts the spirit and grow in whatever nourishes the soul, moving it to love of God and neighbor. I am thinking especially of a greater commitment to prayer, lectio divina, recourse to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and active participation in the Eucharist, especially the Holy Sunday Mass. With this interior disposition, let us enter the penitential spirit of Lent. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Causa nostrae laetitiae, accompany and support us in the effort to free our heart from slavery to sin, making it evermore a “living tabernacle of God.” With these wishes, while assuring every believer and ecclesial community of my prayer for a fruitful Lenten journey, I cordially impart to all of you my Apostolic Blessing.
From the Vatican, 11 December 2008.BENEDICTUS PP. XVI© Copyright 2008 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Catholic Hospitals Will Not Close

Bishop Lynch of St. Petersburg, FL at a meeting of the Catholic Health Association Board of Trustees was quoted today. CHA will join with the church and all other pro-life parties to vigorously oppose any and all attempts by this Congress or administration to broaden abortion access, he said.

“Catholic hospitals will not allow abortions to be performed in their facilities and will not comply with any laws mandating abortion or other procedures that violate the ethical and religious directives, even if our actions constitute civil disobedience,” he added.

“No Catholic institution or employee of an institution can or will be made to violate the dictates of their conscience resulting from federal or state legislative action,” Bishop Lynch said.

Bishop Lynch also said that Catholic hospitals would not close.

He said Catholic hospitals won't comply with laws that violate conscience but we will not close.

Among the reasons he cited were that:

_Catholic hospitals are sometimes the sole provider of health care in a large geographical area, especially in rural areas.

_The hospitals have an obligation to their physicians, nurses and other employees; to their bondholders; and to the poor, unprotected and to our communities which benefit from our presence.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Beginning of Lent-- Ash Wednesday

This coming Wednesday is Ash Wednesday. I know, I can't believe it either. It seems like we just put away our Christmas decorations and now we are already heading into Lent.

Last night I explained to my daughter about what was going to happen in Mass that day. She will be attending Mass with her kindergarten class and the rest of the school to receive ashes on her forehead. I bet if you were to ask any Catholic why we receive ashes on our foreheads, they may be hard pressed to give an answer to that, at least not all would know. It's just something we do, they might say. Sometimes we do things out of habit and don't really reflect on the reason WHY we do it, which is why I dedicated this post to that topic.

We will receive the Sign of the Cross on our forehead as a visible reminder that we are marked for Christ, that we came from dust and to dust we shall return. It is both a sign of our mortality and a sign of our sinfulness, thus our need for a Saviour. This day is not a Holy Day of Obligation, however, for those who do get ashes, it is considered an act of humility to wear them all day. It is through true humility that we begin to learn true repentance.

Ash Wednesday is a day of fasting and abstinence. Fasting and abstinence are a form of penance. All Catholics of good health between the ages of 18 and 60 are required to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, which means we are allowed only one complete meal and two smaller meals, with no food in between. Catholics over the age of 14 are required to abstain from eating meat on this day and all Fridays during Lent.

Lent is a time for evaluating how we are living out our lives as Christians. This is why at the beginning of Lent, we are encouraged to set specific spiritual goals and ways to achieve them. For instance, it is a common practice for many Catholics to attend daily Mass during Lent. There are many ways to increase our spiritual life, and most Catholics, in striving for greater spiritual growth together in a penitential spirit will give up some of their leisure time in favor of doing one or more of the following: Stations of the Cross; daily meditations; frequent reception of the Eucharist; going to Reconciliation; praying the Rosary; Bible study; attending the parish Mission; giving alms; and performing works of corporal and spiritual mercy, among others.

Many people give something up as a penance. It can be something that they enjoy or feel too attached to, or something that will be missed so that each time they think of it, it can serve as a way to redirect their thoughts to the reason for the abstinence, and to help break our dependence on things that may lead us astray.

In the past, I have given up things like eating out, chocolate, soda, favorite television shows, computer time and the like. It had to be something that I would really miss and therefore would be reminded repeatedly each day. Many times, I found that by the end of Lent, my attachment was completely broken and some things I never went back to. I gave up my soap opera many years ago and have never watched it since. Sometimes this is a lesson in what we think we need vs. that which we truly can go without, and believe me, there are a lot of things we all think we need that we can go without. Sometimes it is a lesson in how much we take things for granted and how blessed we are. It also makes me think of those less fortunate than myself, which is why I also give alms in addition to my sacrifice.

There is so much to say about Lent, but I will leave it here for today. Here is an article to get you started thinking about Lent.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Warning. Falling Confetti. 200th Post!

Well, it's really like any other day, but I feel like I reached a personal milestone. I started this blog mainly for fun but shortly after I started, I wavered between thinking it foolish to share things about my life with an unknown audience to thinking that it was something that wasn't foolish. At first, it was a struggle to strike that balance of what to write and just how much to share. Then, when I started getting the hang of it, I quickly got to a point that I felt horribly inferior to so many of the bloggers that I love and read every day. But I have since come to realize that it didn't matter to me whether I had a million people logging on to read my posts (and I'm glad, too because that would be so much pressure!) Blogging is still fun. It is an outlet and it has become a way for me to challenge myself by trying to figure out my little niche in blogland.

Since I began blogging, I have found so much inspiration through the Catholic Moms Blog network where there are so many wonderful Catholic mom blogs. Click on the side bar and visit any one of the many blogs listed there. While many of them are much better than my blog, I realized that we all have our own style and way of expressing things. The nice thing about the Body of Christ is that we all have our unique talents and contributions to make. I began to place more of a focus on my Catholic faith in my posts. I found writing about things pertaining to my faith to be very rewarding and in the process I have learned things and also have been reminded of things I knew but needed a little refresher.

If you come here to read I would love to hear your thoughts on my blog. Hopefully I can stay around for the next 200 posts! In the meantime, it is my hope that in visiting my blog you have found it to be informative, entertaining and fun. That is what I strive to create. I thank you for coming and supporting my venture into blogging. For all of us who do this, you know it is not always easy!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Real Presence

Yesterday, I posted 12 reasons for going to Adoration. The list came from the site, The Real which has a nice section on printable materials for Eucharistic Adoration. I especially liked the Children's section on Eucharistic Miracles, because my children really love hearing these stories that so literally illustrate the reality that the Consecrated Host is the Body of Christ.

You can read about the Eucharistic Miracle of Trani, which is one of my son's favorites, here as a PDF file. The Eucharistic Miracle of Trani.

I know that the subject of Eucharistic miracles has always fascinated me, and as well, my children. One of the more exhaustive and interesting of the books written about these is Joan Carroll Cruz's book, Eucharistic Miracles. I have this book and have read it and reread it. It never ceases to amaze me how God has made this truth of our faith, the Eucharist and the Real Presence known through such miracles.

Bringing children in for Adoration is something all Catholic parents should do, even if for only a few moments. It is so important that children learn that Jesus is Real, He is with us ("I will be with you always, until the end of the age") and He dwells in a special way in the Eucharist. Jesus tells us, "Let the children come to Me."

There is a section at The Real Presence for Adoration for the Young, which has many great resources, ideas, printables, meditations and other information. An invaluable resource!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Powerful Words from a 12 Year Old

12 Reasons for Adoration

Why Adoration?

The following 12 Biblical reasons help us understand the value, the importance and the need of spending one hour each week with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

1. He is really there! "I Myself am the Living Bread come down from heaven." (Jn. 6:35) Day and night Jesus dwells in the Blessed Sacrament because of His infinite love for you!

2. "Behold I will be with you always even to the end of the world," because "I have loved you with an everlasting love, and constant is my affection for you." (Mt 8:20; Jer. 31:3)

3. The specific way that Jesus asks you to love Him in return is to spend one quiet hour with Him each week in the Blessed Sacrament. "Where your treasure is, there is your heart..." "Could you not watch one hour with Me?" (Mt 6:21; 26:40)

4. When you look upon the Sacred Host, you look upon Jesus, the Son of God. "Indeed, this is the will of My Father, that everyone who looks upon the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life. Him I will raise up on the last day." (Jn. 6:40)

5. Each moment that you spend in His Eucharistic Presence will increase His Divine life within you and deepen your personal relationship and friendship with Him. "I have come that you may have life, and have it more abundantly." "I am the Vine and you are the branches. Whoever remains in union with Me shall bear much fruit for without Me, you can do nothing." (Jn. 10:10;15:5)

6. Each hour you spend with Jesus will deepen His Divine peace within your heart. "Come to Me all of you who are weary and find life burdensome and I will refresh you..." "Cast all of your anxieties upon the Lord, who cares for you." "My Peace is My Gift to you." (Mt 11:28; 1 Pt 5:7; Jn. 14:17)

7. Jesus will give you all the graces you need to be happy in life. "The Lamb on the Throne will shepherd them. He will lead them to springs of life-giving water." (Rev 7:17) Jesus is infinitely deserving of our unceasing thanksgiving and adoration for all He has done for our salvation. "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive honor, glory and praise." (Rev 5:12)

8. For peace in our country! "Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land. " (2 Ch. 7:14)

9. Each hour you spend with Jesus on earth will leave your soul everlastingly more beautiful and glorious in heaven. "They who humble themselves shall be exalted..." "All of us, gazing on the Lord's glory with unveiled faces, are being transformed from glory to glory into His very image." (Lk. 18:14; 2 Cor. 3:18)

10. Jesus will bless you, your family and the whole world for this hour of faith you spend with Him in the Blessed Sacrament. "Blessed are they who do not see and yet believe..." "Faith can move mountains..." "What is needed is trust..." "Behold I come to make all things new." (Jn. 20:29: Mk 11:23; Mk 5:36; Rev. 21:5)

11. Each moment you spend with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament brings joy, pleasure and delight to His Sacred Heart! "My joy, My pleasure, My delight is to be with you." (Prov. 8:31)

12. Jesus will spend all eternity thanking you and loving you in heaven for your faithful commitment on earth of spending one hour each week with Him in the Blessed Sacrament.

Mother Teresa had the following to say:
I make a Holy hour each day in the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. All my sisters of the Missionaries of Charity make a daily holy hour, as well, because we find that through our daily holy hour our love for Jesus becomes more intimate, our love for each other more understanding, and our love for the poor more compassionate. Our holy hour is our daily family prayer where we get together and pray the Rosary before the exposed Blessed Sacrament the first half hour, and the second half hour we pray in silence. Our adoration has doubled the number of our vocations. In 1963 we were making a weekly holy hour together, but it was not until 1973, when we began our daily holy hour that our community started to grow and blossom.

Wherever I travel and wherever I go, I carry this prayer and meditation book with me because it is a constant source of light and inspiration for me. It has become my daily companion. Loving Jesus with the Heart of Mary is my daily prayer and meditation book. It is a most beautiful book because each page helps us to see ever more clearly how much Jesus loves us in the Blessed Sacrament. I recommend Loving Jesus with the Heart of Mary and Come to Me in the Blessed Sacrament to everyone I meet. I would like the whole world to read these books to help everyone realize that Jesus wants all of us to come to Him in the Blessed Sacrament. He is really there in Person waiting just for you. I have already given an individual copy of Loving Jesus with the Heart of Mary to all my sisters, and I am sending a copy of Come to Me in the Blessed Sacrament to each of our houses throughout the world because I want my sisters to absorb the deeply rich, and yet, simple to understand Eucharistic spirituality that these books contain. It is all there; everything is in it. That is why I encourage you to use this book also, so that through Mary, the cause of our joy, you may discover that no where on earth are you more welcomed, no where on earth are you more loved, than by Jesus, living and truly present in the Most Blessed Sacrament. The time you spend with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the best time that you will spend on earth. Each moment that you spend with Jesus will deepen your union with Him and make your soul everlastingly more glorious and beautiful in Heaven, and will help bring about an everlasting peace on earth.

When you look at the crucifix, you understand how much Jesus loved you. When you look at the Sacred Host you understand how much Jesus loves you now. This is why you should ask your parish priest to have perpetual adoration in your parish. I beg the Blessed Mother to touch the hearts of all parish priests that they may have perpetual Eucharistic adoration in their parishes, and that it may spread throughout the entire world.

God Bless You, Mother Teresa

Fr. Euteneur Links Abortion Industry to the Devil

[I am sharing this from my email list because I thought it was interesting]

By John P. Connolly, The BulletinPublished: Tuesday, February 03, 2009

An exorcist authorized to perform exorcisms in several dioceses spoke at a religious ministry luncheon on Sunday, explaining the basics of exorcism and its connection with abortion.
Fr. Thomas Euteneuer, president of Human Life International and an exorcist, spoke at a luncheon hosted by In His Sign Network (IHS). He is an exorcist authorized to perform exorcisms in several states, and highlighted the connection between the abortion industry and demonic influence.

Abortion is a demonic industry, he told The Bulletin. Abortion is blood sacrifice of innocent blood to the devil. The clinics are like temples, the doctors are like priests, the medical table is like their altar. It's a ritualized sacrifice. They have a dogma called choice, a hierarchy called Planned Parenthood, and guardian angels in the form of police guards that will arrest you if you try to stop them.

He said that there have been abortionists who have called abortion their sacrament. Fr. Euteneuer advocates prayer as a necessary step to successfully fighting abortion.
Abortion is a spiritual evil, he said. If we are to beat it, we can't just fight it in the political realm. It derives its power from below. To confront a force this strong, you need a massive amount of prayer. That's why I like the 40 Days For Life group, because they bring us what we need where we need it.

Fr. Euteneuer explained the basic exorcism procedure, and the tactics the devil uses to possess a person. The first tactic relies on seduction, trying to get the victim to invite him into their lives.
Most people with demonic problems have opened a door somewhere, said Fr. Euteneuer. He cited the popularity of the occult in bringing people closer to demonic interaction, primarily through the growth of the New Age movement and other paraphernalia. He said that even Hasbro markets Ouija boards to children.

I'm very set against Harry Potter, he said. It's pumping into our children's minds the language and imagery of the occult. It's extremely spiritually dangerous.

He also called attention to a growing fascination with the cult of the vampire, especially through the popularity of books and movies like Twilight, where the main character falls in love with a vampire.

I predict that in the next 10 years or so, we'll see an explosion of occult activity, said Fr. Euteneuer. The number of soft-core occultism in the form of things like Harry Potter, Wicca and the New Age is on the increase. These are the gateways to the hardcore stuff. Ask any inner-city police department if they're seeing evidence of Satanism. They're organizing whole task forces to deal with crimes having to do with these things. As society becomes more faithless, this wickedness comes and fills the vacuum.

Fr. Euteneuer said the other tactic a devil uses is victimization of a person. The person in question doesn't always need to invite demonic activity, but can have it placed on them by other groups or people.

Nevertheless, Fr. Euteneuer stressed that exorcism is not often the dramatic thing the movies make it out to be.

The devil doesn't have the power you see in the movies, he said. He cannot hold onto a state of possession for a given length of time. The movies glorify his power. They do a good job in showing the priest coming to care for these people, but the priest carefully binds that devil, and he is a prisoner in that person.

Exorcism requires prayer and fasting, and requires a long period of discernment to determine if the problem is not, in fact, psychological.

A report is made to the diocese, and then the bishop must authorize a solemn exorcism, explained Fr. Euteneuer.

The priest will then use a ritual in Latin where he binds whatever demonic entity is troubling a person and commands him. Fr. Euteneuer told the audience that the process is not unlike a trial, where the priest is the prosecuting attorney and the demon is trapped. The word exorcism itself means to put somebody on trial. The devil is required to answer any demands the priest makes to him in the name of Christ, because of the authority that the priest has from Christ.

Exorcism is a pastoral ministry of the Church, and it's an important ministry, said Fr. Euteneuer. But confession is a much more important ministry, because it pulls out the sins which are the conditions for a possession.

IHS Network Serves As Radio Ministry

The In His Sign Network (IHS) has been a listener-supported radio ministry for over 30 years.
IHS broadcasts a daily show on WTMR 800 AM, out of Trenton from 5 to 6 p.m.
We put on retreats or events that are topical to issues going on in the Catholic Church, said Kathleen McCarthy, president of IHS. I see our mission as bringing the fire of God's love to the world.

Ms. McCarthy's son, Brian, spoke about its mission at the luncheon on Sunday.
One way or the other, media will guide and shape society, he said. That society has a lot of weaknesses, fears and anxieties. [But] Christ has already won the victory. The IHS Network is proclaiming that victory.

For more information on IHS, readers may visit their Web site at
John P. Connolly can be reached at

Lord, may everything we do begin with Your inspiration and continue with Your help,so that all our prayers and works may begin in You and by You be happily ended.We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

+ "The fruit of abortion is nuclear war" - Bl. Mother Teresa +

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

My Valentine's Day
photo montage:

I call this one: "Stop! In the Main of Love!"

This one is entitled: "Why yes, I bring my camera in to Wal-Mart, doesn't everyone?" or "Shop tomorrow when everything's 50% off!

And this one: "The Cake Fountain I was afraid my kids would stick their fingers in"


Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Red Envelope Project

The Story...
Below is a letter that has been circulating with a great idea. The message began in silent prayer from a faithful follower who was spending quiet time with God.

Dear Friends and Intercessors:

This afternoon I was praying about a number of things, and my mind began to wander. I was deeply distressed at the symbolic actions that President Obama took as he began his presidency. Namely, that he signed executive orders releasing funds to pay for abortions, permission to fund human stem cell research, and federal funding for contraception. I have been involved in the pro-life movement for nearly 20 years, and it pained my heart to see a man and a political party committed to the shedding of innocent blood. This man, and this party lead our country, but they do not represent me or the 54% of Americans who believe that abortion is wrong and should no longer be legal.

As I was praying, I believe that God gave me an interesting idea. Out in the garage I have a box of red envelopes. Like the powerful image of the red LIFE tape, an empty red envelope will send a message to Barack Obama that there is moral outrage in this country over this issue. It will be quiet, but clear.

Here is what I would like you to do:
Get a red envelope. You can buy them at Kinkos, or at party supply stores.

On the front, address it to:

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington , D.C. 20500

On the back, write the following message:

This envelope represents one child who died in abortion. It is empty because that life was unable to offer anything to the world. Responsibility begins with conception.

Put it in the mail, and send it. Then send this website to every one of your friends who you think would send one too. I wish we could send 50 million red envelopes, one for every child who died before having a a chance to live.
Maybe it will change the heart of the president.

Warmly, [Unknown]

Let's Send 50 Million red envelopes (and Counting) to the President!

For more information, go to Red Envelope Project website

Monday, February 9, 2009

Scholarship Scams

I received a letter in the mail from my oldest son's middle school regarding his "nomination" to be included in the listing of the United States Achievement Academy, and then would be eligible for one of their scholarships. Of course we are very proud that he is a high achiever and has always done very well in school, and of course we want him to have the chance for winning scholarships,


When I did a little online research, what I found was appalling. This organization is really just a way for the Student Marketing Group to gather information about students for marketing lists which are then sold to other groups for targeting and marketing purposes. The letter looks very official, and I'm sure the school had good intentions. I have to think that they didn't know that this is a scam.

The parent has to sign a waiver for the student to have their name included in a national yearbook, which they then sell to the parents and grandparents for $60.00 or more, after they have tried to upsell with adding your picture for an additional fee. Not only that but they have the student fill out a bio survey and that information is what goes into the marketing database. There is a membership fee, the amount of which is not listed on the website, but I assume you have to be a member (thus having to pay the fee) in order to be eligible for their scholarships. They have one $10,000 scholarship and then 400 different grants (the amount of which, I'm sure is nominal). There is a list of the 2007-2008 winners on their website. Only one student from our state is listed as having won (hmm, how many were nominated, and what is the selection process?) The United States Achievement Academy is a .com website, which means they are not a non-profit organization.

After finding all this information, I notified the school about my findings and while the counselor seemed shocked, had no idea she says, she also almost seemed irritated with me. Perhaps those fancy PhD holding administration types don't like a little housewife telling them something of this magnitude is going on and they have no idea. She says she checked their website. Obviously she didn't check anything else. All she told me was that we didn't have to sign the permission form and send it in, and possibly we were jeopardizing his chances for a future scholarship. Whatever.

I also found out that the National Honor Roll is a similar type scam. Who would have thought? It is just disgusting how this is allowed to go on. My child isn't in high school yet but I am sure we haven't seen the last of these groups. Please research before you sign or send in information to companies, even if they seem legitimate. It doesn't hurt to check. I always remember that my parents told me that you don't get something for nothing. In today's world that is more true than ever.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Glass is Half Full?

When I asked the boys to come out and help pick up the dog poo off the lawn, I was met with groaning and complaining. One of them says, "I don't like picking it up, it's really gross." "And it stinks." "And it's squishy." (we use gloves, in case you were wondering about the last comment) I started explaining that this is all part and parcel of owning a dog, and along with the fun comes the work part. A lecture that went completely over his head.

The other one, trying to be positive and help me to get his brother on board with us, says, "Don't think of it as dog poo. Think of it as recycled dog food."

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Paper Trail

As I'm wading through all the stuff in the craft room, I'm starting to realize that this job is a lot bigger than I originally thought. You know that saying, "It's gonna get worse before it gets better?" That's what I was thinking yesterday as I was sorting through trying to figure out exactly what to do with everything. I found a box full of papers from when my oldest son was in 2nd grade (he's in 7th grade now.)

I sat cross-legged on the floor and went through the box. His printing was so neat, he got 100% on this test, look here--his teacher thinks he's a genius. Seriously. What was I thinking? Do I really need to keep every spelling test, art paper, science experiment or math timing? At the time I must have thought so.

Yesterday, not so much.

That's another thing I'm discovering about why I procrastinate. Decision making. Do I keep it, toss it, frame it or recycle it? There's just too many decisions to make about too many things. After a while I was starting to feel really stressed out. I worked for about 2 1/2 hours and I did make a lot of progress. I do feel good about that. I just wish I knew why I didn't throw those papers away when he brought them home from school five years ago.

The guilt, for one thing. Our generation seems to want to hang on to every moment. We video tape every event and even non-events. I have yards of video tape of every birthday, Christmas, Easter and vacations we took. When I wasn't video taping, I was snapping pictures. I have so many pictures on my hard drive that the owners of Snapfish could send all their children to private college if I ever decided to have them all printed.

It seems that we spend so much time recording the event that we have no actual memory of it.

My baby book has about six pictures in it. There are a couple pictures taken the day of my Baptism, turn the page and there are a couple pictures taken on my first birthday. That's pretty much it. There's no box filled with papers from every grade, every outfit I ever wore, my favorite stuffed animals, fingernail clippings or teeth I lost.

And you know what? I really don't feel all that deprived.

Something tells me that my kids will be alright if I toss some of this stuff out.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Procrastinator's Work is Never Done

Sometimes I feel that everyone else just has more time than I do. It's some cruel conspiracy.

It couldn't just be that I'm not efficient at time management, could it?

Previously, I have written about what makes procrastinators tick.

I have come to the realization that procrastination seems to be consistent with a Type B personality (which I apparently am.) My husband is a Type A through and through. Not so surprising is the fact that many of his co-workers are also Type A. I suppose some careers dictate certain types of personalities. It's not scientific, just my opinion. However, it seems that many of his co-workers are married to Type B's. It is true that opposites attract, after all can you imagine what it would be like for two Type A's to be married? It would be a constant battle of the wills. Or two Type B's? Nothing would ever get done.

Which brings me back to my topic. Procrastination. (see how good I am at it?)

When I have a big job that is overwhelming and don't even know where to start, I tend to put it off for another day. That is the main reason I put things off, because I don't know where to start. I decided to take this gigantic job and just break it into small stages and that has seemed to help.

What in the world am I even talking about, you probably are wondering. I'm (finally) cleaning out my craft room in the basement which has become a storage room where things go to die. There's stuff in there I haven't seen in a couple years. However, whenever I'm at the craft store I buy more junk and then throw the bag in the room for when I actually do the project. Needless to say, I never get around to the project. But maybe I would if the room looked like this:

I really like the idea of being able to move the shelving around.

Or how about this?

These pictures came from the HGTV site under organization. Aren't they inspiring?

I really think that magazines are created for people like me, to show us what we could do if we would just start it. How many times have I bought a magazine because of pictures like the ones above? I couldn't even count. But this time, I have finally been inspired enough to actually do it and stop thinking about doing it.

The first step is just believing that you can.

Blessing the Grave

Blessing the Grave

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Monday, February 2, 2009

Murphy's Law Applies in Church, Too

I don't know who Murphy is, but he must be one of the unluckiest guys on this planet!

Did you know that it is Murphy's Law that says:

"If you run out the door to go to church on Sunday without making sure your two pre-teen boys have combed their hair and put on decent, non-stained, matching clothing; and your five year old daughter has a front tooth dangling ready to fall out at any minute; and your husband is wearing his "comfortable" clothes; then it is guaranteed that your family will be asked upon your arrival at Mass to bring up the Gifts of bread and wine, so that your family's dishevelment may be visible to the entire congregation."

I didn't know about that obscure little law until yesterday.

You've been duly warned.