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.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

This stood out to me

From today's Gospel reading:

"Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal."
(Jn 6:27)


I've had an insanely busy last few days. It's amazing how much you can have to do even when classes are over.

Today wasn't too bad. I went to mass with a friend this morning, enjoyed a good ol' Knights of Columbus Pancake Breakfast and then spent five hours working on making banners for my First Communion class. I was asked to make banners as name markers for their places and also as keepsakes. I didn't realize it would take so long to make them! A lot of fiddly work. Oh well. I watched an interesting documentary on the struggle for democracy in Eastern Europe while working on them.

These pictures are a couple samples of the finished product (minus the ribbon that I still have to attach to the wooden bars so that they can hang them.)

Thursday, April 27, 2006


I was just reading through old bulletins from my hometown parish (you can get them online off the parish website) and discovered that earlier this month four first class relics were recently placed under the altar.

The relics are of St. Matthew, St. Maria Goretti, St. Sebastian, and St. Pius X.

I was particularly delighted to see St. Maria Goretti in the mix. That's really special for me seeing as she's my patron saint and now there is a first class relic belonging to her in the church in which I was baptised, confirmed, and raised. I'll go hang out with my patroness next time I'm in town.

Summer Reading

Here is a list of the books sitting on my shelf waiting to be read:

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church
by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace

Catholic and Christian
by Alan Schreck

Fundamentals of the Faith
by Peter Kreeft

Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church

True Devotion to Mary
by St. Louis de Montfort

Pope John Paul II In My Own Words
by Pope John Paul II

Gift and Mystery
by Pope John Paul II

The Spirit of the Liturgy
by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI)

Crossing the Threshold of Love
by Mary Shivanandan

First Comes Love
by Scott Hahn

Lord, Have Mercy
by Scott Hahn

Swear to God
by Scott Hahn

Fire Within
by Fr. Thomas Dubay

Northanger Abbey
by Jane Austen

The Sources of Christian Ethics
by Servais Pinckaers, O.P.

Vita Consecrata
by Pope John Paul II

El Castillo Interior
Santa Teresa de Jesús

St. Thomas More

The Tempest
by William Shakespeare

King Lear
by William Shakespeare

Ok, maybe I'm being a little over ambitious. I'm probably not going to get through all those books in two months (especially since some are quite thick) but at least this is the list I'm choosing for. Any suggestions for prioritizing? What, from this list, should I absolutely read?

Now what. . .

So exams are over. I'm starting summer classes on Monday so I don't really have a break though. I'll be taking two advanced Spanish Literature classes as well as a religious studies course called "Christianity and Culture" in May and June. At the end of June I'm hoping to get my wisdom teeth out. Well, not that I want to, but it's the most convenient time to get it done and I need to get them out while I'm still covered by my parents extended benefits.

Then what you ask? Well, my grandparents are aging and needing more and more help at home. I offered to live with my paternal grandparents for July and August to take care of them. I was going to get a summer job, but when I thought about it, in the grand scheme of things, it's more important that my grandparents be able to live at home (they need help to be able to live at home) than to make a couple thousand dollars. I know this will be really demanding and I don't have any romantic visions of spending the summer taking care of my grandpa who's in a wheelchair. I know that I'll need to grow in a lot of patience and humility. That being said, I think it will be well worth the time. I'm looking forward to spending the time with my grandparents. All of my grandparents have been so important in my life. They're really like second and third sets of parents. I know that it will probably be a challenging summer but also one that I will treasure in my heart some day.

Although it will be demanding, one of the advantages of living with my grandparents for July and August is that I will likely have a lot of time to read. I've been studying straight through the summers for the past two years and so I haven't had much time to read anything but assigned books for school. So now I'm going to play catch up. I have inherited my dad's habit of buying books that I don't really have time to read but really want to read. This summer hopefully I'll be able to get through some of them. I'll post a list of some of the books that are sitting on my shelf waiting to be read.

The Afterlife

No, I'm not talking about after death. I'm talking about the after-exams-life of a university student.

What have I been up to? Well. . . doing four loads of laundry (I wasn't wearing dirty clothes yet, but it was getting close), cleaning my room (including dusting), cleaning out my car, catching up on keeping track of finances, catching up on mail, putting pictures in photo albums, getting pictures printed, etc. . . you know, all that stuff that I haven't done in the past month because of the madness of getting final papers done and studying for exams.

Yay! It's over.

I've also been keeping a running list of some topics I want to blog on. I'll get around to some of those within the next few days hopefully.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Ford Model Baby Will

I grew up in a small town and so to keep posted on the essentials of what's going on in my hometown I read the community newspaper online. If nothing else, I always read the obituaries and birth announcements at least to know who has died and which families are growing.

Today I came across the following birth announcement:

Introducing the 2006 Model, Will
(William James Ford)

Like clockwork, Marin Ford debuted its 2006 model on March 31, almost exactly two and four years from the release of its other successful models. With a wheelbase of 20.5" and tipping the scales at 9 lbs, 8 ounces, it appears fuel costs and hopes of a more streamlined version have been ignored. The XY series is consistent with the 2004 model after the departure of the XX series introduced in 2002.
Car and Driver explained, "Although it is clear the XY series is harder to handle, it does require fewer accessories and the performance modifications should result in less drama."
Road & Track added, "There will be some key differences in this model. Let's hope the 2004 model settles down and can be driven side by side."
The proud development team of Rich and Christine couldn't be more pleased and are looking forward to really enjoying what is sure to be the final model.

Interesting. I need to also point out that the final line does indicate that the parents have obviously not read Humanae Vitae, Evangelium Vitae, or the Theology of the body.

Today's Lyrics

Here are some lyrics from the end and the beginning by Matt Maher, a contemporary Catholic arist. I really like the second and third line.

Heaven kisses Earth
We become a living tabernacle

So wisdom, be attentive;
steady my shaking mind
Let this be my reality;
more than just bread and wine

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Thanks be to God! (not at all blasphemous, quite literally. . .)

I wrote over forty pages by hand today for two exams. I wrote nine pages on purgatory for my Ecumenical Dialogue exam! After I was done all I could think was . . . "hmmm, maybe I should go to the chapel and say a prayer for the holy souls in purgatory. . ."

Now, I start a Spanish summer course on Monday, but let's just not think about that. Let's pretend I'm finished. Well, I am. I'm finished this semester.

Thanks for putting up with my exam blogging.

One left.

All that is left is Ecumenical Dialogue. Lord have mercy on me and grant me the strength to focus on writing yet another exam this afternoon. At least I feel relatively confident with this one.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Professors Praying for Exams

At the university I attend most of the professors pray out loud at the start of the class with and for the students. While prayer is always appreciated, this can be somewhat disconcerting during final exams. At this time, the prayers tend to go along the lines of:

"Lord, I pray that the students' exams would reflect what they have studied."

"Lord, I pray that the exams these students are writing would provide a true reflection of the effort they have put into the course."

"Lord, I ask you to help these students remember all that they have read and studied for this course."

Now, if you've really studied hard and you've done all your readings, this shouldn't be a bad thing. But if you're questioning the effort you put into your studies, such prayers can be quite frightening. Especially if you are concerned that God may actually answer your professor's prayer.

Praying you do well . . .

According to my Site Meter statistics, someone came across my blog by searching the words "catholic prayers to help you do good on exams." Now, I know that I make plenty of spelling mistakes and so I am a little hesitant to comment, so all I can say is that I sure hope this person isn't writing an English exam. If they are, hopefully they are close friends with St. Thomas Aquinas, St. John Bosco, and all other saints who tend to intercede on the behalf of us students.

I am praying for you that you do well on your exams!

Some of these questions are HUGE

I've moved on to studying for my Ecumenical Dialogue final exam. This course was actually one of my favourite courses this past semester (along with Philosophy of the Human Person). Now, my professor is the kind who gives you the exam questions before hand, asks you to prepare the essays, and then to come in and write the exam. I don't mind this format for final exams except that it means the professor also expects really good essays when it comes to what you put down on paper.

I've been working on preparing my essay questions and thinking to myself "these are HUGE questions." Let's see. . .

What are the similarities and differences between traditional Catholic and Orthodox views on "original sin" (or "the ancestral curse"), and the process of salvation?

What are the similarities and differences between Catholic, Orthodox, and Evangelical views on Purgatory?

Describe the differing viewpoints of Catholic and Orthodox mainstream Traditions on the "filioque" clause of the Ecumenical Creed.
And those are only three out of the six questions. Don't get me wrong, these are good questions, and very important to consider, but they're rather huge.

Don't Forget Your Phone

I came across this interesting story while studying for my Christian History course. We had been studying Aimee Semple McPherson in relation to revival and charismatic movements in the United States. I was doing a little research preparing for my exam and discovered this:
"According to The Preachers by James Morris, she was buried with a live telephone in her casket to ensure her survival in the event of bodily resurrection, although other biographers do not mention this and groundskeepers at Forest Lawn deny it."
Don't forget to pack your cell phone. You just might need it. You'd think you'd need an outlet and a charger though in case your cell phone battery ran out before the resurrection of the dead. I know the first thing I'm going to want to do when I rise from the dead is get on the cell phone and check up on my friends and family.

Clear Blue Skies

For the past few days I've been waking up to crystal clear blue skies. Not a cloud in the sky. Incredibly difficult to focus on studying in this kind of weather. Less than 36 hrs though and it will all be over, for better or for worse.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Divine Mercy Sunday

"The liturgical Fest of The Divine Mercy . . . falls on the Sunday after Easter, which is the Octave Day of Easter. As we know from The Apostolic Constitutions, and the writings of St. Augustine and St. Gregory Nazianzen, this day was always kept as a special feast by the ancient Church. It was known by them as "the Sunday in White (Dominica in Albis) because those newly baptized at Easter wore their white baptismal robes up through that day. St. Augustine called the whole octave "the days of mercy and pardon," and the Sunday "the compendium of the days of mercy." Now revived as "Mercy Sunday," this feast enables the Church to celebrate the merciful love of Jesus Christ that flows from His Sacred Heart, and that lies behind all the acts He has undertaken for our salvation. As Pope John Paul II said in his Regina Caeli address on Mercy Sunday in 1995, "the whole Octave of Easter is like a single day," and the Octave Sunday is meant to be the day of "thanksgiving for the goodness God has shown man in the whole Easter mystery."

The above quote comes from Jesus, Mercy, Incarnate by
Dr. Stackpole, the director of the John Paul II Institute of Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and one of my theology professors.


Please pray for the young people in my parish who will be confirmed tonight.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Pulling out the Clarinet

My new resolution is to take up playing clarinet again which I've neglected for the past four years. I took private lessons for five years and was actually alright, but then I went away to university and stopped playing. The poor instrument has been following me around the world and yet not getting played. It's coming out of the bottom of the closet this summer. I hope my housemates don't mind. It might be a little tough going at first.

Name My Lamb

In the spirit of the joy of the resurrection, here is a picture of a small Easter gift I received from a dear friend of mine. It's the cutest little lamb and she's even holding a rosary! It was one of those "perfect gifts" since the friend who gave it to me and I go on daily rosary walks together.

Now, it says "rejoice" across her chest, but I'm still looking for a good Christian name for her. She's a girl, that much I know. . . just because I want her to be. But we need a good solid name.

Does anyone have a name for my new Easter friend?

I Love the Mountains

This is a picture I took on my way to my exam this afternoon. It's a view I drive by every day and today, since I had my digital camera in my car, I decided to pull over and take a picture. Isn't the beauty of God's creation so incredible?

Another one bites the dust.

And the count is now at 4 down. 2 to go.

The Philosophy of the Human Person exam went well. We watched half an hour of some superficial MTV show called "Laguna Beach" and then we got to write about how the different persons in the show were experiencing self-alienation and alienating themselves from one another, and how their passions were disordered and out of control when considered in light of Aristotelian-Thomistic philosophy of the human person.

The second question was on how Aristotelian-Thomistic philosophy responds to responds to various heresies, how it proves the immaterial/incorporeal reality of the human person, and how it provides evidence for the passive and active intellect. Then we were supposed to discuss how the philosophy of the human person impacts our understanding of our relationship with God. Ok, that last bit, that was just a huge question. What a loaded question. Basically, what does being a human person mean in your relationship with God. Ok, not the kind of question you can really mess up on. . . but it's hard to cut that one down.

Anyways, I'm going to go eat dinner, study some more, go visit Jesus, and sleep. That's my big exciting plan for the evening.

Philosophy of the Human Person

I'm studying for my Philosophy of the Human Person exam this afternoon. . . going through my notes I found a few interesting lines and important things I thought I'd remind you of or point out to you. Here's your crash course in Philosophy of the Human Person based largely on St. Thomas Aquinas "On Human Nature."

--> Anima est actus primus corporis physici organici. Remember that.

--> What is the proof that we have immaterial cognitive power? We can conceive of "what if we did not exist?!"

--> One way that we're different from animals is that we can know being, animals can't.

--> Human dignity? Once we say that intellect is not tide down to bodily organs than it doesn't matter whether the bodily organs aren't fully developed or are injured, the intellect remains intact.

--> "Without the scientific proof of the existence of spiritual persons, including human persons, a genuine metaphysics would neither be possible nor necessary." (Quote from an article by Fr. Benedict Ashley, OP)

--> Love is the highest reality in our subjective experience. It is love that actualizes the human potential.

--> Our actual experience is that by which we know ourselves.

And if you didn't find any of that interesting, you'll probably find some of these quotes I found written down in my notes entertaining:

- "Reality is reality independently of your object world. You might be living in lala land and the reality is going to come and bite you ahd you'll have to revise your object world."

- "I've given you so much freedom on this assignment that some of you find this freedom frightening." (comment from the prof on our term paper that we were all panicking about)

- Discussing abstraction our professor commented "Our experience is not, "my stomach wants my thoughts to be quiet," it's the other way around. "Does your stomach ever say to your thoughts, "be quiet thoughts, I'm busy?""

- An interesting commentary I came across in my notes. . . "What a waste of the mind if the only concepts you're focused on are cookies and crack. . . what have you activated in your immaterial soul. . . in your lifetime? God is the ultimate actuality. You don't want to get fixated on cookie. The cookie would be like the solar eclipse. What are you writing in your soul for all of eternity? I don't want the cookie eclipse. I want to turn to God."

- Commenting on Plato's idea of the eternal forms, "Where do these eternal forms exist? In the divine mind. It's true to say that. But the idea of some eternal Wal-Mart is ridiculous. What's not ridiculous is God, who's pure act."

- "St. Thomas Aquinas is a rock upon which to build intellectual inquiry."

- "Post-modern usually means a bunch of garbage."

- "Faith is like natural reason on divine caffeine. Faith is like a cup of coffee that only God can buy for you."

- "If all you're caring about is food and sex, you're living on the plant model!"

And for the final verdict, if I remember nothing else from the course, I need to remember this. . . "As a human person you are an assignment to yourself. Your mission? To develop the habits of being that will actually make you happy."

There you have it. The highlights of the Philosophy of the Human Person course. If you've read this far you're probably wondering "why the heck is she blogging her study notes?!" Well . . . I had to study anyways. May as well blog it. If Dr. M is reading this (I know you know of my blog. . .), well, hopefully I haven't grossly misunderstood the course. . . I also hope that I haven't grossly misquoted you. If I have, mia culpa. Why blog this stuff? Because it's just so interesting! What an amazing course. My brain hurts a little now, the readings were really really difficult to wrap your mind around at first and I have no idea how I'll do on the exam, but in the end, it was worth it. I also learned that reading St. Thomas, though difficult, isn't as scary as I first thought it would be.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation

Thanks to Fr. Tim Finigan from The Hermeutic of Continuity for providing this.

The following is an excerpt from a document (The Priest, Pastor and Leader of the Parish Community) issued by the Congregation of the Clergy that was to be passed on to parish priests via their bishops. Sadly, it seems that some parish priests may need a reminder.

It is notable that the Code makes specific mention of frequent reception of the Holy Eucharist and of the Sacrament of Penance. This would indicate that the parish priest, in establishing the times for Masses and confessions in his parish, would take into consideration those times which are convenient for the majority of the faithful, while bearing in mind also the need to facilitate those who have difficulty in easily attending the celebration of the sacraments.

The parish priest should devote special attention to individual confession, understood in the spirit and form established by the Church. He should be mindful that confession must precede first Holy Communion. Moreover, the individual confessions of the faithful, for pastoral reasons and for the convenience of the faithful, may also be received during the celebration of the Holy Mass.

Care should be taken to ensure respect “for the sensibilities of the penitent concerning the manner in which he wishes to confess, either face to face, or from behind a grill”. The confessor may also have pastoral reasons for preferring the use a confessional equipped with a grill.
As always, remember to pray for your own parish priest and all priests, especially those from whom you have received the sacraments.

New Blogs on Blogroll

There are a few new blogs I've been meaning to add to my blog roll.

The Hermeneutic of Continuity by Fr. Tim Finigan. The name of the blog says it all.

The Cafeteria is Closed by Gerald Augustinus.

The Roamin' Roman. This one belongs to an American student studying in Rome. It's hard not to be envious.

Moniales OP. The adventures and stories of some Beautiful Dominican nuns.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Father, you gave to the young Pier Giorgio Frassati the joy of meeting Christ and of living his faith in service of the poor and the sick. Through his intercession may we, too, walk the path of the beatitudes and follow the example of his generosity, spreading the spirit of the Gospel in society. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Sacramental Season

It seems to be the sacramental season. Not that I'm complaining.

Last month, my goddaughter's baptism (as well as being present at a couple baptisms since then). This coming weekend confirmation at my parish. The next week is my catechism class' first communion. The week after I'm going to a friend's ordination to the priesthood. Throw in an invitation to a wedding. And then add to that regular confession. That's pretty much got all the bases covered . . . except the anointing of the sick, which is just fine.

Half Way

3 down. 3 to go. Foreign literature done now (wrote Spanish this morning). Philosophy, Christian History, and Theology still to go. . .

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Insight from First Communion Kids

Well, I had to take a break this evening to go teach my First Communion class. Oh, they're just so cute. I love 'em to bits.

First Communion is only two weeks away now (May 7th) and they're all getting really excited. I don't know if they understand everything we've discussed in class. In fact, I know they don't. But it's the Mystery of the Eucharist for a reason. . . I don't expect them to "get it" all. I don't. If nothing else though, I wanted them to recognize and appreciate the real presence. I wanted them to understand that the Eucharist is not just a symbol but really is Christ. That was my one goal for the year. If they know and believe that Christ is present in the Eucharist, that is what is most essential, everything else will come with time.

For this reason, we've been beginning and ending every class with prayer before the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle (class is held in the same building as the Church . . . it's a newer parish with limited space). Today I was just so encouraged praying with the children.

First, when we started off the class we knelt before the tabernacle, I prayed a short prayer for them out loud and then we prayed the Our Father together. After we were done the Our Father and we started to get up to go back to our classroom, one of the little girls in the class looked at me with a big smile and asked "can we pray to Mary too?" "Sure, sounds like a great idea," I said, and so we prayed the Hail Mary together too.

Then, at the end of class, we returned before the Blessed Sacrament to close off our class in prayer. We were each going around saying things that we were thankful for since we had been discussing thanksgiving and the Eucharist in class. I was blown away by some of the prayers the children made. Without any suggestions on my part or exchange of ideas they came up with very appropriate things for which they were grateful that really caused me to stop and reflect on how I should be thankful for many of the same things. One child prayed "Thank-you God for the way you made your Church so that we can have First Communion." Another prayed, "Thank-you God that my parents got me baptized." Yet another prayed, "Thank-you God for our bodies." And still another prayed "Thank-you God for rising from the dead." Hmmm. . . from the mouths of babes some fairly profound prayers of thanksgiving.

Another profound comment came from a little boy in my class who has such a deep love for God and the Church. He blows my mind sometimes. We were reading the story of the road to Emmaus. I was explaining how Jesus' friends recognized Him when He broke the bread and that when we come to Mass the priest also breaks the Eucharist and like Jesus' friends who recognized Him in the breaking of the bread, we also recognize Him at Mass in the breaking of the bread. This particular boy's hand shot up and the air and he said, with a big grin on his face, "That's because the priest is like Jesus when he's saying Mass!" If only we all had the understanding of a seven year old, what a difference it would make!

Another one down.

That puts the count at two down and four to go.

Prayer to St. Maria Goretti

This is a beautiful prayer that I just discovered to my patron saint.

Heroic and angelic Saint Maria Goretti, we kneel before you to honor your perserving fortitude and to beg your gracious aid. Teach us a deep love for the precepts of our Holy Church; help us to see in them, the very voice of our Father in Heaven. May we preserve without stain our white baptismal robe of innocence.

May we who have lost this innocence kneeel humbly in Holy Penance; and with the absolution of the priest may the torent of Christ's precious Blood flow into our souls and give us new courage to carry the burning light of God's love through the dangerous highways of this life until Christ our King shall call us to the courts of heaven.


Wednesday, April 19, 2006


As I'm sitting here studying for my next exam (this one is French World Literature. . . lots of reading from Africa, Haïti, etc. . .) I'm thinking about how irrelevant this is in the grand scheme of things. I was thinking about things that seem a lot more relevant.

Please remember to pray for:
  • For the unborn and their mothers.
  • For the protection of the elderly, disabled and marginalized. That the sanctity of human life may be recognized by all and in all.
  • For those who entered into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church this past Easter.
  • For those who returned to the practice of the Faith through the Sacrament of Reconciliation during Lent.
  • For all those whose lives are threatened by war, persecution, natural disaster, and poverty.
  • For our Holy Father.
  • For all deacons, priests, bishops, and consecrated religious.
  • For an increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
  • For seminarians, postulants, novices, and engaged couples.
  • For all children preparing to receive their First Holy Communion.
  • For all those preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation.
  • For the souls in purgatory.
  • For the sick, the suffering, and the dying.
Now, I'll get back to my studying, but if you can, keep some of these intentions in your prayers.

In the meantime, I need to remind myself that God has called me to be a student for the time being and that if this is what He's asking of me right now it's not irrelevant. I can glorify God by doing what I am called to in the present moment well. That's my pep talk for myself and for all other students out there.

Lyrics for the Day

The lyrics for today come from a CD I was given by my Philosophy professor. The song is "To the Extreme" and is by the Catholic artist Curtis Stephan off the CD Sacred Revolution.
So tired of chasing my worldly dreams
'cause nothing is what it seems.
In circles, I run on endlessly, spinning 900 degrees.
There's a hole deep down inside;
was still there no matter what I tried,
I'm crying out for what I need!

Jesus, turn my life around, turn it upside down
Oh and fill me with your love.
Jesus, I give my heart to you,
I know your words are true,
they're the lamp unto my feet.
And I will follow you. . .

Surrender does not come naturally
'cause fear's got a hold on me.
But I trust you 'cause you can
set me free from what is enslaving me.
Give me the grace to let it go,
Lord, let your love and mercy show,
I'm crying out for what I need!

Your love went to the extreme,
love took you to Calvary!

I'm running so as to win the prize
now that I realixe, with this love I can
do anything through Christ who strengthens me.
You pick me up when I fall down
you plant my feet on solid ground,
I'm crying out for what I need!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Weird Coffee Stuff

So, my Benedictine friend Fr. Basil, up at the Abbey, gave me this weird coffee stuff for Easter. It tastes good though. It's Vietnamese coffee wanting to be Italian coffee. It comes in these little individual packets, kind of like individual hot chocolate packets and it is instant coffee with the surgar and whitener already in it. I know it doesn't sound outstanding, but it is. My only concern is that the packaging is in vietnamese so I don't really know what I'm drinking. Apparently one of the vietnamese seminarians introduced Fr. Basil to it but you can buy it in North America. It's called "Cà phê sũa." Yeah, beats me. I don't know what that means.

One Down, Five to Go.

You're all going to get sick of this by next week, but I need to do the countdown somehow. So, one down, five to go. The French lit exam this morning wasn't too difficult. We had four essay questions and for each question we got to chose between two questions. I don't know if that makes sense to you, but it made sense to me. I also opted for morning Mass instead of studying and it turned out to be a good investment. Well, I mean, I don't know if I did better on my exam because of it, but at least I had the peace of Christ with me heading into the exam. No exams tomorrow but then I've got exams Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Ugh. So, in other words, tonight I have to start studying again. But let's look on the bright side. . . one week from now, exactly one week from now (minus a couple hours) I'll be done this semester. Unfortunately, my summer courses start the next Monday. Why do I do this to myself? Oh, because I can.

Monday, April 17, 2006


I need to study. Ugh, it's only day one of eight days of no-fun and I'm already getting bored of this game. It kind of ruins the Easter Octave to have it coincide with final exams. At least I can drink coffee now. That should get me through exams. Not healthy, yet necessary.

I've got a French lit exam at 9:00am. Yay! Ok, not "Yay!" but at least it'll be over within less than twenty-four hours. Oh well. It shouldn't be too bad actually. The question is, do I go to morning Mass and show up for my exam on time but with no "cram-facts-in-mind" time or do I skip Mass and go to my exam early? I vote for Mass. I think at this point I could use the divine intervention more than the extra half hour of studying. Can I offer up attending Mass for the intention of my final exam? Ok, I'm only half joking.

BBQ Donuts

BBQ your donuts. It tastes really good. My housemate's parents were up this weekend and introduced me to the practice of BBQ cake donuts. I would never have thought of it myself, but since I like to toast and/or warm everything up, it makes sense.

Ratzinger Easter Quote

While scanning the book shelves at school the other day I came across a book by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger that I had never seen before; the book is called Seek That Which is Above. As I quickly flipped through the book I came across this following quote which seems very relevant for the second day of the octave of Easter:

"Easter is as it were the brilliance of the open door that leads out of the injustice of the world as well as the challenge to follow this radiant light and to show it to others, knowing that it is not a deluiding dream but the real light, the genuine way out."

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Chateaubriand et la beauté de la Foi

Il y a plusieurs semaines, lorsque je lisais Atala, par Chateaubriand, pour mon cour de littérature française, j'ai lu un passage que je voulais partager avec vous. Maintenant, en étudiant pour mon examen final je vient de le retrouver.

C'est un passage qui met en relief la beauté de la religion Catholique. La scène prend place lorsqu'Atala, une indienne Catholique, est entrain de mourir. Les descriptions sont très lyriques et poétiques mais c'est typique du romantisme.

"Le prêtre ouvrit le chalice; il prit entre ses deux doigts une hostie blanche comme la neige, et s'approcha d'Atala, en prononçant des mots mystérieux. Cette sainte avec les yeux levés au ciel, en extase. Toutes ses douleurs parurent suspendues, toute sa vie se rassembla sur sa bouche; ses lèvres s'entr'ouvrirent et vinrent avec respect chercher le Dieu caché cous le pain mystique. Ensuite le divin vieillard trempe un peu de coton dans une huile consacrée; il en frotte les tempes d'Atala, il regarde un moment la fille mourante, et tout à coup ces fortes paroles lui échappent: "Partez, âme chrétienne : allez rejoindre votre Créateur!" Relevant alors ma tête abattue, je m'écriai, en regardant le vase où était l'huile sainte: "Mon père ce remède rendra-t-il la vie à Atala?" "Oui, mon fils, dit le vieillard en tombant dans mes bras, la vie éternelle!" Atala venait d'expirer."

Il y a aussi une belle description de la messe dans le livre:

"L'aurore paraissant derrière les montagnes enflammait l'orient. Tout était d'or ou de rose dans la solitude. L'astre nanoncé par tant de splendeur, sortit enfin d'un abîme de lumière, et son premier rayon reontra l'hostie consacrée, que le prêtre, en ce moment même, élevait dans les airs. O charme de la religion! O magnificence du culte chrétoem! Pour sacrificateur un vieil ermite, pour autel un rocher, pour église le désert, pour assistance d'innocents Sauvages! Non, je ne doute point qu'au moment où nous nous prosternâmes, le grand mystère ne s'accomplît et que Dieu ne descendît sur la terre, car je le sentis descendre dans mon coeur."

Easter Vigil

Last night I had the blessing of attending the Easter Vigil up at Westminster Abbey with a couple of my friends. The liturgy was absolutely beautiful. I couldn't help but smile the whole way through Mass thinking how grateful I am to be Catholic. I couldn't help but be in awe of the great love Christ has for His Bride, the Church.

The liturgy began at 10:00pm. It was pitch black in the Abbey church. Unfortunately it was raining so the congregation remained inside for the lighting of the Easter candle. Because the vigil was at a monastic community and not a parish church there were no baptisms or confirmations performed, and perhaps that's the only thing I really missed. That being said, I'm glad I went to the abbey.

A friend of mine who's a deacon and will be ordained to the priesthood on May 12th (please pray for him!) sang the exultet (Easter proclamation) and did a wonderful job of it.

The seminarians did the readings and did a fantastic job as well. They really read slowly and enunciate clearly which is much appreciated. The monks sang the responsorial psalms and sounded magnificient as usual.

Fr. Abbot gave the homily and linked each of the readings for the Easter Vigil Mass to the Eucharist, pointing us to the Eucharist as the heart of the Church. I really appreciated how he went connected the readings to the source and summit of the Faith, the Eucharist, because sometimes, with all those readings at the Easter Vigil it can feel like you're just reading through them all and not seeing where they are leading us or how they fit together.

Mass ended shortly around 12:15 am. After a little time of thanksgiving in prayer we gathered together briefly in the refrectory, and extended some Easter greetings to our friends.

And then we headed out around 12:45 am to Boston Pizza, a 24-hr restaurant. "We" being four girls, forty seminarians, and one deacon. An interesting mix I must say! Hahaha. Apparently it's tradition that all the major seminarians go out for a great "Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!" after the Easter Vigil (they get the Octave of Easter off). Some of our friends from the seminary invited us to join in on the fun, so how could we say no? It was great fun and they're a great bunch of guys. It's such an encouragement to hang out with them and see the future of the Church as well as to have the witness of young people with the courage to follow God and discern His will for their life. I'm certain that, God willing, some of these friends will make fantastic priests some day.

I ended up getting to bed around 4:00am. Unfortunately, I also ended up waking up at 7:30am. Oh, such is life. I did some studying (sick!) this morning and then decided to go spend some time in Adoration at the chapel at school. I then headed off to 11:30am Mass. After Mass I went for lunch at the house of a family I know. They'd invited anyone who was away from their families for Easter to come to their house. There were at least thirty people over for lunch and we even had an Easter egg hunt. Minus the fact that I really don't like eggs or chocolate, it was good fun! Now I'm home, doing some more studying, and looking forward to taking the evening off to watch a new mini-series on the pontificate of Pope John Paul II that is going to be shown on television tonight.

May God Bless you all on this feast of feasts and solemnity of solemnities!

Happy Easter!

He is truly risen!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

I just wanted to wish you all a very happy and blessed Easter. May God be with you all and with your families as we celebrate Christ's resurrection from the dead!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

If you haven't already. . .

If you haven't already done so, the Holy Father suggests that we try and get to confession during Holy Week . . .

Pope Benedict XVI urged Catholics on Wednesday to go to confession during Holy Week, Christianity's most solemn period, when the faithful recall the last
days of Christ's life and his resurrection on Easter.

"A good confession before Easter remains an obligation that should be fully valued and gives us the opportunity to start anew," Benedict told several thousand pilgrims and tourists gathered in a sunny St. Peter's Square for his weekly public audience.

That being said, the parish I normally attend handed out a schedule for Holy Week with big bold capital letters on every day of this week saying NO CONFESSIONS. Unfortunate and disappointing.

Oh well, there are other places around . . .

Holy Thursday

Fr. Stephanos, O.S.B., over at Me monk. Me meander. provides us with the First Preface of the Holy Eucharist for the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday.

Father, all-powerful and ever living God,
we do well always and everwywhere to give you thanks
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
He is the true and eternal priest
who established this unending sacrifice.
He offered himself as a victim for our deliverance
and taught us to make this offering in his memory.
As we eat his body which he gave for us, we grow in strength.
As we drink his blood which he poured out for us,

we are washed clean. . .
Now, with angels and archangels, and the whole company of heaven,
we sing the unending hymn of your praise:
Holy, holy, holy. . .

Remember to go to Mass tonight if you can make it. Try and make attending the Triduum a priority for these next few days. You will see and experience the richness of the Catholic Faith.

Please remember to pray for all those who are preparing to enter the Church at Easter. Pray for those in your own parish, diocese, and throughout the world.

Also, please remember to pray for those who have fallen away from the practice of the Faith who may be attending Mass at Easter. Pray that they will encounter Christ in the Mass and be drawn back to Him through the Sacraments.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Quote of the Day

"Patience is the companion of wisdom."
- St. Augustine

This is my quote of the day, on so many levels.

No fun.

My dad e-mailed and mentioned that they may try taking out the boat this weekend for the first time this year. I know I'm not supposed to be jealous but I'm stuck in the city studying for final exams instead of going out in the boat and spending Easter with my family. What a rotten deal. Ok, I'm grateful for the opportunity I have to go to university. Having to study for finals during Holy Week and over the Easter weekend is still a rotten deal. This is a shot I took of the coast near my hometown last time I went up for a visit. In case you're wondering with all these blog posts today, I actually am studying, I promise.

Growing Blogroll

There are two blogs I've been wanting to add to my blogroll for the past several weeks but haven't gotten around to it.

First of all, Fr. Stephanos, O.S.B. from down in California. His blog Me monk. Me meander. always has interesting posts. I feel that every time I check what he's posted I learn something new or am reminded of an important aspect of the Faith that I'd forgotten or neglected. The blog is particularly worth checking out to gain a greater appreciation for the Mass. He also blogs his homilies over at One Monk. Plus he's a Benedictine, which is just an added bonus.

Secondly, Amy, who's just finishing up studying the Theology of the Body at the John Paul II Institute in Washington, D.C. and will be getting married this coming summer. Her blog the "Refusal to Grasp" is great for learning more about the Theology of the Body. . . she knows what she's talking about.

That's it for now folks. Back to my studying Spanish.

Finished Essays

I just finished my last paper for the semester. In all sincerity, thanks be to God!

Unfortunately, I'll have to start working on papers for my summer courses in a couple weeks. Until then though, I should probably get on this whole studying for final exams thing. I've got six, yes six, final exams in a span of eight days (from Tuesday to Tuesday). It's rather unfortunate. This also means that I have to spend the rest of Holy Week studying for finals. That's also rather unfortunate. Me complaining about having to study though seems rather trivial when put in perspective with the passion readings at Mass.

Well, on to the books. I may or may not be around blogging for the next two weeks until my final exams are done. It depends on how much of a break I need from my studies to keep me balanced and sane. Although it might be too late for that.

My prayers are with all you other students out there having to face finals or preparing for them right now. My sympathies are with the professors out there who have a whole lot of marking to do at this time. Remember, be merciful as your Heavenly Father is merciful.

Monday, April 10, 2006

From one Catholic student to another

One of my favourite contemporary "saints" (although he hasn't been canonized yet) is Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. I can relate to him in many ways. He truly is someone the John Paul II generation can look to and see that attaining holiness is still possible in our contemporary society. Not only is it possible, we're called to it. It's our universal vocation. In the climate of our society today Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati's words have great relevance.

“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, Ora Pro Nobis.

Friendly Reminder

Pope Links Happiness to an Encounter With Christ
Meets University Students Participating in UNIV Congress

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 10, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI told some 6,500 university students that happiness depends on an encounter with Christ and he invited them to communicate this experience to their contemporaries.

"Never forget, dear young people, that your -- our -- happiness depends, in the end, on the encounter and friendship with Jesus," the Pope told the students gathered for an audience today in Paul VI Hall.

Westminster Abbey Holy Week

For Darren and anyone else who was wondering...

The schedule for Holy Week at Westminster Abbey (the Catholic one in Canada, not the Anglican one in London) is as follows:

Holy Thursday 7:30pm
Good Friday 3:00pm
Easter Vigil 10:00pm
Easter Morning 10:00am

Apparently there are confessions available before hand on any of these days. At least that's what I was told.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Holy Week Meme

I've been tagged by LAMLand with this appropriate meme.

Lent is almost over and this Sunday is Palm Sunday already! I thought it would be fun to share what we do special to commemorate the Passion and Resurrection of Our Lord.

1. What do you do with your new blessed palm from Palm Sunday?
Well, I just got back from Mass an hour ago and my "palm" (so to speak) is already tucked away nicely behind the crucifix which hangs over my bedroom door. Interestingly, we had small cedar branches this year as palms. We'll see how long it lasts. I'm worried it's going to turn brown and crumble.

2. What do you do with your old one from last year?
I brought the one from last year to the parish down the street before Ash Wednesday to be turned into ashes.

3. What do you do during Holy Week in preparation for Good Friday?
I'll be making a last ditched effort to adhere to my Lenten observances. I'll also try and fit in confession at some point. I'll try and make it to daily Mass and spend time in Adoration as well.

4. How do you commemorate Christ's Passion on Good Friday?
Fasting and abstinence, which we're all obliged to do (unless for reasons of health or age). I'm planning on going up to the Abbey for the Good Friday service up there. The monastic community puts so much effort and time into preparing the liturgy that it's really special to be able to be able to join them. It's also nice to get away from the chaos of life a bit and spend some time reflecting on the passion. I hope to go up early and walk around a bit and spend some time in prayer. Hopefully I'll be able to fit in the Stations of the Cross at some point on Friday as well.

5. When do you color Easter eggs?
I don't like eggs. No egg colouring for me. Although when I was little we used to colour them with crayons and then dip them in food colouring or wrap them in old nylons with red onion skins and boil them. The onion ones turn out really well. They look pretty.

6. When do you buy Easter candy?
I don't think I've ever bought Easter candy. I'm used to being at home for Easter (in which case the candy comes to me). I won't be spending this Easter with my family though so I doubt I'll get any candy. I don't really like candy and chocolate that much anyways, so I don't care.

7. What is the first thing you plan to do Easter morning?
Well, this Easter is different than other ones since I won't be home. I think there's plans of going to Boston Pizza after the Easter Vigil with some friends. That counts as the morning doesn't it? I'll probably get up and go to Easter morning Mass as well. I know, the Vigil counts, but I love the Easter Masses. After six weeks of Lent it's nice to be reminded that Christ is risen.

I tag whoever wants to do this. . .


"There is no better use of your time than that spent in fervent adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament."
- Pope Paul VI

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Twins born despite abortion. . .

I wanted to cry when I read this story. What is our world coming to?! The culture of death does such a mind blowing job of perverting the truth. How can anyone read an article like that and still hold strong pro-choice convictions? Sometimes reading the news can be just so depressing. The story doesn't mention whether the twins survived or not. If they did, I pray that they would be amazing witnesses to the sanctity of human life.

St. Augustine on Trials

"Our pilgrimage on earth cannot be exempt from trial. We progress by means of trial. No one knows himself except through trial, or receives a crown except after victory, or strives except against an enemy of temptations. The one who cries from the ends of the earth is in anguish, but is not left on his own. Christ chose to foreshadow us, who are his body, by means of his body, in which he has died, risen and ascended into heaven, so that members of his body may hope to follow where their head has gone before."

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

You want to do what?

Those, "So, what are you studying? What do you plan to do with that?" questions can sure get complicated. Try explaining to the dentist why on earth you're studying Theology and what you plan to do with that. To make things even more interesting, try explaining why you're thinking about studying the Theology of the Body in grad school. "Theology of the Body? What the heck is that?," asks the dentist. Then you've got even more explaining to do.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Payer from Deus Caritas Est

"Holy Mary, Mother of God,
you have given the world its true light,
Jesus, your Son - the Son of God.
You abandoned yourself completely to God's call
and thus became a wellspring of
the goodness which flows forth from him.
Show us Jesus. Lead us to him.
Teach us to know and love him,
so taht we too can become
capable of true love
and be fountains of living water
in the midst of a thirsting world.

The Gospel of Matthew and Vocations?

This past weekend I had the blessing of meeting some of the Sisters of Life from New York who were visiting our archdiocese to speak at various Eucharistic Adoration events being held to foster prayer for an increase in priestly and religious vocations and the protection of family life.

On Friday night, at the event held for university students, Sr. Mary Gabriel, SV, the vocations director for the Sisters of Life, spoke about the universal call to holiness as well as the struggle of discernment that many young Catholics face. She based her talk on Matthew 16.

"When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Phillipi he asked his disciples, 'Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter said in reply, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:13-18)

As Catholics, most of us are very familiar with this passage and it's probably one of the few passages that many of us know exactly where to find in our Bibles. But have any of you ever thought of it in light of the whole question of vocational discernment? I certainly hadn't.

Sr. Mary Gabriel pointed out that as young adults many of us are discerning our vocation, or at least should be if we haven't already made vows or promises to a particular vocation. But maybe we're going about it the wrong way. We ask God questions such as "What do you want me to do?" "Where are you calling me?" "What is my vocation?" "What should I do with the rest of my life?" and get furstrated when God doesn't provide a neon sign over our heads with an answer. While these questions are important, Sr. Mary Gabriel suggested that perhaps they should not be the first questions we ask in vocational discernment, but rather we need to first ask, "Who am I?" It's essential that we find the answer to this question before we ask the other questions. And where do we find the answer? Where do we find the answer to the question of I am? In Christ. Our identity is found in Christ. And so, when we recognize Christ and identify Him, we in turn discover our own identity. It is then, once we discover who we are in Christ, that He gives us our vocation.

Simon son of Jonah properly identifies Christ as "the Messiah, the son of the living God." After having identified Christ, Christ turns to Simon and reveals his identity to him by giving him the new name "Peter." Having discovered his identity in Christ, Peter is then given his vocation, "you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church."

Previous to this weekend I had never thought about this famous passage from Matthew in light of vocational discernment, but it seems to make a lot of sense to me. Not only does it make sense, it is very relevant to every vocation, whether one is called to the priesthood, religious life, marriage or single life. To discover our vocation we need to discover first who we are in Christ.