February 28, 2013

The Light Is On For You

Hey, here's a thought.

Has anyone ever threatened one of your children?  Anything from complete annihilation to even just looking at your kid cross-eyed?  What was your immediate reaction?

No, be honest here.

Did you want to smile and embrace that person?  Welcome him or her into your home?  Thank that person for his or her kind attention to your child?  Let that person within a thousand mile radius of your child again?  Ever?  For as long as they live?

Yeah.  I thought not.  Me neither.

And yet, that's exactly what the Blessed Mother does for us.

I've never been able to understand why on Earth Mary would want to lead us, even welcome us, into the presence of her Son when we're the very ones who put Him on the cross in the first place. I know if anyone ever so much as touched one single solitary hair on my child's head....well, "Momma Grizzly" doesn't begin to describe what I would have in store for them.  Grrrrrr.

(...which explains why I'm never called The Blessed Mother.)

And yet, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, continues not only to invite us into the Divine Mercy of His Sacred Heart, but she actually appears to us through visionaries across the ages to renew her offer for us to come to her Son.


This Lent, while we recognize that it was our sins that nailed Christ to the cross, please also recognize what Our Lady and the Church teach us about His infinite mercy: "The Light Is On For YOU."  Come to Jesus in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Humble yourself for a moment.  Confess your sins.  Release all that scarring pain.  Allow Him to nail your sins (ALL your sins) to the cross in union with Him, so that on Easter morning you too may rejoice in the love, mercy, and resurrection of the Lord!

Because isn't that the reason for which we're all here?  To know, love, and serve Him in this world AND to be happy with Him forever in heaven?

How do you expect to get into heaven if you're carrying around the baggage of sin?  Big sins.  Little sins.  Dramatic sins.  Mundane sins.  Repetitive sins.  Drop that luggage on the turnstile of confession and let is goooooooooooooooooo.  Gone.  Forever.

Te absolvo!

The Light Is On For You.

Papal Lap Book

Here is yet another great resource to educate your children on the papal conclave and the See of St. Peter -- a papal Lap Book!


A special thank you to Elizabeth T. from our homeschool group for spotting and sharing this wonderful, fun, Faith-based, keepsake for our children!  Thanks, Elizabeth!

So, How DOES The Church Elect a New Pope?

Here's a wonderful link from Vatican Insider to a short and sweet, interactive guide to how a new pope is elected:


Be sure to click on the blinking plus signs BEFORE you click the arrow to go to the next screen.  The plus signs reveal some additional details for you on the current screen.

Thank you to Jean F. from our homeschool group for discovering this wonderful resource for all!

February 27, 2013

Did You Know...?

Did you know that Martin Sheen and Liam Neeson are Catholic?  Who knew!?

Liam Neeson was named for his parish priest, and is well known for his roles in "Schindler's List," the "Star Wars" series, "Taken," "The A-Team," and many other films.

Martin Sheen, whose given Christian name is Ramón Antonio Gerardo Estévez (his sons are Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen), chose his screen name in honor of Venerable Fulton J. Sheen.  One of his most recent notable projects was to star in his son Emilio's movie, "The Way," a film about a man's mission to complete his deceased son's camino, the Way Of St. James pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, Spain.  It's worth watching, but have a box of tissues ready!

Maybe there's hope for Hollywood after all!  Pray for these and the small handful of other movie stars who remain true to their Faith and the mission of pro-life, despite enormous pressures to the contrary.

February 26, 2013

From the Manger to Calvary

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life." (John 3:16)

I still have our main nativity set up in our house (yes, I know "main" means we have more than one; and yes, I know it's Lent already).  It's in a prominent place and normally I am able to get all our Christmas decorations put away by Valentine's Day, and certainly by Ash Wednesday.

This year, however, I just could not bring myself to dismantle the nativity set.  I don't know why.

Okay.  Well.  Maybe I do know part of the, "Why?"

Admittedly, part of the hold up is that the box into which it is packed is such a super-colossal-pain-in-the-neck to re-pack.  And part of the hold up is that I've gotten into the habit of using this beautiful nativity set as a nightlight at night.

But this year, a huge part of the hold up has been the stark reminder that the nativity set has been to me, every time I look at it, of the real sacrifice that Christ made for us in coming to Earth as a helpless infant child and dying an excruciatingly horrible death for our sins.

Our sins.  Ours.  Mine.  Yours.  Ours.  Our sins.  Us.

I mean, look at Him.  Just LOOK at Him in the manger.  Look at that cute, cuddly, perfect, precious, helpless, infant baby.  How did we go so quickly from this (i.e. - willingly submissive, perfectly formed, chubby, baby arriving amidst great joy during Advent in December) to this (i.e. - willingly submissive, perfectly tortured, wracked, adult male dying amidst great anguish during Lent in March)?   I just can't wrap my tiny little brain around the fact that God (THE God!) decided to descend from heaven in this vulnerable form and allow His form to be totally, completely, and utterly brutalized.

For us.  All for us.

I guess that's the point, isn't it?  That I can't fathom it.  How can anyone fathom the love of God?  How can anyone fathom His completion of our covenant with God, His restoration of our potential to be in union with Him?

Because isn't that the reason for which we're all here?  To know, love, and serve Him in this world and to be happy with Him forever in heaven?

So really, does anything else even matter?  What more could He have done for us?

What more could He have done for you?

February 25, 2013

Eucharistic Procession

A Eucharistic Procession like this one
will be sponsored by St. Agnes Catholic
Church in Catonsville, MD.
As part of the Lenten "40 Days For Life" campaign, an outdoor Eucharistic Procession will be held in Catonsville, MD from St. Agnes Catholic Church to the Hillcrest Abortion Facility on Saturday, March 2nd following the 8:00am Mass.  Contact St. Agnes Catholic Church at 410.744.2900 or visit stagnescatholicchurch.org for further details.

Adopt a Cardinal!

This website randomly will assign you one of the 115 Cardinals who will elect our next pope at the upcoming conclave.  Adopt a Cardinal and start praying!


February 17, 2013

Prayer for the Election of a New Pope

† Pray this prayer once daily until a new Pope is elected! †

Mary, powerful Virgin, you are the mighty and glorious protector of the Church. Your son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, is the source of eternal life and truth.  We come to you now, Mother Mary, asking for your intercessory prayers that a Pope of God's choosing, through the Holy Spirit, is elected.

Holy Spirit enlighten the hearts of our shepherds, the Cardinals, during the conclave of electing a new Pope for the Catholic Church. Give them a spirit of courage, right judgment, knowledge, prudence and wisdom. May the Conclave of Cardinals, with fidelity to the Holy Spirit, choose the new Pope who, as successor to the apostle Peter and Vicar of Christ, will continue to build Your Church into a sacrament of unity, love, and peace for all the world.

Lord, in Your mercy, grant Your Church a shepherd who will walk in Your ways.  We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


Ember Wednesday

Remember, this Wednesday the 20th is the first Ember Wednesday of the Church year!  See my post here for all the details on the ancient feasts of "Ember Days".

You won't want to miss this bonus opportunity during Lent to join the universal Church in prayer and fasting.  Many hands make light work, so let's carry each other and the cross of Christ -- together!

February 16, 2013

Lent - It's Not Just About the Chocolate

With special thanks to Father Shane Johnson, a Catholic priest with the Legionaries of Christ and youth chaplain at St. Peter's Parish in Yonkers, NY at fathershane.com.

Lenten Resources

Here are some wonderful resources for Lent, as you seek to accompany Jesus on His way to the cross through your prayers and sacrifices:

Lenten Sacrifice Cross:
Simply click on the teal words, "Lenten Cross" and you can download a nice copy to print out for each of the kids, to help them stay focused on their sacrifice each day!

Mercy Cross:
Follow these easy directions for practicing the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy, finishing at Easter with a visual representation of all your sacrificial gifts for Jesus!

Lenten Pinboard:
Here is the Catholic Sistas pinboard for Lent on Pinterest.  It's filled with wonderful links and ideas!

Catholic Icing:
As usual, Lacy has lots of hands-on ideas for small children to really engage in Lent, from cheap and simple meatless meals to a Lenten Path to color!

Tomb Garden:
If you've got a green thumb, here's a nice indoor project to do in anticipation of finding the empty tomb on Easter morning!

Lenten Prayer Chain:
Jennifer has included some easy printables to make a Lenten Prayer Chain, as well as LOTS more activities for Lent and Easter (the latter for those who like to plan ahead!), including a clothes pin crucifix, how to braid palm branches, and a list of Link Ups with at least 20 more easy, fun, practical ideas!

Good Friday Meal:

Jessica sets a wonderful table for Good Friday, full of simple foods with symbolic meanings to help draw your family closer to the Stations of the Cross!

Lenten Pinboard:
I just started a pinboard for Lent, as well.  Please let me know of any helpful ideas for Lent that we can pin and share with everyone!

Handy Dandy List of Lenten Sacrifices!

Wow!  Thanks to the Catholic Sistas, here's a great blog post and fantastic list of things to give up and do positively for Lent!  Even though Lent's already begun, it's never too late to enhance your prayer life and draw ever closer to Jesus:


Remember who made you?  God made you.

Why did God make you?  God made you to know, love, and serve Him in this life and to be happy with him forever in heaven.  What else could possibly make Jesus happier than your doing (or refraining from doing) EVERYthing you do....for HIM!?

May your Lent be a time of spiritual peace and growth as you accompany Jesus and Mary on Christ's journey to the Cross.  Be with Him.  Console Him.  Spend time with Him.  Orient your every thought, word, and action throughout the day toward Him.

Live Him.  Vive Jesu!

February 15, 2013

Stations of the Cross

Throughout the year, but especially during Lent, we like to try to pray the Stations of the Cross on Fridays.  Originating from pilgrimages following the actual footsteps of Christ to Calvary in the Holy Land, the Stations are designed for those of us who cannot make an actual pilgrimage, but nevertheless would like to accompany and console Our Lord on His way to the cross.

For our children, we've found an absolutely WONDERFUL booklet to help guide us all in praying the Stations of the Cross as a family!


Courtesy of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Front Royal, VA, the booklet is simple enough for even the youngest child to follow along, yet still follows a traditional format.  They can color the Stations, take turns leading, or simply follow along, all in less than 10-15 minutes.

We also just found this WONDERFUL set of coloring pages for the Stations of the Cross, in several different sizes and formats, as well as a Stations of the Cross Box, which contains physical items representative of each Station:


We hope this little booklet and these resources enhance your family's prayer life with this important and moving devotion as much as it has ours!

February 13, 2013

On Filling the Void During Lent

A friend who is a priest generously offered the following food for thought for Lent:

In his famous, "Rule of Monks," St. Benedict proscribes for his monks the acts of prayer, spiritual reading, and abstinence for their Lenten observance:

"In these days, therefore, let us add something beyond the wonted measure of our service, such as private prayers and abstinence from food and drink."

It is worth considering what we will "give up" for Lent and in what  other ways we will spiritually observe this holy season.  Since Benedict's Rule has remained the standard for about 1,500 years, maybe his wisdom should be our guide.  Forms of fasting and bodily sacrifice are among the most ancient forms of penance.  Also, in addition to making a sacrifice to God for past sins and negligence, we learn greater self-control so that we may do better in the future.

Spiritually, we are called to imitate Jesus's forty days in the desert, where He was alone in constant prayer to the Father.  Some extra daily time with God in prayer should certainly be a part of our Lenten observance, since one of the points of sacrificing something from our lives is to have grace fill the void.

Finally, you may want to consider some spiritual classic to use for meditations during Lent.  Ofttimes, as with New Year's resolutions, Lenten sacrifices don't last, because we have nothing to fill the void for the thing we have tried to give up.  A good spiritual book can be like a faithful companion to which you can turn when you are tempted to squander your time.

In the end, the Rule of St. Benedict guided his monks to enter into Lent with their bodies, souls, and minds.  If it has worked for fifteen centuries, there might be something to it!

Father Joseph