Letters From a Young Catholic

My reflections as a Catholic young adult passionate about the Faith, seeking to grow in knowledge and understanding of God and discerning the will of the Lord in my life.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Anima Christi

Soul of Christ, be my sanctification;
Body of Christ, be my salvation;
Blood of Christ, fill all my veins;
Water of Christ's side, wash out my stains;
Passion of Christ, my comfort be;
O good Jesus, listen to me;
In thy wounds I fain would wide;
Ne'er to be parted from Thy side;
Guard me when my life shall fail me;
Bid me come to Thee above,
With thy saints to sing thy love,
World without end.


The Shrine of the Holy Whapping picked up on my post on the modest swimsuits and the discussion over on their blog has been very active.

You can go over there to read some of my further reflections.

I'll have to think about this issue some more.

Pastor Electrocuted

This is a very sad story, yet at the same time seems to be a candidate for a Darwin Award.

A pastor performing a baptism was electrocuted inside his church Sunday morning when he adjusted a nearby microphone while standing in water, a church employee said.

This is why our priests don't stand in the baptistery.

Pray for the repose of the pastor's soul and for divine consolation for his family.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

The Wisdom of St. Augustine

The inner turmoil of life has been summarized by St. Augustine. It's amazing how long before I would face this day, St. Augustine knew exactly how I would feel.

"inquietum est cor nostrum, donec requiescat te"

Examination of conscience anyone?

So I'm taking a third year theology course in Moral Theology this semester. It's great. The prof is doing a fantastic job teaching us, the material is challenging, and I'm learning a lot.

The only problem is that the whole course essentially ends up being an examination of conscience. It's not so much a technical problem as a spiritual challenge.

The first part of the course was more theoretical and on the development of moral theology as well as some of the "alternate routes" some modern theologians have taken.

Now we are working through each of the ten commandments, following the format of the CCC (Catechism of the Catholic Church) and then discussing what the response to the commandment should be if we are to live our lives in Christ. I'm finding the course to be both academically and spiritually challenging. Nothing like sitting around for two hours discussing the various sins associated with a single commandment. I leave class every time feeling like I need to find the nearest priest to hear my confession.

Maybe I should pre-book scheduled times for confessions on Mondays and Wednesdays after class. . .

One thing we've been discussing in class is the morality of excellence as opposed to the morality of obligation. Essentially, to pursue excellence in living our lives in Christ rather than to take a legalistic approach and walk as close to the boundary lines without stepping over them.

Anyways, although the "morality of excellence" is a great thing, it makes me realize how far I still have to go. I guess it should be encouraging that God's not finished with me just yet. He's left me with plenty of room to grow, that's for sure.

Modest Swimwear

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm all for modesty. It's definitely important. Very important.

Now I think this is just taking it a little too far though.

Have people heard of balance? I think if a young woman was to show up on the beach wearing one of these outfits it'd be more of a distraction than if she were wearing a nice normal one piece.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Priests gunned down

Priests gunned down in Jamaica.

Grant them eternal rest, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine on them.

Responding to Bill C-407

Encouraged by Fr. Dowd over at Waiting in Joyful Hope, I finally got my own act together this afternoon and wrote a letter addressing Bill C-407. It has been a crazy busy week as I'm in the middle of mid-term exams and essays along with the natural chaotic nature of life, but I decided that I better make wrigint a letter on this issue a priority before it's too late. How could I spend my afternoon studying for my Moral Theology mid-term next week and yet not respond to this threat against the moral order of our society?

Thanks to Fr. Dowd for pointing out the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition site called Stop Bill C-407. I checked it out and it was a great place to find an overview of the situation. Also take the time to read the public statement issued by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops last month.

I feel threatened and scared by this proposed bill. Whether or not it is passed, the fact that people are even willing to think along these lines is quite frightening. What has happened to recognizing the dignity of the human person and the value of human life? I thought that this inherent truth was clearly revealed in nature, but apparently there are many in this world who have consciously chosen to reject natural revelation.

If you are a Canadian citizen I urge you to take the time to write a letter and send it to the Prime Minister, the Justice Minister, your MP, the leaders of the opposition . . . anyone you can think of! You can use the same letter, just change the address and salutation. The postage is free. No stamp required. If you care about the value of the human person, your own life, the lives of those you love or the future of this country, you have no excuse. Essentially, if you recognize what it means to be a human person, you have no excuse. You can find the address of your MP by going to the Find your Member of Parliament site and entering your postal code.

If you are not a Canadian, please pray for us! Prayer cannot be underestimated. Ensure that you are attentive to what is going on within your own government and respond when similar propositions arise in your own country.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Sainte Jeanne d'Arc

Je suis une étudiante à une université protestante (Trinity Western University) mais je prend mes cours de théologie et de philosophie à un collège catholique (Redeemer Pacific College) qui est associé avec l'université mais qui est aussi fidèle à l'Église Catholique (tout les professeurs au collège catholique ont leur "mandatum"). C'est une situation complexe mais ça me permet d'avoir une plus grande sélection de cours mais en même temps reçevoir une bonne éducation post-secondaire catholique.

Tout cela pour dire, je prend mes cours de français à l'université protestante et mes professeurs ne sont pas toujours très gentille quand ils (ou elles) parlent de l'Église Catholique. Je pense qu'ils ne réalisent pas toujours qu'ils ont une étudiante catholique dans leur cours. J'ai déjà entendu des commentairs tels que: "Il y a très peu de Chrétiens en France. C'est un peuple Catholique." ou "Les Catholiques ne croient pas à la rédemption."

Et alors, demain je vais faire une présentation sur le sujet de Jeanne d'Arc en tant qu'héroïne dans mon cours de civilisation française. Je vais terminer ma présentation avec une belle prière à Jeanne d'Arc pour exprimer le sentiment religieuse qu'elle évoque chez les français. Je m'attend que ça va causer une bonne conversation en classe.

Je vous salue, Jeanne, pleine de grâce ;
le seigneur est avec vous.
Après Marie, plus sainte que vous et plus belle que vous,
vous êtes bénie entre toutes les femmes,
et Jésus, votre Roi bien aimé, est béni.
Bienheureuse Jeanne, fille de Dieu,
priez pour nous pauvres pécheurs,
maintenant et à l'heure de notre mort.
Ainsi soit-il ou Amen.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Dignity to die?

As I pointed out last week, there's a bill being proposed next month in Canada to legalize euthanasia (granted with particular restrictions and requirements...not that it makes it any better).

The bill is called the "Right to Die with Dignity" (Bill C-407). It's being spoken of as the "Dignity to Die" bill among the general population.

I have only one question at this point.

When will they be introducing the "Right to Live with Dignity" or "Dignity to Live" bill?

Surviving Mid-Semester Chaos

Sometimes I wish I could run away from it all. Run far far away from all the things listed in my agenda. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that won't work.

So, I am surviving though. Apparently. I just had a philosophy mid-term today. It went alright. Identifying quotes was the tough bit because there were so many of them. The essay questions were fine though. One was on why Socrates accepted the death penalty rather than escape, as proposed by Crito, and do I think he was right in accepting the death penalty. The second was a compare and contrast of Plato's Demiourgos to Aristotle's Prime Mover. The third was a comparison of Plato's and Aristotle's views of the soul and its relationship with the body. There was a lot to write. I was the last one out of the room, but oh well. If you've been reading my blog, you've realized I suffer from verbal diarrhoea.

Anyways, I just wanted to extend my empathy to all university students out there. I know how you feel right now. It's a horrible time of year for university students. Tons of homework. The seasons are a changin' and it's getting dark and wet (or cold, depending where you live). You miss your family. You're overwhelmed. The end of the Semester is close enough in sight to scare you when you think of all the essays you still have to write, but not close enough that there is hope in sight. You're so busy and you wonder what it's all for. You're so busy that the fun parts of university such as staying up 'til three in the morning discussing the meaning of life, the universe, and everything must be severely restricted (replaced with staying up 'til three am memorizing random facts for midterms and finishing off essays).

And then, you try and "fit God in" on top of all that. Run to the chapel. Thanks God for this, this, and this... I need help with this, this, and this... Please help him, her, and him... Please grant me strength, grace, peace, perserverence, focus, concentration, patience, etc... Gotta run to class.

Not good.

But I'll survive.

I don't want to just survive though.

The end is insight, at least the end of the crazy mid-term and essay period.

I have one midterm left, but it's for one of my favourite classes (Moral Theology) so it should be ok. The midterm is a take home but we're not allowed to use our books or any extra material and have to stick to a strict time limit. Either the prof trusts us or he figures that since its moral theology we'll all have guilty consciences if we don't abide by the rules.

Back to work now though. I still have a French presentation on Joan of Arc and nationalism that I have to present tomorrow and haven't started preparing yet. I also have to put together a lesson plan for my CCD (catechism) class tomorrow.

P.S. Yes, that IS a picture of the Holy Father on my dresser next to all my library books. It's a picture I took at WYD. It's a reminder for me to pray for the Holy Father, the cardinals, the bishops, and all priests and religious.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Proposition 6 of Synod on the Eucharist

Proposition 6

Eucharistic Adoration

The Synod of Bishops -- recognizing the manifold fruits of Eucharistic Adoration in the life of the People of God, in a large part of the world -- forcefully encourages that this form of prayer -- so often recommended by the venerable Servant of God John Paul II -- be maintained and promoted, according to the traditions, both in the Latin Church as well as in the Oriental Churches. It recognizes that this practice springs from Eucharistic action that, in itself, is the greatest act of adoration of the Church, which enables the faithful to participate fully, consciously, actively and fruitfully in the sacrifice of Christ, according to the desire of the Second Vatican Council, and refers to the same. Thus conceived, Eucharistic adoration keeps the faithful in their Christian love and service to others, and promotes greater personal sanctity as well as that of the Christian communities. In this connection, the renewal of Eucharistic adoration, also among young people, is manifested today as a promising characteristic of many communities. For this reason, in order to foster visits to the Blessed Sacrament, care must always be taken, insofar as possible, that churches in which the Blessed Sacrament is present stay open.

May pastoral programs help communities and movements to know the appropriate place of Eucharistic adoration in order to cultivate the attitude of wonder before the great gift of the real presence of Christ. In this connection, Eucharistic adoration is encouraged also in the course of preparation for First Communion.

To promote adoration, it is appropriate to recognize especially institutes of consecrated life and associations of the faithful dedicated especially to it in different ways, and to help them so that Eucharistic devotion will be more biblical, liturgical and missionary.

Note: I've approached my pastor about organizing adoration for the first communion class I'm teaching. He said "we'll see." I'm going to make sure it happens.


Last Friday night I attended an annual archdiocesan event for youth and young adults called Freedom! It’s an event that centers on the sacrament of reconciliation.

Over six hundred people showed up along with thirty-six priests to hear confessions. It was encouraging to see that many young people who were even willing to enter a church on a Friday night. On a whole, I think the event was a positive experience. There was time for adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, Benediction, singing of praise and worship, guided scriptural meditation on the sacrament of reconciliation, a thorough examination of conscience, and a testimony on the sacrament of reconciliation. It was especially encouraging to see that most people wanted to participate in the sacrament of reconciliation when the opportunity was made available to them. If nothing else, the fact that most people went to confession probably made it worth it.

Now, I don’t want to be overly critical, because I know how much effort was put into organizing such a large event, and the intent was good, but in retrospect, I don’t know if it was ideal. My first concern was that some of the youth seemed to lack even the most basic respect for the Blessed Sacrament, especially during exposition. The kids in front of me were talking with each other and sending text messages on their cell phones etc… I felt like poking grabbing them and pointing to the Blessed Sacrament but I resisted the urge. Maybe I should have. I found their behavior particularly disturbing considering the priest had indicated that everyone had to go on their knees for Benediction. They kneeled…for about thirty seconds…and then started playing with their cell phones. Maybe I should not forget that the majority of people were on their knees and were adoring Christ. I felt though that their behavior was very distracting and it made it hard for me to focus. Maybe this is selfish on my part. Maybe I should just be grateful that they even showed up considering I overheard one of the guys comment “I don’t know what the hell I’m doing here, I haven’t been to Church in eight years!” I later saw the same guy line up for confession.

My other concern came at the end of the evening. Benediction was followed by an examination of conscience, and then people lined up for confessions and spent time in prayer. After everyone’s confessions had been heard they sang praise and worship music. It was a very “emotional” kind of experience, and while I don’t have a problem with praise and worship music, and in fact think it can be a blessing, I think it was a little over the edge. That being said, the youth like and if it makes them look deeper into their spiritual life it’s beneficial. I fear it’s very superficial for most though. What really got on my nerves though was at the very end they invited anyone who wanted to come up to the front for the closing songs. They first sang a song called “Yes Lord.” This song has actions that go along with it: thumbs up for “yes” and pointing to heaven for “Lord.” All fine and dandy, but what got on my nerves was that everyone was facing the screen which was at an angle on the side of the Church, seeing this song about saying “yes Lord” (along with the actions) and pointing to the screen. They essentially had their backs to the Tabernacle and were proclaiming “Yes Lord!” to a projector screen. There’s something wrong with this. Something very wrong. Then the very last song of the evening was called “the Happy Song.” Things got out of control. Kids were jumping up and down and essentially started a mosh pit in the sanctuary. They were literally jumping up and down inside the sanctuary and banging into the altar! That was the last straw I think. The youth ministry staff realized this was out of hand too and tried to calm the kids down, but it was too late by then. I could see some of the priests standing in the back, near where I was, cringing.

Anyways, like I said, I don’t want to belittle the fact that this event brought many youth, who may have not otherwise gone, to confession. That in of itself is a blessing. I just hope that they can see beyond the emotion and recognize the real impact of a sacramental life as well as know where to find Christ – in the Eucharist.

The person who gave his “testimony” about the sacrament of reconciliation pointed out that it’s not so much about the ‘feeling’ one gets after going to confession as daily making the choice to love God. I hope that everyone was listening.

Apparently this event, started in our archdiocese, has since been picked up by other dioceses across Canada and the US including Toronto and LA.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Closing the Year of the Eucharist

This morning we just finished 24-hrs of Eucharistic Adoration at the college I attend to mark the end of the Year of the Eucharist. I spent a lot of time yesterday and today in the presence of the Lord, and what a blessing it has been. All else pales in comparison to getting up in the middle of the night to go visit with my Lord and Savior. I am so grateful for this opportunity I was given.

To mark the closing of this year I invite you to join in my prayer. . .

May the fruits of this year be plentiful, that Faithful throughout the world would find Christ in the Eucharist, unitying themselves to His Church and His Gospel of Life through this most blessed sacrament.

May God bless the bishops as they wrap up the Synod on "The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church" and may the Faithful be attentive to their findings.

May we always look to the presence of Christ in the Eucharist that we may never forget where to find Truth. Where to find God. Where to find love. Where to find beauty. Where to find all that is good and pure.

May each person find in the Eucharist the strength to glorify God in the living of their vocation.

May we adore Christ in the most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar in all the tabernacles of the world, especially where He is most neglected and rejected.

Let us pray for those who do not know the gift of the sacramental life. Let us pray for those who have rejected this gift. Let us pray for ourselves, that we would never take the Gift of Christ in the Eucharist for granted.

Let us take the time to reflect on the teachings of the Faith found in Sacred Scripture, Tradition, and the Magisterium, and recorded for us in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

1322 The holy Eucharist completes Christian initiation. Those who have been raised to the dignity of the royal priesthood by Baptism and configured more deeply to Christ by Confirmation participate with the whole community in the Lord's own sacrifice by means of the Eucharist.

1323 "At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood. This he did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved Spouse, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet 'in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.'"[133]

1324 The Eucharist is "the source and summit of the Christian life."[134] "The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch."[135]

1325 "The Eucharist is the efficacious sign and sublime cause of that communion in the divine life and that unity of the People of God by which the Church is kept in being. It is the culmination both of God's action sanctifying the world in Christ and of the worship men offer to Christ and through him to the Father in the Holy Spirit."[136]

1326 Finally, by the Eucharistic celebration we already unite ourselves with the heavenly liturgy and anticipate eternal life, when God will be all in all.[137]

1327 In brief, the Eucharist is the sum and summary of our faith: "Our way of thinking is attuned to the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn confirms our way of thinking."[138]

Thank-you Lord Jesus for humbling yourself to meet with us, your most unworthy servants, that we may be united to you in this life through the Eucharist.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Missing the Outdoors

Today is a glorious sunny day. Unfortunately I'm stuck living in a city and studying for a philosophy mid-term.

If I was back in my hometown I'd probably be out on a hike mushroom picking with my mom right now. I bet that's what she's up to today. I'm the typical story of a rural Canadian. I grew up living in a small town and experiencing the outdoors, only to have to hit reality one day and have to move away to go to school. I'm happy to be at university and all, but there's a certain sadness knowing that I'll probably never live in my hometown again (especially since it's very isolated).

Anyways, on this glorious fall day, here's a tribute to hiking on the West Coast. This is a picture of one of the places I often hiked to with my family when I was growing up.

For all those times I went on family hikes screaming and kicking my feet as a child, it was always worth it when we got to the top of the mountain (I must admit, bribery was required at certain points).

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Deliver us from anxiety

As I find myself in the midst of essays, textbooks, and midterms, I'm grateful for the opportunity I have to go to daily mass. Some days I have tons of things to do. Some days I don't want to do anything. Some days it seems I have no time. Some days it feels as if time doesn't exist. In the midst of all this, I'm able to meet with Christ present in the Eucharist. The daily reception of the Eucharist is my source of hope and strength. He is my source of confidence, and I know that if I walk in His ways, He will provide me with the grace I need to carry out His will.

October is always a stressful time of the year for university students. October and February. There is something about these months that even thinking of them is stressful. Too much to do all at once. Anyways, the other day one of my Catholic friends from school, after attending mid-day Mass on a particularly stressful day, pointed out that she had noticed for the first time the following line from the Communion Rite in the Mass.

Deliver us, Lord, from every evil, and grant us peace in our day. In your mercy keep us free from sin and protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

These words, spoken by the priest after the Our Father, speak the words that so many people need to hear in our anxious world. It's so easy to get caught up in the worries of the day, yet these few simple phrases remind us of the orientation our lives should take as we pursue holiness, guarded from the anxieties of this world by Christ, and await our union with him in Heaven. In the Mass we are given a foretaste of this, as in the penitential rite we are freed from our sin and we step outside of our daily cares and concerns, laying them at the feet of Jesus, to take the time to join in the Mass. Furthermore, we have a foretaste of the Eschaton as our Savior, Jesus Christ, comes to us in the Eucharist.

May the peace of Christ, which surpases all human understanding, be with you always.

La femme nouvelle

Au moment, je suis en train de suivre un cours de Civilisation française (de France) à l'université. On lisait l'autre jour à propos de "la femme nouvelle" et on a lu l'extrait suivant qui m'a beaucoup frustré:

Grâce au développement de la contraception, la condition féminine a progressé de manière spectaculaire. Les lois sur l'interruption volontaire de grossesse (1975), le divorce (1975), l'égalité professionnelle (1980) ont permis aux femmes d'acquérir leur autonomie, d'accéder à des professions longtemps réservées aux hommes (même si l'égalité professionnelle est loin d'être effective,) bref de jouer un rôle social nouveau.

Je ne suis pas d'accord! Je ne trouve pas que "la condition féminine a progressé" grâce à la contraception et les lois "sur l'interruption volontaire de grossesse", etc... ce sont ces lois qui ont fait de la femme une victime aux passions sexuelles. Ce sont des lois qui sont dépourvuent d'une vision de la dignité de la femme et qui font d'elle une esclave. La contraception ne mène pas à la liberté mais à l'esclavage dans un monde qui ne comprend plus ce que ça veut dire d'être humain.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Catholic MPs and the Eucharist

The article Will Catholic MPs have to toe the line, or else? in this past week's Macleans magazine shows a lack of basic Catholic theological understanding on the part of the author.

In this article, discussing the reception of the Eucharist by MPs (Members of Parliament in the House of Commons) who go against the Church's teachings on issues such as abortion and same sex marriage. Obviously whoever wrote this article isn't a Catholic themselves since they refer to the Eucharist as "the holiest sacrament -- the taking of bread and wine symbolizing Christ's body and blood." Apparently someone has missed the mark.

It's sad to read the reaction of some of these politicians who have been denied communion.
"I'm a Catholic in exile," says the New Democrat MP for Ontario's Timmins-James Bay riding [Angus]. "I wouldn't want that to happen to any other MPs and their families. I'd prefer to be the sad anomaly."

Angus has been denied communion by his parish priest since affirming his support for same-sex marriage last January. A former Catholic school trustee and choirmaster, he no longer feels welcome at his local church. His wife and three young daughters don't go anymore either, the youngest missing her first communion as a result.

First of all, the Church hasn't exiled Mr. Angus, but rather, he has exiled himself. He was fully aware of the Church's teachings and chose to go against them. In fact, Christ, in His Body (both in the Church and through the Eucharist) is continually calling Mr. Angus back to Him every minute and every second of the day. Christ is calling him to repentence and union with Him, not sending him into exile. Christ has not chosen to exile Mr. Angus. The Church has not chosen to exile Mr. Angus. Mr. Angus has chosen to act in a fashion which he knew would result in him exiling himself from Christ and His Church.

Secondly, if Mr. Angus truly believes that the Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ (unlike whoever the uneducated author of this article is), then why would he not encourage his family to continue attending Mass? They are not responsible for his scandal. What kind of Catholic father would deny their children the opportunity of receiving the graces of a sacramental life if they truly believed in the Eucharist?

Windsor-Tecumseh MP Joe Comartin, another NDPer who supported gay marriage, was banned from teaching marriage preparation classes and other church activities.
Thank God for courageous Canadian priests who are faithfully serving Christ. How could a person who did not share the Church's understanding of the fundamental requirements for marriage teach marriage prep?! Thanks be to God that his parish priest recognized this absurdity.
"I'll go take communion with the United Church, for heaven's sake," scoffs Vancouver Liberal MP Hedy Fry.
Go ahead. If that's her view, she probably shouldn't be receiving communion in the Catholic Church anyways.

Anyways, I could go on and on about this article. I'm sure if you read it you'll have your own frustrations.

I guess in essence, all I really wanted to say is that if these politicians aren't able to receive communion in the Church it's not because of something the Church did, but because of their conscious disregard for the teachings of the Faith. Furthermore, the Lord is merciful and forgiving. The sacrament of reconciliation is available for all Catholics. If any of these politicians truly believe in the real presence of the Eucharist I'd urge them to repent and be reconciled to Christ and His Church.

St. Thomas More ... pray for us!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Bill C-407

These are frightening times in Canada.

Members of Parliament in Ottawa are expected to begin second reading debate on Bill C-407 in November. This Bill, if passed, will remove euthanasia and assisted suicide from Canada’s Criminal Code.

If you are Canadian, write your member of parliament, write the Prime Minister, write anyone you can think of, and tell them how you feel about this. Get your friends to write. Get your family to write letters.

I'd encourage everyone to write to his or her Member of Parliament to express opposition to this Bill and to encourage government to provide funding for education and provision of palliative care for those who are dying. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of.” (CCC 2280)

Tell your Member of Parliament that we do not want to see our country adopt laws that would allow killing as a remedy for suffering.

Pray for Canada. Pray for our political leaders.

That Time of Year

So, it's that time of year when university students all have multiple mid-terms, essays, and colds. It's a miserable time of year.

This week I have two mid-terms, two essays, two presentations, and one glorious sore throat to top it all off.

Next week I have two mid-terms, two essays, one presentation, and I'll probably have a hacking cough by then.

I just need to survive through to the end of October.

Lord have mercy on me!

Monastic Weekend

I spent this past weekend attending a monastic live-in for women at a nearby Benedictine Monastery.

It was an interesting experience, although definitely not what I was expecting. I figured it would be quiet and peaceful and God would give me some great revelation with regards to my future. That's not exactly how things turned out.

It was quiet. It wasn't peaceful. I'm glad I went though.

God works in mysterious ways you know, I think he had to drag me out of the chaos of my life, and set me down in an Abbey on a hill top to shake me up a bit. To be honest, it wasn't a peaceful weekend, it was a weekend of complete and total frustration and spiritual trials. It wasn't fun, but I know that God called me there for a reason. He needed to get me away from the distractions of my busy life to reveal to me where I'm really at in my spiritual journey.

It's discouraging when you think you're on track and then God opens your eyes to areas of your life you don't even want to see or touch with a ten foot pole. At the same time, it's also best to acknowledge and respond to what God is revealing.

So rather than quietly sitting around pondering my vocation, I seem to have spent this past weekend in spiritual turmoil, ending it off with me kneeling in tears before the Blessed Sacrament and more confused than ever about where I'm coming from, where I'm at, and where I'm heading.

I guess it's all part of God's plan though.

I prayed that he would bless my time on retreat. I guess he did. My idea of blessing was a nice peaceful and relaxing weekend. His idea was different. Even though it wasn't pleasant, I know that even if I can't understand it, God blessed my time up at the monastery. God knows where I am hurting and wants me to seek true healing. He won't let me be flipant and just move on with life as normal (which is really tempting) because he knows the depths of my soul and understands better than I do myself what interior spiritual battles I am facing.

Just another example of how God always answers our prayers but not always in the way we expect.

I think that the weekend also brought my attention to areas of my spiritual life that I have been choosing to ignore, using my busy life as an excuse. I've been telling myself that I'm too busy to take the time to really face the underlying weaknesses in my spiritual life.

I know that this musing is very random and vague, but I figured I should put something up about the retreat, even though I don't understand what God is doing in my life right now.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Young. Catholic. Alive.

Over these past few weeks, as a newbie blogger, I have been reading various blogs out there in the virtual world. One thing I have noticed on some blogs is a discussion of the absence of the youth in the Church. Today I feel compelled to point out the fact that we are young, we are Catholic, and we are alive. As the late John Paul the Great often reminded the world, the youth are not the future of the Church, they are the Church.

At the turn of the millenium, Pope John Paul II told the youth that "the true fruits of the Youth Jubilee can never be calculated by statistics, but only in works of love and justice, and in everyday faithfulness, so invaluable, yet so often unseen. I have entrusted to you, dear young people,the task of offering the world this consistent evangelical witness." Take this to heart. Though we may be few, we are faithful. We love the Church. We are striving to grow in knowledge and understanding of the Faith. And we are not satisfied with the world we live in and are pursuing change. We are taking up Pope Benedict XVI's call for a saintly revolution founded in the love of Christ present in the Eucharist.

We are going to Mass, we are spending time in adoration, and we are praying for the Church as a whole. We are praying for each other, for an increase in priestly and religious vocations, for a respect of the sanctity of human life, and for peace and justice in the world. We're not only praying, we're getting involved. We're volunteering as catechists, leading youth groups, and actively participating in parish life. We are leading pro-life groups, sharing the Gospel of Life with our friends, and preaching through the example of our own lives.

Though we may be few, we are strong. As Cardinal Ratzinger has indicated in the past, a smaller Church with Catholics who are Faithful to the Deposit of Faith will only grow stronger in the long run. Don't worry we are here.

I acknowledge that I am blessed to be accessing an 'orthodox' Catholic post-secondary education, and I have thus been able to surround myself with friends who share my passion for the Faith. Yet it's not just on Catholic college campuses that the Faith is alive and well. In our archdiocese, for instance, we have a Catholic outreach program on secular post-secondary institution campuses that is drawing hundreds of hung people [some back] into the fullness of Truth. Once a month, hundreds (literally!) of university students "give up" their Saturday night, not to go to the bar or go clubbing, but rather, to spend several hours in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.

While there is valid criticism in that many young people do not know their Faith, are falling away from the sacramental life of the Church, and have a perverted vision of human sexuality, are they entirely responsible for that? It is our responsibility as a community of faithful to share the Faith with them. Where parents have neglected the baptismal vows they made for their children, we must step in. If you know a young Catholic struggling in their Faith, take the time to establish a relationship with them and show them the love of Christ. Answer their questions. Be patient. Listen. Pray.

If you think the young people in your parish aren't adequately catechized, then start a youth / young adults catechism program. If you think that they have missed the mark when it comes to human sexuality, share with them the beauty of the Theology of the Body. If you think that they are searching in all the wrong places to 'find Jesus,' point them to the Eucharist. If they are struggling with personal problems, the uncertainty of their future, or their sinful nature (as we all are), point them to a priest willing to give spiritual direction.

Rather than complaining, let's step in and make a difference, young and old alike. Where there is a need in the Church, let us discern in prayer and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, how God is calling us to fill that need.

It's one thing to say that the youth are living a life of sexual impurity and perversion, but what if they have never been provided with an adequate explanation of the beauty of the Church's teachings on human sexuality? It's one thing to say that they are ignorant of their Faith, but what if they have never received adequate catechesis? It's one thing to say they are disengaged and uninterested in the Mass, but what if no one has ever adequately explained the Mass to them? It's one thing to say that there is a lack of vocations, but what if vocations are not being prayed for and encouraged within the domestic church and the parish life?

Blessed Mother, ever Virgin...pray for us!
St. Maria Gorretti...pray for us!
Blessed Pier Giorgio...pray for us!
All angels and saints...pray for us!

Only one Pope? Nice!

Yesterday's catechism class (I'm teaching grade two's) was interesting. One of the kids in my class brought along a friend who had never been to church before in his life, who didn't believe in God, and who's parents had apparently told him that the Bible is all lies. That makes for interesting discussions.

Anyways, the highlight of the class though was when I was talking about "people who guide us" in the Church. I brought along pictures of cardinals, bishops, priests, parents, etc... and of course the Pope.

I was showing the pictures and explaining to the kids how special the bishops, cardinals, and the Holy Father are. I pointed out that the Pope must be super special because there's only one of him in the whole world.

One of the little boys in my class interrupted and exlaimed "Nooooo... there's other churches. They all have popes too!" I patiently explained to him that in fact the Catholic Church is the only Church that has a Pope. "Really?" he asked with an inquisitive look on his face. "Yup. Only the Catholic Church," I responded. Coming to terms with this, a giant grin grew on his face and he threw his fist in the air for emphasis and shouted out "Nice!"

Awwwwe... you gotta love the kids.

Thursday, October 13, 2005


Here's what happens when you are sitting in a French Civilization lecture at the end of the day bored to death and have wireless internet on your laptop. . .

---> check out the links on my side bar.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Comments from the Eucharistic Synod

Help Urged for Those Who Can't Go to Communion
Cardinal Herranz Addresses Synod

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 11, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The Church must be loving toward those whose personal situation does not allow them to receive Communion, says Cardinal Julián Herranz.

The president of the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, addressing the Synod of Bishops on Monday, explained that the inability to go to Communion does not mean exclusion from the Church, much less excommunication.

The cardinal reminded the synod's participants that there is the "necessity of a state of grace to receive holy Communion, which the interested person must judge."

In his encyclical "Ecclesia de Eucharistia," No. 37, Pope John Paul II said that "in cases of outward conduct which is seriously, clearly and steadfastly contrary to the moral norm, the Church, in her pastoral concern for the good order of the community and out of respect for the sacrament, cannot fail to feel directly involved."

"The Code of Canon Law," he wrote, "refers to this situation of a manifest lack of proper moral disposition when it states that those who 'obstinately persist in manifest grave sin' are not to be admitted to Eucharistic communion."

Cardinal Herranz explained that "this norm regards a vast diversity of irregular situations: all of which, however, are to be followed with loving patience and pastoral solicitude, in order to make them regular and avoid that any faithful distance themselves from the Church or even considers themselves excommunicated, by the sole fact of not being able to receive Communion."


Finally, the cardinal highlighted "the valid request of the faithful who express their 'hunger for the Eucharist.'"

"Many lament, in fact, hardly ever being able to find a confessor -- even where priests are not lacking in the parish," he said.

"They point out liturgical abuses and desacralizing trivialization of the Eucharistic celebrations," the cardinal added. "They suffer because, against the canonical norms on public worship, the churches are always closed outside of the communitarian celebrations and they cannot stay in adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament."
First of all, well, the situation of pro-choice politicians should be understood pretty clearly in light of Ecclesia de Eucharistia. Paul Martin? John Kerry? Enough said.

Secondly, I hope the Synod takes the time to address the "desacralizing trivilization of the Eucharistic celebration" and the thirst of the faithful for the adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. I struggle to find a church during the week that's open. If the church office isn't in the physical church building, chances are you can't get in to the church to pray before the Blessed Sacrament outside of mass times. That's such a shame. We are thirsting for you O Lord! Christ humbled Himself to remain with us in the sacrament of the Eucharist, the least we can do is to spend time visiting with our Lord and our God. At WYD eight hundred thousand people fell to their knees before the Blessed Sacrament in adoration, often thousands of meters (feet) or even kilometers (miles) away from the monstrance, and yet how often do we drive or walk by that same Lord and God in our own towns without even a second thought? Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is key to the new springtime. Where there is Eucharistic Adoration the harvest will be plentiful.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Homosexuality Resources

Someone was asking me the other day if I knew of any good resources on the hot-topic of homosexuality. I've done some researching and come up with some resources, yet haven't had time to go through them in depth, therefore I'm putting up a disclaimer that I haven't thoroughly examined these resources.

The first thing I came across was an article from First Things called Homosexuality and Truth. This article contains a review of several resources on homosexuality from a variety of Christian authors. Here's the list of the books they recommend:

Strangers and Friends. By Michael Vasey.
Homosexuality and the Poligics of Truth. By John F. Harvey.
Straight and Narrow? By Thomas E. Schmidt.
Homosexuality: A Freedom Too Far. By Charles W. Socarides.
Unwanted Harvest? By Mona Riley and Brad Sargent.
Craving for Love. By Briar Whitehead.

You can view the full text of the article reviewing these books by clicking on the above link.

Of these texts, I was only previously familiar with The Truth about Homosexuality by Fr. John Harvey. Fr. Harvey is a Roman Catholic priest and the author of another book called The Homosexual Person. He founded Courage, a steadily growing support group for Roman Catholic homosexuals which focuses on abstinence (rather than changing sexual orientation), prayer, Catholic Spirituality, and places a strong emphasis on spiritual direction.

Other books that I've tracked down and browsed include:
Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth. By Jeffrey Satinover.
Beyond Gay. By David Morrison.

Beyond Gay is worthy of particular note as, in the words of Fr. Benedict Groeschel, it describes "a powerful statement of a truly Christian struggle to deal with homosexual attraction." It is written by a former gay rights activists who converted to christianity, and through God's grace, made the decision to live with his same-sex attraction while refusing to be defined by it or act upon it.

While I know the issue of homosexuality is getting a lot of attention right now and is a touchy subject for some people, I will refrain from commenting further on the topic for the time being until I have done some more reading and have educated myself a bit on the issue. I invite you to do the same so that we can have an intelligent discussion on the topic at a later date.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Friendships in Transition

It's Thanksgiving in Canada and so I travelled back to the small town I grew up in to visit my family and friends for the weekend. There's something about coming home that you expect to find all the long lost "good times," yet that's usually not how it works out.

I've had a bit of a rough weekend. I met up with my best-friend from childhood, whom I haven't seen for almost a year. In spending a couple hours talking with her, I realized that we really don't have that much in common any more.

It's hard to come to that realization because then you feel all alone. My one and only friend who has been by my side since childhood, the person I'd hang out with every day, the person who's family I considered my own and who's home was my second home, has chosen a different path and seems to have gone astray.

Part of me wants to cling on for dear life and make the friendship endure. I want to have a part in her life and yet I know that we are being pulled in different directions. It broke my heart to hear her describe, with frequent use of four letter words, her experiences of the past year. I want to be a part of her life, but I realize I don't want to be a part of the life she lives. I guess it's so tough because I love her from the bottom of my heart and I know that she is capable of seeing beyond the drugs, alcohol and sex that permeate our society. I feel as if I've abandoned her and if only I had made more of an effort to be more involved in her life a few years ago I could have made a difference. Now my only resource seems to be to turn to prayer.

Sure, I have solid friends at university who share my values and seem to understand me, yet they don't know where I'm coming from and thus I feel that they don't really know who I am.

Our Lady of Good Counsel, pray for us.
Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.

Love and Responsibility

This past weekend I've been working on a book review of "Love and Responsibility" by Karol Wojtyla for a Christian Moral Theology course I'm taking this semester. We were actually supposed to write our review on our course text but I asked if I could write it on "Love and Responsibility" since this is one of the books that has most impacted my own life and it is a text which is very relevant to the renewal of Catholic Moral Theology. I honestly believe that this is a text which can transform lives and it has clearly made a significant contribution to the development and clarification of Church teachings on human sexuality over this past century. This is a text which speaks of the revelation of Truth found in the human person and in the Body of Christ. I thought I'd share with you some excerpts from my essay.

"Wojtyla introduces the ethics of human sexuality through a discussion of the personalistic norm which defines a person as "an objective entity, which as a definite subject has the closest contacts with the whole (external) world and is most intimately involved with it precisely because of its inwardness, its interior life (Wojtyla 29)." (. . .) According to this understanding of the human person, the intellect, by which we know Truth, and the will, by which we choose the good, enable us to love. Because we have the ability to choose the good we are moral beings with a conscience and because we have the capacity for this inner life we are an objective being but also subjective in relation to others. According to Wojtyla, if our morality is a result of our anthropology, and our anthropology is made sense of in terms of love, so will our morals be made sense of in terms of love."

"Love includes a profound usefulness of the other person, but it does not treat the other person as a means to an end. It is only when humans come together in pursuit of a common good, that is in communion, that we are capable of making use of each other in a manner that is loving."

"Just as our of love Christ chose to espouse humanity, so too, a human act is based on a freewill choice to love another person."

"According to Wojtyla "love is the unification of persons" and thus man can only truly love through uniting himself to another through the gift of self. Furthermore, since persons are willed by God for their own sake, the only adequate response toward another person is love."

"Wojtyla goes on to point out that beyond even the philosophical dimension, the sexual urge has a religious dimension since the man and woman cooperate with God in creating new life."

"Sexual pleasure must always be subordinate to love between persons, for affirmation of the value of the person is the essence of love."

"According to Wojtyla, "sexual morality is within the domain of the person" and "it is impossible to understand anything about it without understanding what the person is, its mode of existence, its functioning, its powers."(18) "

"Through his [Karla Wojtyla's] work in philosophy and theology and his experiences as a confessor and counsellor he was convinced "that the Church's sexual ethic, properly interpreted, contained essential truths that deepened human happiness when they were faithfully lived out (Witness to Hope. Weigel 141)."

"Wojtyla sought to shift the Church's position to one of positive rather than negative morality and thus helped equip the Church to face the debates surrounding sexual morality in the modern world."

"In a culture of moral relativism, this text brings great hope and lays the foundation for a recognition of the dignity of human sexuality."

"Speaking directly to the human experience, this is a text which speaks in a very intimate and personal way into the life of every child of God."

"In this text Wojtyla argues that because of our freedom, we are responsible as persons for whether or not we truly love."

In other words, I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone. It speaks of the Truth of the human condition and thus is a book that is relevant to all people, whether they are Catholic, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, atheist, or anything else. . . This, the first book published by the late Pope John Paul II, is a must read.

If you take the time and effort to read it, it may change your perception of human life and it certainly will challenge you.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Catholic Church to open its doors to gay priests

So, that title's not my own but rather courtesy of our very own Canadian Broadcasting Corporation website (click here for the article). I'm starting to really resent CBC.

What on earth do they mean by gay men who have lived chastely for three years? I guess it depends on your understanding of what makes someone gay.

What is gay? That's a big question. Same sex attractions - that I can see as a real cross people have to carry, but is it the same thing as being gay? Really, the more time I spend thinking about it, I keep on coming back to the same conclusion. Ontologically, there cannot be such a thing as homosexuality. For that matter, there is no such thing as heterosexuality (bear with me. . .) God gave us sexuality. Not homosexuality, or heterosexuality... To break down people into any of these categories is to say that there is potential for variations in orientation intrinsic in our being. But the soul informs the body. There are only two variations of gender, which compliment each other perfectly in one sexuality. Look at the natural revelation found in our bodies. Ontologically, there is only one possible sexual orientation.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Mary & Me

Today, on the Feast of the Holy Rosary, I thought I'd provide some insight into the inner world of my perspectives on Mary and marian devotions, such as the rosary. Well, really, the devotions aren't so much the issue since without my relationship with Our Holy Mother, I wouldn't be participating in any marian devotions.

So, as a young Catholic woman who is Mary to me?

While there are many different aspects of the person of Mary which impact my life, fundamentally, Mary shows me what it is to be a woman. In her is found the perfection of the female genius. Living in a generation in which many young woman, myself included, struggle with issues of self-perception, insecurities, purity, lack of confidence, etc. . . in Mary I found an example of my potential. It is only through devoted prayer to, and reflection upon, Mary that I am able to see through the lies of Satan and perceive myself as the woman God has created me to be.

Mary bears Christ to me and in doing so shows me how to bear Christ to others. She demonstrates for me obedience to the will of the Lord and docility to the working of the Holy Spirit. The Blessed Virgin shows me how to love God with all my heart, my mind, and my soul, and also what it means to be loved by God. In times of anxiety, she comforts me. She shares is my sorrows and my joys, because she understands what it is to be a woman seeking to follow God in this world.

Mary is a mother who is always patient. She never slanders me but always edifies me in my walk with Christ. She guides me with a gentle hand. She intercedes on my behalf when I am weak and communicates my love to her Son, even when I feel I can't pray. She is steadfast and trustworthy. Mary shows me what it is to live radically for God. Mary shows me what it means to be a person of virtue and urges me to follow in her footsteps.

Ultimately, through the imitation of Mary I can become the woman God desires me to be.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

chaos strikes again

As I sit here on my bed with my laptop warming my lap, I can see my agenda sitting on my desk full of things to do. Nothing of which is getting done. Welcome to the life of a university student. What should I be doing right now you may ask? Well, I've got "Meditations" by Marcus Aurelius to read for Philosophy, "Catholic Moral Theology" by Pinckaers to read for, you guessed it, Moral Theology, "The Song of Roland" to read for Medieval French Literature, a couple of essays to write, a Spanish test tomorrow, a Catechism lesson plan to make, well. . . you get the gist of it. Life is crazy busy. But the problem is it's my own fault. And if only I effectively used my time, then I could get it all done. Unfortunately, that's not the case. I'm a pretty split personality in that I procrastinate and yet I'm a perfectionist. That means I get four hours of sleep a night because I go to bed super late and get up super early so that I have time do everything well once I get around to it. I need more hours in my day. Or I need to figure out a balance. I am so busy. For instance, today I left my house at 7:00am and didn't get back 'til 7:30pm and now I have to attack my reading, essays, studying, etc... I thank God that attending a small Catholic college I have the opportunity to step outside of the chaos of my life and retreat into the chapel to spend time in silence with Him before the Blessed Sacrament. But even then, my worries, concerns, preoccupations, and anxieties follow me there. It's even harder when I'm trying to figure out what God is calling me to in life.

Here is the synopsis of the state of my life right now:


Well, in the midst of all that, I also do volunteer work - which I find is a good thing, it reminds me to stay focused outwards, seeking to serve first God and then others before myself.

The problem is I feel that the state of my prayer life right now consists of:
"God, give me some direction." Then I don't listen. "God tell me what to do." Then I don't listen. "God, what are you calling me to?" Then I don't listen.

It's not the snobby-thirteen-year-old kind of "I don't listen," (although to God it may even seem that way). It's the "I'm too busy to step back, quiet my soul, and listen to what God is saying," kind of "I don't listen." I'm actually quite frustrated right now because there's nothing I'd rather have than a letter drop from the sky with instructions on what God wants me to do. I obviously want to do God's will, but really, I don't know what it is. I'm sure he's probably screaming it in my ear right now, but maybe I suffer from a self-inflicted hearing impediment, otherwise known as over-extention, preoccupation, and stress.

Sometimes I wish I could just run away and drop everything. I don't think I can really hear where God is calling me in the midst of all this chaos.

Today, on the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, I wish I had the guts to be as radical as him and just drop everything, my life as I know it, to go follow God's call on my life. Really, all this chaos and business is quite pointless if it doesn't fit into God's perfect plan for me.

Sunday, October 02, 2005


"Joy finds its roots in hope and its expression in charity."
(from the homily today)

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Femininity and the Eucharist

I went to a local seminary today for a public lecture by Ronda Chervin, a Catholic convert from a Atheistic-Jewish background, on Jewish perspectives of the Church. This is all besides the point though. One of my friends bought a book by her called "Feminine, Free, & Faithful." They lent it to me and so I started reading it this afternoon.

I'm only on page 22 so this is definitely not a book review, but one of the questions the author starts off the book by asking is "When do you feel most feminine, free, and faithful?" Her response to her own question was simply beautiful and put into words my own relationship with Christ in the Eucharist. The Eucharist is truly an intimate union with our Lord. It is the only place we can find the perfection of authentic love.

"At daily Mass I feel feminine because I am in a yearning, surrendering interior posture. I feel free because I choose to center my soul on God in this manner. I am faithful because I give God the honor that is his due and receive Jesus into my person, as he so desires. I am taken up in awe of my Lord's great gesture of love in sacrificing himself for me and entering my very body each day."