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.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Off to Rise-Up

I'm going to be heading out first thing tomorrow morning to drive down to the city for the Rise-Up conference being put on by Catholic Christian Outreach.

From the description of the conference:
The conference will feature 4 nights in a 5 star hotel, dynamic speakers, daily Eucharist, practical workshops, and an amazing New Year's Eve Banquet and Bash!

Sounds good to me.

Tomorrow night I'll get to listen to the key note speaker, George Weigel. He's the author of Pope John Paul II's biography "Witness to Hope" and a book called "Letters to a Young Catholic," along with many other books. Yes, the title of my blog is shamelessly inspired by the second book.

Another speaker for the conference is Fr. Tom Rosica, C.S.B., Fr. Rosica is the former CEO and National Director of World Youth Day 2002. He is also in charge of "Salt and Light" which is a Catholic tv station in Canada.

Anyways, there will be amazing speakers and amazing company. It should be good fun and hopefully spiritually fruitful as well.

I will be gone from tomorrow until January first, which means I won't be blogging for a while here. I'll take good notes though and I'll report back to you when I get back from the conference next week about everything I learnt. In other words, keep your eyes peeled next week for a whole bunch of posts all at once.

About Confesson by Saint Faustina

I recently found this little text from St. Faustina, with words of Jesus spoken to her, on confession with a priest in a handout that included an examination of conscience. I thought I'd share.

"When yo ugo to confession, to this fountain of mercy, the Blood and Water which came forth from My Heart always flow down upon your soul...In the Tribunal of Mercy [the sacrament of Reconciliation]...the greaters miracles take place and are incessantly repeated...Here the misery of the soul meets the God of Mercy...

Come with faith to the feet of My representative...I myself am waiting there for you. I am only hidden by the priest...I Myself act in your soul...Make your confession before Me. The person of the priest is, for Me, only a screen. Never analyse what sort of a priest it is that I am making use of; open your soul in confession as you would to Me, and I will fill it with My light...

Were a soul like a decaying corpse, so that from a human standpoint, there would be no hope of restoration and everything would already be lost, it is not so with God. The miracle of Divine Mercy restores that soul in full...From this fount of mercy souls draw graces solely with the vessel of trust. If their trust is great, there is no limit to My generosity.

Our Lord has emphasised the need for us to go to confession and to receive Him in the Holy Eucharist in order to obtain the greatest gifts of His Mercy.

We as Catholics have the source of Mercy in the confessional and in the Precious Blood of the Eucharist. Let us proclaim this message."

Liturgy of the Hours

After trying to figure it out on my own, I finally took the initiative to get some guidance from someone who knows what they're doing (unlike me). For the past month or two I've been trying to figure out how to pray the liturgy of the hours on my own and I keep on getting lost and confused and not really knowing if I'm on the right track. This morning I got a family friend of mine who spent some time discerning a vocation with the Benedictines to give me a little help and guidance. It was very helpful to get someone who knew what he was doing to guide me a little. I feel a bit more confident now that the Liturgy of the Hours is not impossible to navigate. It does take up a lot of time though...

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Glimpses of Christmas

They say a picture is worth a thousand words so here is some insight into Christmas with my family.

Yes, those are real candles on the tree. Yes, it's a real tree and yes, it's in our living room. Yes, we know it's dangerous but the things you'll do for tradition...we haven't burnt down the house yet in over twenty years...

Yes, that's a bikini turkey. That's what happens when you give the twenty something year old brother creative license with the turkey.

And finally, it wouldn't be Christmas without a 'Bûche de Noël'.

Ce n'est pas Noël sans la Bûche de Noël (non plus sans Opa qui chante 'Minuit chrétien' à l'arbre de Noël).

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Advent Messages VI and VII

Ok, I realize this is REALLY cutting it close with one hour to go left in Advent in my time zone, but here are the last two sections of the message from Pope John Paul II for the 20th World Youth Day that I have been posting for Advent.

6. "And they departed to their own country by another way" (Mt 2:12). The Gospel tells us that after their meeting with Christ, the Magi returned home "by another way". This change of route can symbolise the conversion to which all those who encounter Jesus are called, in order to become the true worshippers that He desires (cf Jn 4: 23-24). This entails imitating the way He acted by becoming, as the apostle Paul writes, "a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God". The apostle then adds that we must not be conformed to the mentality of this world, but be transformed by the renewal of our minds, to "prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect" (cf Rm 12: 1-2).

Listening to Christ and worshipping Him leads us to make courageous choices, to take what are sometimes heroic decisions. Jesus is demanding, because He wishes our genuine happiness. He calls some to give up everything to follow Him in the priestly or consecrated life. Those who hear this invitation must not be afraid to say "yes" and to generously set about following Him as His disciples. But in addition to vocations to special forms of consecration there is also the specific vocation of all baptised Christians: that is also a vocation to that "high standard" of ordinary Christian living which is expressed in holiness (cf Novo Millennio Ineunte, 31). When we meet Christ and accept His Gospel, life changes and we are driven to communicate our experience to others.

There are so many of our contemporaries who do not yet know the love of God or who are seeking to fill their hearts with trifling substitutes. It is therefore urgently necessary for us to be witnesses to love contemplated in Christ. The invitation to take part in World Youth Day is also extended to you, dear friends, who are not baptised or who do not identify with the Church. Are you not perhaps yearning for the Absolute and in search of "something" to give a meaning to your lives? Turn to Christ and you will not be let down.

7. Dear young people, the Church needs genuine witnesses for the new evangelisation: men and women whose lives have been transformed by meeting with Jesus, men and women who are capable of communicating this experience to others. The Church needs saints. All are called to holiness, and holy people alone can renew humanity. Many have gone before us along this path of Gospel heroism, and I urge you to turn often to them to pray for their intercession. By meeting in Cologne you will learn to become better acquainted with some of them, such as St Boniface, the apostle of Germany, the Saints of Cologne, and in particular Ursula, Albert the Great, Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) and Blessed Adolph Kolping. Of these I would like to specifically mention St Albert and Teresa Benedicta of the Cross who, with the same interior attitude as the Magi, were passionate seekers after the truth. They had no hesitation in placing their intellectual abilities at the service of the faith, thereby demonstrating that faith and reason are linked and seek each other.

My dear young people as you move forward in spirit towards Cologne, the pope will accompany you with his prayers. May Mary, "Eucharistic woman" and Mother of Wisdom, support you along the way, enlighten your decisions, and teach you to love what is true, good and beautiful. May she lead you all to her Son, who alone can satisfy the innermost yearnings of the human mind and heart.

Go with my blessing!

Christmas Eve

Well, the Christmas tree is up and the advent wreath has been decorated and hung on the front door. The banisters are covered in cedar branches and gold ribbon and the stockings are hung. Christmas Eve is certainly here. In fact, it's almost over.

As per tradition, our house remained undecorated until today. And now everything is up. It makes for one busy day. As a child we used to go out and spend the most of December 24th with our grandparents. While we were away, the Christ Child would come with the angels and bring our Christmas Tree, the presents, the decorations throughout the house, the outdoor Christmas lights, etc... everything to do with Christmas was brought by the Christ Child and the angels on Christmas Eve. Looking back on that, I really love the tradition. What better way to keep Christ in Christmas? Now that we're older and wiser we pitch in on the decorating and such but I have no idea how it all got done in the space of a couple of hours when we were younger. One thing I appreciate about the tradition is that it doesn't really involve lying to the children because when they are old enough you can explain to them that indeed, all good things and all the gifts we receive in this life truly do come from Christ.

And further keeping with family traditions, we spent this evening over at my aunt and uncle's enjoying the company of family. As I mentioned in an earlier post this past week my Oma has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimers. My aunt gave her a quilt for Christmas that had the pictures and names of each of her children and her grandchildren on it with colour coded segments for each family. It was an amazing gift and so appropriate. Although she might not remember us all now, at least we can point to pictures on the quilt so that she knows who we're talking about and remind her of who they are in the family. I think it was a great idea.

Anyways, my family has gone to bed but I'm staying up trying to waste some time so that I can go to midnight mass in about an hour. My family will be going to mass in the morning and I'll join them for that, but I'd really like to go to midnight mass so I think I'll be heading over there on my own tonight. Hopefully the coffee I drank earlier tonight will keep me awake through mass.

I wish you and all your families a very blessed and happy Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2005

The New Faithful

Michael, over at Sacramentum Vitae posted about a book called "The New Faithful" by Collenn Carroll Campbell. I haven't read it yet, but I think I'll have to add it to my "to read list." Here's an excerpt from his post that I found insightful.

One of the many differences between orthodox and "progressive" Catholicism is that the former is generative and the latter is not. The reviewer hopes that is remediable from his prog standpoint. It isn't. For one thing, progressive Catholicism defines itself largely in terms of what it's against—i.e., orthodox Catholicism, the only brand of religiosity that doesn't earn respect in the prog pantheon of "diversity." Beyond such rather diffuse negativity, what particularly animates progs is the conviction that the Church ought to accept modern, Western values about sex and gender. But to the extent people accept and live by those values, their birth rate goes down. That is why the birth rate in most developed countries, including the United States, is now below replacement level. The people who reproduce and grow are, by and large, adherents of traditional religion. Accordingly, the future holds far more orthodox Catholics than progressive Catholics. That is as inevitable as it is welcome.

As I've heard a couple of my friends say before, "If we can't beat 'em, we'll outbreed 'em."

Pope John Paul II Philosophy Conference

If I had the time and money I'd be going to this conference.

It's a conference being held at Boston College in February on the philosophy of Pope John Paul II and is called "Truth, Life and Solidarity: Philosophical Perspectives on the Thought of Pope John Paul II."

And here is the description of the conference:

In his 26 years as pope, John Paul II produced a wealth of encyclicals, letters, and other writings of extraordinary intellectual depth and unprecedented subtlety. Among other achievements, his papacy produced a new Code of Canon Law, a new Catechism, revisions to the Rosary and other prayers, a host of newly canonized saints, and major documents for reforming the principal institutions within Catholicism, from seminaries to the universities.

This conference will focus explicitly on the significance for philosophy of his seminal work in ethics, social theory, and anthropology. In particular, it will seek to connect his early efforts as a young scholar to his subsequent writings as Pope. From Karol Wojtyla’s early efforts to synthesize Aquinas’s theorizing with the mysticism of John of the Cross, through his consideration of Max Scheler’s personalist phenomenology and his interest in Emmanuel Levinas’s understanding of ethical experience as the core of ontology, to his intellectual struggle with the Marxism that dominated his homeland’s universities, Wojtyla strove to contextualize, fundamentally rethink, and reformulate for a new epoch, a Christian understanding of humanity’s nature, needs, vocation, and destiny.

The conference features a diverse group of internationally renowned scholars and other experts on John Paul II from both North America and Europe. They represent a myriad of perspectives and viewpoints, including those conversant with Anglophone, with European Continental, and with both (and other) philosophical traditions.

If anyone wants to go and take notes for me and allow me to live vicariously through them I'd be most appreciative.

Part VI of Advent Posts

And continuing with my "Advent" posts from Pope John Paul II's Message for the 20th World Youth Day.

"And they departed to their own country by another way" (Mt 2:12). The Gospel tells us that after their meeting with Christ, the Magi returned home "by another way". This change of route can symbolise the conversion to which all those who encounter Jesus are called, in order to become the true worshippers that He desires (cf Jn 4: 23-24). This entails imitating the way He acted by becoming, as the apostle Paul writes, "a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God". The apostle then adds that we must not be conformed to the mentality of this world, but be transformed by the renewal of our minds, to "prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect" (cf Rm 12: 1-2).

Listening to Christ and worshipping Him leads us to make courageous choices, to take what are sometimes heroic decisions. Jesus is demanding, because He wishes our genuine happiness. He calls some to give up everything to follow Him in the priestly or consecrated life. Those who hear this invitation must not be afraid to say "yes" and to generously set about following Him as His disciples. But in addition to vocations to special forms of consecration there is also the specific vocation of all baptised Christians: that is also a vocation to that "high standard" of ordinary Christian living which is expressed in holiness (cf Novo Millennio Ineunte, 31). When we meet Christ and accept His Gospel, life changes and we are driven to communicate our experience to others.

There are so many of our contemporaries who do not yet know the love of God or who are seeking to fill their hearts with trifling substitutes. It is therefore urgently necessary for us to be witnesses to love contemplated in Christ. The invitation to take part in World Youth Day is also extended to you, dear friends, who are not baptised or who do not identify with the Church. Are you not perhaps yearning for the Absolute and in search of "something" to give a meaning to your lives? Turn to Christ and you will not be let down.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Small Town Life

Well, I grew up the first eighteen years of my life in a small rural coastal community. When I say rural, I mean rural. I mean, there is no road access whatsoever to my hometown and the only way to get here is by ferry. Two ferries from the nearest large city actually. It's a beautiful area, surrounded by ocean, lakes, and mountains, but a small town nonetheless.

I didn't really realize how deep the dynamics of small town life come into play here until I came home. I'm always reminded of it when I come home for a visit.

For instance, I'm in Wal-Mart helping my mom shop for stocking stuffers and every aisle I walk down I see people I know. It got so bad that I'd see someone I knew and duck into the next aisle just because I really wasn't wanting to have the tenth conversation in one hour consisting of "Hi, where are you at? What are you up to? What are you studying? What are your plans?". I know all the clerks in the grocery store by name. It's just such a small town feel. I don't know how to explain it.

Now, I'm not really complaining, because living in a small rural town has it benefits. Although there is a problem with small town gossip, there is also the advantage of the accountability a small town provides. People know who you are and you have a certain reputation to live up to. I also appreciate that I'm not an anonymous nobody in the small town. People see you, they recognize you, and they sincerely care about what you're up to and what's going on in your life. When I'm at school in the city I could go shopping all day and not see a single person I know. Here, I can't go gas up my car or pick up a jug of milk without running into half a dozen of my former classmates, let alone family friends, former teachers, neighbours, etc...

Speaking of former classmates, this afternoon I went out for coffee with two girls I went to school with for thirteen years. I was in a really small program at school because I was in a francophone program and there were only six of us in my grade! Needless to say, after thirteen years of school together we knew each other pretty well. Anyways, I went out for coffee with these girls whom I hadn't seen for over three years. It was kind of awkward because we are all at such different places, have such different priorities, and such different values in our lives. Yet at the same time our entire childhood, in fact the majority of the history of our lives is so tightly intertwined. I'm glad we went out for coffee but it also gave me perspective on how much I've changed since graduating from highschool, as have they.

Pastoral Letter on Theology of the Body

The things you come across when you actually have free time on your hands...

I was just surfing the internet looking up some information on Theology of the Body and I came across the following pastoral letter written by Bishop Joseph Myers. The letter is titled A THEOLOGICAL REFLECTION ON THE HUMAN BODY. It speaks of Advent and the Theology of the Body so I just had to post it!

Here are some of my favourite excerpts from the letter.

"For a Christian, the body's significance is good, inescapable, and central; Christianity itself cannot be understood apart from an appreciation of the body. It is a myth that the Catholic Church teaches as it does about sexuality because it undervalues sex. The Church teaches as it does because it values human sexuality so highly. And in valuing sexuality, it necessarily values the body."

"Sex, then, is not a code word for discrimination or what the civil rights lawyers call a "suspect category." We are obliged to take sexual differentiation seriously, indeed to reverence it, for, written into our very chromosomes, it is part of the gift of creation and an expression of God's will."

"God gives only good gifts. As one of these, our bodiliness is a blessing. The refrain running through the first chapter of Genesis—"And God saw that it was good"—drives home this point. And after the creation of man and woman (in God's own image, we are told), there is an important shift: "And behold, it was very good" (Gen 1.31)."

"Bodiliness also deeply affects how we worship and pray. This is clearest in the sacraments. God uses tangible, 'fleshy' things like bread, wine, oil and water as signs and symbols of his sacramental grace. He takes us most seriously as bodily beings in the Eucharist. By allowing us to receive his very Body and Blood, Jesus forges a one-flesh unity between himself and someone who receives him. This unity—akin to the one-flesh unity of husband and wife made tangible in the physical act of love-making—is both spiritual and physical."

"What is true of the sacraments is true also of the rest of the life of prayer. Our bodies participate in our praying. We spontaneously kneel in the presence of our Lord and God when engaged in either communal or personal prayer. We turn naturally to physical objects and sensual signs—candles and bells, incense and statues, stained glass and crucifixes, rosary beads and holy cards, chant and sacred music, icons and countless other sacramentals—to help us pray."

Well, I'm not going to post the whole letter, but you should go read it. Really, you should. It's a good solid but easy to read introduction to the Theology of the Body for anyone who is unfamiliar with this "time bomb" (as George Weigel puts it...).

Jesus' Birthday Party

Two weeks ago, for the last class of Catechism before the Christmas break we threw an early Birthday party for Jesus with the grade two class. Now, I know some people may say that that's over simplifying the Gospel message of Christmas, but at least it's pointing to the true meaning of Christmas. We had a Birthday cake that said "Happy Early Birthday Jesus" (because it wasn't Christmas yet and we wanted to speak about Advent as well) and had balloons and even party hats. The kids made crafts that said "Happy Birthday Jesus" and then inside cards that were decorated to look like presents they wrote "This is my Birthday present for you. I will..." and completed the sentence with the gift they wanted to offer Christ for his Birthday. They were quite creative in what they came up with, everything from "I will sing you a song" to "I will talk to you every day" to "I will be nice to those who are mean to me." It was actually quite humbling.

This brings me to ask, have you considered what you are giving Christ for His Birthday? In the midst of all the shopping and Christmas preparation we often loose sight of who's Birthday we are celebrating.

WYD 2008 Theme

I don't know if I'll be going. Only God knows where I'll be at by 2008, but for what it's worth, the theme for World Youth Day 2008 is out.

Themes Picked for Youth Days of '06, '07 and '08
Benedict XVI Draws on Old and New Testaments
VATICAN CITY, DEC. 21, 2005 (Zenit.org)

Benedict XVI has selected the themes for World Youth Day for the next three years. The events in 2006 and 2007 will be at the diocesan level. The 2008 event, in Australia, will be international. In 2006, young people of the world will reflect on verse 105 of Psalm 119: "Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path." The theme chosen for 2007 is from the Gospel, John 13:34: "Love one another, as I have loved you." The World Youth Day to be held in Sydney from July 15-20, 2008, will focus on the theme taken from the Acts of the Apostles (1:8): "You will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses." The news was confirmed in a letter of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, dated Nov. 28 and addressed to the "national representatives of WYD and international youth movements, associations and communities." A copy of the letter was posted by Korazym.org. In the letter, the Vatican council also invites the addressees to a meeting in Ciampino, Rome, next April 7-9, to review the Cologne World Youth Day and to begin preparations for the Sydney event. Representatives of the organizing committees of Germany and Australia will attend this meeting. Each country, movement, association and community can send two delegates.

Lyrics from my Opa

I've been spending a lot of time these past few days with my grandparents. I really enjoy this opportunity to be with them, especially as it's becoming increasingly obvious that they will not always be around in my life. One set of grandparents lives a few houses down the street and the other set a few kilometers away. I've been so blessed to have both sets of grandparents play an active role in my life each step of the way.

Anyways, my Opa, who lives down the street, has a song for everything. He knows all sorts of short little songs and expressions in French (he's Belgian) and can find one to fit any and every occassion. When I was visiting the other day and my Oma asked how old I was now, my Opa responded before I could even say anything with the following little song (these are just the first few lines...):

On n'a pas tout les jours vingt ans
Cela nous arrive une fois seulement
C'est le plus beau jour de la vie
Alors on peut faire des folies.

Not only did I survive, I passed too!

My marks are all in for this past semester and I'm happy to say that I passed everything. I actually had my best semester thus far (academically) but all glory and honour to God because all good things come from Him and without His grace and blessings I would not even be in university right now.

Part V of Advent Posts

5. Be worshippers of the only true God, giving Him pride of place in your lives! Idolatry is an ever-present temptation. Sadly, there are those who seek the solution to their problems in religious practices that are incompatible with the Christian faith. There is a strong urge to believe in the facile myths of success and power; it is dangerous to accept the fleeting ideas of the sacred which present God in the form of cosmic energy, or in any other manner that is inconsistent with Catholic teaching.

My dear young people, do not yield to false illusions and passing fads which so frequently leave behind a tragic spiritual vacuum! Reject the seduction of wealth, consumerism and the subtle violence sometimes used by the mass media.

Worshipping the true God is an authentic act of resistance to all forms of idolatry. Worship Christ: He is the Rock on which to build your future and a world of greater justice and solidarity. Jesus is the Prince of peace: the source of forgiveness and reconciliation, who can make brothers and sisters of all the members of the human family.

Updated Blog Roll

I finally got around to adding some of my regular readers to my blog roll. Go check out the the blog roll on the left and you just might find your blog.

CBC and the Virgin Mary

I really don't like the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for you americans out there...). I woke up this morning to an interview on a national morning program on CBC radio called "The Current". They were discussing the Blessed Virgin Mary and were just so far off the mark it was outrageous.

First they had a woman on who described herself as a "feminist revisionist biblical scholar." Now, if that self-description doesn't in and of itself send up red flags, I don't know what else could. The woman's name was Jane Shaberg and she's the author of a book called "The Illegitimacy of Jesus: A Feminist Theological Interpretation of the Infancy Narratives." This books is definitely not on my reading list.

Anyways, Jane Shaberg, of course after making the claim to being a "practicing Catholic" (by who's definition I have no idea...) went on to argue that the virgin birth of Christ is a misreading of scripture that was developed in the third century after Christ to further patriarchal attitudes towards women. She said that 'virgin' does not mean what we think it means but rather is simply referring to a woman who is of age to get married. I don't know who's dictionary she was using, but certainly not any of the one's I own. The way her story goes is that Mary committed adultery but by God's love and compassion for those of us who make wrong choices and face difficult conditions God decided that the child conceived of Mary's adulterous act would be Christ! She argued that it would not make sense to have a virgin Mary because if she was a virgin than women would be unable to relate to her. Obviously she does not understand that people who lead consecrated live's have not rejected their sexuality or their gender but rather embraced it in the light of God's specific plan for their lives. I was completely baffled when she argued that by no means could Mary show us what it means to be feminine. It's obvious that Jane Shaberg doesn't know what it means to be feminine as she is missing out on the perfect model Christ gives us in his Blessed Virgin Mother.

The interviewer then went on to transition to the next person they'd interview by stating "Some scholars continue to question the divinity of Mary and the virgin birth." Ummmmm...since when has any mainstream Christian church been teaching the divinity of Mary?!?!?!

I thought that they'd interview a solid orthodox Christian theologian to follow up with the heresy they started off with but no such luck. The second person to be interviewed was Tom Harpur, the author of "The Pagan Christ." Once again, his book title says it all. This man was introduced as a former Anglican priest, but also, of course, a Christian. Although I don't know how that's possible since he doesn't believe in a historical Jesus at all. According to Mr. Harpur the virgin birth narrative (and I guess the whole of scripture relating to Christ) is simply a reflection of ancient myths and is not historical. He argued that the virgin birth wasw significant to bring about an inner wareness of our spiritual side since in the virgin birth we recognize our own divinity. If you don't understand that reasoning, don't worry, neither do I.

Anyways, this interview was so frustrating to listen to. I thought after the first person they interviewed that they'd have a solid Christian apologists on the air, but nope, of course not. I could have recommended a few theologians to them who could have done a far better job of explaining the significance of the virgin birth and what it means in relation to the Incarnation as well as the role of Mary in the Faith. But no, they went ahead and interviewed two heretics instead.

The first woman interviewed obviously has some deep wounds that have led her to such a twisted perspective of Christianity. The second guy, well... I don't know how anyone can argue that Christ never existed at all? It's not even just Christian authors who refer to him but Roman historians as well, such as Tacitus when writing on the Neronian persecutions. It's clear that Christ walked on this earth just as sure as I myself am alive flesh and blood. It boils down to the age old mad man or divine conclusion, but this guy doesn't even get that far. He claims that Jesus Christ never was a historical figure and yet claims to be a Christian, I know not how.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Current Reading List

I figured I'd go home to my parents for Christmas, relax a bit, and tackle some of my personal reading list that has been growing exponentially. See, as a student, the reading list really does grow exponentially. First I have the books I've been meaning to read for a long time, then I have books that were referred to in class or mentioned by profs that sounded interesting, then I have books I've come across in research, and then there's always the classics that have been sitting on my shelves for years with the hope of reading them some day. For now, I think Tolstoy is going to have to wait.

This is my semi-realistic list for the next couple of weeks:

Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence: The Secret of Peace and Happiness
(Father Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure / Saint Claude de la Colombiere)

Divine Mercy in My Soul: Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska

God is Near Us: The Eucharist the Heart of Life
(Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger - aka Pope Benedict XVI)

Beyond Gay
(David Morrison)

Prayer Primer: Igniting a Fire Within
(Fr. Thomas Dubay)

The Magician's Nephew
(C.S. Lewis)

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
(C.S. Lewis)

Now that should keep me going for a while. I know it's an odd collection of books but there's reasoning beyind it all. Well, first things first, I should finish "God is Near Us" which I started in the summer and then had to put down because of all my reading for school. Furthermore, there's no way I'm going to get through the Divine Mercy Diary (which I've been reading for quite some time now too...) over the break and I don't intend to - it's not exactly something you want to fly through. As for the rest of it, maybe there's hope.

It's kind of sad. You go away to university and you have to read so much for your courses that you never get to read anything of your own. The key of course is to pick courses that interest you and then you get to read stuff that was on your reading list anyways (such as the Theology of the Body course I took last year or the Philosophy of the Human Person course I have coming up...). I remember the good ol' days though, back in about grade seven and eight when I'd read a novel a night and just stay up 'til two or three reading paper back novels. Granted, the reading was a little easier going. I think I read every book the public library had to offer for teens. Then again it's a small town and a small public library.

Anyways, instead of blogging about how I wish I had more time to read the things that I want to read, I'm going to sign off and go curl up in bed with a good book.

P.S. Going home, relaxing, and reading doesn't hasn't exactly worked out yet - somehow it turned into cleaning the house, wrapping presents and getting ready for Christmas instead.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Advent Wreath

This is a picture of my family's advent wreath from tonight when we gathered around the wreath with my grandparents. I know the picture is dark but that's the whole point. We turn off all the lights in the house, every single light, and only light the candles on the wreath. I love this tradition. Every night during advent we kneel around the wreath and sing advent songs in German, French, and English and pray together for our family, especially those who are not with us. It's a simple tradition from my family that I think I will carry with me forever. It's a great way to emphasize the spiritual preparation aspect of advent as a whole family.

Confession and Vocations

I came across the following article in the December 19th, 2005 edition of the B.C. Catholic. I'd have to agree that vocations are fostered in a faith community which is true to the teachings of the Magisterium, Sacred Tradition, and the Scriptures.

I'm curious as to whether general absolution really is the norm in Quebec, as this article seems to imply. Regarldess, it seems to make sense to me that there is a link between the regular practice of confession and the number of vocations being fostered. Having the opportunity to go to confession with a priest often helps you to recognize areas of your spiritual life that you were unaware of before or may have neglected, that itself may be a means of God opening your heart to consider a priestly or religious vocation.

"Dropping general absolution has helped vocations: bishop" by Steve Lord

Father MacDonald of the Diocese of Saint John said recently a marked increase in the number of priestly vocations in his jurisdiction has come about as a result of getting rid of general absolution as an everyday form of the sacrament of reconciliation.

He said that as many as eight new priests may be ordained in the diocese in the future because of dropping this. Four men are in the seminary and up to four others are heading that way. "It's difficult not to see a link," he said.

Explaining his position in a wide-ranging late November interview, the bishop said general absolution chases away priestly vocations like so many things in the Church that have become forms of dissent or rebellion. Desent repels blessings, he said, and eliminating such dissent as the intended or unintended misuse of general absolution restores blessings.

"The Lord does not bless rebellion" said the bishop. "The Lord has shown this with general absolution." He added that there has been a serious decline in vocations in Quebec, for instance, as a result of having it there, and Catholic churches are being sold there. He said general absolution started out as an exception but became the norm.

"General absolution has been used in wartime with troops going into battle when there's evidence that there would be some lives lost. If they didn't lose their lives and if they had serious sin, they would have to bring it to the power of the keys.

"Never, ever, ever was it foreseen that general absolution should be a norm, but that's what it became; even for first confession of sin by children, first reconciliation, they were given general absolution," he said.

"We need confession. How do we get people back? That's a good question. Should priests sit in the confessionals and wait? I would say, number one, priests should themselves practice regular confession in such a way that the Holy Spirit is alive.

"You see, sin brings its own blindness. Only the Holy Spirit of truth can penetrate the blindness and the darkness and awaken the conscious to sin, but that has to be practised regularly."

He said going to confession was beneficent not only for the penitent, but also for the example to others.

"That's one of the things I saw in Little Pond, Prince Edward Island (the bishop's home community). I can still see these great big men coming out of the confessional, because I was an altar boy and the confessional was in the sacristy."

Going to confession, he explained, is an act of humility and of emptying of oneself, like Jesus did in following the Father's will in becoming a man and dying with anything but dignity.

Ordination Today!

Deacon Benoit Morrier from over at Benedictus qui venit is being ordained to the priesthood today!!!

Please keep him in your prayers and intentions and give thanksgiving to God for Benoit's faithful response to God's call on his life.

St. John Vianney, pray for Benoit.

How dare they?

This is absolutely awful. Apparently the magazine has appologized, but I still don't understand how they can have allowed this image to be published.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Part IV of Advent Posts

4. "They fell down and worshipped Him" (Mt 2:11). While the Magi acknowledged and worshipped the baby that Mary cradled in her arms as the One awaited by the nations and foretold by prophets, today we can also worship Him in the Eucharist, and acknowledge Him as our Creator, our only Lord and Saviour.

"Opening their treasures they offered Him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh" (Mt 2:11). The gifts that the Magi offered the Messiah symbolised true worship. With gold, they emphasised His Royal Godhead; with incense, they acknowledged Him as the priest of the New Covenant; by offering Him myrrh, they celebrated the prophet who would shed His own blood to reconcile humanity with the Father.

My dear young people, you too offer to the Lord the gold of your lives, namely, your freedom to follow Him out of love, responding faithfully to His call; let the incense of your fervent prayer rise up to him, in praise of His glory; offer Him your myrrh, that is your affection of total gratitude to Him, true Man, who loved us to the point of dying as a criminal on Golgotha.

Catholic Voters

I know that most people are not interested in the election at this time of year, and rightly so, but I just wanted to post some links to information that was made available by the Office of Life and Family from my archdiocese.

The Office of Life and Family has posted resources for the federal election. It's a very useful collection of resources on the Church's teachings on voting, links to background information on this coming election, and a couple of articles.

If you're looking for resources to guide you in making your choice with regards to the coming election this is a good place to start!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Part III of Advent Posts

Well, I promised I'd post excerpts from Pope John Paul II's Message for the Twentieth World Youth Day (WYD 2005) as a means of keeping Advent on my blog ("We have come to worship Him." (Mt 2:2), the theme of WYD is relevant in my opinion...). I started late though, and then I took a week off, so this week you'll be getting the rest of the posts.

Here's Part III.

3. The Magi found Jesus at "Bêth-lehem" which means "house of bread". In the humble stable in Bethlehem on some straw lay the "grain of wheat" who, by dying, would bring forth "much fruit" (cf Jn 12:24). When speaking of Himself and His saving mission in the course of His public life, Jesus would later use the image of bread. He would say "I am the bread of life", "I am the bread which came down from heaven", "the bread that I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh". (Jn 6: 35.41.51).

Faithfully pursuing the path of our Redeemer from the poverty of the Crib to His abandonment on the Cross we can better understand the mystery of His love which redeems humanity. The Child, laid by Mary in the manger, is the Man-God we shall see nailed to the Cross. The same Redeemer is present in the sacrament of the Eucharist. In the stable at Bethlehem He allowed himself to be worshipped under the humble outward appearances of a newborn baby, by Mary, by Joseph and by the shepherds; in the consecrated Host we adore Him sacramentally present in his body, blood, soul and godhead, and He offers himself to us as the food of eternal life. The Mass then becomes a truly loving encounter with the One who gave himself wholly for us. Do not hesitate, my dear young friends, to respond to Him when He invites you "to the wedding feast of the Lamb (cf Rev 19:9). Listen to him, prepare yourselves properly and draw close to the Sacrament of the Altar, particularly in this Year of the Eucharist (October 2004-2005) which I have proclaimed for the whole Church.

Quote of the Day

The following quote is from the homily tonight, I don't know where Father got it from...

"Faith goes beyond reason, but never against it."

Sounds rather Thomistic to me.

Silence Needed

Benedict XVI Extols Spirit of Silence in a "Noisy" World
Presents St. Joseph as a Model of Recollection

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 18, 2005 (Zenit.org).- With Christmas approaching, Benedict XVI exhorted the faithful to cultivate a spirit of interior recollection in an often noisy world that makes it hard to listen to God.

The Pope today presented St. Joseph, the adoptive father of Jesus, as a model of recollection.

Joseph's silence in the Gospel, the Holy Father said, "does not demonstrate an empty interior, but rather the fullness of faith that he carries in his heart."

"Let's allow ourselves to be 'infected' by the silence of St. Joseph!" the Pontiff said as he exhorted the thousands of people gathered on a cold and sunny day in St. Peter's Square.

Silence "is so lacking in this world which is often too noisy, which is not favorable to recollection and listening to the voice of God," Benedict XVI said, speaking from the window of his study.

"In this time of preparation for Christmas, let us cultivate interior recollection so as to receive and keep Jesus in our lives," the Pope said.

He suggested that the faithful establish in these days "a kind of spiritual dialogue with St. Joseph so that he helps us live to the fullest this mystery of faith."

The Bishop of Rome recalled that his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, "who was very devoted to St. Joseph," dedicated the apostolic exhortation "Redemptoris Custos" (Custodian of the Redeemer) to the adoptive father of Jesus.

In that 1989 document, John Paul II gave "a particular importance to the silence of St. Joseph," observed Benedict XVI.

Such a silence was "permeated with the contemplation of the mystery of God, in an attitude of total availability to the divine will," Benedict XVI said. "A silence through which Joseph, together with Mary, guard the Word of God, known through sacred Scripture, comparing it continually to the events of the life of Jesus; a silence interwoven with constant prayer, a prayer of blessing of the Lord, of adoration of his holy will and of boundless confidence in his providence."

The Holy Father added: "It is not exaggerated to say that Jesus will learn -- on a human level -- precisely from 'father' Joseph this intense interior life, which is the condition of authentic righteousness, the 'interior righteousness,' which one day he will teach to his disciples."

The encounter with the pilgrims took place after Benedict XVI visited the Church of Santa Maria Consolatrice, his first visit as Pope to a Roman parish.


Well, I made it home safe and sound. It was a beautiful drive home on an absolutely gorgeous day. That's not just my optimistic perspective now that exams are over, but there literally was not a cloud in the sky and it was crystal clear. Maybe I'll post some pictures tomorrow that I took on my drive up. Besides the fact that there was frost on the beach, it was perfect weather to enjoy the West Coast.

It's nice to be back home and with my family, although, really, it's just the girls right now. My dad's away for work, one of my brother's has run off to a U2 concert, and the other one won't be home for Christmas. So, it's us girls left here to prepare for Christmas.

I've already gone and spent some time visiting with my grandparents. My Oma has just been very recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's and is really going downhill in terms of her level of functioning. I think it's hard on my Opa too. She didn't know who I was when I went to visit her this afternoon, which is really sad. She didn't know my name or that I was even a part of her family, and yet my parents house is literally five houses up the street from my grandparents and I probably spent more time with them than with my parents when I was growing up since my parents worked. She used to braid my hair in French braids every morning when I was a little girl. She'd braid them so tight it would hurt, but I was happy because I got to watch cartoons while she braided my hair and we didn't have a tv at home so it was a special treat.

Anyways, it's tough to see her going through this because she's constantly making comments such as "No one wants me any more," "I'm just a dumb empty carton," "I forget everything," "I learned so much, and now it's all gone." I think she's probably very frightened because she realizes what's happening. She really was a brilliant woman and now she is forgetting so much. The youngest of ten children, she was raised by her mom in Germany (her dad died when she was three years old), studied at university there and then was sponsored to come to Canada after the war by her brother who was an Augustinian priest in Vancouver. She studied in Canada and got her Master's in French Literature, met my Opa, got married and raised four kids. Her passion though was learning. She was a 1950s housewife who spoke six languages fluently, knew European History like no one else I've ever met, and had a master's degree! But now she says it's all gone and she's just an empty box.

Hearing her repeat over and over again (in various languages and forms) how everything is lost as she slowly is loosing touch with reality makes me so grateful for my Faith. She was raised Catholic but stopped practicing her Faith over forty years ago. Interestingly, she has just recently started going to Mass again with our family because she doesn't like being left home alone (or my Opa doesn't trust her home alone) and her husband (my Opa) goes to Mass with our family. I'm praying that something more is going on there though.

I've gotta run to go sing at the Advent wreath with my family and go to Mass.

More later...

Saturday, December 17, 2005

I Survived!

This just to let you all know I made it through exams alive.

I wrote my last exam a couple hours ago this morning and it well.

I don't have much time to post right now because I'm heading out for dinner with some friends and then to adoration put on for university students and young adults tonight. I can't think of a better way to celebrate the end of exams! I definitely need to give praise and glory where it's owed because I wouldn't have made it through if it weren't for a little divine assistance (make that a lot).

Tomorrow morning, I'll be heading out around 6:00am to drive home. It's a bit of a trip...about eight hours. I'm making the journey alone so hopefully I'll stay awake the whole time, otherwise I might need to pull over and take a nap. I'm pretty tired considering I haven't been doing much sleeping for the past two weeks.

Yay! I'm done! Until January 10th, when the fun starts all over again.

I've got a huge personal reading list for the next couple weeks that I'd like to get through. For the first few days though I think I'll give myself a mental break. I told my mom I'd be more than happy to clean the house in preparation of Christmas. I think my brain needs a break.

Thanks for your prayers and notes of encouragement. I'll be back to blogging early next week once I'm home and have slept a bit.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


I'm feeling quite overwhelmed right now. I'm still trying to get through my finals, which won't be over until Saturday. I still have three to go. I intended to get up early this morning to study for my French Civilisation exam I have early this afternoon but I guess God decided I needed the sleep because I slept through my alarm. Then once I was up, I decided that despite the fact my exam is in a couple hours, it would probably serve me better to go to Mass than to sit reading over my notes... I definitely need the extra grace to get through this week! I'm having a tough week just in general. I'm defenitely being challenged spiritually and emotionally and completely unrelated to final exams (although final exams can also be emotionally draining too...). I'm so distracted by everything else that's going on that I'm struggling to focus on my exams. Anyways, I'm making a judgement call on this one and completely banning myself from blogging and msn until I'm done my exams, away from here, and have gone back to my hometown for Christmas next week. Thank-you for your prayers.

In Christ.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Besides the fact I'm not American...

You scored as New Catholic. The years following the Second
Vatican Council was a time of collapse of the Catholic faith and
its traditions. But you are a young person who has rediscovered
this lost faith, probably due to the evangelization of
Pope John Paul II. You are enthusiastic, refreshing, and somewhat
traditional, and you may be considering a vocation to the
priesthood or religious life. You reject relativism and the
decline in society that you see among your peers.
You are seen as being good for the Church.

A possible problem is that you may have a too narrow
a view of orthodoxy, and anyway, you are still a
youth and not yet mature in your faith.

New Catholic


Traditional Catholic


Radical Catholic


Evangelical Catholic


Neo-Conservative Catholic


Liberal Catholic


Lukewarm Catholic


What is your style of American Catholicism?
created with QuizFarm.com

I'm relieved I got 0% for the lukewarm....I'm also curious as to the 5% liberal... I figure it's because I answered rather neutral to the question with regards to what you'd say if someone asked you if you were saved...The thing is, as a Catholic, I am saved (initial justification), I am being saved (sanctification), and I wait in joyful hope that one day I will be saved (eternal life in Heaven).

Sunday, December 11, 2005

German Pope Benedict Joke

I really wonder how many people who read my blog will understand this joke, but today has been a pretty serious day for me and so I was relieved when a friend from Germany sent me the following joke to lighten the mood (after all, today, the third Sunday in Advent, is supposed to be about rejoicing...)

Ein Limousinen-Fahrer soll Papst Benedikt XVI vom Flughafen abholen.
Nachdem er sämtliches Gepäck des Papstes verstaut hat (und das ist nie wenig),
merkt er, dass Ratzi noch immer nicht im Auto sitzt und spricht ihn darauf
"Entschuldigen Sie, Eure Heiligkeit, würde es Ihnen was ausmachen, sich
ins Auto zu setzten, damit wir losfahren können?".
Der Papst antwortet: "Um ehrlich zu sein, im Vatikan darf ich nie
Autofahren. Möchten Sie mich nicht fahren lassen?"
Der Fahrer antwortet ihm, dass dies nicht möglich sei, da er sonst
seinen Job verlieren würde. Gar nicht auszudenken, was passiert, wenn der Papst
einen Unfall hat und wünscht sich, dass er heute morgen nie zur Arbeit
gegangen wäre.
Der Papst: "Ich würde Sie dafür auch fürstlich entlohnen".
"Na gut", denkt sich der Fahrer und steigt hinten ein. Der Papst setzt
sich hinters Lenkrad und braust mit quietschenden Reifen davon. Als die
Limousine mit 150 km/h durch die Stadt fährt, bereut der Fahrer seine
Entscheidung schon und bittet: "Bitte, Eure Heiligkeit, fahren Sie doch etwas
Kurz darauf hört er hinter sich Sirenen heulen. Der Papst hält an und
ein Polizist nähert sich dem Wagen und der Chauffeur befürchtet schon,
seinen Führerschein zu verlieren.
Der Polizist wirft einen kurzen Blick auf den Papst, geht zurück zu
seinem Motorrad, nimmt sein Funkgerät und verlangt seinen Chef zu sprechen.
Als sein Chef am Funkgerät ist, erzählt der Polizist ihm, dass er gerade eine
Limousine mit 150km/h aufgehalten hat.
Der Chef: "Na dann, verhaften Sie ihn doch".
Polizist: "Ich glaube nicht, dass wir das tun sollten. Der Fahrer ist
ziemlich wichtig."
Sein Chef antwortet darauf, dass es ihm völlig egal ist, wie wichtig
die Person ist. Wenn jemand mit 150 durch die Stadt fährt, gehört er
"Nein, ich meine WIRKLICH wichtig", antwortet der Polizist.
Chef: "Wer sitzt denn in dem Auto? Der Bürgermeister?"
der Polizist, "viel wichtiger".
"Bundeskanzlerin?", fragt der Chef. "Nein,
noch viel wichtiger."
Chef: "Gut, wer ist es denn?"
Polizist: "Ich glaube, es ist Gott!"
"Warum zum Teufel glauben Sie, dass es Gott ist?", fragt der Chef.
Darauf antwortet der Polizist: "Er hat den Papst als Chauffeur!"

Theresa of Avila

A wise and holy priest I was talking with today told me the following story:

The story goes that Saint Theresa, Spain's great doctor of the Catholic Church, was once returning to her convent from an errand when there was a sudden rainstorm. The downopur quickly slicked the dirt road she was traipsing and she soon slipped and fell face down in the mud. She picked herself up, wiped the ooze from her face and looked angrily at the sky. "If this is how you treat your friends," she yelled, shaking a fist as she called out to her maker, "no wonder why you have so few of them!"

Haven't we all felt that way at some point?

Fork in the road.

I'm at a fork in the road. I need to make a decision I can't ignore.

Either I choose the hard way or I choose the way of blissful (?) ignorance.

Really, I don't want to choose the hard way but I know it's probably the right way. Why is it that the hardest way is usually the right way? I don't like this game anymore. Can we make new rules?

Please pray for me for clarity of mind, trust in God, and courage.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

On the schedule for today...

Today is the day that I stuff my brain full of Christian History, covering the period from the Fall of Jerusalem up to the Reformation. Easy right? Ughhh...

At least it's interesting. Lots of councils to study and trying to keep them all straight. My mind is floating with theotokus and thodokus, homoousios and homoiousios...one would think that a few little letters wouldn't make a big difference, but apparently they do.

Advent Reflection from JPII (Part II)

Here's the second of seven parts. I'm drawing off of Pope John Paul II's address to the youth of the world calling them to WYD in Germany this past summer because in this he reflects on Matthew 2:2 "We have come to worship Him," and the pilgrimage of the Magi to meet with Christ. I feel this is an appropriate reflection for Advent as we too prepare to meet with Christ in a special way at Christmas.

2. "And the star... went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was" (Mt 2:9). The Magi reached Bethlehem because they had obediently allowed themselves to be guided by the star. Indeed, "When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy" (Mt 2:10). It is important, my dear friends, to learn to observe the signs with which God is calling us and guiding us. When we are conscious of being led by Him, our heart experiences authentic and deep joy as well as a powerful desire to meet Him and a persevering strength to follow Him obediently.

"And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother" (Mt 2:11). There is nothing extraordinary about this at first sight. Yet that Child was different from any other: He is the only Son of God, yet He emptied Himself of His glory (cf Phil 2:7) and came to earth to die on the Cross. He came down among us and became poor in order to reveal to us His divine glory, which we shall contemplate fully in heaven, our blessed home.

Who could have invented a greater sign of love? We are left in awe before the mystery of a God who lowered himself to take on our human condition, to the point of giving His life for us on the Cross (cf Phil 2:6-8). In His poverty, - as Saint Paul reminds us - "though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich" (2 Cor 8:9), and came to offer salvation to sinners. How can we give thanks to God for such magnanimous goodness?

Friday, December 09, 2005

T - 35 minutes to Spanish Literature Final


The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not flunk;
He keepeth me from lying down when I should be studying.
He leadeth me beside the water cooler for a study break.
He restoreth my faith in study guides.
He leads me to better study habits
For my grade's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of borderline grades,
I will not have a nervous breakdown For Thou art with me.
My prayers and my friends, they comfort me.
Thou givest me answers in moments of blankness;
Thou anointest my head with understanding.
My test paper runneth over with questions I recognize.
Surely passing grades and flying colors shall follow me.
All the days of my examination,
And I shall not have to dwell in this university forever,

(sorry, I know you guys are all going to get sick of me complaining about exams... I don't have a roomate though, I need someone to whine to.)

Library "fun"

I've been sitting in the same chair in the library for the past four hours. I will continue to sit in this same chair for the next four hours until my next exam. How is this glorifying God? Really... around exam time... I always start to wonder what the value of this whole exercise is.

Now, back to my notes and textbooks because I only have four hours left to learn a semester's worth of material.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Immaculate Conception

This image is the "Madonna of the Street". I have come across it in various places...on the wall of the classroom at the college I attend, on prayer cards, on the website for the sisters of life... I have seen numerous images of the Blessed Virgin Mother, but for some reason this image seems to portray to me in a particular way the simplicity, serenity, sanctity, and humanity of our Mother in Heaven.

On this, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, despite everything else that I could (should?) be working on, I felt I had to make a post to mark this day. This isn't procrastination. It's getting my priorities straight.

I had typed up a personal reflection on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and then I decided that perhaps I'd be better off not posting it for some things are better left treasured in the heart than posted for the world to see. And much like myself, my thoughts on the Immaculate Conception consists of a work in progress.

Yet, I still wanted to mark this occasion and call upon you who read my blog to take the time to reflect in the depths of your own heart what implications the Immaculate Conception has in your life and the relevance of this mystery.

Perhaps as a starting point you'd like to read the doctrine on the Immaculate Conception:

In the Constitution Ineffabilis Deus of 8 December, 1854, Pius IX pronounced and defined that the Blessed Virgin Mary "in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin."

For further reflection consider Pope John Paul II's Consecration of the Church and the World to the Blessed Virgin Mary on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception in 1990.

Through the Immaculate Heart of Mary may you always be drawn closer to Christ.

"Sexy" Fashions?

I came across this article today which I found, as a young woman, quite insightful to read. The article is called "'Sexy' Fashions? What do Men Really Think?". Really, what it comes down to, as always, is charity and the dignity of the human person.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

How do women's "sexy" clothes really affect men? As a man, I'd like to explain. So often, I see women in tight jeans, form-fitting dresses and mini-skirts. Some are wearing "painted-on" pants, low-cut blouses and tight sweaters, while others show parts of their bras here or there. Women are wearing "sexy" fashions just about everywhere — to school, work, even church.

Are these women striving to be honored and respected by men? Sometimes I wonder what their motives are deep down inside. Are they trying to be attractive and fashionable — or are they seeking something more? Do they know what signals they're sending men? Are they looking for attention — or are they trying to find a good husband and permanent love? Are they trying to attract a date — or trying to boost self-confidence?

It may be these reasons or others, but the bottom line is that dressing in "sexy" clothes will not cause men to honor or respect women. In fact, it's actually guaranteed to cause men to dishonor and disrespect them. If you want a man to respect you, and perhaps eventually fall in love with you, then you must show him that you respect yourself and that you recognize your dignity before God. The best way to show this is through modesty in dress, words, thoughts and actions.

I think that a lot of women recognize the so called 'power' they hold in how they present their bodies... they have the power to attract attention and capture the minds and imaginations of those around them. The irony though is that when they present a distorted view of who they are as persons through dressing immodestly the only power at play is an enslavement to the perversion of human sexuality that has permeated our culture. In immodest dress the beauty and Truth of human sexuality is twisted and the language of the body is corrupted.

I admit it, at times it's tough in this world to dress modestly. It takes a little extra effort. Personally, when I'm buying clothes or getting dressed in the morning I ask myself a few questions... What kind of attention am I wanting to attract? What am I going to attract attention to in wearing this? What does what I am wearing reveal about who I am as a person? Dressing modestly does not mean you have to wear a plaid jumper down to your ankles, but rather its about treating yourself and those around you with respect and charity.

Hometown visitor?

I noticed on my site meter that someone from my hometown visited today. They didn't stay long, but they're the first to have visited... I haven't mentioned my blog to anyone back home but it's a small world out there I guess.


Fr. Neuhaus on Immaculate Conception

Fr. Neuhaus, over at First Things, also decided to post on the Immaculate Conception today.

As theologians, both Catholic and Protestant, have observed, the doctrine of the immaculate conception underscores the truth that salvation is sola gratia—by grace alone. By the grace of God, Mary is made the perfect instrument for the reception of the world’s salvation. Her great “Let it be” to the announcement of the angel is itself the gift of God in response the gift of God—Jesus the Christ, her savior and ours. It is grace all the way.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Advent Messages from JPII (Part 1)

I realize that we're already half-way through Advent but I decided that I wanted to do something to mark Advent on my blog. This past summer, the theme for World Youth Day was from Matthew 2:2, "We have come to worship Him." As we prepare our hearts to worship Him and make our way towards union with Christ this advent season, I thought it would be appropriate to reflect on the words of Pope John Paul II from his message for the 20th World Youth Day. This message was put out in the summer of 2004 calling the youth of the world, sure to World Youth Day, but more importantly, to Christ.

I'll post it in segments (their are seven segments in all). Here is the first segment:

My dear young people!

1. This year we have celebrated the 19th World Youth Day, meditating on the desire expressed by some Greeks who had gone to Jerusalem for the Passover: "We wish to see Jesus" (Jn 12:21). And here we are now, making our way to Cologne where, in August 2005, the 20th World Youth Day is to be celebrated.

"We have come to worship him" (Mt 2:2): this is the theme of the next World Youth Day. It is a theme that enables young people from every continent to follow in spirit the path taken by the Magi whose relics, according to a pious tradition, are venerated in this very city, and to meet, as they did, the Messiah of all nations.

It is true to say that the light of Christ had already opened the minds and the hearts of the Magi. "They went their way" (Mt 2:9), says the Evangelist, setting out boldly along unknown paths on a long, and by no means easy, journey. They did not hesitate to leave everything behind in order to follow the star that they had seen in the East (cf Mt 2:2). Imitating the Magi, you young people are also making preparations to set out on a "journey" from every region of the world to go to Cologne. It is important for you not only to concern yourselves with the practical arrangements for World Youth Day, but first of all you must carefully prepare yourselves spiritually, in an atmosphere of faith and listening to the Word of God.

Just as the Holy Father pointed out in his message to the youth that it was important that they prepared themselves not only practically but first of all spiritually, let us also not become so concerned with the practical preparations for Christmas that we forget that we must first of all "carefully prepare [ourselves] spiritually, in an atmosphere of faith and listening to the Word of God."

May God bless you and draw you ever deeper into the light of Christ during this Advent season.

Two Down, Four to Go!

Why oh why do I have to have an exam at the last possible exam time?! Oh well, not much I can do about it. I'm not done my exams until December 17th! :-(

I'm done two now though. Two down, four left to go.

Unfortunately, my most interesting courses (Ancient to Medieval Philosophy and Moral Theology) are the two exams that are out of the way. Now I have to study for the exams that I'm not really interested in as much.

I wrote philosophy today. I wrote fourteen pages, single spaced, by hand, in two hours... ughhhh... my whole arm is sore now but it's done now. The exam went alright. I had to write three essay questions and I had my choice out of five questions. I wrote on St. Augustine on the Primacy of the Will, St. Bonaventure on the ascent of the soul in it's journey to God, and proofs number three and five (contingency and design) from St. Thomas Aquinas. My favourite of the three was the St. Bonaventure one because I drew a diagram to go along with my essay that my grade 11 physics teacher would have been proud of (hint: God is the perfect light but the "intensity" with which this light is revealed varies at the different levels in the ascent)...

Anyways, ahora necesito estudiar para español...


I just wanted to take some time today to express my gratitude and thanksgiving for the faithful and zealous priests that God has provided His Church with. God knows our needs and he provides.

Just think about it for a moment, the God of the Universe, the Creator of all things, choses to use these priests in the Church as channels of His grace so that all people might be united to Him. The amazing power, grace, love, and mercy of Christ flows through them. By the Sacrament of Holy Orders an indelible mark is placed on the soul of every priest.

I know that there are a few marked men out there who read my blog on occasion and so I wanted to extend my gratitude for their willingness to answer God's call to the priesthood and their faithful service to Christ, the Church, and all people.

A special thank-you (as well as prayers and congratulations) goes out to Fr. Tom Dowd as he celebrates the anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood today.

Furthermore, Deacon Benoit, from Benedictus qui venit, will be ordained to the priesthood in thirteen days (December 20th, 2005). If you are able to read French, or if you're willing to brave the less than perfect online translators, I'd highly recommend taking the time to read the story of his vocation that he posted on his blog earlier this week. Please keep him in your prayers in a special way as he prepares for his ordination.

Please take the time to pray for all priests. Remember also to pray for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life and keep in your prayers the many deacons and seminarians preparing for the priesthood.

Here, for your convenience (so you have no excuse), are the English and French versions of the prayer for vocations that is used regularly at Mass in my archdiocese.

Prayer for Vocations

O God, You have chosen the apostles to make disciples of all nations and by Baptism and Confirmation have called all of us to build up Your Holy Church, we earnestly implore You to choose from among us, Your children, many Priests, Brothers and Sisters who will love You with their whole heart and will gladly spend their entire lives to make You known and loved by all. Amen.

Prière Pour Les Vocations (French)

O Dieu qui avez choisi les apôtres pour propager la foi et pour établir votre sainte Église dans le monde entier, nous vous prions instamment de choisir parmi nous, vos enfants de nos paroisses, beaucoup de prêtres, de frères et de religieuses qui seront contents de passer leur vie entière à vous faire connaître et aimé par tous les humains.

Last Day of Classes!

Today is the last day of classes for the Fall semester.

Maybe I'm a gluton for punishment, but as the first semester comes go a close, I'm already looking forward to some of my courses for next semester. I promise I'll take a break over Christmas - no one needs to convince me of the importance of that! I did summer courses all summer this past year (except for two weeks in Germany for WYD - that doesn't constitute a "break" or "rest") so I'm about ready now to relax for a couple weeks.

But anyways, these are the upcoming courses that I'm most excited about:

1. Christian Theology in Ecumenical Dialogue: A survey and analysis of the main achievements of the ecumenical theological dialogue process among the Christian churches, and the significant challenges still facing that dialogue today. The course is taught by a Catholic instructor, utilizing texts from Catholic, Protestant Evangelical, Eastern Orthodox, and Anglican sources, and guest lecturers from Catholic, Evangelical and Orthodox traditions. This should be a very interesting course and I think it's pretty much an essential for having a basic understanding of how to approach apologetics in an ecumenical context (both in terms of common ground and clearly defining differences without running around in circles). The prof for this course couldn't be more appropriate. He's a former Anglican Priest, a convert to the Catholic Church, and now has his STD (Doctor of Sacred Theology...not a disease...) from the Angelicum (St. Thomas University) in Rome. He's also the Director of the Divine Mercy Institute. Anyways, this is a course I've been looking forward to for a long time.

2. Philosophy of the Human Person: This course addresses what it means to say that human beings are persons having freedom and subjectivity and examines the different powers of the human person, including the powers of understanding, willing, feeling, and loving. In this course we will study the difference between body and soul, as well as the unity of the two in humans and explore the question of the immortality of the soul. We get to read St. Thomas Aquinas and Pope John Paul II. According to the professor, this is the course you take to find out who you are. Sounds good to me. Finding out who you are is usually a good thing in the end. The prof teaching this course just received his doctorate in Thomistic Studies two weeks ago and this course is his "pet project" so it should be a lot of fun.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Structured Procrastinating

A fellow procrastinator of mine sent me this article today. It's on structured procrastination. I can't say that I read the whole thing because for once I'm not procrastinating but actually studying. But if someone else out there wants to procrastinate, this should do the trick.

Venez, Saint Nicolas

Et pour les francophones, une chanson de mon enfance...

Venez Saint Nicholas, patron des écoliers,
Apportez moi des sucres dans mes petits souliers.
Je serai toujours sage, Comme un petit mouton,
Je dirai mes prières
Pour avoir des bon-bons.
Venez venez Saint Nicholas,
Venez venez Saint Nicholas,
Venez venez Saint Nicholas, tralala.

Malheureusement Saint Nicholas n'est pas venu chez moi pendant la nuit mais comme il est un des patron des écoliers, j'espère qu'il viendra m'aider à écrire mes examens...

Happy St. Nicholas Day!

Today's St. Nicholas day. I'm a little nostalgic for the good 'ol days when I'd wake up in the morning on December 6th to find St. Nicholas had visited during the night and left a branch with chocolates, pretzles, and candies hanging off of it and a mandarin orange in my shoe. Not to mention the special St. Nicholas day breakfast.

Unfortunately, all I woke up to this morning (at 3:30am!!!) was a French paper on Le Cid to write (due at 9:30am), a computer that crashed, and a broken printer.

One day at a time though. I will make it through exams.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Words that Inspired me Today

“In this trying time that our country is going through we Catholics and especially we students, have a serious duty to fulfill: our self-formation. [...] We, who by the grace of God are Catholics... must steel ourselves for the battle we shall certainly have to fight to fulfill our program and give our country, in the not too distant future, happier days and a morally healthy society, but to achieve this we need constant prayer to obtain from God that grace without which all our prayers are useless; organization and discipline to be ready for action at the right time; and finally, the sacrifice of our passion and of ourselves, because without that we cannot achieve our aim.”

- Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati

Plenary Indulgence for December 8th

The word is out in the Catholic blogosphere... there is a plenary indulgence available for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8th.

For a good explanation of what needs to be done in order to obtain the indulgence check out Catholic Ragemonkey's Clarification on the Plenary Indulgence.

For an explanation of the Catholic Church's teaching on indulgences, check out Indulgences at the Catholic Encyclopedia Online.

Also, as a side note, indulgences can be offered up for others.


This morning at Mass one of the kids from my catechism class was baptised along with three other children. I think there are very few things which bring me greater joy than witnessing a baptism. The children were glowing, absolutely beaming, and just so eager to be baptised. They were truly excited to be baptised and you could see it in their faces (and the fact that they were essentially bouncing up and down as Father was anointing them). O Lord, grant me the faith of a child!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Which saint would you be?

Saint Clelia
Saint Clelia is praying for you! To learn more
about this lovely young saint go to the Patron
Saint Index at http://www.catholic-forum.com

Which Saint Would You Be?
brought to you by Quizilla

As you can tell, today has been a day of distraction...and yet incredible productivity. I've prepared for my philosophy exam, which was actually a lot of fun since it involved reading St. Augustine, St. Bonaventure, and St. Thomas Aquinas. I also prepared study notes for Spanish Literature which wasn't quite as fun. Now I'm studying French Literature and really have no brain juice left.... hence posting quiz results.

Which saint are you?

You are Julian of Norwich! It's all about God, to
you. You're convinced that the world has a
happy ending. Everyone else is convinced that
you're a closet hippie, but you love them

Which Saint Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Which Action Hero Are You?

William Wallace




Indiana Jones


The Amazing Spider-Man


Captain Jack Sparrow


Neo, the "One"


Lara Croft


El Zorro


The Terminator


James Bond, Agent 007


Batman, the Dark Knight


Which Action Hero Would You Be? v. 2.0
created with QuizFarm.com

My Scottish blood comes out.

Final Exams

I just wanted to give you heads up that blogging might be a little sparse for the next two weeks as I head into finals. I have six final exams to write and I'm running out of brain juice. Now, keep in mind, sparse is all relative and depends on how desperate I am to avoid studying. If a start posting five or six times a day at any point during the next two weeks, remind me that it might be a good idea to study instead so that I don't fail my exams.

St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for us!

Friday, December 02, 2005

Basic Lesson in Canadian Federal Politics

As has been pointed out to me, I might need to give a short lesson in Canadian politics if I'm going to be talking about politics at all in the next month with the upcoming election. Really, I'm not big into politics - I just am really concerned with the direction our country is going in relation to the role of the family and the sanctity of human life, which brings me into the sphere of political concern.

Anyways, here is a crash course in Canadian politics:

The Canadian political system is very similar to the British. Our legislative arm is formed of the Senate and the House of Commons. The Senate consists of senators who are appointed. Senate appointments are made by the Prime Minister and are lifetime appointments. While senators may have political affiliations, the senators are more of 'outstanding Canadian citizens', knowledgeable people, people who are recognized in their field as experts, etc... Since the appointments are lifetime the political affiliation of the senators does not really reflect the party in power in the government. The senate studies, amends and either rejects or approves bills. No bill can become law unless it is approved by the Senate - although the Senate is currently fairly 'weak' in the Canadian political system right now and rarely exercises authority beyond amending bills. There are currently 105 seats in the Senate. These seats are more or less selected to proportionally represent the different areas of Canada according to population figures. For instance, Ontario has 24 seats, compared to the Northwest Territory, which has 1 seat, because Ontario is much more populated.

The other part of the legislative arm is the House of Commons. The House of Commons consists of Members of Parliament who are elected directly by the people of a specific area. The country is divided up into constituencies (also known as ridings). The division is based on population so in metropolitan centers you might have several 'ridings' in a small area, where as in rural Canada you could have an area the size of Europe as one 'riding'. There are 308 ridings throughout Canada. The House of Commons is the major law making body in Parliament. In the House of Commons bills are tabled, debated, and voted on. The House of Commons also serves as a forum for Members of Parliament to bring forward the specific cares and concerns of the people they represent. It is also the means by which the government is kept accountable through debate. Basically, it's a zoo.

The executive in the Canadian political system is much weaker than in the American System. The Prime Minister has a cabinet of ministers and acts more or less as the first among equals. The opposition party has a 'shadow cabinet' which mirrors the cabinet of the ruling government to keep them accountable. It's kind of like playing soccer and having checks. For instance, the Minister of Finance in the cabinet would have to deal with a 'shadow minister of finance' in the opposition cabinet whose job would be to keep the one who is in power accountable.

The Prime Minister is the leader of the party which wins the most seats/ridings/ constituencies in the election. Therefore, as Canadians we don't vote directly for who we want as Prime Minister, but rather we vote for who we want to represent our area. For instance, if the majority of the ridings elect conservative Members of Parliament the the leader of the Conservative party becomes the Prime Minister. Furthermore, the Prime Minister needs to win his own riding in order to have a seat in the House of Commons - therefore he acts not only as the Prime Minister but also as the Member of Parliament for a particular riding.

In terms of a crash course in the political orientation of the country, on a right-wing left-wing spectrum, in my opinion Canadian politics is just to the left of the middle. The parties are fairly similar in policies when it comes down to ninety-nine percent of the stuff. Canadians tend to be pretty non-confrontational when it comes to politics and we'd rather whine about the budget than anything else. For the past twelve years we've had a Liberal government in power. The Liberals are strong in the East of Canada. . . which happens to be where most of the population of Canada resides. That means that they win more ridings and they get into power. The Liberals also tend to be a party full of baptized Catholics with serious conscience problems. In the West the Conservatives tend to be stronger. The Conservatives are relatively more pro-family than the Liberals (at least from a Catholic perspective). Then, there's always the NDP (New Democratic Party). They're big on workers rights and protecting the poor, which isn't a bad think, but when it comes to protecting human life in general, they pretty much fail. Really, when it comes to Canadian politics, compared to American, or even European, the parties all fall very close to one another on the political spectrum. Then we've got the Bloc Québecois of course, which is the French separist party in Québec. They win a fair amount of seats in Québec but don't exist outside of the province of Québec And then we've got fringe parties such as the Canadian Marijuana Party and the Party Party and the Sex Party (?!?) and the Green Party. They've never won seats and probably never will.

Hmmm... that's all I can think of right now...I reserve the right to edit this post later if need be.

Examining the Candidates

With the upcoming election, I decided I'd take some time to read up on the potential candidates for my riding. This is a quote I found on my current MP's (Mark Warawa) website from a speech he gave in the House of Commons:

"Mr. Speaker, the justice minister continues to leave our children at risk. He knows that experts are recommending that the age of sexual consent be raised from 14 to 16. He knows that international pedophiles are coming to Canada because we are one of the few countries that has an age of consent of 14.

When will the justice minister truly protect our children by raising the age of consent from 14 to 16?"

And furthermore, on the re-definition of marriage:

"The Prime Minister's plan to change the definition of marriage is an attack on Canadian society and is also attack on religious freedoms. . . Same sex-marriage is not a fundamental human right. . . Equal rights does not equate the same rights. . . [the Liberals] want to change the historical religious definition of marriage, a definition that predates government. . . Marriage is a historic union that predates government. It is time immemorial, a union of a man and a woman. It's more than just two people uniting. It's God being a part of it; enjoining the union according to His will."

I'd say he get's my vote. He's also an alumni from my university which is kind of need.

The thing is though, he won by a landslide when he was first elected not even two years ago. I think my vote might be more needed in my "hometown" riding where I grew up since the race there is going to be much tighter than where I'm studying right now. Since, technically, my parents address is my 'permanent' address (even though I haven't lived there for several years now) I can vote in that riding. I think I'll do an absentee ballot for there because my vote is probably more needed there.

It's still nice to know that there is a solid candidate for the riding I'm living in right now.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

A Child is Born

My friend and fellow blogger Lee Ann over at amongst women (a group blog that I'm part of) just had her first child yesterday. A beautiful baby boy weighing in at 8lbs 15oz.

All praise and thanksgiving be to God! May the Blessed Virgin, St. Joseph and all the angels and saints pray for the new family.